San Antonio finds pride in the return of its youngest music festival, Mala Luna Fest

Matt Barron

With the unexpected success of its latest music festival, Mala Luna, San Antonio continues to diversify its music scene and find a new reason to be proud of its community.

Despite its size, San Antonio’s live-music sector is often overlooked when compared to that of Houston, Austin or Dallas. However, Mala Luna’s Austin-based producer, Scoremore Shows, believes San Antonians deserve the same access and luxuries as the rest of Texas’ large cities.

The festival made its official debut in October 2016, selling out of its 30,000 passes just hours before the grand opening. One year later and the excitement is still buzzing for the Alamo City’s music fest, selling out of its 2017 pre-sale and early bird passes before releasing a single lineup announcement.

According to locals like Brittany Robinson, previous station manager at Texas State University’s radio station, the people of the city want to support this festival because it offers them something they’ve never had before.

“Without a doubt, if it weren’t for Mala Luna, these artists would never come to San Antonio,” Robinson said. “Travis Scott actually studied at UTSA. So, the fact that Mala Luna was his first show in SA kind of proves that this isn’t a popular stop for those trendy names in rap music.”

Priding itself in being one of the nation’s rap-heavy music festivals, local hip-hop lovers like Robinson feel that Mala Luna spearheads a much-needed diversion from San Antonio’s typical taste for hard rock and Tejano music.

“99.5 KISS FM is SA’s biggest festival thrower,” Robinson said. “But they focus on the big hard-rock names, catering to the parents and children. It’s one thing for rappers to come to SA, but Mala Luna allows them to share a space with their contemporaries and actually want to come to SA.”

While neighboring cities Austin, Houston and Dallas house communities that continuously catapult artists to hip-hop stardom through events like South By Southwest, San Antonio — Texas’ second-largest city — does not contribute on the same level. Robinson said she hopes San Antonians’ support of Mala Luna will raise the city’s profile and allow it to make a larger impact on the music industry.

“We’re never gonna be Austin; we’re never gonna have a JMBLYA or an ACL. But we can have our own, San Antonian, fresh and trendy festival,” Robinson said. “That’s what (Mala Luna) is: a trendy festival, courtesy of San Antonio. It’s built here, it’s grown here and it’s supported here. “

Occupying Dia de los Muertos weekend, Mala Luna, Spanish for “bad moon,” adheres to the city’s Chicano vibes by borrowing its theme from the Mexican holiday and displaying various pieces of cultural art throughout festival grounds.

San Antonio music producer J. Money thinks that Mala Luna “makes San Antonio more relatable” to outsiders. 

“SA is lame to a lot of people,” Robinson said. “I know a lot of people see SA as old and dirty, but when you go to Mala Luna, you see us in this new shiny, trendy light and you’re like, ‘Dang SA is actually a cool city!’”

The people of San Antonio are obviously excited to house the event, as last year’s event hosted A-list acts such as Travis Scott, Kaskade, Lil Uzi Vert, Lil Yachty, Rae Sremmurd and more.

With Mala Luna’s 2017 lineup now officially released, San Antonio is sure to have big plans for its return.