San Antonio’s second Mala Luna kicks off with Lil Wayne, Wiz Khalifa

October 29, 2017

When ScoreMore announced it would organize a hip-hop and EDM-oriented music festival in San Antonio last year, the concert promoters were confident they knew what they were doing.

But, at the time, not everybody agreed. San Antonio is not usually a major market for that kind of music. One Forbes writer questioned whether the festival was a well-calculated risk or a precarious first-year gamble.

On Saturday, as the festival kicked off for its second year, the lineup made it clear that, calculated risk or risky gamble, it had paid off.

Thousands gathered at Nelson Wolff Stadium for the two-day event featuring some of the biggest names in hip-hop and rap, including Saturday night headliners Lil Wayne and Wiz Khalifa and Sunday’s headliners Future and Migos.

The festival’s atmosphere felt new and exhilarating, bringing a taste of the Austin City Limits Music Festival to town without — for the most part — the mass crowds, awful traffic and all-round craziness.

San Antonio’s unique charms were noticeable at the festival, themed on Día de los Muertos, with local artists performing, a face painter applying the traditional Day of the Dead makeup and vendors selling the Fiesta crowd-pleaser chicken-on-a-stick.

Mala Luna (meaning “Bad Moon”) launched last year, hosted by the Austin-based ScoreMore, which is best known for JMBLYA, a touring hip-hop music festival, and its Neon Desert Music Festival in El Paso.

Last year’s festival brought about 30,000 fans to the Lone Star Brewery to see Kaskade, Steve Aoki, Travis Scott and Kehlani.

This year, the festival opened with Isabella Rodriguez and Kurt Rockmore. Rockmore, of Long Island, New York, wasn’t familiar to many concertgoers, but by the end of his 30-minute set, he got the crowd charged with “Going Up,” a song from his upcoming album.

Next on the lineup was Intre, of San Antonio, who got the crowd animated with his nostalgic ’90s sound, giving rise to memories of N.W.A and Tupac.

The acts got better as the afternoon wore on, with J.I.D., of Atlanta, performing a song produced by J. Cole and Smokepurpp crooning a cover of Beyonce’s “Check on It”, featuring rappers Bun B and Slim Thug.

You didn’t have to know the artists or all their songs to have a good time. For many concertgoers, the artists weren’t familiar, but they danced and nodded along just the same. Others sat on the lawn, relaxing and taking in the sights and sounds.

The VIP section — which cost $209 for a two-day pass — offered fans an up-close view of the artists, along with a hookah lounge, caricature artist, hair stylists and makeshift barbershop.

And that was just the beginning of the afternoon.

Next on the lineup was Wiz Khalifa — known for “Black and Yellow”, “Work Hard, Play Hard” and “See You Again” — and Lil Wayne, famous for “Lollipop,” “Mrs. Officer,” and, most recently, “Sucker for Pain.”

With Sunday’s acts still to come, organizers were already looking forward to next year.

“Yes, we are coming back in 2018,” Trey Hicks, Mala Luna spokesman, said Saturday night.

eeaton@express-news.net | Twitter: @emilieeaton