Homegrown Music and Arts Festival With Spoon, Old 97's, Shakey Graves and more The Bomb Factory, Dallas Saturday, May 9, 2015
Texas' unpredictable did its best to wreck havoc on the sixth annual Homegrown Music and Arts Festival over the weekend, but for once Mother Nature found itself outmatched. Organizers made the call to move festivities indoors to The Bomb Factory all the way back on Thursday, and while some seasoned Homegrowner's may have been disappointed by the lack of sunshine, it was made up for by spending the day in an air-conditioned venue, complete with bathrooms and a pretty impressive makeshift vendor and food truck setup.
Getting the party started was the Fort Worth's the Orbans and Austin's the Rocketboys. Both of these bands carry their own solid fan base and really brought the down-home, sultry beard game to their sets. Houston's chillwave house heroes, Wrestlers, followed suit with their electronic indie dance jams. This kind of body moving space music was the perfect addition for earlier attendees, who just wanted to bust out some hula-hoops and par-tay with a long day of music -- over 12 hours, in fact, thanks to the adjusted indoor schedule.
-Topic and KoolQuise, with support from local Dallas band Mix Magyk, brought the proverbial turn up next. These two MCs have one of the most synergetic stage presences I have ever witnessed, and they were the first artists to really capture the audience's attention. If the spoken word or the beat-boxing tribute to OutKast's "So Fresh, So Clean" didn't intrigue you, their rendition of the Pokémon theme song definitely should have.
For many festivalgoers, the following band was a pleasant, Aqua-Net drenched surprise. Hailing from Austin, glam-rockers Sphynx are millennial's answer to Queen - but "with two Freddie Mercury's and also Phil Collins" according to their Facebook. (They're modest folks, too...) This electro-pop trio could give Andrew W.K. a run for his money in a headbanging contest, while still hitting those falsettos and looking fabulous doing it.
Oil Boom took the stage next, bringing things back to D-FW once again. While this trio was slightly more reserved than their predecessor, that in no way deterred from their ability to rock the crowd. Oil Boom's music flirts with hints of surf-rock and straight up rock 'n' roll, and while each member of the band played their parts perfectly and had an appropriate amount of on-stage banter. All the same, it was bassist Steve Steward's perfectly quaffed mullet that really stole the show.
Next up was local Dallas' Sealion, which featured HG6's sole female performer. Prior to playing, HG founder, Josh Florence, informed the crowd that it was lead vocalist and guitarist, Hunter Moehring's birthday - and the inevitable birthday song soon followed.
Sealion's music falls somewhere between surf punk and Joy Division, with a healthy dose of Scott Pilgrim dance moves. That led me to ask the question: "Is Sealion actually the real-life version of Sex Bob Omb?" We may never know the answer to that, but I do know this: 1) I need a Sealion T-shirt and 2) Hunter Moehring needs to teach us all how to dance. #nicemooooooves
Black Pistol Fire was up next. Originally from Toronto, currently taking up residence in Austin, this band is comprised of just two members, frontman Kevin McKeown and drummer/swim trunk enthusiast Eric Owen. And y'all, this bluesy, Deep South-infused rock duo blew my fucking mind.
McKeown alone had enough energy to power a third-world country and Owen's luxurious locks would keep citizens warm at night. Seriously. Even if you weren't into this type of rock, it was damn near impossible to look away. During their performance, McKeown seamlessly navigated his way behind the microphone, to intermittently jumping atop Owen's bass drum, to balancing on top of a rolling amp cart (which a seemingly annoyed security guard had to hold in place). By the end of it all, McKeown, with his guitar in tow, finished out the last song whilst crowd-surfing and not missing a single note.
Legendary singer, songwriter and producer Bobby Patterson served up a soul-filled concoction, complete with all the red, white and blue sequins you could fit onto an outfit. It was a performance that would put any musician half his age to shame. Patterson has produced tracks for celebrated R&B artists such as Fontella Bass and Chuck Jackson and even influenced the late, great Stevie Ray Vaughn.
Shortly after his set, Patterson was spotted walking through the crowd with an enormous, first-gen cell phone -- the brick kind. When a fan stopped him for a photo and asked him about his cell phone, Patterson held up the phone, which he said was his very first cell phone, and revealed that he had attached his current phone to this inside of the old one. The fan then asked Patterson who he was talking to and Patterson replied with a grin, "It's a big phone, I'm talking to big girls."
When Austin's hipster heartthrob Shakey Graves took the take the stage, he was met with enthusiastic cheers from his many fans. During his set, the urban cowboy invited fellow Austinite Carson McHone for support during "Dearly Departed." And while some fans felt the need to talk throughout this set, we found that it was everything we could've wanted and more.
As the end of the festival drew near, the Old 97's woke the crowd up with their alt-country magic. Fronted by Rhett Miller, the Old 97's have been rocking Texas -- and everyone else -- since the early 90's, and no one can say no to some good, country-tinged, alt-rock.
After what had been a long but satisfying day, headliners Spoon took the stage to close out the evening. This band has been at the top of every super elitist music fan's "bands you should know" list since the '90s and not much has changed. The band had no problem hyping up the crowd and even a few LED hoola-hoopers showed up for their set.
All in all, Homegrown was a hit, and it speaks to the strength of the festival that it was able to adapt to the last-minute change of location so seamlessly. (Hat-tip, too, to The Bomb Factory, whose unflinching attention to detail really paid off.) If attendance was hurt by the change it was hard to tell, and given the ominous weather forecast (which actually never came to pass) taking it it indoors may have evened things out anyway.
As a representation of Texas, its music and its people, Homegrown still skews heavily on the side of white, male indie bands -- but that's the main fault of an otherwise excellent festival, which thrives on stellar planning and a dedication to going above and beyond to throw a kickass party. And that's a pretty good look for Dallas.
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