It's the time of year when live music in Texas shifts into overdrive. Here are some quick looks at big music festival offerings for March, from 35 Denton's small-town soiree to the big daddy of them all, Austin's South by Southwest (a.k.a. SXSW).
Before you fest ...
A few timeless tips that will help your experience run smoothly:
Do your research: Read about and listen to the artists playing, and have a loose list of targets stored in your phone. Some festivals offer apps that help you make your schedule. Don't feel you have to stick to it, but at least have a plan.
Know what and what not to bring: Visit the official festival website and make sure you aren't lugging any items that aren't allowed. Nothing's worse than getting all the way through an entry line and realizing that you have to either go back to the car or throw out some of your stuff.
Be adventurous: Festivals have their popular acts and their unsung acts. Aim for the latter when you can. One, you're not always fighting the biggest crowds, and two, it's the way to discover your next favorites.
Sunscreen, water, comfortable shoes: 'Nuff said.
Best bets at SXSW
There are far too many options for any music fan planning on hitting the state capital March 15-20, but we're trying to make sense of it all before heading south. Seemingly the entire worldwide music industry relocates to Austin for the festival, which offers hundreds of artist showcases and other events. Here are a few of our targets (find details at sxsw.com/music):
The speakers: SXSW is known for its big gets when it comes to keynote speakers and public interviews. This year's no exception, with David Bowie's producer, Tony Visconti, speaking about his legendary career. There'll also be sessions featuring Pat Benatar, T-Pain and first lady Michelle Obama.
The Texas stars: It's always fun to see how the entire music world reacts to our local and Texas artists. Hype should be especially high for Austin's White Denim, Fort Worth's Quaker City Night Hawks and Grammy-winning Denton band Snarky Puppy.
The legends: Two musical giants are joining the hundreds of smaller acts in doing SXSW showcase concerts. Country hero Loretta Lynn and perennial rock 'n' roll provocateur Iggy Pop are both on my to-see list.
The hip-hop set: Recent years have been all about hip-hop for this music fan at SXSW. I'll continue the trend by chasing down Anderson.Paak and BJ the Chicago Kid, among others.
The day parties: If you don't catch the big SXSW artists at an official showcase, chances are you can find them for free at several day parties around town. The always-popular Spotify House will invite the likes of Kacey Musgraves and Neon Indian to grace its stage.
Closer to home ...
THE SO WHAT?! MUSIC FESTIVAL gives attendees a chance to see several dozen SXSW acts right here at home, March 19 and 20 at Grand Prairie's QuickTrip Park. Highlights of this year's lineup include Currents, Monuments, New Found Glory, the Devil Wears Prada and Underoath. sowhatmusicfestival.com.
PARADE OF FLESH'S ANNUAL SPILLOVER FESTIVAL takes over Deep Ellum's busiest music stretch with scads of great indie acts such as Anamanaguchi, the Orwells, Nothing, Broncho, Yuck and more. March 18-20 at Trees, Club Dada and Three Links. paradeofflesh .com/spillover.
Skim through the 150-plus bands playing the 35 Denton music festival, and it's likely there are many names you won't recognize. That's kind of the point. The fest, which takes over eight Little D venues and two outdoor stages March 11-13, is known for giving lesser-known artists a turn in the spotlight. See Tiney Ricciardi's roundup of best bets to find out which acts she's recommending.
Do SXSW in D-FW
Instead of driving down to Austin for the South by Southwest festival, let the live music come to you. Many of the featured acts are making stops in Dallas-Fort Worth on their way to or from the festival, or even in late March and April. See a list of the highlights from contributor Brenna Rushing.