Which Spring Music Fests in Texas Are Worth the Money?
The Suffers' percussionist, Jose "Chapy" Luna, and wife Iveth enjoy El Paso's Neon Desert 2015
Photo by Marco Torres
Spring and early summer is a great time to be a music fan in Texas. There's no shortage of exciting events competing for your attention, and the weather has not reached the kind of temperatures that encourage sidewalk culinary experiments. If you don't mind driving a few hours here and there, you can stay entertained every weekend from the one coming up all the way up to Free Press Summer Fest.
But that shit can get expensive, so all but the wealthiest music lovers among us may have to make some pretty tough choices this spring. That's where we come in – hopefully this illustrated spreadsheet will show you not only who's playing where, but an estimate of how much each festival will set you back. Service fees and hotel accommodations not included, though, so plan wisely.
H-Town's own MyDolls
Photo by David Ensminger
About: More than 100 acts take over the funky North Texas college town in one of the prime pre-SXSW festivals to capitalize on all those bands heading for Austin in need of gas money.
Talent: Charles Bradley; Biz Markie; Electric Six; Tacocat; Megafauna; Dixie Witch; Daniel Markham; Sudie; Will Johnson; Class Actress; Otis the Destroyer; many more, including Houston's Fat Tony and MyDolls
Noteworthy: 35 Denton's organizers are no doubt hoping the performances overshadow their decision to drop Black Pussy last month after deciding the controversy-courting Portland rockers “are [not] the right fit for our festival, our town or our culture.”
Prices: $100 (3-day VIP); $65 (3-day GA); $35 (Saturday or Sunday only); $25 (Friday only)
About: Disco Donnie Presents and Global Groove Events hope three days of beats on the beach (plus pre-party) will help sell Spring Break on SPI to multitudes of young folks. Not that they need much of a push.
Talent: Kaskade; Porter Robinson; Dmitri Vegas & Like Mike; Galantis; Blau; Borgeous; Tigerlily; DJ Snake (pre-party)
Noteworthy: Beyond the headliners, regionally based performers include Houston's Surain; Edinburg's Skootr Valdez; Austin's Andrew Parsons; and Oklahoma City's Travis Traps.
Prices: $190 (3-day VIP); $180 (3-day GA + pre-party); $150 (3-day GA)
Incidentals: Locker rental ($30); cell-phone charging stick ($15); “Glow Motion” bracelet ($15); “Glow Motion” cat ears ($20)
President Barack Obama and his fellow SXSW keynote speaker, First Lady Michelle Obama, during his second inauguration in January 2013
About: Austin's version of March Madness celebrates its 30th anniversary. Perhaps you've heard of it.
Talent: Iggy Pop; Nas; Richie Hawtin; Wynonna; BØRNS; Loretta Lynn; Kool Keith; Wolfmother; Jaime xx; Waxahatchee; a few thousand others
Noteworthy: Besides the Obamas, you mean? If Houston's streets seem unusually empty that week, it's because BeatKing, Catch Fever, Doeman, Doughbeezy; Fat Tony, Future Blondes, Guilla, Kyle Hubbard, Los Skarnales, Lyric Michelle, Propain, Say Girl Say, Something Fierce, T2 “The Ghetto Hippie,” The Tontons, Trae Tha Truth, -Us., Von Won, Roosh Williams and Wrestlers will all be there. Well played, y'all.
Prices: $189 (music wristband); $895 (music badge)
About: Conspicuously no longer named "South by So What," the ninth annual emo/punk/post-hardcore extravaganza brings 100-plus artists to QuikTrip Park, otherwise known as the home field of the Grand Prairie AirHogs minor-league baseball team.
Talent: New Found Glory, Underoath, Bayside, The Devil Wears Prada, State Champs, Saosin, Real Friends, Beartooth, Blessthefall, Dance Gavin Dance, Escape the Fate; Silverstein; many, many others
Noteworthy: Houstonians making the trek north include the revived Fenix TX, also coming to Warehouse Live with Unwritten Law on March 22, and pop-punk newcomers the Waterparks.
Prices: $350 (VIP/Superstar); $250 (VIP/Rock Star); $99 (2-day GA pass); $50 (single-day GA)
About: Deluxe EDM (and then some) fest put on by Houston's Havin' a Ball Productions reaches its fifth year.
Talent: Bassnectar; Above & Beyond; Dillon Francis, STS9; Eric Prydz; Juicy J; Griz; Tycho; Cherub; Crizzly; The Polish Ambassador; Waka Flocka Flame; lots more
Noteworthy: GA camping is sold out; limited camping passes available with tent rentals.
