It’s Austere’s premiere festival team, Ellie Alonzo and Garrett Smith, coming at you with yet another hot take on an incredible festival – San Antonio’s very own Mala Luna Fest. Check out how we said adios to October below.
// Day 1 //
Words by Garrett Smith
Photos by Ellie Alonzo and Garrett Smith
Let us start by saying this:
It was positively apocalyptic.
Dust and dusk intermingled in the San Antonio sky to produce a distinctly dystopian vibe for this fest – and, naturally, when the sense of the world ending hangs in the air, you party – and you party hard. And such a mentality, we found, was never in shortage.
Isabella Rodriguez, Intre, and J.I.D. opened up Day 1 of the fest for the “Beat Stage”, while Kurt Rockmore, Bamsworth Belli, and Smokepurrp opened up the “Lone Star Stage”. These performances were firey as any headliner – and when you don’t have such a fanbase as Weezy or Future, mad props have to be given for such mid-day passions. To our brave openers – we salute you.
The first rising star of this festival that we caught gave us a glimpse of mundanity turned divine. Ugly God, in typical fashion, incited his audience alternately to praise and braise him with the classic “Love Ugly God / Fuck Ugly God” chant.
After all – a burnt offering is the highest form of flattery, for a god.
Kali Uchis was, for good reason, demanded to the stage by a graciously impatient fan-base – and, might we add, made any sort of “wait” well worth it. A performance of energy in motion that left us all lost in the dream-pop trance of a decidedly seductive set.
From there, Playboi Carti‘s hard bars bled into Carnage‘s chaotic beats, creating a near-seamless blur of trap and bleeting bass-driven tunes that reigned in the dusk of the first night with a fire to rival the setting sun. If any energy was waning by the end of the day, these two performers brought us back to life.
With a five fingered salute – and just as many rolls to match – the Wiz himself came forth. There was a sense of maturity, born of perpetual tiredness that every workaholic twenty-something experiences – and it lended a much-needed weight to Wiz Khalifa‘s performance. But it was not without lightness – Wiz tossed several cartoonishly sized, inflatable joints into the crowd. Let’s just say that for the rest of the fest, we never ceased to encounter them.
At some point, Wiz said to the crowd:
“If you bein’ exactly what you want to be let me hear some noise! How many of y’all love yourselves, make some noise!”
“‘Cause ain’t no one can tell you you can’t be something you want to be.”
Positivity was in the air, and we couldn’t be happier.
Weezy. Young Money. Lil Wayne. The man with a thousand names; the Alpha and the Omega of tonight’s lineup. Did any come solely for this? you wonder, and, would someone pay full price for such a thing? And the answer is Yes, and, Absolutely! Because such is the legend, the icon. It’s easy to imagine that many came for Weezy alone, given the sudden surge in numbers that created a nigh-impassible tidal wave of dancing human flesh; that many have shown up to the festival with timing akin to a new movie screening: to regard any suggestion of another film as an optional “teaser” that entertains, if need be, before the “main event” which your ticket denotes.
Weezy brought us along on a journey spanning his career; early hits and new shared the stage as he asked us if he could “go back”. He took us in every direction, and left us with only one direction to go – to our homes, our hovels, our hotels and motels. It was time to continue the party or get some rest; either way, to prepare for Day 2.
// Day 2 //
From fest we came, and to fest we return.
Day 2 of Mala Luna began much the same as the first day, only earlier – and this time, with more preparedness. The fest grounds were a veritable Dust Bowl – what, with thousands of eager feet stirring up the barren fields into clouds of cough-inducing dust. Naturally, we saw many more covered faces today, including our own.
We only barely took notice when we first arrived yesterday, but realized today – this fest has food. And we’re not talking just a few staples with occasional oddities; no, this festival has something for erveryone. Whether it’s hot dogs or hot cheetos, gyros or cheeseburgers, jerk chicken or sweet snow-cones, Mala Luna had us covered.
But sustenance or not, the dust awaits our return.
Rayne, Lil Yodaa, Izaq Roland, Xavier Omar, and Maxo Kream kicked off the sunlit Sunday with a web of overlapping energy. Like our Day 1 openers, these performers gave us their all. Even in such desert weather, not a moment felt dry on this dusty afternoon.
From such dust, we can only hope for the Truth to set us free – and Trae The Truth does just that. This Houston native delivers nothing short of his own personal, vulnerable truth – and sets the stage for a day of unparalleled performance. Like lyrical coffee, this would-be star gave us a stellar, energizing performance.
Borgore brought in what easily could’ve been the club at the end of the world: heavy, bomb-dropped beats paired with punchy, industrial synth. The sunset dust churned up by eager feet helped create such an apocalyptic effect; the path from Khalid to Afrojack, though, only aided in the forming chaos. It was good, cathartic; never frightening, but certainly moving towards a sort of pent-up madness.
Following in the heavily-treaded footsteps of a powerhouse DJ, Khalid and Afrojack held their ground with mics and tables that served as well as any weapon. Positive vibes flowed freely from our friendly festival DJ, and we were thankful for the pick-me-up that preceded the superstar headliners to follow.
Well, well, well – we meet again.
Migos milked the waiting masses with a stalled start time, but to great effect – the edged audience was practically spilling over with ready kinetic energy. This trio slayed their set, as always – and despite having seen them earlier this year, we at Austere had expectations shattered. These boys never fail to deliver, and from what we’ve seen, never seem to disappoint. The moon was rising, but the light never failed to shine from such a set as this.
We only had so much to give, but Migos were ready to take it all.
And then, as a sudden present, Future was ready to play. It was the end. Any and all waiting now felt so inconsequential, having found the bookend of the whole fest. The legendary Future was kicking off a set that can only be compared to itself – but we all knew that this was the end of the night. And can any ending ever really stand up to the journey that preceded it?
If you listen to anything we say, hear this:
it absolutely can.
So as quickly as such an icon came to the stage, his performance – and with it, the festival – had ended.
Even the moon must set.
Let’s rise, next time, at Mala Luna Fest.