By Tafari Robertson
Though it has been a while since I last set foot inside designated music festival grounds, the arena is in no way unfamiliar. Growing up in Austin, Texas, home of music festival behemoths such as ACL and SXSW, I’ve experienced first-hand the rise of “festival culture”. From bralettes and body posi to cultural indifference and overused frat lingo, I, at points, consider myself a bit of an expert on the ins-and-outs of navigating EDM drops, mud pits and listening to your favorite band next to a 14-year-old that worked very, very hard to sneak half a gram of weed into a park that fits 2,000 people. However, as I gear up for my first festival excursion in the depths of San Antonio, something feels different.
Aside from the more obvious respect San Antonio pays to its cultural heritage and the lack of Mumford & Son-esque bands filling daytime slots, Mala Luna has a certain breadth to it that is hard to find in most festivals you’ll experience in the central Texas area. That in mind and, of course, being a child of the old egg festival circuit, I’ve made a listicle of things to be aware of before attending Mala Luna.
Street style is nothing new to those familiar with an iPhone or buildings that are taller than 30 feet, but it’s worth noting that, for a festival that touts Lil Yachty, Kehlani and Travis Scott as key headliners, you should come prepared to be flexed on. Whether it’s supreme bandanas or carefully tattered skinny jeans, the youths will be out in full force trying their best to impress their favorite new rapper or DJ.
2. Kranium and Sango
Mala Luna boasts an excitingly diverse lineup, considering its relatively small size. Though it does stay well within the territory of radio friendly hip hop, the promoters have played an interesting gamble by inviting acts that are otherwise more internationally popular. Kranium, a dancehall crooner from Jamaica, Queens, and Sango, a Seattle-based producer that is most popular for his Afro-Brazilian future beat, add a certain texture to the Mala Luna lineup that will hopefully introduce the everyday trap fan to a newer, groovier sound horizon.
3. Cultural Appropriateness
As I mentioned before, San Antonio has a much better track record of cultural respect than my hometown of Austin, Texas. One of the things I am most excited for at Mala Luna is not having to hold my breath through a sea of pseudo-indigenous head pieces or ill-advised racialized memes printed onto flags and t-shirts as I try to enjoy what could’ve been a great weekend with the whites. I’m going to cross my fingers and tell myself that Mala Luna is different because I truly feel like it will be. Yes, I’ve heard of the plague that is “Cinco de Drinko” that hits the Riverwalk once a year, but San Antonio otherwise reminds me of Tejano music, Selena and an authentic Latin(x) pride that resonates through the city and hopefully throughout the variety of cultures that are represented at Mala Luna Fest. Hopefully.
4. DJ’s Headlining
The last time I experienced a DJ headliner at a music festival was 2014’s ACL. It was Zedd (I think), and though I am not totally sure that was their actual name, I do remember my body needing to stop moving every five minutes to remember who I was as a person and how I’d ended up in a crowd next to a man who’s sweat bounced into my face on a 4/4 tempo. This is less for you, the reader, as I’m sure a good number of you can still thoroughly enjoy an hour-and-a-half set of wirrs and wubs in the latter half of the year 2016, but rather, this is a note for me to think back on when I’ve had a pretty decent day that doesn’t need to be altered or sweat on in the late hours of Halloween weekend.
It seems I’ve gotten older and lost yet another piece of the precious excitement of youth. Truthfully, I only remembered that it was Halloween weekend halfway through writing this post, and though it’s now two days before I have yet to feel any of spooky Halloween jitters that a younger and more lively Tafari might have used more of this platform to exercise. Nevertheless, Mala Luna is a festival that has decorated its website with bat silhouettes and sugar skulls. While they have yet to publicly declare a costume contest on any of their social media, I’d be surprised, and slightly disappointed, if it didn’t happen out of respect for the spirits of Hollows eve that will likely be shimmying and shaking beneath us throughout the festivities.
Featured image by Tafari Robertson.