23 Feb Seismic Dance Event 3.3 Isn’t Over Till the Last Track Plays
Seismic Dance Event 3.3 Isn’t Over Till the Last Track Plays
By Maximilian Polishuk
*This review is older and was in our Issue 66 magazine.
The movie quote “no obstacles, only challenges” comes to mind with RealMusic Seismic Dance Event 3.3. While every festival, club event, or rave has its issues, it seemed Seismic Dance Event 3.3 always had challenges and yet seemed to find a way to make it work, which is a testament for the RealMusic Event team.
RealMusic Events doesn’t slouch when it comes to bringing electronic music to Austin, Texas. They have been at the forefront in this heavy musical city for a while. You can read about the founders in this issue of the magazine to find out additional details about the RealMusic team.
Seismic Dance Event has become a staple for house and techno fans alike over the past couple of years. They have hosted some of the world’s biggest acts in house and techno for such a small intimate event. This year was no exception as they continued to grow with a cap of 3,000 attendees.
I remembered reading the horror stories of the early days of Lollapalooza trying to piece together a lineup for them to go on a festival tour. Jane’s Addiction frontman Perry Farrell was quoted saying on MTV, “When you change the main lineup like that, it changes the whole complexity of the entire festival. It’s like having little umbrellas in your drinks, or nope, it can’t be little umbrellas this year. It’s got to be olives.”
For example household artists such as Charlotte De Witt, Richie Hawtin, and Enrico Sangiuliano ended up canceling for one reason or another which was out of RealMusic’s control. These cancellations might have changed some attendee’s views on the event. However, who they quickly got in replacement showcases what RealMusic has built for themselves over the years.
What they did was amazing. RealMusic stepped up to the plate to replace Charlotte De Witt and Enrico Sangiuliano within 24 hours of the event starting with powerhouses Deborah De Luca and ZHU’s alter ego BlackLizt to cover. So yes, Seismic went through some cosmetic lineup changes but delivered with a punch.
Parking was $25 per day and you had to buy that in advance on the website. Purchasing parking is definitely recommended as the area in which the venue was located didn’t have the best parking options. Plus Austin, Texas has grown so much over the last several years, therefore Uber/Lyft rides can be expensive.
I looked at one point to see how much it would be for me to get home to the Downtown area and I was looking at around $80 for 10 miles. So while some people look at the price tag and say what a rip-off to themselves, I guarantee this was not a rip-off and did come in handy. In addition to the fact that parking was easy to access. There were no lines off the main road and even on Sunday when it was muddy, I was able to get my car out with no problem.
For the previous installements, Seismic was held at Austin American Statesman and Travis County Expo. Both venues are known for being stellarly intimate but where would 3.3 be going?
RealMusic, earlier this year, acquired their own music venue for shows called The Concourse Project. The Concourse Project is located close to the Austin-Bergstrom airport, which is easy for everyone out of town to get to. Instead of hosting inside the Concourse Project, Seismic was held outside on the 7-acre area which can house anyone during COVID-19 restrictions.
The 7-acre land had its challenges due to the rain but it was very well spread out. There was plenty of space for folks to dance and walk to the other stage without having to be concerned about being too crowded.
They had three areas for bar drinks, a merchandise tent, and room for a couple of food trucks as well if you got hungry. Even better, the porta potties were within walking distance of each stage without having to go too far to use the restroom.
The Seismic Dance Event had two stages: the Volcano stage and the Tsunami stage. The Volcano stage was what I considered to be the main stage as it was bigger. The Tsunami stage had a smaller intimate feel. However, how the lineup was stacked and depending on which artist you came to see, both could be considered main stages.
The only drawback I had to the venue was the sound bleed between stages. I could easily hear both stages while trying to dance at one of them. It seemed to me that due to the forecasted weather of rain they had to move the stages in a direction that would cause the sound to bounce off each other. For the non-technical ear, this probably would be fine, but for someone like myself, it felt at times like a novice DJ learning how to mix for the first time.
The other drawback was shade. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much of it. I really hope they can fix this issue in the future. I would suggest a large area with staked tensile structures designed as a tented retreat, similar to those that have been utilized like at other festivals. Granted, the weather called for rain all weekend, but there was not enough shade for folks even to hide from the drops of rain.
