– Words by Jordan Buford // Photos by Crystal Prather –
Well, it was bound to happen eventually. After twenty-three previous installments, I finally attended my first Edgefest. The festival (sponsored by 102.1 The Edge) is a North Texas staple, and one music lovers of all genres look forward to each April; and the lineup this year looked quite diverse, and appealing.
I was surprised by the hundreds of people who had already filled Toyota Stadium at 12:50 in the afternoon. It was nowhere near as chaotic as it would be later in the day, though navigating the sprawling area of the field was already hard in spots, as clusters of friends parked themselves in different areas, and the lines for concessions had already began.
The day got going by capturing the American spirit as the Marine color guard stepped on stage, holding the American and Marine Corp. flags, while The Star-Spangled Banner played over the PA system, and you just couldn’t help but feel a sense of pride. The stage was then set for the first act, and Edgefest is known for giving at least one local band a year a spot on this festival.
After a few weeks of battle of the band style competitions, Jesse Frye and her band emerged victorious just three days before Edgefest. There is no question that this was the biggest show of her career, a fact she was clearly well aware of.
“How are you doing, Edgefest?! We’re the Jessie Frye Band!” she announced to the crowd, before doing what was the best performance of “Like a Light” I’ve seen the band do. The spectators seemed instantly smitten with it, and the chorus could have probably could have been turned into a sing-along if she had wanted it to be. They only had 16-minutes to wow everyone, though, and that time was much better spent drawing from a deep well of energy and bounding around the stage.
She was able to work the crowd with ease, even orchestrating a clap along to the heavy drum beats Chad Ford laid down at the start of “White Heat”, while Jordan Martin and David Kellogg, guitarist and bassist, respectively, got the song that perfectly mixes rock and pop together. And for the record, the line “My life’s on the edge of a dream…” seemed to have a deeper meaning this afternoon.
The set was a 50/50 mix of old and new material, and ended with another song from the recently released “Obsidian” album, “Brave The Night”, which again had her pumping up the crowd as she shouted near the start, “Is that all you got?!”
Shamefully, I had let more than a year pass between Jessie Frye shows (even missing the CD release gig a few months back), but out of the handful of times I have seen her and her band, this short set takes the cake.
It was electrifying, and they knew what was riding on this gig and seized it, leaving many of the onlookers singing their praises.
She also proved that while she may still be a young songstress, she has the presence necessary to fill a stage of this size and command a crowd of these numbers. They left it all on stage… A stage that Beck would set foot on about eight hours later.
Attention then shifted to the other stage, where the Los Angeles-based indie pop band by the name of Smallpools was set up.
Beau Kuther counted them in on the drums, then stopped suddenly, leaving lead guitarist Mike Kamerman to joke, “Well, that was anticlimactic.” Humor was abundant during their 24-minute set, as were catchy pop songs with a synth flare added to them, like “Mason Jar”, which was sung by bassist Joseph Intile. Lead singer Sean Scanlon, who was also the rhythm guitarist, took over on “No Story Time”, after which he thanked everyone for the warm welcome and asked how the crowd was doing. “If you know us very well, you know we just powered though half of discography. We’ll be off in seven minutes.” Scanlon said to the crowd, acknowledging that last part was meant as a joke, but may actually have been true.
Luckily, they had a little longer than that left, and they broke into a super catchy newer song that was “about living life”. “Over and Over” was about having a “great night”, and they mentioned they hoped everyone’s great day would continue well into the night. “Give it up for Sean. That was some fade out.” Kamerman pointed out, as his band mate had just done a pretty wicked fade out on that song.
After mentioning that this was their first time ever in Dallas, they got the crowd to raise their hands in the air for another newer one, “American Love”, before ending with the final track from their self-titled EP, “Dreaming”. “You’ve been real. Thanks so much!” Scanlon shouted before that final number.
It was an awesome set that kept much of the crowd moving throughout, and they definitely excel at the style of music they make. And given that they’ve already shared the stage with some bigger name bands, I’d bet that you’ll be hearing a lot more from Smallpools in the future. Actually, they’ll be back in Dallas area twice just within in the next month.
