Float Fest takes advantage of Central Texas’ strong culture of tubing along the San Marcos River. Day one of the festival featured several big name artists performing adjacent to Cool River Ranch, where festival-goers are able to cool off from the heat both in the morning and the afternoon.
The first stop of the day was Houston rapper Mike Jones at the Water Stage. He started off with his popular hit from back in the day “Back Then,” with the typical ‘281-330-8004’ shouted during the song – everybody who listened to him at some point in their life will always have Mike Jones’ phone number engraved in their head, maybe even calling it at some point to see if he would answer. He pulled a smaller crowd as it was such a hot time of the day and the festival goers were still probably floating in the river. Mike Jones was accompanied with about eight guys jumping around on stage with him. The stage kept the crowd hyped up when “3 Grams” came on and had hands going side to side during the old song “Still Tippin’.” After 45 minutes of standing in the midst of the sun, the crowd was ready to head to the other stage to see the next act.
Next up was the British electronic duo Snakehips at the Sun Stage. It started getting a little shady outside along with a nice breeze which was the break everyone needed from the heat. These two, along with the strobe lights and smoke filling up in the air, really got the crowd going. Like any electronic artist, the bass was incredibly strong, which added to the vibe during their performance. Snakehips’ whole set mostly featured in and out of different remixed songs. They started out with “After Hours,” then shortly weaved into one of Snoop Dogg’s most popular hits “Drop It Like It’s Hot.” Since most of the crowd seemed to be college students and young adults, the crowd went berserk when Anderson .Paak’s “Money on Me” came on. The duo threw it back to 1996 playing Mark Morrison’s “Return of the Mack,” which indeed led everybody to start getting down and groovy. Snakehips were very focused on making their beats, only dancing around just a tad, but the crowd was the exact opposite.
Following Snakehips, the crowd made their way back to the Water Stage where everybody was already piled up to see the mastermind behind Neon Indian, Alan Palomo. All the band members were rocking white on white and Palomo even had on some dirty vintage Reeboks that greatly added to his aesthetic. Neon Indian played a lot of songs off their latest record Vega Intl. Night School: “Dear Skorpio Magazine,” “Annie,” “Street Level,” “61 Cygni Ave” and “C’est La Vie.” The crowd was rocking back and forth while singing along to the songs. Though most of the songs performed were newer, they did throw it back to the early years of Neon Indian that old-time fans much appreciated. “Deadbeat Summer” came on and it was probably one of the best songs they played; first off, the song was perfect for a summer festival and it excited the crowd even more since it’s from the band’s first record. A nearby fan said that Palomo was the ‘Ricky Martin of soul,’ a funny comment that is completely true. The fact that Palomo is somewhat of a smaller fella, he has so much power behind what he does; he is constantly full of energy playing on the synth and beating on the bongo drums while dancing around too. The funk from the different layers of synth was making the crowd wiggle around contagiously. Of course, Neon Indian closed out with a fan favorite, “Polish Girl.”
After the amazing set Neon Indian had put on, Mac Miller was up next at the Sun Stage. Before Mac even came out on stage he started off with Smash Mouth’s “All Star.” He was shouting, “Hey now, you’re a rockstar…,” and would get the crowd to sing the other parts of the song. Finally popping up on stage, he began with “Loud,” that got the crowd warmed up for the rest of his set. The sun was just going down and the weather was perfect to watch the crazy Macadelic. Mac had two members of his Most Dope family on stage with him: DJ Clockwork was behind Mac controlling the beats and Quentin Cuff was the hype-man running around on stage beside him. Ariana Grande didn’t make an appearance on stage, but she was seen dancing to her boyfriend’s songs on the side stage. Mac did a mixture of songs from throughout his career. Through the first part of his set, he mostly performed his hyped songs that got the crowd pulsing to every beat: “Insomniak,” “100 Grandkids,” “Diablo,” Breakin Laws” and “Making Movies.” Towards the end of the set, Mac slowed down to play some oldies and more romantic songs off his latest The Divine Feminine. “God Is Fair, Sexy Nasty” and “Stay” got the crowd in the feels by Mac switching from hyped to more sensual songs. Once the old fan-favorite “Best Day Ever” came on, happiness and calmness came over the crowd. He hyped the crowd up and got everyone singing once more before ending his set with “Donald Trump” and “Knock Knock.”
By the time Mac Miller was done, everybody was heading back to the Water Stage to see Girl Talk. The crowd was shouting before Girl Talk even started playing. He started off with a bang by blasting tons of colorful confetti into the crowd. There were neon lights swirling around in every direction along with confetti popping out again every so often. What boosted up the performance even more was the crowd of people on stage all around Girl Talk while he performed. The entire crowd pretty much sang along to every song he remixed, T.I.’s “What You Know,” Blink-182’s “What’s My Age Again?” and Hall & Oates’ “You Make My Dreams Come True.” With Rae Sremmurd’s “Crowd Pleaser” being such a popular song to college kids, it seemed to be the crowd’s favorite song from the Girl Talk set. There were girls sitting on shoulders, poles in the air with different flags or pictures and smoke going up in the air.
The crowd raced back to the Sun Stage to see Passion Pit. Since Passion Pit rarely makes a stop in Texas, it was obvious that this was a set nobody wanted to miss. Zedd was nonchalantly watching the set on the side stage before he left to prep for his performance. Singer Michael Angelakos looked like he was enjoying every bit of his performance, moving from each side of the stage with a happy look on his face. Passion Pit started off with their hit “Little Secrets.” They performed other top hits from their first two albums that fans sang along to as well, like: “Carried Away,” “Constant Conversations,” “Take A Walk” and “I’ll Be Alright.” Their third record Kindred doesn’t quite compare to their first two records, which may explain why they didn’t perform much from it. “Sleepy Head” was another song to easily sing along to, the dreamy-synth sensation sounded even better hearing it live. The crowd seemed so content with Passion Pit before their eyes, it was one of the most cheerful and carefree performances of the day.
To end the night, Zedd gathered a huge crowd back at the Water Stage. The crowd was most definitely the biggest of the day, it went pretty much all the way back to where the carnival rides were. Bright strobe lights swayed back and forth over the crowd in front of Zedd. He started the crowd slowly and all at once with “Beautiful Now,” the crowd was going wild once the beat hit. During his set, the bass was so loud you could feel it. The crowd was throwing colorful glow sticks everywhere and swinging their poles around like no other. Zedd played The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army,” driving the crowd nuts to the guitar riffs and shouting ‘OHHHH’ along with the song. “Rude” started off steadily before getting quickly to the overly-pop dubstep bass, then switching over to Zedd’s version of “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life.” Zedd was the last artist of the day and he sure did keep the crowd going til the end.
Though Texas heat in the summer is absolutely brutal, having the option to float in the river and come back to see these great artists is a what Float Fest is all about.
Photo Credit: Raymond Flotat