THE MAVERICK MUSIC FESTIVAL
The Maverick Music Festival was a whirlwind of bands, vendors, and San Antonio charm. KRTU's Indie Overnight had the pleasure of sponsoring and covering this up and coming festival. Check out Matt, Joseph Erik, and Elena's thoughts and reviews from the festival and Michelle's photography from this two day event.
Roky Erikson was the first show I caught at the Maverick Music Festival this past weekend and it was a good way to kick off the weekend. Roky has lived a colorful and exciting life both onstage and off. Playing onstage since he was 18, his comfort with the stage was evident while he played a fairly tame set. However, tame definitely does not mean boring. Never leaving center stage or speaking, he sang with a passion that was sadly lacking in some of the other bands that would take the stage later that day. While some members of the audience found it understated and by the book, I disagree. This was good old rock n roll with a slight Texas twang. I thoroughly enjoyed the sincerity and tunes that Roky was throwing down.
The Joy Formidable
The Joy Formidable put on a solid show that was unfortunately struck with a slew of sound problems for the first 10 minutes of their act. Lead vocals were not properly mic'd for the first song and the drums were suppressed for the first half which made for a rocky start. But those problems aside, the Joy Formidable entertained us and each other thoroughly with their set. The band commands an impressive stage presence, Ritzy wooed us with tunes from both of their released albums, the drummer, Matthew Thomas, stood on his set and practically tackled Rhydian Dafydd on bass. The entire set was a flirtatious affair and set the mood wonderfully for Washed Out and Phantogram later on in the night.
Washed gave a great performance of an excessively layered and surprisingly acoustic show. I feel like everyone under the age of 30 likes Washed Out, and that was the crowd set-up for the night. I even saw a 10 year old boy walking into the VIP section for Washed Out’s performance. Either way, having heard Washed Out before, and not bowing to the east five times a day for them, I was ready to watch the fingers on a MIDI pad fly; however, to my surprise, Ernest Greene, master of the stationary keyboard head-bob, started with an acoustic guitar and had a full band with him! It was nice to see Greene incorporating a band for his performance, but this would lead to some other growing pains. Along with Greene’s acoustic guitar came four synthesizers and two drum pads, excluding the drum set, electric guitar and bass. At one point, I saw Greene playing a triad with one hand, the second guitarist playing the lead, and the girl in the back playing something, which I have no clue what it was. This kind of setting, whether it was doubled on the synths or the drum pads, continued for most of the night. The incorporation of this full band setting was a nice surprise for me, but the translation from tracks on computer to a full band could use some work. The performance was smooth, and I’m pretty sure Washed Out was the first band to not have sound problems, so overall a good performance from Ernest Greene and all those who imitated his computer with him
-Joseph Erik Montano
Phantogram is an expertly articulated group who commands a stage presence unlike any of the other bands that night. Their minimal setup on stage represented the blend of acoustic and electric sounds that they are so fond of on their records. Not all of the songs are exactly the most exciting or great songs(at one point she called one of their ballads the kind of song that you wave your lighters too, sooo…. Yea, I shut down after that one), but they all knew how to work the stage and how to maintain their energy in a somewhat awkward venue; however, the reflection that their setup initiated also led to a static translation from the albums to the stage. There weren’t any surprises or anything unexpected that you can’t get from listening to the albums. Although the music that was coming from the stage was not anything new from the albums, it was nice to see a strong and confident performance from those who know how to feed themselves off of stage energy.
-Joseph Erik Montano
Lonely Horse is probably one of the biggest trending bands in San Antonio right now. As I walk around San Antonio, I hear people asking each other if they’re going to the Lonely Horse show. So it was nice to see Lonely Horse getting a slot on the main stage that only one other local band would get. Although Lonely Horse has an energy like no other, there are still adjustments to make when you stand on platform that is five feet above the ground, with a giant sound system into a huge open area with a an audience that does not move easily. Johnny made good use of the space around him and his noise sets and effects translated well through the system. There were some awkward tensions as Johnny begged the audience to dance and the few that were there refused. Even with some of these pains of being on the big boy stage, Lonely Horse has shown that they have the ability to grow and are ready for more stage time.
-Joseph Erik Montano
Part of the reason Rock Angels may have been a bit dull is because YACHT was anything but. Probably my favorite show of the entire festival, Claire Evans is an absolute fireball on stage singing absurdly catchy lyrics and infecting the audience with her dance moves. She simultaneous infatuated and seduced when she hopped off stage and pulled people right up to her face and sang with only the microphone separating their lips. Characterized by heavy synths, vocoders, French, and tons of personality, their sound is shamelessly electronic pop and damn fun.
I’m hesitant to be critical of bands as they put their heart and soul into what they do but Black Angels was incredibly disappointing. The heart was missing from their set, looking like they were just playing for the paycheck. Every song sounded exactly the same, the similar chords, similar lyrics, similar melodies, and similar everything. They had opportunities to capture the audience when they sped up the time but that became rote too. Singing with a Texas twang and rather upbeat tone, these guys don’t play bad music by any means and it could be somebody’s cup of tea. I’d play it while writing or concentrating on some task but it’s not something where I would sit down and honestly listen.
