Old Loves Die-Hard: Dia de los Toadies Review

Travel

There was an array of Fort Worth folk, from young to old, who came out to ring in the 7th Annual Dia de los Toadies Festival this Saturday at Panther Island Pavilion. With the aptly timed weather transformation this weekend, it was a nice change of pace for the locals to come out in full force to support the beloved Toadies, as well as a myriad of other native Texas (specifically Fort Worthian) artists. It was nice to look around the crowd and see Vans that weren’t being worn ironically and plaid shirts that were actually suitable for the event.

The Saturday show followed an acoustic Friday evening that featured Doug Burr, Rhett Miller, and the Toadies. Due to weather conditions the event was moved to The Shack, which tinged the event with a weathered and worn, light rock hoe down feeling (but in a good way) which begged me to question why more events haven’t been held at the venue. All the acts played with the gusto of a full band, giving the crowd their utmost energy while still providing that sense of genuine intimacy to the smaller crowd that showed up despite the undesirable weather conditions. Rain or shine, true fans gave an outpouring of support for the acoustic set. And Rhett Miller still performed his trademark, over-exaggerated guitar strumming and hip swinging during his solo set.

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However, the weather subsided and opened the gates for a full throttle rock festival on Saturday. Starting off the day were local acts Blank-Men and The Longshots, providing two various spectrums of self-described synth-punk and junk-rock, respectively. The Dallas band Somebody’s Darling and another Fort Worth local, Quaker City Nighthawks, fit in well with the rock vibe of the evening while providing that just-needed sense of soul n’ roll. Pleasant Grove carried over the folk-rock of the previous evening, showcasing some new material for the audience. Austin band Residual Kid brought the grime, grunge, and that little bit of youthful garage needed to prepare the audience for an evening of ‘Rubbernecking’. Also out of Austin, Ume’s guitar and distortion-heavy garage-inspired sound closed out a mellow set on the second stage that spoke to to the burgeoning new-age acid-rock genre.

As the sun set and the skyline of Fort Worth appeared, it was hard to ignore the energy of the crowd. The pairing of the Old 97’s and the Toadies may seem random to some, however they showcase the vast differences of the city of Fort Worth while by bringing out music lovers from distinct genres. The Old 97’s set a specific tone for the evening with their mix of country and alt-rock bringing out the best in the crowd. Rhett Miller crooned, “Let’s Get Drunk and Get it On” to a crowd that swooned over his vacillating hips.

This year’s Dia de los Toadies may have been the seventh installation of the event, however it was also marked by the 20th Anniversary Release of the Toadies’ Rubberneck album. With the Fort Worth skyline highlighting the band as they cruised through their set, it was hard not feel a sense of pride and love for a Fort Worth local. When the Toadies began playing their final run-through of the entire dark-rock album, it was hard to ignore the nostalgia of the audience. Men dragged their kids to the front of the stage to get a glimpse of their former selves, while also indoctrinating the next generation of rockers and head bangers. The seemingly die-hard fan base rocked out just as hard as the musicians onstage. But not quite as hard, as the Toadies literally blew out their sound system while performing, “Tyler”, giving fans a chance to sing their hearts out to a treasured Fort Worth band. It was a pleasure to see a seasoned veteran take the stage. While the Toadies powered through their set with the same vigor and voice of a band 15 years younger, they did little chit chat throughout the set list, save for a comment from Todd Lewis. “Thank you most to the fans – y’all have been with us for 20 years, which is unheard of.” 

In reality, the only thing heard that evening was pulsing rock reverberating on the backbone of the city skyline, which felt right in line with the heartbeat of Fort Worth.

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Thank you to Keep Fort Worth Funky for helping to keep the city up ‘up to funk’ on everything. Ya’ll rock.

 

Fort Worth, I Love You.

Travel

fort worthWhen I first decided to stay in Texas sometimes I would catch myself wondering why I was still there I’d graduated past my initial reason for coming here in the first place. I chose Texas Christian University based on the close proximity to my longtime boyfriend and because I looked good great in purple, but the least appealing feature of school was it being in Fort Worthless (as I used to call it). While I was a student I assumed the level of conformity necessary to survive at TCU. Joining a sorority and having a general care for the football team became staples, yes, but I was getting an amazing education I wouldn’t trade for the world – which was clearly how to handle myself at the beer pong table.

Kidding. Sort of.

Then, I found a man who introduced me to another side of this lovely town. He helped me to reacquaint myself with the very massive world outside of the TCU bubble. I found a love for the local music, for the mom-and-pop shops around town, for the plethora of amazing people who choose to live here because they like a city and not a campus. I stumbled upon a network of people who filled me with a satisfying joy because they were individuals who saw Fort Worth as a fast-growing opportunity for fun and personal growth. clearforkFort Worth has a hometown vibe that is undeniable. Fairmount, where hipsters run-a-muck between craft beer paradise and dive bars full of familiar faces. Jukeboxes full of melodies handmade down the block from the bars in a home with a fully functioning front porch. A tightly knit community, clearly evident from the literal knitted decorations adorning the bike racks along the street.

coffeeThen cruise on down to the Stockyards where tourists come and go by day, and locals swarm the same spots every weekend. See the same cowboy hats and know exactly which dance moves they’ll be spinning out on the dance floor that night. Get asked the same questions, like where to eat or what to see and give the same generic answers, knowing deep down you’re a little proud of the kitschy culture down here where the smell of cow pies litters the air with the sound of plucky guitar strings and country twang accents.

