This past weekend, Austin, TX was treated to top-caliber talent, both international and local, from the world of house and techno at Seismic Dance Event 4.0. Hosted by RealMusic Events, the local production company that is dedicated to bringing the underground electronic movement to its beloved city, the festival was held at recently-opened The Concourse Project by the airport and featured three distinctive stages, each of which catered to sub-genres of the broader music base. The weather was great, the food was delicious, the lighting and sound production were phenomenal, and the energy was vibrant, but what truly made this festival special was the overwhelming sense of community – not only for the music but also for the city.
The festival saw ~12-hour days filled with extraordinary talent including impressive Austin locals, up-and-coming international acts, and headliners that regularly sell out venues in Europe. In true underground rave fashion, not only did the main festival go until 2 AM, but there were after-parties that went until 5 AM; dedicated fans would rinse, sleep, and repeat. Sustainability initiatives were also launched, primarily with the focus of eliminating single-use cups by offering reusable options in partnership with CupZero. There was also an abundance of compost, landfill, and recycling receptacles across the festival grounds and a clean-up crew that was regularly making its rounds.
Throughout the weekend, it seemed like the organizers were making on-the-fly changes to general logistics to make the festival experience seamless for attendees. These included changing the location of the water station, which was manned by a water hype-man whose energy levels were contagious (shout-out to that guy), changing the set-up of the Frequency Stage to allow for a better viewing experience, and fencing off tripping hazards to help with safety. Local food trucks nourished festival-goers, and I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of vegetarian-friendly options that were available! The festival fashion was impeccable as techno tactile wear was abundant, creating a black backdrop for some of the more pronounced colorful rave wear that festival-goers typically know and love.
Each stage was named in the same spirit as the festival and had its own respective color scheme. The Volcano Stage was indoors, thereby lending itself to host some of the craziest light shows over the weekend. Although it did get rather crowded and hot at times, as one might expect in a room adorned in red lights and named Volcano Stage, there was definitely enough space for ample dancing as shuffling circles broke out during several sets among the dark and acid techno sounds. The Tsunami Stage was outdoors and as the name would suggest, this stage followed a blue color scheme. Also adorned with stellar lighting production, the stage catered more to soulful pop-house and was an amazing place to watch the sunset if you just turned 180-degrees. The Frequency Stage featured more jungle and tropical house artists and a yellow color scheme. It had a few turf-covered platforms that attendees danced on or, when they needed a break, comfortably sat on.
We can’t forget about the lineup, the most important part of a festival. This one did not disappoint! From top to bottom, everyone gave it their all and you could feel that energy translate between the artist and the crowd. The weekend saw headliners Amelie Lens, Claptone, AC Slater, ANNA, Solardo, Bonobo, Nina Kraviz, Black Coffee, and Dom Dolla, but the entirety of the bill was really top-notch. A live set from Ben Böhmer pleased a filled-up Volcano Stage on Friday night while Jamie Jones showcased his ability to read the room (hypothetical in this instance as he was outdoors on the Tsunami Stage). LA-based Rinzen blessed the crowds with two sets, his original time on Saturday then a fill-in on Sunday, and Carl Craig kept the Volcano Stage hot during an unexpected, but much-welcomed and enjoyed, four-hour set on Saturday. Energy levels were still incredibly high on Sunday, which saw a proliferation of duos on stage, like Township Rebellion, Latmun b2b Wheats, and Booka Shade. The lineup was incredibly diverse, not only in sound but also in demographics, which was incredibly refreshing and made the experience more meaningful.
As someone who was introduced to the electronic music scene through heavy bass music and has stayed bass adjacent for the better part of the past several years, I will happily admit that my immersion into house and techno thanks to Seismic Dance Event has me hooked. Someone bring me to a dark room rave ASAP!!