I had high hopes for Euphoria Music Festival. It was my first camping festival of the year (the best kind of festival), my first Bassnectar show of the year (the best kind of show), and my first time in Austin (a pretty okay city). The lineup was incredible, the weather was beautiful, and even though I had just driven halfway across the country from a festival the weekend prior, I was energized, excited and ready to play in the sun. I was not let down. Euphoria more than lived up to my expectations, and its name. It was a flawless weekend of amazing music, perfect weather, and beautiful humans.

Space Jesus Crowd

From the moment I trudged in Friday morning with my entire festival life strapped to my back, the good vibes were overflowing. As a tent-only camping area in a fairly small space, it was important to make friends with your neighbors, and that was easy to do at Euphoria. After setting up camp, meeting the neighbors, shotgunning beers and taking shots of smuggled Fireball, we were ready for music and exploration. Euphoria’s small camping setup put it in close vicinity to the festival grounds, which made travelling back and forth easy enough, aside from the hills that became increasingly difficult to navigate as the night (and booze and drugs) progressed. After a short jaunt through the woods and over Carson Creek, the trees opened up into a giant field full of stages, installations, and beautiful people. The wide open space that was home to the two main stages had more than enough room for the thousands of attendees. Pushing through crowds to get from stage to stage is the worst part of festivals, and Euphoria never had that issue, even during the massive headlining sets.

festival grounds 2

A short walk away, the beautifully designed Dragonfly stage offered shade and amphitheater style seating, all backdropped by the Colorado River. This stage hosted some of the best smaller acts of the festival, including Space Jesus, SNBRN, and Big Wild. Tucked into the back corner of the festival, Dragonfly felt like its own intimate event, a perfect escape from the sun and the main stages. At night, the dragonfly that adorned the stage turned into a brightly-lit work of art, and faces were projected on the trees across the river. It was the perfect place to sit down, vibe out, and trip balls if that’s what you’re into. At one point, a wide-eyed girl standing next to me grabbed my arm, pointed, and whispered to me “How are they doing that? It’s so beautiful!” with genuine joy and wonder, to which I responded “I have no fucking clue, but I never want it to stop.” It was one of those beautifully intimate moments between two complete strangers that can only happen at festivals like Euphoria.

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With the two main stages being in a giant open field, shade was at a premium at Euphoria, and that’s where the main stage VIP area came in clutch. Situated just to the side of the main stage, the VIP-only area had a shaded lounge that included couches, charging stations, and a private bar that held a daily happy hour, with free drinks and food. It save our lives on multiple occasions, and combined with the VIP-only viewing areas at both main stages, it was definitely a necessity. I’m not normally one to advocate for VIP perks, mostly because I would never shell out the $$ for it, but Euphoria’s VIP perks made it totally worth the extra money, and probably paid for itself just in the free booze, at least at the rate that I was drinking it.

bass love

While escaping the main stages was a nice perk of the festival, it was only because there was so much amazing music happening on the stages that sometimes it was impossible to pull yourself away. Afternoon sets from Break Science, Mashd N Kutcher, Waka Flocka, and more kept us dancing and sweating in the hot Texas sun. Once the sun went down and the air cooled down, the lights came out and so did the best acts. G Jones and Jai Wolf absolutely dominated the Elements stage on Friday, throwing down the best sets I’ve ever seen from both artists, with Dillon Francis closing out the stage with an incredibly fun set. Dillon truly loves what he does, and makes sure the crowd is having just as much fun as he is. Saturday night belonged to Euphoria stage, where Griz and Bassnectar threw down one of the best back to back festival sets I’ve ever experienced. If  you’ve ever seen Bassnectar, you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, well just ask my campmate and new BFF, who had her first festival and Bassnectar show at Euphoria. It’s a life-changing experience, an all-out assault on the senses, a non-stop head banging affair. Griz, who played directly before Lorin, knew exactly the crowd he was playing to, and launched into one of the most bass-heavy sets I’ve ever seen from him. It was a night that’ll be talked about for a long time, assuming you survived it. Sunday night was a completely different affair, with Above & Beyond and Cherub closing out their respective stages, and Nahko setting the vibes earlier in the day. It was a much needed wind down after Saturday night’s bass assault and Sunday’s afternoon of non-stop trap and hip-hop at the Elements stage. Crizzly, Waka, and Mashd N Kutcher kept all of us Saturday night survivors dancing through the hot afternoon sun and into the final evening, where Above & Beyond closed out in grand fashion, with beautiful music, vibes, and even a marriage proposal. It was the perfect end to the weekend, if your weekend actually ended there, which for most of us campers, it didn’t.

jai wolf

There was no rest for the wicked at Euphoria, even though noise restrictions forced the music to end at 1AM in the festival grounds. Euphoria got around these restrictions in a perfectly genius way, constructing a massive Silent Disco next to the campground. All night and into the morning, the music raged on through the headphones, with Austin and West Coast DJs sharing the booth with suprise guests like Crizzly and Loudpvck. You’d never know that hundreds of people were still dancing the night away unless you were actually there, as the campsite stayed fairly silent throughout the night. It was an amazing way to afterparty without disturbing the campers trying to rest up for the next day. You’ll never know pure rage until someone in the campsite next to you plays Bonfire on repeat out of their car stereo at 6AM while you’re trying to get a precious few hours of sleep before the next day of raging (I’m looking at you, neighbors from Electric Forest 2014). Thankfully, that was never a problem at Euphoria, where the people who wanted to party until the sun came up could coexist peacefully with the select few that actually like to sleep at festivals.

basshead

The music at Euphoria was phenomenal from start to finish, but the shining star of the festival wasn’t Lorin, Dillon, or Grant. The best part of Euphoria was you (Assuming you were there). From the kindred souls that I camped with, to the Kittycorn I met waiting to get into the festival grounds (50% unicorn, 50% kitty, 100% the friendliest person ever), to the bartenders in VIP that kept me hydrated with a steady supply of whiskey and cider, everyone was ecstatic to be there. The crowd was big enough to party hard, but small enough to foster a beautiful sense of intimacy. Whether you were raging on the rail, hooping in the back, or taking a nap in the shade, there was always a new friend nearby. Even when I strayed from my friends and wandered solo, I never felt alone. There was always a smile, a hug, or a dance partner waiting for you wherever you ended up.

nectar crowd

Overall, Euphoria was a perfectly named festival. From the beautifully diverse lineup, to the wonderfully organized festival and camping grounds, to the incredible humans that populated Carson Creek Ranch for the weekend, it was practically impossible to be unhappy. I’m not sure how this festival hasn’t blown up as much as similar festivals around the country, but after this year’s edition, I don’t see Euphoria staying under the radar for much longer. If you like dancing the weekend away, meeting amazing souls from all over the country, and just generally being happy, you should probably get to Euphoria next year. It’s a perfect start to the summer camping festival season, and along with Buku Project, has set the bar high for the rest of the music festivals in 2016.

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The author with the best campmates/friends that you could ask for.

 

All photos were taken by Jared Winkel (me!) Full album is here, and on our Facebook