When a festival is named for a band, or in this case, hosted entirely by one such band, it puts an immense amount of pressure on a single organization. However, that didn’t seem to bother East Texas native, Koe Wetzel, or his Red 11 Music management team last weekend at the Panther Island Pavilion in Fort Worth, TX. Koe and the boys are are still riding the huge wave of their latest immensely popular album, “Harold Saul High”, the follow up to their 2017 breakthrough album, “Noise Complaint.” They, along with a handful of great sponsors put together an amazing experience this past weekend, giving the sellout crowd a raucous time and certainly exceeding the expectations of most. Somewhere north of 10,000 fans (I’ve heard as high as 15,000) turned up to see a stellar lineup and enjoy the carnival-like atmosphere, which included a ferris wheel and giant water slide. The night was even capped off by a fireworks show! The environment was fan-friendly, never seemed overcrowded, and always felt lively… to put it mildly.
The lineup was stacked with the likes of Chris Colston, Cody Canada & The Departed, and Parker McCollum. The grand finale was of course Koe Wetzel and an over-the-top pyro and laser-filled show that did not disappoint. Chris Colston, a fellow East Texas native, warmed the crowd up first and played a handful of new songs, including his newly released single, “Bonnie & Clyde.”
Cody Canada and The Departed were up next, just as the sun was beginning to set on the Fort Worth skyline behind the stage. Along with longtime friend Jeremy Plato on bass, and Eric Hansen on drums who make up The Departed, Cody was also joined by several guest musicians including a young Wyatt Wilson of Stillwater, OK on guitar and Cody’s sons Dierks on guitar and Willy on drums for a few songs. This is why I keep listening to and loving Cody Canada. He’s a legend in the Red Dirt Music community (a fact he used to dispute but has come to grips with), and instead of sitting high on that throne and resting on his laurels, he uses his influence and experience to pass on all that he knows to the younger generations and gives them a chance to shine. Seeing young talent up on stage with the veterans like Cody, Jeremy, and Eric was one of the highlights of the evening.
After the Departed’s incredible set, Parker McCollum hit the Panther Island Pavilion stage. Parker, who has been a fixture on the Texas live-music scene since 2013, recently signed with Universal Music Group Nashville. He also recently collaborated with NBC’s The Voice season four winner, Danielle Bradbery, on a cover of Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga’s “Shallow.” With over 50 million streams on Spotify and a massive 380,000+ monthly listeners, McCollum is certainly a force to be reckoned with himself. I don’t think there was a song he played that he didn’t have a chorus of fans singing along to. Fans can expect to hear new music from him in the very near future!
As Parker and his band left the stage, the crew immediately began getting the stage ready for Koe, which included hoisting a giant white screen to cover the stage so an intro video could play. The anticipation in the crowd could be felt, but they managed to entertain themselves by making shadow puppets and obscene gestures in the light of the video projector, before the video began. After the video played and the screen fell, Koe Wetzel took the stage to fireworks, lasers, and lots of pyrotechnics. The riff-heavy “February 28, 2016,” played superbly by guitarists Michael Odis Parrish and Shyloh Powers, immediately hooked the enthusiastic sweaty mass of fans that turned up their adrenaline levels another notch. As with most Koe Wetzel shows as of late, the crowd showed their appreciation by crowd surfing and bombing the stage with various articles of clothing, which turns into a show of it’s own in many ways. Koe played a variety of songs from his breakthrough album “Noise Complaint” and his new album “Harold Saul High,” including new crowd favorites like “Sancho” and “Ragweed.” The end of the evening was capped off by a pretty impressive fireworks show and the hopes that Koe Wetzel’s Incredible Music Festival will be around for many years to come!