GhoulsFest: A Haunted Festival In More Ways Than One
For lots more photos from Saturday's festival, see our slideshow here.
GhoulsFest had everything going for it Saturday except one rather important detail: People.
It felt... well, haunted. Normally, that would be an excellent thing to say about anything happening on Halloween weekend - except possibly a music festival where a few thousand people were expected to show up and only a few hundred did.
And to be quite honest, since we weren't footing the bill for GhoulsFest, the sparse crowd that showed up to Tom Bass Regional Park just outside Pearland probably made Aftermath enjoy it that much more. The weather was perfect, the food was tasty and we'd much rather pay $4 for a cold St. Arnold's than a watery Coors Light.
The two stages, one in the park's pre-existing amphitheater and the other a large platform comparable to the main stage at Summer Fest, were within minimal walking distance of each other. Facing opposite directions meant the two also had minimal sound bleedover between them - something other festivals much larger and much more famous still haven't figured out how to get right.
More importantly, we hardly heard a musical misstep all day long.
The stately piano tones of Roky Moon & BOLT played us in, momentarily making us mistake Roky Moon for Rocky Horror. We caught local math-metal crew Scale the Summit for the first time, marveling at their jazz-flecked instrumental prowess even as we wondered whether or not they were old enough to shave.
Marc Brubaker Roky Moon & BOLT... Well, just Roky Moon, really.
Girl In a Coma's Nina Diaz nearly shook herself off stage during a hair-raising cover of Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth." ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead's Jason Reece and Conrad Keely revealed their inner Martin & Lewis bantering about the sound mix - when they weren't giving the sound guy all he could handle with some blistering speed-punk.
Daniel Johnston didn't look so good - overweight, unshaven and generally like he just rolled out of bed. Still, the manchild songwriter savant's fractured yet heartfelt pop was as endearingly odd as ever, whether accompanied by a lone acoustic guitar or beefed up by Spain Colored Orange on a fun reading of the Beatles' "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away."
Marc Brubaker Daniel Johnston
Speaking of odd, Macy Gray, put on an after-dark show of up-with-people space-funk that stole a few pages from Sly Stone himself. Certainly the people giving it up and shaking their groove thang down front didn't seem to care there was a half-empty amphitheater behind them.
So what went wrong? Hard to say.