There are all kinds of people at outdoor music festivals, but most fall into one of two categories: people who want to see as many bands as they can and people who simply enjoy partying under the sun with live music in the background.
That in mind, we felt some uncertainty going into the sixth edition of Homegrown Music and Arts Festival on Saturday. Due to the threat of extreme weather, organizers had made the preemptive call to move Homegrown indoors from Main Street Garden Park to Deep Ellum's recently reopened Bomb Factory.
Seemed like a solid backup location: The Bomb Factory is large enough to hold more than 4,000 folks. And we knew that the music lovers — those excited about Spoon, Old 97's, Shakey Graves and more — would come no matter where the fest landed. But would the fun-in-the-sun crowd still turn up to hang out in a dark club all day?
The answer was yes during the four-plus hours we spent at Homegrown on Saturday. The Bomb Factory? Bustling. A few thousand revelers roamed and mingled between sets, but always crowded around the huge stage when there was live music to be enjoyed. In fact, the turnout for headlining acts seemed comparable to those we've seen at past Homegrown editions in Main Street Garden Park. The only difference Saturday was the lack of sunlight.
But again, the Bomb Factory did its best to accommodate the kind of experience that Homegrown vets have come to expect.
Plenty of respites from the main hall's vampire vibes existed, including an outdoor smoking patio with food trucks lined up for the hungry. Two areas for shoppers offered screen-printing on shirts, original artwork, neon-lit sunglasses and more. Multiple bars kept healthy lines throughout our time there, and scads of VIPs watched everything unfold from the wrap around balcony above.
The new Bomb Factory is a strikingly comfortable venue compared to other local joints that share its capacity. And Saturday's later acts seemed to make the most of the space. While there was a slight delay in the original schedule because of the switch from a two-stage setup to one, the rock- and soul-packed lineup unfurled somewhat seamlessly.
Black Pistol Fire, a blistering blues-rock twosome that splits its time between Canada and Austin, lit a flame under the late afternoon crowd with its set. We expect to see them headlining festivals in the next few years. But even with on-stage acrobatics and extended jams, not even they could rival the force that was 71-year-old Dallas soul legend Bobby Patterson, who played early evening with his 9-piece band. Patterson offered up a mix of classic blues and soul, the common denominator being his still-top-notch voice. It cut through everything else.
"I'm one of a kind, I'll shock yo' mind!" he shouted before doing his old gems "I'm In Love With You" and "She Don't Have To See You (to See Through You)." Patterson didn't hog the spotlight, though — his band had plenty of chances to get noodly. It was still a festival, after all.
Next came Austin's highly versatile folk-rock act Shakey Graves. Jovial frontman Alejandro Rose-Garcia alternated between performing solo with his juiced-up acoustic, and together with a guitarist/bassist and drummer. He also invited fellow Austin singer Carson McHone on stage to sing the crowd favorite, "Dearly Departed."
We hated that there was so much audience chatter during Shakey's performance, because it was something to behold musically. Whether kicking out a simple, four-on-the-floor folk rock tune or jamming on an electric-guitar freak-out, Garcia kept us guessing, and that's always a good thing.
Our final moments at Homegrown's indoor experiment on Saturday were spent in awe of Dallas Old 97's, led by a highly energetic Rhett Miller. Miller and company realized they needed to keep the energy up to counteract indoor-fest fatigue, so they started fast and loud with "Doreen" and "Dance With Me." It seemed to be just what the crowd needed to enter a final stretch that would close with a headlining set from Austin's Spoon.
So the Bomb-Grown-Fest-Factory thing worked out fine this year, even if the weather outside never became too threatening. At least we know going into future editions that there's always a decent backup plan. Long live Homegrown.