The vibration endures. Since 1994, Austinites of all ilks have overlapped their quilts on the lakeside lawn and passed pipes to a soundtrack of reggae, ska, dub, and dancehall. The party keeps the poor’s “belly full” with a typically six-figure contribution to the Central Texas Food Bank. For their sake, pray for blue skies and green grass.
Inclement weather previously nixed two golden headliners: dub mysterio Lee “Scratch” Perry in 2015 and Bunny Wailer, sole survivor of the genre’s greatest triptych (R.I.P. Marley and Tosh), last year. In 2017, booker Angela Tharp, who owns local reggae HQ Flamingo Cantina, largely skips grandfatherly Rastas for a lineup of emerging acts and Reggae Fest newcomers.
Friday’s top billing goes to modern hitmaker Tarrus Riley (8:30pm). The smooth-voiced singer, son of reggae vet Jimmy Riley, alternates between lovey-dovey sentiments and socially conscious declarations, and shares the stage with Jamaica’s first-call saxophonist Dean Fraser. Early arrivals inhale Al Shire’s soulful two-tone ska outfit the Inverters (5) and fellow locals following the big voice of R&B/reggae singer Lady Shacklin (6:30). – Kevin Curtin
Foxygen’s been riddled with self-sabotage offstage and on, including 2013’s embarrassing ACL Fest appearance. Fortunately, the L.A. duo of Jonathan Rado and Sam France returned this year with extraordinary fifth LP Hang, soaring ambitiously in irony-drenched ambiguity like Father John Misty. Recorded with an orchestra and multiple collaborations, the album rolls a maximalist pastiche of big band surges, theatrical cinematics, Seventies AM pop, and a Bowie flair squeezed through Zappa-esque surreal contortions.– Doug Freeman
Austin hasn’t usurped its unofficial slogan, but Slack Capital – where art outweighs ambition – will do. While our music scene can’t be condensed into a single disc, the 27-track Slack Capital 2 sufficiently captures the fun while representing the talent of ATX’s garage, country, psych, pop, and punk cliques. Austin Town Hall Records celebrates by raising funds for anti-abuse SafePlace, its all-ages release show featuring eight capitalists: Croy & the Boys, Pataphysics, Diamond Center, Daniel Francis Doyle, Mom Jeans, David Israel, Go Fever, and Nike.– Kevin Curtin
Rainey Street staple rings in its wood year with two nights of free music, live screenprinting, and hot dogs for all. Deep East Texas troubadour Jonathan Terrell shakes cobwebs from the rafters with his slam-bang rock combo Not in the Face on Friday. Soulful alt.country collective Harvest Thieves add fleshed-out sound and wit to the bill. Saturday pairs party-down acrobatics from Sounds del Mar with the Seventies-flavored funk/soul from one-man machine Henry + the Invisibles.– Greg Beets
Fast becoming a front-runner in the roots reggae revival, which includes Chronixx, Protoje, and Kabaka Pyramid, Kingston native Jesse Royal evokes the vintage sounds of Marley and Tosh. Influenced by XTerminator Records founder and “digital reggae” pioneer Fatis Burrell, the Marleys also had a hand in Royal’s musical development. Further run-off from Austin Reggae Festival follows the next night with St. Croix roots reggae act Akae Beka, a spin-off of rasta legacies Midnite.– Kahron Spearman
Much anticipated successor to 2013’s festival-ready Evil Friends, the Mike D-produced Gloomin + Doomin was scrapped by PTM after three years. The Alaska-born quartet instead regrouped to record this summer’s more intimate Woodstock. Lead single “Feel It Still” dropped last month, slicing contagious dance beats into an exuberant, glam-grooved guitar urgency, new songs driven by a desire to express more purpose and meaning within the communal glow of their raved-up live shows.– Doug Freeman