The COVID-19 Entrance Experience
The COVID-19 policy from the CDC or state requirements are constantly changing. These regulations will determine what festivals can or can’t do so I won’t be going into that as this is out of RealMusic’s control. I will, however, speak about the process of how the entrance worked with the current COVID-19 protocol.
RealMusic partnered with an app-based program called Virified. This app allowed people to upload their proof of vaccination and negative lab test results within 24 hours of the event happening.
If you were not able to get a test in time, they did have testing on-site for $25. Seismic still required everyone to use the Virified system app, but if you did the onsite testing, you would not need to load the test result as they had that handled for you.
Once approved on the app, which showed a green dot, or my case, a diamond, you were able to go pick up your wristband at check-in. Check-in was an easy process as they opened the wristband pick-up times early in the morning from Thursday to Sunday. The lines were short at check-in as well as going through security. I had no issues waiting a long time to get in nor any of my friends who attended over the weekend.
Seismic was the first dance music festival I have seen to implement a credit card added to your wristband for purchases inside the event grounds. The wristband had a chip encoded RFID inside for attendees to use. Seismic raised the bar and used the wristband as currency to buy drinks. This currency encoded was a great idea as who enjoys carrying cash to a festival and not worry about change. It also helped to make things a bit more contact-free for health purposes.
How did they attach currency to the wristband chip you ask? Well, they had an area (also at check-in) inside the event where you needed to go over to a machine to activate the wristband. While activating the wristband, you had to either put in a credit card, Venmo, or PayPal information. The activation is what allowed me to use the wristband as currency.
To safeguard everyone’s details, they asked you to type in a personal PIN. For folks who can’t remember PINs, I recommend always choosing something you can easily remember. Every time I bought something I just used the chip reader for the purchase with my PIN and I could get a receipt sent to my email. Overall, this was great because if you lost your wristband, no one else could buy drinks on the house for all 3000 attendees. I hope to see this implemented more as technology improves.
Oh, the beloved VIP space. Honestly, I’ve never been a fan of VIP as it really takes away from what music used to be about when I was raving in the ’90s which is about coming together. I do understand why event promoters provide it, therefore, I have to come to grips with why we have it these days.
Seismic had a really basic VIP area which I loved. It was nothing fancy or flashy but still gave certain folks what they wanted. It provided a clean A/C bathroom, quick and easy access to the festival, a bar, bottle service, and a platform for viewing the stages. The VIP area had three entrances and easy walking access to both stages.
The Tsunami stage actually had its own little dance VIP area right next to the stage which was an added bonus. The price for all this above was only $299 for the weekend and $129 per day before fees. If you desire to have those amenities above for next year, then yes, go for VIP when it goes on sale.
The rain gods were nice to us on this day. It was hot and humid for most of the time as we were quickly approaching June here in Texas. For some folks, this weather can take a toll. I ended up showing up around 5 pm to get my Day 1 started, and even for someone who has grown up in this weather, it still made me find shade throughout the early evening till the sun started its descent.
I moved around between stages catching Westend, John Summit, Sian, and Agent of Time. I do have to say all those sets were amazing to watch. It set the tone for the evening. I decided to stay at the Volcano stage area for the remainder of the night as I was excited to see Spencer Brown start the night off right. His melodic style captured the sunset and set the tone for the other headbangers to come.
Guy Gerber, who I have seen several times, including on the playa, is someone you do not want to miss. He started his set with Frankey & Sandrino’s “Hope 43” and dropped amazing tracks including, Benedikt Frey’s “Out Of Here” the Roman Flugel Cosmic Disco Drama Rework, and Desire “Don’t Call” the Guy Gerber Rework. Guy did a fantastic job weaving his sound throughout his set.
The Headliner for day 1 at the Volcano stage was Deep Dish. I always enjoyed listening to their Global Underground Moscow and Toronto Sets. If you have never heard of Global Underground, you need to go listen to the series and write back to me when you have listened to all 43 sets.
One of my fondest memories was watching them put on a marathon set at WMC (Winter Music Conference) in Club Space. It was magical to see them reunited on stage doing what they do best which is layer track selections and sending people on a rollercoaster ride of emotions over the course of their set. It was incredible to hear them play their track “Say Hello”. I never really expected it on this set but when it came on, it brought back those memories from seeing them in years past.
