There’s little doubt that The Toadies are the biggest rock ’n’ roll thing ever to come out of Fort Worth. Flashback to the early ’90s. MTV, after replacing commercial radio as the world’s primary source of new music, started becoming the “lifestyle channel” it is today, broadcasting lots of reality TV and not too many music videos. At that point, with the internet still just a twinkle in Al Gore’s eyes, radio was king again. And pumping out of every rock station were “Possum Kingdom” and “Away,” two Toadies songs from the band’s major-label debut album Rubberneck (1994) that got so much damn airplay you could hear them in your sleep. But that spinnage was more than well-deserved.
Blending hard-rock chops with punk attitude and a nihilistic disposition, frontman Vaden Todd Lewis’ quartet was at the vanguard of a new genre –– today there’s not a single metropolitan area without a mod-rock station (or two). The band sold zillions of copies of Rubberneck, and though “Possum Kingdom” was still getting tons of airplay, Lewis and company were never able to capitalize on their initial success. After the band broke up in the early aughts, Lewis formed The Burden Brothers, a Toadies-esque super-group that had some success but nothing near what The Toadies had. As BB was slowly fizzling out, The Toadies reunited for a show in 2006, headlining Dallas’ annual St. Patrick’s Day festivities, which ultimately led to The Toadies we have today: Lewis, two new guys ––guitarist Clark Vogeler and bassist Doni Blair –– and original drummer Mark Reznicek.
Over the intervening years, the band has released a couple of albums (all via Dallas’ Kirtland Records), including Feeler, The Toadies’ 1997 sophomore album that was unceremoniously scuttled by their label, and this summer’s Play.Rock.Music.
Lewis and company also managed to start their own annual festival.
Dia De Los Toadies has taken place all over Texas, including New Braunfels and Possum Kingdom Lake (natch), but never in the band’s hometown. Until now.
Going down this weekend at Panther Island Pavilion near downtown, the 6th Annual Dia De Los Toadies will feature (mostly) acoustic performances by The Toadies, Pleasure Club’s James Hall, Centro-matic’s Will Johnson, and the Eleven Hundred Springs side project Matt the Cat Trio on Friday night. On Saturday, starting at 2 p.m., the headlining Toadies will be preceded by Texas bluesman extraordinaire Gary Clark Jr., Tyler dream-poppers Eisley, El Paso raver-uppers The Dirty River Boys, Fort Worth new wavers Burning Hotels, Dallas folksters The O’s, San Antonio accordion-fronted punk rockers Piñata Protest, Dallas/Fort Worth blues-hammerers Oil Boom, Denton proto-punks Baboon, Fort Worth’s loud but nuanced The Cush, Dallas’ art-rocking These Machines Are Winning, and School of Rock’s “Dean’s List.”
“It’s been great moving the festival around Texas, but at a certain point, we realized that we need to share it with our hometown, Fort Worth, where the band is still based,” Vogeler said in a statement. “We played Billy Bob’s [Texas] last year, and it reminded us what a hometown crowd is like, so moving the festival made perfect sense.”
Tickets are $30-120.
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