Not A Bad Turnout For A Thursday Night in Denton.

The last three years, we made a very detailed schedule of bands we were going to see at 35 Denton (or whatever it happened to be called that year). And, every year, we just ended up writing an article somewhere about how planning for the fest is futile.

This year, once again, we made a list of bands that we just had to see on the Denton festival's opening night — along with where they were playing and at what time because we're a little anal like that and want to be sure we've got our facts right. Then, just like always, we ended up seeing maybe about half of the bands on that list.

And, hey, we're better for it.

35 Denton is not about best-laid plans.

It's about going with the flow and experiencing the fest in the most organic way possible.

On Night One — at least in our experience — punk bands seemed to own the night, with Mellow Mushroom and The Labb seeming to attract a lot of the attention from early festival attendees. Which was both a good and bad thing. The really interesting, and partially frustrating, part of this festival, you see, is seeing bands in unconventional locations.

We started the night at Mellow Mushroom, a pizza joint where shows aren't typically on the menu. The first band we caught was San Antonio's Rich Hands, who were forced to set up kind of perpendicular to the crowd on the awkwardly positioned stage. Still, their pysch-surf freakouts were the perfect mood-setter for the evening. We tried to rush over to The Labb to catch the end of Old Snack's set, although we realized halfway there that the 20 minutes of material in their catalog meant our chances were slim. When we made it in, tons of folks we talked to lamented that they too had tried in vain to catch Old Snack's too-short set.

We decided to keep our tabs open at The Labb to catch the first part of Final Club's set before venturing over to the J&J's basement for the start of Zorch. The problem with The Labb's setup was their lack of a stage. Final Club attempted to atone for lack of sight-lines with ear-splitting volume, but it still would have been nice to see the band propped up somewhat, especially given the size of the audiences drawn to this room.

Zorch wasn't in a much of a better position with J&J's, with the famed “old dirty basement” so jam-packed it was nearly impossible to see the band itself. Loud as they were, it seemed subdued compared to Final Club's overwhelming loudness.

We quickly bolted for Mellow Mushroom once more to catch Fort Worth's Doom Ghost. As great as the fest is at bringing in buzzing national talent in, it does also provide good opportunities to catch local acts you might not otherwise make it a point to see. Personally, we've tried to catch Doom Ghost five or six times in recent months only to have our plans change at the last minute. Finally, though, we got to see them firsthand on Night One of 35 Denton, and they were every bit as good as we'd heard. The vitriol with which their Jello Biafra-esque singer-spouted lines like “Goddamn I Hate the Blues” made it hard not to buy in.

Then we hastily headed back towards The Labb to try and catch Bleached, our most anticipated band of the night. Unfortunately, by the time we got back to the sports bar, it was at capacity. We waited in line in the chilly night air, just hoping we'd make it in for at least a song or two.

Eventually, we did — and just in time to take part in the mosh pit that got going during their last number.

As hard as it was to get into The Labb — and noticing all the folks lined way down the sidewalk still trying to get in — we opted not to give up our spots, forgoing Om's set at Rubber Gloves to stay for Mikal Cronin, whose set was slightly heavier than perhaps anticipated — but still loads sunnier than what Om was surely throwing down at Rubber Gloves.

As high-energy as the sets were, it all seemed like a warm-up for the rest of the weekend. Personally, I only managed to hit up three of the 13 stages so far.

The lines, even on this first night, kept me from seeing more. We know things will pick up as the weekend goes on — and with that, we expect those lines to only grow — but we'd say it was a solid beginning to the most smoothly run incarnation of the fest thus far.

Here's to the outdoor stages opening up this afternoon!

And, oh yeah, continued fingers crossed that the predicted severe thunderstorms remain a no show.

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