Few places would dare host a music festival in 100+ degree weather, but Texans are a rugged and admirable bunch, so with sweltering heat, sweaty brows and cold beers, day two of the 4th annual Dia De Los Toadies kicked into gear on the 2nd stage, dubbed the “Biergarten stage.” Austinites boy+kite, a band with a great blend of post-rock experimentation and indie rock vocal hooks started the day wonderfully and were a welcoming sound. From there Dallas-Fort Worth alt country favorites Whiskey Folk Ramblers played a spirited set on the main stage and the jaunty Austin-based Tornadho kept things moving on the 2nd stage with a rousing set of electronic-infused rock.
Day 1 openers The Quiet Company played another great set of their infectious Death Cab For Cutie-inspired indie rock on the main stage. This is definitely a band to keep your eye on, they promise great things. The down tempo Trashy Charmer helped alleviate our minds from the intensity of the heat in the biergarten as a brief respite before Austin’s incendiary Ume matched the intensity of the weather with a set of discordant yet incredibly pleasing songs layered with female vocals reminiscent of a more sensual Veruca Salt. This is another “it” band to watch out for—definitely worth checking out.
Faceless Werewolves completely changed up the mood of the day with fun and cutesy up tempo indie pop that had everyone bopping along. A unique trio configuration who all sing, sometimes all together, their fun and breezy set was a welcome detour on the 2nd stage. To keep things interesting, Austin’s favorite psychedelic sons The Black Angels orchestrated a trip into the fuzzed-out guitar nether regions of our minds with an impossible mixture of haunting drone and pelvis-grinding groove. The set was a great mixture of songs from their amazing debut Passover and latest opus, Phosphene Dream, pleasing old fans and definitely gaining new ones with this level of mind-altering performance.
The line-up timings were planned expertly; it seemed for each measure of intensity and heaviness it was countered with something satisfyingly different on the opposite stage. To help The Black Angels-induced buzzing in our heads subside, The Orbans eased us with rock that was rhythmically-infused with the traditions of Johnny Cash-style country. The music was great but what probably etched their performance into the memory of many was the way they teased the last verse of Toadies classic “Tyler” in their morose “I’m A Liar.” Not many bands have the guts to cover the headlining band, but they pulled it off terrifically.
Just as the sun was waning, Austin’s own The Sword took the stage and brought their brand of Sabbath-inspired thunder and doom upon a highly receptive crowd. Metal signs flashed everywhere, guitars wailed and wizards and space pirates got their lyrical due. If you enjoy classic metal and think there are no bands carrying the torch, then you are mistaken and missing out…badly. As darkness settled over the Biergarten stage, The Couch continued the rock onslaught in great way, delivering some solid good ole fashioned rock and roll. They encouraged people to pick up their latest EP, New Roman Buffalo for *free* at the merch stand, which was very nice. Fear not, you too can enjoy their music for next-to-nothing! The new EP is available on Band Camp with a pay what you want option and their other EP is completely free. For such a good price, do yourself a favor: head over and check them out.
Finally, the reason for the season, the moment everyone had been waiting for had come—the Toadies hit the stage and blasted everyone with one fist-pumping sing-along anthem after another. Unlike last night’s set that included some of the more obscure tracks, this set was a pitch straight down the middle, choosing songs almost exclusively from their 4 studio albums and more often than not the more radio-centric songs. All of this is understandable however, since most concert-goers had been there all day roasting in the heat and needed no warming up; they wanted to get right to the point. This was apparent in the reaction to the No Deliverance track “Hell In High Water,” a highlight from the album for sure, but never a single and more of a groove-based mid-tempo number than catchy sing-along. Except those up close the crowd seemed to be indifferent to the track, but when a more familiar song came roaring out next they immediately got back into the spirit.
Toadies were giving it their all throughout each song, almost to the point of perfectionism. This was at least partly due to the fact that the whole thing was being recorded, which wasn’t made painfully apparent until a minute into their biggest hit, “Possum Kingdom,” something and happened and they stopped.
“Sorry about that everybody, something went funny in my monitor and I couldn’t hear anything. We’re recording and want to get it right. We’ll come back to that one. Promise,” lead singer Todd Lewis said.
It was one of the few times he spoke, except for a couple of thank yous to the crowd and the supporting bands. But when you’re rock is this solid, it’s probably better to let the music do the talking anyway. The rest of the set was just as blistering as before and they did eventually come back to “Possum Kingdom” before closing the night with fan favorite “Tyler.” Couples swayed and lighters flared as the whole crowd sang along to the final song of the evening, leaving everyone a satisfied participant in a truly unique Texas event.
“See you back here next year for number five!” said Todd as the band waved their final goodbye, closing out one of the best Dia De Los Toadies festivals yet.
Written by Jarad Matula