Oak Point Park (Plano, TX)
– Words by James Villa – Photos by James Villa and Ronnie Jackson –
In its infancy, Suburbia Music Festival seemed destined to be another fly by night festival. The crowds just weren’t enough to get excited about it, especially on day one. Well, at least early in the day. The weather was pushing 90 degrees, feeling even warmer once you had been standing out there for more than a few hours.
The early acts did their best to make the music lovers forget about the scorching heat, but too little avail. Ume, Meg Myers and Echosmith were a few of the acts who made some headway in that field, no doubt benefitting from the mid to late afternoon set times, which brought with it more fans on the grounds of the Oak Point Park and Nature Preserve.
It was later in the evening when fans finally began to show their numbers, and slowly but surely, Suburbia began to harness it’s true potential. Joseph Somers-Morales (AKA Somo) had the looks and played the style of music that quite literally had girls swooning and screaming. Apparently, they found his set to be even more sweltering than this hot Texas Saturday.
Midlake had a prime spot on the festival, and their extensive touring overseas along with the shows they logged opening for Pearl Jam late last year seemed to push them to a whole new level as a band.
Delta Rae wowed the crowd with their Americana/pop style of music and wondrous harmonies; and storied rock band Third Eye Blind made their set feel like more of a weekend gathering instead of a concert.
Rap artists were also featured on this festival, and Yelawolf was the highlight of them all, armed with a presence that captured everyone, and the way he worked the crowd seemed like it was second nature to him.
Let’s not forget one of Dallas’ most revered bands, Reverend Horton Heat, and the Rev’s prowess on the six string never wavered. Violent Femmes seemed to raise a few red flags, given that they only reunited the previous year, and have logged too many shows since this rebirth, but the moment they stepped on stage all doubt vanished. The trio won the crowd over quickly and effortlessly, and bass player Brian Ritchie’s energy was nonstop. Not bad for a band out of the spotlight.
The coup de gras of the evening had to be headliner The Alabama Shakes. The soulful tones, yet powerful voice Brittany Howard is packing in her vocal chords brought the crowd to its feet. I’m a fan; and there surely couldn’t have been any better way to end this first day of Suburbia Fest.
________ DAY 2
Sunday at Suburbia Fest looked like it was going to outdo the first day. By noon the turnout seemed to be twice that of the same time of the previous day. The crowd was generally younger this day, too, and the numbers grew at a steady pace throughout the day.
Dallas area favorites, Ishi, got the day started on the Meadow Stage, and the electronic trio seemed to win over a bunch of new fans.
Up and coming indie pop rockers American Authors had people dancing along for much of their set, then saying, “So this is the band that does that song!” when they started “Best Day of My Life”. Reignwolf schooled everyone in the ways of true rock ‘n’ roll, and if there were more bands like this, people wouldn’t be questioning the current state of music.
The Wild feathers were their usual energetic selves, though the best performance of the day had to belong to Twenty One Pilots. The way Tyler Joseph commands a crowd is something else, and the duo’s set featured all sorts of antics, from jumping on the top of the piano, to ending with two platforms with a floor tom on each being handed out to the audience, and soon the band members worked their way out there to play them. It was definitely a spectacle.
Blue October has spent so much time in Dallas during their nearly two decade long career, it’s almost like they are a hometown band, and even though their set this day was predominantly new material, it didn’t stop people from enjoying every second of it.
The festival even boasted Hayes Carll, who is perhaps Texas’ best Americana artist, and he used his typical charm and humor to win over the crowd, which was made up of old fans and new ones who had wondered over to the stage.
Sister act Tegan and Sara proved to be one of the biggest draws of the day; their synthpop sounds seeming to be just what the people needed, and that was a good way to get warmed up for David Guetta, who absolutely owned it. A good amount of people sit atop the hilltop that over looked the stage, but most were front and center, dancing their asses off and marveling at the spectacular light show that went along with the music.
The second day of Suburbia Fest seemed to be the “it” day. Maybe it was because so many of the bands targeted a younger demographic, or maybe just more people wanted to come out on a Sunday instead of a Saturday for some reason. Either way, this was the day, and unlike the previous day, no one seemed to even give a second thought to the weather. Sure, it was hot, but everyone was more consumed by the music, which is exactly how a festival is supposed to be.