By Haley Yates
A minor drizzle sprinkled over Sherwood Forest in McDade, Texas on Friday morning as eager festival-goers hunted for an empty spot to pitch their tent.
Hours later, the drizzle faded to a fog and the inaugural Sound On Sound Festival commenced, bringing magic, music and more to the medieval forest known for hosting the annual Renaissance festival, Sherwood Forest Faire.
Jesters, jugglers, acrobats and woodland creatures filled the forest. While most entertainers seemed to take part in the Sherwood Faire community, some were just independent lunatics offering their talents to festival-goers.
One thing was for certain, you didn’t have to walk more than a hundred feet to find somebody who made you question if they were a part of the experience or just another guest who dressed their best.
Those who chose to camp faced rain Friday night and Saturday morning, after a full day of acts including the Death Grips, Phantogram and Run the Jewels. By the time the fest started on Saturday, the sun rose again. Despite some mud and sludge, everybody was ready to rock on with their ponchos just in case.
Sunday brought a bit more chaos when a storm threatened to wash out the fest. At 3:20 p.m., a notification was sent out through Facebook Messenger telling guests to evacuate the festival grounds and seek shelter until the inclement weather passed.
The music resumed a few hours later, and by 10:30 p.m., the festival’s app and social media handles had an updated schedule for the night.
The venue was big enough to not feel crowded with 10,000 people attending each day. With four stages spread across the grounds, each show could be experienced without distractions from another band.
UNT accounting major Dominick Amirr said SOS Fest did a good job of providing entertainment before big acts went on for the evening. Jousting, wrestling, rotten-fruit-throwing and snail races were just a few activities the fest offered while you waited for your faves to take the stage.
“When you wake up at 8 a.m. at your campsite, you’re thinking ‘How do I pass the time?’” Amirr said. “ACL is different. If you need to pass the time you just go to a bar in Austin. You either were there or you weren’t. It’s different [at Sound On Sound].”
Benches, gazebos and wooden castles scattered the forest, providing a rest stop for moshers who needed to take a breather between sets. The Dragon’s Lair stage had a smoke-breathing dragon clutching its side, and SOS signs shaped like swords and shields scattered the grounds.
The festival teamed up with Waterloo Records to have a tent for artists to meet fans and sign records.
After Deerhunter played, Amirr said he talked to singer Bradford Cox for about 15 minutes as Cox signed a record for him.
“It was so warm and you never get that experience at other festivals,” he said. “It made it an immersive experience.”
Amirr said this year set the bar high for next year, and the only thing missing was the Taco Cannon from the Fun Fun Fun Fest. He felt that fans didn’t feel stranded in the middle of the forest and there was always a great sense of community.
Harley Barnes, founder of the project This New Band, said Sound On Sound is different from festivals like Fun Fun Fun because it has a sense of destination.
“Other Austin-based fests like ACL have more of a local vibe,” Barnes said. “This type of festival can grow and become a type of thing people will travel from all over the U.S. to come to,” Barnes said.
Featured Image: Sound on Sound Fest website.