Photos by Mario Garza and Alexis Sturm (cover photo)
Seismic Dance Event is a relatively new festival in Austin, Texas – 2019 marked only it’s second year ever. I was blown away with how well the festival was done for it being only in it’s second year. The venue was in downtown Austin, with a view of the skyline behind the Tsunami stage. It was a 2 day city fest with easy access to many parts of Austin, but it still went until 2 AM every night. The sound quality, crowd, vibes and lineup were unlike anything else I’ve seen this year. Props to Seismic for bringing those European warehouse techno/house vibes to Texas.
The theme of Seismic was alternating dualities between red and blue, fire and water. The stages were named appropriately, being called Tsunami and Volcano. The outside stage was called Tsunami and had all the tech house artists on the lineup. Saturday saw Franklyn Watts, Wyatt Marshall, J. Worra, Prok | Fitch, Nora en Pure and Chris Lake. Sunday saw Gene Farris, Dom Dolla, EDX, Justin Martin, MK and Gorgon City. Honestly this stage, and every stage, had banger music on it from the very first second of the day all the way until the end of the day. I usually show up early for festivals because I like seeing as much music as I can, but I was literally waiting outside the gate before it opened to not miss Franklyn Watts and Gene Farris. Since this stage was outside, it ended at 11 PM because of city noise ordinances, but the party just shifted inside for some late night techno in the Volcano Stage.
The Volcano Stage was the massive indoor warehouse stage that had all the techno for the weekend. This room was just an empty warehouse room with concrete floors and concrete pillars in every direction. On the right hand side was a bar and on the left hand side was a VIP chill area, but other than it was just a big techno warehouse. The lights in there were next level. It had three layers of light structures coming back from the stage towards the back of the room. These structures were slightly shaped down into an upside down V which made you seem like you were in a light portal being sucked towards the stage. Surprisingly, for it being such a big room, the acoustics sounded great, even on the far right and far left. There was a tiny bit of reverb at the very back of the room by the sound booth. Because there was so much space in the crowd, you could always find a good spot with plenty of dance room, good sound quality and a good light show. Saturday saw Barbuto, Qrion, Rinzen, Gioli & Assia, Teenage Mutants b2b Moonwalk, Eli & Fur, Idris Elba, i_o and TestPilot. Sunday saw Andrew Parsons, Layton Giordani, Lee Burridge, Alan Fitzpatrick, Ellen Allien, Nic Fanciuli, Cirez D and Bicep. Music wrapped up in the Volcano stage at 2 AM.
The Realm AKA “Techno Pit”
The third stage, called the Realm, was the smaller stage for local talent. If you went in the Volcano stage and followed the left side out down some stairs you would reach another outside stage that we endearingly named the “Techno Pit.” This stage was in the shape of a boombox and below it was ringed layers of the dance floor, like an ampitheatre. The first ring was just grass, second layer was more grass and trees, third layer was a concrete path and the fourth layer was the sidewalk in front of a building which they adorned with neon lounge chairs and potted palms. This little stage was in the grassy outside area of a business building but it made quite a cute little natural ampitheatre. Saturday saw Shep, Trinitro, Hollywoodrails, Alec Michael, Doseph, Kivi, Mass Appeal, Shreddward, Raul Facio, and Sara Landry. Sunday saw Shree, Colton Cameron, Kai Castro, Alteon, Josor, Dante Falls, Visions of Glosters, Kinda Super Disco, Deuce Parks, and Red Eye.
Food + Drinks
Seismic had a small area to the side of the Tsunami stage that had some food trucks. There was a pizza truck, BBQ/pork truck and a tamale truck with vegan and vegetarian tamales. There were bars and water refills close to every stage. There was even a juice vendor inside the Volcano stage that had strawberry lemon, hibiscus tea, and pineapple ginger juices. Wow, did this juice man save my life during the weekend. There was also a few clothing vendors besides the main merch tent and even a place to get your hair braided.
The thing that really made this festival so awesome in my mind was the crowd. Who is around you at a set can make or break how much you like it. Surrounded by a bunch of drunk Chads that keep spilling their beers on you? No matter how good the music is, that’s going to rub you the wrong way and make your time not as fun. This weekend was filled with only techno and house fans. I think when festivals have more niche specific lineups, the crowds are generally better because everyone is there for the exact same type of music and these people tend to be like each other. When techno fans are around other techno fans you’re going to have a better time. Same is true for any genre. Other times at festivals you can tell that the crowd is extremely messed up on alcohol or drugs and it’s very apparent. This was not the case at all at Seismic. Every single person there was dressed in black (lol), relatively sober and nice, and dancing their freaking hearts out. I mean the shuffle talent was next level but just your everyday Joe was also techno stomping as hard as he could. It was a great crowd that fed off each other and the music to create an awesome dance party and only good, happy times.
Overall, this might have been the biggest festival surprise for me for 2019. I went in expecting a basic city festival but it really exceeded all my expectations. I want to say it was my favorite festival of the year, but I think that still goes to Dirtybird Campout. But coming in a very close second out of 25+ festivals I’ve gone to this year including Tomorrowland and Ultra Europe. There’s something about those minimal warehouse vibes, an entire techno crowd, a relatively new festival just figuring out what it’s doing, and techno in the US especially Texas. Also, I’ve never seen a lineup that fire. Seismic Dance Event literally blew me away and I would highly recommend anyone that likes tech house or techno to venture to Austin next year to check this festival out.