Micro-Moon prime movers transform Austin Film School into concert venue

From the organization to the performance to the audience, inaugural festival all about students

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Risa Darlington-Horta

Junior Marlee Foster, who performs with the stage name Merlin, sings a song for her opening set at the Micro-Moon Festival. The festival was held on Nov. 1 at the Austin Film School. For Foster, the live show was her first real gig and originally there was no opening act for the festival. Later on, however, Foster was asked to be the first performer. “I was very shocked,” Foster said, “because I'd heard about the Micro-Moon Festival and was going to attend, but then during Coffeehouse one of the performers, Jay Mathias, asked me if I wanted to open, and I was so happy.” Foster released her own song, "Red Eyes Pt. 2," about a week before the show and was excited to sing it live. "Performing at Micro-Moon was honestly so fun because everyone in the audience was so supportive,” Foster said. "They sang along to my song and started moshing at one point. It was awesome.” Photo by Risa Darlington-Horta.

Lily Prather, McCallum photojournalism

Marlee Foster peeked out at her soon to be captivated crowd. The space was big, and it was pretty dark, except for a couple of dull purple-and-orange lights. Seeing the crowd, Foster felt a sense of anticipation, one that coursed through her conversation, as people waited for her to start. 

She stepped out onto the stage and became Merlin Foster (her chosen stage name). Soon, her voice resonated all across the room. The palpable energy and appreciation bubbled up as the music started to rise, and the dark room transformed into a live concert venue.

Risa Darlington-Horta
Junior Jay Mathias smiles after finishing one of his songs that he sang at the Micro-Moon Music Festival. The festival was held on Nov. 1 at 9 p.m. It was a completely student-run event, and had Mac students as the headliners. This festival was an opportunity for a lot of the performers to play original music and in front of a live crowd. Mathias, has been writing original songs since middle school. “The lyrics kinda just spill out, and its whatever; it’s random,” Mathias said. “I just really love music, so every day I go home and instead of doing homework I sit down at my desk and make new songs. I make like three or five new tracks.” Photo by Risa Darlington-Horta.

“Honestly, performing live was amazing,” Foster said. “I’ve been writing music for so long and finally getting to perform it in front of an audience was amazing!” 

Jay Mathias, Will Dooley, The Point, followed Foster as performers at the Micro-Moon Music Festival on Nov. 1. The doors opened at 9 p.m. at the Austin Film School. The cavernous space was filled with Mac students, and other Austinites who came just to see the show. The festival was put on by high school students, including one of the performers Jay Mathias.

“Alex has a production company called Micro-Moon,” Mathias said, “and one day we were kinda just sitting down, and he was like, ‘What if we threw a concert?”

Micro-Moon shared the stories of these musicians. All of them had been working with music and writing songs for quite a while; for most of them, however, Micro-Moon was their first real concert.

“My first time performing my songs in front of people was in a talent show in seventh grade,” Foster said, “but this was my first genuine gig where I got to perform my stuff and everyone in the audience was amazing.”

Throughout the show, people played original music and covers. Recently Foster came out with a song titled “Red Eyed Pt 2” on multiple music platforms. She played this original song at the festival and was surprised with the audience reaction,

“I’d say a great moment from the concert was singing my song, ‘Red Eyes pt 2’ and hearing people sing along,” Foster said. “I didn’t know it was gonna happen, and I loved it! And then people started moshing, and honestly it was just an amazing experience.”

Micro-Moon meant a lot to the students in it, because the concert was made, produced and set up by them. It was a complete student run event. 

“It felt amazing, seeing it pan out, how it did,” Mathias said. “I got there late after everyone had set up the space, and it was really cool seeing our whole concert space set up and seeing the crowd. It was awesome.”

Having a student-run show was a drastic change from seeing Post Malone or Billie Eilish live. Avery Miller, an audience member, described the show as being “different from a concert because I knew the people actually playing, but it was really cool to see how professional some of the songs sounded.”

Despite the familiarity of the performers, the crowd stayed engaged with the music. 

“The atmosphere was really encouraging,” Miller said. “Everyone was dancing and having a good time. It was super uplifting to see that everyone came together from different groups to appreciate the music.” 

When asked to describe the concert in three words, Jay Mathias said, “I think, actually just one word … carefree.”

Risa Darlington-Horta
Isabela Diago, center in white shirt, lets loose with her friends, dancing and singing to one of the performers at the Micro-Moon Festival. The stage and the audience was filled with students who liked different things, but everyone there, was there for music. This was the first student-run Micro-Moon event. Diago described her experience entering the room “There was a table in the front so you could get a wristband,” Diago said, “and then it was just a huge room with a couple of chairs and the stage. It was already kinda dark, and they had orange and purple lights on.” Photo by Risa Darlington-Horta.