Such is the way of the Elm Street Tattoo Festival: I went to Deep Ellum last night with the goal of watching locals Ishi headline at Club Dada and wound up spending the night bouncing between several venues along Elm St. Granted, such is the way of many a night in this most rock 'n' roll of Dallas neighborhoods. But with the whole place overrun by Oliver Peck and friends' five-day carnival -- there were even burlesque dancers -- Thursday felt like an extra special night.
Here are some of the highlights of night two from the festival.
Quaker City Nighthawks at Trees
Trees was my first stop, where I caught a performance by the Quaker City Nighthawks. The Dallasites were opening for Lucero. Their instruments produced a rich blend of rock and country sounds. One the band members would switch back and forth from playing the tambourine to playing the saxophone. That added a blues vibe to some of their tunes.
Trees had a decent amount of people, not at capacity but full enough that the crowd extended back a ways toward the bar area. There were a healthy amount of older folks who proved they knew how to have just as much fun as the younger crowd I'd find at Dada. While the Nighthawks played "Rattlesnake Boogie," one man in particular nodded his head and sang back to the band while pointing at them. Anothere couple wadlk through the back of the crowd with their young child on a stroller. Someone took the "all ages" part seriously.
The band kept their energy high throughout their whole set. Especially the drummer, Matt Mabe, who beat and banged the drums hard for all he was worth. At the end of the set he took a solo, holding a maraca in one hand while he played the drums with the other, his long hair flipping along to the rhythm. I was convinced no other band could top this off.
Flametrick Subs at Three Links
Man, the crowd at Three Links was my favorite. Everyone sang along while a few danced in the humid and sticky venue. A psychobilly band, Flametrick Subs, were playing at this point in the night. Some people watched the show from outside for free, thanks to the venue's big open garage door in front. The gals from Satan's Cheerleaders cheered (and danced) on the right and left side of the stage while the Austin-based band played. Their cheerleader costume was a red faux leather dress with the number 666 across the chest.
Lead vocalist, Buster Crash, encouraged the crowd to get in on the fun. "Drink more y'all," he said towards the beginning of the set. He later told the crowd, "There's always time for rock and roll, but you can only drink till 2 a.m." Some laughed at that while others cheered.
I walked back to Dada to watch Painted Palms. The crowd grew in size after Blackstone Rangers, who had played earlier. I didn't watch the whole set. While I was there it seemed like Painted Palms relaxed the crowd a little since more started to dance to the music. The band had a psych pop sound.
The Chop Tops at Three Links
The last band at Three Links was The Chop Tops. By this time the crowd was already smaller, and it wasn't as crowded or as hard to get through the crowd anymore. This band was nice; throughout their whole set the lead vocalist, Sinner, kept on thanking everyone for coming out to see them. The energy levels were still high: one person crowd surfed but no one followed his lead. This band mixed sounds of rock with psychobilly punk, and surf.
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Before I left to Dada to catch a bit of Ishi's set a girl with pink hair and floral saw me taking notes during The Chop Tops set. She got closer, took my notepad, pen and wrote in all caps "I LIKE FUN." She smiled and walked off.
Ishi at Club Dada
Trees was already closing down around 1 a.m., but Ishi's set didn't end till about 1:30. Their set was colorful, with two balls the size of about an arm hanging from the ceiling. They lit up in different colors from red to blue, purple and yellow. Their show was energetic: front man J.T. Mudd would spin around in a circles on stage. One of outfits that stood out the most was the classic red cape and headdress with neon lights.
By the end of the set, Ishi got off the small stage and sang and danced with the crowd. For a Dallas crowd, this is no mean feat, after all. After the show fans got pictures with the band by the merchandise table. There was still plenty of time till bar close, too, so folks continued to linger around Dada and Three Links, as well. And it was only Thursday night. With three nights still left for the Tattoo Fest and the weekend beckoning, this party's just getting started.