Just when you thought the Austin festival scene was on its death bed, in came DIY Saturnalia Music Festival to save the day! In part, the festival is a newborn baby of the art collective, The Electric Church. As for the name Saturnalia, it was explained in a recent interview from Helter Skelter Pop Cult Magazine as “the name for an ancient Roman festival where the upper and lower class switch roles and everyone celebrates.” The 4-day experimental happening took place throughout several venues around town – here’s our two cents about the last day of the festival.
Day 4 took place both inside and outside of the hidden gem known as Sahara Lounge which is well over a skip and hop from the bustle of downtown Austin. However, once you arrive and step into the dimly lit ambiance draped with African decor and caramel colored walls, one might quickly realize that it is definitely worth the drive out there. Regardless of the lingering work responsibilities that come with a Monday, troves of music lovers made the pilgrimage to Sunday’s festivities.
Webberville Road Baptist Church
Outside, Morgan Delt definitely left the crowd with some food for thought towards the end of his set with his song “MSSR Monster,” where he hauntingly sings “Why are men such monsters?” Each time he repeated this phrase, his genuine longing and frustration for an explanation to this question could be felt. Whatever the lyrics actually meant, considering recent sexual assault accusations in the music industry, it made quite a statement whether intentional or not. Unfortunately, and much in response to the vocal opposition of the fans, the band’s set was over in a blink on a eye. Morgan Delt wasn’t able to play the track they intended to end with, which left the crowd feeling like they just dropped their melting ice cream cone right before they were about to lick it.
Luckily, in came Bushwick Bill to hype the crowd back up by up leading everyone into an acapella rap sesh of the Geto Boys classic ” Damn It Feels Good To Be A Gansta” shortly before Allah Las took the stage. Saturnalia closed out with the band playing their more danceable numbers like “Catamaran” and “Sacred Sands.” No one seemed to even notice the water drops beginning to sprinkle down on them because Allah Las’ music brought the California sunshine to the rainy Texas night. A special mention in particular goes to Allah Las’ touring keyboardist, who is a madman on the keys – seriously, Lionel from the Peanuts has nothing on this guy!
Allah Las photo by Lisa Lee
As if the music wasn’t all encompassing enough, the visuals of the Mustachio Light Show , Astralviolet , and Ether Wave stimulated both the sight and ears of concert goers. Viewers were presented with visions such as shifting brick walls with mystery eyes staring back, slow motion colored warped 80’s workout videos, and a black and white rectangular prism who spewed every color under the sun.
Although in it’s first year, Saturnalia could easily give other other psych giants in the festival world a run for their money in the future. Saturnalia is proof that something great can come from the ground up with determination, a sense of community, and passion. This festival is one to watch.