Back on the main stage, fans had already camped out for MS MR, whose show got going when the rhythm section of the band stepped on stage, creating a cool, haunting intro.
The applause rose up when Lizzy Plapinger (MS) Max Hershenow (MR) walked on stage, launching into “Bones”, and with almost no pause knocked out “No Trace” (a highlight of their set), before Hershenow laid into his synthesizer and wound them into “Salty Sweet”, which was slightly steamy.
“I hope you guys are surviving the heat.” Plapinger said to the audience; her bright pink hair—which no doubt got some stares—seeming to make the show even more fun. They offered up “Fantasy”, the lead single from the “Secondhand Rapture” album, and upon finishing it, Hershenow mentioned they were going to do a cover of what was their “favorite song” from last year. Fans got excited when they heard it would be an Arctic Monkey’s song.
They put a nice spin on “Do I Wanna Know?”, which had the two core members doing some singing, and once it was done, Plapinger mentioned she was glad they caught everyone early, while people still had their voices. Hershenow then asked everyone to think back to a time when someone was in your life who didn’t make you the best version of yourself. “How should I put this… They were an asshole.” he said, before asking the crowd to channel their inner Alanis Morissette for “Think of You”, while “Hurricane” concluded their 30-minutes on stage.
Let’s be blunt: MS MR has been labeled a “hipster” band. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, though it can affect some peoples outlook on them (or any other band that, that stigma gets attached to). I didn’t see anything hipster-ish about them this day, though.
Instead, I saw a band who knows how to be both fun and solid on stage. A band who was delighting old fans and winning over new ones with their dance-driven beats and often personal lyrics. And when it comes to their live show, the bassist and drummer are every bit as important a part as Plapinger and Hershenow, and were just as entertaining to watch.
People then migrated back to the other stage, where the first rock band of the day was raring to go.
Bear Hands 19-minute set was primarily filled with newer material from the “Distraction” album, and the thing that was instantly gripping about them was the unique tone Dylan Rau had to his voice. It was very present on “Bad Friend”, but perhaps sounded its best on “Bone Digger”, and could be heard in the way he enunciated the words.
“How you doing, Frisco?” he asked after that song, making them one of the only bands this day who didn’t lump the Dallas suburb in as being Dallas. “Here’s an old song for you.” he stated in advance of “What a Drag”, which was a cut from their 2010 record. Their set then spiked with “Peacekeeper”, whose pacing sent the intensity through the roof, and the quick drumming TJ Orscher was doing made it all too easy to get into.
Guitarist Ted Feldman was going to keep things going, but after only a few notes, he stopped the song he had started. They found out they only had time for a couple more, and, as bassist Val Loper put it, “Fuck that one.” Instead, they did “Agora”, which showed off the falsetto register Rau was hit with complete ease. Then, in closing, they brought the mood back up with “Giants”.
I wouldn’t have minded hearing another song or two, personally. Still, Bear Hand sounded excellent while they were on stage.
As a person who gravitates most to vocals and lyrics in music, I always like to come across someone who’s set apart from the rest of the pack, and Rau truly does have a voice that is unlike anyone else’s. I think that’s even more evident in the live environment than it is when listening to their recorded stuff.
Next up was Switchfoot, a band I had seen nearly five years ago, when they were on tour with another group. They didn’t do much for me then, and I had pretty much written the band off.
Obviously, I wasn’t expecting much from them this afternoon, but it turns out I either caught them on an off night in August of 2009, or they’ve really stepped up their game since then…
“Dallas, Texas, how are you feeling?! Let me see your hands in the air!” shouted Jon Foreman, while an electric spark already surged among the crowd. His band mates were already ramping up into “Stars”, a fun number that, in conjunction with the powerful stage presence, had all eyes on them, and a moment of one of the later choruses even turned into a massive sing along.
The 34-minutes they spent on stage were all about getting the crowd involved and making sure they were having an excellent time, and at the start of “Who We Are”, nearly every hand shot up in the air, using their fingers to count along while Jon counted, “One, two, three, four, five.” The song was more or less about the bands career, and towards the end of that clap along tune, Jon picked up his guitar, an instrument he used intermittently at times.
