Reminiscing on Backyard on Bell Block Party
In the category of multi-genre, multi-act, multi-day music festivals in the city of Denton, I personally haven’t bore witness to a success as massive and titanic as the Backyard on Bell Block Party in quite some time. Met with an overwhelming flush of positive reviews from both enamored attendees and the performers themselves, I can say with full confidence that Block Party left the entirety of its constituents in a euphoric (perhaps hungover, perhaps both) haze, as it certainly did for me.
A factor which perhaps adds to my elation is getting to see this festival in its incubating stages and watching it flourish. I remember when it was simply an idea for curator Zach Walker and seeing this brainchild come to fruition and finally being a part of it was nothing short of a privilege.
That simple thing called effort was put into organizing, booking, animating, and ultimately executing this event and it seemed to go without a hitch. The primary set up consisted of two stages – the main stage for the venue and a covered side stage closer to the bar – where bands could load in and set up efficiently without delaying the festival times.
Finally, the headlining acts were given an intimate spot inside of the venue, where Heavy Baby Sea Slugs and Sailor Poon closed out their respective days. The multitude of pictures circulating around social media (if you're not seeing them, get out from under a rock) speak truly to the exuberant madness that ensued in there – a shitshow in the best kind of way. Along with these titans, the lineup featured some of Denton, DFW, and Austin’s finest musical acts that had me fan-boying.
From psych rock to math rock to sludge metal, you really had it all, and none of the groups disappointed in the slightest. In fact, every group seemed to be performing at tip-top shape - a different, higher level of prowess… It could’ve also been the PBR I religiously consumed.
Another huge kudos that I have to give is the way the participating musicians, artists, and vendors were treated.
Everyone was given drink tickets, paid generously, and given green room access. The green room was cathartic to me, giving participants a place to rally, relax, and recharge. It also had free pizza in it so that’s a big hell yeah. The level of mutual respect shared between everyone who had a hand in making this festival what it was is, both insularly and outwardly, is a factor that should not be underplayed or dismissed. As a participating musician, it truly warmed my heart.
What happened that weekend was truly special. From the sound, to the art, to the music, to the people, Backyard on Bell’s Block Party wholly enveloped every factor that makes this scene special and showed it off in a fantastic way. The level of comradery and performance were astounding and the execution of the festival itself was stellar. If there is a way to quantify the success of a local music festival using a rubric, this one checked all of the marks. If you see a Backyard on Bell employee anywhere, give em’ a big ole’ kiss on the cheek for me.
To the man who made this all happen, Mr. Zachariah Walker… Thank you, my dude.
Header image photographed by Ellie Alonzo
Additional photograph by Ellie Alonzo
Header image layout designed by Holden Foster