The First-Ever Dallas Music District Festival Tries for a Guinness Record This Weekend

Dome Dwellers can hardly contain their enthusiasm for DMD Fest this weekend
Dome Dwellers can hardly contain their enthusiasm for DMD Fest this weekend
James Villa

The first annual two-day Dallas Music District Festival will start tomorrow in the Trinity River Greenbelt. Actually, scratch that. This isn't the Waterworld of music festivals. The greenbelt is flooded and, after three contingency plans failed, this fest has finally been relocated to a nearby private space surrounded by trees on Bedford behind Hofmann Hots. And the Trinity River Wind Festival that DMD Fest was in conjunction with? It's postponed; so don't bring a kite. Fortunately, the two days of music are set to go ahead as planned.

See also: The Best North Texas Music Festivals

DMD organizer Jerry Su says he started up the festival in part to try and correct misconceptions about Dallas. He's shocked that many people outside of our city know nothing of our music and art cultures and a negative perception of the city from out-of-towners has surprised him more than once. "The event showcases what Dallas has to offer," he says, simply.

Su wants to use the gorgeous Dallas skyline as a backdrop for the event, an important visual cue for the sensibility of the festival. In addition to his love for local music, Su is also quite passionate about lighting and special effects. The plan is to step-up these efforts moving forward, although the last-minute change of location might limit some of the effect this year. "We have some really unique ideas we would love to implement in the future," says Su.

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Not that DMD isn't already thinking big its first time around. With three stages and a kitchen sink approach, this is an ambitious endeavor. Su admits that having two days for the first run wasn't the easiest way to start, but doesn't think the event would have made its mark with a single day. Su has already shown some finesse with the swift relocation of the event and clearly has his heart in the right place.

In fact, one of the featured acts -- technically billed as a "special guest" -- will be trying to set a Guiness World Record. That would be Austin performance art group ArcAttack, of America's Got Talent fame. If you haven't seen ArcAttack, imagine Johnny Five from Short Circuit starting a band with Nikola Tesla. Then imagine Johnny Five playing drums and Tesla Coils singing. Here's hoping it performs "The Final Countdown" by Europe. ArcAttack will perform both days in an attempt to set a world record for the world's largest solid state Tesla Coils. No, I'm not making that up. You can be a part of history just by showing up.

(Sad news for David Blaine fans, though: Yes, he's performed with ArcAttack before, but no, he won't make it to the DMD Fest.)

But those are just the special guests. DMD Fest is really about glancing at local artisan vendors, eating local food and drinking local beer, and checking out an eclectic mix of mostly local musicians on red, white, and blue stages. With a new studio album coming out this summer, Dallas' great blues rock band, Jonathan Tyler and the Northern Lights, will perform Saturday before resuming a lengthy national tour.

Aaron Behrens and the Midnight Stroll will also perform on Saturday. With his high-pitched Billy Squire type vocals, Behrens is best known as half of the Austin duo, Ghostland Observatory. Local electronic dance act Ishi will bring their immersive live show to festival on Sunday. From Brooklyn, MOTHXR will perform and some guy from some show called Gossip Girl is in the band.

Donald Cumming, formerly of the the Virgins, will be performing at the festival a month ahead of the release of his solo LP. A track he dropped from the upcoming release sounds every bit as laid back as his former band, but a bit more dissonant. There are some intense live performers at DMD. Leopold & His Fiction, a great live band from San Francisco that has suffered from Jack White comparisons, is onboard. Mainland, the hyper four-piece from New York City, should also speed things up. If their live show is as tight as their recordings, the catchy cosmic rock of Dreamers will also be worth checking out. There's even a one-armed street guitarist from Missoula named Marc Swafford who'll be there.

But again, local performers are some of the highlights of DMD. The always-reliable alt-country act Exit 380 and blues-rockers Somebody's Darling will be featured. The gorgeous folk pop of Gollay and wonderfully diverse sounds of Jessie Frye will add some flavor. Psychedelic garage rockers Un Chien, the garage rock trio Dome Dwellers and the electronic-pop duo Nite are all safe bets. Throwback rockers like Mean Motor Scooter and LEV should also be fun.

Music Is Our Weapon (MIOW), a local non-profit, will curate installations throughout the event like a graffiti wall. MIOW will also bring interaction to the event by encouraging attendees to participate in a massive art wall installation that will be filled up with their writings on what music means to them.

General admission to the fest is $25 per day or you can save $0 if you want to buy a two-day pass for $50. But parking is free, and that's nothing to sneeze at. For all you $50k millionaires who enjoy the glare, VIP passes are $149. That extra $99 gets you reentry, special viewing areas, luxury restrooms and lounge areas, reserved parking, and DMD Fest swag.


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