Dispatch: Maverick Music Festival 2014

Photo credit: Jaime Monzon

It's an exciting time for Maverick Music Festival. In its second year, the independent music bash at La Villita grew from one day to two, from twelve acts to over 40, and saw rampant growth in attendees from SA and beyond. With La Villita as its homebase, Maverick offers a unique festival atmosphere, somewhere between the urban environment of SXSW and the grounds-based campuses of most national fests.

Perhaps most importantly, Maverick is at an exciting stage in its growth cycle. Like Austin's Fun Fun Fun Fest a few years ago, Maverick has emerged from a small scale, one day fiesta to a big ticket event, while holding on to the affordable prices and the ease of movement between stages that gets lost in a festival's matured period.

We caught some extraordinary and way-out acts at our weekend stint at La Villita. The notables include...

Roky Erickson

Photo Credit: Jaime Monzon

The weird scientist responsible for psychedelic music's birth, Roky Erickson played an appropriately strange set at La Villita in the twilight of Friday evening. Though his howl-at-the-moon voice rings true to his days leading the Thirteenth Floor Elevators, Roky seemed unsure onstage, looking to his bandmates for cues and playing his guitar sparingly. Still, it's good to see Roky, who's led an eponymously rocky life, doing what he loves and giving back to his legions of fans craving his signature psych-blues sound.

Washed Out

Photo credit: Jaime Monzon

Oddly enough, Washed Out has not only eclipsed  the genre of chillwave, it's become a touchstone act for the millenial generation in the way that Steely Dan is a zeitgeist artist for dads of millenials. And much like Steely Dan, Washed Out totally rules, though with serious potential to sound dated in twenty years. With Phil Collins-meets-hip-hop drum fills and synth textures like rolling surf, Ernest Greene's Washed Out took Maverick on a weedsmoke journey through chillwave and beyond.

The Gories

Condensing the no-frills, no-fucks-given attitude of garage rock to a sapid concentrate, Detroit's Gories burned through a slew of two chord, two minute jams in the humid heat of Saturday afternoon. No bass, no cymbals, two guitars, and a gush of emotion and attitude, the trio pummeled the audience with their simple, tasteful sound, somewhere between the Motor City fire of the Stooges and the Motown melodies of their hometown. From the Rich Hands to Jay Reatard, Burger to Goner Records, a lot of sweaty dude/ettes of the mid-aught garage revival owe their shtick to the Gories.



YACHT is currently challenging St. Vincent for most direct Talking Heads influence. Recording and touring with David Byrne has put St. Vincent in the lead, but the theatricality and joyous anarchist tendencies of dance duo YACHT recalls the best aspects of the seminal 1980s new wave band. That much was apparent during YACHT's good-natured, mid-afternoon set as Claire Evans infused her songs with kooky interpretive dance moves and Jona Bechtolt threw in his own electrifying performance. - Callie Enlow.




Photo credit: Jaime Monzon

Just across the grounds of La Villita, a different blues-based trio tore it up at the Arneson River Theatre. Crown, one of SA's most promising acts, poured out their hearts through their instruments, though it was hard to see through all that hair. Composed of Oscar Webber (Mexico), Carlos Zubillaga (Venezuala) and Josh Borchardt (USA), the international crew claims Southern blues-rock as their musical home.

Run the Jewels

Photo credit: Jaime Monzon

Whatever your definition of "real hip-hop" is, Run the Jewels better be in there. After El-P produced Killer Mike's R.A.P. Music in 2012, an album to make producers envious for years to come, the pair went to bat again in 2013 with Run the Jewels, a self-titled homerun of a record.


Not only are Run the Jewels one of the best hip-hop collabs in recent years, they're by far the most fun. Killer Mike and El-P obviously have a blast onstage, hi-fiving, dancing triumphantly and bringing a sense of humor and lightheartedness desperately needed in contemporary rap. Over engaging beats and bass strong enough to act as an EKG, Rap's Best Friends were my personal Maverick highlight.


Photo credit: Jaime Monzon

"It's not very pretty, that's why we're called FEA," the band explained to the Arneson River Stage on Saturday night, their first show. The new project of Girl in a Coma's Phanie Diaz and Jenn Alva, FEA brought a high-octane, Riot grrrl approach to Maverick. Though the river created an odd displacement between band and audience - a physical connection integral to standard punk shows - the Arneson River Theater was a great spot to debut, for the intended Maverick and accidental tourist exposure. Making NCAA-goers uncomfortable and Kathleen Hanna proud, look out for FEA in 2014.


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