Dust off your festival sneakers and mark your calendars for a utopian experience Sep. 29 – Oct. 2 for a celebration of amity and goodwill at UtopiaFest.
The fall season in Central Texas is a pivotal time for the region. College football, cooler weather, Halloween, Thanksgiving — the yearly staples that serve as a cool relief to the grueling, hot summer. Simultaneously, the Central Texas fall serves as a plane for the greatest form of relief: music festivals.
While ACL and Sound on Sound Fest are preparing for “A-list” headliners and dense crowds, a smaller festival three hours southwest of the capital is curating an incredibly intimate, three-day camping experience. UtopiaFest, located in Utopia, Texas is a music, arts and culture festival that came from humble beginnings and quickly blossomed into a brilliant, community-driven celebration of unity.
The festival is capped at around 2,000 people to maintain its genuine-hearted atmosphere. UtopiaFest possesses a modest, kindred spirit while maintaining the psychedelic resonance that seduces fans to large-scale festivals. Undoubtedly, uniqueness radiates throughout the meditative vastness of the Texas Hill Country at UtopiaFest, ensuring a stellar adventure.
Although the festival is considerably smaller than mainstream music festivals, its lineup remains impressively distinguishable. 2016 headliners include electronic/rock duo RATATAT, Jurrasic 5‘s Chali 2na and five-time Grammy winning composer Victor Wooten.
The lineup’s diversity deeply extends into Austin’s local music scene. 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 and Mixer Rogers. Over half of the lineup is curated with Austin talent.
Founder of the festival, Travis Sutherland, explained to On Vinyl that the small-scale, local energy is what defines the festival. “Everything starts with it being so small…it creates the vibe, the ease…you never have to wait in line and you can always get to the front of the stage. There is plenty of space to do whatever you want.” A sense of freedom rings liberally here.
Furthermore, the festival is privately owned by Travis’s family, the Sutherland’s. “It came from growing up out there on the land and loving it and just wanting to be able to share it with people,” Travis humbly explained.
The event is sustained by a passionate family who believes in keeping Austin weird. Although Travis didn’t engage in attending shows and festivals until he was a freshman at Texas State University, his latter experience in the music industry quickly matured into a concrete understanding of what it means to be a behind-the-scenes visionary.
2016 marks the eighth year of the festival. After UtopiaFest’s inaugural year, Travis partnered with the Austin-based TV and video production company Onion Creek Productions to expand it’s influence. Onion Creek capitalized on the festivals leverage with re-cap videos and striking visual effects, bringing in an artistic and loyal audience.
Although intoxication and drug-use is typically prevalent at most music festivals, Travis assured On Vinyl that attendees are eight years responsible and accountable, assuring a family-friendly environment. UtopiaFest encourages music lovers of various backgrounds to engage in the magic. To cure your hangover, the festival offers yoga, meditation, art and A.M, REI-hosted hikes throughout the hill-country.
The Sutherland family fosters an organic, novel experience by reveling in artistic intimacy. They have collectively created a calm, artistic haven which simultaneously radiates an electric, unforgettable energy via music.