Greg Ackerman - 365 Things to Do in Austin, TX

Greg Ackerman

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Saturday marks the start of the fourth annual Float Fest music festival at Cool River Ranch in Martindale, Texas (about 40 minutes south of Austin). What is remarkable about this festival apart from the fact it is the first to offer tubing is how fast it has grown. Last year, nearly 10,000 fans floated the Comal River then watched the likes of Chromeo, Santigold, Future Islands and Bone, Thugs & Harmony deliver fest-worthy performances while enjoying a ferris wheel, tilt-a-whirl and other carnival attractions between sets. A limited number of tickets remain for the nearly sold-out show according to event organizers.

The 2017 version of Float Fest offers a different approach to booking and scheduling than past dates with Saturday’s acts leaning heavily on the electronic/hip-hop/DJ side while Sunday presents top tier indie-pop and rock acts. Sunday headliner Weezer hasn’t had a hit album in years but there’s no mistaking their catalog presents a raft (see what we did there?) of widely recognized tunes besides the ubiquitous “Buddy Holly” single most folks have heard on the radio or their favorite restaurant’s Pandora station. After playing a ton of SXSW dates in Austin last March the band returns to the area in support of their latest effort, Feels Like Summer. Fans can download or stream the new album directly from the Weezer website.

While there is no mistaking the acts booked for the festival skew towards a younger audience, Cage the Elephant deliver a fantastic live show for a band that has a single so popular it’s become a bit annoying. Add electro-psych rockers MGMT, Nashville’s red-hot Moon Taxi and a slate of Austin’s best independent artists and Sunday results in a formidable lineup for a relatively young music festival. Ume, Wild Child, Walker Lukens and Los Coast are some of the best bands from the Live Music Capital.

Pro-tip: Don’t miss 365 Things Austin favorite, Sweet Spirit who hit the Sun stage at 4:45 p.m.

The lineup Saturday pivots the opposite direction as the closing day. Wildly popular electronic artist and ACL Festival veteran Zedd headlines with Passion Pit, Mac Miller and Denton’s Neon Indian rounding out the top of the bill. If you arrive early on opening day, head to the Sun Stage at 3:15 p.m. for Heartbyrne, Austin’s lovable Talking Heads cover band.

While soaring temperatures are a concern (100 degree weather is expected), organizers have arranged for air-conditioned tents situated in both VIP and GA areas with additional tented seating and free water stations. Bring sunscreen, hats and water bottles along to ensure you’ll make it safely to the end of an extremely warm day.

View a detailed schedule and buy tickets at the official Float Fest website. Single day, camping and float packages are still available as of today.

 

Much like January’s Free Week, Hot Summer Nights are a series of free concerts hosted by music venues located in Austin’s Red River Cultural District. Running July 13-16 at various clubs in the area, the performances will feature popular local acts White Denim, The Octopus Project, Magna Carda, Matthew Logan Vasquez (Delta Spirit),  Golden Dawn Arkestra and Moving Panoramas among others. Similar to the Free Week programming, there is a national act included, Andrew Savage of Brooklyn’s Parquet Courts. The event is a chance for Austin music fans to discover local bands in a small geographical area. Club hopping is not only allowed, it’s encouraged.

Hosted by the Red River Merchant Association which formed in November 2016, the purpose of the event is to promote local venues in an area threatened by downtown development and at the same time give back to the community which supports it.

“The Red River District itself is a true cultural icon here in Austin and we want to do everything we can to see the area not only survive, but thrive in the years ahead,” said Stephen Sternschein, RRMA board member and owner of Empire Control Room & Garage. “These Hot Summer Nights events are meant to serve as a way for our team to give back to residents here in Austin, as well as provide amazing musicians and artists an opportunity to directly interact the local community. We can’t wait to kick off these first Hot Summer Night events, which will be the first step of many to come for RRMA, and reveal additional plans for the district in the near future.”

While we love all the bands participating (because they’re Austin acts) several lineups stand out among the huge list of performers:

Friday – White Denim – Cheer Up Charlie’s

This show is opportunity for White Denim fans that doesn’t come along everyday. Since their lineup shake up in 2015 when White Denim lost two members to Leon Bridges’ band the James Petralli-led outfit has not performed often. The indie-rockers shifted from a prog-rock bent to more of a blues-rock oriented act with the new formation, inserting Petralli side-project Bob English members into the roster. The results are as entertaining as ever. The support bill includes Deep Time, The Stacks, Go Fever and Tyler Jordan and the Negative Space. RSVP via Facebook here.

Friday – The Octopus Project – Empire Control Room

If you haven’t witnessed the astounding visual spectacle of a show by The Octopus Project this is a perfect opportunity to see the UT Film School grads play their hybrid of electronica and power pop. Besides being one of Austin’s hardest-working bands, the group features the unusual addition of a theremin to the mix. Their recent show at Barracuda last month was a reminder The Octopus Project never disappoints. RSVP via Facebook here.

Saturday –  Magna Carda  – Cheer-Up Charlie’s

Hip-hop / jazz fusion act Magna Carda’s 2016 release “Cirqulation” was one of the best local albums to drop in Austin last year. The longtime duo of Megz Kelly and Dougie Do added what basically amounts to a jazz/funk trio to back them and the results were magical. Megz has the kind of flow that makes even casual hip-hop fans sit up and take notice. Doug provides the sounds and effects while their crack band ties it all together.

The supporting acts are no slouches.  Get to Cheer-Up’s early to catch My Empty Phantom, Obscured by Echoes and Lord Buffalo. RSVP via Facebook here.

Saturday – A. Savage (Parquet Courts) – Barracuda

While we were in Spain last year for Primavera Sound Festival we caught Andrew Savage’s Parquet Courts on the Pitchfork Stage.  The Brooklyn rockers style is hard to define. They played a high-energy show that featured elements of punk, alt-country and indie rock.  Naturally we’re curious about Savage’s solo act. US Weekly and Alex Dupree round out the lineup. RSVP via Facebook here.

To see the entire roster of bands and stay up-to-date on the latest lineups visit the official Hot Summer Nights Facebook Event page. Despite the event kicking off tomorrow, there’s still some surprises ahead such as the special guest to be announced at Sidewinder on Saturday.