Road trip! 6 music fests outside Austin city limits
Austin might be the Live Music Capital of the World, but sometimes you need to broaden your horizons. Here are a few upcoming music festivals just a drive away.
Festival International de Louisiane (April 24-28)
The largest international music and arts festival in the United States transforms Lafayette, Louisiana, into a vibrant bazaar of rhythm and melody, with stages scattered around the city’s downtown area serving up sounds from around the globe. Honoring the region’s French heritage, the festival highlights artists from the Francophone world. This year’s bill includes Afro-pop artist Dobet Gnahoré from the Ivory Coast, Alsarah & the Nubatones from Sudan and Boukman Eksperyans from Haiti. Several Louisiana artists, including Tank and the Bangas and Anders Osborne, are also on the roster alongside a wide variety of bands playing everything from Mayan reggae cumbia to Irish folk music. The event also includes workshops, art exhibits, theater performances and a special Scène des Jeunes area for young fest-goers. The entire event is free, but you can buy a pass for access to prime viewing areas, air-conditioned restrooms and expedited bar lines. More info: festivalinternational.org.
Marfa Myths (April 25-28)
Cultural center Ballroom Marfa and Brooklyn music label Mexican Summer host a multidisciplinary festival featuring music, visual art exhibits, comedy and more. The festival programs several stages spread through the quirky West Texas desert town, spotlighting artists from Texas and beyond. This year’s bill includes the hazy psychedelia of Houston’s Khruangbin, who play on a bill with Austin outfit Money Chicha, as well as Atlanta rockers Deerhunter and folk-rocker Cass McCombs. Tickets to individual events run $15-$55, and $220 all-access bundles are available. Children 13 and younger are free. More info: marfamyths.com.
Fortress Festival (April 27-28)
Fort Worth’s biggest breakout in years, Leon Bridges, and Scottish synth-pop trio Chvrches headline the third edition of this event that takes over the Will Rogers Memorial Center and the Modern Art Museum in Fort Worth’s Cultural District for a two-day party featuring 22 bands. The lineup also includes rappers Rae Sremmurd, Khruangbin, Tank and the Bangas and R&B artist Tinashe. Austin artists Abhi the Nomad, Bright Light Social Hour and Blackillac will also perform. Single-day tickets are $79 and two-day passes are $119. Children 10 and younger are free. More info: fortressfestival.com.
Kaaboo Texas (May 10-12)
Billed as an “adult escape,” this three-day shindig takes place at the AT&T Stadium, home to the Dallas Cowboys. Organizers promise a cleaner outdoor festival experience with ample seating areas and “pleasant potty time.” The lineup for this year’s event is a hodgepodge of popular artists on daily bills that pair the Killers and Lionel Richie with Lauryn Hill and Alanis Morissette on Friday; Kid Rock and Lynyrd Skynyrd with the Black Eyed Peas and Flo Rida on Saturday; and Sting and Little Big Town with the Avett Brothers and Pitbull on Sunday. In addition to music, the festival features comedy, gourmet tasting experiences and an art fair. Single-day tickets are $159 daily and three-day passes are $299. More info: kaabootexas.com.
Voices From Both Sides (May 11)
Programmed by the Big Bend Citizen’s Alliance, this festival takes place in tiny border town Lajitas and Pasos Lajitas, its sister village across the Rio Grande in Mexico. Fest-goers wade across the river to listen to local artists on both sides of the border. A legal border crossing between the two towns was closed in 2002, and organizers dubbed the event a peaceful “Fiesta Protesta” to raise awareness about the negative effect the closure had on the two communities. The event is free to attend. More info: facebook.com/VoicesFromBothSides.
Neon Desert (May 25-26)
Set on multiple outdoor stages in downtown El Paso, the tunes for this two-day fest skew toward urban music and EDM. This year’s top-billed artists include DJs Rezz and Steve Aoki and R&B artists Miguel and Tory Lanez on Saturday and rappers Wiz Khalifa and Young Thug and sultry pop breakout Kali Uchis on Sunday. Single-day tickets are $89 daily and two-day passes are $119. Children 3 and a half feet and shorter are free. More info: neondesertmusicfestival.com.