A brief timeline of Saturnalia:
497BC: Romans erect a temple to the agricultural god Saturn and usher in winter with a wild party involving costumes, merriment, and animal sacrifice;
The fourth century: Saturnalia dies out under Christian rule and its traditions come to inform Christmas and New Year celebrations;
AD2014: Psychedelic Afrobeat unit Golden Dawn Arkestra begins hosting annual, invite-only freak parties at Austin’s Sahara Lounge;
AD2017: GDA partners with underground instigators Electric Church to grow Saturnalia into a full-blown, two-day music festival held on the lawn of the Baptist church next to Sahara, yielding 1,000 attendees;
AD2018: Saturnalia returns as a three-day indoor/outdoor fest at the Sahara Lounge and adjacent church lawn.
“This year, the emphasis is on the party,” reveals co-founder Topaz McGarrigle, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist in host act GDA. “It’s not about having huge headliners. We’re celebrating the coming of winter with an inexpensive outdoor festival that has diverse music, cool light shows, costumes, and vendors.”
Saturnalia reps Austin’s fertile psych scene with gooey, dark enchanters Holy Wave, Sun Machine, Hidden Ritual, and ST 37, while also welcoming wavy Californians: Lumerians, Spindrift, Mystic Braves, and Creation Factory. A continued emphasis on world music yields lysergic Latin sounds highlighted by Mexico City cumbia breakouts Sonido Gallo Negro, plus Austin-based acts Kiko Villamizar, Superfónicos, and Como Las Movies. Meanwhile, Africa’s musical wellspring inspires Sahara Lounge staples Zoumountchi, Afrofreque, and Continental Drift.
The 50-act bill rounds out with a grab bag of Austin all-stars including the exquisite R&B of Latasha Lee & the Black Ties, deep country warblers the Tender Things, brooding surf-poppers Go Fever, and two must-see new acts: uproarious art-pop duo Being Dead and prog-jazz-rock freak-out Nolan Potter’s Nightmare Band.
Sat., Nov. 17. $25-65.