Untapped Festival at Gilley's, 9/7/13: Review and Photos

GC:: You'd better get used to Untapped. The Spune/Paste Magazine baby is beginning to spread out of Texas around the country, and the second Dallas incarnation (after a successful Fort Worth version earlier in the year) had shifted and expanded into the parking lot outside the Gilley's complex, complete with a delightful VIP area at The Loft's outstanding patio. Despite the mild inconvenience of having to drink 2oz of beer, then go and get another 2oz of beer, and so on and so forth, inebriation in the Dallas sunshine was inevitable and embraced by the crowd.

See also: Scenes From The Untapped Stages

Getting drunk feels better when you have to put so much effort into it, and besides, worse things have happened at sea and all that. Deciding on a new sample every 2oz of beer? It's like buying a new drink every three minutes. Whether that's a good or a bad thing depends on whether your sample cup requires another 1oz of beer or still has 1oz left.

The most high-energy act of the day, the insane syllables of Blackalicious' approach to rap, brought a crowd to full-on bouncing in the direct sunlight of three-digit heat, with no casualties whatsoever. Dallas crowds are made of stern stuff. In the UK, where the weather is normally the opposite of Texas, we have a thing we call a "beer jacket," where you drink beer to stay warm. Is the opposite true of Texas drinkers? Drinking cold beer to stay cool? If so, two questions -- can we call this "be-air conditioning," and does this make beer nature's most versatile beverage? Either way, I ain't standing in no crowd in this heat. I find some shade and think about pretzels and how anyone can do what Gift of Gab does with his mouth.

JPF: As beer drinking music fans jockey for position under the few spots of shade surrounding the main stage at the Gilley's complex, Blackalicious's Gift of Gab tossed a tongue twisting verse over a sample of Harry Nilsson's "Me and My Arrow," and to our left a 50-something beer fan looked impressed. He took a swig from his 2oz sample cup, smiled when Nilsson's voice sang the hook, and proceeded to bob his head when Gift of Gab unleashed another flurry. Another convert to the church of West Coast Alternative Hip-Hop had been born.

See also: Photos Of The People of Untapped

Patrons mill about the festival grounds adorned in custom party necklaces that hold their tasting cups, trying strong lagers, porters, and ales while Blackalicious drives people to dance, and Leagues soundtracks people's lunches. It's meant to be a festival of beer/music equality, but the only time it feels like music takes precedence over beer is when the much hyped Cults take the stage.

Untapped has the air of something much bigger then last year's event. Everything is streamlined, the wristbands, and badges are fancier, VIPs are given goodie bags, and even the breweries handing out samples seem to have stepped up their game as they all seem to have little extras to give patrons.

GC: It felt like a few of the acts were simply background music, the kind of thing you could have blared out of a PA in the background of a beer festival off a record. I'm not sure if the decision to keep the bands relativelty quiet to allow beer festival camaraderie was a conscious one, but it was often a struggle to hear bands. If you were off to the side of a stage, especially the stage by the food trucks, then forget about it. You may as well be listening to a CD. Leagues especially suffered with this, and it took me a while to realize there was actually a band on stage. Either that or Dallas' summer of metal has once and for all done away with my hearing.

Maybe the aforementioned summer of metal has conditioned me in other ways, because I found the non-Blackalicious bands to be relatively twee, mere fripperies soon forgotten in a baking downtown parking lot. Happy, summer-tastic, but of relatively little substance or weight. I couldn't tell you anything about what Cults' music sounds like even now.

JPF: As if nature herself decided that it was time for music the sun disappeared behind a bank of clouds giving the large crowd amassed for Cults set some relief. Despite some early set sound issues the crowd around Cults swelled as more and more patrons were drawn by the band's dreamy take on retro-pop causing older patrons to nod approvingly, and younger fans to dance. Lord do Cults fans love to dance.

The further Cults progressed through their set the more people danced, from the group chaotically dancing to the series of beer loving bros garbed in college football gear who thought it was hilarious to do a John Travolta dancing in Pulp Fiction impression anytime the guitar work by Cults ventured into surf territory. Standing to the far left of the stage were a group of underage fans with Xs clearly marked on their hands. Despite this being a beer fest they had no intention of missing Cults' first set in the US in sometime, and even with out the liquid courage that surrounded them, they closed their eyes, gave themselves to the music and danced.


Nammi Truck should replace DART buses.

Freelance Whales are the musical equivalent of a sneezy kitten running across a field of daffodils.

Crowd surfing at the beer fest is not the smartest or safest decision.

Overheard next to the stage: "I'm surprised how many hipsters there are in Dallas."

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