This past weekend in the rural city of Stroud, Oklahoma, hippie kids and bass-heads gathered in unity to celebrate some of the best musicians in the game.The only place where chastity belts, treehouse stages and fire-breathing disco balls can coexist is Backwoods Music Festival.
Vibes radiated for four days in the woods of Tatanka Ranch with music lovers nation-wide. All Good Records’ Manic Focus threw down debatably one of the funkiest sets at the event — hard drops, swung beats and deliberate groove moved the intimate, acid-headed crowd for the duration of their one hour set. Notorious jam-band moe, staged a touching, psychedelic performance with classic instruments that served as an anchor away from the EDM spirit with stunning visual effects. Groovy electronic duo, Big Gigantic capitalized on the festivals momentum with their highly anticipated, Sunday night set.
While the festivals headliners posed as the heart of the event, local-talent and appearances pulsed through the veins of the Tatanka Ranch. Austin was represented by the neo-funk trio, Bobal; progressive folk ensemble, Calliope Musicals; EDM producer and DJ, Andrew Parsons; self proclaimed “baloonwave” duo CAPYAC; and a surprise appearance from world-funk outfit, Trouble In The Streets. Not only did these musical geniuses provide a sense of artistic comfort for Austinites, they submerged themselves into the party — dancing, raving and creating culture in one of the nation’s most conservative states.
James Bobal, brain child of Bobal, even led OV to a very secret speakeasy behind the “Globe Stage” where strange bartering and costumed goons served alcohol to its adventurous patrons. Saaya Temori, production assistant at Solstice Live, held down the festival’s public relations with style and a smile, representing Austin’s behind the scene visionaries. Chris Bishop, of the blood-ring trio The Bishops, was a devout attendee of the festival, gathering further inspiration for his own musical feats. Austin’s representation at Backwoods furthered its creative influence in the South, expanding its innovative leverage.
In an exclusive interview with Calliope Musicals, On Vinyl gained insight to what it’s like to be a local musician touring on a national level. “The best part,” they simultaneously agreed on, “is also the scariest part…when I am at home I am making plans weeks in advance, when you’re on the road it’s like…when is my next meal?”
The feminine anchor of the outfit, Carey, pointed out another concerning feature of being an on-the-verge-artist, “There is a good chance that even when you work as hard as you can, you won’t make it.”
Although Austin’s artistic society is proud to put local artists on stages at ACL, the city’s most recognized festival, it is apparent that events like Backwoods are the most organic place for these revolutionaries to thrive. There was a sense of comfort that covered the ranch like a blanket of serenity, and it was unapologetically quirky. The barrier between the festival’s artists and attendees was essentially non-existent. There was a production much larger at play than the music itself–a production of unity and togetherness.
Faces quickly became familiar as the festival turnout was low yet genuine. There were contemporary tribal dances around what Backwoods called, “The Disco Portal.” The portal was a hysterical gathering of beats and shuffling around a 3,000 pound fire-breathing disco ball — a stellar combination of a nightmare and a wet dream. Just past The Disco Portal was shakedown street, where nation-wide vendors sold heady art, clothes and culture. All of the festivals accommodations were cosmically psychedelic and appropriately placed around a massive, welcoming pond. Calliope Musicals also quoted that, “There was so much space…it’s the largest festival we have been to with this amount of space, but there is still so much effort that goes into the production…it’s amazing considering the turnout.” Freedom danced alongside Backwoods’ patrons, intoxicated or not. Festivals of this variety prove that Coachella is not the festival. The Coachella complex is silenced in such a genuine atmosphere, standing as a testament to underground art and collaboration. ‘Til next time, Backwoods.