By Kelly Dearmore
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
Whether you want to celebrate St. Patrick's Day or catch some South by Southwest acts coming through the region (or do a little of both), festivals are a good option this week. And you don't even have to make a trip down I-35 (the "I" stands for "Immobile") to Austin.
Some of these shindigs are quite good (others not so much), but there is something for just about everyone this week—even those with terrible taste in music.
(Oh, and in case you hadn't heard, St. Patrick's Day was officially moved up to the 15th this year.)
3 p.m., Friday, March 14
South By So What?!
South By So What?! is for kids who can count on one hand how many years it's been since they were listening to Disney tweener pop music, kids who are excited about rock 'n' roll but haven't listened to enough of it yet to recognize regurgitated crap. (Also, it's creepy how the bands are from all over the country but look as though the same stylist and photographer gave them all the same blond-streaked emo-bangs and coached them into the same humorless smirks.)
Headliners Scary Kids Scaring Kids play straightforward hard rock that sounds something like a punk-rock version of Mötley Crüe, complete with lightning-fast guitar wankery, and injected with passionately screamed vocals. Skylit Drive is harsher and louder than most of the fest's poppy rock acts, pairing noisy dissonance with throat-shredding screamo vocals. Other acts are more appropriate for the dance floor than the mosh pit, such as techno-pop rockers The Medic Droid.
It might be interesting to see how the suburban rock kids in the audience react to Jeffree Star, a cross-dressing electro-pop man-diva who speak-sings lines like "I'm hiding from the world behind Chanel sunglasses"—not interesting enough to actually go if you believe you have much taste, though. Still, Star's jaded faux-enthusiasm for materialism fits right in with his energy-drink pimping, logo-sporting compatriots. Whoever included "So What" in the festival name has no idea how right they were.
Who it's for: Teenagers who can't tell the wool is being pulled over their eyes.
6 p.m., Saturday, March 15
Dallas Observer St. Patrick's Day Party
Energy Square, Dallas
Featuring: Ghostland Observatory
With singer Aaron Behrens running around the stage singing falsetto nonsense and occasionally shredding on the guitar, Ghostland Observatory's live shows are more befitting of a rock concert than a dance club. Theirs is dance music for people who don't listen to dance music. If you wouldn't know Daft Punk from Paul Oakenfold, but you're in the mood to watch a laser light show while moving to thick electro beats and screeching synth noise, you can have a good time with Ghostland. Just don't think about it too hard.
Who it's for: Rock fans trying to ease themselves into liking dance music. Also: people who really want to meet the Dallas Observer Street Team.
8 p.m., Saturday, March 15
St. Patrick's Day Show
Lola's, Fort Worth
Featuring: Eleven Hundred Springs, The Wilders, 100 Damned Guns, Whiskey Folk Ramblers and The A.M. Ramblers
The Wilders, a self-described "hillbilly string band" from Kansas City, are the only non-locals on this bill, but they nonetheless fit nicely in the lineup. The Wilders play simple, tight, all-acoustic traditional honky-tonk that incorporates banjo and mandolin that's highlighted by white-lightning fast fiddlin'. The Whiskey Folk Ramblers could be described the same way—except they have a looser take on the genre, which makes them just as appropriate for a back porch as on a stage. Denton's A.M. Ramblers play folk and bluegrass with excellent vocal harmonies.
Who it's for: Country fans who think the Old 97's ain't country enough anymore.
Noon, Sunday, March 16
KHYI 95.3 FM (The Range) has once again put together a fine lineup for its Texas Music Revolution concert. Charlie Robison can write rollicking story songs that make you want to sing along and tip a beer to his outsider protagonists, like he does in his classic tale of a double-crossing Irish boxer "John O'Reilly." Ray Wylie Hubbard, whose classics such as "Conversation With the Devil" and "Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother" more than make up for his recent, irritating outputs, will also perform.
Who it's for: Anyone who prefers the Kerrville Folk Festival to SXSW.
8 p.m. Sunday, March 16
Poor Man's SXSW
Featuring: Sugar and Gold, Luca, Mostly Bears and DJ NodaFunk
Poor men must like really diverse lineups—lineups so diverse, in fact, that it's hard to believe someone who'd like the funky synth-disco of San Francisco's Sugar and Gold would actually enjoy any of the other acts. Sugar and Gold is the polar opposite of Luca's competent-but-forgettable straightforward indie-rock. Actually, Mostly Bears, from Tucson, is the one to see on this lineup. That band's sleepy, folky psychedelic rock with pretty falsetto vocals would be a nice complement to the rest of this bill.