I know that we still might technically be still in the midst of Spring, but the temps are beginning to suggest otherwise. Each year, as our energy bills rise, so to does the list of concerts we all circle on our repsective calendars. Below are a few of the top tours and festivals hitting the state. Some you may know all about by now, and others on this list may be hitting your radar for the first time, perhaps. Regardless, we’re pretty sure you’ll find something for almost any taste in the list below…
Austin Psych Fest (April 29 – May 1) - As much of an oddball grouping as your likely to find all year. This intense, all-weekend bill will be filling the Seaholm Power Plant with all sorts of industrial noise and racous bad/good times. Mars Volta’s Omar Rodriguez Lopez group, along with A Place to Bury Strangers, No Joy and even Texan-goup This Will Destroy You, lead a sonic assult that will likely leave any attendees few questions as to why their ears are bleeding.
Wilco (Houston May 6, Denton May 7) – Not much to add to the simple fact that Wilco will be hitting a couple of places in our state. Word has it that some sort of release is nearing completion, but even if Jeff Tweedy and crew dont play new tunes, their classics are just that – classic.
Editor’s Pick! Homegrown Festival (Dallas May 14): What began last year as a relatively humble gathering of local bands, some of which had outgrown the city limits a tad, has become a full-fledged destination festival, this year. the name of the all-day shindig rings true, still though. Headliners such as Slobberbone, Neon Indian, Astronautalis, and School of Seven Bells are widely known around the country, but all started here in North Texas. The still-new and beautiful Main St Garden is an ideal location that soon might be too small for this budding festival.
Editor’s Pick! Mogwai (Dallas May 15, Austin May 16, Houston May 17) – Perhaps the band that gave real wings to what so many term as “post-rock”. The Scottish outfit has now been together for over a decade and a half, and after three years, they’ve just released an insanely anthemic studio album album, Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will, which is their best effort since their debut record, 1997′s Young Team. Similar to a band like Austin’s Explosions in the Sky, who clearly adore Stewart Braithwaite and his crew, Mogwai has always looked to create moving soundscapes that escape simple categorization. The former Matador stars, now working with Sub Pop have had this American tour planned for a while, actually. The Granada Theater in Dallas announced this show back in November, giving fans plenty of time to brush up on their air-guitar and shoegazing skills. A Pitchfork review of the new record, while not glowing, summed up a feeling that has seemed to evident in the band’s recent performances by suggesting, “ On Hardcore, Mogwai sound like they’re enjoying being Mogwai again.” I can only imagine that us Texans will enjoy them just fine.
Editor’s Pick! Twilight Singers (May 30 Dallas, May 31 Austin, June 1 Houston) – Another Sub Pop act that has been around for a while will be making their long-awaited way through Texas. This project is a bit differnt, however. Greg Dulli, formerly the leader of Afghan Wigs, made this his secondary group, therefore output from this act was scarce until his main act disbanded in 2001. After that, releases havent exactly been prolific, but they have at least bore the mark of a real band and not merely a one-off side project. Case in point: Twilight Singers latest album, Dynamite Steps. An all-out alt-rock album that features agressive rock, with agresive melodies and a real sense for drama. Afghan who?
Houston Free Press Summerfest (June 4-5) - Talk about a line-up that doesn’t need much further explanation? The annual festival, held in Eleanor Tinsley Park, has really topped their already impressive acts from previous years. Weezer, Big Boi, Cut Copy, Yeasayer, Jason Isbell, and Beirut headline a line-up that has really strong support from Lower Dens, Hayes Carll, The Black Angels and Those Darlins, among many others.
Adele w/ Wanda Jackson (Austin June 12, Dallas June 15) – Hello, Girl Power! The current darling of the UK and the US album charts pairs herself with the Queen of Rock and Roll? Yes please! That’s a serious amount of soul to put onto one stage in one night.
For the last two years, the festival/conference/musical extravaganza in Denton, the week before SXSW, has been known as NX35, but that has changed, presumably for legal reasons and trademark issues or whatever. What hasn’t changed is the quality of talent that will make a point to swing by Denton’s walkable square before they go to Austin. Check that – that has changed, also, but in the sense that the talent pool is deeper this year than even the last two years where a full four days of awesome talent has been had.
In 2009, the main knock on the line-up was how many Denton acts seemed to be featured. For some (not me), the four day “conferette” seemed to be little more than a mashing together of a months worth of shows that would’ve occurred in the college-town to begin with, rather than a legitimate national showcase for the so-called “little d.” Those concerns were certainly addressed last year with the Flaming Lips and others, like Health, Carrie Rodriguez and The Walkmen taking NX35 stages.
That brings us to this year’s insane line-up. Big Boi, Local Natives, Mavis Staples, Dr. Dog, !!!, Gayngs and Dan Deacon are but a few of the names that have been among the bigger names in music over the last couple of years, for those paying attention, of course, that will be rocking the crowds this year. Up and comers The Civil Wars, A Place to Bury Strangers, O’ Death and Jessica Lee Mayfield add diversity and intrigue to the mix, along with the local and regional talent. As for the locals, most notably Sarah Jaffe and Slobberbone, thank you very much, there are still plenty, but they’re more evenly mixed in with the names that will likely bring in folks who might not make a point to hit the local shows as often.
I’m going to be there, no doubt about it. The line-up and schedule (not the times, but the dates of when the bands will perform) have been released, so do what you got to do to get there!
Kelly Dearmore is a freelance writer, mean pot of chili maker and opinionated music lover. To read more about what Kelly is listening to, visit him here on The Squawker weekly.
Man, it’s almost spring, for real. Maybe the calendar doesn’t necessarily back that claim up, and the recent chilly Dallas-area weather sure as heck doesn’t support my point, but the announcements for many killer festivals sure does. Want something to do in the weekends that can easily fill up your Spring-time calendar? Check it out below, then:
Ft. Worth Stockshow & Rodeo- OK, this isn’t a festival, per se, but where there’s cows and music joined together in one historic district, there’s a festival-like atmosphere. If you make your way to the Stockyards for this annual tradition, check out the acts that will be at Billy Bob’s, sure, but don’t miss the calendar for the entertainment that will be filling up the Rodeo Roadhouse. Country favorites from local, regional and national levels will be kicking it up. be sure to catch Texas country icon Gary P. Nunn when he plays.
35 Conferette - The annual pre-SXSW gathering in Denton has gone from a basically all-local bill for the weekend, walkable festival into a happening where big names from all walks of music will play in the shadow of the Mean Green. This year from March 10 – 13; Big Boi, Local Natives, Mavis Staples and Dr. Dog, among many others, take on the task of helping this “conferette” continue to grow into something that SXSW can be jealous of.
Old Settlers Music Festival:It’s hard to imagine that this homey festival has ever had a line-up that was anything less than stellar. Focusing on roots and bluegrass, this festival has plenty of Texas flavor, thanks to The Gourds, Band of Heathens and other Austin-centric artists. this year, however, the big draws are from out of state. The Avett Brothers, Sam Bush, Jim Lauderdale and Tim O’Brien lend the event a bot of Asheville and Nashville flair. For those looking to see a band that isn’t quite as big as the ones I’ve mentioned so far, but every bit as good, do not miss Minnesota’s own Trampled by Turtles when you go.
Kelly Dearmore is a freelance writer, mean pot of chili maker and opinionated music lover. To read more about what Kelly is listening to, visit him here on The Squawker weekly or daily on his personal music blog, The Gobblers Knob