One Last Take on 35 Denton 2013. Plus, A Look Back At All Of Our Coverage and Favorite Photos.
Looking back at our coverage of the 35 Denton festival — all of which is posted below, for your perusal, along with some of our favorite photos from the weekend — we feel pretty confident in saying that the fifth installment of the festival was an enjoyable one.
Sure, the festival had some problems — the rain, the cold and the surprising amount of cancellations — but it was clearly a good time. And with some nice technological advances, including the hugely helpful venue capacity-checking app on the 35 Denton site (more on that
tomorrow later this week, in what will surely be our final post on this year's affair), the festival seems to be setting itself up nicely for the future.
We do have some questions about that future, though. Weather issues be damned, I think it's safe to say that the festival's attendance this year — we've yet to receive any official numbers, so we're just going off the eye test for now — was probably at least a bit of a disappointment, if the crowds for the outdoor stages were any indicator. And, certainly, if only to guarantee that we continue to see this festival grow and thrive over the years, that's something that needs to improve. Massive LED screens don't just go and pay for themselves.
But how could this be accomplished?
Tough to say, for sure. The 1,000-person capacity pop-up space The Hive certainly helped the festival's overall capacity figures, and, surely, more people could fit into the outdoor stage areas.
It's mostly a question, then, of what identity the festival wants to take on. There's little doubt that organizers revel in the fact that the festival has something of a tastemaking vibe to it, given its focus on up-and-coming underground acts and perhaps-forgotten should-be legends. And, to be sure, that overall feel certainly has its perks. The festival's built-in crowd sure seems to enjoy it.
Here's the thing about that crowd, though: As noted, it has become something of a built-in entity over the years. You pretty much know who you're going to see at this festival year in and year out — the fervent music fans that populate Dallas and Fort Worth venues on any given weekend and a not-at-all-insignificant percentage of Denton's hipper residents. But these people, more than likely, are going to attend the festival regardless of who gets booked to play.
It's a scary thought, but accepting the fact that these people will show up regardless is something organizers might want to factor into future booking decisions. I don't doubt that part of the reason that we see the types of bands that we do at 35 Denton is because organizers are working whatever wonders they can with a fixed budget that, most likely, is even smaller than we expect it to be. But, looking at the festival's overall offerings this year, I don't know that there are very many bands on the bill that caused anyone who wasn't already at least considering attending to get off their butts and do so. No matter how adored 35 Denton may be in the press — and, don't kid yourselves, it's very adored, both here and pretty much everywhere else it gets covered — the general public isn't likely to simply trust that the festival knows what it's doing with the bands it books, most of which are unrecognizable to the layperson.
Trying to cater to an audience that you don't know — or, worse, one that doesn't know you — can be a scary prospect, and, sure, sometimes a damning one. Don't do it tastefully, and you risk alienating that built-in crowd. But, if you do it right, you can infuse the whole thing with some new blood, give it a little kick in the pants and ensure that you're going to be around for many years down the line — something everyone wants.
Point is, no one in the general, far larger public is begging to pay money to see 80 bands that they may not have heard of. They'd be more likely to show with, say, 20 or 30 such bands, plus maybe four or five that they definitely at least kind of know. None of the festival's biggest names this year in particular — Solange, Killer Mike, Roky Erickson, Sleep — necessarily fit into that second category, even among some of this year's more well-informed attendees. And, listen, I know that bigger, more recognizable names cost more money — that's a given. But maybe booking fewer “big” niche acts, will afford the festival that chance.
If changes along these lines are what it takes for the rest of us get a little more certain that we'll see 35 Denton exist forevermore, then so be it. We, as the audience, will deal with it. If there's one thing that's true about those of us who take the time to listen to music that comes from a little ways off the beaten path, it's that we're pretty used to not being catered to, at least not all of the time.
As is, 35 Denton is a great little festival. That much is for sure. But here's the thing about great little festivals: They tend to have short shelf-lives.
In The Books. // Ruminations On 35 Denton 2013.
Excerpt: “If you were looking for a metaphor for the final day of the 2013 version of the 35 Denton festival, it wasn't too difficult to spot a particularly large one looming on Sunday night. Right there, just to the left of Main Stage One, one of the two festival banners flanking the stage was starting to pull loose from its moorings.” — Pete Freedman
Beautiful People. // The Crowds of 35 Denton.
