In Which We Look Forward To The Sixth Annual Homegrown Fest By Looking Back At Its First Five Years.

In its first five years, the Homegrown Music and Arts Festival has established itself as Dallas' unofficial kickoff to the summer.

With its combination of hosting some of the state's biggest artists alongside some of our favorite local talent and its location on Main Street Garden Park's beautiful patch of green and surrounded by the towering Downtown architecture, it's one of the best live music experiences Dallas hosts all year.

Due to weather concerns, though, this year's Homegrown Fest has been moved to the roof-covered safety of The Bomb Factory, meaning things are going to be at least a bit different this year. Aside from being indoors, the venue boasts a single stage as opposed to the fest's usual two.

“It's going to run a lot more like a standard concert show,” says festival organizer Josh Florence. “There will be a little bit of a downtime between bands. That being said, we have everything backlined, so the bands are pretty much going to be able to jump up there and get going. There's not going to be a huge amount of downtime.”

According to Florence, the goal is to make the most from the less-than-ideal situation by keeping things as close to the status quo as possible, starting with the fact that every band booked will still be playing.

“We're able to go later at Bomb Factory because there's not the noise curfew that there is in the park,” Florence says. “That actually helps out quite a bit. We're not going to push it too far, [Spoon] is going to be hitting the stage at 10:30 as opposed to getting off the stage at 10:30. That buys us some time to stretch things out. We're still going to have every band play, but the first bands are going to get their set times cut by a hair — five minutes or so.”

Accommodations have been made elsewhere, too, to retain as much of the familiar Homegrown vibe as possible. Though they'll be have slightly smaller booths, most of the festival's planned vendors will still be present along the perimeter and lobby of the venue. People that have previously purchased VIP tickets will also be given exclusive access to The Bomb Factory's upstairs balconies, and food trucks will still be on site, parked out back near the venue's smoking patio.

“The overall philosophy here — this is what I've been telling the guys and girls on the team — is we're making the best of a not-ideal situation,” Florence says. “We're trying to maintain safety first and foremost — for our staff, the bands and the festival-goers. And also to not have to watch a show soaking wet with mud up to your ankles and worrying about tornadoes and lightning. As far as Plan B's go, I personally think The Bomb Factory is way better than a [traditional] Plan B. It's a killer, brand new, beautiful room. We're excited they were available and that we were able to move everything over there. And there's still going to be some bells and whistles going on; it's definitely going to be more than just your average concert.”

He's right: There's plenty of reason to believe this year's indoor Homegrown Fest will be plenty more than just an average concert — in some ways because it has been from the fest's start. In advance of this weekend's sixth annual Homegrown Music and Arts Festival, we decided to take a look back and see how we've gotten from Point A to Point Bomb Factory.

Year: 2010.
Venue: Main Street Garden Park.
Lineup: Jonathan Tyler & the Northern Lights, This Will Destroy You, Telegraph Canyon, Air Review, RTB2, Ishi, Dem SouthernFolkz, The O's, Somebody's Darling, Fox & The Bird, They Were Stars, Grant Jones &The Pistol Grip Lassos, Zounds Sounds.
Critic's Take: “As for the field's set-up? This much isn't even up for debate, really: The stages set up at either end of the park may not have been huge, but they sure served to fulfill every one of the fest's needs. Better yet, when coupled with the Red Bull-sponsored bar in the middle of the field, the live art tent off to one side and the line of covered booths on the other, the whole park had a very professional look to it. Did it look like a mini-ACL? A little bit, yes. Add in the fact that, aside from the weather, there were no real complaints to be had, and that sure bodes well for the festival's future.” — Pete Freedman, DC9 at Night.

Year: 2011.
Venue: Main Street Garden Park.
Lineup: Neon Indian, School of Seven Bells, Astronautalis, This Will Destroy You, Slobberbone, Ishi, Analog Rebellion, galleryCat, The Burning Hotels, The O's, Seryn, Grant Jones & the Pistol Grip Lassos, Larry g(EE).
Critic's Take: “Maybe it's just because this year's offering didn't come on as sweltering an afternoon as last year's inaugural affair did — and, in turn, instead of staring down at my sweat-soaked shirt, I was glancing around at the visual splendor of downtown Dallas — but, man, Saturday's second annual Homegrown Music and Art Festival was a pretty gosh-darn awesome good time… For once, Downtown Dallas looked and felt rather appealing. And, in Main Street Garden Park itself, it actually felt fairly crowded.” — Pete Freedman, DC9 at Night.


