How'd That Cat Get Into Hailey's Without a Wristband?

If you were looking for hip-hop on Night Two of 35 Denton 2013, you didn't have to look any further than Hailey's, whose nighttime bill was filled with solid hip-hop acts from front to back.

And make no mistake: The fact that the first three performing groups (-topic, Space Camp Death Squad and Fat Tony) all hailed from Texas — and pulled large crowds throughout the night — reiterated our belief that the local underground hip-hop scene really has its shit together these days.

But, really, there was nothing ordinary about last night's show, which was filled with fun-sized bags of Doritos, a fierce trio of bizarre rappers and, in an extremely bizarre turn, a cat.

The night started out easy-going enough. Unlike the scene at Rubber Gloves, there seemed to be no worry about capacity issues at Hailey's. Still, a steady audience formed when Dallas' -topic took to the stage. Partnered with Kool Quise, -topic easily awakened the crowd, and, almost immediately, had a few fans singing along to his poetic raps. And, although he seemed to be randomly picking and choosing songs to perform, mixing in with requests from the audience, -topic's performance at this show was perhaps best to date. During his fan-loved “I Just Wanna Chill,” he and his fellow Team From Nowhere comrades launched free fun-sized bags of chips into the audience. It was awesome. But there also just seemed something new — something more — to this showcase.

Next up was Austin's Space Camp Death Squad, which features three emcees (P-Tek, Doc Brown and Secret Levels), a drummer and a DJ. Com[pare them a bit to the Beastie Boys — with a little of Kid Cudi's style thrown in along with the best bits of a beloved hip-hop mixtape. Their energy was ridiculously hyper; during their set, all three emcees bounced around the stage — sometimes shirtless, always engaging, and trading mics throughout. They cracked jokes. They got real. The audience was in love. At one point, they asked their audience to suggest a word or phrase that the group could use to start off a freestyle. The chosen phrase was “blue-green jizz,” and, honestly, the freestyle was one of the smoothest and well-delivered any rap fan's likely to ever hear.

Sometimes, a festival is about seeing an act that's well known and sought after, but other times, it's about discovering a new one. And, if Space Camp Death Squad was somewhat a lesser known act before, they certainly became well-known — and respected — in Denton last night. The trio was feverish in their delivery, and the rapid speed at which the emcees could spit their rhymes (while remaining audible, at that) kept the crowd fired up. There was never a dull moment.

Next, Fat Tony, hailing from Houston, hit the crowd with truthful rhymes that took the night's tone to a somewhat more serious level. But, then, just as Fat Tony's performance seemed to be the most standard and expected set of the evening, a special guest stopped by.

Out of nowhere, a feline entered front stage. Yes: A cat. The kind that meows. A white- and orange-striped tabby. Within seconds, a guy standing front and center grabbed him and was holding the cat up in the air. It was kind of like the iconic scene in The Lion King when Simba is presented by his parents to the animal kingdom.

Most of the crowd seemed stunned — and ecstatic, too — to see the cat. None of the venue's employees even seemed to notice, let alone mind. But one girl in the audience did — and she was not pleased. The young lady promptly took control of the situation, snatching up the cat and guiding it back outside to space.

So rest easy: No cats were harmed in the making of 35 Denton.


















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