By keeping a friend's memory alive while raising educational funds and stacking a bill 50 bands strong, the Oh Snap! benefit festival puts a miraculously positive spin on a tragic event that rocked the Southwestern University community just three years ago.
When seven Southwestern friends and classmates received the news of Machado's death, they banded together in the name of celebrating a positive influence too soon lost. And this wouldn't be any old benefit; this would be a rocking, raucous good time in the vein of a truncated music fest.
Machado was an aspiring musician and singer, with many friends in bands around town (including local favorite, The Bright Light Social Hour). Fittingly, the Oh Snap! board (comprised of Dave Winter, Austen Ross, Adam Bates, Travis Newman, Stephen Smajstrla, Kara Knorpp and Jeremiah Lugo) aimed to move the local music community into action.
"Sergio was a free spirit who celebrated all of those around him and made people feel comfortable and at ease. . .We built this festival under that same spirit."
You might think that a casual concert-goer could easily miss the message behind Oh Snap!, but the board is careful not to let Machado's memory fall to the wayside.
"We put Sergio's smiling face on the poster and handbill every year, and we put him on our large banners at the festival," says Knorpp. "That's how we keep him present with us. If people don't know the mission behind the festival, we hope that seeing his face will prompt them to as us, 'Who's the guy on the posters?'"
But the Oh Snap! crew didn't stop at throwing a great party, they even established a scholarship in Machado's name at Southwestern for international students and raised $12,000 last year — a number they hope to double at this month's event.
With so many friends in high, musical places (Newman, for one, is the House Manager of popular venue The Parish), the benefit festival has grown exponentially in the past three years. The inaugural year of 2009 saw 12 bands on the bill and 2010 featured 18 — a far cry from this year's 50. Also new this time around, instead of the previous single day celebration of Machado's life and Austin music, the team expanded Oh Snap! to three days and two venues.
Notably, national brand Sailor Jerry has hopped on board as a major sponsor to dole out discounted drinks and nautical swag during the sets. Headlining Oh Snap! this year are T Bird and the Breaks, Ume, Freshmillions, Smoke & Feathers, DJ Orion, The Lemurs, Parking, Little Lo and The Shears — an impressive mix of Austin born and bread electro, folk and rock ‘n roll.