We didn't get an Electric Daisy Carnival this year, but we had a slew of smaller-scale electronic music festivals come through Dallas. Meltdown, held out in Grand Prairie at QuikTrip Park, was sort of the unofficial start of summer, with a nice mix of local and national DJs. They even had noise complaints from the neighbors, because their bass was just too damn loud. That's the spirit.

The Belmont Hotel

From early spring to late summer, KXT's Barefoot at the Belmont series drops local and national acts onto the beautiful grounds of Oak Cliff's Belmont Hotel and demands your attention. The shows are always sellouts, which points to KKXT-FM 91.7 knowing its crowd. Will Johnson, Gary Clark Jr., Tim DeLaughter? Check. Demand was so high this year, the station might need to find another place to get barefoot in 2013.

More than any traditional local radio station, the shows on CBS-owned Internet station Indie-Verse (klli.radio.com) are a reflection of the divergent tastes of the community. The playlists are a bit looser, the dialogue a bit more casual. You might hear a 10-minute death metal song or the theme song to Roseanne. We need more of this in Dallas, radio-heads.

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The Dallas Theater Center acting company member performed this year's best scene-stealing bit onstage. In God of Carnage, the Tony-winning play DTC produced at Kalita Humphreys Theater, Sally Nystuen Vahle played a high-strung, tightly wrapped urban mommy. The play is about civilized adults who, as alcohol flows and conversations grow heated, turn into furious savages. Vahle's character was one of the calmest until fwaaaaaaaak, she suddenly stood up and vomited. Not just a little upchuck. No, a torrent of barf that sprayed over the furniture, other actors, even the first rows at some performances. It was a perfectly wonderful/horrible moment of live theater, which Vahle carried off with great flourish (the trick was accomplished with a tube, a throw pillow and liquid chunked with tiny pieces of foam rubber). As special effects go, it was a doozy. And for Ms. Vahle, who typically plays straitlaced, well-behaved ladies, it allowed her to let loose with some truly gutsy acting.

In a town flush with quality sports TV types, nobody cooks a vocabulary stew quite like Daryl "Razor" Reaugh. Using words like "mastadonic" and "pulchritudinous" as effortlessly as "skate" or "puck," Reaugh brings an auditory flavor to the local hockey broadcast that can't be matched. Alongside excellent play-by-play man Ralph Strangis, Razor has been in the booth for the Stars for 16 seasons. The secret of HIS greatness isn't lost on the broader audience, as last season he made multiple guest appearances on Canada's popular Hockey Night in Canada. This fall, whip out your dictionary and be by the channel, as Razor will surely be slinging many more of his trademark "mind vitamins."

As one of the creative troupe of actors, artists and musicians known as "The Ochre House Boys," Elizabeth Evans has proven she's able to mix it up in company founder Matthew Posey's avant garde comedies and dramas. As the bedridden Mexican artist Frida Kahlo in Posey's biographical play Ex Voto: The Immaculate Conceptions of Frida Kahlo, she gave her best performance yet, memorable for the fire in her eyes and her willingness to bare her soul (and everything else) to express the artist's passions and fears. That Evans could then turn around and play the comedy relief character in Posey's dark musical about Charlie Manson, Mean, is just more evidence of how many colors this actress paints with.

His appearances in recent years at African American Repertory Theatre, WaterTower, Upstart and Undermain now seem like mere warm-ups for Christopher Dontrell Piper's explosive performance this season in Tracy Letts' Superior Donuts at Theatre Too. As a young man full of ideas about how to boost business at a failing Chicago bakery, Piper formed a perfectly balanced acting partnership with co-star Van Quattro. The most natural actor on any Dallas stage — he wears every character as if he were born to play him — Piper has only just begun to show directors and audiences what he's capable of.

With her stunning two-act drama Ruth, Dallas playwright Vicki Caroline Cheatwood put something truly important on the stage at Kitchen Dog Theater. Based on the Old Testament story of Ruth and Naomi, the play featured parallel sagas of women in the 1930s Dust Bowl and in present-day Oklahoma. In each time period, newly widowed friends must deal with being displaced, always haunted by the ghosts of their dead husbands. Dreamlike, emotionally charged and at times sexy and funny, Kitchen Dog's beautifully cast world premiere production, directed by Tim Johnson for the New Works Festival, was this company's best of the season. With Ruth, Cheatwood should get national attention as a strong voice in American theater.

Irving Convention Center

First of all, this festival is batshit. Every year, the Irving Convention center is sardine-packed with vendors selling slivers of the most magma-spicy, butt-churning peppers on the planet. At ZestFest, you'll find "foods" like extract of the ghost pepper, "Volcano Dust," habanero wings and the Trinidad Scorpion (OMG, beware). So, we come to our new favorite pastime. Watching other humans' faces as they "experience" the hottest peppers in the world is something deeply special and American. Imagine watching someone be stabbed all over with invisible needles. ZestFest 2013 is January 25 through January 27. Go and watch humans wince and squirm as their insides sublimate. You won't regret it.

On Friday, June 1, at Gexa Energy, local station KKXT-FM 91.7 brought out the big guns for their first festival: St. Vincent, Flaming Lips, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and more. It was an exuberant and bright summer festival with both national and local hooks. It was also a clarion trumpet blast against KXT's growing naysayers. Dallas, with all its quirks and idiosyncrasies, is not bereft of damn good music festivals. Look for this one to grow, but KXT's kickoff music festival was a doozy.

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