Secretive camping festival near Austin goes big on the lineup and small on the crowds
You should be sitting down for this: A music festival doesn't have to be a 100,000-person affair. Austinites may have been led to believe this kind of thing is non-negotiable in 2023, but one breakout festival produced by locals is challenging that notion by keeping its capacity at 500 — and offering day passes for the first time.
MOCO Music & Arts Festival is drawing Austinites about an hour northeast of home on April 28 and 29 for two days of small-festival jams, eats, hammocks, and more. Formerly MoFest, this mysterious outdoorsy event takes place at a "secret location" in Lexington, Texas, and is only in its third iteration. Still, the lineup doesn't betray any disorganization, offering near-constant opportunities for music and activities.
Paul Cherry, a Chicago-based jazz and indie rock solo artist, headlines the 2023 festival, offering the following credo in a release: "I love playing festivals like this because this is where the real heads stay; and I’m only interested in where the real heads are at."
“From the crew, to the bands, to the audience members, everyone was crazy kind, and the whole experience was a blast,” said 2022 headliner Kelsey Wilson of Sir Woman. “The location is perfect too! Would recommend – 10/10.”
Other notable musicians in 2023 include some of Austin's own: boisterous punk femmes Die Spitz, Colombian funk jammers Superfónicos, and synthy pop duo Flora & Fawna. Momin Ahmad, co-founder of MOCO with Alexandra Arteaga (as in, Mo and Co.), will play bass in one of the groups: a high-energy, charismatic, and funky bluegrass group called Texas String Assembly, which is already popular among the indie and Americana fans that frequent longer-established camping festivals.
Daily happy hours are sprinkled in, plus something called a "Vibe Barn" to close out Friday's festivities, and a late-morning yoga class on Saturday to recover. The converted barn will essentially become the rustic version of an Austin warehouse party with live DJs and live painters from 10 pm to 2 am.
Off the schedule, there's a 300-acre ranch to enjoy, including "unofficial after hours DJ experiences on the property," so it sure sounds like anything goes. Although campers will have to pack their own tents, they certainly won't be roughing it at the bathroom and shower trailers. (Nor will they be hiding their booze at this 21-and-up event.) Most of the shows overlook a lake, but this is the only clue about the hushed locale.
Feels So Good (FSG), an Austin screen printer and record label, will be onsite making merch on Saturday, joining food trucks Four Brothers Venezuelan Kitchen, Gardner Barbecue, Buddy’s BBQ & Crepes, and possibly more, plus art and vintage vendors. If bringing a tent is already a chore, look forward to a break in the 8-person hammock installation by Kammock. One other partner headed by an Austin "epicurean entertainer," Wine Rack Soundtrack, will offer wine pairings for whatever music is playing between sips.
Fetii, a ride sharing service with 15-passenger sprinter vans Austinites may have seen parked around town, offers a 25 percent in-app discount with the code MOCO25. Whether via Fetii or another service, the festival recommends carpooling when visiting for a single day to save the limited parking for those who have reserved it with a camping pass.
Tickets (starting at $90.17) are available at dice.fm. Remember that a very limited capacity may mean the event will sell out soon. More information about MOCO Music & Arts Festival, including a full lineup and schedule, is available at mocofestival.com.