Words by Jonahs Downer // Photos by Ellie Alonzo
Castles, Dragons, and Deep Eddy Vodka Wenches galore! Step into a land of medieval enchantment where Wizards lurk beyond every corner… Austere journeyed deep into the woods of Central Texas and caught all the action this weekend at the first ever Sound on Sound Fest. We camped out, made friends with all the local creepy crawlies, and got all kinds of soggy, soaked right down to our bones, as we witnessed some amazing live sets in this enchanting Renaissance Faire themed wonderland. Located just an hour outside of Austin in McDade’s Sherwood Forest, the fest was swarming with activities, despite a tsunami sized down pour on Sunday. Here’s a quick look at all the sights and sounds we encountered along the way at this fairytale-style music fest.
We got in late Friday evening after driving down from Dallas and we managed to get our tent set up just before sundown. Wandering through the festival grounds the expansiveness of the park was completely lost on us until the following morning once the fairgrounds were fully illuminated. Needless to say Sherwood Forest is absolutely massive and we walked our butts off trekking from one stage to the next!
Once we arrived at the gargantuan Dragon’s Lair Stage we were able to catch a quick glimpse of the brooding and bombastic Death Grips slaying the crowd in an all-out experimental hip hop frenzy. Zach Hill’s syncopated drum beats wove themselves like serpents in and out of MC Rides incantation-esq lyrical wizardry.
Afterwards we high tailed it over to the Keep Stage to boogie down to the psych-punk genius of Thee Oh Sees. We saw these dudes just a couple weeks ago at Desert Daze in Joshua Tree, CA and in true form these guys did not disappoint. Their set was so solid I made sure to stop by the merch tent and grab a vinyl copy of their newest album, “A Weird Exits” one of two albums the group is scheduled to drop this year. Beaming from the new addition to my wax collection and worn out from all the sweaty mosh-ridden excitement, Ellie and I returned back to our campsite to catch some serious ZZZ’s before the next day’s events.
Waking from what seemed an endless slumber we rose with the sun Saturday only to find a light rain falling on our campsite. We sat it out for a couple hours snacking on sandwiches and fresh fruit before running over to the Media Tent to grab a cup of coffee and recharge our various media devices. After meeting for a couple quick photoshoots with the tremendously talented, METZ, and very stellar Austin-based, Calliope Musicals, we explored every corner of the festival grounds and encountered vendors and performers alike of every occupation.
Jugglers, Tomato Throwers, Acrobats, Glass Blowers, Balloon Sculptors and Mini-Dirt Bike Riders appeared as if out of thin air beneath the overhanging canopy of trees. Situated dead center of the jousting arena, stood a full sized half pipe featuring skate demos by the gravity defying Volcom Skate Crew. Speaking of jousting, festival goers had the opportunity to ‘Body Joust’ with their friends – it seemed to be a hit!
Along the trails oversized wooden toadstools lined the walkways as we entered a whirlwind marathon of lively performances from Us Weekly, American Sharks, Bleached, Comedian Tim Heideker, the sonically brilliant Deerhunter and the electro-heavy Jagwar Ma.
By nights end we had returned to the Dragon’s Lair Stage once again, where we closed out the night with a spectacular set from Beach House. The band covered a wide variety of their repertoire including new tunes off of their more recent releases “Depression Cherry” and “Thank Your Lucky Stars”, as well as throwing it back for those of us die-hards with tracks like “Master of None”. Just thinking about their hypnotizing electronic lullaby’s almost brings a tear to my eyes, but before we could get venture into any further musical jubilation we hoofed it back to camp to rest up for round 3 of SOSFest!
Swimming through an ocean of mud and muck and all sorts of human filth Sunday proved to be the most trying of our 3 day stay at Sound on Sound. Before the down pour of biblical proportion swept everyone out to sea, we were actually able to catch a couple of badass bands prior to the “monsoons” arrival. On the Keep Stage we caught the eccentric seven member strong feme-punk pranksters of Sailor Poon wailing away for the first audience of the day. Hailing from Austin and brandishing a wild display of surf-centric garbage rock this band of total babes is creating quite a buzz in the local music scene already drawing comparisons to legendary groups like the Butthole Surfers and the Slits. They closed out their set with “Leather Daddy” a satirical statement on modern male-misogyny which also recently won an award for their bitching music video in support of the track. Seriously!! Check these girls out before they blow up!
Afterwards, we made sure to shake our money makers as Boombaptist took the Forest Stage by literal storm! It was just about this time it started drizzling but the smooth DJ kept the dance grooves a flowing and the crowd bubbling with excitement just before all meteorological hell broke loose.
We rushed back to the media tent as the rain picked up and grabbed a couple complimentary Don Julio Jalisco Mules to wait out the weather. Three mules in and the storm went from bad to worse, forcing the security staff to direct all guests to the proper emergency exits as to evacuate the festival grounds. Fortunately enough, Ellie and I were permitted to take shelter in the Castle Keep along with several other Media, PR, and Artist Correspondents. Inside we were provided food and beverages and got a chance to hang out with some very down to earth musicians as we all attempted to wait out the storm.
Realizing all the sets were going to be pushed back due to the weather, Ellie and I made our way back to my car and set the cruise control for home. All in all Sound on Sound was wrought with amazing ambiance a unique and interactive environment not to mention the most important ingredient of all, phenomenal live musical performances and amidst all the inclement weather we were still able to have a killer time. Now we just have to wait to see what magical spells this festival will cast next!