Why Maverick Fest Is The Perfect Size

Festivals are gargantuan. They're demanding of fans, artists, staff and everyone involved. They're also big money for organizers and some of the performers, fests have serious economic impact for the regions in which they're held and the music economy of our neighbors to the north is being attempted by other cities the around world.

San Antonio's homegrown Maverick Music Festival is now in it's fourth year. Homegrown meaning it wasn't originated by a large promotions company like the now bankrupt SFX or Live Nation. With headliners The Flaming Lips and Public Enemy, 2016 is headed towards another memorable year. 

Maverick Fest is held in the heart of downtown San Antonio at La Villita, a space with an 800-seat Arneson River Amphitheatre and a plaza that can only hold upwards to 3,000 (according to La Villita's website). This is a fraction of the size of humongous festivals like Coachella or Lollapalooza, but that is a good thing, not only for music fans, but for the rest of the music economy including bars, clubs and venues in San Antonio.  

 by Miles Terracina

by Miles Terracina

Official after-parties for festivals have matured over the last few years to become a featured aspect for destination festival weekends. These developed in large part to offset the local venues taking a financial hit due to the festival. The bars and clubs take a hit for several reasons, such as they can't book desirable bands due radius clauses or because music fans are waiting for an upcoming festival to spend money, etc. Official after-parties are a way for the local music businesses to participate in the fests and not be left out financially. 

Destination festivals are exhausting and expensive but are also a whole hell of a lot of fun. In this writer's opinion, 3+ day long festivals should be thought of as a type of vacation and not thought of as part of a person's  normal live music going experience. Coachella tickets for general admission for the three days are $400, if you wanted anything extra like a shuttle, to and from civilization, that's another $50 and we haven't added the cost of food and drinks. One could easily spend over $1,000 on hotel, GA passes, food & drinks - all spent on only three days of music. For the cost of the average three day music festival, one could see bands play entire headlining sets all year long (one $20 concert with drinks every other week).

There are now so many festivals with hefty artist paydays, that performers now schedule releases and tours around festival appearances. Fewer mid-tier bands come to central TX solo because they're waiting for the next fest. Maverick Fest's size doesn't dominate the rest of our concert calendars or local music business. If Maverick Fest was gargantuan like Lolla, maybe we wouldn't be having an Unknown Mortal Orchestra show this weekend or a dope ass Burger Hangover IV lineup  and we all would be funneled into a single concert experience later this spring. Instead, MavFest provides a festival experience that's accessible and with relevant names that make headlines, all while not completely drowning out the rest of the local music business. 

Maybe once Hemisfair Plaza is 100 percent complete, MavFest can make the journey all the way across the street and host bigger headliners with a larger audience, but until then, I totally dig our "Goldie Locks" festival that I can take a #4 bus directly to.