Wildflower Festival, Featuring Rev. Horton Heat, the Toadies and More: Review

A three-day fest like Wildflower - the biggest party Richardson throws -- isn't the full on marathon something like Bonnaroo is, but you've still got to pace yourself. With that in mind I decided to take it easy and catch just a set or two on Friday in an effort to be ready for Saturday's early day sets from local artists. So I set out to catch '90s stars the Spin Doctors and legendary fiddle player Charlie Daniels and his band.

I arrived to find the fest in full swing: patrons rushed around from booth to booth looking at art, while others ate comically large corndogs. Kids frolicked through fountains as I made my way to the MetroPCS stage

The Spin Doctors walk a hard line -- they reached extreme heights in the '90s by riding the college rock wave. Today, bands like this have to play their biggest hits, some back catalog pieces and throw in the occasional cover. They managed to check off two of these by playing their cover of Credence Clearwater Revival's "Have You Ever Seen The Rain," which made an appearance on the 1992 soundtrack for the Tom Hanks film Philadelphia.

They also insisted on playing as much of their new album as possible, much to the chagrin of some in the crowd; groans were heard, but for the most part the flowing Bud Lite had people dancing the night away. The crowd notably perked up for "Little Miss Can't Be Wrong," and several ladies in their 40's busted out the drunken dance move while screaming along to the lyrics. Surprisingly enough, the band did not close with "Two Princes" and instead launched into a rather epic eight minute long instrumental that shows off the musicians' prodigious chops. It was pretty rad. Not wanting to miss Charlie Daniels, I bolted before Uncle Kracker even took the stage and headed for the ViewPoint Bank Stage just in time to catch the legend.

It's a bold move, putting someone as outspoken as Charlie Daniels in such a large spotlight at what is promoted as a family friendly event. While I support an artist's right to speak his mind, turning the brunt of your set into a anti-government tirade that's highlighted by songs decrying gun control and you manipulatively using the "Pledge of Allegiance" to garner crowd support, you cross a line from simply speaking and into advocating.

I arrived early on Saturday to catch locals Nervous Curtains and Sir Name & The Janes, eager to see what the crowd response would be like. Both bands were phenomenal, but considering the early set crowd - small and supportive -- that's sort of expected.

The crowds exploded later in the night as a good 12,000 to 15,000 people filled the park space, eagerly awaiting performances from the Toadies and Rev. Horton Heat. The mastermind behind the booking of all these acts is Granada owner Michael Schoder. Without his input, you'd likely to end up with Blue October playing.

Rev. Horton Heat is firmly a legend in the area, as he's pretty much been playing the same set for about five years now, the only deviation changing up his covers and adding songs with each additional album he releases. None of this mattered to his loyal fanbase, who sang along to every song and made sure to drop the appropriate "Cha-Cha-Chas" when needed. The Rev is a pro, the band is made up of pros and the fans are pros. It's seamless and entertaining.

I would rather not be the 500th writer for the Observer to rehash what the Toadies mean to Dallas. You've read and heard it all before, I'll just describe the guy standing close to me who pretty much sums it all up. He was in his early thirties, his hat was turned with the brim to the back, his hands held in an air guitar position and he sang every lyric. He did not care who saw, he only cared that a band that meant so much to him was playing and he was there to experience it. I would say 98% of the crowd was right there with him and they will be at all future Toadies shows.

The crowds on Sunday were much sparser then the other nights. Maybe the humidity and grey sky had something to do with that Nonetheless, it seemed like the fest as a whole was a rousing success. Sometimes, the most important thing is just having a good time.

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Jaime-Paul Falcon