A Guide to Austin’s Smaller Music Festivals

Every year, Austin attracts music lovers from around the world to some of its most famous festivals: Austin City Limits, South By Southwest and Fun Fun Fun Fest. However, there is an abundance of smaller but equally awesome festivals that are often overshadowed by these giants, and you deserve to know about them. Here are just a few of the events that our wonderful city has to offer.

Austin Psych Festival, May 2 to 4

In just seven short years, Austin Psych Fest has evolved from a small, word of mouth, 10-band shindig to the incredible event it is now. Located annually at Carson Creek Ranch, the Austin Psych Fest is a three-day, three-stage, exclusively outdoor event that attracts alternative legends from around the world. Liars, Primal Scream, Moon Duo and The Black Angels are just a few of the acts that will be performing at the festival this year. If you wish to camp, you can buy a three-day camping pass to stay in the nearby field and even rent a tent if you wish.

Austin Reggae Festival, April 18 to 20

Did you know that it’s possible to listen to great music while raising money for charity? Me neither. The Austin Reggae Festival benefits the Capital Area Food Bank. Last year alone the festival raised over $260,000 for the charity.

The lineup is designed to showcase local and regional reggae acts as well as a few larger national musicians as headliners. 

In the words of Pat Costigan, founder of the Austin Reggae Festival, “The Austin Reggae Festival is a wonderful way to celebrate spring in Central Texas with great music, great food, great arts and crafts and great people-watching. The fact that it all benefits a great cause makes the event all the more special.”

Euphoria, April 25 and 26

Also hosted at Carson Creek Ranch, Euphoria is an up-and-coming electronic music festival in Austin. The first annual Euphoria music festival wowed audiences in 2012, and then was an even bigger hit in 2013 with headliners including Datsik, Baauer, EOTO, Designer Drugs, Tommy Trash and Clockwork. 2014’s festival is expected to be the best yet with even more boldness, brightness and fantastic music. Although the lineup is yet to be released, tickets are on sale now and going fast. Make sure to bring a tent and a sleeping bag if you want to take advantage of the opportunity to camp on the field overnight.

West by West Campus, Feb. 22 and 23

West by West Campus is an all ages, all lifestyles film and music festival within walking distance from campus. It is an absolutely free festival, which means that even the starving college student who hasn’t eaten anything but ramen and fruit Gushers is welcome to attend. The festival is hosted by people who have a passion for fun and music.

“What’s awesome about West by West Campus is the fact that for five years now, a small, close-knit group of friends control the whole event, from volunteers to booking to press and more,” said Jenni Gritti, strategist for WXWC. “We get no money from putting this on, only the feels.” 

The festival attracts smaller local bands that perform on four different stages in the West Campus area. The crowd is primarily college students, but anyone is welcome to join.

“Ask anyone that’s gone to UT in the last four years about West by West Campus and they’ll tell you an amazing story,” Gritti said. “I think that we’ve touched that many lives in such a short amount of time by just wanting to have fun and throw a party is pretty freaking awesome, don’t you?”

Dirty Fest, March 9 to 16

The Dirty Fest is hosted and established by Dirty Dog Bar, a popular music venue in Austin. It is a day party during the week of SXSW, but is a completely independent music festival. This venue has a lot of character and individual style, and showcases talented and passionate hard rock, metal and alternative bands.

“It’s a grungy kind of place,” said Clara Patt, freshman advertising major. “It definitely has a punkish or rocker feel to it. It’s a big contrast compared to the typical clubs down the street that are more modern and play techno and electric music, but I like that because it adds diversity to downtown Austin.” 

Auditions for Dirty Fest are going on now and admission is free to anyone who wants to see talented, breakthrough music acts.