Sound on Sound Festival 2016

Not even torrential rains could keep us from festin' at Austin's inaugural Sound on Sound

© Chad Wadsworth
© Roger Ho
© Roger Ho


Death Grips 
Death Grips, who sold out last year’s show at Trees in a matter of hours, brought a rowdy crowd to the Dragon’s Lair on Friday night. One of the final acts to play the biggest stage of the festival, they were clearly a significant draw for many attendees. Bathed in a deep blue wash, the menacing experimental hip hop group squeezed in as many of their greatest hits as they could fit into their fifty minute set. The crowd ate it up, looking stoked to scream along with MC Ride himself. The aggressive bass and Zach Hill’s famed drumming reverberating through the forest lived up the hype and made Death Grips a tough act to follow. (
Savannah Sherer)

Beach Slang
The news has now spread that sexual assault allegations surfaced against Beach Slang guitarist Ruben Gallego the day before they were supposed to go on tour for their new album,
A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings. Without drummer JP Flexner, who was also asked to leave the band towards the end of the summer, the only member left is frontman James Alex. That didn’t stop this brave soul from coming out and giving the expectant crowd a good time. He stood alone, unapologetic, belting Beach Slang songs old and new, and then spiraling into classic covers widely considered boring and overdone – Pixies’ “Where is My Mind?,” Oasis’ “Wonderwall,” and even a Slayer lick played by a fan he called up to the stage – but against all odds, the crowd was wild for the entire set. Critics would be disappointed, but Flexner must have been doing something right. (Katelyn Foxworth)

As Phantogram wrapped up their main stage set to an impressive crowd, the almighty Thundercat performed to a smaller, but just as impassioned group at the Keep. Is Thundercat a band or just the stage name of frontman Stephen Bruner? Well, even its members don’t exactly know. Regardless, the unbelievably talented trio made their way through a set of their most well-loved tunes with several stops along the way for skillful improvisation. Even with the band right in front of you, it’s almost impossible to believe that only three dudes are making music that complex and sonically dense. “Them Changes,” which on the recording features fellow contemporary funk/jazz giants Flying Lotus and Kamasi Washington, incited the night’s biggest, funkiest dance session. The love between the densely-packed crowd and the artists was palpable, as the crowd was begging for just one more song. They were happy to oblige, and Thundercat tucked us into bed with one last groovy tune. (Jamie Park)

© Jamie Park


Wild Nothing
Playing a festival’s main stage early on in the day is always an awkward task for bands. The hungover masses are just starting to make back it to the festival grounds and most are just looking for a way to kill time before the bigger headliners. After a cringeworthy set from The Relationship (Brian Bell of Weezer’s group), a sizable crowd began to build in anticipation for the arrival of Jack Tatum and co. Wild Nothing handled any potential awkwardness like pros, breezing through a tight set of favorites to an enthusiastic crowd and not letting technical difficulties or a broken guitar string keep the tunes from chugging along. The band’s low-energy approach to the performance was mitigated by the audience’s enthusiasm for their moody groves. At the end of the set, the band pushed into overtime to squeeze in fan-favorite “Shadow.” All in all, not a bad way to ease into the day to come. (Jamie Park)     

The Dead Milkmen
80’s punk band, The Dead Milkmen was a rare treat for Sound on Sound attendees. Sandwiched between Wild Nothing and Deerhunter the band drew in a diverse crowd of old punks and curious bystanders. Rodney Linderman, the lead-singer of the Milkmen, worked both the crowd and the photographers better than 90% of people half his age, stomping, screaming, and running around with half his shirt up in the air. The audience exploded with excitement with songs like “Punk Rock Girl” and “Tiny Town”, but what really got the audience going was a “Little Red Corvette” cover of the late Prince. The band very astutely followed the Prince cover with “Bitchin’ Camaro”. In the truest punk fashion, Dead Milkmen ended their set by urging the crowd and enable into action to check out Youth Code’s set the upcoming day, because what’s more punk than knowing when to pass the torch? (Erika Bocanegra)

