This weekend will bring the inaugural Float Fest, a semi-novel marriage of music festival, tubing and camping, all bound together by the glue of day-drinking. Although relegated to a single day event, FF aims to be a rather ambitious affair, one that may require a bit of coordinating to take advantage of. Here are a few pro-tips to help make the most of it.
In a fairly impressive move for a first-year festival, FF has managed to pull a handful of respectable big-tent indie acts including Portugal. The Man and Grouplove. For some reason Bun B is listed as a second-tier, medium-font headliner, but let’s just right that unmentionable wrong and put him up top where he belongs.
Set to cap the Fest, Grouplove leans on a sound that splits the difference between early MGMT’s day-glo psych-pop and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zero’s group-hug folk rock. All in all, they should make for a potent festival force. Portugal. The Man hasn’t quite developed a similar reputation as a festival must-see, but with a deep catalog and airtight musicianship, there’s no reason to believe this won’t be a strong set (assuming that the Alaska-born band doesn’t liquefy in the early evening heat).
And then there’s Bun B, whose 25-plus year rap sheet reads like an annotated history of Lone Star State hip-hop: Jay-Z and Outkast collaborator, original Underground King (ahem, Drake) and world’s most gangsta coloring book author. Short of leading a successful state secession effort, there’s no more Texan a way to spend an afternoon than tubing, downing Lone Stars and watching Bun B.
By name alone, Float Fest conjures the image of drifting along the San Marcos River, beverage of choice in hand, bobbing blissfully along to the sounds of “Int’l Playerz Anthem” coming from a riverbank stage. It’s no small bummer then that Float Fest offers no such scenario, with the tube and music portions of the Fest being mutually exclusive affairs. The upside: there’s the BYOB policy for tubing, which if coordinated properly, acts as a pretty killer loophole for avoiding festival beer prices. Tubing passes are separate and can be purchased from Don's Fish Camp.
Camping it Out
For an extra $30 for one night, $40 for two, there’s the option of camping out on the grounds, an all-immersive choice that maximizes all tubing and music-related activities. A Sunday camping and music pass is $70. The campsites sound pretty damn primitive: no running water, readily available power or showers (there are port-a-potties; it’s a festival after all). That said, if the prospect of uninterrupted all-day drinking supersedes these pesky hygienic concerns, then there’s no better way to go.
Don’t Blow off the Smaller Acts
Often seen as an afterthought, FF seems to have put some solid thought into its early day scheduling, bringing in the likes of Dallas-based electro-mystics Ishi and roots revivalists Whisky Shivers to open things. To my ears, however, the best motivations for making it down early are Austin singer-songwriter Roger Sellers, whose quirky, atmospheric take on folky-electronica stands on its own amidst the remaining festival roster, and SA’s own Henry & the Invisibles, who continues to turn in nothing but spectacularly soulful, ridiculously costumed one-man shows.
Don’t Miss Bun B
We’re clear on this, right?
Best Mid-tier Act
It’s the heat of the day, it’s August in South Texas and you’ve got an unlimited pass to float the perpetually chilly Guadalupe. Certainly the odds are stacked against staying put at a festival stage for the afternoon. A case could be made for Austin-based DJ and rapper Zeale or indie-folkers Wild Child as solid reasons for braving the mid-day. The best argument though has to be for STRFKR, the vowel-averse electronic outfit with a penchant for ridiculously catchy, dance-heavy sets. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the Portland quartet ended up besting the headliners and STRFKNG their way to the top of the fest.
Correction: August 28, 2014
This article has been updated from the original to clarify pricing.
11am-11pm Sun, Aug 31
Cool River Ranch
601 Dupuy Ranch