South by San Marcos: Local Lineup at SMFest 2022

todayOctober 27, 2022 119 1

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Ashley Farnie

Assistant Music Director


Since I moved to San Marcos in 2017 I have explored many local bands. The first show I remember was a house show for Christian Sparks & The Beatnik Bandits. (My friend interviewed the band here, check it out! The Beatnik Bandits kickstarted my deep dive into local music, spanning the heart of Texas State University to Austin. Local music fans were in luck this weekend as featured a lineup of local acts and vendors across local venues throughout San Marcos. From Sewell Park to Zelick’s Icehouse, San Marcos was alive with the sound of local music.

An audience member’s iPhone recording the stage.
Lunar Cowboy and the Backend on stage through an audience members iPhone / : Carolina Garza KTSW

I made sure to check out my favorite bands at the festival and stayed for the remainder of the sets at that location. On Friday, I kicked off the weekend at Kissing Alley to catch Window Shop’s set. Hiding in the alleyway between Shade and JAX, a small stage setup occupied the width of the alley. The close corridors reverberated the sound throughout the crowd, making a spectacle of the alleyway from the street view.

: Audience watching Slick perform on stage.
Slick performing for the San Marcos Music Festival in the Kissing Alley / Carolina Garza KTSW

Our evening in Kissing Alley began with Slick, a San Marcos-based cover band of popular alternative music. Ranging from Childish Gambino to Radiohead, Slick’s ability to cover songs displays the variety of musicianship within the band. Lead singer Jose Cafaro fronts the band with vocals ahead two guitarists, a bassist, keyboardist, and a drummer. Slick can be found on Instagram (@slick_theband) if you are interested in checking out their live performances.

: Curtis Rowe playing guitar.
Lead man of Arbordae, Curtis Rowe, playing guitar at SMFest in the Kissing Alley / KTSW

Following Slick, Arbordae took the stage. Comprised of members Ethan, Curtis, Caleb, and Jacob, this San Marcos boy band carries the legacies of preceding local acts, like Summer Rental and Say So. My friend and fellow journalist, Avery, interviewed the band before their KTSW Third Thursday set, check it out here (. Follow the band here (

 Chandler Mariott singing at Smfest.
Singer Chandler Mariott on stage at SMFest in the Kissing Alley / Carolina Garza KTSW

Recently rebranded as Lunar Cowboy and the Backend, former San Marcos band Sweet Sugar adjusted their public presence in early October before their SMFest performance. The band’s jazzy tones and sonic presence that included a cover of “Summertime” by The Zombies created a pleasant environment within the crowd. With the anticipation of Maddie and the Deadnames following their performance, the crowd listened with appreciation for Lunar Cowboy’s refreshing sound. Follow the band here (@lunarcowboyandthebackend).

Maddie + the Deadnames on stage
Maddie + the Deadnames on stage at the Kissing Alley for Smfest / Carolina Garza KTSW

Maddie and the Deadnames consists of lead guitarist and vocalist, Maddie Ava, backed by bassist Hayden Cougar, guitarist Christian Bates, and drummer Tomas Grant Diaz IV. When the band took the stage, the crowd split to form a pit. The Deadnames have quite the presence in the San Marcos scene, playing sets multiple times a week and hosting benefit shows for various causes. Many of the band’s gigs are organized by AVA Productions, an event planning project of the lead singer. Upcoming shows you can catch include Halloween Invasion, Freak Fest, and Ratt Fest – all of which can be found on their Instagram (@maddieandthedeadnames)!

Window Shop on stage.
Window Shop on stage at The Porch for Smfest / Ashley Farnie KTSW

My Friday evening in Kissing Alley left me wanting more San Marcos music, so I caught SMFest’s Saturday set at The Porch. The Porch is a familiar home for KTSW staff, spending every Third Thursday of the month at the venue to hear local music live. Preceded by Blue Tongue and followed by Global Mountain Shindig, Window Shop played their classic set of groovy, keyboard-heavy tracks led by Leonora Tomlinson’s deep and smooth vocals. Window Shop exudes a timeless energy, distinguishing themselves from many of the local acts familiar to the area. Diverging from the rock-inspired musicality often reinvented by college bands, Window Shop has created an avenue to obscure the local scene. Follow the band here to keep up with upcoming shows (@windowshopband).

Festival season has been in full swing this October, and a local music fest was the best way to celebrate the season. There were many sets I unfortunately missed at SMFest, but I will make up for it by attending more local shows! Be sure to follow the featured bands on Instagram if you are interested in catching them live!



Written by: Jordan Young

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