Euphoria Music Festival is one that I have been especially excited to cover for months now for a few reasons. The first of which was the festival itself. The line-up, the workshops, the camping grounds and of course the great people were all enticing enough. The second reason was for the first time in nine months I was going to see one of my best friends Reilly, who still lives outside of Philadelphia. I had not seen him since I had moved to Texas, and he was making the trip down for the festival.
All was well until the Sunday before the festival began when I received a call from my friend. His brother Tyler, who was one of my closest friends as well, had passed away of a heroin overdose. Reilly and I are both in recovery from addiction and this was a devastating to hear. It was heartbreaking, and the ensuing week was incredibly hard for the both of us, for very different, yet similar reasons. After taking care of the immediate responsibilities following an event as tragic as this, Reilly and I decided that Euphoria is exactly where Tyler would want us to be. So he was off from Philly and I was off from Lubbock to meet in Austin.
So I am sure at this point in this festival review you are a little curious about why I have included a somber prelude. Well as much as this is quite the intro to hit you with, it will all make sense in due time. You see, Euphoria Music Festival was special for so many reasons. Yes, the music was beyond incredible, the stage designs and lighting were brilliant and the entire vibe was magical. But beyond all that Euphoria was a festival full of community, love and healing. I feel that this side of Euphoria is as important to explain as the more traditionally reviewed aspects. I want to give you insight on why I will be returning to Carson Creek Ranch for years to come. What we found at Euphoria was more than a good time; it was friendships that will last a lifetime and lessons that we will carry into every aspect of our daily lives.
We got to the festival grounds pretty late on Thursday. Reilly's flight way delayed and the airport was a mess so our main goal that night was to get camp set up and get some rest. He had flown half way across the country and I had driven six hours across the barren wasteland of central Texas. Parking was easy enough and incredibly affordable for the weekend. This was so appreciated, as most festivals require it's patrons to secure parking passes before the event, making it almost impossible to park onsite if you were not able to do so. This was not the case, they had options open immediately as you arrived, making for a stream lined process that did not immediately create issues as soon as you pulled up.
The days of car camping have more or less come and gone (besides the select few that still offer it) so the hike from the car to the campgrounds with all of our gear was daunting. It was long, bumpy, hilly and not fun in the least. Euphoria did offer some things to make this process easier, they lent out carts to patrons to use which was amazing, they also offered reentry so you were not forced to make only one trip. We eventually got to our site and set up camp. We spoke briefly to our neighbors, unbeknownst to us that we would become incredible friends by the end of the weekend, and then we crashed.
The first real day of the festival started off as many do, waking up in a tent that at some point in the morning turned into an oven. The humidity was high and the sun was beating down. It is always a shock to the system but in a way the sensation of waking up to a hot tent with the bustling sounds of movement outside is a welcome feeling that festival season is once again under way. We got up and got dressed and started to explore. There were ample port-a-potties in the campgrounds and a few food options including a coffee stand. We started to meet our neighbors a little more thoroughly and before you know it we had linked up our phones to Bluetooth speakers and were bumping music to prepare for the day ahead. We hung out in the morning sun and made posters to hang on our canopies. We deemed ourselves ‘The Good Vibes Tribe' and started to dance and in the make shift streets of the campgrounds. Listening to The Magician's ‘Magic Tape 50' we got into the festival spirit and as people passed by we danced with them and talked. A guy with a djembe walked by and played out a rhythm of the track playing, another guy with a mandolin walked by and strummed out a chord progression as we cheered him on. We were already feeling the positive energy that Euphoria offered, and we hadn't even entered the camp grounds.