sundance sqaureDowntown is a beacon of Fort Worth, with Sundance Square the center jewel among the glittering tree lights that line the quaint streets. Local stores dot the cobblestone street of Camp Bowie, reminding us  that everywhere in this city there is a collision of history, while forging onto new frontier. The dirty Trinity River glides throughout the city, but who can care less about cleanliness when you can watch a free concert from a tube at Panther Island Pavilion.

tube trinityOn a fortunate day off, I can wake up and grab locally roasted coffee from a barista who knows my name. I can go and sit in the Botanic Gardens or the Water Gardens. If by chance it’s a rainy day, I can go to one of the three museums nestled next to each other in the Cultural District and spend the day admiring a well-curated collection of artists from around the world. I have the option of going to a brewery tour, the zoo, bike riding, paddle boarding, or an outdoor concert on a small patch of green. The craziest part? The majority of these options are free because Fort Worth loves it’s people just as much as the people love it. It’s a mutually satisfying relationship that contributes to the friendly smiles, generous conversations, and general happiness you find threaded throughout this lovely city.

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Now, I realize it’s a no-brainer why I stayed. But somehow I still get questioned for my choice. This post is for those of you that don’t understand the wonderful nature of Fort Worth. Hopefully you don’t realize it is, in fact, terrific.

We don’t need it turning into Austin. I hear Dallas is nice.

Good Ole Country Boys

Dating

I may be from Texas but there isn’t ain’t anything country about this girl. As Carrie Bradshaw says, “Im whatcha call a bonafide city girl.”

But I’m seeing a wholeheartedly country boy.

But the thing is he’s not typical I guess. Sort of. Well he likes to read and listen to rock music (we met at a rock show, Hanna Barbarians, check em out they’re great). But he loves being outside. He calls me darlin. He drinks Miller High Life and thinks my craft beer is over priced and pretentious. Which lets be real, admittedly it may be a tad indulgent. He’s a welder. He welds for a living because he loves working with his hands. His hair is long because he doesn’t want to get haircuts. He drives a beat up truck. He has that southern drawl that everyone in Europe expects me to have.

Oh and he’s a ginger. I should mention that too.

But the ultimate thing that I’m attracted to him is his authenticity. It’s refreshing to meet someone who is just as honest about who they are and what they like as me. It’s not something I’m used to.

There’s nothing off limits with us. We talk freely and openly. It’s always goofy, sarcastic, playful, and honest. I smile a lot. But I laugh even more.

About as country as I get.

The most surprising thing about him though is how he’s challenging my idea of what life is supposed to look like. When I look at him and his life I see another road I’d never even knew existed in this map of life.

When I went to Italy I was challenged to see a vast array of options in the European landscape in order to escape the stress of my eventual American life. I saw how I could relax, enjoy a walk, drink coffee, all while being constantly inspired by the beauty and history of Europe.

With him I see this American life I haven’t ever truly thought possible. But here he is, a living embodiment of it. He lives in a farmhouse outside of Fort Worth with 4 other awesome dudes. They play music together (using a guitar, harmonica, and banjo) or play catch outside in the sun. They all work hard every day. They are all so blissfully content and maintain such a low level of stress I can’t help but remain at ease in their presence. I catch myself wondering how much happier a life I would lead if I didn’t go into the high-stress world of advertising, with a world of deadlines and demanding clients looming over my head. I wonder what it would be like to not live in a bustling city with nameless faces and negative energy swirling around me. I catch myself wondering so many things I’ve never considered that I have to take a step back and just breathe and enjoy the country air.

Added bonus? He’s just about the damnedest best kisser this side of the Mississippi.

*Not an accurate representation

Home is Where the Heart Is

Inspiration, Personal, Travel

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Well I’m back in Texas and I’m already clicking the heels of my Jeffrey Campbells together wishing I could be traveling again. But alas, I open my eyes and I’m still here and I’ll probably be here for the next couple of years. It’s a hard feeling to live with, knowing that I need to spend a good amount of time working and saving money for my next set of adventures, but I’m more focused on it because I know exactly how rewarding the end goal feels. 

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I started working at my internships this week and it’s been really great to feel like I have a purpose during my day, as well as some structure. But I’ve noticed a major change in my priorities since I’ve been back. As much as advertising is my passion, I don’t care about being the best or working for the best company. I want to work in an environment that makes me happy every day when I come to work. What’s the point in spending your life somewhere you hate doing something that makes you unhappy? 

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Traveling by myself was EPIC. If I could tell every person in this world to travel by themselves for a week, I would, because it changed my study abroad experience so much. Being a girl traveling on your own is rare and when you encounter people and tell them that (after judging whether they would murder you or not) there is the weird respect that people have for you. I felt so independent and confident because I had to figure things out on my own like planes, trains, directions, hostels, things to see and do. It forced me to be outside of my comfort zone and I was so open-minded about meeting everyone, anywhere, that I met some of the coolest people I would have never talked to otherwise. The camaraderie between travelers and backpackers is like an immediate connection between people that always breaks the ice. Agh. I loved it so much and found so much respect for myself that coming back to the closed off people in bars in America has been an adjustment. But oh well, I’ll keep smiling and talking to strangers regardless because I know that I’ve been able to hang out with Australians, Canadians, and English people in places like Prague, Budapest, and Florence. Ch’yeah take that, frat stars. 

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Ultimately, my heart is always going to be in Texas. It’s where I was raised, where my family is, and where my best friends live. But my heart is also in Florence and Europe because that’s where I grew up. I realized how to finally see myself clearly, without all the American standardized ideals clouding my judgement. So for now, I’m enjoying my life because for once in my life, I’m not sure where I’m going to end up after graduation. Right now at this moment I think I want to work in DFW for a year after I graduate and save money and then move abroad to somewhere in Europe or Australia… preferably somewhere that speaks English. But who knows. 

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