Sound on Sound Fest: Day Three proves worth the wait

Katie Walsh and Elizabeth Hlavinka

Rain or shine, the show must go on.

As a downpour flooded the festival grounds early Sunday afternoon, hundreds of fans evacuated to cars and shuttles thinking the three-day festival had come to a premature close. Attendees stalked the festival’s social media accounts in search of updates, but those who had taken the shuttle were herded toward the exit and forced to take it home. Several hours later, the gates reopened and festivalgoers who stuck out the storm returned, clad in rain boots and ponchos, ready for take two.

Baio’s set was one of the first performances after the festival reopened, and although hundreds of attendees had gone home, Baio still drew a significant crowd.

Chris Baio’s dance moves were the star of his performance. When the upbeat guitar intro for “Sister of Pearl” flooded the stage near the end of his set, Baio let his hips swing from side to side in time with the music. The song itself was not as good as the recorded version, with Baio’s vocals sounding forced and not full enough to fill the stage. But audience members didn’t seem to mind as they mimicked his dance moves, clapping along to the final song “The Names.”

With an album release just two days before their performance, STRFKR’s sound was so powerful it blasted through the atmosphere. Five astronauts danced in the background of the hazy, dimly lit stage as the group played their signature indietronica songs, from “German Love,” to crowd favorite “Rawnald Gregory Erickson the Second.”

Courtney Barnett
Courtney Barnett might not reveal much emotion in her spoken word recordings, but during her live performances, her vocals packed a punch. Her grungy stage presence was the closest old-school rock and roll performance at the festival. Clad in all black with heavy bangs covering her face, Barnett wailed on her guitar for a solid 40-minute set. She radiated with subtle feminism, conquering a genre that has long been dominated by men.

While songs like “Pedestrian at Best” had the crowd head banging and singing along, “Two Packs a Day” and “Depreston” brought out the crowd’s sways and falsettos. They also gave Barnett a rare chance to showcase her chops. When she left the stage, the crowd’s hands went up, reaching toward her and begging for an encore. It was clear many festivalgoers who stayed on the grounds had been waiting for her to grace them with her smooth, British wit, and when she left the stage, they weren’t ready to say goodbye.

Explosions In The Sky
When they took to the stage, Explosions in the Sky simply introduced themselves, thanked the crowd for waiting out the rain and mentioned their Austin roots. What followed was a two-hour, no-break epoch of sound. The first note was paralyzing; their three-guitar setup added layer upon layer to an already rich sound, mesmerizing the audience from the get-go. The crowd absorbed the heavy bass lines, vibing with Michael James and Munaf Rayani as they thrashed their guitar on stage.

Unlike most performances, only a few people took photos on their cell phones. Instead, most of the crowd had their eyes closed, not even letting the sparse visuals on stage interfere with their listening experience. Explosions records are often used as background music, but during their live performance, their sound was front and center, overwhelming the crowd from every angle. The band calmed any remaining tension stored up from the hectic rainy day; those who stayed found their performance worth the wait.