Sunday was Open Streets day on Fort Worth’s Magnolia Avenue and other adjacent streets. It’s a misleadingly named event where they close the streets and fill them with art, hipsters, bicycles, skateboards and dogs. It’s a big day for the most neighborhoody neighborhood in Funkytown.
Since Open Streets actually closes the streets, I had to take the back way into the Chat Room Pub. There was some kind of soccer activity for the kids in the parking lot, and Zuriel Bertch was busking with his electric violin on the corner, while kids tried their hand with a brush and paint at an art activity table. Inside, Animal Spirit was setting up to play.
The members of Animal Spirit are Andrew Stroheker (guitar, vocals, percussion), Sam Wuehrmann (vocals), Parker Anderson (drums), and Zach Tucker (bass). Zach — of Panic Volcanic fame — recently replaced the mighty Joe Prankster as bass player for the group, and will continue to play in Panic Volcanic as well.
Sam and Andrew are engaged to be married. The marriage will be officiated by their drummer, Parker, who insisted in an interview that the couple being a couple does not interfere with the band dynamic.
“If anything,” Parker says, “I’m the Yoko.”
Animal Spirit is a kind of laid-back harmonious psychedelic act, with Andrew providing a bit of grit and a rock edge that is balanced by Sam’s ethereal vocals. Parker is an intense drummer, when the song calls for it, but is restrained and tasteful when it doesn’t, and if there is a more creative bass player in Funkytown than Zach, I haven’t heard them.
“We’re just trying to work as hard as we can and promote the scene,” Parker said. “Fort Worth has really blown up. It’s really cool to see everybody working really hard and having a sense of community.”
Andrew starts the writing process, writing most of the lyrics (Sam writes as well). The songs are about life and how he perceives it, with no major social or political agenda.
“To remind people that they are loved,” Parker said, “and that they can change the world.”
“That we’re all in in it together,” Andrew added. “Whether you’re a right-wing Republican or liberal or hipster … we’re all the same but we’re different.”
“Our diversity is the best part,” Parker said.
A few songs in, Sam took the lead vocal slot, and while the band did a percussion-only song, she played a wine bottle with a drum stick. Then it was back to the full band and more rock ’n’ roll offerings. Sound is never great in the Chat; it’s not really set up to be a venue, but you could make out the band well enough and the crowd packed in off the patio for the experience. While the band has a laid-back hippy vibe, they lack nothing in musicianship and dedication to their craft. Each show is better than the last, and I always leave an Animal Spirit show better off than I was when I went in.
And the same with Open Streets. It’s events like this that make me wish I could be a part of this neighborhood. It seems like there is such a sense of community, and there is always something artsy and fun going on in the Near Southside. I can’t wait till the next one.