The return to something like a prepandemic normal continues in Texas this summer with a 2022 edition of a popular music festival, Float Fest. Held on ranch land near fields where battles for Texas independence were once fought Float Fest promises an invasion of musicians and concert goers during the weekend of July 23 and 24.
Marcus Federman is the founder of Float Fest. He told the Texas Standard that Vampire Weekend, Chance the Rapper and Deadmau5 are a few of the acts set to play at the festival, held in Gonzales, Texas.
Listen to the interview above or read the transcript below.
This transcript has been edited lightly for clarity:
Texas Standard: Could you give us a little bit of the backstory of Float Fest? What’s floating out there in Gonzales?
Marcus Federman: Yeah, sure. I’m a musician and I was touring a lot and I got kind of tired of being on the road, so I wanted to do something in the music business, and I’ve been promoting shows pretty much since I was a kid, and I went to school in San Marcos and I wanted to do something that was a little different. So, I thought about the river and I don’t think there’s really two things that don’t go better together than the river and music. We started off as a one-day event then we went to a two-day event, and just over time, we just built it and built it, and it’s turned into a world class event.
It sounds like a good time. It sounds like quite the party.
I kind of wanted to create something that I would enjoy doing for many years. So, a lot of festivals take place in venues or parks or something like that, and in Texas, at least, I wanted to have something a little more niche.
When was the first Float Fest and how big of a deal is this for Gonzales?
The first Float Fest was in 2014. We started going down the road in 2012 and it took a couple of years to pull together. But this year you can expect a very, very beautiful ranch. It’s much different than the place that we used to be at. The site is a Texas pecan bottom, so it’s literally a pecan forest. There are huge 100 to 200-foot trees and there is shade everywhere. The whole site is full of trees and shade. And we’re about a mile from the city center of Gonzales. So, there’s all the modern conveniences. So, you feel like you’re at a destination event where you’re kind of going off the beaten path a little bit, but you also have some hotels and restaurants and grocery stores and stuff like that nearby. So, we also have a general store on site and we sell literally everything you can imagine. So, we’ve tried to make it as convenient as possible for people to come out and have a good time.
I understand you are trying to do something about coolers and containers, which can be a big problem at a lot of these music festivals.
Yeah, we are. This year, we have a new draft bar that’s going to be near our floating entrance. And customers can, instead of lugging their cooler from their campsite over to the river, you can just bring a reusable container. And we have drinks that you can buy to fill up your container for the float so that you don’t have to bring cans and a big cooler on the river. So, it’s a new thing we’re trying out this year, and I think it’s going to be very convenient for the customers.
Let’s talk about this lineup, which is eclectic, to say the least. There is Vampire Weekend but you got Chance the Rapper, Deadmau5, Marshmello and Pusha T. These are some names that a lot of folks are going to know. Is Gonzales big enough for the crowds you’re expecting? What’s this going to look like?
Gonzales is certainly a small town. They have welcomed us with open arms. So, I think the town’s excited to have it. And it’s going to be a lot of people for sure. It’s going to potentially double the size of their town in a weekend. But it’s going to be great. The audience is going to be great. Obviously, our lineup is killer. We’ve got Marshmello, Deadmau5 and Vampire Weekend, Cage the Elephant. Pusha T has a new record out. Chvrches is going to be really great, Kaytranada.
Let me ask you about one of the hard realities. We’re seeing a proliferation of festivals, and as some listeners may or may not know, quite often, there are writers in these contracts that prohibit performers from playing within a certain mile radius over a certain number of months. I’m wondering, as we see more festivals on the horizon, is that making it harder for Float Fest and other would-be festival entrepreneurs to make it work?
Yes, absolutely. In Texas, it’s not as big of a deal as it is in the Northeast or the West Coast. But the more events that pop up, the more competition there is, and we’re an established name. So, we do have the advantage that people know us, they know what we do, they know we produce a good event. But certainly, the more people that think that they can break into this business and make money, it definitely saturates the market. And I think the whole business right now is seeing that. There’s just COVID coming back from COVID. There’s been an oversaturation of events. And then obviously, gas is really high, there’s inflation, all the factors at play right now are making it harder than ever to be in the festival business. So, it’s just survival of the fittest.