As Untapped festival headliner Deer Tick prepared to take the stage closing beer booths, an impromptu chorus of the "Star Spangled Banner" emitted from the front of the crowd, and grew louder with every verse as it felt like the entire fest joined in to sing our national anthem. Immediately after we sang "and the home of the brave!!" a thunderous round of cheers let out. The whole celebration was about more then just beer and music, it was about enjoying the freedom we're lucky enough to have. Beer, music and freedom.
Lord was there ever so much craft beer. 65 booths with different breweries dealing out two to five beers apiece. A $5 card got you either one full size beer, or twelve 2oz beers, and considering there were 24 beers over 10 percent ABV, you wanted to go with the samples. To the side of the beer tents were vendors selling all types of beer-themed wares, media company Paperlyte films was passing out free koozies to whoever followed them and shirt designer Tumbleweed Texstyles was seeing brisk business on their Texas themed designs. Two stages set on opposite sides of the pavilion, and Fort Worth's downtown sat just a short walk away. It was a stunning scene, helped by what may have been the most beautiful day this area has seen so far this year.
The long buzzed-about Dove Hunter kicked off the music portion of the festival with a gritty set that saw them perform to the best fan of the festival, a young teenage boy casually popping ollies on his skateboard while the band filled the air with raw energy. Somebody's Darling showed that their time on the road touring has brought them together and turned them into consummate professionals, as the band powered through some technical difficulties to deliver a blistering set. Skeleton Coast received some rather harsh criticism from a patron wearing a Phoenix shirt when he called them "too hipsterish." The irony was not lost on me.
I was lucky enough to finally catch Denver-based band Tennis three years after their digital EP turned music writers into immediate gushing fanboys, myself included. Tennis' set was actually the first to really grab the crowd as people inched closer and closer to the stage and actually sang along to most of the songs. Alt-country star Justin Townes Earle lives up to the hype -- there's really no better way of saying it. Whatever you've heard is true and is probably not enough praise for such a talented artist.
Obviously the most anticipated performance of the night was Sarah Jaffe's. Since the release of her EP Even Born Again in 2008, Jaffe has been touted as the area's next big thing, often sweeping local awards shows, getting constant local air play and selling out every venue in town. 2010's Suburban Nature seemed to deliver on the promise, as her single "Clementine" became a breakout single. It was during this time I caught Jaffe and her merry band of ringers at SXSW. I noticed that Jaffe almost seemed to shy away from the spotlight. Three years, an EP and a full length later, that's not even close to the case.
Saturday night Jaffe took the stage to a giant crowd, all of whom were captivated by her presence. People sang along to every one of her songs -- couples held each other close. A couple standing next to the fence were so overcome by the performance I considered walking over an offering to put them up in a hotel. The whole time Jaffe's star wattage shined through. Her stage banter was uncensored, her guitar work fiery. Gone was the artist who seemed sort of wary of taking the lime light, what was there now was an artist who was fully confident in her ability to control the crowd without worry. One has to wonder if the home field advantage has something to do with this, but if Jaffe's electric cover of The Supremes' "You Keep Me Hanging On" was any indication, these thoughts are for naught. She's what the area's been declaring her to be: An undeniably talented artist ready to take over.
It's a testament to this country's spirit of freedom that after one of the worst weeks in recent memory, so many are able to cast off the dour mood that was felt and gather to celebrate two things we as a country are crazy about: beer and music. This does not mean what happened during the week was forgotten: there was an unfathomable number of Red Sox hats being worn by patrons at Untapped festival, and vendor after vendor was taking donations for those affected in West. Yeah, people were there to have a good time, but they were going to try and do little things to help with the big picture while having that good time.
One thing is for sure though -- Untapped may be the most brilliant idea production company Spune has ever had. They've brought together two very unique and passionate groups in beer fans and music fans. We love it, bring on the Dallas festival in September.
Over heard: "We're shooting IPAs?!!" "We've already shot IPAs!"
Dallas Pets Alive had a booth at the fest which included three pups who were up for adoption, all three went home with new owners. DPA also sold out of all of their limited edition t-shirts and their donation jars were overflowing. Music and beer fans love puppies.
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Shirt of the day goes to the 40 something sporting The Rocket Summer tour shirt. He may have actually been Bryce Avery's dad.
Top 5 beer experiences: Rahr's Cheech, Armadillo Ale's Quakertown Stout, Revolver's Cinnamon Girl, Ballast Point Bourbon Barrel Aged Sea Monster and the Shiner I had at a bar post fest.
Post fest I found myself at a Fort Worth bar watching a 90s cover band named the Dick Beldings drive a bachelorette party and a group of Denton kids to dance like no one was watching. This sort of deserves its own post as it was rather insane and utterly awesome.