Homegrown Fest X
With Toadies, Seryn, Tripping Daisy, Ben Kweller and more
Main Street Garden Park and The Kessler, Dallas
April 13 and 14, 2019
It was all rescheduled so suddenly, but you never would have known it.
On Friday, fans and media outlets received notice that the 10th anniversary of Homegrown Fest, Dallas’ annual celebration of Texas’ diverse music culture, was to be pushed back from Saturday to Sunday.
Two of the scheduled artists, Dripping Springs’ Americana singer Israel Nash and Commerce indie rocker Ben Kweller, could not make Sunday work for their schedule, instead playing their sets at Kessler Theater to any festival attendees who wished to brave Saturday’s storm.
Saturday’s small showcase was attended by a small group of fans, which Kweller likened to a private party. He played an hourlong set filled with fan favorites like “Penny on the Train Track” and new songs like his current single, “Heart Attack Kid.”
At the end of the show, Kweller played “Sundress” for an encore. “Now I feel like The Toadies," he quipped. "Never played an encore at a festival before.”
Pushing the rest of the festival to Sunday was the right call, however. Tim DeLaughter, whose reunited Tripping Daisy played the festival for the second time in three years, even told the audience that the park had been covered in a foot of water on Saturday. Though the ground remained a little damp, Sunday brought the sunshine.
The day started off with a bit of a hiccup, though, with sound issues delaying the festival’s noon start time almost an hour and plaguing the first-ever live performance of Dallas pop and R&B act Oscar DeLaughter, Tim's teenage son.
Despite the sound issues, Oscar DeLaughter’s short set was received warmly by fans. Tim, watching proudly from the side of the stage, told the audience later that he thought Oscar handled the sound issues like a champ and that he was proud to share the stage with him on his first live show.
The only other time the rain delay could really be felt was during Houston country musician Robert Ellis’ set. Ellis had planned for a full band to join him onstage Saturday, but with the rest of the band having prior engagements on Sunday, Ellis opted to play a more intimate set with himself on piano alongside his guitarist, Kelly Doyle.
Though Dallas DJ Marc Rebillet ultimately dropped out of the festival completely, picking up an impromptu Saturday night gig at Twilite Lounge instead, the rest of the day went off without any other major issues.
Denton’s psych rock girl group, Pearl Earl, sent fans into outer space, and Dallas blues rock outfit 40 Acre Mule brought them back down to earth, getting audience members two-stepping to a set that included a cover of Chuck Berry’s “Brown Eyed Handsome Man.” Even Dallas Police officers stopped to take a video of their set.
In the afternoon, Austin singer-songwriter Jackie Venson created a warm vibe for an audience that had taken to the shade of Main Street Garden Park for a midday break, and Houston funk and R&B act The Suffers got them dancing again with positive messages of hospitality and love.
Dallas blues rockers Jonathan Tyler and the Northern Lights gave a scorching performance in their first appearance at Homegrown since the festival’s inaugural year, 2010, as the crowd packed in for the day’s last stretch of performances.
Fresh off of signing with ATO Records, Austin’s Black Pumas were definitely a fan favorite, with many members of the audience in awe of the band’s psychedelic soulfulness.
Of course, you could tell from all the T-shirts that the band most of the crowd came to see was Tripping Daisy, and the band absolutely did not let them down.
The set began with a walk through the audience by a man painted all in red in the style of the man featured on the cover of Tripping Daisy’s breakthrough album, I Am an Elastic Firecracker. DeLaughter said the man was the long-lost brother of Guglielmo Achille Cavellini, the Italian artist featured on the album cover, who had flown in from Italy to be a part of the show.
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The rest of the set was a career-spanning performance filled with stories of past times playing with the Toadies at the Agora Ballroom and Artists Square, news that Jesus Hits Like the Atom Bomb is set to be remastered on vinyl, and a touching memorial to DeLaughter’s grandmother and former bandmates Wes Berggren and Ben Curtis.
Next came the first performance by Denton’s eight-piece folk outfit Seryn after a two-year hiatus, which created an amazing atmosphere as the sun set on the day’s final hours with pitch-perfect harmonies and a truly spirited stage presence.
The event closed with DFW’s most ubiquitous grunge band, The Toadies, who among other things led the audience through an “I Come from the Water” singalong, debuted a new song and lauded the audience for choosing a music festival over a “dragon-zombie show” that happened to return Sunday night.
Overall, the daylong festival that stretched into a day-and-a-half, split-venue affair delivered a good time for all in attendance. Definitely worth the rain delay.