“I love Fort Worth!” proclaimed British folk rocker Frank Turner to the 500-plus concertgoers crammed onto the patio of Shipping & Receiving Sunday night.
Turner’s most recent album, Positive Songs for Negative People, came out in 2015, and according to the man himself, this was his first ticketed appearance in this region of the United States in quite some time, a fact that did not appear to be lost on his audience.
“Who here flew in from Arizona?” Turner asked.
A dozen or so hands shot up in reply.
He then did a role call for California and New Mexico –– all parties were present.
Folks flew in from all over the country to catch this rare performance from the punk rocker-turned-folk star, and judging by their reaction, they got exactly what they came for.
Almost every concertgoer sang giddily along to practically every word of every song during Turner’s two-hour set, occasionally pointing their fingers into the air to shout along with choruses like “I’m a heartless bastard motherfucker!” (a song that Turner said his Mum is no fan of).
Turner raised his Bud Light to cheers from the crowd. Through a smirk, he remarked on how where he’s from it’s an “exotic foreign beer.”
For a guy from Hampshire, Turner certainly appeared to be right at home at Shipping & Receiving. At times he peppered his banter with ad lib references to Fort Worth, Calhoun Street, and the club itself. At one point he even invited S&R marketing director Jen Franke onto the stage to trade off harmonica “solos” with a randomly chosen birthday girl from the audience. This was during a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice (It’s Alright).” These two wouldn’t be the only guests to accompany Turner onstage, however.
“This is my best friend, Austin,” said Turner with a smile as he invited his final guest onstage. Guitarist and producer for Leon Bridges and cofounder with Josh Block of Niles City Sound, the studio located in the same building as Shipping & Receiving, Austin Jenkins hopped onstage and was handed a harmonica. It was a total love fest.
This wasn’t Turner’s first time playing Shipping. Though his last appearance wasn’t ticketed or even promoted outside of a quick Facebook announcement the afternoon before the show, it took place on the floor inside the bar a few months back. Why Fort Worth, though? Why Shipping & Receiving? Well, it is no coincidence: The anthemic singer-songwriter has been working on his new record at Niles City, and it seems like he sort of fell in love with the place. Why not try out some new material on the stage right next to the lab?
One of those new songs features country icon Jason Isbell, with whom Turner will be touring the states later this summer. Turner told us a quick anecdote about shooting a music video for the track with Isbell and about having to pretend to be awful at tennis, when in fact it is the only sport Turner is “decidedly not terrible at.”
“This song is called ‘Love 40 Down,’ which for those of you who don’t know, is a score in tennis that means you’re about to get your ass handed to you,” Turner explained.
The entire night was full of excitement and energy. No easy task for a guy with nothing more than a “grandpa guitar.” It was the passion that both Turner and the audience had for each song that was so palpable and infectious. This was the sort of show that would make a lot of new fans if only there were any room for them among the sold-out crowd of diehards.
Witnessing this night was rejuvenating and inspiring, and Turner’s intimate relationship with this city and its musicmakers is as endearing as it is exciting. Could this be a sign of things to come for Fort Worth’s music scene? With the rise of studios like Niles City and producers like Austin Jenkins, we just might see more national and international artists find a little home away from home here in the town of Cow. They’re welcome anytime.
Frank Turner will be at the Bomb Factory in Dallas on Sat, Sep 23.
Cameron Smith is the principal singer-songwriter for the Fort Worth post-punk band War Party and performs as a solo artist under the pseudonym Sur Duda. Smith also is a co-founder and owner of Dreamy Life Records and Music, LLC, a Fort Worth-based record studio, store, and label.