Index Music Festival Deep Ellum, Dallas Friday, September 26 through Sunday, September 28, 2014
There's something particularly thrilling about seeing Local Natives perform as the Dallas skyline shines brightly. If you're going to have a festival in a major American city, this is the way to do it. The band's music is incredibly full and climatic, so they're a perfect band to close out pretty much any festival. But, with all of these festivals springing up, unless your actual intention is for it to be all about the music -- and how often is it, really? -- you should set yourself apart in some way. Does Index Fest accomplish this?
It's hard to place a finger on what sets Index apart from other festivals. You can see some really amazing sets from a band like Future Islands, who played Index on Friday evening. They're music is best described as Intense™. Frontman Samuel T. Herring is so animated that after about two or three songs, by the time media photographers start getting ushered out of the photo pit, he's drenched in sweat and his shirt has turned a few shades darker.
Then there's Mutemath, who closed out Saturday night in spectacular fashion. Drummer Darren King was the true thief of the evening, with his tenacious skill and rapid pace -- so much so that he has to tape this headphones to his face.
You can see Dan Deacon control an entire grounds of people and get them to jump, run and scream. It's an odd but warming sight. The power of his psychedelic electronic music has a considerable pull on the minds of festival goers. To close his Sunday afternoon set, Deacon had the majority of his crowd form a dancing tunnel to the next stage with their bodies. The scene is like best-case scenario Branch Davidians stuff.
You can easily bump into a great set at a club venue as well. Lee Fields and the Expressions blazed through a set at Trees powered by Fields' scratchy and powerful vocals.
Index, only in its third year, has grown from basically being a small event in the back of Trees' parking lot into an event in a much more proper festival ground space by day and, by night, takes over the clubs in Deep Ellum. It's a legitimate "festival," and can stand tall and proudly for growing at the pace of a 'roided out ballplayer.
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There were even plenty of festival cliches to drive in that point. Dudes could be seen throwing a frisbee back and forth in true hippie fashion. Beer and cocktails cost so much that you may need a cosigner in order to purchase one. There was a VIP area, as well, and the three stage-layout on the grounds ensured that there was almost constantly music happening. (This was even more true when festivities moved to the clubs at night. Keeping track of who was playing where was no easy feat.)
Speaking of VIP, in order to get an Index Festival T-shirt you had to be a VIP wristband-wearer. There's something a little off there.
However, as mentioned earlier, Index Festival is in its third year and considering the growth from taking place over the course of two days in a parking lot, it might as well have been its first. Was there an actual purpose for Index other than hell, let's put together a music festival in Deep Ellum? Probably not. There was no clear raison d'être in the selection of bands. But then there probably doesn't need to be, either.
It was a great escuse to catch a slew of North Texas' best local acts throughout the course of the weekend while spending the days checking out a few good national acts. As Index grows -- and based on its progress to date, it seems it will get a little bigger and a little better than it was the year before -- it can perfect its purpose of being a festival in Deep Ellum, right outside of downtown, under the skyline, in the music capital of Dallas.