Seismic Dance Event Proves Austin Has More Than Ever to Offer House and Techno Music Fans
When Austin locals Kelly Gray and Andrew Parsons started combining party-throwing superpowers in 2018 with Seismic, few could have imagined the way they’d shake things up would turn heads across the country. As mammoth house and techno acts like Black Coffee, Nina Kraviz, Pan-Pot, and Seth Troxler assemble for their flagship event, Seismic Dance Event from November 12-14 at the new venue they run The Concourse Project, denying their impact locally and in the dance music scene at large becomes near impossible. For a former dancer and a DJ HQ’d in a city popularly known as “the live music capital of the world,” it’s particularly impressive that the two are expanding Austin’s appetites to encompass hot new house and techno.
“The big artists when they're touring, even if they have a short tour, they're going to New York, San Francisco, LA, maybe Chicago. Almost never will Austin be in there.” Parsons says. But according to him and Gray, that’s changing - just like the festival.
Normally the two key areas of the festival served up lava-hot techno at the Volcano Stage and a blend of tech house and deep house music at the Tsunami stage. Plus a dedicated (albeit smaller) stage for local acts called The Realm. As each stage became better recognized for its signature sound, the listening experience in distinct areas of the festival rubbered more and more necks. Continuing this tradition for 2021, Seismic Dance Event will now offer a new third stage called Frequency. With the new stage, Seismic can offer a bigger and better spread of international and local talent; with more than 70 acts in total.
Perhaps more importantly, with more time slots to book artists for and a growing pool of local talent the Texan acts on the lineup will no longer be on separate stages. Now they’ll perform on the same ones as international headliners, under the same lights, for the same crowd; effectively bridging worlds between locals and foreign legends.
Of the local house and techno scene cultivated by RealMusic and the festival, Parsons says “We've focused a lot more [on it] in the past several years. I would say it's definitely Austin's nature. It's a big-little city with a big-little community.” But, at least in part due to their efforts, “it's not so little anymore at all.”
Gray agrees and says over time the opportunities for artists in the city get sweeter as well, just like the vibe at the festival. Both Gray and Parsons attribute this growth to the diverse and profound love for dance music in the city. They tried other markets too. RealMusic Events brought gigs to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas, and more, to see how they liked the crowds, but together Parsons and Gray eventually decided Austin felt the most like home.
Clark Terrell (@clarkterrell / @seismicdanceevent)
“We just really connected back to Austin and [I kept thinking] “Austin is our vibe, those are our people.” So we decided: let's focus on Austin because I just feel the scene here and the people here.” Parsons tells Festival Insider with a fiery nostalgia. “It's just something that you couldn't really replicate in these other markets. It just doesn't exist.”
While the victory belongs to the team at RealMusic Events, the real winners are the fans. Taking show attendance as a measure of growth or support reciprocated by the house and techno music community, RealMusic Events continues to be a wild success.
“When we started throwing shows and hit 300 people it was so awesome.” Gray explained. “Then it started to be 700 and then 800. And, then 1000. Now we're doing 2000 person shows regularly at our venue and we have the festival!”
Clark Terrell @clarkterrell / @seismicdanceevent
Over the 12 years Gray and Parsons have been making tremors in Austin’s music scene, the connections they’ve laid with music fans have had time to cement. Now the children of their earliest RealMusic Event-goers are young adults and (through word of mouth) they’re finding their way to the same party. Recalling one fan’s most wholesome account on social media, Gray says “Someone just posted: “my daughter has gone to her first RealMusic show.” So where other event producers may struggle to thrive the community surrounding RealMusic Events has reached a point where it’s measuring fanship in generations.
Just two years ago, the two told Megan Venzin at Billboard how they hoped to get more personal time as more people joined the team, but that hasn’t happened. Despite their success, more than 10 people work full-time as year-round staff along with more than a hundred contracted between the festival and bar. Perhaps not surprisingly for those who know them, Gray or Parsons haven’t taken a foot off the gas either. They like to joke that they keep moving their goalposts further away.
“Being able to start delegating things to other folks is starting to allow for there to eventually be more room for these things. So there's light at the end of the tunnel,” Gray laughs. “But we keep making the tunnel longer.”
For tickets or more info on Seismic Dance Event, visit their website here.