Well, it was a pretty good time. Until it wasn’t.
The annual Untapped Fort Worth music and beer festival at Panther Island Pavilion almost made it to the end Saturday night. Though the threat of severe storms long had been hanging over the event, which had been scheduled to run from 2:30 p.m. to 10:15 p.m., all was going well until around 9 p.m. That was when officials pulled the plug in the middle of the set from Big Data, the dance-rock project from Brooklyn producer Alan Wilkis, and told everyone to vacate the premises, wait in their cars and to stay tuned for social-media updates.
Of course, this caused general grumbling among attendees as it hadn’t started raining and things didn’t seem that bad. (Though occasional flashes of lightning and word of destruction, including one death, in Cisco from a tornado definitely gives credence to a better-safe-than-sorry approach.) And the social-media updates were rather slow in coming so it appeared most headed out.
But that meant no headlining set from hip-hop pioneers De La Soul though the group’s DJ, Maseo, as those who kept their ear to Untapped’s social-media presence learned, did throw a free set at The Flying Saucer for the disappointed.
It was a downcast end to what had been a generally upbeat day. Denton singer-songwriter Doug Burr kicked things off with a strong set reflecting the beefed-up sound of his new Pale White Dove album. There was a hint of Tom Petty in some of his songs and -- for the small crowd of early arrivals who weren’t in line for beer -- it was an engaging welcome.
Fort Worth’s Telegraph Canyon, fronted by Chris Johnson, concentrated on new material during his band’s set, omitting such favorites as Safe on the Outside and Shake Your Fist. The new songs seemed both moodier and funkier, an intriguing turn in the group’s musical evolution.
Little Rock’s Knox Hamilton specializes in a breezy brand of a hooky pop that marries indie with the commercial instincts of Maroon 5. Though the group doesn’t have much stage presence (singer Boots Copeland admitted he was bad at between-song banter), its infectious blasts of three-minute songs (like Work It Out) played well.
Stage presence was no problem for Zach Williams, the lead singer for New York’s The Lone Bellow, the act that turned in the day’s most impressive set. Blessed with an earthy, strong voice that was persuasive on its own and in three-part harmony with guitarist Brian Elmquist and mandolin player Kanene Pipkin, Williams was magnetic. At one point, he pointed to the dark sky and yelled, “We’re not afraid of you!” Though it ultimately didn’t keep the storm away, the sentiment was appreciated by the audience. It also helps that he has a strong set of songs -- like the dramatic Then Came the Morning -- that blend rock, folk and country influences.
Austin indie metal band The Sword had the crowd headbanging and even spawned the day’s only human tornado, otherwise known as a mosh pit.
But it was Los Angeles’ Ariel Pink who turned in the most divisive set. His often chaotic, off-kilter take on pop, a male drummer dressed in a skimpy bikini, and his mouthiness (jokingly calling us out as “landlocked knuckleheads”) didn’t go over well with some. (“If y’all have this [expletive] here next year, I’m not coming!” someone complained about Ariel Pink on an Untapped Facebook page.)
But when Pink puts his mind to it, he can come up with some charming pop confections like Put Your Number in My Phone and the exquisite Dayzed Inn Daydreams, which came near the end of his set Saturday. More of this and he might win over the haters though it seems like Ariel enjoys riling up those who don’t like him. (And it was cool that there was a brief glow of sunshine around this time, too.)
Big Data may have begun as a studio project for Wilkis but he seems to approach a live show with a sense of performance. He came with a band and was joined by a co-vocalist, Liz Ryan. Too bad no one at Untapped got to see what they could do as the show was stopped fairly early in their set.
There’s always next year.
Cary Darling, 817-390-7571