Concert Reviews

Notes on The Second Homegrown Festival. Plus: Video of Neon Indian Debuting A New Song.

In this week's print edition of the Observer, we'll have more -- much, much more -- on this past weekend's Homegrown Music and Art Festival in downtown Dallas' Main Street Garden Park. But, for now, some brief notes.

  • For starters, the weather couldn't have been better -- which, OK, may be a lame place to start, but it's an important one. Last year's inaugural event drew some 1,200 attendees and was hindered somewhat by the fact that it was humid as hell -- by mid-afternoon last year, pretty much everyone's shirts were sweat-soaked. This time around, though? The weather hovered nicely at around 70 or so degrees -- if that -- on a day in which there was nary a cloud in the sky. Surely, this year's spiked attendance, while certainly drawn in to a degree by the more-impressive bill, was somewhat due to the weather.

  • Speaking of attendance, it's clearly on the up-and-up at this thing: By mid-afternoon, Homegrown had already eclipsed last year's attendance. Fort Worth's The Burning Hotels, for instance, played to as big an audience at 3:45 as last year's headliners saw. Still waiting on official numbers, but, just by eyeballing it, I'd say that somewhere around 3,000 people came through the park over the course of the day -- a number made all the more impressive by the fact that the festival had only sold some 500 pre-sale tickets at $15 a pop. Walk-up rates were $20. Suckers.

  • The biggest winner of the festival, as far as a performer gaining traction with an audience previously unfamiliar with his material, had to be rapper Astronautalis, who dropped jaws at every turn, and especially so during his customary freestyle bit, in which he takes six topic suggestions from the crowd and turns them into a rhyme. Backed by a two-piece band, the SMU grad, born Andy Bothwell, had the crowd hooting and hollering and smiling with glee as he dropped hilarious rhyme after rhyme about a number of topics, including Rangers manager Ron Washington and, uh, some girl named Alexis, too. Also, he was the only performer to leave the stage and mix in with the crowds.

  • School of Seven Bells' ethereal offerings were about as perfect a soundtrack as one could've asked for as the setting turned from daytime to dark. It was a pretty surreal thing, listening to their massive sound, with the night turning to dusk and the city's skyscrapers coming to life behind their set.

  • Interesting fact: For two of the bigger draws on the bill -- This Will Destroy You and Neon Indian -- the Homegrown Festival served as tour kickoffs.

  • Speaking of Neon Indian: The band, during their set, performed two tracks from their upcoming release. Frontman Alan Palomo says he expects the band's sophomore LP to be released at some point in 2011. Below, see a clip of the band performing one of the songs, called "Hex Girlfriend," as filmed from the crowd.

All in all, quite the time. Already looking forward to next year, even.

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Pete Freedman
Contact: Pete Freedman