When the festival grounds opened we immediately headed over to the main stage to catch Daily Bread. These guys were awesome. They matched old soul music to heavy bass ridden beats creating a sound reminiscent of older Pretty Lights. It was the perfect way to start the day. We explored the different stages as well. The Main Stage towered over the festival grounds, The Elements Stage sat across the way with colorful tarps overhead, and The Dragonfly Stage sat down on the Colorado River at the base of an amphitheater. It was beautiful all in all. We caught the end of Broccoli Samurai who covered Lotus' ‘Spiritualize' perfectly. We danced and laughed and in that moment we knew we made the right decision in coming. We recalled the many times we saw Lotus perform the same song in Philadelphia all together and knew Tyler was with us in that moment. We caught a bit of Space Jesus before making our way over to Wave Racer. The Future Classic virtuoso played out a set that was one for the ages. His futuristic, 8-bit influenced sound really got our blood pumping as the sun started to make its way to the horizon.
We then headed down to The Dragonfly Stage to catch Future Rock, a group we had not seen in over five years. Carson Creek Ranch is only a few miles from Austin's main airport, so planes taking off and landing were constantly flying over head. Noise was never an issue as the music drowned it out completely but to see low flying planes constantly cruising overhead only added to the exciting vibe that was being curated for us. During Future Rock's set, the sun finished it's journey across the sky and it became night. As soon as it was dark enough digital mapping images of giant talking tribal masks were projected across the river onto the trees. It garnered a jaw dropping reaction from the crowd. It was truly incredible.
We caught a bit of Tycho at The Main Stage before heading back to Dragonfly for SNBRN, who was celebrating his birthday as well as closing down the side stage. He played a high energy set full of bass house as well as classics such as Afrojack's ‘Bangduck' and Whippenberg's ‘Pong'. He was only billed to play until 11:30, but decided that he was not ready to give up the decks, and played an addition hour before the stage closed for the night. We went hurried over to The Elements Stage to see Dillon Francis. He threw down his typical high energy set full of quick transitions and kept the crowd guessing. He filled his set with throwbacks as well as new music, including premiering his unreleased collaboration with NGHTMRE. All is all Friday was a massive success. We made our way back to the campgrounds and spent the night sharing stories with our new found Good Vibes Tribe members. We talked about what brought us to Euphoria and through human connection, we began to heal.
Saturday started off a little bizarre. Bassnectar was headlining The Main Stage, and this brought in a giant crowd of day pass attendees. There was a miscommunication at the front gate and almost one hundred of the Bassnectar fans stormed the grounds, two hours before gates opened to get the prime real estate of the rails. It was honestly a little irritating to see fans hassle security for just trying to do their Job. But the Basshead's made things right later in the night by staying late after Nectar's set was over in order to clean up after themselves by picking up all the trash at the main stage. It was an act I can't say I have ever seen before at a music festival. Again the positive energy of Euphoria was shining through any way it could.
We started our day off at Break Science who was joined by the drummer of Lettuce to make for an incredible set. We explored the grounds a bit and caught the dark bass sounds of Left/Right and Zander going B2B at The Dragonfly Stage. Euphoria gave so many smaller artists opportunities to show their talents to a hungry crowd. This is something I find to be so special, as music festivals should be a place where up and coming and emerging artists can be heard. After checking out some new music we caught Twiddle and Com Truise at The Main Stage. We took the second half of Com Truise off to prepare for the marathon we had to close out the night at the Elements stage coming up fast. We got some water and food and took it easy for a bit, and thank god we did because the sets that were to come next were some of the best of the weekend.
New York native Branchez started off our mini marathon with style. He dropped his remix of What So Not's ‘High You Are', What So Not's remix of ‘Innerbloom' and a remix of ‘I Remember' I would really appreciate if someone could ID for me. We headed back to the campgrounds and talked a bit about how incredible the festival had been so far, and how much Ty would have loved it. We already felt at home from the immediate sense of community, and knew that somewhere he was smiling down on us, making sure we were raging for him. We got back to the Elements stage just after Shiba San had started what in my opinion would be the best set of the weekend. The Dirty Bird OG threw down some of the best Tech House I had heard in months. He masterfully crafted a set and we danced hard with a crowd of people in front of the sound booth. Andrew, Angela and Veronica made that set incredible for us, as once again we found our Euphoria in the other festival goers. We had the time of our life being ridiculous making big circles during build ups and crashing them down during drops. It was the perfect set to introduce the stage closer Eric Prydz.
