With Flaming Lips, Dr. Dog, Pharcyde and more
Fair Park, Dallas
Saturday, November 7, 2015
As the Flaming Lips began its headlining set during Saturday night’s Untapped Festival in front of several thousand beer and/or music lovers at Fair Park, it seemed as though the most ambitious annual festival in the crowded North Texas festival marketplace had hit its highest note yet. Unlike the packed, dusty confines of the Gilley’s complex, where the Dallas edition of Untapped took place the past couple years, strolling around the under-appreciated, historical architecture of Fair Park was a relative breeze.
There were plenty of menacing, lengthy lines for the rarest, most unique beers, and as the evening marched forward, it was more or less a fool’s errand to join the throng of eager Easy Slider customers. But with insanely gorgeous weather, a user-friendly layout and the strongest top-to-bottom musical bill of any Untapped Fest, complaints about long lines for the limited edition brews or some of the food trucks seemed like minor quibbles. After all, there was never a wait for restrooms, and if we’re keeping it real, isn’t that the most important line at a festival specializing in beer?
Well before the Lips took to their confetti cannon-armed stage, Elle King’s bold belting could be heard throughout the fairgrounds. It was nice to be able to hear the music so clearly, even without standing immediately in front of the stage, as many brewers’ booths began running out of some beers as the sun began setting. Around late evening, the division between the event's beer festival and music event identities became clearer, for better or worse.
As the Pharcyde delivered a tight, jubilant set that forced involuntary dancing and gyrating of varying types, the beer tents were either faced with an intimidating line or left alone completely due to a lack of remaining offerings. In short, if you decided to keep your spot and soak in the vibes of Pharcyde and then perform a bit of air-guitar to Dr. Dog, you were doing so at the expense of trying any beers as the selection rapidly disappeared. But the wiser attendees showed up early enough to taste what they wanted to and still see the headline acts, which for the most part brought their A-games.
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Pennsylvania’s Dr. Dog had the bouncing pep to its step the group has long been known for. The band’s mix of quirkiness and vintage-flavored accessibility make it perfect for festivals, where broad audiences are ripe for being won over. Brooklyn’s Steve Gunn, playing to a loosely packed smattering, offered a healthy dose of his laid-back cool, which turned out to be a bit too laid back. Sandwiched between many high-energy acts after the sun dropped and after many beers were sampled, Gunn’s noodling was sound but woefully anticlimactic.
That's what Cloud Nothings were for. The raucous post-punk outfit from Cleveland ended its set with a swirling frenzy of buzzing guitars and percussive blasts. If the Dylan Baldi-led troop releases another album as stellar as its past couple, late-night, top-of-the-bill slots will become the norm.
It’s worth noting that sets seemed to begin and end in a remarkably timely fashion, which is highly commendable given the three-stage set-up and a schedule of music that began at 1:30 in the afternoon. Coyne and the Lips took the stage a few minutes after 9 p.m., and as was expected, the color and life that sets a Flaming Lips performance apart from all other bands performing these days was in full effect. Majestic tunes, vibrant rainbow lighting, colorful streamers, mascots in jumbo uniforms of varying shapes and Coyne’s wild-ass gray hair made for a most excellent ending to a day that had already seen a tremendous amount of cheer and revelry.
A sizable, silver shining Mylar balloon summed up the entire festival in an eloquently fitting manner. As Coyne held the balloon stating “Fuck Yeah Dallas,” it was hard not to think the phrase was incomplete. It should’ve spelled out “Fuck Yeah Untapped Dallas.”