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17 Oct 12 Indie Rockers Bring Joy to Deep Ellum

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By Luke Hoffman The weekend of Sept. 5 brought two very much needed elements to DFW: Fall weather and an indie rock festival. As the temperature dropped Friday evening, local music lovers gathered in the parking lot behind Trees for Spune Pro

duction’s first annual Index Festival. For most Dallasites the prospect of a legitimate music festival in Deep Ellum seemed like a nostalgic dream of better times, but

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somehow Spune pulled it off. Showcasing the next big things in Indie rock (Index = indie + next), the line-up consisted of local and not-so-local artists including Portugal. The Man, Cold War Kids, GZA, Air Review, The Burning Hotels, Grimes, Quiet Company, Heartless Bastards, Washed Out, and more. I arrived Friday afternoon just as Heartless Bastards took the stage. Despite their offensive name, the sound that came out of the speakers was anything but. Hailing from the same Ohio music scene that gave us the Black Keys, the Bastards’ brand of indie garage rock kept the shivering crowd warm and dancing. Frontwoman Erika Wennerstrom led the group through a raucous set-list that included KXT favorites “Parted Ways” and “Only For You.” Next I headed inside Trees to watch Austin-based Quiet Company lay down some Texas sized jams. Decked out in matching beards and vests, the 5-piece group demonstrated incredible musicianship on different instruments including guitar, keyboard, xylophone, and trombone. The lead singer even played his guitar with a drumstick for a song, hitting the strings like a percussion instrument. The headliner for the night was Portugal. The Man whose jam-heavy set was full of rambunctious psychedelic energy. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing these guys before, but they were definitely in tip-top form this time around, almost never stopping in between songs. Their great mix of trippy fan-favorites and surprising cover choices such as “Helter Skelter” and “Ain’t No Sunshine” was the perfect way to close out day one. Saturday brought grey skies and even lower temperatures, but that didn’t stop the crowd size from almost doubling. Chris Johnson, lead singer of Dallas natives Telegraph Canyon summed up the unusually cool weather by stating, “The absence of sweat on my body while

playing a show is very odd for me. I feel like I should be working harder”. But boy, did these guys work hard. With an impressive array of instruments lining the stage including banjos, fiddles, accordions, mandolins, and guitars, the bluegrass-rockers tore through a toe-tappin’, knee-slappin’ set that turned the heads of hipsters and country boys alike. The smaller of the two outdoor stages seemed to have a surf-rock theme throughout the day, despite the cold. DIIV, Avi Buffalo, and Surfer Blood all played up-beat, beach-happy tunes that sounded strange coming from men wearing jackets and scarves. Back on the main stage, legendary rapper GZA of Wu-Tang fame played arguably one of the best shows of the weekend. The crowd seemed puzzled when he started his set by censoring his profanity-laden hits and talking about the weird vibes at festivals, but all was explained when he pulled a nine-year-old girl in the front row on stage. “This show is dedicated to her” he said. “In 15 years, she’ll tell all of her friends that GZA was her first concert. Just like Ol’ Dirty Bastard said, ‘Wu-tang is for the babies.’” He then proceeded to give the girl $200 for books and asked her to stay onstage and dance for a few songs, which she very shyly agreed to. The rest of the show was all about little Abigail; and every time she raised her fist, the entire crowd would mirror her, much to her delight. All-in-all, Spune Productions put on one of the greatest concerts in Deep Ellum in years. Everyone in the crowd left with smiles on their faces and the general consensus was that Index Festival was a great success. I can’t wait to see what this does for the Dallas music scene and how they’ll top it next year.

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