Untapped Festival 2014
Panther Island Pavilion (Fort Worth, Texas)
– Words by Jordan Buford // Photos by Ronnie Jackson –
It didn’t take long for Untapped Fest to establish its dominance, beginning (and soon expanding) in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex, with Houston jumping on as another host city last year, while one is planned to take place in Atlanta later in this year.
Panther Island Pavilion was again hosting the Fort Worth date of the beer and music festival (which boasted over 200 craft beers available for sampling this day), and on this day, it was plagued by what seems to be a tradition when it comes to Fort Worth and festivals: bad weather.
The temps were cool to begin with, and started steadily dropping about the time the gates (four that afternoon), but the worst part of it all was the bitter wind that blew right through you.
It didn’t dampen spirits, though; and even mid-afternoon like that you could hear a beaucoup of people discussing on what section they needed to visit, looking at the map to discern what breweries were located where.
Now, I’m not much of a drinker myself, so the music was the main focus for me; and according to one band I need to go ahead and pack my bags and leave the country, because if you don’t like beer, then you’re not American. If that’s the case, I’m sorry that I’ve let my country down. Please forgive me.
La Femme kicked off the event and proved one very important thing during their time on stage: music has no barriers. The six-piece group from Paris knocked out a slew of infectious dance style songs that had all those who were paying attention entranced. The songs all sounded to be sung in French, and even when they spoke their accents were heavily present, but no one cared. They were having fun, and great music is great music, regardless what language it may be being performed in.
The crowd bounced back and forth between the two stages, and over on the other were two Dallas rappers who shared the set. Sam Lao played a few songs from her debut EP, showcasing just why she’s starting to make waves here, despite being fairly new to the game, because she’s a natural at it. She then ceded the stage over to –Topic and a fellow rapper who assisted him, making for some nice chemistry on their three songs, before –Topic and Sam collaborated on the final two.
SAM LAO & -TOPIC
Back on the other stage, The Quaker City Night Hawks were already doing what they do best, and that’s turning heads. A couple of additional musicians joined them for the first part of their set, and on one track that allowed them to do some five-part harmonies that took your breath away. “Don’t worry, nobody’s gonna melt in the rain.” said Sam Anderson once the droplets began falling from the sky. They delivered a powerhouse set, packing in as many of their Rock ‘n’ Roll steeped in Southern rock and blues style songs as they could. I thought they were one of the standout acts of the day, and they reaffirmed why they’re so loved in the local music scene here.
QUAKER CITY NIGHT HAWKS
Thes One and Double K, who collectively form the long running Los Angeles based rap outfit, People Under the Stairs, had devised a set that was perfect for this event. Along with songs about their hometown and other topics, they also did a few that were about beer (like “Beer” from the 2010 EP “Beer”.) Their experience shone through, even on this cloudy day, but more important than that was the fact that they were fun. They had everyone bouncing around and just enjoying themselves as they encouraged everyone to let go and have a good time. They brought some good messages, too. “I don’t care what creed, color, sexual preference… you are. If you’re here right now, we’re good.” Thes One told the spectators at one point, essentially saying that we all just need to love one another.
PEOPLE UNDER THE STAIRS
The Felice Brothers had come all this way from New York, and they wound up unintentionally drawing the short stick, because the rain fell heaviest during their time on stage. They weren’t really protected by it, either, but they could have cared less. Rather, they were wanting to do their best to make the audience forget about the rain, and their fun folk infused songs did the trick (well, partially). With smiles on their faces, brothers James and Ian Felice, along with their band, ripped through a dazzling set, hitting their stride very early on, and it never broke. They were different at times, like a couple of the songs that used a washboard as an instrument, though I mean that in a good way, because it made their show all the more memorable.
THE FELICE BROTHERS
A lot of different genres had been tapped thus far, though not much focus had been giving to the pop genre yet. Lucius was here to fix that. Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig looked like they could be twins, from wearing the same outfit to even having their hair cut exactly the same, which gave a certain enigmatic quality to their performance. Percussion, guitars and keys were the only instruments the band used, which allowed the two ladies voices to take center stage. They sang every song in unison, keeping in perfect form with one another, and to say it sounded impeccably beautiful would not be doing it justice. Lucius is definitely a band to watch, and expect big things from them down the road.
Allen Stone was one of the headliners, and there’s no denying why he is a rising star in the music industry. He and his band turned the heat up as they ran through several of the soulful R&B cuts from his debut album, along with trying a couple of new ones out on everyone. Allen had fun with everyone, from cracking jokes, like, “It’s good to be back in Alaska…”, to successfully getting everyone to do the “universal sway”, which required the audience stepping from side to side, and it lasted the duration of a sweltering rendition of “Tell Me Something Good”. Allen’s a performer through and through, being comical when he wanted to be (even during songs) and serious when he needed to be; and he has truly been graced by the music gods with the remarkable set of pipes he has.
The job of closing out the festival fell to The Joy Formidable, who mentioned early on that it had been awhile since they had done a show. Since the end of last year, they’ve evidently been working on their next full-length, and you could tell they were glad to be out on a stage, stretching their legs. Ritzys’ bubbly personality was even more intense than normal, and she would switch from having the biggest smile on her face to her serious rocker look when she shredded on her guitar, all done at the drop of a hat. Their two most recent records were represented pretty fairly, and they even dug out an oldie (“Ostrich”) for fun. The 60-minutes they spent on stage was the first time all day I was truly able to lose myself in the music, completely forgetting how cold it was or how my fingers were numb, and that should say something about the brilliant blend of rock and pop styles this trio creates.
THE JOY FORMIDABLE
Okay, the weather was far less than ideal, but it wasn’t enough to mar this young and healthy festival. The beer was flowing and the music was blaring, and for most, that made for a great afternoon and night.