Previewing The Hot, Wet and Messy Factors of The Performers at Denton's Hot Wet Mess.
This weekend, the folks behind 35 Denton are set to take a big step forward in expanding their no-longer-all-that-modest festival beyond the little SXSW sibling that it was upon its initial launch as NX35 back in 2009.
And that step will start precisely at 1:50 p.m. tomorrow at the North Texas State Fairgrounds, when the brand formally kicks off its first-ever Hot Wet Mess event.
Just don't expect that same old song and dance from the 35 Denton crew at this event.
“We wanted something that was kind of a deviation from the festival,” 35 Denton creative director Kyle La Valley told us back in May. “We're going to be getting more into event production in the future, and this is the first of these events. It's just going to be an awesome party.”
And, to be sure, the event promises to be all kinds of crazy, featuring performances from The Black Lips, No Age, Reggie Watts, Big Freedia, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Fergus & Geronimo, RTB2 and DJ Sober, plus skateboarding exhibitions, professional wrestling matches, a four-story-tall water slide and, well, just a whole crapload of water.
Translation? You will get wet at this event. Probably hot, too. And, almost certainly, considering all the water expected to be on hand in the dirt-and-grass fairgrounds field, a little messy.
But what about the musical performers themselves? How do they fall on the hot, wet and messy scales?
Glad you asked!
DJ Sober (all day long)
Fans of DJ culture in Dallas have long known what it seems the rest of the region is only recently getting around to figuring out: When it comes to DJs in North Texas, Sober is tops, thanks to his vast knowledge of a wide variety of genres, his ability to read a crowd and his technical chops. Sober, for the uninitiated, rose to area acclaim with partners in grime Nature and Select in the mid-'00s as part of the DJ and party-throwing collective known simply as The Party.
These days, you can find Sober each Thursday night at Beauty Bar for his Big Bang! weekly, behind the decks at every A.Dd+ show and, um, at celebrity weddings. weddings.
Hot Factor: 9.5 out of 10. I mean, have you seen Sober's mustache? He looks like a porn star.
Wet Factor: 7 out of 10. Sober's DJing between sets, which seems like prime timing for some serious water gun shooting, no?
Messy Factor: 8.5 out of 10. Ever been to Sober's Big Bang! weekly at Beauty Bar? Things are usually pretty sloppy out there on the dancefloor.
RTB2 (1:50 p.m.)
Perhaps it's not surprising that revered local rock duo RTB2 appears on the Hot Wet Mess bill on the same weekend in which the band is releasing their new album, 2. What is a bit surprising, however, is that Ryan Thomas Becker and Grady Don Sandlin have been relegated to a “special guest” slot in the lineup, receiving just 10 minutes of stage time as the performers during the event's “opening ceremonies.” So what does this mean as far as RTB2's set is concerned? Will they even have enough time to bang out some of their new material? Let's be honest: Probably not.
No need to be disappointed, though. We've got it on good authority that it means the band will be performing “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Hot Factor: 7 out of 10, due to the gratuitous, if also innocent, man-on-man action at play during the band's performances.
Wet Factor: We're guessing 10 out of 10, considering it's the opening ceremony and all.
Messy Factor: 2 out of 10. Compared to the other, far-more-raunchy bands on this bill, RTB2 just comes off incredibly clean.
Fergus & Geronimo (2 p.m.)
The collaborative brainchild of underground Denton punk geniuses Andrew Savage (Teenage Cool Kids) and Jason Kelly (Wax Museums), this Denton-bred, Brooklyn-based experimental rock outfit has taken a far left turn from their R&B garage outfit origins as their stock has risen. Since signing with Sub Pop imprint Hardly Art in the summer of 2010, the band's music, not unlike the Mothers of Invention from whom the band draws a significant influence, has become less R&B-inclined and more experimental as the years have gone by, and the fairly constant acclaim doled out the band's way would seem to indicate that it's all been for the better.
Hot Factor: 8 out of 10. Fergus & Geronimo's music can be somewhat grating on record, but, in live settings, it's downright glorious, played at a slightly faster and undoubtedly more aggressive clip.
