Untapped Fest: No Matter How Crappy Things Get, There Will Always be Music and Beer
As Untapped festival headliner Deer Tick prepared to take the stage closing beer booths, an impromptu chorus of the "Star Spangled Banner" emitted from the front of the crowd, and grew louder with every verse as it felt like the entire fest joined in to sing our national anthem. Immediately after we sang "and the home of the brave!!" a thunderous round of cheers let out. The whole celebration was about more then just beer and music, it was about enjoying the freedom we're lucky enough to have. Beer, music and freedom.
Lord was there ever so much craft beer. 65 booths with different breweries dealing out two to five beers apiece. A $5 card got you either one full size beer, or twelve 2oz beers, and considering there were 24 beers over 10 percent ABV, you wanted to go with the samples. To the side of the beer tents were vendors selling all types of beer-themed wares, media company Paperlyte films was passing out free koozies to whoever followed them and shirt designer Tumbleweed Texstyles was seeing brisk business on their Texas themed designs. Two stages set on opposite sides of the pavilion, and Fort Worth's downtown sat just a short walk away. It was a stunning scene, helped by what may have been the most beautiful day this area has seen so far this year.
The long buzzed-about Dove Hunter kicked off the music portion of the festival with a gritty set that saw them perform to the best fan of the festival, a young teenage boy casually popping ollies on his skateboard while the band filled the air with raw energy. Somebody's Darling showed that their time on the road touring has brought them together and turned them into consummate professionals, as the band powered through some technical difficulties to deliver a blistering set. Skeleton Coast received some rather harsh criticism from a patron wearing a Phoenix shirt when he called them "too hipsterish." The irony was not lost on me.
Tennis. Photo by Mike Brooks
I was lucky enough to finally catch Denver-based band Tennis three years after their digital EP turned music writers into immediate gushing fanboys, myself included. Tennis' set was actually the first to really grab the crowd as people inched closer and closer to the stage and actually sang along to most of the songs. Alt-country star Justin Townes Earle lives up to the hype -- there's really no better way of saying it. Whatever you've heard is true and is probably not enough praise for such a talented artist.
Obviously the most anticipated performance of the night was Sarah Jaffe's. Since the release of her EP Even Born Again in 2008, Jaffe has been touted as the area's next big thing, often sweeping local awards shows, getting constant local air play and selling out every venue in town. 2010's Suburban Nature seemed to deliver on the promise, as her single "Clementine" became a breakout single. It was during this time I caught Jaffe and her merry band of ringers at SXSW. I noticed that Jaffe almost seemed to shy away from the spotlight. Three years, an EP and a full length later, that's not even close to the case.