Saturday, March 5, 2011

Nocturnal Festival

Labor day weekend of 2010, me and a few friends decided to make the drive out to Apache Pass Event Center outside of Rockdale, Texas which was more or less about an hour away from Austin. We had all purchased tickets for a music festival, one with a very interesting line-up and theme, and also one that in all reality we both didn't know much about, nor what to expect once we got there. The aptly named Nocturnal Festival lasted from 4pm to 4am every evening that weekend, and included such performers as Girl Talk, Bassnectar, and Rusko. We were heading out on Sunday evening to catch Lotus, Pretty Lights, and Kid Cudi. With much anticipation, excitement, and a little bit of uneasiness, we pre-gamed at my apartment in north Austin for a little bit and then left with the sunset around 8:30 to head up highway 79 to the pass. Almost immediately, we all realized we had made a very good decision.

En route, we passed Dell Diamond, home of the Round Rock Express baseball team. They had just finished up their game that night, and apparently were treating visitors to a surprisingly good fireworks show. We managed to pull up just as it had started, so I pulled my car over the side of the road and we got a free showing to start the trip off with. It seemed like fate, as we laughed and listened to some road-trip music and drank our "to-go" drinks (sorry mom, sorry dad) and watched the display. So once it finished up we continued on our way, our spirits even higher than before at this point.

Once in Rockdale, we decided to stop at the lonely gas station in town and pick up a few more supplies (water, ice, gatorade, advil, etc). It was at this point that I noticed the first dilemma of the trip. Looking at the reflection of my car in the store's window, I noticed my front headlight was out. I instantly was a bit panicked due to the aforementioned to-go drinks and knew that an out light was just the kind of excuse the cops in these po-dunk towns of central Texas would be looking for to pull me over on a night such as this one. But, having taken defensive driving shortly after moving to Austin (due to a speeding ticket I received speeding back to Tyler to pack up and move my things to the Atx), I knew that in this situation the smart, and legal, thing to do was to simply turn on my brights and hope for the best. Turns out having somewhat low-powered lights, although a problem in certain situations, was a blessing in this one. Because we safely made it to the venue and back to my apartment again much later that night without any issues, despite passing quite a few of Texas' finest along the way. Again, this night was shaping up to be a good one.

^Kid Cudi

So finally around 10 we made it the event center, a.k.a. the farm, parked, chugged, and found our way inside. Lotus was set to take the stage around 10:30, so we grabbed a few beers and found a good place in the crowd. The festival was set up into 4 different stages, each one themed, with about 8 artists a night performing at each. Lotus put on an incredible set, complete with a great light show and killer beats, and we were buzzing like bumblebees. But as good as Lotus was, that was just the kicker, because the only reason I bought a ticket in the first place was coming on next: Kid Cudi. I never in my wildest dreams thought I'd get a chance to see Kid Cudi at a festival, let alone at one this close to where I lived. So the second his name popped up on the Festival list, I instantly purchased a ticket (despite the increase in price that his name being added to the bill, added to the bill). Loving life, me and my friends all sang loudly together as we too were successfully on "the pursuit of happiness."

Kid Cudi's amazing set ended in fireworks, the only concert I've ever been to that did, and it was absolutely perfect. Pretty Lights came on after Cudi, and in retrospect I wish I would have stayed for more of that show than I did, but riding on high from Kid Cudi and general curiosity led us to venture away from the stage we were at and check out the other sights and sounds around the park. There were all kinds of lighting fixtures, some in trees, other's standing alone, and the unique array of concert attendees were a sight in themselves. It was one of the most eclectic displays of people in one place I have ever seen, with half-naked girls in body paint running past guys dressed in all black and gaudy gothic stones and belts, to your average wanna-be hipsters such as myself, and everything in between. After walking through a maze of Christmas lights complete with 3d glasses, we decided that it was getting pretty late and we should probably try to beat the rush out of the farm and head back to Austin at a somewhat decent hour (it was around 2am at this time).

^Pretty Lights

We successfully found our way back to my apartment, with me free-styling more or less the entire car ride home in order to ensure I stayed awake and coherent for the trip. Not wanting the seemingly perfect night to end, we all crammed into my hot tub once back at my apartment complex, where we had some cool stories to share with some intoxicated (even more than we were) neighbors, who's foreign accents to this day escape me as to where they were from. Finally crawling into bed around 5am, the smile I fell asleep with was one of pride, success, and contentment. We had conquered and survived Nocturnal, and come away with memories from a night that could only be described as simply perfect.

This April, Nocturnal Festival returns to the Apache Pass Event Center in Rockdale, Texas, and for 2 nights will transform peoples lives. I have not decided yet if I will be returning, as I am simply afraid to try and top such a perfect time, but I highly recommend that any and all who can attend this amazing event. My advice would be to try and find a designated driver (as you always should) since I have heard stories of people who were not as successful as we were at avoiding the 5-0. Also, bring lots of water for afterwards, which looking back on the night was the most important purchase of the evening at the gas station.

This years line up is amazing, and includes:
Above & Beyond
Big Gigantic
Crystal Castles
Ghostland Observatory
Zeds dead

Here is also a link to the trailer for this years festival, which is footage shot from last years which I just described above:

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