Date: March 17-19…11am-2am
Location: Ruta Maya. Austin, TX
What: ATX Wildfire Reggae & Arts Festival. All Ages. FREE!
Every year, people flock to South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas to experience one of the greatest festivals that music, film and interactive have to offer. For the roots reggae, dub and dub rock enthusiasts, there is a non-official festival in its second year within the SXSW experience titled ATX Wildfire. Reggae enthusiast and promoter Greg Cooper, a.k.a Episode Phive, is the man behind this event that has been hosted at Ruta Maya coffee shop since its inception in 2010. The Pier attended this year’s Wildfire by way of Colorado’s reggae rock band “Coral Thief”. The Pier’s own staff writer, Chad Hillje, rode along on Coral Thief’s mini tour through the south on their tour wagon aptly named “Juicy”. Enjoy!
A wake up call at 6:00am by Coral Thief’s manager Brock was more like a late night phone call I had been waiting for early Tuesday morning to join the guys on their trip to play three dates in Austin for both SXSW and ATX Wildfire. I had not slept a wink due to the excitement of the days ahead. After gathering all of the guys to board “Juicy,” we were finally on the road by 8:00 am drinking coffee and playing acoustic songs from our favorite artist growing up like Bob Marley and Sublime. After a day and a half we had arrived in Austin, Texas and the experience began.
Upon arriving at Ruta Maya, I was taken back by the size of this so-called “coffee shop” that felt more like a small concert venue similar to CBGB’s in the boroughs of Manhattan back in its existence, only a lot cleaner. As I started walking up to the entrance leading up to the venue doors my ears were immediately treated to heavy bass lines and the scent of Jamaican jerk chicken filled the air. The site was peppered with a half dozen white tents with the event sponsors selling merchandise ranging from hemp clothes to vaporizers. People were starting to trickle in and everybody looked happy. I had arrived.
Day 1 lineup included:
-I tried to catch as many acts as I could on day 1 but being the only journalist from The Pier in Austin, I was limited. I was able to catch Mystic Roots, Lionize and The Supervillians. All of which, had very impressive performances. I was especially taken back by Mystic Roots and their ability to harmonize. Fayuca mixes a nice blend of punk rock and reggae with a Spanish flair and Lionize is well…simply amazing. The Supervillians were the headlining act for the evening and were cut short by Johnny law (cops), which had many fans disappointed, but the anticipation of the next two days had kept everyone leaving night one with smiles.
Day 2 lineup included:
-Day 2 was just as good as day one minus the fuzz, a.k.a. Johnny law. Peace Officer was a special treat kicking off the day with a reggae/hip-hop/dub set that had the early festival goers dancing to a different tune. By mid-day, up and coming dubtronica kings “Tatanka” painted a different picture blending dubstep/reggae and dub creating a whomp effect that left fans wanting more… A lot more. Shrub quickly followed, playing songs like Señorita and Come and get it. To me, they had a sound like Germany’s ever so popular reggae/dancehall group Seeed and I lost my plot on the dance floor. Mike Pinto was the last act I stayed for on day 2, and even though I was getting tired from the day’s great acts, Mike gave me my second wind. When he played My Luck I joined in with the crowd singing along and finished my evening on a high.
Day 3 lineup included:
-Day 3 was packed with talent and after checking out the 6th street party going on in downtown Austin, I returned to Ruta Maya for the final day of ATX Wildfire. Upon arriving, I grabbed a beer and started dancing to the sounds of my road mates and friends, “Coral Thief”. I spilled most of my beer on myself dancing to their ever so catchy single Remedy and their cover of T.I’s Whatever you like. After the guy’s set, we enjoyed some amazing Jamaican jerk chicken and quickly came back inside for Collie Buddz. This was a special treat for the dancehall fanatics in the ever-growing crowd, not only because of him, but also because of his band New Kingston. Next, I caught Vibenhai and quicky noticed that both bands hailing from Nebraska, “Vibenhai and Cornerstone Dub,” proved to everyone that you don’t have to be from the west coast or any coast for that matter to know how to rock reggae music. I had to head back to the Juicy wagon to catch a quick cat nap and returned for one of my new found favorite bands “Fortunate Youth”. These guys were locked in and watching them was a treat for me. I am still wearing my shirt guys!
Seedless was the final act of the evening for me. Hanging around with the guys before their set drinking beers and soaking in the sun was a great time. We all headed in as the guys took the stage and played to a crowd that never seemed to grow tiresome. Catchy songs like 911 and Twisted Love rang through Ruta Maya as a sendoff to an experience that I could not be more grateful to be a part of.
ATX Wild Fire just finished its second year in existence. I want to especially thank Episode Phive for this amazing experience. It was not done for any type of profit and was strictly for the love of reggae/rock/dance-hall/dub music. There needs to be more people like him in this world. We as a culture represent unity and this is an example of what unity is all about. Never once was there a fight or a dirty look, just good people enjoying positive music. If you represent a company and would like to sponsor next year’s ATX Wildfire, contact Episode Phive on facebook and let him know that you’re interested. On behalf of everybody at The Pier, we could not be more privileged to be a part such a great cause. Keep dancing friends.