Night Two of 35 Denton 2013 Was Great, But Not Without Flaws.
In its fifth year, 35 Denton knows its audience and, surely, it knows it well. Same goes for said audience's needs and wants.
To that end, the brain trust behind the festival added a new ticket option to their package this year: Fast Track passes, which afford their owners immediate access to venues and access to a special, roped-off VIP section (complete with a fully operational bar all its own) near the festival's main outdoor stage.
Still, that scene wasn't an especially crowded one on Friday night; maybe a couple dozen attendees ambled about that roomy space. But they seemed to be enjoying themselves nonetheless — especially one Fast Track pass holder not only wearing stilts, but dressed in costume as the devil. Because of course the devil is a VIP.
Those folks and the peons outside their gate got still a good a pretty show, though. Though Fungi Girls canceled their opening outdoor set, Denton heroes Brutal Juice were quite well-received, despite a few missed notes scattered throughout their set. There was even a documentary film crew on hand, shooting their set for possibly inclusion in a film being produced about the band and their road toward — finally, after years and years of countless reunion shows — a new album.
If nothing else, Brutal Juice sounded better mixed than Roky Erickson's offering, wherein the bass boomed over all other elements incorporated into the psych legend's set, in effort, if fruitlessly, to try to add some punch to what was nice, but somewhat dry set from the iconic musician.
Later, Sleep would have no sound issues whatsoever on the main stage — but they got some complaints nonetheless, as some 25 Denton residents called the police to complain about the massive volume of their droning offering.
Sound was a concern over at The Hive, too. Though Friday's bill there was far more highly attended than Thursday's affair, the venue's bare bones nature was apparent throughout the nice as sound projected from the stage's PA system bounced all over the barren warehouse.
One half of Zorch seemed especially surprised at the way the room sounded. During his band's soundcheck, he called out to the sound engineer on hand and asked that the delay effects being used on his vocals be turned down. Instead, he only received a shrug from the sound booth.
“That's the room?” the performer asked, his mouth dropping. “Whoa.”
Still Zorch made the most of what they were given and performed a super high-energy set — as is the electronic band's calling card. And they had an eager crowd there to take it in, too. By the time their set started, a bona fide and actual line had formed outside of the Hive as that venue's staff checked attendees into the space. Not everyone would get in, though — not because the venue had reached its 1,000-person capacity, but because a number of those in line had mistakenly jumped in, assuming they could purchase tickets at the door, even though they without wristbands. This year, however, that kind of bartering isn't flying at 35 Denton, and some potential audience members were turned away, even if the acts on stage were none the wiser about it.
Other acts, too, did the best they could under the circumstances they faced: God bless the middle-of-the-road Western Skies and every other band booked to play Burguesa Burgers this weekend; that place just has no feel whatsoever, with band's asked to set up in the corner of the Whataburger-looking space, safely out of the way of the five or so 14-year-old-looking employees constantly scurrying about the place and keeping it tidy.
Conversely, the vibes were quite on point for local electronic duo Cutter's moody set at the dark Andy's Bar. Surprisingly, coffee shop Banter too had a cool vibe to it last night, as the Gutterth Productions team dressed up the now-located-in-the-back stage with lights and projections galore — efforts that worked wonders for Austin post-rock outfit My Education's dramatic set. it took the Gutterth team about an hour longer than planned to finally set up all their equipment, but, hey, in this case, that much seemed worth it.
Meanwhile, there was some actual drama just across the street from Banter at The Labb last night, too. But we'll save that story for another post.
All in all, it was a good night. Not a perfect one, though. But, then again, Denton's charm has always been based in the city's imperfections.