It was unusually cold for Index Fest, probably suited to October, but for Texans that were used to the warm fall weather of the past few weeks, they found that they had to button up more than usual.
By the time I got to the Festival, Heartless Bastards were finishing up their set while a large crowd lined up at the opposite stage for Grimes. There were so many people that the stage was very difficult to see, and the people in the back had to make due with watching flashing purple lights. For those that got there early, they had the pleasure of watching Grimes’ jerky, stylized dance moves, rhythmically pounding the air with her fists while she crooned. Grimes’ high-pitched voice seemed surreal at times, as if she was casting a dancing spell on the packed crowd.
Inside Trees, Austin’s Quiet Company were rocking a similarly-packed venue, wearing vests and matching beards. “We always wanted to play Trees but it had been closed for a long time.” the lead singer declared to an affectionate audience.
Portugal. The Man were missing their trademark light set-up and fog machine, but it proved to be an unnecessary addition, as the show was still left the crowd enraptured. Opening with “And I,” the Portland-by-Wassilla band (Yes. That Wassilla) kicked off a jam-heavy set that seemed endless.
Back inside, Elite Gymnastics were fooling around with an umbrella, while Myths were creating their own new version of witchy-screaming. It was strange (and slightly disconcerting) seeing Myths chant as though they were trying to raise the dead, but the crowd was totally into it.
For the second day, I started off at DIIV, who were somehow still able to play their instruments despite having hair conceal their entire faces. They performed a fun surf rock set, while characteristically making plans with the crowd to smoke a certain illegal substance after the show.
Avi Buffalo’s set blended in seamlessly with DIIV, continuing in the chilled-out surfer style that seemed to be the day’s theme (despite the fact that it was egregiously cold). Later on, Surfer Blood would dramatically own that theme, making everyone forget that they were bundled up in jackets and that they weren’t actually on a beach. Surfer Blood’s “Miranda,” was a particular hit, a twangy romp that had the crowd bopping along.
On the main stage, GZA had drew the crowd in with some pretty unique antics. Pulling a small girl onstage, he told her that she needed to read books instead of playing video games. Then, much to everyone’s delight, he gave the girl $200 (for books!)
Later, Washed Out reinvigorated everybody with 80s-inspired beats and dramatic light changes. Similar to Grimes yesterday, Washed Out had inspired a massive dance party, so much so that the crowd went far back enough that the stage was barely visible.
Cold War Kids were probably the most anticipated act for many people, and it definitely showed. “Hang Me Up to Dry” and “We Used To Vacation” became sing-a-longs, while Nathan Willet dramatically barked the lyrics into his microphone.
It seemed by the end of the night that everyone had a blast. The first year of Index Fest was definitely a success, so it’ll be interesting what Spune comes up with next year.