Think you’ve seen all the outdoor concerts that you need and if you’ve heard one you’ve heard them all? Well, you’re wrong if you haven’t witnessed Covert Concerts in Mineral Wells.
To be fair, with a name like "Covert," it's no wonder it seems like a secret. Venture outside Dallas, pass Fort Worth, and you’ll find Mineral Wells, a small town that, on its surface, doesn’t seem to have much going on. Yet they do.
Covert Concerts, a monthly music event organized by promoter Seth Johnston, is a traveling set of outdoor concerts he describes as a “glorified jam session.” Artists perform for free and there’s no fee to watch, either.
“I came up with the idea last May,” Johnston says. “It was supposed to be a one-off thing, but it went so well I decided to try it again. Next thing I knew, it was a monthly event.”
An intimate audience might not be the right description of the crowd, but it is not at all crowded with its small but loyal following. The main performance spot is in front of a giant wall covered in graffiti referred to as "Graffiti Wall," but Covert Concerts has plans to move around to a different spot each month.
The show is powered by a generator, and though anyone can sign up to play, the bills are mostly rock and metal. The event is promoted as not having everything a typical venue might have (like bathrooms), but it has been well received by interested performers, and Johnston has had no trouble getting enough bands to play each month.
“For the most part, finding bands has been pretty easy,” he says.
The usual bills have Mineral Wells rockers and metalheads such as No Compliance, As Trust Kills and The Max Hill Band, to name a few. Johnston always schedules three bands to play, whoever’s interested, until all the slots are filled.
“The main appeal to us was the setting and the whole vibe of the show.' – Performer Bill Gelwick
As Trust Kills, who discovered the event through a local music group on Facebook, played their second performance of the year with Covert Concerts in March. Bill Gelwick, the rhythm guitarist for the band, says the setting for the show drew them in.
“The main appeal to us was the setting and the whole vibe of the show,” Gelwick says. “The neighborhood setting and that Graffiti Wall. Being outdoors, family friendly, BYOB and more, these were all pluses for us.”
Outdoor concerts have become commonplace since the pandemic as indoor venues either closed their doors, paused their live music or limited entry to the first few lucky patrons. Covert Concerts just happened to start at a time when local artists had to get creative and look for alternatives to their typical performances.
“Both the other bands who played were super cool,” Gelwick says. “We’ve been keeping in contact with them since.”
Covert doesn’t try to sugarcoat what it is and delivers witty honesty with each ad poster. What it lacks in facilities, food, drink and sound, it makes up for with that huge Graffiti Wall that helps bounce sound back to the crowd. It's just some casual rock and metal fun.
“It’s not glamorous, there's no huge turnout, there's no bar, but it is pretty rock & roll,” reads one of Johnston's posts promoting the show. “And since these shows are in a public space, we have to start early and finish by 9:45, so you could potentially book a second gig for the same night.”
With Texas reopened, indoor shows may again be the go-to for music lovers, but outdoor shows aren’t going anywhere soon, especially with a scorching summer approaching.