Eric Prydz destroyed the Elements stage. Playing equal parts Trance, Progressive and Techno he made for a set that was mind bending. His set structure was relentless and just when things got too uplifting he would release a dark, hard trance drop that sent the crowd into a frenzy. The 90 minutes he was billed for flew by entirely to quickly. After he had finished up Bassnectar was opening up on the Main Stage. The master himself threw down a high energy set that featured classics like ‘Color Storm' and a slew of unreleased tunes. All the bassheads left the grounds that night on cloud nine. Back at the campgrounds we got even closer with the neighbors, delving in details about our personal lives, where we were from, what we did, what our passions were. One of our neighbors, Sabastian even peeled and cut fresh kiwi for us. It was at this point in the weekend when we knew that our little community that we had been a part of creating had taken on a life of it's own. The Good Vibes Tribe had become a family. We headed off to bed with smiles on our faces, but a little sadness in our hearts, knowing that tomorrow was our final day.
We woke up and spent the morning being overall lazy. There was nobody in the first time slot we desperately wanted to see. So we took the time to hang out with our Tribe, take a family photo and slowly pack up our things. We piled everything into our tiny cart and made the trek back to the parking lot before heading to the grounds, so this way, once the music ended for the day we could just hit the road. I had class in the morning, and after already missing Friday, I knew I couldn't stay another night, as much as I wanted too. Our neighbors all had similar sentiments as well. They packed up and prepared to leave after Above & Beyond to get back to reality.
We got back from packing up the car and charging our phones just in time to catch Crizzly. The leader of the slice gang unleashed a reckless set on The Elements Stage. The crowd already hyped up from Waka Flocka, went absolutely wild. We left about half through to catch Alex Cruz at The Dragonfly Stage where we found all of our neighbors as well. We laid down on the hill and relaxed as Alex cranked out chilled out, upbeat, melodic house jams. It was an amazing set that ended far too soon. We caught the tail end of Nahko and Medicine for the People before getting ready for the last two sets of the weekend.
Klingande went on and in no time at all had attracted a huge crowd. People came from every stage to take part in his saxophone filled soul house set. He mixed in tracks including Bakermat's ‘Teach Me' and even performed a sax infused version of Flume's remix of Disclosure's ‘You &Me'. It was one of the most exciting moments of the weekend as the orchestral build up of Flume's signature track melded with live sax. It was absolutely unexpected. It was then time for Above & Beyond.
The entire weekend Reilly and I joked about how A&B was going to be the set that would break us down emotionally. How the feels were going to be entirely to strong to avoid. We were totally right. About thirty minutes into their set, Jono and Tony played out ‘We Are All We Need' and we both lost it. We cried and hugged. In that moment we grieved, but also celebrated. We were sad but so alive. The most amazing thing happened next, we found all of our neighbors only a few yards behind us in a massive crowd. The entire Good Vibes Tribe was there. It was almost supernatural how it all came together. Just as we all met up A&B dropped a hard trance edit of Depeche Mode's ‘Personal Jesus' and we all lost our collective shit. The both of us, Mackenzie, Sabastian, Eitan, Dustin, Brandon and everyone else from our tribe in that moment found our Euphoria. We danced, hugged and secured that weekend in our collective memories for a long time to come. Above & Beyond closed with Sun & Moon and as we sang along, arm in arm looking up to the skies, we cried. So overcome with emotion on so many different levels. It was real though, no chemical enhancements, no society ideals getting in the way. Just pure connection with emotion and the music. In that moment I knew that Euphoria was more than just a music festival. It was home, and we cannot wait to return next year.
All photo's are credited to: WRM Photography
All included photos were shot using a film Camera. As our digital collection is still being recovered from a fried Macbook that some intoxicated festival goer accidentally spilled beer on during Eric Prydz's set. When we have the entire library they will be uploaded to the EDM Sauce Family page.
Special Thanks to the entire Caren West PR Team, Mitch Morales and of course all the security and volunteers who made this year possible.
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