Introducing The Hive, 35 Denton's Improbable and Enormous New Music Venue

A peek inside The Hive on Monday, February 25.
The Hive is a gaping 12,000-square-foot warehouse at the edge of the 35 Denton umbrella, situated a few feet from the train tracks on the corner of Bell and Sycamore Streets. Next weekend, it will become the largest indoor music venue in Denton -- maybe for four days, and maybe for years to come.

Thousands of festival-goers will walk through its doors to hear bands including Philadelphia weirdos Man Man, peruse a pop-up art fair and step up to one of its two full-service bars. Exactly two months ago, they'd have been standing in the middle of the still-operating Hyper-Head factory alongside massive heavy machinery churning out compressor tank valves.

"It got scary in late December," says 35 Denton creative director Kyle LaValley. "Anyone who came to the venue was like, 'You're fucking out of your mind.'"

It's safe to say that wasn't the first time LaValley has heard those words in the two years since she took over the upstart music festival. The first may have been when she agreed to take over the planning and oversight of an event featuring a couple hundred bands, for a starting salary of zero dollars. Last year's installment, the first to feature the now-permanent moniker 35 Denton, was successful enough that she and a few other core staffers now have actual salaries.

Last year's fest was so successful, in fact, that nearly every venue was at capacity and turning away patrons at the door. Along with programming director Natalie Davila, LaValley, who's 26, quickly started thinking about adding a large space for the overflow. But it wasn't until a creative mixer in the fall of 2012, hosted by Denton City Councilman Kevin Roden, that the opportunity presented itself.

They met Joe Northern, a real-estate investor who, with business partner Randy Smith, had recently bought the old Bell Street factory. His plan was to convert it into an entertainment hub with a music venue, restaurant and possibly something else -- a microbrewery, maybe. But neither had experience in the music or food business. "I'm a real estate guy," Smith says.

Enter LaValley, Davila and The Hive.

The arrangement between 35 Denton and the building's owners is, for now at least, a one-off. LaValley needed a large venue to help expand the festival, so she pitched the idea of a makeshift setup as a way of proving the space's viability to the government and citizens of Denton. (Hyper-Head moved to its new location in Valley View in early January.)

LaValley worked with the city to obtain the necessary permits to operate The Hive as a temporary event space. The festival and building owners split the costs (with Northern and Smith taking on a bit more) of the required renovations, including lighting, fire-suppression systems, emergency exits and the like.

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Alex Guzman
Alex Guzman

Wendy Broyles what bout this new venue?

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