Easter Seals of Central Texas (http://www.easterseals.com/centraltx/?referrer=https://www.google.com/) sponsored the 4th Annual Dia de los Muertos, this year at Fiesta Gardens in downtown Austin, Texas. With the sun shining and a fun line up of bands this should have been a festival with more than a thousand in attendance.
There was great food. From food on a stick, fried, wrapped in tortillas, it was mouthwatering. The chicken quesadilla was the hands down favorite in my opinion. Plenty of drinks were flowing as well. from the traditional juice drinks to some ice cold adult beverages on the rocks.
The shopping was themed for the Dia de los Muertos "sugar skulls". There was clothing, collectibles, and jewelry. We spent a pretty penny at a couple of the booths for our selves and for gifts. Face painting was a big hit this year with a really large tent and plenty of people lined up for some art expression of the festival on their face. There was even a pinata party for the kids as well.
Then there was the music. 3 bands, the drums, and the dancers. It was colorful, it was loud, and it was all full of smiles...for everyone in attendance and performing.
The Austin Samba School (http://www.austinsamba.com/) thrilled us with there moves and the beat of the drums. Las Monas danced and made us remember what the festival is about. It excited the crowd and had people on their feet dancing in rhythm to the beat.
On the main stage for the evening was opening act, and local favorite of the festival the Tiarra Girls (http://www.tiarragirls.com/). Quickly becoming an Austin treasure and in the not to distant future, a Texas treasure. These three, teenage sisters rocked the crowd. With a great mix of covers and originals the Tiarra Girls are super surprising. Not really for me, but watching the faces of those around, it was great stuff. Doing an amazing version of Selena's "Como la Flor" and Linda Ronstadt's "You're no Good" these girls prove they have the musical chops to hang with any band on the bill.
After Tiarra Girls exited, my anticipation mounted. Up next was a band I have been yearning to see live for a couple of years now. I was not let down, I was not disappointed, and neither was the crowd.
Metalachi (https://metalachi.com/) came out on the stage with a cheer of the crowd. From there the noise only grew. Being the worlds only heavy metal mariachi band, they are not a joke. Although it was easy to find many in the crowd laughing and smiling, it was because of the sheer, un adulterated awesomeness that was Metalachi. I had no doubt the set was stepped down due to the fact this was a family event, it still pushed the limits to the enjoyment of the crowd. I did not watch a few people sing along, I watched EVERY SINGLE person in the house with their hands up, jumping, and singing at the top of their lungs. Playing just about every metal favorite you could think of, Metalachi electrified us all.
If there was ever a warm up band to a headliner to be afraid of, I just saw this happen. Metalachi left the stage any great band should...with the crowd screaming encore and wanting more!
As I looked around, I realized with much seriousness, all the fun the previous band may have been, Ozomatli (http://ozomatli.com/) was who everybody came to see. There was not a body on the bleachers, warmed up and all, everyone was on the floor as the band took the stage. Ozomatli came out and then owned the crowd to the last note. Performing every single song with the excitement and energy of a finale, Ozomatli was such a fantastic cap to the night and the event. Watching everyone dance and move with the beat was fine. Watching the band come off stage for their final number, right into the heart of the crowd was the best moment of all. The band had become the party, Ozomatli and the crowd were one!
I loved the event in it's entirety. The sights to see, things to enjoy, and the music to support it. What was dis heartening was the crowd. I referenced this in the opening. It should have been more than a thousand in attendance. It seemed like only a few hundred at best. My criticism is this; it is billed as a family event, but at $30 a ticket, that is a hard bite to swallow. Depending mainly on volunteers and donations this only shows that Austin needs to seriously re set it's priorities. Lets fund the Easter Seals Foundation. Lets make this festival happen and grow, but it will only do it with a massive push from press and media. This years Dia de Los Muertos festival had no where near the media hype it should have. No flyers around town, no radio airplay on multiple radio stations of different genres. And lastly a re alignment of the crowd you are going for and the ticket prices. Get the backing of the media, $30 x 300 tickets = $9000 raised or $15 x1000 = $15000...
I hope to see you all there next year and I can't wait for the big reveal of the headliner 2017!