Weekly Staff Picks: Sound Guide to UtopiaFest

Intimacy and music festivals rarely go hand in hand. While dense, synchronized crowds can produce a lasting and life changing buzz, high-volume festivals are risky and often tedious to execute. Simple tasks like using the restroom or getting water can become quite a spectacle at commercially operated music festivals. Although intricate art installations, A-list celebrities and colossal crowds are intriguing at festivals, it’s possible to get a similar experience without the expensive, outlandish frills. UtopiaFest, located in Utopia, Texas on Sept 29-October 2, is a stunning testament to experience through simplicity.

UtopiaFest is the brainchild of the brilliant Travis Sutherland, a visionary whose love for live music and the Texas hill country inspired him to change the way music lovers do music festivals. UtopiaFest is a family-friendly, BYOB, camping, music and arts festival with its  permitted crowd strictly capped at 2,000 attendees.

Sutherland, his family and Austin’s prominent video production company, Onion Creek Productions, combine their influence to give back to the wonderful world of Austin music with a humbled swagger. Although UtopiaFest is small and spacious, it’s an epicenter for spirituality and unity to incubate: You don’t need to throw elbows to be in the front row, there will be no crying in line at the portapotties after 30 minutes of waiting, the “Coachella complex” is minimal and the musical representation is outstanding. UtopiaFest is a simple social experiment which proves that quaint, outdoor spaces can serve as a platform for a wild, loving, unified experience.

This is the eighth year of magic at UtopiaFest, and its lineup is one for the books. The festival’s major headliner is the electronic/rock duo RATATAT. Although their musical influence is globally adored, the twosome have been on a hiatus in recent years, and UtopiaFest is the only festival in 2016 they will appear at. Jurassic 5’s Chali 2na and five time grammy winning Victor Wooten are also notable acts on this year’s bills. While the headliners are an obvious attraction, the lineup’s diversity deeply extends into Austin’s local music scene, too. Local artists include Golden Dawn Arkestra, White Denim, Whiskey Shivers, The Deer, Milkdrive, Ruby & The Recklesss, Calliope Musicals, The Echocentrics, Warren Hood, Balmorhea, Sucka Please, CAPYAC, Resonant Frequency, Atash, The Stacks, Trouble In The Streets, Trax Rebo and Mixer Rogers.

To prime your senses and to prepare your festival endurance, On Vinyl has carefully crafted a cross genre’d playlist curated with the Austin-based musicians that will take the festival by storm. Give it a listen.