Scenes From a Kickass First Night at 35 Denton '13.
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.
We haven't even been festing for 24 hours yet and, already, we've seen blood, attended a weird almost rave (more on that in a bit), drank too much, made questionable 3 a.m. eating decisions and seen so much live music it's hard to believe that all of this took place in just one night.
Yes, this year's 35 Denton is already off to one of its better starts, starting with the obligatory wristbanding process. Now located in the parking lot in front of Little Guys Movers (next door to Dan's Silverleaf) and handled by the folks at Prekindle, the whole thing just seemed a bit more streamlined this year. We weren't the only ones who noticed this either; we overheard someone behind us in line commenting on how this was “way better than that creepy alley” we all had to wait in last year.
And, even on a night carried heavily by local talent, there was plenty of noteworthy action going on to help make the whole thing feel a lot different than just the standard Saturday night on Denton's square. As always with 35 Denton, this year's festival very much appears to be embracing a community spirit. Before the shows started, everyone mingling at Fuzzy's Taco Shop and/or smoking on Dan's back patio seemed to be talking about the same things: What do you choose to see at 10:30? Quaker City Night Hawks at Andy's? Sealion at Mellow Mushroom? Spooky Folk at Dan's? Pinkish Black at Hailey's? The Atomic Tanlines at Rubber Gloves? These, of course, are all local bands. And yet, everyone seemed to agree, this was the hardest decision of the night.
And, perhaps due to that spreading out of talent, though most venues looked to be quite full, the dreaded one-in/one-out statuses that plagued last year's fest seemed, for the most part, were kept in check thus far. Only Spooky Folk's set saw a venue reaching capacity.
Other of the night's notable offerings included Isaac Hoskins' soulful Adam Duritz-like vocal performance with his two-piece backing band. Then there was a whole mess of jazz musicians doing improvised solos over sweet R&B grooves as part of BoomBach's set at Mellow Mushroom. Sealion followed them, opting to ditch the stage and play down on the floor at eye level with their eager crowd.
A venture over to The Hive showed tremendous promise, too. Seriously, that sucker is massive and Night Two's set from Man Man in there should be pretty bonkers. Unfortunately, on Night One, all we ran into there were a couple dozen kids standing around and sipping $7 well drinks while a quote-unquote rave was supposed to be taking place.
Hey, there was that one girl in fuzzy boots.
Meanwhile, over at Gloves, Mind Spiders and Jacuzzi Boys both thrilled near-capacity crowds, inciting more moshing and/or crowd surfing than we've seen on a Thursday night in quite some time.
But, really, it was at Andy's Bar where the most punk rock shit was happening. Due to a scheduling conflict, Austin singer-songwriter John Wesley Coleman ended up at the festival without his backing band. No matter: The unofficial Denton house band (Ryan Thomas Becker, Grady Sandlin and Tony Ferraro) were on hand to learn Coleman's songs a mere hours before they were set to go on.
“He's been up there all night,” Quaker City Night Hawks frontman Sam Anderson told us of Becker in particular as we walked through the door. And, for the most part, he had been: Along with Satans of Soft Rock and RTB2, Coleman's headlining slot proved to be the third show Becker performed with at Andy's alone last night.
And, honestly, that Coleman set was nuts. Clearly hammered, Coleman danced, contorted, invited girls from the audience to dance with him onstage, handed beers to audience members between songs and at one point even handed his guitar to a member of the crowd mid-song. As it turns out, that audience member was Dim Locator guitarist Will Kapinos, who seemed to be quite familiar with the tune at hand.
“This is our last song,” Coleman yelled before each of the last four or so songs in his set. And, though they never seemed exactly sure what their inebriated frontman was going to do next, his impromptu backing band remained in lock step with one another throughout the set. From Coleman's actually quite brilliant lyrics to the seeming word-vomit that some songs devolved into, the entire thing was brilliant. At one point, the Austinite even had the crowd shouting choruses about how I-35 can suck a dick after he let on between songs that he wasn't all that fond of the three-hour drive north.
Long story short: You've got a lot to live up to, Night Two.
Fortunately, with the main stages opening up today, UNT students now officially on spring break and everyone else heading into the weekend, we're sure you've got it in you.