Electric hip-hop performances dominate Day One of inaugural Sound On Sound Music Festival

Katie Walsh and Elizabeth Hlavinka

Slowly but surely, attendees trickled into the Sherwood Forest grounds Friday afternoon for the inaugural Sound On Sound Festival.

The fest shares many similarities with downtown Austin’s Fun Fun Fun Fest, which went on hiatus in 2016. Punk and metal bands played back-to-back with hip-hop groups, while DJ and comedy sets entertained from the smaller, peripheral stages.

But the vibe at Sherwood Forest is far from downtown Austin’s. Tall trees line the festival grounds, home to the annual Renaissance Faire, and festivalgoers in full costume walk alongside attendees on stilts, jugglers and acroyoga performers.

Artists took the opportunity of a weekend in the woods to let loose — Calliope Musicals had vibrant costumed dancers on stage and Run The Jewels demanded their sound be turned all the way up. Music continued on the campgrounds until 3 a.m., and attendees left the fest in high spirits, ready to do it all over again Saturday.

Best: Despite a few stage hiccups— when their audio cut out and the DJ’s equipment table collapsed mid-set — Run the Jewels put on an electric performance. The band played several crowd favorites, including “Close Your Eyes (And Count to Fuck),” but also treated the audience to several tracks off their third album, which they promised will “piss people off” upon its release. One of the songs, “Lie, Cheat, Steal” came after a politically-charged announcement. El-P offered to throw a party after this year’s presidential election while a Donald Trump pinãta was tossed around the crowd. Run the Jewels’ set was more than a musical performance — it was the beginning of a movement.

The energy on a Death Grips album is almost tangible, and during their performance Friday, their music truly came alive. Within the first few songs, a mosh pit broke out in the front of the crowd. After 20 minutes, the crowd surfing began. The band established almost no rapport with the crowd, focusing solely on the music without giving the audience time to catch their breath. The set was abrasive and angry — just what Death Grips fans came for.

Worst: Phantogram’s set was reflective of their new album. You could feel the heartbreak. Sarah Barthel stole the show, delivering heartfelt vocals and an energetic stage performance. Barthel sent surges of emotion throughout the crowd, but still, Phantogram felt forced onto the big stage, destroying the intricacies of their layered sound by amping up the volume to get the crowd’s attention. Besides a few minutes of delay after an equipment issue on stage, nothing was wrong with their set. Still, with their new album, the band had the opportunity to bring something new to the performance and didn’t, instead relying on Barthel to captivate the headliner-sized crowd.

The Daily Texan will continue coverage for Sound on Sound Fest throughout the weekend.