Kicking off its fourth annual round of music and camping, the Utopia Music Festival sports a diverse roster of local and national bands, all of whom will be playing for no more than 2,000 attendees, a number purposefully capped by organizers. The result is an experience unlike any other, with intimate performances set against the picturesque Hill Country backdrop.
For those lucky enough to make the short trip out to Utopia in Uvalde County, here is a small sample of some of the great acts you’ll encounter. More information about the lineup, single day tickets, weekend passes, set times, and camping is available at utopiafest.com.
New York duo Mike Stroud and Evan Mast have been meshing elements of rock and roll with electronica since 2004, with their sophomore album Classics rocketing them to indie-pop fame in 2006. Propelled by hits like "Wildcat," the two soon found themselves performing alongside huge acts like Daft Punk, Björk, and Franz Ferdinand. For their live performances, Ratatat blends light and video displays for a true multimedia performance.
White Denim erupted onto the Austin and national scene back in 2007 with a 5-track EP titled Let’s Talk About It. The lo-fi recording had a grit and an edge to it that made the band popular with fans of garage rock. White Denim bucks categorization. There's a lot going on in their music— quirky synth riffs, sitar samples, and all kinds of noise. The band's fifth full-length Stiff, which was released this past summer, carries on White Denim's long tradition of being untraditional. Some songs approach soulful and funky, others dive headfirst into psychedelia. Rest assured, White Denim's live sets are about as eclectic and mesmerizing as their recordings.
Formed in Laffayette, Louisiana in the late 2000s, Givers describe their sunny pop sound as a blend of "afro-beat, dancey pants, and indie pop love music." They're spot on with that "dancey pants" part. Their songs are groovable, lively and engaging. The back-and-forth girl-guy vocal tradeoffs between Tif Lampson and Taylor Guarisco further add to the band's buzzing energy.
Balmorhea Some might recognize Balmorhea as both the town and state park home to the Solomon Springs – a tiny oasis set against a hot, flat and sprawling West Texas landscape. It's obvious why the six-piece Austin band cribbed from the name. Their cinematic, instrumental scores seem tailor-made for exploring the dusty expanses of the American southwest. The band itself also describes the music as intimate studies on solitude, nature, and night. Their performances are genre-defying and wholly enveloping. Utopia fest is one of those rare opportunities to truly see them in their element.
Geoff Duncan Photography
Whiskey Shivers took shape from an eclectic mix of skilled musicians and recent Austin transplants from small towns across Texas, Kentucky, and New York. Their banjos and fiddles blaze with intensity, with a sound that seems straight out of an old-time Kentucky barn burner. Their songs are like a shot of whiskey served up straight and to the point. While the songwriting's filled with hard-hitting truths and honest, blunt lyrics, there's a wry humor behind it all. We'd guess that stomping to Whiskey Shivers will make you feel right at home in the hills of Utopia.