Smallpools

Photo Credit: Charlotte Carpenter | Daily Texan Staff

Thousands of UT community members enjoyed live music, student talent acts and a variety of activities, including tie-dying and carnival games, at the annual Forty Acres Fest Saturday.

The event also featured a daytime magic show, a petting zoo and an evening concert with the headlining bands Smallpools and Ra Ra Riot.

Over 4,000 people attended the daytime event, and 1,350 people attended the nighttime concerts, according to Texas Traditions Chair Neha Srivastava. Texas Traditions is a student committee housed under Campus Events and Entertainment that hosts events including the festival and Texas Revue, the biggest talent show in Texas.

Check out our slideshow and get a closer look at this year's Forty Acres Fest:

Srivastava said the committee tried to put the focus on student acts over the course of the day.

“Over the past couple of years, we’ve had a lot of bands perform during the daytime,” Srivastava said. “This year, we kind of wanted to shift that focus and give [student acts] more time. … It is supposed to be about the student performances and student organizations and students coming on campus.”

The event was open to the public, so families and students from other universities attended the festival. Carolyn Ellis, advertising junior and co-president of Chi Kappa Phi, said her service society offered face painting because they felt there weren’t enough activities for children at the festival.

“We do volunteer for Oak Springs Elementary School, so we work with kids a lot,” Ellis said. “For the kids that are here, we kind of wanted something for them, so that’s why we’re doing face painting.”

Other student organizations promoted philanthropic causes at their booths. Rawand Abdelghani, psychology junior and president of Circle K International, said her organization built a jail out of pipes to raise awareness for organizations such as UNICEF.

“The jail is a fun idea someone came up with in our [organization],” Abdelghani said. “We wanted to do something creative because everyone does typical stuff like face painting or sell snacks. It would have the potential to be something bigger.”

Blake Burley, government and philosophy freshman, said he enjoyed listening to Smallpools, an indie pop band from Los Angeles.

“Smallpools was very entertaining,” Burley said. “Very good live, musically talented. They absolutely killed a couple of their songs that were just upbeat and fun. But at the same time, they were super chill, and after the show, we got to talk to them and take pictures with them.”

Just seven months after Los Angeles-based band Smallpools formed in 2013, they signed with major label RCA Records and their song “Dreaming” climbed the alternative charts. On Monday, 22 months after they first appeared on the radio, the band released its highly anticipated debut album, LOVETAP!.

Despite the nearly two years it took Smallpools to release their first full-length album, it isn’t a particularly groundbreaking effort. But its feel-good vibe makes it the perfect soundtrack for springtime in Austin.

Smallpools’ fast-paced, dance-around-your-room music isn’t the most critically acclaimed or memorable — but it is always fun to dance to. The band’s sound is reminiscent of Walk the Moon, Magic Man and The Mowgli’s.

LOVETAP! is roughly 45 minutes of the catchy choruses and upbeat synth-pop that made Smallpools famous in 2013. It features all of the band’s previously released tunes, including those from their 2013 four-track EP and their two 2014 singles, plus eight new tracks.

The album’s strongest songs are the previously released ones, including “Dreaming” and “Karaoke.” New songs such as “Street Fight,” “Admission to Your Party” and “9 To 5” also stand out as memorable tracks. As is the case with most pop efforts, some of the songs get lost in the mix. When Smallpools do nail a song — which they do frequently on LOVETAP! — it stands out.

The album begins with “American Love,” a three-minute track that starts off with the relaxing sound of violins before picking up with sharp guitar riffs, enthusiastic clapping and singer Sean Scanlon’s high-pitched vocals. The song is a strong start to the album and a good introduction to the rest of LOVETAP!’s indie-pop track list.   

The album’s title track, “Lovetap!” feels like it was written for speeding down a highway on a hot summer night or for the sound track of an indie film. Scanlon’s vocals are altered in a subtle and ’80s-esque way, and guitarist Mike Kamerman’s riffs, accompanied by an upbeat synth, give the song a vintage, retro-pop vibe.

If nothing else, the repetitive lyrics are memorable enough to sing along to after the first listen, and the cheerful beats induce dancing throughout the entire album.

LOVETAP! is a solid debut work. Through the songs, the listener can feel how much fun Smallpools had recording and performing the album, which makes it a more enjoyable listen.

To hear Smallpools perform the songs from LOVETAP! live, check them out at Forty Acres Fest at 7 p.m. Saturday.