Art Outside – Apache Pass, Rockdale, TX 10/24-10/27/14 (FESTIVAL RECAP)

The tenth annual Art Outside music festival took place last weekend in Rockdale, TX. The visual and auditory art was more abundant than the majority of festivals across the country can provide, and not just in quantity but, also quality. Throughout the weekend spectators were entertained by DJs, live bands, hybrid livetronica and artists of almost all mediums including painters, dancers, hoopers, sculpters, comedians and improv acts. One thing that was made apparent from the get-go was the ratio of artists to spectators; almost everyone seemingly had something to contribute to the overall Art Outside project.

Festival gates opened at 11am sharp on Friday, which was the first day of the festival. Patrons, volunteers, guests and artists all began flocking in immediately and were for the most part disappointed with the lack of direction or organization that was being displayed by the “box office” and “will call” lines. Artists and guests were being sent back and forth standing in multiple hour long lines until chaos finally ceased. This is another example of how festivals should try to accommodate their guests’ arrivals a little more courteously by allowing an early check-in or an advanced pass to skip lines (neither of which were offered).

Once 4:30pm struck though, Dixon’s Violin took flight and his soothing sound worked flawlessly on the crowd. The music getting under way was also the invitation for all to enter the festival’s gates and become entertained by the art on display inside the festival grounds including an interactive bird that could be pedaled into flapping his wings, to the balancing mushroom patch the art was breathtaking. The Jumpsuit Record’s crew really got the party started at the main stage Friday night as Saqi, Wildlight and The Polish Ambassador all went B2B almost seamlessly. Saqi is featured on several TPA tracks for his trumpet, but his solo set provided much more than just a horn. The tracks he flowed through all had a funky, upbeat EDM groove to them, but were still organic-feeling.

Wildlight (Ayla Nereo and David from TPA) put on a show to remember as David’s funky & futuristic beats melted the crowd into Ayla’s arms and she cradled them with her melodically perfect voice. This duo really is something to see, and are making strides within the EDM community that everyone is happy to see including permaculture, regrowth and refining of our Earth’s resources.

The Polish Ambassador played for over an hour and a half to the jam-packed main stage and even that wasn’t long enough for the people of Art Outside as “Encore” chants rained down after it had ceased. The set-list included remixes of Blackstreet’s “No Diggity” and “Picture” by Lynx along with several new tracks off of “Pushing Through the Pavement” (his most recent album) as well as a feature from Ayla and Saqi.

Once the Jumpsuit party had ceased, the crowd scattered between the Dome stage, wandering through the art displayed, visiting the gallery and camping out for Quixotic and The Motet to close out the main stage for the night. The Motet’s set was absolutely phenomenal; the funkiest of the funkiest, they brought everything a patron could ask out of a band. The horn sections were frequent and extensive, the drum solos were on point and the tracks they played simply made sense. Musically, Friday night didn’t leave the crowd unsatisfied what-so-ever.

Saturday was the day that required ‘Art Ousiders’ to dig deep to find the energy to go all the way from start to finish.  SuperTallPaul kicked of the day’s performances with a spectacular piece of entertainment on the Midway Stage. He looped individual rhythms by a variety of instruments including his beatboxing then combined them into one catchy tune after another. A good portion of patrons also caught his late night set which proved to be a nice way to start and end a festival day. In between the SuperTallPaul sets was an array of live and electronic music along with even more side performers that served as candy to everyone’s eyes and ears.

Nahko and Medicine for the People were slotted for an epic two hour set from 9:30 to 11:30 and they delivered. Nahko started the show off with his signature “prayer-styled” hymn that connected and lifted the crowd before the set truly took off with Medicine for the People joining him on stage. Attention was brought to issues that you may think a Texas crowd could have an iffy response to, but at one point a majority of people had their hands raised in hopes of a “world without war and guns.”

Post Nahko was producer on the rise, Psymbionic who knocked his set out of the park by dropping an eclectic mix of remixes and original songs that had the incredibly unique dome stage shoulder to shoulder, boppin & droppin. Due to an unfortunate scheduling change, Random Rab played an unannounced set at 4:30am on the Midway Stage. Many festival goers missed out on the downtempo specialist’s set.

Sunday’s script included a dense but satisfying lineup, beginning with a crowd pleasing set by “the StEAZ” who was making his world debut. Much like SuperTallPaul, but the wackiness and all around “weird” was genuinely impressive.  Funkotron sparked up the Main Stage’s engines for what would wind up being an awesome first set of the day, as the fast paced funk band slayed through an hour of upbeat, crowd moving tracks and even had attracted people from the other stages by set’s end.

Blue Sky Black Death was the next artist on Sunday’s lineup to impress the crowd collectively. Their unique flavor of deep downtempo has just enough dash of an upbeat trapstyle to meditate and activate the crowd simultaneously.  Following them on the main stage was Emancipator, who merges the violin with EDM better than anyone in the business. From their remixes to their original tracks; every song melded perfectly with the next. From 8:00 till 9:30 the crowd reserved every move their body made to resemble the beats Emancipatior was pumping out.

As the weekend wound down in time remaining, the Art Outsiders turned it up a notch for Papadosio’s festival closing set. Right from the start it was evident that they had hand crafted a set-list to release every last bit of the crowd’s dancing juices. Up-swinging psychedelic tracks were shifted into jamtronica drops and wind ups that blew the crowd away from beginning to end.

Art Outside proved this weekend that even with a smaller crowd size; accompanying good music with next level artists of all mediums can create an atmosphere like none other. Add a stage that is an entirely closed in (all weather) dome that has lights and projection mapping all over the roof and the recipe can’t get much better. The interactive art pieces and  shaded festival grounds added to the surreal circus styled environment that was Art Outside 2014.

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