Festival Life In The Eyes Of A Taco Slinger: The Adventures of Super Heady Tacos

By: Sierra Voss

There is such a thing as a magical taco and it’s found deep within the heart of Colorado’s music festival scene. And after having experienced said taco for myself, I needed to know the secrets of this fantastic festival food. So I sat down with Bradford McDevitt, the creator of McDevitt Taco Supply (Super Heady Tacos), and Jesse Torrey, a chef of the taco goods and veteran in the festival taco slingin’ business. Check it out:

How did this whole taco adventure begin?

Bradford: Five and a half years ago, I applied for a permit to cook and sell tacos on Pearl Street Mall in Boulder, CO. My application made the top three that year, and was entered into the final cook off. I got one of the two available spots, and since then, it’s been a natural progression into music festivals.

How did you come up with the name 'Super Heady Tacos'?

Bradford: It’s a 13th century term meaning intoxicating or overwhelming. In the late 90s, the term was adapted to the marijuana culture; we have adapted it to taco culture.

Bradford McDevitt. Photo Credit: Tobin Voggesser 

Bradford McDevitt. Photo Credit: Tobin Voggesser 

What was your first music festival experience with the taco truck?

Bradford: Four years ago, in 2012 we went to Country Thunder. We don’t do that festival anymore. People who love country music are the worst humans on earth, in terms of how they treat vendors.

Jesse: Desert Rocks was my first festival with the Super Heady Taco crew.

How many music festivals did you do this year?

Bradford: This summer we did 10 festivals. Arise, Beanstalk, Divide, New West Fest, Riot Fest, Sonic Bloom, Summer Camp, and Vertexto name a few. In 2013 we did 20 music festivals. We hit the scene really hard, literally going from East Coast to West Coast. We did the big ones too, like Bonnaroo and Coachella.

Jesse: Yeah- it was 20 festivals in seven months. That's like 25,000 miles of traveling and slingin’ tacos. Basically, [we traveled] the circumference of the world within the continental U.S.

Bradford: Yeah after that we decided to mostly stay in Colorado. This state offers so many amazing festival opportunities. Plus, it's just more cost effective.

The taco light at the end of the festival tunnel. Photo Credit: Tobin Voggesser 

The taco light at the end of the festival tunnel. Photo Credit: Tobin Voggesser 

What are the best and worst parts of working a music festival?

Bradford: Interacting with new people all the time who constantly praise our food, atmosphere, energy levels and staff is one of the best parts. Everyone we deal with is on vacation, so everyone is in a great mood.

Jesse: You absorb people’s elevated energy levels at festivals. My lows are in between [gigs], waiting for the next music festival.

The Taco Tent. Photo Credit:  Sierra Voss

The Taco Tent. Photo Credit: Sierra Voss

What is the craziest music festival story you have for me?

Jesse: It happened this year at Summer Camp. Monday morning I woke up for loadout. Loadout days are hard; you are exhausted and everything is dirty and chaotic. Like, you literally just served 10,000 tacos out of a mobile kitchen. So that morning, I was riding a razors edge from maintaining my sanity. I started loading out, and there was literally a six foot long snake under our garbage can in the kitchen. I’m from Boston. I don’t know what poisonous snakes look like. All I knew was that this snake was huge and, like, coming after me. For an hour I tried to kill this thing with a 10-inch prep knife and a sledge hammer. It was like a battle royal. So I’m in this frenzy, a total manic moment: I can’t let this snake go ‘cause I’m thinkin’ he's gonna hide under something and I’m gonna pick that something up to put it away, and he is gonna get me! In my mind, after 80 hours of slinging tacos, I decided it was me or this snake. I love animals, but it was on. I finally whacked it. I cut its head off to bury it because I thought it was venomous. But before I buried the snake, I put it in a container and asked guests if they wanted snake breakfast tacos...

Long story short, that's the difference between working in a kitchen versus a music festival mobile kitchen. You have to be able to wrestle a six foot long snake to be a festival taco slinger.

Denver Riot Fest Taco Slingers: Levi Patton, Daniel Ward, & Jesse Torrey. Photo Credit:   Sierra Voss

Denver Riot Fest Taco Slingers: Levi Patton, Daniel Ward, & Jesse Torrey. Photo Credit: Sierra Voss

What’s the coolest thing about being a part of the Super Heady Taco team?

Jesse: There have been hundreds of taco slingers that have worked festivals with us from coast to coast. People have gotten married as a result of slinging our tacos. We don't just sling tacos, we provide people with a good time.

Bradford: You become a music festival name. Super Heady Tacos has become known as the secret third stage. We thrown on tunes, light up our disco ball, and get down. One guy came up to us at Divide Music Festival and said, “Dude you just put on a better show than Cake!”

So the next time you're at a Colorado music festival, have your taco cake and eat it too! Find this secret third stage, because I guarantee you will find delicious tacos, laughs, and a good time. And if you’re festivaled out for the season, don’t fret! Keep an eye out for a Super Heady Tacos restaurant location coming to Boulder early next year in the Meadows on the Parkway area on Baseline and Foothills. Peep Super Heady Taco's menu here

-Sierra

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artist featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

A Day in the Life: Your Weird, PBR-Fueled Adventure at The Big Wonderful

By: Hannah Oreskovich

I wasn't sure what the Big Wonderful was, and I wasn't alone.

