By Tito Gomez, Entertainment Writer
The inaugural Sound on Sound festival was held November 4-6 in the Sherwood Forest, about 40 miles outside of Austin, TX. Put on by a new company comprised of the same people who previously held Fun Fun Fun Fest in Austin and boasting a very expansive selection of music, expectations were set high for this event. There was a certain level of disorganization throughout the festival, but check-in was relatively smooth, as was getting to a camping spot. Sherwood Forest is normally used for a renaissance faire, and all of the infrastructure and buildings from this were still set up. Four stages had been repurposed for the festival, giving each one a unique charm. The main stage, for example, was the Dragon’s Lair, featuring a giant dragon perched on top of it. Some other buildings were open for vendors and some of the carnival games were open and free. Many buildings and areas were not used though, and there was not adequate lighting in a lot of areas. The grounds were quite large so this made it easy to get lost and gave the forest a haunted feeling.
The festival ground opened at 1PM each day and music continued until 1AM. DJs then played a small stage in the camping area from 1AM – 3AM each night. Over 100 acts were playing the weekend so it was sometimes difficult to choose a band to see, but I was not disappointed by any of them. Friday night, Death Grips put on what seemed to be a more subdued show on the main stage. They were followed by Run the Jewels who brought the energy up and previewed some songs from their upcoming albums. Fidlar and Thee Oh Sees played at the same time with both crowds exploding with energy. Phantogram closed things down on the main stage with a chill set, and the Descendents closed down the night with some old-school punk moshing.
Saturday began dreamily with Wild Nothing before the Dead Milkmen took the stage. More old-school punk moshing to Bangin’ Camaro got the energy up for the rest of the day. Beach House played later in the evening and were followed by Purity Ring, giving several hours of dream pop bliss and perhaps the best combination of acts at the festival. They were followed by Dillinger Escape Plan who gave what was likely the most intense show of the festival. They are disbanding after this tour but they are certainly still working well together.
Sunday started gloomy and after heavy thunderstorms in the afternoon it was announced that the fest was being evacuated. Most of the campers waited it out in their tents and the fest was reopened in the evening. Several of the earlier acts had been skipped and the schedule was back on track. STRFKR put on a very energetic show featuring people in astronaut costumes surfing on the crowd. Courtney Barnett and Explosions in the Sky were solid closers for the night, though the DJ sets kept the party going.
Altogether the first Sound on Sound was a success. There are certainly things to work on for next year, but there are no major complaints. If the quality of music is maintained, this festival will be around for a while.