Double Wide 11th Anniversary With High on Fire, Roky Erikson, the Derailers and Riverboat Gamblers Double Wide, Dallas Saturday, October 4, 2014
After 11 years of being the Double Wide, it's surely time for the beloved edge-of-Deep Ellum dive to kick back, stretch those weary limbs, and pour out a Hurritang. Instead, the owners decided now was the time to book a festival with bands of a large enough profile that the Double Wide's minuscule performance room would have been overwhelmed.
And so it was come Saturday afternoon, arriving at a now largely-cordoned-off bit of real estate, the parking lot behind the new Cold Beer Company and the Double Wide itself, that a big outdoor stage had been prepared. This was serious business. Serious enough for a shirtless Matt Pike to deafen every person in a half-mile radius.
While it seemed slightly odd that a decent-sized outdoor stage was constructed and then only two acts played on it, there's no doubting the excellence of the line-up and the ambition of the booking. Nor could you question the dedication to creating a cool outdoor space that felt like something more special than one night of a few higher-profile than usual bands. There were tattoos (delivered in a trailer, naturally), food trucks, outdoor Lakewood Brewing bars, and of course the main venue was ready to pump out its usual concoctions.
The atmosphere was extraordinarily laid-back, an attitude that even permeated the set times poster that was up around the grounds. First band 8-ish, second band 9-ish, and so on and so forth. Around those times there will probably be some music. Buy a drink. Get a tattoo, maybe.
While the Derailers, crammed into the 50-or-so capacity room, were nothing to write home about, unless all of your letters home are addressed to the 1960s. Roky Erickson gave a stellar performance on the outdoor stage, seeming confident and laid-back enough to rip through an hour set of an appreciably high volume with a backing band trying and failing to interact with him, who is an island in the stream of his own music. There's been enough written about Erikson's past by people who know a lot more about it than I do for me to ham-fistedly say anything about it here, but it's important both for us and for him that he's back and regularly performing, and doing it in a way that enhances a legacy rather than tarnishes it.
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While there was a massive crush to get back into the tiny space to see the Riverboat Gamblers, for High On Fire the large parking lot/festival grounds felt overwhelmingly big. I'd estimate there were maybe 300 people there, at a festival that had a permit for four times that. That doesn't serve to damage the atmosphere in the slightest, as "atmosphere" in this case means "gigantic guitar riff you could live inside for months."
High On Fire's performance reminded me, appropriately given their shared Matt Pike-ness, of Sleep's megashow headlining 35 Denton in 2013. Both were outdoor shows of an unreasonable volume (the unreasonableness, in both cases, being part of the point of the style of music in the first place) and both were surely audible for miles around. Both were, also, awesome. If anything, this show was a better fit for the space in question, with HOF's much faster (and relentless) pace perfect for a midnight-wasted crowd on a Saturday night. Sleep is more of an 8 p.m. thing. I'm not sure why.
Anyway, in summary, the Double Wide needs to make this "festival" space a regular thing, if this is the quality of act they're able to bring through. It's a good space, it's far enough away from apartments to not be a nuisance, and more importantly, High On Fire is totally badass.