Scenes From Sunday's Eighth Annual Spillover Music Festival.
Dallas show promotion agency Parade of Flesh's annual Sunday-after-South-By-Southwest bash — now called Spillover but with an eight-year history that goes farther back than just that — took over the 2700 block of Elm Street in Deep Ellum, utilizing three venues, four stages and various in-between amenities for its most ambitious offering to date on Sunday night. Better still: The weather was great, the buzz ahead of Sunday was strong and the bands performing counted higher than Spillover could ever previously boast.
So, once more, it again proved a ton to take in.
In that spirit, my day was spent power-walking up and down the block to take in as much as I possibly could, all the while taking notes on what I saw go down. Here's what I jotted down, presented in the form of a running diary — our now-second annual go at this particular method, for whatever that's worth.
4:30 p.m. I'm getting a late start to my 2015 Spillover experience. But, based on the eye test as I approach Club Dada to kick my fest off, it's clear that I'm an outlier. There's a bunch of people here already — or, well, at this venue at least. The festival actually started its day up the road and way earlier, at 12:30 p.m., with an opening gig from a band called Baby Baby at Three Links. Baby Baby is a funny name for a band, but the same can pretty much be said about every band on this Parade of Flesh-booked affair. (Parade of Flesh is a funny name for a show-throwing entity, too, by the way.)
4:45 p.m. OK, some news: Viet Cong, one of the unanimous must-see bands of the festival, had to drop off the bill. Apparently, their drummer broke his arm during SXSW. He played some shows down in Austin with one arm, I hear, but no such luck up here. So that sucks. Tweens, meanwhile, had some car issues or something? Not sure, but they weren't going to make their 3:30 p.m. show at Three Links, anyway, so they're taking Viet Cong's place at Dada's outdoor stage at 6:15.
5:21 p.m. Chicago rock duo White Mystery is gearing up to play Dada's inside stage. Has this band ever not played Spillover?
5:35 p.m. Mac DeMarco's sometime-backing band Walter TV is playing to a modest crowd at Three Links as I make my first rounds to all the participating venues. I'll say this: These guys look just like Mac DeMarco's backing band. Sound like it, too. Solid stuff, if not quite as engaging as DeMarco's own live shows.
6:11 p.m. Dallas art-punk band Party Static is playing to a modest crowd at Trees that really wants to love what's happening on stage. Too bad this isn't Party Static's best show. Not even close. Co-vocalist Kjersten Funk's having vocal issues — I'm told she lost her voice at SXSW — and Brett Strawn just broke a string on his guitar a couple of songs in. He had no backup guitar, nor any strings, so there's a bit of a delay as he asks if anyone in the crowd happens to have a guitar. Fortunately — and this is a pretty good metaphor for Spillover as a whole — someone does. So the set continues, but it never really gets its bearings.
6:26 p.m. Tweens is playing Dada's outdoor stage, sounding not at all like Viet Cong, which was initially supposed to play this slot. It's solid, grimy power-pop, though, and fine soundtrack for a Sunday afternoon spent outside. Meanwhile, there's a dude standing by me who looks like Jordan Catalano from My So-Called Life. Is his band playing later? Where's Tino?
6:29 p.m. I'm standing by the soundboard on Dada's patio and I overhear a few of the guys from Iceage checking in with the details of their performance for later in the night. It's a simple back-and-forth about the backline — a conversation made easier, I imagine, by the SXSW rigmarole the band just endured. But it's a testament, too, to how smoothly things seem to be going so far today. For all the bands and general madness, things are running well. It's impressive. Many Spillover staff shirts abound.
6:35 p.m. Inside Dada, Diarrhea Planet is sound-checking for its upcoming set. I get embarrassingly stoked when one of the band's many guitarists plays lets loose a riff of Phantom Planet's “California” and cheer it on. The guitarist catches my glee, smiles in my direction and then pulls out the riff from Third Eye Blind's “Never Let You Go,” trolling me pretty hard.
6:50 p.m. Diarrhea Planet hasn't even started its set yet, but the inside of Dada is already filling up. This one has all the makings of being the best-attended day show of this year's event, a la last year's impressive Orwells showing.
6:57 p.m. The band's done soundchecking, and the room's full of people, so Diarrhea Planet just dives into the thing, and making it clear right away (in case the name wasn't a dead giveaway) that this is a band that doesn't take itself too seriously: “Good afternoon, nerds! We're Tweens from Cincinnati, Ohio! We're Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers from Gainesville, Florida. We are Wilco from probably a suburb of Chicago, Illinois! We are Liars from… I dunno Australia?”
7:10 p.m. Yeah, this is definitely the biggest turnout of the day thus far. Dada is stupid packed — almost uncomfortably so — and getting sweaty, but the mood is light thanks to DP's unabashedly fun performance. Yes: This is a six-piece band playing three-piece punk, which is to say that there are three more guitars whirling round than probably incumbent; it's all very over-the-top, but that's also very much the idea. Their hooky songs are fast, loud and fun, and their performance is filled with poster-ready poses and winking wankery. It's music you give in to, not music you pore over — even if the band might disagree with that assessment. Announced one band member before playing one of the set's earlier cuts: “This is a great song!”
