Without going into unnecessary detail, foreplay is generally considered a good idea. Sometimes it’s even better than the main event.
Jeffrey Brown decided to host a festival, now in its fourth year, called Foreplay Fest to showcase bands heading to South by Southwest. It seems like a fairly simple idea, but when he started most concert bookers were waiting until after SXSW to get bands to Dallas. Catching acts on their way to Austin was a novel concept. Now, it’s something that more concert bookers in Dallas are doing.
“Me being a born contrarian, I thought, catch them while they’re coming in — they’re still fresh, not completely worn out from doing 12 to 15 shows in a week,” Brown says. “They always give the audience a killer time because they’ve got all the energy, and they’re also getting excited about going down to SXSW.”
Brown often talks about wanting to take care of the bands he books and the venues he books with. He says having the show before SXSW was also a way to help the bands make a little extra pocket change for their Austin stay.
This year, 12 bands will be playing across two venues — a first for Foreplay Fest.
On March 14, the action kicks off with Acid Carousel and Stuyedeyed at 7 and 8 p.m. at Armoury D.E., which is the official festival sponsor and also the bar-restaurant where Brown hosts his weekly Locked and Loaded free music lineups on Saturday nights.
Then at 10 p.m., the 10 other bands will play out the rest of the evening across both the upstairs and downstairs stages at the Crown and Harp on Lower Greenville. They are: The Mystery Lights, Cosmonauts, the Molochs, Leggy, Twist, Breanna Barbara, Casper Skulls, Sam Coffey & The Iron Lungs, Navy Gangs and Sub-Sahara. The fee is $10 for the whole night, which for 12 acts is “dirt cheap” in Brown’s words.
“I’m really excited to see all of the bands,” he says. “It’s a good opportunity for Dallas. We get a lot of bands that don’t normally come through here, some of the best stuff out there. I wanted to get the good names — the bands I like that have a good draw already.”
The acts are representing areas as vast as Toronto, Brooklyn and Cincinnati. It’s such a web of connections, Brown doesn’t even remember how he originally got acquainted with some of the bands.
“A lot of it is networking. I don’t really rely on booking agents hitting me up because they don’t really,” Brown says. “I don’t like to play by the standard rules of the business. A lot of my bands I get are either stuff that I found on my own or they’re hookups from friends. … I’m a music geek so I’m always scouring the web for new music.”
Brown is friends with the guys from Mystery Lights — a psychedelic rock ’n’ roll band from Brooklyn — so they were an obvious choice. And the lead singer is in a relationship Breanna Barbara who Brown says he’s been wanting to book for a while.
“[She’s] just absolutely mind-blowing. It just kinda worked out because they were going to be playing a couple shows together anyways,” Brown says. “She sounds smoky, soulful — got some bluesy background — but also psychedelic with fuzzed out riffs. There’s no one off the top of my head that you can compare her to. She’s a true original, and I’m really excited to see her.”
Brown says he hit up Leggy directly. “I love them; they’re a rock, post-punk type band but a little garagey. The singer, Veronique has a really cool amazing voice. They back it up with killer guitars, a lot of groove,” he says. “They grab you, pull you in, and don’t let go.”
The best part about all of the varied styles in Foreplay Fest is that “no one band is alike, but they all make sense together,” he says.
Brown has been running his booking company, King Camel, solo, but recently added a teammate, Drew Chapa, to help out with the workload. He’s looking forward to Chapa being on deck during Foreplay Fest, with the two venues to manage.
“We see life, and the music industry, and a lot of different things of being a human being on the same level. He’s a very patient guy, he’s very kind, and he’s a very quality person,” Brown says. “Everything I’ve seen him put himself into has been quality.”
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Chapa’s already gotten his feet wet with the company, helping out with booking acts, marketing and Locked and Loaded, but Foreplay Fest will be his official King Camel coming out party.
Out of all his Foreplay Fests, Brown says, this is without a doubt his best. “All of the musicians are top-notch and polished.”
Aside from being his best Foreplay Fest, he says this night will rank in the top shows he’s ever thrown. “Every band is just going to murder it. People are going to be blown away, completely.”
SX Foreplay Fest, starts with free show featuring Acid Carousel Stuyedeyed at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 14, Armoury DE, 2714 Elm St. Then continues at 9 p.m. at Crown and Harp, 1914 Greenville Ave., with 10 more bands upstairs and downstairs. Admission to the Crown and Harp show is $10.