“It’s a beautiful day in Texas…” he remarked, before pointing out this was their third time playing Edgefest, and boasted “the best lineup” they had seen. Drew Shirley, Jerome Fontamillas and Jons’ guitars soared on “Dark Horses”, which was accented with a heavy rhythm section, manned by drummer Chad Butler and bassist Tim Foreman. The fans raved as they dove right into “Meant to Live”, during which Jon took a moment to introduce everyone, joking that Butler got to “hit things for a living”. Afterwards, he paid the city with the high compliment of saying aside from his hometown, there was no place he’d rather be then here, adding the reason he loves being in a band is because you can travel halfway across the country, and somehow, the place still manages o feel like a home.
Fans were ecstatic when Jon joined them midway through “When We Come Alive”, and they held him while he sit atop all the hands. And after another song, fans were encouraged to put their arms on the shoulders of whomever stood next to them for a “big sweaty mess of Texas” as they wrapped up with the moving “I Dare You to Move”.
Switchfoot is a perfect example of what a band should be like. They commanded everyone’s attention with complete ease, and never tried to get it. The crowd just gave it to them. Best of all, they were clearly having a blast up on that stage, and that made it all the easier from the audiences point of view to enjoy it.
This day, it was obvious why Switchfoot has lasted eighteen years and made nine albums. And the setlist this day was surely comprised of the very best from all of those records.
Over on the other stage, J. Roddy Walston and The Business were ready to treat everyone to some gospel infused rock sounds, and before even starting their opening number, which I believe was “I Don’t Wanna Hear it”, he mentioned it was “easy” to sing along. “It’s like a chant.” he told the people. Walston made sure he established a connection with the crowd, or at least did everything in his power to. I’d say he did a good job at it, too. “Let’s start moving around, huh?” he asked before moving on to another song.
“Dallas, put your hands up!” he roared during it, and after another lively number, he and his band mates slowed things down with “Take it as it Comes”, a song Walston said he had written at half the pace, specifically for people who wanted to dance along. I don’t know how much dancing was going on, though people seemed to be enjoying it. Walston wasn’t going to just stop at people dancing along to his music, though, he also wanted them to sing along to it, and he stressed it didn’t matter if you knew the words or not, because the next song had no words.
“…Maybe you’re drunk, maybe you just want to rub some sweat on somebody…” he said, speaking of reasons why folks might be wanting to sing. This instrumental piece found him making a variety of sounds, while some of the members of the audience echoed him, and after it he made the transition to the piano. “…Let’s do something fantastic together.” he stated before a fiery song, at which point he could feel the energy. “It usually starts at the back and moves its way up front. But right now it feels like it’s all at the front…” he said, seeming in perfect tune with the audience, and he asked everyone to spread that feeling around and get it to those at the back of the crowd.
Since I was at the back, I can say it did seem to spread, just in time for the final soulful song of their 31-minute long set.
In terms of style, J. Roddy Walston and The Business stood alone on this day at Edgefest. No one else incorporated blues, soul and gospel in their music like he and his band did, which might have been a good thing, because it made it memorable. That’s not to say it was one of the best sets of the day, though it does rank higher on my list than some other acts.
The rush was on to get back to the other stage, where The Neighbourhood was being introduced.
I wasn’t much of a fan of the Hip-Hop-esque beats Brandon Fried laid down on “Female Robbery”, and Jesse Rutherford sounded like he was singing some rap lyrics.
“I’m happy there’s some shade here. It’s fucking hot.” he said, before quickly setting up their next one, “Everybody’s Watching Me (Uh Oh)”, which was more or less the same. Sure, Rutherford was moving about the stage, and the fans were loving everyone second of it, throwing their hands in the air the moment he asked them to when “Let it Go” hit its most intense part.
They used their 36-minutes on stage to also present their north Texas fans with some new songs, one of which was “Jealousy”, and there was a cool sample of a saxophone used on it. The new EP is titled “Black and White”, and Rutherford noted it would be out soon.