“An art festival.” “A food truck lot.” “Some outdoor deal with music.” “A DIY-scene thing.”

These were the rumored descriptions of Denver’s The Big Wonderful. Several Boulder and Denver bands had posted about playing the event and the cursive yellow sign occasionally crept into my Instagram feed. So I rolled over to TBW lot on 26th and Lawrence one Saturday. And if you had come with me, this is what you would have seen:

Upon entering (admission is free), the staff try to talk to you about buying various alcohol packages. It’s too hot for you to listen, but you learn over the course of the afternoon that this is a booze-heavy event. There’s a giant tent in the middle of the lot where you can get cocktails depending on the drink deal you buy. There is also a keg truck if you go the beer route. And between musical performances, the emcee (who appears like the ringleader of this hipster circus in his top hat and vest) auctions off cocktail packages and ski shots. That’s all you know about the dranks because you meet some of the bands and hang ‘backstage.’ The artists are paid with a check and a six-pack of PBR, so you dip into some of their free poison water for kicks.

After chatting with the local bands on the lineup, you decide to wander around. The Big Wonderful is set up in one big circle, so you do a lap and make a mental list of what’s up:

1. There are food trucks. The most notable: a giant red one that sells lobster (which appears to be very popular), a real-looking fire truck that sells crepes, and thank god, an ice-cream truck. You are very grateful for Happy Cones Co. in this heat today.

At The Big Wonderful, people love lobster. 

At The Big Wonderful, people love lobster. 

2. You come upon a giant, old abandoned tour bus, the kind with seating on the roof. You want to take a selfie in front of it, but feel like someone may shout “millennial” at you, so you don’t.

You took this instead of a selfie :(

You took this instead of a selfie :(

3. There is a weird, enclosed, wooden hut with streamers that looks like it was used for pony rides years ago by carnies on LSD but it’s currently used for nothing. You stare at it and contemplate The Big Wonderful’s funky circus vibes.

wtf.

wtf.

4. You pass a small windowed house that claims to be full of local art merch, but is empty.

vacant.

vacant.

5. You see fashion trucks. A ton of fashion trucks.

One of many. 

One of many. 

6. You sit under the big beer garden tent at a picnic table for a few minutes with your PBR. Everyone around you is either drinking or napping. This is the only real shade you can find.

Get your booze on.

Get your booze on.

7. Occasionally, you notice cool art painted on various trucks/structures.

Dig. 

Dig. 

8. There are some yard games and a sand pit to your left. You wonder what might be buried in that sand pit.

you can volley.

you can volley.

9. You walk toward the stage, where four bands play through the course of the day. There is no one else anywhere near the stage at any point of your time there, except for a group of girls who hoop for five minutes and then disappear. One of them tells you she has to leave to try to find vegan edibles.

The hoopers braved the sun to get close to the bands.

The hoopers braved the sun to get close to the bands.

10. Suddenly, your curiosity about why The Big Wonderful exists is suddenly overwhelming. You enter what appears to be The Big Wonderful information tent. You ask the 20-something volunteer sitting among all of the TBW merch what this crazy festival is about. She smiles, points at two men chatting in a different tent nearby, and tells you, “Ummmm- why don’t you go talk to the guy over there who started it?” You then wonder if any of the volunteers know more about this event than you do. You ask a volunteer near the exit about TBW and he directs you back to the information tent. You then ask him how long The Big Wonderful has been around. He tells you six months; later a third volunteer tells you two years.

General TBW-ness.

General TBW-ness.

And that’s when you realize, though this event has a lot of potential, it’s just not quite there yet.

The food trucks are scattered and some are even located behind each other, making it impossible for you to mouth-wateringly glance at all of your delicious options at once. And dotted among these food trucks are the fashion trucks. You wish these had their own designated area of The Big Wonderful circle so you could traipse through their wares, one after the other, instead of spending $25 on a crystal necklace and then wishing you still had cash for that all-natural deodorant stand. You hippie.

You look at the band playing and realize that since the stage is so far from any shade and oddly sandwiched between two empty structures (the windowed house and the pony hut), the musicians have had no contact with any sort of audience today. Except the hoopers.

People also get close to the stage for a few seconds for sign selfies. psh. millennials.

People also get close to the stage for a few seconds for sign selfies. psh. millennials.

And speaking of the empty structures, you wonder: Why isn’t the pony hut a trippy VIP booze area or something? Where is the local art that the little house claims to hold? Why isn’t the tour bus repurposed so that it’s more than just something to look at? The pieces stand alone like bones.

You’ve officially sweated out all of your PBR, so you decide to call it a day. You think about trying to ask yet another volunteer questions on your way out, but he appears passed out in the shade, or dead. It’s hard to tell.

Walking away, you wish The Big Wonderful felt a little more like a proper festival. It has the potential to be, with some organization, planning, and general DIY-awesomeness. The bones for a sweet weekend event exist at The Big Wonderful, but someone needs to put this skeleton together.

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.

All photos per the author. Volleyball photo per Erin Burke. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.