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Review

REVIEW: Rockstar Energy Drink Disrupt Festival

Austin, TX – June 22nd, 2019, As with nearly every concert we have been to in Texas, it was expected to be hot.  Ninety-Two (92) degrees hot to be exact, adding in the 80% humidity, it felt like 101. For a Seattlite, that was ridiculous as we normally only reach those temperatures near the middle to the end of August. Needless to say, we were prepared to take on the heat and were ready for the day. 

Austin360, is a large open venue with minimal shade from the sun. Two large canopies were provided to escape the heat and were in full use. As were free water-spots to refill water bottles. There was a bit of outrage with the festival rules that many felt were asinine. Fanny packs were not allowed, and reusable water bottles were not permitted even if they were empty. Not to mention that festival-goers were also limited to one unopened 20-ounce bottle. That doesn’t seem like enough when the body is faced with high-heat and excessive humidity. 

While originally it was mentioned that there would be plenty of vendors, brands and other pop-ups, they were scarce. An exact count wasn’t made, but excluding merch tents only a handful were external vendors. It wasn’t impressive, and I am hoping that it was an off-day, but being a Saturday, that is pretty hard to believe. For a venue that holds a cap of 14,000, and closing the H-E-B lawn, it was clear that the numbers for turnout were not being met. With light crowds and one band playing at a time, there wasn’t much of a festival vibe. Instead it felt more like a bigger concert in a venue that was much too large. 

Getting on with the show. Let’s make it clear that Andy Black was unable to make it due to poor weather conditions, the lineup was changed to make up for the unfortunate cancellation. The festival stage didn’t begin music until 2:00pm starting off with Hyro The Hero. While the band was packed full of energy, there were not many individuals present and it seemed as though that would be the same running through the entire day. They sounded fantastic and were very engaging, but the numbers weren’t there. Juliet Simms drew a larger crowd, and there were a few individuals who really got into the music. Simms is a great performer, but there were few interactions and crowd hype moments, it felt as though there was a bit of a disconnect. Having been listening to Trophy Eyes on repeat leading up to the event. They were the band that I was most excited for coming in. Even though they sounded amazing the performance wasn’t on pointe and left me wanting more.

With hope that things would start to fire up as Four Year Strong took the stage, those expectations were met. By now the crowd started to fill in a bit more and there was more interaction. When shooting a set, I want to feel as though there is too much action for me to capture within the three song limit. That was what Four Year Strong did for me. With high kicks and the hyped up Pop-Punk and Melodic Hardcore I felt as though I was in the zone. Amped and ready. Sleeping with Sirens took the stage with nothing but pure energy. It was clear that they are seasoned veterans in the scene and it shows with the interaction and heat they brought. Kellin at one point removed himself from the stage and entered the crowd which was a definite turn from the previous bands on the festival stage and the first half of the day ended on a content note. 

Entering the arena for the Main Stage, I was again noticing the lack of people that filled the pit area and the seats. This festival would have had so much more potential if it was in a smaller venue or even a more intimate setting. Memphis May Fire kicked off the main stage, these performers are always in a constant state of motion. Matty Mullins makes it a point to move from each section of the stage in order to interact with fans from all corners of the venue.

As expected from The Story So Far, their set sounded great, but there was an ultimate lack of motion from all members. When watching a performance I hold some expectations in place. Being able to captivate the audience is high on that list. Having the ability to pull in concert-goers and getting them amped to watch you play is a very important trait to have. After seeing TSSF on the main stage, I felt they would have done better on the Festival Stage, especially with such a low turnout.

Things turned around drastically when Circa Survive took the stage. Within seconds the energy had shot through the figurative roof and the crowd exploded. Anthony Green leapt from the stage onto the barrier interacting with fans within moments. Back on stage about halfway through the opening song, mic stands were being thrown alongside the microphone itself. While the weather started to cool, the energy started to pick up giving this event the vibe it needed from the beginning. After the three song slot for photographers, our cameras were stowed and the majority made our way back out to watch the rest of the performance. 

Met with the cool vibe of Thrice, the once hyped up crowd slowly was brought down into a wave of peace. Their set needed pause as an injury occurred in the pit and medics were called in with a stretcher. Sure this caused a minor set back in time slots, but Dustin Kensrue (Thrice) made sure the individual was taken care of prior to resetting and starting their performance once more. While Thrice manages a slower pace it was needed after a long day in the heat, and in preparation of The Used who were headlining.

Theatrics are of no surprise when it comes to The Used, to begin a huge white curtain blocked the entire view of the stage and a short film was projected. Seconds after the kabuki drop the crowd was met with the iconic heart from ‘In Love and Death’ and that instant high energy as is expected from The Used.

All in all, it has to be said even if it is negative. Rockstar missed out on a huge opportunity to combat the loss of Warped Tour. There was so much more that could have been done to make the debut of Disrupt Fest a success and it was definitely lacking. Yes, I did enjoy myself and it was worth attending, but if the line-up next time isn’t impressive, I’ll have to pass.

Review/Photos by Sara Lindsey (Scott)

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