As David Guetta closed out the first-ever Suburbia Music Festival in Plano during the early-evening hours of Sunday, the level of chaos was directly dependent on your proximity to the stage. Directly underneath the stage lights, the shoulder-to-shoulder energy of the dancing festival-goers could have been straight out of a trance or EDM fest. Walk out a few hundred yards, and it was the mildly engaged lawn crowds of a fireworks ceremony. Ah, suburbia.
For its first go around at the Oak Point Park and Nature Preserve, the LiveNation event spawned what seems poised to be yet another contender for our attention (and money) during festival season in North Texas. Judging by the fact the number of people who shelled out a hundred bucks for a day's worth of a motley music crews for an unproven festival, it's a concept with plenty of room to grow.
So what is it that made this a successful induction?
Before those waning Sunday evening hours rolled around, droves of khaki and mini-shorted youths shook hips and pumped fists. Beach towel and lawn chair-planted families looked on. And the playground demographic weaved around somewhere in between. At first glance, this upstart festival could easily be mistaken for any other weekend event in the 'burbs, be it a balloon festival or outdoor church event. It was like a boiled-down representation of the neighborhoods of Plano, spread throughout the spacious amounts of grassy real estate of the park grounds.
Along with last month's Edgefest in Frisco, Suburbia marked one of the first legit music festivals to feature big name touring acts this year that didn't entail having to make the fou- hour trek to Austin. No doubt that helped pull in the crowds. The seasonably warm weather didn't hurt, either. And so perhaps Suburbia capitalized on the opportunity to beat its "competition" to the punch.
It could also be the mixed bag of talents that Suburbia's promoters cast a wide net to reel in, some rather oddly mismatched acts, which catered to the "something for everybody" factor a festival such as this so desperately needs in its first go-around. Festivals such as 35 Denton and Homegrown tend to the trends of their designated base. Suburbia seemed a bit muddled by comparison,but there were no expenses spared either. It didn't cater to hipsters. And it didn't attract only middle-class weekend warriors.
Or it may simply be that the folks of suburban sprawl will pounce on any opportunity to dance. They really take kindly to dancing. True, a lot of fans staked their claim at the stages of their chosen favorites, but overall, there was a sense that most just wanted to get shimmy and sway to their preferred selection of beats and rhythms of the hour, no matter who was on.
Not that it would be fair to toss around generalizations about suburbanites too freely. More than a mere IKEA-meets-Whole Foods demographic, walking through the Suburbia grounds felt more like stumbling upon a backyard BBQ and a barista's Spotify playlist. It was more beer-toting millennials than soccer moms. And despite the lack of marijuana smoke, or the usual amount of hipsters per-capita, this festival is not too dissimilar than any other of its kind.
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And therein is what North Texas can appreciate from what the 'burbs can throw together with three stages and an impressively diverse array of music. Not many other population-specific or destination-type festivals can unintentionally acquire this kind of identity. (The latter is crucial, too, for the location was not so far-flung to deter city-dwellers from venturing out.) The shopping mall camaraderie, while an unfair generalization, was spectacularly present. And this is not necessarily a bad thing. The atmosphere was welcoming and laid back.
By 2015, this upstart festival, a haven for all the dancing and drinking under the residential sun one handle, and within reasonable driving distance, will likely grow more into its own. It will be a respectable competitor to other North Texas music festivals, and reminds city-dwellers and college-town festival practitioners alike, that even sports-utility vehicle owners desire to throw down on the lawn from time to time while a DJ drops "F" bombs and churns out ground-thumping rhythms.