Embracing The Unexpected At Texas Eclipse 2024 [Festival Review]

Embracing The Unexpected At Texas Eclipse 2024 [Festival Review]

texas eclipse festival

When I first saw the lineup for Disco Donnie’s inaugural edition of the Texas Eclipse Festival, I was intrigued. Rarely do you see such a packed collection of artists from so many genres, whether it be jam, dubstep, house, or psytrance, anywhere in the United States. Throwing an event of this caliber, especially as a one-off gathering, is no easy feat–and I had to check it out for myself.

texas eclipse festival

Texas Eclipse went viral after releasing the first phase of its lineup. With such a diverse array of musicians, not to mention the art, various panels, and more than 4 minutes of totality during a rare solar eclipse, it seemed as though it had the potential to be the event of the year. Headliners like Tipper, CloZee, STS9, and Bob Moses along with speakers including Paul Stamets made it instant gossip. But when there’s no established event to base your expectations on, gossip can quickly turn into rumors.

As I started doing my pre-festival prep a couple of weeks before the event, I began seeing discourse floating around online. “This event is going to be a disaster,” said one Facebook comment. “I wouldn’t touch it with a ten-foot pole.”

That seems a bit dramatic, I remember thinking to myself. Sure, first-year fests can sometimes be a bit messy while they get their sea legs, but Disco Donnie and the other festival organizers (such as Gwen Gruesen from Symbiosis Gathering) all have experience in hosting similar events. Were there telltale signs of an impending disaster? It depends on who you ask. As for me, I decided to brush off the negativity and instead focus on planning my first big trip of the year.

Getting to Texas was a feat in itself, from getting pulled over about 30 seconds after entering the state to praying my van’s engine would stop misfiring and just get me there for the last three hours of the drive. Fortunately, though, my friends and I all made it, and we got into our campsite in a reasonable amount of time after entering the grounds.

While the first seven or so hours of driving through Texas were fairly plain, I can’t deny that the festival grounds were beautiful. Coming from Denver, where it had snowed right before I left, made it that much more of a treat to be in a warm, green environment. There were wildflowers everywhere and plenty of trees for shade from the hot sun. I didn’t get to see the swimming lake, but people who told me about it said that it was a lovely spot.

It was rocky, so much so that the platform boots I tried to wear on the first day almost snapped my ankles like twigs. However, after my friends bullied me out of wearing them for another day, walking around wasn’t too bad. You had to watch where you stepped, but I liked the rustic, natural feel of the landscape. Once I had explored the grounds and gotten my bearings–and believe me, there were a lot of grounds to explore–it was time to get into what I had come for: the party.

The Music

The music was the centerpiece of Texas Eclipse, and with seven stages to choose from, there was plenty of it.

I tried to catch at least one set at every stage in my time there. They were all worth seeing, with unique designs and quality sound production at each location. The Eclipse Stage, where Tipper and many of the bass headliners played, had perhaps the best build of all, but each of them offered something special.

I got to see some of the Desert Hearts takeover at the Sky Stage, which I loved. People from the crowd were able to get onstage and dance, and the vibes were high as people warmed up for the four days to follow.


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After that, I started bouncing around, catching great sets from artists including Boogie T.rio, The String Cheese Incident, Khiva, Truth, Big Gigantic, Zeds Dead, Josh Teed, Bloomurian, and more.

Of course, Tipper was the highlight and most anticipated set of the weekend, and everyone came out for it. I don’t remember the last time I was in a crowd of that size, and finding a spot to stand proved difficult. Fortunately, we did just in time. Tipper truly blew the socks off of the entire audience, working beautifully with Jonathan Singer to create a set that took us from afternoon into night effortlessly. He played one of the hardest midtempo sets I’ve ever seen from him, and my friends and I couldn’t resist throwing down to his sonic journey.

I never attended a full set at the psytrance stage, but our campsite was not far from it, and we could hear the beats all through the day and night. It was honestly soothing to sleep to, and I loved knowing that people were dancing no matter what time it was.

One of my favorite little side quests was the art car placed by the side of the Lone Star stage. Supposedly, it was brought in by attendees without festival permission, but the organizers liked it so much that they let it stay. I can’t confirm whether that’s true or not, but it gathered some pretty sizable crowds with its various house DJs. Dancing on it made me feel like I was in the deserts of Burning Man, and I hope to see similar pop-ups at other festivals in the future.

