Review by: Mac M.
Photos by: Rhombi Survivor Photo Safaris
Sweet country evenings and electro pop/rock nights is one way to describe the two day music festival's return to Panther Island Pavilion.
Two Friday evenings ago Fort Worth had a very charming look to itself peering down on the banks of the Trinity River as if the skyline had it's own front row seat to this dual stage event.
We arrived just in time to catch arguably the city's favorite Southern Rock/Americana locals - Quaker City Nighthawks over on the Shiner Bock Stage.
One thing that we noticed immediately different walking in this year was stage locations. The smaller hilltop stage from last year had been replaced by a second mainstage size Shiner Bock stage that faced off at least a 100 yards from the equally large Rahr Brewing stage to the NW.
Other than a little bit of soundcheck bleed from one stage to another the dual facing layout didn't seem to cause any negative "feedback" either day.
After cooling down with an ice cold mega snow cone from vendor row it was time to catch the "Snake Farm" country blues from a serious Texas favorite Mr. Ray Wiley Hubbard.
Donning his tex/mex inspired sunshade/hat Mr. Hubbard was the first to noticeably begin to fill the front stage area in over at the Rahr Brewing stage.
Although we missed most of Justin Townes Earle's live set back over on the Shiner Bock stage, due to the need to feed, it was near impossible to miss hearing really bad tuning on the part of his steel guitar and lead guitar players. Everyone has a bad night from time to time but there is no excuse for being out of tune for an entire live set!
Haw, haw, haw we managed to catch up with Mr. Billy F. Gibbons of ZZ Top right before he took the Rahr Brewing stage.
Backed by a multi Grammy winning band of legendary studio/live musicians, Billy fretted out some rockin' Texas swing match with blues standards that had the crowd begging for more! It only took about a half a bar of the opening riff to "Sharp Dressed Man" to make the crowd loose their effin' minds for the first time Friday night. So Billy put the crowd to work for him and made all the chorus hook lines their job to sing. Trust me when I say it's a surreal experience to watch a 19-20 year old know and sing the lyrics to a ZZ Top song right next to the people who grew up with their music!
Mr. Gibbons final song started out with legendary drummer, Kenny Aronoff, clicking his sticks together in a very familiar pattern. Billy says over the mic to the crowd, "you hear that? Do you know what that is? He [Kenny] knows what that is!" Then comes one of the most recognizable guitar licks of the 20th century as Billy starts to speak the open lines to La Grange with some added and over embellished "haw, haw, haw's" thrown in for fun. Drum fill please, nailed it! Rancho Texicano in da house Fort Worth!
Friday night's headliner was the legendary Lucinda Williams who the crowd equally adored! Sad to say we missed most of her show but we did manage to catch a couple great photos that night before leaving!
Time to switch the format way the hell up for Saturday! Dallas locals, The Fox and the Bird, brought some modern folk to Rahr stage early that day who we caught snaps with not long after their live set.
Oil Boom laid it down solid like they always do in DFW. Something tells me that bright orange Gibson Tennessean with the massive f-holes or sound holes is becoming a signature look for the band. I vote that lead singer Ryan Taylor should make a facebook page for her [the guitar]!
TEAM* caught us off guard a little bit even though we had just listened to their EP, "Good Morning Bad Day", all the way through for the first time before heading to the fest on Saturday.
Stage presence and the super relaxed chat with the audience was the biggest surprise from lead singer Caleb Turman. Fun to watch and great live sound is the best first impression I have for this band called TEAM* - asterisk included!
Even the paparazzi got in on the action during TEAM*'s live set. Make no mistake about it people these guys come in all shapes and sizes so watch out! Seriously, is this little guy not just awesome or what? All photographers or anyone with a soft spot have to love this kid!
So back over to the media tent area behind Rahr stage. We ran into Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. and had a few beers while we waited on our scheduled time to interview TEAM*. Super nice dudes and very laid back for sure!
Check out our one on one interview with TEAM* to find out which member of Third Eye Blind stole Caleb's limited edition Star Wars figurine! Plus some other cool stuff...
Back to the Shiner, Air Review worked up some synth heavy harmonies and serious groove flow based jams for the crowd. Oddly enough all their laptops had black electrical tape covering the Apple logos on Saturday. Not going to speculate other than "no free ad space" for Air Review?
Aaron Behrens and the Midnight Stroll gave us a first live look at the Ghostland Observatory front man's solo project.
Another cool surprise on our second day at #FWMF was catching The Airborne Toxic Event live for the first time. Not only a great live sound but extremely talented, multi-instrumental, guys and gal!
Not summer just yet but hot enough that if you had one too many Shiners you might just find yourself out for the count next to the largest Shiner bottle on festival grounds. Shine easy folks!
One last trip back over to the Rahr stage for it's final show of the festival. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. were refreshed and amped to pump some electro/telephone goodness into the Fort Worth atmosphere!
Sun down - check.....
Cue Mr. Schectman from 102.1 The Edge to called out the all day awaited headliners:
Lead man, Jim Adkins, brought the guys out in full force with pop/rock infused amplification that brought easily the largest crowd of the entire festival to the Shiner stage. The boys from AZ worked their way through new songs and old hits ramping up to the one song that had been quoted, hummed and sang aloud all weekend leading up to their appearance.
And with that, EVERYTHING EVERYTHING - was alright!