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Heavy, brooding Dallas rockers True Widow headlines a night of non-stock show stuff at Tulips FTW Saturday. Wikimedia Commons

It’s not that Jason Suder dislikes the annual stock show and rodeo. The Tulips FTW owner just wants those of us who aren’t interested in three weeks of saluting animal husbandry and ungulate riding to have something else to do. That’s really why Not Stock exists.

“It’s not like we’re competing with the rodeo,” Suder said, “but it’s to provide an alternative to what everyone else has always done.”

Saturday night at Tulips will mark the festival’s second edition. Dark Dallas rockers True Widow will headline, Dallas’ Pearl Earl will travel from L.A. and Hey Cowboy from Austin, and Dallas’ Sealion will reunite. Grunge rockers Smothered, psychedelia specialists Sunbuzzed, and metalists Doomfall, all from Denton, plus Austin-based prog-punks Big Bill and angular, punchy power-pop locals Cool Jacket round out the bill. Local printmakers Andrew Hammond Kendall and Jackdaw Russell will have artwork for sale.

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“For now,” Suder said, “it’s just one day, but I would love for it to grow into a week’s worth of rock activities, especially during the stock show, because everywhere you go, it’s country music and cowboys, and if that’s not your thing, well, here’s something else to do.”

Unironically, Suder was wearing a stock show jacket when we talked about it, so it’s not as if he harbors ill will or distaste toward Fort Worth’s annual celebration of ranch life and cowboy culture, and he is quick to drop his bona fides. “I grew up with the rodeo. I was born and raised in Fort Worth. My buddies’ families would have boxes at the rodeo, so it would be us, a bunch of 16-year-olds hopped up on Keystone and Levi Garrett, making idiots of ourselves. It’s a Fort Worth institution, and I have a lot of fond memories. I absolutely love the rodeo. When I lived in Wyoming, I used to cover the [Jackson Hole Rodeo] for the newspaper, and when I’d lived in Idaho before that, I ended up covering the rodeo there. In Idaho, they were like, ‘Listen, we know you don’t know anything about this rodeo, but you’re from Fort Worth, so come on in.’ But in Fort Worth, the rodeo is not all what [Fort Worthians] do. What if you love this city and you also love art and live music that aren’t necessarily country and Western? With Not Stock, we’re trying to say that Fort Worth is so much more than just the rodeo.”

I think that “so much more” part, the art and music cultural component Suder is talking about, harks back to the Fort Worth creative scene of a decade ago, when it seemed like every third person you talked to was in a band or appearing in an art pop-up. Suder mentioned long-shuttered multi-use spaces like the Where House, the Blackhouse, and even The Door as places where — I lack a better word for this, unfortunately — alternative culture flourished. Mentally, I added to his list both 1919 Hemphill and Shipping & Receiving and its companion space, the Tilt Room.

All of these venues operated more or less on a DIY model, offering entertainment and events ranging from all-day music fests, weekly dance and movie nights, and wild-ass art shows to above-ground pool parties, lowrider meet-ups, and pro wrestling bouts. None of those spaces exist anymore, and while Tulips is indeed a regular type of club — it has a liquor license, the sound is great, a major agency (Spune) books the shows, and the bathrooms are nice — Not Stock is certainly the kind of event that might have happened at one of those long-gone spaces if they were still around. In fact, Sealion and Pearl Earl on a bill with True Widow is a show I would have been very stoked to see in 2014, a time when North Texas music was arguably at its peak.

I think about that time a lot, and in my head, Not Stock has a twinge of nostalgia for that era, the mental equivalent of a minor 7th chord or the Nashville filter on an Instagram photo. But it’s not just the lineup that makes me feel this way. The event itself feels like a throwback to a pre-Trump, pre-COVID time — Not Stock, as well as Southside Spillover, the two-day post-SXSW fest that Tulips is hosting March 18-19 — are both younger cousins to Spune’s Deep Ellum-based Spillover fests of the 2010s, when live music was pretty much everywhere and SXSW was still a thing people got excited about. Suder and Spune are not so much trying to recreate that before-time as restart it. Suder drew attention to the fact that like last year’s Not Stock, this year’s version is composed entirely of bands from Texas, and they’re mostly from Dallas and Denton, and he’s already thinking about the show’s future.

“I would absolutely love to expand Not Stock into a two-day or all-weekend-long event,” Suder said, “like, let it spill onto St. Louis Avenue and do a big-ass festival out there, where we have, like, 40 venues and five food trucks and let it be something to do that’s kind of in tandem with the stock show.”

While it is probably impossible to draw attention away from such a historic and economic juggernaut like the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo — that thing, as they say, is indeed “legendary” — Not Stock could at least be mentioned in the same conversation about things to do in Fort Worth every January. But even without tying its existence to the context of the rodeo, Not Stock is a pretty great event on its own, the kind of thing Fort Worth music lovers ought to have on their list of annual don’t-sleep-on-these concerts.

 

Not Stock
3pm Sat w/True Widow, Pearl Earl, Hey Cowboy, Sealion, Doomfall, Big Bill, Smothered, Sunbuzzed, and Cool Jacket at Tulips FTW, 112 St. Louis Av, FW. $20-25. 817-367-9798.

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