Texas has several cities that teem with nightlife: Houston, Austin, and Dallas being the big three. Each city has carved out its own unique underground scene that operates under the radar of those who don’t venture out of their houses past midnight unless it is for work or an impromptu run to Walmart. Then there is Waco, Texas, home to Baylor University. You would think that the presence of a campus community might invigorate the area to have something resembling an EDM scene, but a search for “EDM in Waco, Texas” and “EDM DJs in Waco, Texas” doesn’t yield much of anything. Illevated Sounds aims to change that with Illectric River Music Festival, Waco’s first EDM festival.
Illevated Sounds is the brain child of founder and visionary Benjamin Cobb and Jason Millsap. The pair spent over a year developing their ideas, researching, and running numbers for throwing a festival in Waco, an untapped market. Last week I spoke to Benjamin, who spoke of festival organizers not spending enough money on staffing and the guest experience so that guests feel welcome and safe. His business model, he said, was to make a festival that was different and exceed the expectations of his guests. That is why Benjamin has teamed up with individuals who have experience working with large festival properties like Tomorrowland, Tomorrowworld, and Imagine Music Festival. He has also partnered with staffing companies and professional event management company SMG Corporations to provide an unparalleled festival experience that will merge art and music. Houston artists Nicky Davis and w3r3on3 along with Houston-based UP Art Studio will be responsible for morphing the festival grounds into an open air gallery.
We are so excited for the homies UP Art Studio, Nicky Davis, and #w3r3on3 to transform our festival grounds!! #IllFest #UpArtStudio #nickydavis
It’s no easy task to find a suitable venue to hold an event of this scale in a larger city, much less Waco, but the men and women behind Illectric River Music Festival have done just that. Touchdown Alley at McLane Stadium was chosen as the site for the first annual Illectric River Music Festival. Touchdown Alley is surrounded by water, allowing for a scenic view as you engage in all of the festivities.
The timing of the event in mid-March will mean that people will be seeking a place to stay hydrated and keep cool. A central feature of the festival is Hydration Alley, an area that has been created in response to the need for adequate places for people to rest and quench their thirst. At Hydration Alley you will find free water stations, shade, and spots to relax. Illectric River Music Festival is committed to safety and comfort for all patrons, which is why there will be an ADA Access team that will provide assistance to anyone who needs it, accessible viewing areas for ADA patrons, and visual guides for anyone who is visually impaired. There will also be an Access Center where patrons can ask questions, recharge wheelchair batteries and other equipment, and store equipment like oxygen tanks and insulin.
In addition to medical and emergency personnel, staff members called “Safe Staff” will be available to help anyone with questions or concerns, no questions asked. In an era where organizers don’t always invest as much time and money in harm reduction efforts and customer satisfaction as they do on buying talent, it is satisfying to see a company take steps to ensure that anyone who enters the festival grounds will be taken care of.
Over 20 electronic dance music artists will perform on March 18, 2017. There’s no doubt a bass arsenal is being assembled. Party Thieves, Riot Ten, Jayceeoh, and A-Trak were announced during the roll-out of Phase 1 of the lineup. Representing San Antonio will be dj and producer Brett Hopkin, who goes by Madhatter. Hopkin was born in San Antonio and lists Zedd, Skrillex, Wolfgang Gartner, Kill the Noise, Knife Party, and Porter Robinson as some of his influences on his Facebook. He’s blown up since his first gig at a small pizza parlor and is now booked to play Middlelands in May of this year. Catch him at Illectric River Music Festival first and see why he is one of San Antonio’s breakout artists. Get to know Madhatter and the other artists coming to Waco with the following playlist, loaded down with the filthy, neck-breaking bass you crave.
Festival attendees at Day For Night in Houston last December that were seduced by the light mapping and art installations of that festival will be pleasantly surprised when they see the outcome of the man hours being put into making this a festival that is about more than bringing in as many heads as possible and hawking merchandise. UP Art Studio, best known for eye-popping murals around Houston including a 10,000 square foot mural that is the city’s largest to date, will contribute to the artistic atmosphere of the Illectric River Music Festival, providing art installations and live graffiti art demonstrations. There will also be interactive art exhibits, charity art raffles, and much more in store for those that appreciate the visual arts.
Please welcome UP Art Studio to the Illectric River Family! They will be providing amazing art installations, live graffiti artists, and so much more! #IllFest #UpArtStudio
Posted by Illectric River Music Festival on Saturday, January 28, 2017
Waco is uncharted territory. The goal, according to the festival founder, is to bring attention to Waco and come back year after year to grow the music scene in the city. Touchdown Alley will be transformed into a community for the bass-loving faithful, complete with a market where food, art, and crafts will be sold. The local community will be a vital part of the festival, an event where festival goers are invited to “create, relax, dance, and explore the melody of culture and life.” New life has been breathed into the electronic dance music scene in Texas and it’s Waco’s turn to show the world that electronic dance music can thrive in the least suspected places.
Learn more at Illectric River Music festival’s official website. Follow IRMF on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Keep updated at the event page.