Last weekend, I joined a really good group of friends for a roadtrip to the third annual UtopiaFest, a small music and camping festival located in the hill country a ways west of San Antonio. Utopia featured a slew of both national and regional acts on their two stages over the course of Friday night and all day Saturday which culminated into a dance party of grand proportions. We enjoyed everything about the festival, especially the ease of travel from the campgrounds to the stages, intimacy of each show, completely relaxed vibe and the ability to bring as much booze around with you anywhere you wanted. The line-up was pretty freaking stellar as well.
Blitzen Trapper has produced some of the best indie roots-rock around since 2003, gaining many fans with the release of 2008′s excellent Furr. Other BoT members have seen them live on multiple occasions, and the praise I’ve heard for their live show has me more excited about seeing them than any other band that I’m new to on the UtopiaFest lineup. Adding to the excitement is the quality of their new album, American Goldwing, which is an enjoyable classic-rock throwback with a ton of interesting flourishes. Catch them tonight on the Arrowhead stage at 10:30.
Of all the performers playing this years festival, I have seen headliner Keller Williams more times than any of the other bands combined. I spent the early-to-mid 2000′s traveling around trying to catch Keller wherever I could. Hell, in 2005 I even traveled to Amsterdam to see Keller for three nights in a row at the very first Jam In The Dam festival. He’s been apart of numerous side project that all usually bear his name, and feature his songs, but his best performances are the ones that find him alone on the stage with his arsenal of instruments. He’s an acoustic guitar virtuoso, that combines live looping and the use of other toys and instruments to build each of his songs from scratch every time he performs them. Just like a snowflake, a live Keller Williams song is never the exact same. Employing a host of covers to his repertoire, Keller will always surprise you with a reggae take on a Grateful Dead song, or a stripped down acoustic version of an Amy Winehouse song. You never really know with him. That’s why he has been and always will be one of my absolute favorites.
Most of the bands playing this years festival are in the folk/americana/bluegrass/indie realm, but the festival promoters knew they’d have to bring some energy to the late night crowd to ensure a proper dance party. Well, they did a great job in their choice of bands to incite said party. Austin-based Latin funk group Grupo Fantasma will be closing the Utopia main stage on Friday, with their endless assortment of danceable tunes. I’ve caught the group a few times over the years, and have never left with out a smile on my face and my body soaked in sweat. Can’t wait for this show tomorrow!
Our love for this band is well-documented in the annals of BoT – so if regular readers aren’t already fans of all things Dawes, it’s not due to lack of exposure. New readers, however, might be unfamiliar with the Dawes brand of perfectly-crafted folk rock. I’m almost jealous of someone who hasn’t been exposed to it yet, because the first time Taylor Goldsmith’s lyrics hit you, they hit you in an unforgettably special way. If your first time happens to be this Friday night just as the night air starts to cool in Utopia, TX, consider yourself privileged.
Our primary goals are to spread the word about artists that we love and to encourage more people to experience the joys of live music events. We also want to promote musical exploration - don't just listen to what the blogosphere tells you to listen to, get out there and discover new artists yourself! There's a wealth of talent out there waiting for you to lend them an ear.