A Dispatch From the Untapped Beer and Music Festival
See also: The people of Untapped Festival
Nick Rallo The Antlers win best sound check ever for singing the words "hot dogs" in different keys
Listen: Dallas, Texas has become unstuck in time. At least that's how it felt in the short break between the shot glass full of beer and the guy in front of me wearing a Vonnegut jersey that bore the number five. That's a Slaughterhouse Five reference, right?
One thing's for sure: if the human race still had the Great Library of Alexandria, which cataloged, you know, all human knowledge at the time, then someone, somewhere would have to catalog yesterday's weather for the Untapped Festival as one of The Great Things. There was pumpkin-flavored beer, a cool breeze and Christmas lights in the trees.
Anyway, here's my play-by-play of the festival, which took place at Trinity Groves in West Dallas:
2:34 p.m. - A man leans out of the window of a parked, running van and asks, sadly, "It's sold out?" to an Untapped staff member.
2:57 p.m. - I get my beer card, which is sort of like Bingo if "Bingo" meant, "Hey, I'm schwasted," and head straight towards the Dogfish Head line. Guy in front of me asks, "What's the pumpkin ale like?" The woman behind the keg responds, "It's a pumpkin beer." I take vigorous notes, also a pumpkin beer. Blood alcohol level: 7%
3:00 p.m. - Catch the last few minutes of a simmering Blackstone Rangers set. It's got a National's Alligator thing going on. Lots of sunglasses I admire around here.
3:11 p.m.- Avery's beer booth had no line, which is mildly criminal. Got the IPA. In front of Zhora, the crowd is doing that thing where they stand a solid ten yards form the stage, myself included. Except for the one tie-dyed shirt guy who's dancing like he's the only human on the planet. There's also a guy sitting in a plastic chair. Blood alcohol level: 13.5%
Nick Rallo Mysterious chair guy, way into it concert dancer
3:16 p.m. - Sarah Jaffe sighting. Man, she's dressed all cool. My clothes aren't that cool. I'm dressed like balding Michael Cera.
3:20 p.m. - Zhora, which features former Ishi member Taylor Rea, is really soaring. Rea delivers an evil laugh into the microphone, which has been pitch shifted and reverb'd. Scares the shit out of me a little bit. Having an Avery Rascal now, which is summery. Blood alcohol level: 19.1%
3:32 p.m. - A kind soul grabbed my beer card as it nearly fluttered away. Good Samaritan, FTW.
3:39 p.m. - Abita's Select Roggen Weizen is keeping me company during a set from David Dondero. He's playing some esoteric folk, solo. His songs sound just like the soundtrack to the Robin Hood animated movie. I'm pretty sure there was a song from the point-of-view of a chicken about to fried. Blood alcohol level: 26.1%
4:03 p.m. - Guy has shirt that reads, "You look like...I need another beer." I consider shouting, very loudly, "You calling me ugly?!?"
4:10 p.m. - Here's a weird thing: About half way through David Dondero's set, a Deep Ellum Brewery guy climbs on top of a truck behind the stage. The Deep Ellum brewery guy appears to be talking into a microphone, but no sound comes out. David Dondero notices, turns to look at the Deep Ellum Brewery guy. Dondero looks confused, says so. The Deep Ellum guy starts gesturing like he's talking into the mic. I assume he's being filmed for something? Dondero turns again, says, "This is weird," and walks off the stage. He's pissed. The two then have words behind the stage. Deep Ellum guy apologizes profusely.
4:22 p.m. - Yes, I will have a Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA.
4:25 p.m. - Would it be weird if I ate a Nammi Banh Mi out of the trash?
4:45 p.m. - Akron/Family opens with "So It Goes," from their album S/T II: The Cosmic Birth and Journey of Shinju TNT. Like that title, they're instantly weird and great. Bassist Miles Seaton says to the crowd, "I love sunglasses so much!" Ommegang BPA, followed closely by a Duvel beer in the glass. Blood alcohol level: 39.1%
4:58 p.m. - Seth Olinksy of Akron/Family shouts Feel better or die!" into the mic.They're great musicians, often shredding. Big flourishes of bass and guitar. The Maui Coconut Porter tastes like a coconut followed me home and beat the shit out of me.
5:20 p.m. - Seriously, Akron/Family just spent half a minute screaming into the mic.
5:58 p.m. - Eastern Sea, from Austin, makes some happy vibrato. Guy next to me makes fun of me for taking Instagram photo. I delete it immediately, self conscious.
6:09 p.m. - One day I'll dress as cool as the guys from The Eastern Sea. They have so much beard. They're effervescent. Lots of trumpet. Blood alcohol level: (following a Lakewood Brewery Rock Ryder) 44%
6:15 p.m. Golden Grahams shirt sighting.
6:45 p.m. - Antlers open with the rollicking "Rolled Together," from Burst Apart. It's a nearly five-minute, minimalist-lyric piece. And really, really good. They continue with more tracks from Burst Apart, including the brilliant "I Don't Want Love," then an absolutely killer Jeff Buckley-esque version of Hospice's "Two." Seriously, listen to this band.
7:30 p.m. - I think I saw Neil Young's ghost outside the Cajun Tailgators truck. Sad that it closed.
7:40 p.m. - The Antlers close their set with a song called "Putting the Dog to Sleep." It's a slow burn about dying/not dying alone. Kudos for doing that at a beer fest. One of the best shows I've seen in Dallas.
8:04 p.m. - Drunk, pinkish-hued guy in mesh hat is really doing a thing with his hips.
8:30 p.m - Power goes out for a second during Fort Worth's The Burning Hotels. They're great, but I'm still reliving the Antlers show. Man, that was good. Fellow Observer beer fan Jesse Hughey gives me a tart, weiss beer that tastes exactly like a loaf of sourdough bread. Blood alcohol level: 66% or something.
8:45 p.m. - Breweries are starting to finish off their kegs. My brain feels like one of those mesh bags that holds a dozen footballs. Burning Hotels finishes a set that has a few burps of power. A guy next to me has a beer stain in the shape of a giant 'V'. Probably the most wasted guy I noticed so far.
9:30 p.m. - Givers, a pop ensemble from Lafayette, Louisana, start after the longest sound check of the night. They have a big worldly sound, like Fanfarlo.The crowd's dying for the closing act, but happy. The sun's all the way gone. There's a few beers left and the trees are softly whistling. And I was perfectly unstuck in time. Blood alcohol level: OK to drive%