During the other new one, he stood on the guardrail, before crowd surfing, and he had to instruct the fans to take him back, as they began to pass him deeper into the crowd. You could tell he didn’t mind it much, though, what with the grin he had while singing, and once he got back on stage he said he’d have to try it again. “…I want to get to that tent.” he said, pointing at one of the tents set up.
“Again” came during their closer, “Afraid”, and shortly after diving into the audience, he lost a shoe, yet continued to tell fans, “I’m not at the tent yet.”
Much of the crowd loved it, but I just thought The Neighbourhood seemed bland. They got the fans hyped up, though their songs all sounded rather similar to me, and there was never a moment where they really stood out and took charge. Honestly, it was all quite forgettable.
Kongos, who started in Johannesburg, were up next, and offered one of the most pleasantly surprising sets of the day.
I don’t imagine many people here had heard much of the band before, and I was one who had no prior knowledge of them, but was quite impressed with the harmonies and unison singing the four brothers, Johnny, Jesse, Dylan and Daniel Kongos did on all of their songs, like opener “Hey, I Don’t Know”.
It was an irresistible song, and things grew more interesting when Johnny added an accordion to the mix for “Sex On the Radio”. Not what you would typically think of going along with some alt/rock songs, but it fit them. They wound that right into the percussion heavy “I’m Only Joking”, which is the lead track from their debut album
It was mentioned that this was their second time in Dallas, and they joked that there were “a little more people” at this show than their last one in the area. It was also stressed that this would not be their last in town, either.
If you were far enough back in the crowd, then your attention turned away from the band during “I Want to Know”, when some of the event paramedics pushed people out of the way and surrounded a girl who had fallen on the ground, and didn’t seem to be breathing. Who knows what it was (though I doubt it was heat related, since it was only in the upper eighties), but luckily everything turned out fine. It was a reminder of how quickly the fun atmosphere can change at festivals like this, and while a lot of people seemed semi-concerned, they kept their phones in the air, continuing to record the band, while passing the occasional glance at the girl lying on the ground.
When it came time to end their 30-minute set, they did so with “Come with Me Now”, which was perhaps their strongest track, and featured some awesome vocal effects at times.
As I said, they were a pleasant surprise to me, and won me over as a fan with their first song.
Each of the brothers can sing incredibly well, and they were at their best when they were all doing it. Their next Dallas show can’t happen soon enough for me.
The main stage now belonged to Grouplove, who had plenty of people excited for their set. It got off to a fun start, and singer and keyboardist Hannah Hooper ran in place, waving her stiff arms up and down, before turning to face the drum kit, at which point she placed each of her hands on her rear.
Then came the opening song of their 40-minute set, and I have one word to describe both “I’m with You” and “Itchin’ On a Photograph”: caterwauling. It was pretty excruciating on the ears, though everyone seemed oblivious to it. “I know you’re not near an ocean, but I hear something from the ocean coming.” Christian Zucconi said to the crowd, his voice finding its footing on “Shark Attack”. The fun vibes had been constant throughout, though, what with the duel singing he and Hooper were doing, and the dancing continued among fans.
“What’s up, Hannah?” Zucconi asked after the song, to which she replied with the same question. “I thought you were going to say something.“ he responded to her. Somehow, they managed to keep that moment from being awkward, and part of that was possibly because they quickly fired up “Tongue Tied”, a song that was greeted with a massive cheer. It was the best part of their show, and the spectators even got to sing one of the lines, “Don’t leave me tongue tied.”
“We love playing in Texas so much!” Zucconi exclaimed after they finished that one, saying their next one, “Lovely Cup”, went out to someone who was from Texas. “I hope you got your dancing shoes on!” Zucconi said, make it sound like it was a semi-warning, before “Bitin’ the Bullet”. Fans had no trouble keeping up with it, and it was another insanely fun song that featured a nice crowd surfing moment from Zucconi.
They barreled through a couple more, before giving their parting words. “We’ve been Grouplove, and you’ve been fucking awesome!”, and wrapped it all up with “Colours”.