Wet Factor: 6 out of 10, if only because this event can't be wet the entire time, can it?
Messy Factor: 7 out of 10. The band's new album is called Funky Was The State of Affairs.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra (3 p.m.)
The Fat Possum-signed indie alt-rockers are no strangers to the region having graced the stages at Dada and the Granada in the past, supporting the likes of Toro y Moi and Girls, respectively. Still riding high off the release of their 2011, self-titled debut, the still-young, scuzzy band seems primed for bigger things in the near future.
Hot Factor: 8.5 out of 10. I don't know if 2011 produced a better sitting-in-the-sun-in-the-afternoon jam than UMO's “Ffunny Ffrends.”
Wet Factor: 7 out of 10. If only because, at this point in the day, the line for the massive water slide parked out n the middle of the field might start to get smaller.
Messy Factor: 7 out of 10. This is a band that has a song called “Jello and Juggernauts.”
Big Freedia (4 p.m.)
The Hot Wet Mess really couldn't have come at a better time for New Orleans bounce evangelist and 35 Denton vet Big Freedia, who, thanks to a scandalous live show featuring various butt-shaking backup dancers, was among last festival season's breakout stars.
Sources tell us that Big Freedia has actually been in North Texas all week long, as the artist, forced to evacuate New Orleans because of Hurricane Isaac, simply decided it made sense to just make the trip this way a little earlier.
Hot Factor: 10 out of 10. And maybe even more than that. As anyone who's seen a Big Freedia live set can attest to, this set will be about nothing but ass and sex.
Wet Factor: 10 out of 10. See above note about ass and sex.
Messy Factor: 10 out of 10. See above note about seeing the above note about ass and sex.
Reggie Watts (5:10 p.m.)
With apologies to Big Freedia, Watts, another 35 Denton veteran, is clearly the odd man out on this bill, as he's as much a comedian as he is a musician. The frequent Conan guest has been lauded hither and yon for a few years now thanks to his improvisational musical performances, which feature freestyled, comedic lyrics and background beats created on the spot with a loop machine.
Hot Factor: 3 out of 10. Watts looks kind of like a monster, with his massive, unkempt Afro.
Wet Factor: 4 out of 10. Unless Watts wants to invite Gallagher comparisons, we don't expect his set to feature too much audience-splattering.
Messy Factor: 8 out of 10. See: Unkempt Afro.
No Age (6:30 p.m.)
Born out of the legendary Los Angeles DIY space The Smell, this guitar- and drum-featuring punk duo plays their songs fast and loud — and has deservedly earned a heaping of praise of the course of two studio LPs and a third compilation of the group's early singles. Seminal rock critic Robert Christgau in particular is a fan, having gone as record as calling the riff from “Fever Dreaming” off of the band's 2010 Nouns album “the coolest new one I've encountered in this century.”
Hot Factor: 9 out of 10. Fast is the name of No Age's game.
Wet Factor: 9 out of 10. So is sweaty.
Messy Factor: 9 out of 10. Seems like an inevitability.
The Black Lips (8 p.m.)
Atlanta flower punk outfit The Black Lips are as renowned for their on-stage antics as they are for their music, and, just to put that in perspective, the band's music is pretty well-renowned in its own right. Let's put it another way: There's a reason these guys are signed to Vice Records. Over the course of six albums, the band has made its name combining psychedelia and punk into its gnarly stew, but the band's most recent effort, the Mark Ronson-produced Arabia Mountain, showed some hints at a cleaner offering, although it still retained plenty fo the old grit and grime upon which the Lips have made their name.
Hot Factor: 10 out of 10. Nudity is hot, right? Let's hope so, as guitarist Cole Alexander has developed such a reputation for frequently stripping on-stage that fans mostly seem disappointed when he doesn't do so.
Wet Factor: 10 out of 10. A band known for spitting into each other's mouths during their live shows does't seem like one that'd be afraid of a little water.
Messy Factor: 10 out of 10. See everything else I just wrote about these guys.