Besides being the hardest music festival to spell, what else sets apart this weekend's debut of Piknic Electronik from the pack of Austin-area music festivals in 2018?
One important thing: location, location, location. Auditorium Shores has long been one of the best outdoor sites for live music events in the city, from the 1970s Aqua Fest heyday through the 1980s T-Bird River Fests to the more recent string of Fun Fun Fun Fest shindigs there.
But Piknic Electronik also is attempting to distinguish itself by being a music festival that isn't, well, entirely focused on music. For starters, the volume level on two stages will be lower than it is at your typical outdoor music festival. That's partly to encourage social interaction and to create a family-friendly environment: Children 10 and under get in free with an adult (limit of two children per adult). And the adult tickets are quite affordable at $15 a day (plus fees).
The flagship Piknic event, in Montreal, began more than a decade ago and is a weekly summer series up there, rather than a weekend festival. Offshoots have been staged in other cities around the world in Europe, Australia and South America, but the Austin event is Piknic's first venture into the United States.
As the name implies, electronic music is the focus, but it's not so much the kind of bass-heavy EDM you'd likely see from an Austin City Limits Music Festival headliner, according to representatives from C3 Presents, which worked with Montreal's Piknic team to bring the event here. C3 also presents ACL Fest and thus a weekend model seemed more in the company's wheelhouse than a series, C3's Sarah McGoldrick said last week.
It's also perhaps about giving Piknic a try here with relatively modest expectations, and seeing how the community responds. The acts booked are not big-name headliners, but rather are "a little more underground than we usually go," C3's Bobby Clay says. Topping Saturday's lineup are Brooklyn's Moon Boots and Germany's Tensnake; on Sunday, the top acts are Detroit's Claude VonStroke and the English duo Solardo. The fest also tapped local and regional talents such as DJ Mel, Toddy B and JT Donaldson.
Part of the booking for Piknic Elecktronic Austin was taking cues from the mother ship. Claude VonStroke, Tensnake and Solardo all have played the flagship event in Montreal, according to Clay. "We worked closely with the Montreal team to make sure the stuff we were booking was in line with their brand," Clay said.
Only single-day tickets are being sold, suggesting that organizers may be gearing this more toward casual attendees than an all-in two-day audience (though fans can buy separate tickets to both days). Ticket buyers can also pre-order picnic meals from Central Market when they buy their tickets online, with three $26 options plus a $7 children's meal.
Other dining options for festgoers will include food trucks and stands. Torchy's Tacos, Salt Lick BBQ, Burro Cheese Kitchen, Shawarma Point and Ranch Hands all will be on site at the event. The western edge of the grounds will feature a children's area, with the secondary music stage in the middle and the main stage occupying the spot most frequently used for Auditorium Shores concerts on the eastern end of the grounds.
An update: We asked C3 organizers if Austin's current water-quality issues would affect Piknic Electronik in any way. They replied that the festival "will have free, freshly filtered water available for attendees that will be delivered from outside of Austin. Fans are encouraged to bring empty water bottles (plastic or aluminum) to fill once inside the park." Bottled water and other beverages also will be available for purchase at on-site bars. "All bar ice is from a safe source outside of Austin as well," C3's representative added.
Piknic Electronik: If you go
When: 2 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, Oct. 27-28.
Where: Auditorium Shores, 900 W. Riverside Drive.
Tickets: $15, plus fees; piknicelectronik.frontgatetickets.com