SubOctave: Where Size Doesn’t Matter
Written by Austin Allen
SubOctave Music Festival At a Glance
I’ve been going to shows and festivals since 2012, and I can honestly say that SubOctave Music Festival was arguably one of my favorite festivals I’ve had the pleasure of attending. The intimate size of the venue was a huge factor in making it special; you don’t need a totem to find your friends, just walk around or stand on the hill for a bird’s eye view of the beautiful landscape. Even if you did get lost, you’re surrounded by fun loving strangers that are always quick with a smile and a wave.
Simplicity and smallness seems to be a core value of SubOctave that makes it easy to go, and easy to never want to leave. Car camping (details below) means you can drive in and set up without much hassle right next to your car, perfect for when the diabolical sun decides scorch everything within its rays of fire. Plus, once you get searched by the friendly security guards upon entry to the venue, there are no more security checkpoints to enter the stage areas. After only two years, it’s clear that SubOctave and its organizers at Party MetaZoa understand how to establish an identity while running an event that really makes an impact on your heart and soul.
Music genre: Heavy Bass / Dubstep
Camping: You’re camping, end of story. So if you aren’t about that camping life then look elsewhere.
Capacity: Small, under 1000
Crowd type: Heady, neighborly, loving; skewed towards the mid-twenties and older
Water stations: Yes, one on the way in from camp and one between stages
For the first-timers
Located at Infrasound’s original venue at the Outback Ranch in Houston, Minnesota’s beautiful valleys, it is best to arrive by car. La Crosse Municipal Airport and Rochester International Airport are the closest airports, but you’ll need to catch a cab to the venue and back, and deal with loading and unloading your entire arsenal of festival necessities. Just drive – trust me – you’ll thank me later.
SubOctave offers field camping as well as car camping, so you can drive right on in and park in a designated car camping area. Car camping spots must be signed up for in advance, with at least four people per spot.
For me, car camping just makes everything easier. You’ll really appreciate having access to air conditioning once the sun pokes its hot head over the horizon and a secure place to lock up all your belongings, and once it’s time to pack up and leave you don’t have to haul your stuff anywhere. Just break down your tent, pick up all your trash, and head back on out to reality.
One unique aspect of SubOctave was how the venue itself played such an important role in the excellent sound quality, especially of the main stage. Facing a relatively steep hill and surrounded by trees, the music shot out of the speakers, passed through the eyes and ears of festival goers, and hit the hill. Whereas many festivals have their main stage on flat land that the music travels along until it dies, the hill at SubOctave kept the sound within the crowd area, resonating for us to bathe in a blender of wubs…truly magical.
The second stage is located inside a small warehouse just a few feet away from the main stage, but the sounds from each don’t mesh together. There’s always enough space to clearly hear the music from the stage you want to see, and two fans inside the warehouse were perfect for escaping the heat.
Minnesota back to back G Jones was disgustingly beautiful to say the very least. Dedicated fans of either artist know that while similarities exist, the styles of both can certainly be differentiated. This came together in a delicate balance of the ability to work together flawlessly, playing off those differences to create entirely new sounds.
Aaron Brooks painting live right next to the stage added to this immersive experience, as did the skills of fire flow troupes QC Sol Fire and Flowher Visual Art performing on another smaller stage next to A Brooks. It was insanity. Such talent bombarded my being and left me speechless until the sun rose.
Another performance that I was not only shocked by, but also extremely satisfied with was an up-and-coming producer that goes by the name Indigo Child. He ended up playing a great solo set early on the first day of the festival, and threw down a back to back set with Zero Gravity, Deerskin, Renov8, and Aliens at Work…everything from melodic dub to that filthy riddim that got everyone moving and jumping around. I’ll be seeing Indigo Child again at the end of August when he plays with 12th Planet in Indiana at The Mouse Trap.
Things to do
- Life-size beer pong
- Cool off in the kiddy pool
- Fire flow
- Gloving workshop
- Face painting
- Giant jenga
- Giant ski ballSubOctave1
This is more of a moment that, I feel, all festival goers experience at the end of a festival…after I exchanged contact information with my neighbors, I took one final look into my rearview before driving away, just to get a final glance at one of the most memorable places I’ve experienced to date. I’ll never forget how driving back out on that gravel road felt so different from driving in, and it’s all thanks to the beautiful souls at Party MetaZoa who put on the entire event. At just two years old, it’s clear that SubOctave is providing an important opportunity to experience such a small, blissful environment.