LaGrave Field is where many families regularly gather during the summer to watch the Cats aspire to – and often achieve – minor-league baseball excellence and also where, last Saturday, families and progressive-music fans gathered to experience the annual Wall of Sound Festival.
A daylong event produced by Fort Worth’s Spune Productions (and, for the record, co-sponsored by the Weekly), WOSF features non-mainstream indie-rock acts from all over. West Coast, East Coast, you name it. Almost as weird as finding a few dozen regional and internationally renowned indie-rockers in one place in Cowtown was seeing them in a minor-league baseball stadium in Cowtown on a sweltering Texas day.
The jarring contradictions – America’s Pastime versus anti-establishment artists, blistering sunshine versus smokes-and-beer-lovin’ club kids – only pointed up the magnitude of Spune’s accomplishment. Now in its third year, WOSF has finally gotten legs. Last Saturday’s turnout eclipsed previous years’, even though there weren’t any more heavy-hitters on the bill than in past WOSFs and even though the sun was freakin’ relentless.
Luckily, I had stuff to do Saturday morning and didn’t get to LaGrave until the sun had begun tumbling toward the west. In the picnic area behind the left-field bleachers was a small stage for local and regional bands such as Black Tie Dynasty, Tame … Tame and Quiet, The Burning Hotels, and others. In center field, a gigantic stage had been split in half – the touring bands alternated sets there. Beer and food tents stretched from the foot of the stage almost to third base, and on the first-base side was the VIP tent. A band may or may not have been playing when I arrived, but by the time I settled in among the 75 or 100 concertgoers and found a comfy spot on the lawn, my ears perked up – The Sword had taken the stage.
As soon as the Austin quartet began pounding out its brand of Sabbath-influenced indie-metal, the crowd seemed to double and bum-rushed the stage. From then on, the crowd just got bigger, though the fans remained well behaved. Some folks chilled out in the bleachers, others played Frisbee in open right field, and families with kids stretched out on blankets or lawn chairs and star-gazed as the music wafted by. Apparently, according to a mass e-mail from Spune honcho Lance Yocom, there were some sound glitches on both of the main stages, which screwed with performance times, but I don’t think most fans noticed any lack of sound quality.I know I didn’t.
Of the bands I saw, The Lions (from Austin) may have been the most fun. Oliver Future (L.A.-via-Cowtown) was proficient if not wholly memorable, and Micah P. Hinson (Abilene) did a good Springsteen impersonation. Om (San Francisco) droned on and on – and on – but in a good way, and another band from Austin whose name I didn’t catch did a weird doo-wop-inspired indie-rock set that was sloppy and off but not the least bit gratuitous and thus worthy of praise. No word yet on WOSF ’08, but based on the 2,000 or so folks who braved the heat, next year will be bigger and better – at least that’s what we hope.
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