Way out amidst the forested hills of the Texas countryside, something was brewing. The heat of the day was beginning to abate as the sun came down, and a family clad in bathing suits walked away from Whitewater as I pulled in. In addition to the amphitheater, Whitewater is also home to Whitewater Sports, where folks can go to relax and float the Guadalupe River.
Fun as that sounds, the river would have to wait. It was a special night— Slightly Stoopid and their friends were taking over the grounds with their Sounds of Summer tour, a bass-heavy traveling vibe-fest cloaked in smoke and grooves. Already the show was underway – even before my windows came down, I could hear the massive array of subs beneath the stage blasting air for J Boog off to my left.
A string of attendants directed me deeper and deeper into the forest by the stage grounds, where I finally parked some ten minutes away. By the time I’d trekked back to the front, J Boog was long gone. The grounds were dense with people, and more arrived every minute.
Iration was an awesome warm-up for what was to come. Their brand of beachy grooves reminded me of my former home in Miami, Florida— of trespassing on beautiful Virginia Key Beach to build a hut out of palm fronds and driftwood, drinking rum out of hollow melon halves and smoking pot out of pineapples. We would bring our guitars and jam away by the surf and play vibey reggae music just like Iration were putting out here by the river.
Toward the end of the set, Iration invited a friend of theirs on for a number. Out stepped Kyle McDonald, with a blunt and a dixie cup and a swagger that could make Kanye look small. The people lost their proverbial shit, predictably, as Kyle dropped some lyrics before taking his leave and letting the band clean up.
But it was only a taste.
Few bands have as much fun as Slightly Stoopid. You can see it plain on their faces when they swap instruments mid-song or when they lean into the reaching arms of the crowd, one foot on the stage and the other on the barricade, to drop some lyrics or share a smoke.
From “2am” to “Officer” to “Closer to the Sun,” every song they played was somebody’s favorite. Among the highlights was a little tune they picked up playing with Bob Weir, “Franklin’s Tower,” which has found a regular spot in their set rotation. And it was quite a surprise when they invited Jurassic 5’s Chali 2na out for some freestyle fun.
Another surprise, for me at least, was the notable absence of sax man, Karl Denson. Not that their horn section was lacking in any way – their players kept it tight all night. But I’m a fan of Karl D, especially when he gets together with Slightly Stoopid.
The night was one big summer party, and that vibe culminated in a final jam when Slightly Stoopid invited members from all the other bands up on stage with them to swap around instruments and microphones in a final jam with all their friends.
When it was over, there was a sense that nobody really wanted to leave. Maybe it was the trees and the stars, but the walk back to the car felt like a walk back to the campsite at a music festival. The show may have wrapped, but the Sounds of Summer tour is far from over.