Lone Star Brewery is making its case as a new home for live music on the Southside of San Antonio after presenting some of the nation’s leading hip-hop artists at the first-ever Mala Luna Music Festival, hosted by ScoreMore Shows, this Halloween weekend in the abandoned silos and corridors of the brewery’s 32-acre backyard.
Neighborhoods around Lone Star Boulevard and Probandt Street were overflowing with barbacoa and Big Red as more than 20 bands and artists performed for a sold-out crowd of 30,000 over the weekend. Fans witnessed the greatness of headliners Steve Aoki and G-Eazy at the top of their game, as well as rising stars such as Kehlani and Lil Uzi Vert who all brought their fresh flavor to the 210.
The makeup of the festival’s population – aside from the Día de Muertos’ signature skull masks – was mostly college-bound and college-going teens eager to experience the beats of musicians they’ve only felt at the club or on the radio until now.
The festival sound, one of the loudest San Antonio has heard at a made-from-scratch venue, was pumped out powerfully as fringed-out neon tanks and scantily-clad costumes snaked their way into the festival grounds. The battle cry of hometown hero Greg G came through loud and clear, defining the event as San Antonio through and through – “I say ‘2-1,’ you say ‘0,’” and “I say ‘San An,’ you say ‘tone.’”
People making their way into the festival grounds immediately felt the hip-hop aesthetic with a San Anto twist – big bold letters decorated with a bright radiant of light spelling out “Mala Luna” alongside a funky version of the traditionally mariachi-garbed muertitos – where festival goers took photos and munched on delicacies from Big Daddy’s Eats & Treats, Little Jamaica Foods, and Frank, the on-site food vendors.
Houston-based Trill Sammy came on right after Greg G – a break from the more polished and instrumental take of the SA artist – running straight into the mouth of the beast with anthems that had the crowd waving their middle fingers in the air. The same fingers then caught Dice Soho, who tag-teamed the set with Trill Sammy, as he flew into the crowd and surfed along its outstreched hands, freestyling all the while. The energy grew as the day carried on, and festival attendees like Blue Treviño were barely warming up.
Treviño, who came to show love to her SA-based “homeboy” Vi$ion, was one of the few actually caught dancing outside of the general mosh pit area, sipping on a koozied Lone Star and spinning in her own world.
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“I think it’s lit, dancers running around, people dressed up, poppin’ and lockin’, drunkin’ around, funkin’ around,” Treviño said, her blue and purple hair highlights painting her even more luminous in the revelry of the day.
“I think it’s perfect the way it is, but maybe they need a longer stage. One day I may be up there,” she said.
When the music or the heat – “Raise your hands if you’re hotta than a (insert expletive here)” came from Dice Soho throughout his set – got to be too much, fans cooled off in the shade in tire swings or at the DIY silent disco, led by two live DJs spinning for those who wanted to groove out in their own space and time.
The bowels of the brewery, opened up to media, sponsors, and VIPs, included a swanky vine covered patio with hookah and a DJ spinning tracks – not to mention Halloween-inspired Tootsie rolls on every table. Excavated buildings on the festival grounds were equipped with hammocks that provided calm and refuge for those seeking respite from the hype outdoors.
Deeper still, an almost Cuban-light fell upon white-washed walls as smoke and laughter filled the air while party-goers sipped on Tito’s Handmade Vodka and dug the music from a distance.
“It’s definitely a great opportunity for SA,” said Talab Abudhali, part of the Tito’s national events team. “We’re from Austin and we’re used to festivals, so it’s great to see up-and-coming festivals in other cities.”
The team, chilling on faux lawn mats in the VIP section, felt relaxed amidst the San Antonio crowd, which Abudhali described as “laidback and friendly.
“San Antonio is definitely on the way up,” he said. “(It’s) awesome to see so many people out on this beautiful weekend.”
For a population yearning to get a taste of top national talent on a stage that caters exclusively to its flavors, Mala Luna proved to be a saving grace. Each artist expressed appreciation for their fans in San Antonio, and of course we gave it right back.
While festivals are not the panacea for improving San Antonio’s musical landscape and economy, Mala Luna executed at a high level of professionalism and ignited a space and segment of our society that needs to feel heard. And we heard them – 30,000 strong.