Starting Wednesday, Deep Ellum gets taken over by Oliver Peck and all his rowdy friends as the Elm Street Music & Tattoo Festival takes over programming at Trees, Wit's End, Three Links, Club Dada and the Prophet Bar. Now in its second year, the event has grown to its most ambitious size yet, stretching itself out over five days. That means there will be plenty of things to do, fun to be had and trouble to get into. In order to maximize the first two and minimize the latter (it is Deep Ellum, after all), we've put together a survival guide to help ensure you don't wake up with the proverbial tattoo that you'll regret later.
Let's get tickets out of the way first. Single-day passes for the festival run $25. Five-day passes are $50, and there's a VIP option that costs $120 and gets you access to VIP lounges where you can sample food and drinks. If you're looking to just go to individual shows it will run you between $10 and $25 per show. Do yourself a favor and get the five-day pass, though.
It'll be worth it because this year's lineup is impressive. The usual big party kick-off show has been replaced by a set from seminal punks Black Flag (or at least enough of them to legally use the name). Thursday features an alt-country super bill with Lucero and Fort Worth's Quaker City Night Hawks. Friday sees MXPX take over Trees, while the Prophet Bar is turned into the world's largest tattoo shop for the 24-hour tattoo marathon. Saturday is basically a localpalooza with Reverend Horton Heat at Trees and Denton legends Brutal Juice and Slobberbone at Wit's End. Oh, and Sunday there's a Mario Kart tournament, so you can show off your new tattoo while playing video games.
With those major points out of the way, here are some especially important pro-tips for surviving this week.
1. Make sure you have a valid ID on you. Awesomely enough, the concerts themselves are all-ages. However, the tattoo festivities are all 18 and up, so you're not getting a tattoo (much less a drink) unless you have one.
2. Cash. Don't hold up the rest of us with your debit card at the bar. Odds are you're going to lose that card somewhere along the way anyway, so practice the tenets of the Wu-Tang Clan and C.R.E.A.M.
3. Bring a bandana. Can't drive this one home enough. It'll help you survive the hot and humid nights we've been having. I'll let you fit in too, because roughly 90 percent of the attendees will be sporting one.
4. Drink after, not before. If you're getting a tattoo, do not drink before getting one. No artist worth a damn will put a needle to your skin if you're hammered. Just grab a drink afterwards. I recommend going to Reno's for a Black Tooth Grin.
5. Take the Green Line. There's like zero good parking in Deep Ellum, and there's a rail stop right off Elm St. Do yourself a favor and take the public transportation. All the best drug dealers are on there anyway. (Kidding!)
6. Fuzzy's. The Fuzzy's taco shop next to Three Links is a one-stop shop for tacos, tequila shots and beer. You're going to need to level out at some point and the Fuzzy's patio is the place to do it.
7. Get a tattoo. Seriously some of the best artists in the world are coming for this thing. If you've been waiting to get something done, this is your opportunity.
Of course, there's an assortment of other restaurants and bars in the area that you need to visit; you can't spend the whole time boozing and getting inked. You're in Deep Ellum after all, so participate in as much as possible. At least three people will say that this fest means "Deep Ellum is back," so you might as well help them make their argument.