Late last month, Homegrown Festival founder Josh Florence sent an email to industry insiders about the uncertain fate of the festival due to poor ticket sales. Thanks to the efforts of those insiders and the Dallas music community at large, Homegrown lived to rock into its ninth year celebrating the music Texas (and one band from Canada) has to offer.
The day started off hot, both in terms of the 90-degree, cloudless afternoon and the local sounds, and the crowd trickled in slowly in those early afternoon hours. Those who arrived early were rewarded with power pop energy of two Denton bands, Sad Cops and psych-rock group Acid Carousel. When Fort Worth metal band Duell took the stage, its loyal following began to fill out the crowd.
By the time Houston-based indie rock group Vodi made its appearance, the festival began to look like it was going to be a success. Its mellow sounds, reminiscent of Ryan Adams, provided an energetic cool-down after Duell’s amped-up performance with songs like the soft and sweet “Pressure,” which seemed well-suited to tastes of the young families standing in the shaded areas.
Next came the first real standout performance of the day, the reunion performance of Dallas’ [DARYL], which has given only two shows in the last 15 years. The crowd started packing in closer to the front of the stage at the sight of the nine-piece band featuring bass, guitars, synth, four members sharing vocal duties and a baritone sax. With a sound somewhere between The Replacements and The Jesus and Mary Chain, [DARYL]’s set was crowd-pleasing as the group invited everyone to clap along at the close.
With the crowd’s energy at a high, Austin hard rock band Ume (pronounced oo-may) took it to the next level. Although there was little engagement with the audience, Ume’s high-energy performance featuring the panther growl vocals and guitar-shredding of Lauren Larson got the crowd moving in the last gasp of the day’s heat.
A welcome breeze brushed across the crowd when Roky Erickson, Austin’s grandfather of psychedelic rock, took the stage. Giving a career-spanning performance with songs like “You’re Gonna Miss Me” from The 13th Floor Elevators and “Two Headed Dog” from his 1987 The Holiday Inn Tapes, Erickson captivated the audience from his seat center stage.
Following Erickson with a break in the Homegrown theme came the Toronto jangle pop band Alvvays, which told the story of performing on the floating stage at last year’s Fortress Festival in Forth Worth. The crowd didn’t seem to mind the change in format, however, with fans singing all the words to several songs, including the popular single “Archie, Marry Me,” and happily dancing to the upbeat tunes.
After the lighthearted stylings of Alvvays came the dark psychedelia of Austin’s The Black Angels, who played the crowd into sundown. After some initial sound issues requiring an amp replacement in the middle of the band’s first song, “Science Killer,” it gave an outstanding performance. As the darkness settled in, The Black Angels’ mesmerizing projections shone through, highlighting the band’s animal magnetism.
The night concluded with musical fireworks provided by Austin post-rock band Explosions in the Sky. The heavy riffs and transcendent keys had the audience swaying into the close of the night as the music echoed through the towers of downtown Dallas.
Even without the draw of big-name acts like past headliners Tripping Daisy, Old 97s, Toadies, The Polyphonic Spree or Spoon, Homegrown managed to do what it has done for nine years — celebrate the diversity of Texas musicians past, present and future.