Elm Street Music and Tattoo Festival: Review and Photos

Gavin Cleaver: Who wants to pay twice for a thing? No one, that's who. So when Deep Ellum venues come together for a night like this weekend's Sailor Jerry/Oliver Peck/Reverend Horton Heat Elm Street Tattoo and Music Festival, and you can see several bands by simply walking around Elm Street and having the right-colored thing on your wrist, that's when Deep Ellum is at its best.

Kiernan Maletsky: Deep Ellum was great this weekend. Let's take any possible excuse for a festival there. But even if they were coming along at a clip of one a month, I'd venture that this particular festival would still be among the best. Oliver Peck has built a reputation out of his little shop on Elm Street that extends worldwide, and this little festival has grown without losing any of his spirit.

GC: The earliest set I saw on Friday was sludge metal Fort Worth heroes Solomon, battering the Wits End bar to within an inch of its life with three songs in a 40 minute set. Other bands might need more songs. They might need more notes. They might need solos, or they might need lines of words that aren't an incomprehensible "UUUUUUURGH." Solomon does not need any of that. They have the power of beating you around your ears at an incredibly slow pace.

What about leaving that place to go to Three Links? Well, alright, if you insist. Three Links has quickly established itself among the neighborhood's storied venues with a satisfying array of ways get drunk and a relatively huge stage for what amounts to a shotgun bar.

It's also where Party Police made their first ever live appearance. Things are hazy by this point, thanks to the alcoholism Deep Ellum is helping me develop. I do know, however, that Party Police played all the songs which were vaguely familiar from YouTube, that there were no particular surprises beyond Madison King and Ward Richmond in police uniforms and that the crowd were into it. It's as much as I could have hoped for, really.

Then it was across the street for Reverend Horton Heat, a man who's played so many Dallas gigs that you can't blame him for going through the motions sometimes. I've seen him go through the motions. This time the Rev and his boys were absolutely not doing that. Mr. Heat played a song from atop the double bass, and the band blasted through the back catalog.

Was there still time to get a tattoo? No. Was there still time to go to Serious Pizza? Yes, and honestly that may have been a bigger mistake. It's just too serious.

KM: I showed up in time to see a couple songs out of Butthole Surfers tribute band Sweatloaf. There were men in bras, women painted green and a surprisingly vivid rendering of the actual songs. Gibby would hate it, probably, but I doubt I'll ever see a weirder ten minutes at Wit's End.

This was an international festival. I say that because for all the hours of music played, it's still about the tattoos. The main room of the Prophet Bar was filled with artists, from Dallas and Austin and Ireland and on. The needles' hum endured Friday's attempt at the world record and continued through the weekend. You need a certain sobriety in a room where everyone's making permanent alterations to their bodies, and there was an amazingly professional atmosphere in the Prophet Bar. Each artist had plenty of space and light, and the patrons waited patiently.

Over at Trees, the situation was much more volatile for psychobilly rockers Phantom Rockers. They were genuinely appreciative of the crowd, something I saw a lot of from the bands. Tattoo artists have a somewhat better reputation among musicians than standard festival promoters.

What else? Dead Flowers dragged the passersby into Three Links better than nearly anyone else I saw at Three Links. Missile has the whole routine down pat. The Phuss do, too, but it never feels like a routine. Bowling For Soup made the following Miley Cyrus joke:

"Miley Cyrus has the kind of tongue you'd like to have in your asshole but not in your mouth."

Then a few minutes of banter about asses and mouths, what to put in them and in what order.

And there was still another entire day of this thing. Lather, rinse, repeat.

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