Ahhh Denton, TX. Quaint, odd little town to the north. Part Austin, part Portland, part Brooklyn, a hipster Mecca and independent music mainstay. I hate the drive from Fort Worth, but actually love your atmosphere for all its quirkiness. And music attraction.
For many in North Texas, this is the kickoff event of the festival season (although we now have a seemingly unending parade of music festivals in the region), coming at the onset of SXSW. And thank you. Thank you, organizers of 35 Denton for no longer making SXSW a necessity for those in the area looking for an escape. It’s 40 minutes to the north from both Dallas and the Fort, not 3 hours plus to Austin (on a lucky straight shot down).
I had to work during a good portion of this year’s festivities, but what I saw was all great and all a high caliber of act. It is that same work that has postponed this review for 3 weeks (sorry for that, next year should be different!) but hey, better late than never.
Being a bit gun-shy from last year, I picked my shows and stayed, didn’t bother wandering around too much as showcases filled and people stuck around. Plus, as I’m aging, the waiting for a 12:30 slot from a 9:00 main stage end time is getting more and more difficult. Maybe, as I said last year, a hotel room is in order.
But I digress, let’s get to the highlights.
San Francisco’s Sleep was my main reason for going this year. Now a breathing living entity once again, the Bay Area stoner metal trio made their first NTX appearance in almost 20 years, and certainly played to a larger Friday night crowd than they did at Trees all those years ago (sometimes revisionist history can be a great thing) .Even outdoors their sound was gigantic and full, and surprisingly loud for what is essentially a street festival. Tearing through 105 minutes of material, they left the crowd mesmerized, fists in the air (some) and probably very stoned (most). They were without doubt the highlight of the weekend.
It was a louder sort of festival for me this year, catching fantastic sets by Denton’s own Brutal Juice – who are also a living breathing entity once again – new(ish) Little Rock, Arkansas’ metal faves Pallbearer, check out their 2012 album Sorrow and Extinction for proof, Dallas’ Power Trip, who brought all sorts of 80’s thrashy noise to the party, and the drone-prog-Gary Numan on depressants figure it out yourself of Fort Worth duo Pinkish Black. Newly signed to Century Media, 2013 is going to be interesting to see where they go and what they do. Highly anticipating the new record from those guys without fail.
The surprise addition of Mikal Cronin to the Sunday night mainstage was wonderful. Filling in for the last minute cancellation of Camera Obscura, Cronin blazed through 45 minutes of garage pop while solidifying the hype. Can’t forget Friday night’s tremendous offering from Austin’s Roky Erickson. The 13th Floor Elevators leader held his own while sandwiched between Brutal Juice and Sleep, providing a perfect buffer that concluded with the classic Elevator’s track “You’re Gonna Miss Me”.
My festival weekend ended with Thurston Moore and his latest project Chelsea Light Moving. As a pretty big Sonic Youth fan, I’m clinging to whatever I can get, and this set was the icing on the weekend. Drawing from their brand new self-titled debut, Moore regaled his audience with tales of Denton from the early SY days, and seemingly looked a little awkward on stage solely providing any sort of between song banter we might get. But it all felt so good, no matter where he is, solo, with this new project, it feels a lot like Sonic Youth. And again, I’ll take it.
And so went my third 35 Denton experience. Thank you Denton for being gracious hosts, thank you to the powers that be for allowing me to come out and review, I had a much better time this year than last (I skipped the miserable rain day due to work, heard it was the right choice, ha!) and look forward to 35 Denton 2014. Let’s see what they pull out for that one. My challenge? Neurosis. Do it.
Just do it.