It was cloudy in the Renaissance, right? Gray skies actually seemed to enhance the medieval mood of the first Sound on Sound Fest at Sherwood Forest on Friday afternoon, as early-arrivers didn’t let a few stray raindrops dampen their spirits.
Local bands Boyfrndz and Calliope Musicals got the first turns on the main Dragon’s Lair stage, the first sight festgoers see when they enter from the shuttle stop or parking lot in a grass-and-dirt field just east of McDade (about an hour outside Austin). Entering the formal Renaissance fair area, patrons found three more stages scattered amid the trees, with more music as well as podcasts, comedy and other oddball entertainment.
The smallish Keep stage, nestled next to an imposing castle structure, was popular early on. After a fest-opening short but stellar set by This Is Spinal Tap (featuring “Hellhole,” “Big Bottom” and more), Pinata Protest joyously mixed punk and conjunto, getting the growing crowd hyped up for the blazing attack of femme rockers War on Women.
Nearby, concessions were opening up at the Fat Friar, with turkey legs, baked spuds and more. Austin band Magna Carda brought hip-hop to the nearby Forest stage, while the more theatrical Globe stage geared up for frivolities such as the One Night Stand Dating Game.
Back out in the big field, boy-girl indie duo Diet Cig, who turned heads at SXSW earlier this year, were kicking up a storm on the Dragon’s Lair stage. By midafternoon, many more festgoers were arriving via shuttles, often two busloads at a time, with others coming via car in the open-field parking lot and a backwoods camping area.
The shuttle trip was quick early on, with buses making it out to the grounds in a little under an hour. By 5 p.m., though, the trip was closer to an hour and a half; still, those boarding the buses at the Mohawk in the peak of rush hour seemed to be in good spirits, and lines were relatively modest and orderly.
With a night ahead featuring Phantogram, Run the Jewels, the Descendents and more, SOS Fest awaited dozens more bands on Saturday, including the likes of Purity Ring and Beach House, plus a Sunday closing lineup that features locals Explosions in the Sky and Australia’s Courtney Barnett.