True, I think they got off to a very shaky start. But they also recovered early enough to ensure the rest of it was great. I dare say there was no band at this year’s Edgefest that was as fun and chipper on stage as Grouplove was. Best of all, they did everything they could to make sure those positive feelings rubbed off on everyone who was there, and I think they were successful at it.
The crowd had gotten more sparse the deeper Grouplove got into their set, and that was because people were already claiming their spots for Chvrches.
The trio from Glasgow, Scotland is probably one of the most currently hyped about bands, but given that I’m not much a fan of the electro pop genre, I’ve never really gotten into their music. Still, a part of me was excited about seeing their show and experiencing what they were like.
Lain Cook and Martin Doherty took the stage first, beginning “We Sink”, and more fanfare erupted once frontwoman Lauren Mayberry took the stage, and the crowd was instantly enraptured by her sweet, semi-intoxicating voice. They bridged it directly into “Lies”, and upon finishing it, Mayberry enthusiastically pointed out that this was their first ever appearance at an Edgefest.
The audience got to participate some on “Recover”, clapping along to the synthesized beat, loving every second of it. “Is everyone having fun?” Mayberry asked afterwards, stating that the only time she sets foot inside a sports arena is when they happen to play one. “I know, I look so NFL friendly.” she joked, before pointing out an ad for Twin Peaks that was showing the giant screens across the way. If you’re unfamiliar with the restaurant chain, think along the lines of Hooters, and Mayberry clearly wasn’t a fan of the message of objectification it conveyed, but also made light of it that to her, Twin Peaks was a beloved TV show.
She and Doherty swapped spots for “Under the Tide”, and he tapped into more of punk persona on that song, thrashing around to the beat at times and putting on an all around great performance, before giving the reins back to Mayberry. Before the final song of their 32-minute set, she encouraged everyone to be safe, saying one fan had just gotten kicked in the head by a crowd surfer and had to be taken out. Then they started “The Mother We Share”, a track that had many dancing along, and it had enveloped nearly everyone watching.
They might not have made the top of my list for best set at Edgefest 24, but they were really good on stage, and live the music appealed to me much more than I thought it would. Their rise to fame may have been rather quick in the past couple of years, but they have earned it.
One act everyone seemed beside themselves about seeing was the London-based Bastille, who kicked off their 41-minute set with frontman Dan Smith facing drummer Chris “Woody” Wood, clapping his hands together, before spinning around to face everyone.
Things got a little more interesting a few songs in, when the entire band was on the forefront of the stage, each of the four of them adding some amount of percussion to “Overjoyed”, while Smith crooned in his falsetto register. They kept it along those same lines for “These Streets”, which was the point I was finally reeled in a little more, while “Things We Lost in the Fire” was one that got a lot of response from the audience.
The highlight of their set came during “Flaws”, when Smith left the stage and ran along the guardrail, a line of security following close behind. He had the hood on his jacket drawn up, pulling off a Rocky look, and then ran all over the arena, up one flight of stairs to the top, then back behind and down the other set of stairs at the back behind the stage. “Now I’m exhausted.” He remarked, as he struggled to catch his breath. Fans were then encouraged to dance along during “Of the Night” (“The pogo’s the easiest dance in the world.” said Smith), and after commenting on what an awesome day it had been, they concluded with “Pompeii”, which hands down had to be their best song of the show.
To me, Bastille’s your average pop band, and the first portion of their set was kinda drab. Halfway through though, they started to rise above that, and the tail end of the show was quite enjoyable. With the massive fanbase they’ve already attracted, and given that it’s continuously growing, I’d bet it’s only a matter of time before you see Bastille headlining a future installment of Edgefest.
The best show of the day belonged to the Denmark natives known as New Politics, who rushed through their set, making sure to fit as much rock in as they possibly could. The band was all over the place (in about every sense of that phrase), starting with the more poppy “Give Me Hope”, where David Boyd often sang in a falsetto register, before showing off some slight rap skills on parts of “Dignity”. “…Killing in the name, money is the game now.” Boyd sang at the end, repeating a line from the start, and as he did so he used two of fingers to represent a gun and placed them to his head, pulling the trigger.
