Despite portentous clouds and humidity throughout the afternoon, the cosmos cooperated and the second day of the Maverick Music Festival was left mainly dry.
Local band favorite Buttercup played a sophisticated, breezy set of their elegant, Britpop songs on the scenic Arneson River Theatre stage and in a particularly San Antonio moment, a Quinceañera party assembled on the stone bridge above the river and received a round of cheers from the crowd.
Totally comfortable with their venerated place in the dad-rock cannon, The Reverend Horton Heat took the main stage in the late afternoon and played with vibrancy and impressive virtuosity. The trio (upright bass, guitar and drums) all clad in practical Dickies garb – with the Reverend himself occasionally pausing to tell a charming recollection of playing Texas proms as teenage rockers – was hard to resist and even the most militant rockabilly hater couldn’t have rejected their near-perfect cover of “Folsom Prison Blues.”
Back on the Arneson stage, underground Houston rap star Fat Tony overcame the incongruity of his set-up — spitting cerebral and sometimes obscene raps on a quaint bend of a tourist and family-friendly River Walk — with a jovial, natural charisma.
In perhaps the set of the weekend, Young Fathers played in a fevered storm. You could call them a supercharged TV on the Radio, but that doesn’t quite do them justice. One of the most fun things about music festivals is catching the touring band that’s really trying to kill, and Young Fathers, with their three singers screaming out complex rhythmic harmonies, took the crowd to the rapture.
Back on the Arneson stage, the raucous local six-piece band The Hawks of the Holy Rosary played to a packed and rowdy crowd. Akin to Ween, The Hawks played ragged, endearingly stoned barn-burners, alternately bewildering and beguiling passing River Walk pedestrians.
The Church, an underrated Australian band formed in 1980 and in the lush, dreamy vein of The Cure and The Psychedelic Furs, played a pristine, fog-filled set of chiming Goth pop on the main stage. Their professionalism of being a festival band for more than 30 years was well evident.
Closing out the festival with ample bombast, The Flaming Lips delivered the grandeur their marquee booking promised. The band has been perfecting the live spectacle for close to 15 years now and their current show is at once absurdly over-the-top and ecstatically beautiful. Balloons, confetti, giant inflated psychedelic rainbows and snails all dazzled the crowd, and at one point Wayne Coyne wore what can be accurately described as a “Technicolor dream coat.”
It was all self consciously ridiculous, but when Coyne got into his inflated clear ball and glided into the middle of the crowd to finish off an impassioned cover of Bowie’s “Space Odyssey,” it was awfully hard to be cynical.
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