The first ever Suburbia Music Festival took place in Plano, TX. The Oak Point Park and Nature Preserve played gracious host to three stages, twenty acts each day, and close to 20,000 festival goers. Meadow (the main stage), Prairie and Cedar stages kept the music pumping all day Saturday and Sunday, making the inaugural fest a rousing success.
Suburbia Music Festival Review
A hill lead down to Meadow Stage made for stadium seating designed by nature. The blazing sun and a lack of trees to provide shade in the stage area left many to press themselves into fir trees or stand in any sliver of shade that could be found. Next year, tents where people can get out of the sun even for a few minutes would be a great addition. The combination of 90+ degrees heat and sun was just a little too much to bear for almost twelve hours each day.
A small food court of vendors with options like snow cones, a chicken and waffle sandwich or food on sticks did good business, but lines were longest at the bars selling alcohol. Other vendors selling accessories, jewelry and the ever-present vapes vendor surrounded the food court. If you were really desperate to sit down in the shade, you could go to the psychic’s tent to have your palm or tarot cards read, or both for the bargain price of $25.
The band from Austin played Meadow. An unexpected treasure, Ume’s smart hard rock packs a punch. Lead singer and guitarist Lauren Larson wore a black dress, tights and boots as she shredded in the heat. At one point, she melted into the stage as she played; the only thing left visible was a black mound and blond hair. Larson’s snarling voice and the way she moves with her guitar make her entrancing on stage. Ume’s music may seem simplistic to some, but it is purposely unblemished. Its straightforward goodness is pure music with no filler.
Surfer Blood played the cedar stage and thanked the crowd, “for coming to see us and standing in direct sunlight. We know it’s very hot. Clearly none of you are vampires.” Their sound recalls The Smiths and Pixies for a new era. Their greatest asset is strong melodies. Indie rock fans eagerly flocked to see the Floridians play songs from their latest release, Pythons.
NeedToBreathe played the main stage. Their rootsy rock could be compared with Kings of Leon, but they are definitely one-of-a-kind. Playing songs like their foot stomping “Feet Don’t Fail Me Now,” “Oh, Carolina,” and the beautiful “Wasteland,” they had the audience in the palms of their hands. Their newest album, Rivers in the Wasteland, was released in April and is stacked high with musical perfection.
As Bear Rinehart sang, guitarist Bo Rinehart played with boundless energy using a guitar, mandolin, and banjo. Bear Rinehart commented on how strange it was to be on Letterman a few days earlier and to playing in front of more people than live in his tiny hometown of Possum Kingdom, S.C.
Third Eye Blind
Third Eye Blind also played Meadow. Lead singer Stephan Jenkins came on stage barefoot looking like a surfer on his way to the beach. They played hits that were cheered with the first chords of “Graduate,” “Semi-Charmed Life,” and “Jumper.” Jenkins told the audience, “There is a Third Eye Blind ethos I want to invite you all into… We can all do whatever the fuck we want.” They also played new songs they are working on for a new album, “Back to Zero” and “Rites of Passage,” which were well-received by fans.
When the Violent Femmes came out onto the stage it was finally growing dark. They opened their set with the appropriate “Blister in the Sun” and later played their other hit, “Gone Daddy Gone.” The crowd ate it up, and it was thrilling to see the legendary slackers still playing after all these years.
At the end of the first hot, sweaty day, when Alabama Shakes came out the crowd was salivating. Alabama Shakes started hard with “I Ain’t Gonna Fight No More” and “Rise to the Sun.” Towards the middle of their set, they brought out the tearjerkers like, “I Found You,” “Heartbreaker,” and “Joe.”
You know a band can play the blues when you find yourself crying and don’t even know why, while standing in a field with thousands of people. Brittany Howard can play the hell out a guitar and have the audience riveted by every note.
Larry plays soul/funk with a modern spin. He performs like a perfect cross between James Brown and Justin Timberlake, working the stage with veteran prowess. Two highlights were “I’m Your Fool,” and “IDK.” The EP Weekends is just the thing for sultry summer nights.
Small Pools has been compared to bands like Passion Pit and Phoenix. They got together in 2013 and already have a distinct sound of their own. On stage, they were so in-sync that it was hard to believe they had been together such a short time. They are definitely a band to keep an eye on.
The Wild Feathers
The Wild Feathers from Nashville were mysteriously on Prairie, the smallest stage. No matter, they delivered a strong set, which they dedicated to a friend who had just passed away. They showcased their trademark two, three and four part harmonies. Songs like “Hard Times” and “Left My Woman” kept the crowd’s attention in the searing sun. “The Ceiling” was the last song of their set and a personal favorite.
The boys in Blue October never disappoint their fans. Their hits “Hate Me” and “Bleed” satisfied everyone wearing guyliner.
Tegan and Sara
Before Tegan and Sara even came on stage, the audience was already screaming and buzzing with anticipation. They opened their set on the Cedar stage with “Back in Your Head.” Tegan prefaced “I Couldn’t Be Your Friend” by saying “it’s basically for anyone who has ever stalked an ex on Facebook.” Pretty much anyone can relate to every song Tegan and Sara played. If you have ever had any human emotions, they have you covered.
Mid-set, Tegan pointed out a little girl in a purple tank top on her father’s shoulders. She said, “This little girl right here… she knows every word of every song, you guys. She’s putting you to shame.” Later Tegan dared the audience to put their best dance moves against hers. Their last song of the night (the one I was waiting for) was the upbeat hit, “Closer.”
The audience then headed over to meet the rest of the crowd already dancing to DJ David Guetta. Guetta was the last act of the festival; it had cooled down noticeably and people were ready to dance. Guetta was high up on the stage working like the Wizard of Oz, while a hypnotic light show played across three screens. Using songs like Icona Pop’s “I Love It,” and “Selfie” by the Chainsmokers, he gave Suburbia one more shot in the arm until next year.
We can’t wait to see what acts next year’s Suburbia will feature. Without a doubt Suburbia was a success this year and will undoubtedly be bigger and better in 2015.
Article and photos by Kate McCrory