4 Unique Ways Euphoria Stands Out in Austin’s Festival Scene

Article by: Maddie Rish|@maddie_rish

Wed April 12, 2017 | 09:05 AM

Austin, Texas wears many hats. But those who know the city well can speak confidently of its consistencies. Besides the epic BBQ and taco scene (let’s face it, you haven’t really experienced Austin until you’ve survived a BBQ-or-taco-induced coma), the city is a bustling creative epicenter, teeming with hipsters, hippies and free-spirited trendsetters. And unsurprisingly,  the “Live Music Capital of the World” has a monstrous festival scene. For context, an estimated 230,000 people came to the city for SXSW in March and Austin City Limits draws a whopping 450,000 people to Zilker Park each year, making it one of the largest music festivals in North America.

However, not everything is bigger in Texas - and for that, we're grateful. Enter: Euphoria Music Festival. About a quarter of the size of its older siblings, Euphoria just closed out its 7th year at Carson Creek Ranch from April 6th to 9th. For the 30,000 people who call Euphoria home, the festival’s unique, intimate vibe is treasured and cherished over the often “commercial” feel of neighboring events. 

The glorious weekend was full of smiles, love, laughter and glee - and above all else, it was a reminder of what it feels like when a community-focused festival stays true to its roots. In a place like Austin where individuality reigns, Euphoria has carved out a unique space for its own spotlight. Here are four amazing ways that Euphoria stands out.

The Dragonfly Stage

Euphoria Music Festival 2017 Andy Mc Erlean 1
Photo by: Andy McErlean

Take a walk to the northeastern corner of Carson Creek Ranch, and you’ll stumble upon Euphoria’s most treasured nook, a breathtaking natural amphitheater set right along the banks of the Colorado River. As far as Austin’s outdoor music venues go, there are few as visually impressive as the famous Dragonfly Stage.  Anyone who has seen a show at the amphitheater can speak to the venue’s magic, but for Austin-based live electronic duo, Blunt Force , this particular stage breeds feelings of nostalgia.

“When we first played there in 2014, we played at 1pm for about 50 people,” said Brian Gustafson, Blunt Force’s guitarist. “Seeing the amphitheater at max capacity this year was probably one of the most mind-blowing experiences ever.” As Austin locals, Blunt Force have played at Euphoria for the past four years, and they hold the Austin music scene near and dear to their hearts. 

For Gustafson and Blunt Force, the Dragonfly Stage is a symbol of their musical journey and a testament to how far they’ve come.  “I remember looking up at all of those smiling faces and thinking to myself, ‘Holy shit, this is absolutely perfect.’”

The Silent Disco

Tucked away in the Art Outside Village , Euphoria’s epic Silent Disco was the ideal gathering place for those who wanted to keep the party going. In comparison to the midnight curfew of other festivals in Austin, the Silent Disco is a particularly appealing option for the late night crowd, whose 5am shenanigans are as essential to their festival experience as anything else. Not only was there ample space to unleash your inner weirdo (thank you, Euphoria), the creatures-of-the-night vibe was amplified by diverse music selections across three channels. For groups of friends with varying musical tastes, the Silent Disco was a spot where everyone could come together and get down to the beat of their own drum. Whether you were feeling some head-thrashing dubstep, seductive funk or bouncy house beats, there was a little something for all souls under that big shiny disco ball. 

Dedication to Harm Reduction

Euphoria Music Festival 2017 Andy Mc Erlean 1
Photo by: Andy McErlean

At some festivals, attendees often withhold emergencies from festival staff for fear they’ll face legal repercussions. But this was not the case at Euphoria. In fact, as I was lounging in the grass between sets, I heard various workers come on the microphone to remind attendees that everyone at this festival is here to help.

“If you’re not feeling well, if your friend isn’t feeling well--if you notice that anyone isn’t doing well--do not hesitate to bring them over to the medical tent,” said one staffer. “This is a judgement-free zone! We are not interested in getting you in trouble. If you need anything, let us know.”

Euphoria’s dedication to harm reduction didn’t end with their medical efforts. Through the festival’s Green Initiative, "Ecophoria," they pledged to be more eco-conscious than ever before. There were compost and recycling bins laden throughout the grounds, wellness and sustainability workshops, organized river cleanups, and a partnership with the Austin Permaculture Guild . In addition, this was the first year that Euphoria decided to do away with paper schedules altogether.

Those Intimate Vibes

Euphoria Music Festival 2017 Andy Mc Erlean 1
Photo by: Andy McErlean

When you’ve gone to your fair share of festivals with 100k+ attendees, there’s nothing like realizing you now have enough space to do cartwheels...in the middle of a Bakermat show...at sunset. The small population of Euphoria makes it so everyone there has room to feed off each other’s positive energy, something that’s often overshadowed by feelings of claustrophobia at bigger fests.

But there’s certainly more at play here than the festival’s size. Ask anyone at Carson Creek Ranch what they love most about this place, and they’ll often echo that “Euphoria feels like home.” This home-away-from-home feeling is commonplace at festivals around the world, but there’s something special about Euphoria that takes those familial vibes to the next level. It’s the big bear hugs shared between complete strangers, the neighborly exchanges in the campgrounds, and the familiar smiling faces who return year after year.