Running Diary: Oaktopia 2017 (Night Two).

A Real-Time Recap Of Saturday Night At Oaktopia 2017, Featuring Phantogram, STRFKR, Mystery Skulls, A Power Outage and More.

All photos by Karlo X. Ramos.

See Also: Our running diary from Night One of Oaktopia 2017.

8 p.m.: Oaktopia 2017’s second night in Deep Ellum has started off with a literal bang. A transformer just blew out either on Elm Street or Main Street. I didn’t see it, but someone I walk past did. “Holy fucking shit!” that person screams. “It’s the Fourth of July!” — Obed Manuel

8:08 p.m.: The restroom workers at The Bomb Factory don’t seem too stoked about the music here. Instead, they are watching the Tigres-Rayados soccer match on a phone. — OM

8:30 p.m. Like last night, Canton Hall is pretty empty early on in the night. I’m not sure what accounts for this. It’s a cool space, even if it kinda just feels like a big room with a stage in it. All three venues are between sets at the moment. Maybe that’s it? The break in the music definitely presents a perfect opportunity for festival goers to go and food it up somewhere else in the neighborhood. — OM

9:15 p.m.: A band of onesie-wearing festival goers just snaked their way through the light crowd at Trees, as Whyte Noyze takes the stage looking like they’re about to rob the Liberty City Bank in the GTA 4 mission “Three Leaf Clover.” — OM

9:30 p.m.: Those onsie-wearers tell me they coordinated their outfits so as to not lose track of each other while at the fest. That’s a smart strategy, I think. Also, it’s definitely helping them keep warm. — OM

10:09 p.m.: STRFKR is absolutely killing it over here at the Bomb Factory. Spacemen and keyboards really make for a visually pleasing and sounding set, huh? — Sidney Johnson

10:18 p.m.: Judging by the crowd’s reaction, I’m guess very few people here knew much about STRFKR heading into their set. But, as the band that’s opening for the big draw of the night (Phantogram), they’re definitely reaping the benefits. — OM

10:45 p.m.: It is so cold out! The wind has picked up, and I wondered how much his weighed on folks attending the festival. Are they just picking a venue and hunkering down for the night? I wouldn’t blame them. — OM

10:55 p.m.: Walking into The Bomb Factory, I see a merch table set up to sell stunner shades. Are we’re bringing these back now? — Porttia Portis

10:57 p.m.: Don’t mind me, but I almost just lost my life at The Bomb Factory by slipping on a mysterious puddle of liquid. Thanks for the concern! — PP

10:59 p.m.: As Phantogram is gearing up to start its set, a growing familiar stench surrounds me. I look over in the direction of the scent and see some buddies I knew from college up in Denton, smiling and keeping a watchful eye on the security guards. Gotta say, I’m pretty sure the staff doesn’t care. — SJ

11:00 p.m.: The lights in the Bomb Factory have dimmed and a hard drum beat coming through the sound system is getting progressively faster and faster. I think we’re in Jumanji? — PP

11:01 p.m.: False alarm, it’s just Phantogram. — PP

11:03 p.m.: Here’s the downside to smoking weed at shows. Phantogram just opening its set with “You’re Mine,” a totally fire song that the band is pouring its hearts into. But the crowd is just kinda standing there, taking it all in. — SJ

11:09 p.m.: The tassels on the singer from Phantogram’s jacket, though! — PP

11:15 p.m.: OK, a few songs into Phantogram’s set, people are starting to get their sea legs and move with the band’s pulsing, electronic rock. Finally! Also, its getting warm in here, and given how cold it is outside, I’m not mad at that. — SJ

11:20 p.m.: Something I’ve been thinking about since this is Oaktopia’s first year in Deep Ellum after four in Denton. Is the walk from Bomb Factory to Trees longer than a walk around the Denton Square? I’m not sure, but the lack of Confederate statues sure makes it more tolerable! — PP

11:24 p.m.: I arrive at Trees just in time to see Leon Bridges leaving the venue. I ask him how he is, and he tells me “Real good!” If someone had made a bingo card for Oaktopia, running into Leon Bridges definitely would’ve been on there. — OM

11:41 p.m.: Mystery Skulls is honestly has the hardest set I’ve heard all night at Oaktopia. His sound is far too big for Trees, for sure. He would’ve crushed at The Bomb Factory. His style is part Skrillex and part BOOTS, but he keeps it his own. I will have his album soon. — SJ

11:43 p.m.: I am high-key jealous of the Boyz II Men shirt Mystery Skulls is wearing. Also, this lighting should’ve came with a seizure warning. — PP

12:05 a.m.: Canton Hall has definitely picked up since my first visit. DJ Gordon Sparks looks like the quintessential laptop DJ and is employing the fist pump a little too much. The music is solid, though. — SJ



12:20 a.m.: As I leave Deep Ellum, I’m not really feeling like I just left a music festival. Not to be overly critical, but this year’s Oaktopia, with the venues as spread out as they were, really did lack the festival ambiance. Maybe if things had been limited the stages to The Bomb Factory and Canton Hall, they would have worked better and felt more cohesive? Or maybe if more venues were involved between those two and Trees? I’m not sure, but there’s definitely room for improvement. It was still a solid time. Just could be better is all. — OM


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