2014 Texas Crawfish Festival Review
As some of you know, when I traveled to Panama recently, I came back with more than just memories and souvenirs: I came back with a severely broken toe. As a result, I’ve been a little limited when it comes to covering shows and festivals personally. But, that doesn’t mean there’s not a Lauren Ignited team out there ready to rock the show, snap some shots and share the highlights with us all. Long time friend and incredible concert photographer, @listenyoungman, covered Texas Crawfish Festival for us and I’m thrilled to share his words and pictures with everyone. Thanks, Daniel!
“The Texas Crawfish and Music Festival is equal parts food, music and family reunion at a grocery store parking lot carnival. Think about the crowds you see at a Renaissance Festival, but wearing flip flops and floppy hats. This festival is two weekends of carnival rides, beer, lengthy corndogs and great bands. This year’s roster included a great mix of Texas-based performers like Alejandro Escovedo, Brownout, Shakey Graves, The Tontons, The Suffers, Ben Kweller and Shinyribs to even the godfather of fiddling devil exorcisms, Charlie Daniels. Whoever is doing the booking for this festival has great taste in music.
Knowing Texas weather, this past weekend was probably the last one where we all don’t have to stand directly in front of a fan soaking wet to feel comfortable. The weather was ideal and the festival organizers have obviously figured out a layout that works. On one side of the festival, families sat eating carnival food and crawfish by the pound as zydeco bands took turns making booties shake. Two stages on the other side of the festival kept a steady rotation of great music going. These two stages were placed within very close proximity of one another which made putting your blanket down in the middle of the stages perfect. Sound and equipment issues aside, there was very little to complain about.
Saturday, May 3rd, started off great with Australian-born songwriter Matt Ellis and band playing a set of well-crafted, country-twanged love songs. Ellis’ raspy voice and friendly stage presence won over a small group of smiling early comers. If you like bands like The Jayhawks or Drew Holcomb and The Neighbors, you’ll probably like Matt Ellis.
Walking back into the heart of the festival to grab a beer, I passed quite a few people wearing Suffers shirts which made me pretty happy. If you live in Houston and haven’t heard about The Suffers by now…you’ve been missing out. The 10 piece band brings together soul, reggae and Latin influences to completely make stages *explode with positive energy. (*stages not guaranteed to actually explode.) The band will be releasing their first full-length in late summer, but until then, I’ll continue to dance to this video for their song GWAN.
As The Suffers ended their set with a couple barn-burning Motown covers, I could see a large crowd was forming to see Shakey Graves. This mostly one-man-guitar-and-a-suitcase-kickdrum act has kept Alejandro Rose-Garcia very busy in recent years and for good reason. His songs are rough and gritty while being very rhythmic and memorable. Listen to ‘Built to Roam’ or ‘Roll The Bones’ off his only full-length album and you’ll see what I am talking about. He will be rolling back into Houston for FPSF this year, do not miss it.
Between sets, I took some time to walk around the festival to see if anyone had puked on the Tilt-A-Whirl yet. I grabbed a corndog and nearly ran right into Pat Kelly of The Suffers hanging with his boy. By mid-day they had basically ridden most of the carnival rides and were now watching others spin around. I would say that if the weather is right and your kids don’t mind seeing you dance, this is a pretty good festival to attend. In the distance I could hear The Heartless Bastards tuning up, so I ran back to the main stage to catch this incredible band. I’ve probably listened to the Heartless Bastard’s album The Mountain a billion times (a truthful exaggeration). Nearly every track on that album makes me want to pump my corndog in the air. I watched as fans pressed themselves up against the fence to sing lyrics back at Erika Wennerstrom and pump THEIR corndogs into the air. I became one with the crowd. Mesmerized by distortion and the connection that this band shares, I realized that Heartless Bastards can blow any (insert any festival headlining band) off the stage. I should probably stop there.
As Willy Mason walked onto the stage next door, I could almost tell that he was a bit overwhelmed by his ‘opening act.’ After about three songs he apologized for not having a band and asked if any musicians in the audience would like to join him on stage. Chris Tamez (drummer for Houston-based bands Rivers and Insko) cheerfully joined him for a few songs as well as the day’s headliner Ben Kweller. What started out as kind of a mess, ended up as a terrific performance.
As dusk steadily began to approach, Bob Schneider took to the main stage with a howdy. His fans are super dedicated and like to move. I watched people of all ages gyrating as he performed the sexiest song about a spider ever written.
As the sun began to set and the neon glow of the carousel lit up the crisp night air, Houston’s The Tontons took to the stage. When I say they ‘took to the stage’ what I really mean is that they OWNED the stage. I’ve seen the Tontons a few times in the past, but I felt like they really shined in this setting. I even saw Alejandro Rose-Garcia (Shakey Graves) take a few photos of them from backstage.
I think you can tell by now that I thoroughly enjoyed myself at the Texas Crawfish Festival. However, I haven’t even mentioned the headliner. Ben Kweller has a good voice and I remember that one Austin City Limits Music Festival where he played through a nose bleed. All in all it was a great day and a terrific festival.”
Big thanks to Daniel for covering the Festival for www.LaurenIgnited.com. You can learn more about Daniel and his projects on www.listenyoungman.com. View his full photo album from Texas Crawfish Festival on Flickr.