Concert Reviews

Untapped Fest's Music Was an Easy-to-Handle Side to the Main Course: the Beer

Untapped Fest
With Built to Spill, Hayes Carll and more
Panther Island Pavilion, Fort Worth
Saturday, June 11, 2016

It's not easy to hold a music festival beneath the heavy Texas summer heat, much less in Fort Worth — where bringing out a large crowd for live music can be a challenge. With Spune's Untapped Festival, however, it's a different story. When the beer is the life of the party, that changes everything. And on Saturday, Untapped's Fort Worth edition brought out a small army of shorts-wearing party-goers on the brightly overcast day for a virtual mingle mash.

The event made for a sort of psuedo-tropical getaway, or as tropical as you can get for Panther Island Pavilion on the banks of the Trinity River. It was definitely the biggest event in the city so far this summer. But while the party itself was a success, there was something lacking when it came to the music, which sort of lingered as a side-show to the beverage bonanza. When alcohol takes precedence at a festival like this, the music's role can easily be relegated to a background gig, albeit still an important one. Headliner Built to Spill made for a common topic of conversation in the beer garden, but most of their other acts were just kind of there.
Still, the mostly mild rock and folk acts of the day delivered the goods when it came to the tunes. Local openers the Hendersons kicked off the day with their brand of aural folk fusion à la Velvet Underground that settled well into the late afternoon. Then Bummer Vacation, whose reputation in the area seems to grow with every festival bill they're placed on, played a set of their cosmic garage jams. Kentucky's White Reaper played directly after then, offering even more garage jams and a bit of grit to keep the thirsty rock 'n' roll crowd sated.

After that, most of the intervening acts the headliner were of the alt-country and folk variety, which seemed appropriate for a steadily inebriating audience. Rayland Baxter played played some of his slow-moving country that goes down well with endless beer samples. Hayes Carll was able to amplify that vacation-time atmosphere with his Southern-fried twang, reminiscent of an old West honky tonk bred right here in Texas.
The one group that wasn't country, Austin's orchestral Latin-funk troupe Grupo Fantasmo, did a mention-worthy rendition of Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song" that had the crowd buzzing. Then, David Ramirez played a kind of mid-tempo indie rock-folk mash that brought to mind the style of Dave Matthews Band, but with a more contemporary touch. The sky turned an orange red hue as Ramirez ushered in the night with some touching songs about holding on and other lovey dovey themes.

When Built to Spill hit the stage, most of the crowd was already good and drunk. While the band focused much of their energy on new material, including from their latest full-length Untethered Moon, they were also able to churn out some of their '90s classics, like "In the Morning" and "Reasons."

They weren't quite the band to wake everyone up those drives (or, hopefully, Uber rides) home, however: Built to Spill seemed a little tired themselves, although it might have had more to do with battling the sun all day than with, say, punching in the clock. a little tired but perhaps this was due to battling the pounding sun.

Still, with their heartfelt, steady rhythm section, Doug Martsch's signature warble and noodling guitar licks that scream Idaho, it was classic Built to Spill — and that, in the end, made for a fitting close to the day.
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Pablo Arauz