The Art

If the logistics of Texas Eclipse left a little something to be desired, they made up for it with the art installations. There was a lot of love, effort, time, and care put into them, and it made for an interesting festival ground to wander and check out.

The Multiversal Dome alone was a sight. At night, you could see the projections from the outside, almost like a mini version of the Las Vegas Sphere. Renowned artists such as Android Jones performed visuals inside, and my friends didn’t stop talking about the late-night BoggDogg dome set all weekend.

There was a neon installation from Meow Wolf as well as many various pieces and installations scattered around the site wherever I went. My favorite thing to explore is always the live painters, and most of the stages had some working on their projects all night long.

Photo by Alive Coverage.

One of the highlights of the weekend was the drone show during Of The Trees. I’ve seen some drone shows before, but they were small and slow–nothing like this one.

There were hundreds of drones in the sky, all making incredible patterns that moved in perfect tandem. I could look up and see anything: a blinking eye, an astronaut, a moon, or even a horse.

The Experience

Texas Eclipse was, simply put, a trip. There was so much to do and see at all hours that I was worried about missing it all, but unfortunately, you always miss something at a festival.

Despite the FOMO, I still got to see a lot of really cool things. The art gallery was well worth a walk-through, and I felt truly free at ecstatic dance. Whether I was hanging out at camp, meeting band members backstage, or watching fire dancers at the Earth Stage, I was never bored.

texas eclipse festival
Eric Allen Photography

And, of course, we can’t discuss this event without mentioning the star of the show: the eclipse itself. The festival was canceled just a few hours before totality, but we were able to pack up and stay onsite to witness it. Honestly, the eclipse alone was worth the effort it took to get to Texas. Everyone was frustrated and upset by the cancellation, but at that moment, we were all a community. As the sky darkened, people began to howl, cheer, and clap, and I could hear the chorus of people echoing from all over the grounds.

It’s easy to see why ancient peoples were so spooked by major cosmic events. There was indescribable energy in the air, and something about witnessing the moon’s coverage of the sun gave me goosebumps. Many people cried, and still more couldn’t stop smiling or laughing. The feeling it gave me stuck with me for days, and I hope to always remember a little bit about what it was like.

The Cancellation and Rumors

By now it’s probably clear that I had a good time, but, sadly, not everyone had the same experience I did. While many things went right about this event, there were also a fair amount of mishaps and mishandlings that need to be addressed if this festival decides to hold another edition.

During all of my running around, I started to notice some cracks in the facade. There was a lack of proper security between the campgrounds and the festival area, and the water stations in the venue ran dry for a bit after Tipper on Sunday. I was lucky with my campsite placement, but some of my friends had to walk almost an hour from their spot to get to the festival grounds. There was also one death reported over the weekend; a 67-year old man who had a seizure and later died at the hospital. There would later be rumors flying around that were many more deaths, however, they did not end up being true.

Screenshot from Texas Eclipse website

There have been countless allegations and slander toward Texas Eclipse online since the festival was canceled, from people accusing the organizers of fraud to others saying there were over 60 overdoses. It took several days and what may be the longest statement I’ve ever seen from the festival to quell some of the upsets. Despite the gossip otherwise, they did cancel because of the weather. And as disappointing as it was to wake up and hear that there would be no final day, the hail and rain the next day proved that they made the right choice for attendees.


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Was this a perfect event? No. But I think calling it “Fyre Fest 2.0” isn’t accurate, and I believe that it has a lot of potential if it ever returns. The organizers evidently put a lot of thought, care, and love into throwing it. They listened to attendees’ feedback during the course of the event, installing more lights on walkways and bringing in additional shuttles for far-off campers. Pathways were adjusted to make crowd flow easier, and the police presence never felt overwhelming. I’d love to see Texas Eclipse iron out its issues and try again. There were many naysayers, but even more people I talked to had nothing but good things to say. I can only hope that the majority of other attendees had as much fun as I did. It certainly isn’t a weekend I’ll be forgetting anytime soon.

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Featured photo by Tyler Church. 

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