San Antonio band creates safety-oriented music festival to combat sexual assault

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Photo Credit: Eddie Gaspar

San Antonio band sleep well., comprised of students from different Austin-area universities, came together to combat sexual assault in San Antonio’s music scene.

For the second year in a row, lead singer and journalism sophomore Andrés Garcia organized Besito Fest, a music festival in his hometown to raise money for the Rape Crisis Center of San Antonio. Besito Fest will take place May 30 at the Brick at Blue Star Arts Complex in San Antonio. Garcia said this idea came from observing the city’s music scene.

“The San Antonio music scene has been very messy,” Garcia said. “Recently, a bunch of artists were outed as abusers and rape sympathizers in the scene. We would cancel shows because we didn’t want to be on bills with them.”

This issue inspired the first Besito Fest, where all attendees could be comfortable and not worry about their safety. To ensure the show will be a safe environment, bouncers will be briefed with a list of abusers and abuse apologists to whom they should deny entry. Garcia said exclusion of these abusers and apologists is important to the event.

“The fact that artists continue to get booked that have a track record of abuse or sympathy to abuse and protecting abusers isn’t right,” Garcia said. “A big reason that we’re doing Besito Fest is to prove to promoters that you can book a very diverse cast of artists and still draw an insane crowd, while creating and maintaining safe spaces in the scene.”

This diverse lineup has included many of Austin’s top local bands such as last year’s headliner pop band TC Superstar. This year’s headliners are indie pop band the irons and alternative rock band Wrongbird. Garcia said all the artists are aware of the cause that the show benefits.

“When we pitch Besito Fest to a band that we want to book, we say, ‘You’re not getting paid for this, and this is why,’” Garcia said. “A good amount of the time they’re cool about it. It’s really cool of them to play a show for free.”

There will also be local merchants and art vendors from around San Antonio at Besito Fest who will be able to keep the money they make from sales. These are separate from the fundraising aspect of the festival. Dominic Gomez Southwestern University sophomore and bass player said this helps to promote local artists.

“It’s definitely a worthy cause, all the proceeds from tickets sales go to Rape Crisis Center of San Antonio, but then all artists are allowed to keep 100% of their sales as well,” Gomez said. “Not only does it support local art, but then you’re also supporting a cause that, for the most part, is overlooked.”

Mark Fountain, Southwestern University freshman and sleep well. drummer, said this event is important in establishing a status quo for music festivals.

“The mission of it is so important,” Fountain said. “I know concert venues have some of the highest rates of sexual assault among anything in the country. It’s really bulls--- because a place where there’s music should be the safest place on earth.”

While the indie pop band is largely focused on putting together a good show at Besito Fest, Garcia said their stage presence isn’t a concern for them. They want to be able to have the same presence in their digital music that they do onstage.

“We want to transfer who we are as a collective into who we are online,” Garcia said.

The band will release their first studio album later this year and have launched a GoFundMe page to collect donations to professionally record in a studio. Marco Martinez, St. Edward’s University freshman and sleep well. guitarist and keyboardist, said they want to bring their performance energy to the recordings.

“When we do songs live, we have new layers that you don’t hear in the recordings and sound better,” Martinez said. “We want to take the time to create something we can be proud of as a group.”