These guys have been around for a while and know what it means to rock. Playing a set that spanned from their 1993 self-titled album to their 2012 Love Stories & Other Musings, it was a nice tour through the last 20 years of Candlebox’s evolution as a rock band. And there is no other way to describe them. They are a rock band through and through. Screaming and spittle was flung around along with the microphone while they picked up the audience and relentlessly shoved us along. The audience loved it, the band loved it, and I loved it. It was an experience and really set the tone for the Psychedelic Furs to take the stage later that night.
Run the Jewels
I’m not sure I have ever seen a weirder and more wide-spread range of humans at a festival than I have at the Maverick music festival. From the eight year old boy at Washed Out, to the Hispanic league of family members at Candlebox, and to the typical hipster crowd at Joy Formidable, there has never such an awkward bunch (probably a trademark of San Antonio). Run the Jewels was, strangely enough, one of the only bands to reach them all. Killer Mike and EL-P were surprisingly encouraging of the confused San Antonio crowd and got them chant “RUN THE JEWELS” at any moment. Along with their pretty talented DJ, Run the Jewels made use of the stage and reached everyone in the strange crowd with ease.
-Joseph Erik Montano
After having been a little disappointed by some of the earlier bands on Saturday, Twin Shadow was the perfect band to catch that night. Each song had a lot of power and layers and while they sounded original and had a lot of variety, the songs were also just repetitive enough to be catchy so even a new audience could sing along. When he performs, George Lewis Jr. commands the stage and audience, interacts well with them, and knows how to capture attention and draw it to his music. Although Twin Shadow is specifically focused on him, the songs aren’t vocal-heavy and include strong beats between the drums and keyboards. All of these factors make Twin Shadow enjoyable to hear at home, but they translated even better into an amazing live performance that I was sad to see end.
The Psychedelic Furs
The Psychedelic Furs were the last band I caught at Maverick but definitely stood out the most to me. Of course, the musicians were older than all the other bands, but they seemed to have the most personality and stage presence. Richard Butler, the lead singer, was incredibly exuberant and almost flamboyant with his hand motions and dances, and the rest of the band looked like they were having just as much fun. Like the musicians, the songs themselves had a lot of variety and took turns focusing on drums, sax, guitar, bass, and keyboard. It’s rare to see a band right now that includes sax, which was a welcome change, especially since Mars Williams wasn’t just playing in the background, but often took center stage. Each instrument created its own layer in a song and sometimes they fit perfectly together and other times they were disjointed enough to highlight them individually. With all these different layers, technical skill, and personality, The Psychedelic Furs were one of the most original and enjoyable shows I saw, and the perfect way to end the festival.
Arneson River Stage
Dark Planes is a great punk band to watch. They are all veterans of the rock-n-roll world and know how to guide their music to an audience. It truly is a strange mix of internal stage performance that somehow reaches the audience; however, upon getting to the stage, I noticed a fourth member in the band, one that I had not recognized as playing with Dark Planes. It was Nick Federico, who I know has played in the band Last Nighters. This new addition could not have been a better one. The second guitar allows more freedom and independence of lines for each instrument while maintaining fullness of sound throughout the performance. Dark Planes no longer has to worry about filling the sound or a loss of sound as some takes a solo, and this allows for such a dynamic show, even more so than they already had. They’re energy on stage was fantastic, even with the separation across the river on the Arneson theatre, and the sound was a great new refresher.
-Joseph Erik Montano
Crown is a fantastic local band that vomits energy and showmanship. Tasting vaguely of surf, blues, and psychedelic rock, they played with an almost overwhelming bass and a melody best described as haunting. The bass may have been a side effect of the stage and sound but it did not lessen their vibe at all. Each song was characterized by Carlos Zubillaga waxing poetic over quieted instruments and then loud helter-skelter, hair everywhere rock. While the venue was slightly awkward, the band was comfortable interacting with the audience and even congratulated a newly-wed couple as their riverboat slowly meandered through their set. A talented group of guys, Crown knows how to put on an entertaining show and should be on your list of up and coming San Antonio bands.
I wasn’t completely sure what to expect from Carlton Zeus, having never really heard his music before. I listened to one song online before Maverick, but honestly, he sounded very different live. The sound levels seemed a bit off, with the drums and beats much louder than Carlton Zeus himself. However, his rapping reached impressive speeds and though the songs were somewhat repetitive, the entire show felt like one big party. I’ve never seen an audience with such a wide age range that were all equally excited to be there and sing along. The show included tossing shirts across the river to the audience with incredible aim and taking pictures with the crowd. I’d imagine that it’d be difficult as a musician to really get an audience excited at a venue with mostly seats, but at Carlton Zeus, the crowd was dancing anyway. Even the riverboat drivers passing by joined in, making it a memorable and fun show.
FEA was a band I stumbled across and would never have discovered without Maverick and I’m glad I did. They stood out to me from the other bands I saw with their unique style. Their sound is more aggressive than a lot of the other artists, especially from the vocals, but with the prominent drums and guitar, they all get equal focus and work well together. Their songs are fast, intense, and also cover a wider range of topics than any other band I saw. The lyrics, especially to songs like “Blame Yourself” were interesting and grabbed my attention. Especially live, FEA was a great experience.