Prices: $249 (3-day VIP); $159 (3-day GA); $54 (single-day GA)
About: Arguably Central Texas's biggest and best-known roots-music gathering, Old Settlers is actually the same age as SXSW.
Talent: Dawes; Del McCoury Band; Rodney Crowell; The Jayhawks; Deer Tick; Hayes Carll; Carolyn Wonderland; Sarah Jarosz; Green River Ordinance; Shinyribs; Jay Farrar Trio; The Suffers, more
Noteworthy: Missouri's the Hillbenders will be performing an all-bluegrass version of The Who's Tommy. Sold!
Prices*: $530 (4-day Platinum w/camping); $265 (4-day wristband w/camping); $245 (3-day wristband w/camping); $165 (3-day wristband w/o camping); ($75 Friday-Saturday wristband w/o camping); $35 (Sunday wristband w/o camping)
* Advance prices slightly cheaper
About: By switching venues (and cities), North Texas's answer to Something Wicked is hoping to recover from a disastrous inaugural year. Hey – at least theirs wasn't rained out.
Talent: Tiësto, Dada Life, Borgore, Markus Schulz, Tritonal, Andrew Bayer, Cookie Monsta, more
Noteworthy: 18 and up.
Prices: $89 (GA); $149 (VIP)
Incidentals: LED Glow Motion bracelet ($15); LED Glow Motion cat ears ($20); Something Wonderful water bottle ($10); locker rental ($17.50); cell-phone charging stick ($15); LED shutter glasses ($30); LED aviator glasses ($40)
About: Formerly known as the Austin Psych Festival, Levitation hopes to please a throng of smiling Beach Boys fans the same way last year's historic Thirteenth Floor Elevators reunion thrilled Texas psych freaks.
Talent: Brian Wilson (performing Pet Sounds in full); Ween; Animal Collective; Caribou; Flying Lotus; Slowdive; Sleep; Nicolas Jaar; The Brian Jonestown Massacre; The Black Angels; Lee “Scratch” Perry; Ty Segall; Super Furry Animals; more
Noteworthy: Albums available through the Levitation store include releases by Austin's Ringo Deathstarr, Black Angels guitarist Christian Bland's drone-blues group the Revelators, and Houston's own Indian Jewelry.
Prices: $185 (3-day GA); $100 (“Deluxe Upgrade”); $75 (single-day GA)
Incidentals: tent rentals ($750/450); camping pass ($75)
About: On a somewhat smaller scale than these other festivals — although it has seven stages — but the price is definitely right.
Talent: Patrice Rushen (“Forget Me Not”); The Flatlanders; Brave Combo; Little Jack Melody and His Young Turks; Hippie Rednecks; Bone Doggie; Taste of Herb; many more
Noteworthy: One stage is set aside for University of North Texas ensembles; local high-school and middle-school bands perform on others.
La Mala Rodriguez at Neon Desert 2015
Photo by Marco Torres
About: Founded in 2009, Neon Desert has quickly gained a reputation for one of Texas's most underrated festivals thanks to its combination of hip-hop, EDM and Latin-derived sounds.
Talent: Just announced today: Tiësto, Deftones, Future, Daddy Yankee, Carnage, Ludacris, Tyler the Creator, Natalia LaFourcade, MuteMath, Houston's Wrestlers, lots more
Noteworthy: With a backdrop of downtown El Paso and the Davis Mountains, it's also a contender for the title of Texas's most picturesque music festival.
Prices: $119 (GA); $250 (VIP)
Soon this will be straw cowboy hats as far as the eye can see.
About: Some of the Texas country/Red Dirt scene's top acts throw down in a part of Austin so far on the city's southeastern fringe the locals know it as “Montopolis.”
Talent: Casey Donahew Band; Cody Johnson; Stoney LaRue; Cody Canada & the Departed; the Damn Quails; William Clark Green; Bart Crow; Charlie Robison; Shane Smith & the Saints, Houston's Bri Bagwell (3 headliners TBA)
Noteworthy: Organizers appear to have located the last remaining parcel of Austin real estate that has not been built up yet.
Prices: $275 (2-day VIP); $70 (2-day GA); $40 (1-day GA; on sale Friday)
About: San Antonio fans love rock and roll, the heavier the better. This is their day.
Talent: Disturbed; Scorpions; Megadeth; Bullet For My Valentine; Hellyeah; Sixx A.M.; Pop Evil; Sevendust; P.O.D.; The Sword; Hatebreed; Texas Hippie Coalition; Devildriver; Wild Throne; Red Sun Rising; Avatar
Noteworthy: Sponsors include Bud Light, Jack Daniel's and AA Best Bail Bonds.
Prices: $219.50 (“Premium Hospitality”); $49.50 (GA)
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