7:40 p.m. The Dada crowd disperses some in the wake of DP's fiery performance. But not entirely. As has been the case for much of the day and will probably continue, many attendees just stick around and transitions out back to see Jeff The Brotherhood on the patio. A bit of a surprise awaits there: Jeff The Brotherhood's sound engineer blares “Lady In Red” over the P.A. to ready the crowd. Off to the side of the stage, Jeff The Brotherhood's members gather with members of later performers King Tuff and The Coathangers, laughing about the song choice. This is pretty much the most Spillover moment ever, with the bands' guards all down and the weirdly summer camp-like vibe of the whole thing taking the forefront.
7:45 p.m. Jeff The Brotherhood has a fog machine. Of course Jeff The Brotherhood has a fog machine.
7:58 p.m. Over at Three Links, Fort Worth's self-proclaimed divorce-popper Jordan Richardson of Son of Stan jokes with his audience about going to The Church later in the night. Is this the first time Lizard Lounge has ever been discussed at Spillover? Probably.
8:11 p.m. Hey, fun fact: If you're out on the street and you hold your hand out as a member of Diarrhea Planet walks by, he will high-five it.
8:15 p.m. Cancer Bats takes a page from the Diarrhea Planet welcome page. “Welcome to the indie rock stage at Trees!” announces the Canadian metal band's vocalist, Liam Cormier. Some rowdier members in the crowd respond by offering Cormier fellatio. Even Cormier's taken aback: “Whoa, Dallas. We just met.”
8:28 p.m. You guys, Cancer Bats is kinda wrecking shit — even if Trees continues to be maybe the least-attended venue of the day. Still, Cormer takes advantage of having an audience and hypes up Single Mothers, a fellow Canadian band performing later in the night. “Pinkie swear you'll go see them,” he implores. Sure, OK.
8:50 p.m. Before fulfilling pinkie-swear obligations, a swing over to Dada proves well worth it. New Jersey rock saviors Screaming Females are lighting up the inside stage. Marissa Paternoster is a force of nature — diminutive but boasting monstrous talent. Last time she played this stage, she was suffering from mono and she still kicked ass. So, yeah, a healthy Paternoster is a thing of beauty.
9:22 p.m. Over at Trees, the crowds are still thin. North Texas ex-pat Leanne Macomber, performing beautiful vocal melodies over synth-heavy soundscapes under her Young Ejecta moniker, sounds great. Performing all by her lonesome with a little MPC on a stool beside her, she's confident, graceful and compelling. Also, she's wearing black makeup on her neck to emphasize her jawline, I think? I'm not going to pretend to understand that, but past experience has shown that Leanne's always like seven steps ahead of me, so whatever, this one's on me, I'm sure.
9:25 p.m. Mystery Skulls' Luis Dubuc is out in the lot next to Trees where various merch booths, vendors and food trucks have been corralled. He's chatting up some fans — and practically begging them to go inside to see Young Ejecta, with whom he shared a SXSW. They don't follow his advice. Across the street, the Coathangers don't need to go inside to have a good time, either. Its members, who've been around the fest all day long, are dancing outside of Off The Record at the moment.
9:28 p.m. Well, we've definitely reached the poppy portion of the evening. Earlier in the day, someone described Toronto's Alvvays to me as sounding like a female-fronted Pains of Being Pure at Heart, and that's pretty spot on. Theirs is a very '80s college rock, Slumberland Records-indebted sound. Also? Pains of Being Pure at Heart played this thing last year, in a very similar time slot. Time is flat circle.
9:33 p.m. Inside of Dada, I spot Screaming Females' Paternoster over by the merch area. I compliment her on her performance and remind her of that last show I'd seen of hers, and how rock 'n' roll of a showing that one was. She laughs and then schools me some: “No, that [mono] show wasn't very rock 'n' roll. Rock 'n' roll is about celebration. I shouldn't have even played that show. But I tried my best and had fun. I had fun at this show, too. It was the better show.”
9:41 p.m. Holy shit, you guys. Cancer Bats was spot on. Single Mothers — another Canadian band, go figure — is slaying this Three Links set. The energy levels are insane. Singer Andrew Thompson just never stops moving. When not jumping on stage, he's jumping in with the crowd, which is constantly stealing Thompson's microphone away so that they can sing his lyrics for him. Thompson doesn't care. He's missing one of his two front teeth, and he just flashes a wry smile whenever the crowd's energy peaks, which is basically the whole time. During half-a-second of down time, Thompson kneels on the Three Links stage — only to be kissed on the forehead by an overzealous fan, who can't help herself. It's pretty adorable.
9:52 p.m. I really can't overstate how great this performance from Single Mothers is. Thompson's a masterful showman. The crowd loves him. It's a little messianic. No wonder, then, that he repeatedly dons a smirk crosses his chest throughout the show.