You could tell they were all about the performance and they were masters of it, getting everyone to clap along to Louis Vecchios’ drum beats on the sweeter “Fall Into These Arms”. “Tonight, we’re celebrating that we’re alive!” Boyd declared during the song, which had Søren Hansen playing a ukulele. It only got better, though, and at the end, Boyd stood on the guardrail, before falling into the arms of the excited audience.
“Do you like to go apeshit to some crazy punk music?!” Boyd asked everyone before a later number, “Just Like Me”, during which Hansen launched his guitar into the air a couple times, then caught it by its strap and began slinging it around. It was vicious, and the back flip Boyd did off the drum riser at the end ensured it was the spectacle they had worked to make it.
The mood was again brought down slightly with “Tonight You’re Perfect”, but only after Boyd again chatted with the people, saying that this night they were celebrating something that would “never happen again”. “This instant…” he shouted, pointing at everyone.
Over the course of several more songs, they had everyone under their complete control, all thanks to the high-energy show they were putting on, and after exclaiming that they would be back with Fall Out Boy and Paramore. They then ended with “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah”, which had Boyd climbing some of scaffolding of the side structure of the stage, where he stayed for awhile, singing and pointing the mic out at the audience.
They were by far the most energetic band of the day, and I was completely blown away by it all. So few bands these days put on such a genuinely entertaining show as New Politics did, and they are truly masters of the stage, and made it all look completely effortless.
By this time, the interment cloud cover that offered some relief during that day had started giving way to the night, as things started to cool off. At times, with the wind blowing, one could say it was cold, but The Avett Brothers were going to make everyone feel warm on the inside.
They, too, covered the musical spectrum, and their first two songs, “Talk On Indolence” and “Slight Figure of Speech”, were burn burners. Seth and Scott Avett, bassist Bob Crawford, cello player Joe Kwon and fiddle player Tania Elizabeth were moving erratically around the stage, jumping and darting about, to the point you had to marvel at the fact that they weren’t slamming into one another.
They scaled things back a bit after, as Scott manned the piano for a couple of songs, including “Vanity”, “Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise”, before he took up the banjo for a barrage of tunes.
Fans were invited to clap along to the faster section of “Laundry Room”, and later threw in a slight Spanish flare on “Pretty Girl From Chile”. The number of people watching them was relatively small compared to how many were actually at the stadium, but everyone who did have their eyes on The Avett Brothers was having a blast.
“Thanks for having us here in Texas. We love being here.” stated Seth, moments before their set climaxed with “Kick Drum Heart”. People were singing and clapping along, and the excitement spiked once the brothers got a little closer to those up front. Scott even got so close he crowd surfed, while not missing a note of his roaring guitar solo.
“Y’all look really good up close.” Seth mentioned after they got back on stage, before ending with the gorgeous “I and Love and You”, where the final line was left entirely up to the fans, at which point the band waved their goodbyes and left the stage.
They played for nearly an hour (56-minutes), and in that time I was won over and converted into an Avett Brothers fan.
I had just never listened to much of their music before this, but with the two brothers doing some singing, it allowed them to change things up pretty regularly, and each one has a different sound to their voice. I still have to go back to that explosive start they got off to, though. They were like a bat out of hell, excited that night had fallen and were finally getting a chance to stretch their wings. They did a fantastic job of it, too.
Only the two headliners remained now, and the reason so few people had been watching the last act was because they were staking out spots for Cage the Elephant.
I stood quite a ways back, my view often obstructed, and even when I could see it was hard to glimpse exactly what was going on.
“Good morning.” said frontman Matthew Shultz, after their opener, “Spiderhead”. A second later he was laughing. “I’m just trying to throw you off.” he quipped. Some more humor was added in after “In One Ear”, when he thanked the massive crowd for how excited they were, but went on to say he needed everyone to calm down. “FUCK NO!” roared some fans. “See what just happened there, that’s called reverse psychology.” he finished, before the rhythm driven “Aberdeen”.
Just about every song they did had fans screaming with excitement, but apparently not everyone was liking it. Well, that or some people just wanted to be jerks, because after “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked”, a shoe went flying on stage. Matthew laughed it off, though. “You know you’ve made it to the top when flip-flops are flying at you on stage.” “And hats.” he added, after one fly through the air. “And money?” he more asked, hoping that him saying it would make it appear.
