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An Honest Look at Texas Eclipse 2024: The Good, The Bad and The Beautiful [Festival Review]

An Honest Look at Texas Eclipse: The Good, The Bad and The Beautiful

It is hard to wrap my mind around where to begin with the Texas Eclipse Festival. Before the festival even ended there had been so much press about it that attempting to address you, the reader, on a blank and un-biased slate is seemingly impossible. Truths and accusations swirl around this four day event with an intensity that calls forth the attention of everyone who has even heard of the event with a curiosity that one could only compare to small-town gossip on a global scale. This article is merely an attempt at setting the record straight through the eyes of a cynical, yet hopefully eager festival-goer. So to begin, I will necessarily start at the beginning. 


I arrived at the Texas Eclipse festival on Thursday, the day before the event was set to start. After receiving my passes, the staff informed me I would be camped over in Lot T, which, if you are familiar with the alphabet, does not leave much hope as to the closeness of my campsite. Upon showing me on a map, my suspicions were confirmed to learn my camp was in the exact opposite corner of the festival grounds from where I currently was. Having attended Oregon Eclipse in 2017 I was happy to find the line to get in was not nearly as long and arduous. 

Photo from Eclipse Festival, taken by Payne Ranicke

After getting in, and what seemed like a twenty minute long panic attack attempting to find the lot I was headed toward, driving my car through crowds, past heavy machinery, down dirt roads which looped this way and that, a paved road, and then back on to dirt roads, I finally arrived to Lot T. In the process I would unknowingly go the wrong way down one-way roads, but was received and safely guided by staff who was understanding and eager to help, and somehow was always able to point me in the right direction to where I was headed. And then, upon finally arriving, I got there to learn the lot was full. However, despite being full, another staff member took the time to guide me inside and was able to find a campsite for me wedged in between two others. 


My camp neighbors, also staff members for the weekend, were kind and we all got to be friends before the weekend was over. And despite my campsite being in the opposite corner of the entry gates, I was comparatively close to the actual festival grounds, as many attendees had to walk 30 minutes to an hour just to get inside. The issue of arriving to a full lot I would also find out later that night was an epidemic, as the festival would not start until the next day and they had already apparently used up 70% of the available parking, an issue that would obviously need to be addressed and ameliorated before the weekend was over. I would also learn that many festival goers had their personal belongings stolen by the security who searched their cars upon entry. This same company Cerberus Security already had a reputation for stealing people’s belongings, and even knowing they already had this reputation did not attempt to hide their thievery. Going down to the festival grounds that night I would find stages that were still unfinished, and would continue to be worked on well into the next day. 

Photo from Texas Eclipse

The next day the festival began, and if you read this article expecting me to describe what would only intensify into a greater shit show, you may be reluctant to find that was not my experience. I had a wonderful time at the Eclipse Festival. The stage design was immaculate. Six different stages each had their own unique design and hosted their own unique blend of music. Anyone who would claim to be a fan of psychedelic electronica could find that taste being met in a variety of ways, from Psychedelic Trance to Jam bands, and everything in between. The scale of the production for this festival easily matched the size of the crowd and hardly an hour of music went by where there wasn’t some incredible artist playing. The multiverse dome would even develop into a stage at night, hosting secret sets from the likes of Bogg Dogg (Drrtywulvz and Bogtrotters project), Vibesquad, and Seeded Vision with visuals provided by artists like Android Jones and Johnathan Singer. As you walked throughout the festival you were greeted with a litany of magnificent art pieces, which would often simultaneously serve as one of the few places one could comfortably sit that wasn’t on the ground. Tipper played what I, and what many other of his die-hard fan base would call the greatest set they ever heard him play at sunset on Sunday. A few other sets that particularly stood out to me personally came from Spoonbill, Skeler, K.L.O, and David Starfire. I, being a Trance junkie, also loved seeing dance legend Paul Oakenfold included on the lineup, whose set did not disappoint. Throughout the festival there were a number of drone shows in which they were lit up and synchronized to create pictures in the sky. I have heard more than one person describe this as the coolest thing they had ever seen at a festival. The food was predictably expensive and the Meow Wolf village… It was… It was there. That’s all I’ll say about that. During the day there were a number of fascinating discussions being held by the likes of Paul Stamets, Alex Grey, and Rick Doblin of MAPS, and there was no shortage of yoga either. 


Before the festival was even over there had already been a number of articles and rumors surrounding the event. Though, yes, a 67 year old man did die of a heart attack, his was the only death that was reported at the festival. His passing is of course a tragedy, and a preventable one, but the reports of numerous (and I must specify numerous) drug overdoses and ‘fentanyl laced brownies’ were nothing more than rumors designed to further shed a negative light on the event. The complaints however about being ADA ready, are as far as I can tell entirely legitimate. In addition to the parking woes, the long walks to the festival grounds, and the reports of stealing among the staff at Cerberus Security, there were also reports that some of those who had paid extra for the ‘Glamping Package’, as well as a number of artists and performers arrived to find no more space available and were ultimately given a small tent and sleeping bag in which to sleep. All of these issues would reach a climax on Monday, during which everyone at the festival that day arose to find out the entire day had been canceled due to the threat of severe weather. 


In the case of canceling the last day, as sad as I was that it didn’t happen, I can completely understand that it had to. I have left more than one festival that was in the process of getting swamped and 30,000 cars pushing through the mud would have been a disaster waiting to happen, as well as a safety issue as there had been reports of hail during the storm. Other rumors swirled around the cancellation being due to an abundance of overdoses, a rumor as prevalent as it was false, which caused the local sheriff to issue a statement that the last day’s cancellation was NOT due to overdoses.


As much of a clusterfuck as Texas Eclipse was, and it was a clusterfuck, the fact is I still had a very good time and almost everyone I know who went did as well. I of course do not say this to disregard the legitimate issues that the festival had, but I anecdotally was well taken care of, and all of the extremely stressed staff I encountered were committed to trying to make everything run as smoothly as possible and ensure that everyone enjoyed themselves. 

Photo by Texas Eclipse

This festival, like everything else in life lately, was yet another exercise in late-stage capitalism; an attempt to cut corners where they thought they could be cut and make as much money as quickly and as cheaply as possible. You don’t hire a security service with a reputation for stealing unless you’re getting it for cheap. This would come as a detriment to the staff who worked so hard to put this event on as well as the attendees who wanted nothing more than to experience a beautiful weekend with their friends at what was going to be a once in a lifetime sort of event. And for all the good or bad that could be said, it was indeed a once in a lifetime event. Yet putting on an event of this magnitude isn’t easy, and I don’t doubt that it was done with the best of intentions. The coming together of all of these festivals to put on one big event truly is a beautiful thing, it is just a shame that seemingly everything that occurs in life now has to be done in an effort to maximize profit and palpably undercuts the spirit of unity the festival was trying to convey.


While wandering through the festival grounds a fellow burner and I (a reference to people who go to burning man or its regional events) were regaling each other with stories of festivals past, and both of us were in agreement that its never the festivals that transpire smoothly that are the most memorable; its always the ‘disaster fests’ that stand out most in your mind. And while I won’t go so far as to categorize Texas Eclipse as a disasterfest, it was most certainly memorable.

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One thought on “An Honest Look at Texas Eclipse 2024: The Good, The Bad and The Beautiful [Festival Review]

  1. What a spot on recount of a memorable experience. Was there the creeping feeling of disaster? Yes absolutely but was it also magical and beautiful experience that I would do again despite all the disaster. I just love the way you write!! This peice really captures all the feels of the fest and made me lol

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