Listen to Austin 360 Radio

Bright Light Social Hour, Zeale at Texas State radio's fest

Weekend event spreads to nonstudent crowd with more venues, acts

Gary Dinges
gdinges@statesman.com

Austin's not the only place to catch live music in Central Texas.

If you need proof, head to San Marcos this weekend, where the My Radio Fest will feature Austin favorites Bright Light Social Hour and Zeale, as well as more than 30 additional acts playing free shows spread across seven different locations on Friday and Saturday.

Students at 89.9 KTSW-FM, Texas State University's radio station, started planning for the two-day event — envisioned as part South by Southwest, part Austin City Limits Music Festival— last summer.

"This is our fourth year, and every year it has gotten substantially different and grown bigger," said Colleen Baker, a Texas State student and the station's promotions director. "We're really striving to make this an amazing festival."

For 2011, they've added Texas Music Theater as a venue and also will air selected concerts live on the radio for the first time.

Incognito no more

Zeale, an up-and-coming Austin rapper, is plenty familiar with San Marcos.

You won't find him in the clubs, though. Poke around the Texas State campus and you might bump into him as he works toward a communications degree.

"I've been pretty incognito," he said. "I don't really talk about music. I've tried to keep it separate from school so I could excel. Now, though, they're coming together."

One of MR Fest's featured performers, Zeale promises to wow the crowd. Texas Music Theater has more bells and whistles than many of the venues he plays, allowing Zeale to take his act to the next level.

"That theater's decked out, top to bottom," he said. "I don't want to give too much away, but there's gonna be a big finale."

A Bright Light ahead

Bright Light Social Hour played last year's MR Fest and is the 2011 headliner. The band is fresh off a big night at the Austin Music Awards, during which the rock group took home six awards, including Band of the Year, Album of the Year and Song of the Year.

"Headlining's great," said bassist Jack O'Brien, "but by the time you get back to the dressing room all the beer's usually gone."

"I love playing in San Marcos because the people like to party," drummer Joseph Mirasole added. "People there are really, really good at that."

The MR Fest gig comes just days before the band kicks off a monthlong tour that'll wrap mid-June at a soon-to-be-named Austin venue. They'll be promoting their self-titled album while working on a second one that will — they hope — be in the hands of fans soon. No promises though.

"Our writing process is a lot like debate in the Senate," Mirasole joked. "It's incredibly slow but, at the end of the day, you've got something interesting."

Not just for students

Though the fest is put on by Texas State students, organizers hope to reach an audience that extends well beyond the boundaries of campus.

In addition to the music, they also have a marketplace featuring a variety of vendors and artists planned from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday on the Hays County Courthouse square.

"What they're doing is trying to incorporate the entire community," said Jon Zmikly, a Texas State grad who now serves as an adjunct lecturer at the school. "I think it's very smart."

It's also a prime opportunity to bring out-of-towners to San Marcos, something that has city leaders excited.

"We're certainly best known for the outlet malls and the river, but we want more people to see the downtown square and the rest of the city as an option," said San Marcos Mayor Daniel Guerrero.

It's a hope he shares with Baker, the KTSW promotions director, who soon will see the result of a year's worth of planning unfold.

"I've never been more overwhelmed and more stressed in my life ... and I love it. It's one of the best experiences I've ever had."

gdinges@statesman.com; 912-5987

Also this weekend: Clusterfest

Southwestern University in Georgetown is the site for Friday's Clusterfest.

Doors to the Corbin J. Robertson Center open at 5 p.m., and the music gets going at 6.

Performers include Matt & Kim, Octopus Project, Del the Funky Homosapien, Mexican Institute of Sound, Black and White Years, and Bright Light Social Hour.

General admission tickets are $20 at theclusterfest.com . Discounts are available for alumni, faculty, staff and students.

My Radio Fest