Scenes From The Seventh Annual Dia De Los Toadies Festival at Panther Island Pavilion.
Let's get one thing straight: Dallas, Fort Worth and the surrounding areas have long debated which bands belong to which city, but, make no mistake, the Toadies are — not to mention always have been and forever will be — a Fort Worth product.
Just three weeks removed from the 20th anniversary of the release date for its seminal Rubberneck LP, the Toadies returned to Fort Worth's Panther Island Pavilion this past Saturday to present the seventh incarnation of its Dia De Los Toadies Festival and to conclude its tour celebrating the release (and subsequent re-release) of the album.
Sure, the band already brought the 20th anniversary tour through the region before a few times now — its headlining performance at Dallas' Homegrown Festival in May is perhaps the most prominent example — but this latest show truly felt like a homecoming, and a quite fitting end to the tour, too.
On Saturday night, the band had the crowd eating out of its hands for the entirety of its two-hour set. And as final notes of “Rattlers Revival” from 2012's Play.Rock.Music. LP were ringing throughout the festival grounds and the house lights went up, fans were still begging for more.
Thing is, earlier in the day, these crowds had already received plenty. As with previous Dia fests, the hosts hand-picked each the bands on the bill — and, this year, the lineup was kept a strictly Texas-based affair as fellow Fort Worth bands Quaker City Night Hawks, Blank-Men and The Longshots joined Dallas' Old 97's, Somebody's Darling, Pleasant Grove and Austin's Ume and Residual Kid on the show roster.
Aided by unseasonably cool temperatures, Panther Island Pavilion — which has caught a good deal of grief lately for its lack of shaded areas during its hotter temperature-set affairs — this time provided a near-perfect setting for the festival. There was no crying about the heat this time around — and no absences due to the lack of shade, either. Instead, attendees could be overheard all day long remarking about how nice a setting the venue was — and how important the event has become for the City of Fort Worth.
In this setting just north of downtown, with the Fort Worth skyline providing a gorgeous visual backdrop for the main stage's performers, this fest, thanks in part to its exclusive booking of Texas acts, couldn't help but feel somewhat like a sibling to the aforementioned Homegrown Festival that annually goes down about 30 miles to the east each year. But that's not a bad thing — not in the least.
The only complaint one could truly muster about Dia is that its lineups aren't exactly diverse, as each year's offerings seems to be completely made up of rock 'n' roll bands. But, then again, this is after all a Toadies-helmed deal. So maybe that's not a surprise.
Neither is the fact that the hour-long offering from the Old 97's earlier in the night also served as one of the fest's big highlights. Much like the Toadies' set, the set from the 97's proved to be a singalong-heavy affair, as the band rattled off such favorites as “Timebomb,” “Barrier Reef” and “Stoned” to a crowd that was all too pleased to hear them. Quaker City Night Hawks also performed a well-received set that was littered with new and unreleased songs, some of which were performed live for the very first time here.
Other highlights: Austin's teen trio Residual Kid covering Sonic Youth between tracks from its recent recording session with Dinosaur Jr.'s J. Mascis; Ume blowing ear drums to pieces during its twilight time slot; Somebody's Darling proving yet again that it's a band meant for playing on big festival stages; and a reunion of sorts for Dallas' Pleasant Grove. Meanwhile, early afternoon sets by Fort Worth's synth-punks Blank Men and the PBR- and Jameson-fueled rock from The Longshots kicked the fest into full gear from the get go.
No, it wasn't exactly a diverse offering, but it was unequivocally a strong one — and one that this audience felt more than a little pride in recognizing as its own.
“This is Fort Worth!” a man pushing 60 at one point shouted loudly enough to be heard even over his long white ponytail and home-made, tie-dyed “Toadies Rock!” tank top. He had opinions on the day, and he wanted everyone within earshot to hear them.
“The Toadies are Texas!” the man continued. “The Toadies are Fort Worth! This is my favorite day of the year!”
Tough to argue with him, really.
All photos by Karlo X. Ramos.