Backyard Minifest ’14

“The highlight was just seeing so many people come out to support young, local artists. I met some great people and caught up with some friends.” -Zach Eaton; comedian

By Julia Nguyen, News Editor

all photos by Jared Hernandez

Last summer, talent from the greater Houston area came together to perform and display their appreciation for adolescent art. The birth and success of Backyard Minifest 2013 (click here for last year’s recap) made a powerful impact on countless students’ summers, as well as lives. Many were already anticipating the arrival of next year’s gathering.

There was much speculation over whether or not Backyard Minifest 2014 would take place. After weeks of consideration, Ranger Jade Castillo finally announced via Instagram that she would definitely be hosting the event. However, it was later revealed that founder and fellow Longhorn Grace Rangel would not be co-hosting alongside Castillo, but would continue to make certain key contributions.

Things were coming together as performers and vendors were getting scheduled, the new location (The Shed; a garage and known venue in Rosenberg) was announced, and tickets were already selling out. The show would go on to feature 15 enthusiastic acts, ranging from comedy to music to poetry performing inside the garage, while vendors would be present outside on the lawn area selling their art, music, and baked goods.  As the date was nearing, youth all over Houston were promoting it more than ever via social media and verbal communication. The anticipation and admiration for the event evolved into a feeling much greater than expected.

Come August 15th, everyone involved awoke with a sense of eagerness. To just be associated with something that brings a diverse community together through passions and interests already left a lasting impression on many.  At the scene, performers were arranging the stage, vendors were setting up their tables, and young people were scattered across the vast yard connecting with each other.

As soon as the venue began to crowd, the streets tangent to the locale were filling up and complaints from the neighbors were already being made to Lorenzo Lerma, the homeowner of The Shed. People were asked to move their cars in order to make peace with the nearby residents. Things went as planned, but only for a matter of hours.

Comedian Zach Eaton, rappers Finnesse and Swivel Complex, musician Sam Oesch, and indie rock band Frank were the only performers that were able to carry out their acts before the show was ultimately shut down due to an issue with overcapacity of both cars and people. “I didn’t believe it at first,” Aaron Jones, a rapper who was not able to perform, described his initial reaction upon hearing about Minifest’s cancellation, “I thought they were just trying to get people to leave so that there wouldn’t be so many cars outside.” Everyone was asked to leave immediately, and a police officer was present to assist with the clearing. “It was kind of upsetting that it got shut down so early, so quickly,” Rangel said. As the crowd dispersed, the surroundings began to fill with car lights and loud murmurs.

The event’s cancellation was a huge letdown for many, especially to those who were not able to showcase their act, but it also exposed several flaws in the organization of the show. “I went home and I cried,” Blake Dorian, an artist who raps alongside Jones, said.

“I felt really bad about that,” Longhorn James Frank said. “I was excited that I got to play my set, but I felt bad because the first Minifest was my first show ever and I just imagined that there were other people whose first show ever was at this Minifest and weren’t allowed to play. And I can’t imagine if last year’s were to get shut down and if I weren’t able to play my first show ever, what would’ve happened because that first show meant a lot for me, so I really do feel bad for the people who weren’t able to play.”

“There wasn’t a lot of flowing,” Rangel points out, “as far as music.  People were more outside socializing than they were inside listening to the artists, so that was a major flaw because you couldn’t be in the same room talking and listening to the music. There were two atmospheres, just two different things going on.”

Although “there were some problems with the planning, it stayed true to the last Minifest. Everyone was very friendly, the music was good, and it was really fun,” Frank said.

Backyard Minifest 2014 was still a remarkable event to many who attended. “It was great while it lasted and I had a good time. I felt great being a part of it,” vendor and artist Dylan Compean said.

“It’s a really great place to see young artists and meet cool, interesting people,” comedian Zach Eaton said, “Jade Castillo put a lot of time and effort into it and I think that’s really awesome.”

“For one person, she did a good job,” Rangel said about Castillo’s efforts, “Honestly, I wouldn’t have anybody else carry the vision other than Jade.”