They still had time for four more songs, and “Teeth” was one of them. It was also one of their best, and the at times mangled sounding guitars that Brad Shultz and Nick Bockrath played were the epitome of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Then, when their 43-minutes were almost up, they left everyone with “Shake Me Down”.
I’ve heard countless of compliments about Cage the Elephant over the years, especially concerning their live show. Maybe it had to do something about how far back I was, but this night, maybe I just didn’t get the full experience.
I’ll liken to having a bunch of friends talk endlessly about a film—a film you haven’t seen—and say nothing but how it’s one of the greatest things ever made. It’s hyped to the point you build this grand expectation in your mind—an expectation that could probably never be lived up to—so when you see it, it falls short.
That’s the case with Cage the Elephant, because I was expecting something that I truly believed would be life changing. Don’t misinterpret my words. I’m not criticizing them, and they were much better performers than most, oozing energy as if they had plenty to spare. And they did.
There was just one act left to go now, and that was the one and only Beck.
Anticipation was high as the fans both in front of the stage and in the seats around the stadium were left in darkness, awaiting the one stage arrival of the musician.
Having never seen Beck, I wasn’t even sure what to expect, but he owned the stage as soon as he took it, and “Devil’s Haircut” proved to be a captivating opener. For the first few songs, he alternated between using and not using his guitar, ditching it as he and his band dug further back into his catalog, pulling out “Loser”. He attacked the stage every way possible, covering the forefront of both sides and the center, allowing everyone a good view of him, while he sang the at times rap-esque tune.
No full blown covers were done this night, though portions were mixed in with some of his originals, like on “”Think I’m in Love”, where he added a dash of Donna Summers’ “I Feel Love” into the mix. Despite having a new record out, he knew the audience was wanting the older stuff more, but, of course, at least one song from “Morning Phase” had to be thrown in, and “Blue Moon” was a good choice.
He looked almost ready to give up his acoustic guitar, before he drew it close to him again. “We’re going to play one more quiet one.” he stated. Personally, I’m glad they did, because “Lost Cause” presented the most beautiful moment of the day. They started amping things back up with “Soldier Jane”, and “Girl” got the crowd going a little more, before “Sissyneck”, which had a killer cover of Michael Jacksons’ “Billie Jean” woven into it.
He, at most, had an hour with the people here, and now took a moment to mention time was running short, but he still had time for a great little story. “…When I came into Dallas, there was an auspicious wind blowing…” he said, describing the city in vivid detail, specifically the Galleria (a mall for those unfamiliar with the area), and a girl he said he had met there. “I like how it’s Galleria’s Dallas and not the other way around.” he joked during “Debra”. He even threw in some humor into the lyrics, and the rental Hyundai that is mentioned in it he said he had paid extra for to make sure it was the newest model.
Soon, their 50-minute set came to an end, but while some people were ready to get out and try to beat the traffic, others were convinced an encore was coming.
Sure enough, Beck and his band mates walked back on stage not even a minute after leaving it, leaving everyone with “Where it’s At”. “I came to Dallas feeling like I had no friends, and now I have friends.” he said during the song, even pointing a couple of fans out like he knew them. “There’s Larry! Hey Maxine, you came!”
With a career as long as his is, it would make sense that Beck has perfected the chemistry one needs as a performer, and indeed he has.
The dose of humor was a good, light touch to things, and showed off the charm he has, but, of course, it was his music that really hooked everyone. Despite the fact that he covered a variety of genres during in set, it all flowed together, very well at that, and never once sounded like a hodgepodge of songs.
To be honest, I’ve never listened to much Beck in the past, though after this night, I might need to change that.
Overall, the 24th year of Edgefest was yet another successful one. The weather was pretty cooperative, and not nearly as sweltering as it could have been; and even later into the night fans were still finding untapped energy that allowed them to jump around to the music. It was a fun day that passed by fairly quickly; and no, I doubt my first time attending the festival will be my last.