Year: 2012.
Venue: Main Street Garden Park.
Lineup: Ben Kweller, Black Joe Lewis, Ume, Octopus Project and Girl in a Coma, Hayes Carl, Centro-matic and Eisley, The Mohicans, Mystery Skulls, Robert Ellis, Bright Light Social Hour, Low Dark Hills, The Bird Dogs, The Madisons.
Critic's Take: “This year's Homegrown Music and Art Festival at Main Street Garden Park was supposed to feel a little different. This was, after all, the year the event's organizers, Josh Florence and John Solis of City Tavern and Dada, went beyond the borders of North Texas to find the talent for their fest and changed up their own set rules to finally allow bands from all across Texas to grace their stages. But even though about half of the bands on the bill were indeed from elsewhere — Tyler, Austin, Houston, San Antonio and so on — it still felt like a wholly Dallas-centric event… Three years into the festival's run now, the event has capably carved out its identity — no small part of which comes with the thrill seeing a throng of the region's top performers playing amid the city's tallest towers. There's just something undeniably exciting about it — a feeling that's only amplified once the sun goes down, once the heat starts to dissipate and once the lights of downtown's many buildings click on to provide the park with a wash of ambient light.” — Pete Freedman, Central Track.



Year: 2013.
Venue: Main Street Garden Park.
Lineup: Divine Fits, The Polyphonic Spree, The Relatives, Quiet Company, Band of Heathens, A.Dd+, The O's, Larry g(EE), The Burning Hotels, Zhora, Madison King, J. Charles & The Trainrobbers, Somebody''s Darling, The Tontons, Datahowler (with Super Yoga Palace).
Critic's Take: “OK, everyone. Cut me some slack in advance here and allow me to say the following blunt, likely sweepingly generalized statement: The Homegrown Music and Art Festival? It's the single best day of the year in Dallas. Ahem. Kind of a big statement, I know. But, yeah, it's out there now. I said it. Let it marinate some. And while it does so, consider this, which I also suggest to be an undeniable truth: When the weather's right, when the cost is on-point and when the music is good — all of which are true of this past Saturday's fourth annual Homegrown offering — there's just something incredibly euphoric about this fest. Is this due to fact that this festival has become a signal that it's officially summertime in Dallas? Is it because, four years in, organizers Josh Florence and John Solis finally have a solid grasp on the kinds of bands they really need to book for this festival and that they acted accordingly with their Divine Fits-headlining, Polyphonic Spree- and Relatives-starring and up-and-coming Texas band-supporting lineup this year? Is it because there's no arguing with the cost, because attending this year's deal only ran attendees $25 at the door (or $17 in advance), whereas a recent holiday performance from the Polyphonic Spree alone cost that show's attendees $35? Yes, all of the above.” — Pete Freedman, Central Track.


Year: 2014.
Venue: Main Street Garden Park.
Lineup: Toadies, Trail of Dead, Seryn, The Black & White Years, Wild Moccasins, The Suffers, Goodnight Ned, The Phuss, Sarah Jaffe, Mystery Skulls, Son of Stan, The Baptist Generals, Calhoun, Sam Lao.
Critic's Take: “This festival is a city treasure. It really, really is. And this year, on a day blessed with glorious weather, Homegrown rather easily proved itself as such once more. All day long, even. The 12-hour day got its start early and calmly as the team from Super Yoga Palace centered some chakras in an outdoor yoga session shortly after 11 a.m. From there, the 14-act-deep, all-Texas bill — 10 of which were North Texas-specific — turned the energy up significantly on the day. Among the daytime highlights? Yet another stellar and audience-earning showing from Dallas rapper Sam Lao, the debut Dallas performance from Houston soul outfit The Suffers, a dual-drumming showcase from Fort Worth retro-pop act Son of Stan, an appropriately intricate showing from Denton's ever-meticulous folk-rock outfit Seryn and a pulsating electronic pop dance party from the Dallas-bred and currently Los Angeles-based Mystery Skulls. Later, area folk-pop darling Sarah Jaffe turned the grounds into a singalong as performed some of her earlier songs and teased about a new record coming out this summer. Austin rock four-piece …And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead then tested the limits of the park's system, performing with surprising volume as it revisited Source Tags & Codes from front to back, in honor of that revered early '00s classic's 10th anniversary. Even so, it was the Toadies, honoring the 20th anniversary of its own Rubberneck LP, who were clearly the big draw at this event — the most highly attended Homegrown Fest to date, both by eye-test standards and actual organizer-admitted attendance estimates, which placed day-long numbers north of 4,000 guests. This band was the reason why the crowd got so crowded once the sun went down.” — Pete Freedman, Central Track.

Year: 2015.
Venue: The Bomb Factory.
Lineup: Spoon, Old 97's, Shakey Graves, Bobby Patterson, Black Pistol Fire, The Rocketboys, Sealion, Oil Boom, The Orbans, -topic, Wrestlers, Sphynx.
Our Thoughts Heading Into This Year: From the start, Homegrown has done a great job tapping talent that's both widely appealing and pretty damn good. That said, our favorite thing about Homegrown is its beautiful Downtown setting — and, when the weather is cooperative, live music experiences in Dallas don't get much more delightful than HG. It'll be interesting to see how this year's indoor incarnation holds up to Homegrown's past. We'll report back on that this coming Monday, we suppose.

The sixth annual Homegrown Music and Arts Festival is Saturday, May 9 at The Bomb Factory. Tickets are currently on sale here.

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