After some technical difficulties, a frustrated Bradford Cox commenced Deerhunter’s set at the Dragon’s Lair stage with “Cover Me (Slowly)” followed by “Agoraphobia” from Microcastle. Even after a delayed set, and a shaky beginning that caused the band to have to restart “Breaker” the band seemed to be in good spirits. Bradford, who was in an accident last year which gave much of the inspiration to their latest material, even joked to attendees that Big Boi, who was set to follow their set, was the one behind the car accident that nearly cost him his life. It doesn’t sound as funny in writing, but concert-goers seemed to be charmed by Bradford’s humor. The set relied  heavily on the band’s latest effort, Fading Frontier and Halcyon Digest, which still seems to be a crowd favorite. Closing to the looming tune of “Desire Lines,” the audience seemed enraptured in the guitars building up onto each other and satisfied despite the shortened set due to technical difficulties. (Erika Bocanegra)

Car Seat Headrest
As the festival’s most crowded and hyped night bore on, Seattle-based Car Seat Headrest took to the Forest Stage to mesmerize the masses with their vulnerable brand of indie rock. Lead vocalist, guitarist and brains-of-the-operation Will Toledo couldn’t be moved to talk much, letting the other members of the band handle the task of interacting with and energizing the crowd. But it’s easy to look past Will’s less than enthusiastic demeanor when he pens lyrics that cut to the quick, leaving you bleeding and vulnerable in the most profound way possible. The Saturday night crowd certainly seemed to agree, headbanging and jumping along to “Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales” and the raging “Fill in the Blank.” Like many other artists at SOS, Car Seat Headrest made their pre-election statement in the form of a timely performance of “America (Never Been)” that resonated with the mostly Millennial crowd. (Jamie Park)

Beach House
As the night got darker and the night got cooler, the crowd got progressively tighter as Beach House’s set drew closer. The band opened up the night with “Wild” off of their 2012 release Bloom, set to an almost pitch black stage set up. Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally, the two main members of the bands chose to cover themselves in black hoods, adding to the shroud of mystery surrounding the evening.Attendees in the front were prohibited to take photos at the artist’s’ request, one can assume that it was to let people immerse themselves in the sonic delights of Beach House’s set.The evening’s setlist was well-balanced off of their 3 latests album, the only album which received the cold shoulder was Devotion. Looking around, the audience seemed to be in a lull during the duo’s set, but that’s sort of the appeal of Beach House’s music, the way it can put you in a dream-like state. (Erika Bocanegra)

The Dillinger Escape Plan
The Dillinger Escape Plan’s set at SOS was Austin’s last chance to catch them, as the band is working their way across the country on their farewell tour. The heavy math rock band has quite the reputation for rambunctious live performances, and their headlining set at the Keep stage satisfied our expectations. Battered with bright strobing lights, the crowd gave it their all to old favorites as well as tunes from Dillinger’s new, final album, Dissociation. The band was explosive as usual, climbing around and jumping off speaker stacks as much as they could given the heavy police presence that appeared just in time for their set. Thanks for the good times, Dillinger, we’ll miss you. (Savannah Sherer

© Reagan Hackleman
© Reagan Hackleman


Psychic Twin
It started as beautiful Sunday afternoon, but it soon grew grey as the ominous clouds pulled in overhead. This did  not dampen the moods of the early crowds at Sound on Sound, who were ready for another long day of fest-ing. Starting the schedule on the Forrest Stage was Psychic Twin, the electronic pop duo hailing from Brooklyn, New York. They took the stage in some futuristic fits that looked like they were straight out of Zenon. Their twinkling synths struggled to get the shy crowd to react, but has time passed the overall atmosphere changed. The duo’s mesmerizing drums eventually enveloped the crowd as they crowded stage more and more. By the end of it the crowd was very receptive to the music and Psychic Twin’s great performance. The performance ended, but before the duo left they politely asked for a picture of the crowd, which the crowd ecstatically agreed to be apart of. (Kevin Barahona)