Excerpt: “Here's to the crowds of 35 Denton — the bravers of cold fronts and rain showers, the fist-pumpers and the crowd-surfers, the flag-bearers and the slobbering fools. The bands may be the draw of the festival, but it's you characters who give the four-day affair its unquestioned charm.” — Jeremy Hughes
Street Style. // The Best Looks of 35 Denton 2013.
Excerpt: “Remember: On Saturday, everyone at the fest at least one piece of clothing in common — wet socks.” — Heather Abbott
Cool Down. // Colder Temperatures Came, But Things Were Still Plenty Hot on 35 Denton's Final Day.
Excerpt: “Whereas raincoats and ponchos were the clothing items of choice on Saturday, Sunday's crowds favored jackets and scarfs, as Mother Nature decided to drop the temperature down substantially this time around.” — Mikel Galicia
Closed Out. // Delicate Steve, Mac Demarco, Missions and Silver Apples On Sunday Night At 35 Denton.
Excerpt: “After what he said was going to be his last song, Simeon joked that he was going to his dressing room. Then he just knelt behind his setup. It was the coolest grandfather joke ever. ” — Jeremy Hughes
Night Four. // Women Rocked Hardest on 35 Denton 2013's Final Night.
Excerpt: “Truth is, after four straight days of eating too many food truck meals, drinking too beers, partying too late, sleeping way too little and constantly being over-stimulated is leaving us feeling pretty drained this afternoon.” — Cory Graves
Crowdsurfing Cat! // The Full Story Behind The Most Interesting Attendee of 35 Denton 2013.
Excerpt: “Near the start of Fat Tony's set, an as-yet-unidentified male sees a cat fitting the above description a few blocks away, right outside of Hailey's Club. He picks the cat up and somehow proceeds to smuggle the cat into the venue. How he pulls this off, we're not sure.” — Pete Freedman
Get Wet. // When It Rains at 35 Denton, It Pours.
Excerpt: “Though a roof is a roof is a roof, I don't think that applauding the 35 Denton team for the lucky accident of having one to offer up as shelter is giving them too much credit.” — Pete Freedman
Class Acts. // Denton's Future Lies In Its Young Creatives, Panel Says. Well, Duh.
Excerpt: “If the city is to grow, it has to embrace its creaitves.” — H. Drew Blackburn
But Where's Helen Hunt? // How I Quit Crack, Vulgar Fashion, AV the Great and More From Saturday Night at 35 Denton.
Excerpt: “Seeing as how Rainpocalyspe delayed the main stage performances and how Solange's somehow managed to not start until an hour after her rescheduled time, the remainder of the night was a fairly confusing one. Some venues were sticking true to their earlier-published schedules. Other venues were just freestyling.” — Erika Lambreton
Freeballing. // Magic Milk, Odonis Odonis and Soft Moon on Saturday Night at 35 Denton.
Excerpt: “I mean, how do you decide between The Soft Moon and Com Truise? I don't know that you do. I think you just pick one and hope for the best.” — Jeremy Hughes
Hot Route. //35 Denton's Saturday Performers Deserve a Lot of Credit.
Excerpt: “In the end, each of these rescheduled headliners deserves some serious credit. Through rough circumstances, they delivered excellent performances, and just when their stressed audiences needed them.” — Mikel Galicia
Night Three. // Wettest Ever Socks Ever.
Excerpt: “History, it turns out, does repeat. Were we to simply replace the names 'Best Coast' and 'Bun B' with 'The Cannabinoids featuring Sarah Jaffe' and “Solange,' we could basically just massage last year's tale of makeshift trash bag ponchos and fans content to camp out at a single indoor venue all night into a rather convincing review of last night.” — Cory Graves
Sauced. // Scenes From Wiccans and Destruction Unit's Rowdy, Taqueria-Hosted 35 Denton After-Party.
Excerpt: “The lesson learned here? Where there's a will — and maybe a taqueria — there's always a way.” — Pete Freedman
Fair Game. // Scenes From 35 Denton's Print Fair.
Excerpt: “They weren't just browsing. These folks were buying these impressive works of art, too.” — Heather Abbott
Day & Night. // Night Two of 35 Denton 2013 Was Great, But Not Without Flaws.
Excerpt: “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.” — Pete Freedman
Rings For Thee. // Scenes From XCW Wrestling's 35 Denton Barnstormers on Friday Night.
