7 smaller Austin music festivals to keep the jam going after SXSW
This is a warning: South by Southwest is coming. Everyone knows. The most recent news from the festival-to-end-all-Austin-festivals involves a third round of showcasing artists for the music leg, including names like New Order and Killer Mike. But many Austinites prefer to stay out of the way during the full-city transformation, opting instead to visit smaller, more intimate festivals.
Thankfully for those fans, this January was peppered with news from other festivals coming in the spring, reminding Austin what it's like to do things big, in smaller, more genre-specific events. The following festivals cover lots of ground from American traditions to world music, back to American alternative. Austinites, as always, get to stay close to home.
Old Settler's Music Festival— April 20 - 23
This Americana festival brings 28 groups and solo artists across four days of camping to Dale, Texas, about 45 minutes southeast of Austin (near Lockhart). "Americana" is more a guideline than a strict rule, with appearances by Yola and Austin artists Shinyribs, Matt the Electrician, Ley Line, and more. CultureMap published some sets to look out for, and a full lineup and tickets are available at oldsettlersmusicfest.org.
Austin Reggae Festival — April 21-23
Austin Reggae Festival has announced some of the artists on its 2023 lineup, including all headliners: The Skatalites, Jesse Royal, and Inner Circle. The event raises funds for Central Texas Food Bank, and has previously gathered more than $1 million for the organization via ticket sales and direct donations. At Auditorium Shores, the festival promises "good vibes" and is easily accessible from around the city. Tickets go on sale on February 1 at austinreggaefest.com.
MOCO Music and Arts Festival — April 28-30
More camping is in store for Austinites, this time at a secret location in Lexington, about an hour northeast of Austin. The festival has rebranded since its 2022 debut as MoFest, but the mission remains the same: to celebrate Austin's creative scenes. The "intimate weekend celebration" with a capacity of only 500 released a lineup featuring Paul Cherry, Die Spitz, Fat Tony, and more. A full lineup and earlybird tickets ($145.14) are available at mocofestival.com.
Austin Psych Fest — April 28-30
A product of Levitation, an alternative record label and festival, Austin Psych Fest announced its 2023 lineup at The Far Out Lounge. The two stages will include Toro Y Moi, Austin greats the Black Angels, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, and indie pop hero Cuco. Ensuring the psychedelic vibes are fully realized, the festival has an epic light show planned. The full lineup and tickets (starting at $75 before fees) are available at levitation.fm.
Austin Blues Festival — April 29
The 'inaugural' Austin Blues Festival may sound like it's the first of its type in the city, but it's reviving a long history of celebrating the genre. It is the first iteration of this particular festival, held at Moody Amphitheater at Waterloo Park, but it's not the first blues festival to bless the city (for example, Eastside Kings Festival, among others). Rather, Austin Blues Festival is the revival of a decades-old tradition at the same park, called Antone’s Blues Festival. Still, the festival gaining new life also brings Los Lobos, Booker T's Stax Revue, and Blk Odyssy to Austin audiences all at once in an outdoor party. The full lineup and tickets (starting at $50 before fees) are available at moodyamphitheater.com.
Shows a little further out, but with recent big news:
Utopiafest — May 5-6
Yet another camping festival. This is the "finale" of Utopiafest, a long-running festival, at its more recent home base at Reveille Peak Ranch about an hour northwest of Austin. It'll eventually return (in October) to its more remote first location, out in Utopia, Texas, for two more events. There's no lineup yet, but in January the team launched a permanent venue and bar in Buda, called Meridian, which will live on when Utopiafest is over. CultureMap covered the brass tacks of the transition and tickets are available at utopiafest.com (select specific days and needs to view prices).
Oblivion Access Festival— June 15-18
One of Austin's biggest and darkest "underground" events, Oblivion Access Festival, just announced the first wave of its lineup including headliners Godflesh and Tim Hecker. The multi-venue festival promises more than 50 names on the lineup by the time all are announced. Oblivion draws fans and artists from around the world to the Red River Cultural District, to experience the venue-hopping tradition the area increasingly leans into. The full lineup and tickets (click each show for prices) are available at oblivionaccessfestival.com.