9:55 p.m. Hey, this is fun: Single Mothers just shouted out their local pals in Sealion and Bummer Vacation.
10:01 p.m. This is the show of the day, y'all. Single Mothers forever.
10:24 p.m. After the high of Single Mothers at Three Links, this Mystery Skulls show is a bit of a let down. Luis sounds fine. And his show, which blends live singing with DJ blends, is an impressive technical feat. But, as has been the case with Trees all day, the audience out on the floor is too thin to allow for much of a vibe to get built. Luis can't help but notice: “Dallas, you're fucking quiet tonight,” he says during one breakdown. “Let's wake the fuck up.” Yes, let's.
10:31 p.m. Maybe we don't need to wake up so much as make sure people know there are venues beyond just Dada participating in this event? The Coathangers were just here last month, and yet here the crowds are again, showing up en masse for their show. Yup, Dada's still crowded. People are definitely camping in single venues, it seems. Well, OK, not at Trees. I don't really get it.
10:38. p.m. All Them Witches is on stage at Three Links. Not just some of them, either. All four of them. They're pretty cool, though, with this kinda dirgey blues-based rock drone. It's a little True Widow-like, actually, in that it's loud and manages to compel despite bring in no rush to get anywhere.
10:58 p.m. Hey, it took more than 10 hours, but it finally happened. Someone yelled “Freebird” between songs at Iceage's set on Dada's patio. Ugh.
10:59 p.m. Oh, that Jordan Catalano-looking dude I saw earlier in the night is the lead singer in Iceage. Of course he is. These Danish punks are cool and they know it.
11:01 p.m. Far less cool than anyone in Iceage is this person here who's filming their set on their tablet. Who's less cool? This person or the “Freebird” person?
11:07 p.m. One person who hasn't been camping out in one spot over the course of this day is Dada co-owner Josh Florence, who, along with his own team, helps the Parade of Flesh crew pull this event off. I catch him out front of Dada, taking a breather by leaning up against the wall. He says he just needed a quick break after walking around from venue to venue all day. Then he points out the Fitbit he's wearing around his wrist. “I've walked 10.5 miles today,” he says. “I'm pretty stoked about it!”
11:09 p.m. Liars is the first set to not to start on time — and I'm told it's an intentional move, given that Iceage is still playing over at Dada and they want to give fans some time to make their way over. Already, though, this is as packed as I've seen Trees all day.
11:10 p.m. The show starts exactly 10 minutes after it was supposed to, which is a comforting sign that what I'd been told hadn't been total bullshit. Fun fact about Liars being on this bill, though: It didn't play SXSW. So, while this band's playing Spillover (proper noun), this performance isn't really a spillover (adjective) show, ya dig?
11:27 p.m. So, I don't know if this is festival setting in or what, but this Liars show is loud as hell and a little tough to swallow. Performing as a three-piece, the band's songs sound jittery and abrasive here, like the soundtrack to a migraine, which I think is a compliment but I'm also really not sure. I'm pretty sure these guys' last time through town was as the opened for Radiohead at Gexa Energy Pavilion on the In Rainbows tour. That connection makes a lot of sense here: Radioheads' more tribal, electronic elements are an obvious calling card of Liars', too.
11:46 p.m. Back at Dada, there's still a strong crowd in place as King Tuff performs on stage. They sound great: Kyle Thomas' voice so delightfully bratty, and just a perfect fit for his band's classic rock-indebted garage rock.
11:51 p.m. Out back on Dada's patio, I see a young festival attendee just looking completely showed-out as he sits on the ground, his back up against Dada's back wall. “It's just my ears, man,” he says when I ask if he's OK. “They're beat.” I feel his pain: There's a definite desensitization that comes into play as marathon events such as this one go on. It takes a lot to move the needle at this point.
11:57 p.m. Are my eyes playing tricks on me or is that a witch running King Tuff's merch booth.
11:58 p.m. It's a witch. Or someone dressed up like a witch.
12:29 p.m. Speaking of witches: I run into True Widow drummer Slim TX out on Three Links' back patio and, as expected, he tells me he saw and loved All Them Witches' set.
12:55 p.m. Inside Three Links, redneck metal stalwarts Weedeater play to a surprisingly decent crowd — maybe the biggest and most attentive crowd I can ever remember coming this late into a Spillover fest run. Metal fans are the realist.
1:04 p.m. Back out on Three Links' patio, a friend and I end up talking with White Mystery drummer Francis White, who's not only a) still here, but b) rocking a shirt for another Spillover band, Dirty Fences. He's a big fan of Spillover, he says. Considering how many he's played — at least three by my count — I'm not surprised. Still, I ask him to explain: “You get partied out at South by Southwest,” he says. “I like Spillover. We've done a few of them now, and this one's been really good. The bands are all great. I think it's pretty easily my favorite Spillover ever. [Parade of Flesh head] John [Iskander] is really killing it, man.” He is. This Spillover was another great time. But after 12.5 hours of it, I'm a little partied out myself. Till next year, Spillover. Have an awesome summer and stay cool forever.