Maverick Music Festival 2016


Elizabeth Davis, The Paisano

Elizabeth Davis

Elizabeth Davis, The Paisano
Elizabeth Davis, The Paisano

Festival season is upon us – (does it ever even leave?) – and the fourth annual Maverick Music Festival kicked things off in San Antonio. It did not disappoint.

Rumors and speculation circulated prior to the fest, to be expected, regarding matters like the (potential) extinction of Maverick Music Festival – as noted by the San Antonio Current’s “The (Maybe) Final Maverick Music Fest Goes Up in Flames,” and in Maverick Music Festival’s webpage.

In 2014, the Flaming Lips’ frontman—and headliner for Maverick Music Festival’s Saturday lineup—Wayne Coyne became embroiled in a battle over cultural appropriation that resulted in the firing of the band’s drummer Kliph Scurlock.

In short, Scurlock had expressed sentiments of disapproval toward Oklahoma-native Pink Pony’s vocalist Christina Fallin and her adornment of a Native American headress on Instagram. Coyne responded, taking Fallin’s side and dropping Scurlock, a 12-year member of the Lips.

So when Maverick announced that the Flaming Lips would be closing the festival on Saturday night, the event’s producers took to the Internet in addressing the controversy, stating in vivid, red lettering via the website’s “Info” tab, “Maverick Music Festival want(s) to make it absolutely clear that any behavior, clothing, etc that could be construed as insensitive or as cultural appropriation will be viewed as offensive in nature and (is) not permitted under our established festival guidelines.”

Nevertheless, Maverick Music Fest seemed to unfold without a hitch.

The festival was sectioned into three stages, each about five minutes walking distance from each other. The majority of the headliners performed at Maverick’s main stage, the Shiner Music Stage, while other, local acts played at the Shiner Biergarten, complete with Jenga sets, Cornhole materials and picnic tables.

One of the unique elements of Maverick Fest was the Arneson Stage, situated along the banks of the San Antonio River. The river effectively separated performing artists from the viewing area, so as patrons enjoyed the acts, they were accompanied by tourist-ing River Walkers and the occasional San Antonio River tour cruise.

Gates to the festival opened at 5 p.m. on Friday evening, and acts began shortly thereafter at both the Shiner Biergarten and Arneson Stage.

Elizabeth Davis, The Paisano
Elizabeth Davis, The Paisano

Crowds were fairly sparse as DJ Ras G (Gilbert Anthony on Facebook) inaugurated the Shiner Biergarten with his own rendition of reggae soul and record spinning, bringing with him a backpack (or more) full of old school records, including LPs from reggae idol Bob Marley. His revival of the lost craft was both surprising and entrancing, making a smooth transition into a jam-packed night.

Around 7:20 p.m., the longhaired and groovy Bright Light Social Hour took the Shiner Music Stage, serving up fast-pace, psychedelically charged tunes alongside a cowboy cactus figurine.

An hour later, an enormous flag inscribed with “The Drums” descended upon the stage, and the crowd went nuts. The Drums exuded a modern “The Smiths meets fallen-from-church-boy” energy – and a few David Bowie-inspired dance sequences, that left everyone feeling nostalgic and hyped for the final set of the evening.

Public Enemy rounded out Friday’s festivities, performing with legendary members P.E., Chuck D and Flavor Flav. At one point, the group was joined onstage by a dancing churro (gotta love San Antonio). The atmosphere transformed into staunch political activism as the group’s set progressed.

“Lemme hear you say fight the power,” rang out into the dwindling Friday hours, solidifying Public Enemy’s message since day one that we, as aware human beings, have to stand up against the injustices of our society, confronting racial oppression, xenophobia and of course, the power.

Saturday began with a 25-minute set from Chicana punk rock band Fea. It was 3 p.m., and rays of San Antonio (death) sunshine were beginning to emerge from behind the clouds, but still, the sparse crowd reverberated Fea’s vigor, head banging and all.

At 3:45 p.m. Mother Falcon took the Shiner Music Stage. The band’s set, which consisted of 13 members playing the accordion, violins, drums, trumpets and more, allotted time for only three songs; however, the sound produced was unlike any other in the festival.


Reverend Horton Heat was next, regenerating the spirit of classic Honkytonk and rock ‘n roll. Old dogs Jim Heath and Jimbo Wallace even switched instruments during one of their songs, and closed with a Johnny Cash cover.

Over at the Shiner Biergarten, Chulita Vinyl Club spun Latina fusion records, whilst Wild Child took center stage at Shiner Music.

Daylight began to fade away, and at 7:15 p.m. Young Fathers’ set got going, with each member belting out poignant verses against eccentric, bongo-infused beats. Meanwhile, The Octopus Project serenaded crowds at the Arneson Stage, which was packed and lively.

At 9:50 p.m., the Flaming Lips surfaced, in looking like a scene out of James Cameron’s “Avatar,” Wayne Coyne manifested from behind a sea of strung LED lights, playing fan favorites such as “Do You Realize??” and “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Part 1.” All controversies aside, the Lips put on one hell of a show.

Crowds were doused with huge vibrant balloons and an unforeseeable amount of confetti, and at one point, a “Fu– Yeah San Antonio” banner even appeared. At the end of the Lips’ set, Coyne entered the crowd in his signature hamster ball for a tribute to the late David Bowie, and the feeling of being a part of something so impactful and hearing hundreds of voices harmonize to “Space Oddity” was utterly surreal.

This year’s Maverick Fest was unforgettable, and even if the San Antonio Current’s prediction does happen to come true, rest assured the possibly final event would go out with a deafening, confetti-filled bang.

Elizabeth Davis, The Paisano
Elizabeth Davis, The Paisano