As pedestrians strolled north down Rio Grande Street in West Campus, there seemed to be a change of vibe as they moved closer to the co-ops located along 21st Street.
Loud music could be heard resonating from the inside of many of the houses.
Couches were set up in the middle of front lawns, with grungy-looking young adults sitting together drinking Lone Star beer and smoking cigarettes.
What may have been confused as a large block party to many, was actually a local music festival.
West by West Campus (WXWC), a homemade festival created five years ago by West Campus residents, was held for its final year on Feb. 21-22. WXWC was created to provide underage Austinites an alternative to SXSW, and is a free, all-ages event.
As a frequent festival goer, Zeke Quintanilla attended WXWC three out of five years. He said he cannot think of anything more “Austin” than the fest.
“The people are weird, the co-ops are weird and the music is weird, but all in the best possible way,” Quintanilla said.
WXWC is held throughout SouthWest Campus in various co-ops around 21st Street. The fest showcased the colorful murals of things like the Texas flag and Pink Floyd-inspired portraits painted throughout the various venues, as well as the colorful personalities that lived in the co-ops (including those who embraced the “clothing optional” rules in some of the houses, like the 21st Street Co-Op.)
The doors of most co-ops were wide open, seeming inviting and yet intimidating; it almost felt as though you were crossing the threshold into a new, psychedelic-like universe as you walked across the front porch.
After seeing residents climb onto their roof to watch bands perform and dance along to the music, Toni Oluveko said one of his favorite parts of WXWC was seeing all of the different co-ops.
“I had no idea most of these places were even here,” Oluveko said. “I thought West Campus was just filled with a bunch of frat houses. It’s really cool to see this awesome alternative housing.”
This was Oluveko’s first year attending WXWC. He described the fest as more relaxed than other festivals.
“Its really cool that you can just hop to different places and see any band you want that’s playing at the moment,” Oluveko said.
Another aspect of WXWC Oluveko said he liked was finding new local bands to listen to. His pick of the festival was a band called Hashtagyoloswag, who incorporates 8-bit tracks from Nintendo games and a ukulele into their music.
“WXWC has exposed me to all kind of bands,” Oluveko said. “They’re all really interesting, and it’s been really cool to discover new bands and hear Austin music.”
Quintanilla also said that the music was his favorite aspect of the WXWC culture.
“The festival is a way for new and local talent around Austin (and other parts of Texas) to get exposure they wouldn’t have during SXSW,” Quintanilla said. “This year has given me a lot of new local music that I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for to see live again.”
As the day faded into the evening the streets began to fill with inebriated folks hopping from co-op to co-op, pausing to talk to friends, and causing traffic jams along the cross section of 21st Street and Rio Grande.
After the festival ended, Quintanilla said he was sad to see WXWC go.
“WXWC was just such a great opportunity for both the musicians and the fans,” Quintanilla said. “The relaxed and free culture of West Campus and the co-ops gave WXWC a really unique, intimate and fun vibe not found in other larger festivals.”