Do you remember when I started with the movie quote “No obstacles, only challenges?” Well, today was that day. I woke up to pouring rain and knew right then and there that this event was in trouble. I did not want to alarm my friends, but I warned them that this is going to be like Woodstock.
My out-of-town friends could not understand why and I explained to them that, “Texas is a flood zone. The place will be one giant pool of water”. I received the message at brunch that Day 2 was postponed until a later start time and immediately jumped on social media to notify anyone who follows our social media accounts. I sat back in my chair and said, “This event is going to be canceled today. There will still be a party, but where is the key?”
You might be asking if that was a feeling or if I had insider information? Growing up as an event promoter in the rave scene for a long time (I’m talking warehouses, not festival raves) we always had challenges. The generator would go bust, map points were wrong, events would get busted by the cops, or DJs wouldn’t show up. So yes, I knew with the talent we had in town for this event that something was going to happen.
For the folks who have seen the movie Groove (Yes, that rave movie from 2000), Day 2 felt like this. The party gets shut down, the event promoter named Ernie talks to his fellow teammate about the nod, and all of a sudden, John Digweed shows up and says, “Is this party still happening or what?” They both look at each other and Ernie starts to formulate a plan to let folks know the party was on. The final statement from Ernie before the next scene was “The shit ain’t over till the last record spins.”
As the gateway of social media started to unfold with news that day 2 was canceled, artists began to say where they were playing, and around early evening, Seismic came out with the solution. They had four venues that people could go to but on a first-come, first-serve basis. One location would be the Martinez Brothers and ARTBAT, another was Bob Moses and Walker & Royce with Subset, and Sidepiece at the other venue downtown. The after-hours event would be the final one but would only allow after-hour ticket holders in which included Nicole Moudaber and Blond:ish.
Floods of people hit downtown for the three venues. Everywhere lines began to form as people wanted to see these artists. Unfortunately, venues hit capacity quickly and the majority of folks had to go home. I do believe the original intention was to have everyone spread out to different venues however, the majority of people wanted to see ARTBAT and the Martinez Brothers.
While this was a bummer for some folks who were irritated about day 2 being canceled, this really does show that RealMusic has the backing of the Austin music community. Who else could have pulled off three different venues all with different artists on such a last-minute notice? Not many. The majority of event promoters would have said “Tomorrow”, and worried about everything else. Not RealMusic. They conquered and made it work.
I ended up being able to see ARTBAT and the Martinez Brothers. I do have to say I was extremely lucky and fortunate to have gotten in. ARTBAT was breathtaking. I did end up leaving early from the Martinez Brothers set because at one point I wanted someone else to have an opportunity to get in and dance. On my way home, I ended up stopping by for Bob Moses and watching that crowd go off for a bit.
Overall for day 2, I could not have asked for a better alternative plan. There’s no chance of hosting 3,000 people in a venue on short notice without the proper permits so yes, way to go RealMusic. After the event, RealMusic actually ended up refunding day 2 only passes and parking which shows how much RealMusic truly cares about their community.
The last day was supposed to be the day it was going to rain hard. Well, it never rained hard which made the day perfect. I ended up bouncing between stages instead of staying at one for the majority of the time. I got to watch Paco Osuna lay down a fun set for the crowd. I witnessed VNSSA making security dance their tails off to Solardo & Eli Brown “XTC”. I was graced by Deborah De Luca spinning hard and nasty with her track selections. Phantoms tore it up before TCHAMI closed the night on the Tsunami stage and finally, I saw Zhu’s alter ego BlackLizt close the final night out on the Volcano Stage. It was a perfect ending to a fun weekend.
I never attended any of the afterhour parties that were held for this event. While several of my friends did, they all said they had a great time. I do recommend checking it out for Seismic 4.0. You will need to make sure to buy your ticket for those events in advance.
The last year and a half we all waited for the moment where we could all dance and have fun again. Seismic has its challenges and people without a doubt got upset, but honestly this time last year we all were sitting on our couches waiting for the day that we could all attend events again so there were little to no complaints from me personally.
RealMusic provided what we all needed, which was community listening to artists on big sound systems again. I strongly suggest if you like house or techno that you must add this event to your list of go to’s. You won’t be disappointed.