Can’t Make it to SXSW? Here Are 5 Local Festivals to Quench Your Live Music Thirst

Upsetting will perform at SX Foreplay Fest V.
Upsetting will perform at SX Foreplay Fest V. All Hallows Productions

Festival season is upon us, and the draw of Austin’s South X Southwest is pulling on you hard. There’s a problem, though. Either you can’t make it to Austin, or you don’t have the money, or you think that the whole thing has just become too corporate, man.

Well, don’t fret. Here are five live, local and less expensive alternatives going on in DFW to satisfy your every music desire.

South X Oak Cliff II
March 11-14 at Tradewinds Social Club
If you’re looking for a more intimate setting to catch local and touring bands, but you’d still like a nice bar to get your drinks at, South X Oak Cliff II is perfect.

Each night will only cost you $5 at the door, and there are four bands playing each night starting at 9 p.m.

It’s definitely a mixed bag every night as far as musical genre is concerned. With acts ranging from '60s-style rock to metal to hip-hop, you’ll want to check your expectations at the door and just have a good time listening to local favorites like Dead Mockingbirds and Children of Indigo or touring bands like Minneapolis hardcore band New Primals or Charlotte’s emo four-piece heckdang.

If you can only make it there one night, be sure to catch Arizona synthpunk hip-hop Snailmate on the festival’s opening night.

SX Foreplay Fest V
March 12 at The Nines
Let’s say that you only have one day next week to fit in your live music fix. If that is the case, then SX Foreplay Fest V is for you.

Brought to you by King Camel’s Jeff Brown in association with Barf Wave Records, this festival is a pit stop for bands on their way down to Austin for the big showcase.

Starting at 8 p.m., The Nines in Deep Ellum will be rocked by six bands from around the country playing music mostly in the lo-fi psychedelic genre.

Though the lineup has yet to be announced, get there early to see Cincinnati bubblegum punkers Leggy perform alongside Dallas’ own emo outfit Upsetting.

March 12 – 17 at multiple venues in Deep Ellum
Now in its 11th year, Not So Fun Weekend features more than 50 bands playing at six venues in and around Deep Ellum. The six-day event features local and touring acts from multiple genres expertly segmented into their own venue.

The festival starts small with just one show March 12, two shows on the 13 and three on the 14, but the festival’s weekend shows are the stuff of legends. Particularly the legendary New York hardcore band Gorilla Biscuits, who will play March 15 at Canton Hall with straight-edge band Judge, hardcore band Candy and Denton’s highly sought after punk act Razorbumps.

Catch The Coathangers, who will make a special stop in Dallas on March 16 at Club Dada in the midst of their break in an otherwise hectic tour schedule in support of their latest album The Devil You Know.

Attack on 6th Street and Spilt Milk Festivals
March 15-16 at Lola’s in Fort Worth
Maybe you’d like to escape the Dallas scene and explore some local bands in a more unfamiliar location. If that’s the case, Lola’s should be your destination.

Although these are two completely separate festivals, the fact that they are one day apart at the same venue each with a ton of bands makes it too difficult to separate them.

While Attack on 6th Street may go a bit harder than its Spilt Milk counterpart, which focuses on math rock, post-punk, dream pop and shoe gaze, fans of local music are known for their eclectic taste in music and would likely not have a problem seeing From Parts Unknown and Daikaiju one day and seeing Rei Clone and Fun Button the next.

While Attack on 6th Street is an 18-plus show, Spilt Milk welcomes anyone younger than 18 as long as they are accompanied by a parent. Who says a music festival can’t be a family affair?

Free Underage Cool Kids Festival
March 15-16, 22-23 at The Grooveyard, The Lighthouse, Linden Land and The Holding Cell in Denton
Four Shows. Four Houses. Two weekends. 33 bands. All free. All BYOB. This festival has everything you need if you’re broke but still looking to have a good time.

Be forewarned, this festival is completely DIY and absolutely everything is subject to change. It is not unheard of that these house shows get shut down.

However, the risk is worth the overwhelming sense of community that comes with a house show. Where else can you see brand-spanking-new bands play alongside local favorites like Sub-Sahara and Acid Carousel?

If you’re not in the know about these kinds of shows, finding out exactly where to go may be difficult, so you’ll want to consult the event’s Facebook page to stay informed.

The event is spread across two weekends, so if your March 15 and 16 are already booked up with other festivals, you can always join in on the fun on the 22nd and 23rd.
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David Fletcher writes about music, arts and culture for the Dallas Observer. You can usually find him at a show in Deep Ellum whether he's writing about it or not. A punk scholar and local music enthusiast, David focuses his attention on the artists screaming in the margins of Dallas' music scene.
Contact: David Fletcher