Excerpt: “The girls watched on — fully rapt, their mothers standing guard behind them — as their fathers, “Lumberjack” Bobby Lambert and Scott McKenzie, performed just a few feet away. At that moment, Lambert and McKenzie, members of Denton's XCW Wrestling crew, were engaged in a compelling tag team match against two handlebar mustache-sporting, 1930s-looking strongmen opponents, Gentleman Jackson and Gentleman Jameson. The men circled one another, staring each other down, and desperately wrestled their way to that elusive three-count and a chance at festival glory.” — Erika Lambreton
Spring Break Forever. // Ghost Wave, Idiot Glee, Fat Tony and Antwon on Friday at 35 Denton.
Excerpt: “We who live here know it already, but, surely, part of the fun of 35 Denton is hearing acts far and wide proclaim, 'Texas is pretty cool!' throughout their sets. And, all night long on the festival's Friday night, Texas continued getting all kinds of love, shout-outs and praise.” — Mikel Galicia
Cats and Battle Raps. // How'd That Cat Get Into Hailey's Without a Wristband?
Excerpt: “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.” — Heather Abbott
Keeping It Heavy. // Kid Prison, Room Runner, True Widow and Whirr On Friday Night At 35 Denton.
Excerpt: “After watching a suitably epic Friday night main stage headlining set from Sleep, you kind of find yourself at a loss for words. At that point, is there even any room for the night to continue on? Well, yeah, of course there is: A full slate of indoor venue shows awaits.” — Jeremy Hughes
Night Two. // 35 Denton 2013's Second Serving Was Quite Literally The Cat's Meow.
Excerpt: “As Sleep's set started drawing to a close, a group of Denton policemen gathered around the festival gate, discussing their options in the wake of the city receiving some 25 or so noise complaints due to this performance's volume. They said they were considering asking the sound technicians to turn down the band's speakers, but mostly, they just stood around, holding out hope that the set would end soon enough, of its own volition. Almost mercifully, 90 minutes after starting their 8 p.m. set, Sleep's onslaught finally did come to and end, and all issues had been averted.” — Cory Graves
Rock This Way. // The Atomic Tanlines, Pinkish Black, Power Trip, Dove Hunter, RTB2 and Buxton Open 35 Denton.
Excerpt: “The mosh-pit that formed during Power Trip's set at Hailey's was pure mayhem — surprising, perhaps, as it came directly after Pinkish Black took to the same stage and properly droned that place the hell out. Though vastly different from a sonic perspective, both of these bands — locals on the potential and deserving verge of some serious, serious national love — slayed, albeit in different ways, on that Hailey's stage, which easily served as the most brutal of the night.” — Pete Freedman
Around Town. // Endless Thoughts, Dustin Wong, Jamaican Queens And Jacuzzi Boys On Thursday Night At 35 Denton.
Excerpt: “There was a bass amp failure at one point during their set, but, if you weren't looking for it, you would've missed it — the rest of the band just kept going in a free-form jam to keep the crowd up as a replacement cabinet was found. It didn't do anything to dampen the spirits of the crowd, that's for sure. They were too busy crowdsurfing and taking in a few beer showers.” — Jeremy Hughes
Night One. // Scenes From a Kickass First Night at 35 Denton '13.
Excerpt: “If night one of 35 Denton is supposed to be the fest's so-called tone-setter, then we're most definitely going to have to learn how to pace ourselves a whole hell of a lot better.” — Cory Graves
Open Concept. // Scenes From Last Night's Opening of Denton's Newest Venue, The Hive.
Excerpt: “Let's face facts: Any time a 12,000-square-foot DIY, pop-up venue is up and running smoothly only two months after clearing out operating machinery, that's a good thing. Factor in two full-service bars, a stage tailor made for international EDM sets and an impressive light set-up show to boot, and, yeah, that's all grand.” — Mikel Galicia
Hive, From Denton. // How a Former Warehouse Got Transformed Into The Go-To Indoor Venue For This Year's 35 Denton.
Excerpt: “Hey, adding a 12,000-square-foot space that can accommodate crowds approaching 1,000 strong to a festival's offerings can alleviate a lot of stresses.” — Pete Freedman
Denton Dropouts. // The Dozen Or So Bands You Won't See at This Year's 35 Denton After All.
Excerpt: “It's a story as old as festival time: Names drop off of bills after getting announced. Hey, things happen.” — Trace McCaslin
Best Bets. // The 35 Bands To See At 35 Denton.
Excerpt: “Even the most eager and swift-of-foot festivalgoers won't be able to catch every act performing. Not even close. It just can''t be done. ” — Cory Graves