The pounding of the bass was so loud last weekend that Summer Sights thought the music must be coming from one of her neighbors in the Agave neighborhood — not the Euphoria Music Festival about 3 miles away.
“I read that in previous years steps were taken to mitigate the noise and bass thumping, but those measures must have been thrown out this year because I can’t imagine it being worse,” Sights said of the four-day festival held at Carson Creek Ranch. “This was a serious assault on neighborhoods for miles around – let alone the toll taken on the ears and bodies of festival attendees.”
The volume of the festival has been a point of contention for the past few years, even sparking a lawsuit by Euphoria organizers in 2015 when Travis County imposed new limits on when the music needs to end for the night. Euphoria later lost that case, but it still received the later hours wanted when Travis County commissioners approved a variance in January allowing Euphoria to stay open two hours past the time normally allowed by code.
At that time, there was little debate among commissioners and not a single speaker on the item. For a moment, it seemed the frustration from residents near the festival site, not far from Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, might have finally blown over.
Until last weekend’s festival, that is.
Sights is one of several residents who complained to Travis County officials. Commissioner Margaret Gómez, who represents the precinct in which the festival is held, noted at Tuesday’s meeting that she had received two noise complaints over the weekend. Commissioner Jeff Travillion said he had received a complaint as well.
County Judge Sarah Eckhardt then asked if she wanted to have an “after-action briefing” over the issue.
“Either that or get with the folks who had the complaints to understand better how to deal with the noise,” Gómez said.
“All right, then we will await your pleasure on that after you’ve had a chance to get together,” Eckhardt replied.
Earlier this year, Scott Davidson of Austin-based Code 4 Event Management described the sound improvements made at the 2016 Euphoria festival and said the measures would be used again this year. They included reconfiguring the speakers to steer low-end audio directly at the audience, creating after-hours party tents to contain the late-night noise, and providing some “silent concerts,” in which festivalgoers listened to the music through cordless headphones instead of loud speakers.
Meredith Clark, who lives in Woodland Hills, about 4.5 miles from the festival grounds, said in an email Tuesday that her family could hear the music from the back of their home, “almost as if one of our neighbors was having a raging party next door” until 2 a.m.
“Needless to say, we weren’t able to sleep,” Clark said.
Clark said many people posted in her neighborhood Nextdoor group about the sound and wondered how the festival could have been the source, given the distance from their homes.
When it happened again Sunday night, though, she said, they became more convinced Euphoria was the culprit.
Clark said she plans to contact her local representatives about the issue and push for greater regulation of noise and curfew.
“I am just amazed that something like this could be allowed to occur,” Clark said. “My main concern is that this will begin to affect our quality of life if festivals like this are allowed to continue without proper regulations in place.”