The 35 Must-See Bands at 35 Denton
So, this is definitely a top-five weekend in North Texas music annually. We're flush with bands this time of year, what with the mid-size tour Mecca four hours south and four days away. But much of what's going on in the Metroplex in the coming weeks owes at least as much of its awesome to our own doing as to anyone else's. And the crown jewel of these offerings is 35 Denton, which starts today. The four-day fest offers a lineup of hundreds, and decisions will have to be made. So we have. (Just so no one blames Brian for anything I have to say, it's worth mentioning that this is Kiernan Maletsky speaking. Brian Rash wrote almost all of the rest of this post, except when noted.)
Mike Brooks The Phuss at 35 Denton 2012.
Sleep: The stoner rock band to end all stoner rock bands. Loud and slow and absolutely perfect. --Kiernan Maletsky
8 pm @ Main Stage One, Thursday evening
Dim Locator: This one-man drum and guitar band is the brainchild of Will Kapinos, lead guitarist of Dove Hunter (also playing the festival), and former front man for the retired Denton band Jetscreamer. And his dirty slide guitar attack accompanied with pounding bass drum create some of the best blues you'll see in the region.
9:30 pm @ Banter, Thursday evening
via Facebook Biographies
Biographies: Biographies emerged in 2012 in Denton and have been packing just about every venue they play since then. The six-piece was formed by Chance Maggard, former drummer for Baruch the Scribe, and their emotional, often experimental compositions ignite audiences all over DFW. They play this year's 35 Denton right before the release of their self-titled debut album on March 30.
9:30 pm @ Sweetwater, Thursday evening
Eric Grubbs The Atomic Tanlines
The Atomic Tanlines: This smart-assed Denton, TX band labels themselves with the somewhat redundant descriptor, "maladjusted punk rock," and members include Reece E., Pablo, and Dildo. Go to the set for the punk, stay for the Dildo.
10:30 pm @ Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios, Thursday evening
Spooky Folk: This group that started out totally acoustic and has since morphed to become completely electric has played the festival every year, and with good reason. Their infectious pop music is always a crowd pleaser, especially if they close out their set with the now local hit, "Bible Belt."
10:30 pm @ Dan's Silverleaf, Thursday evening
RTB2: This two-man operation has been a DFW favorite for over half a decade, and features Grady Don Sandlin on drums and Ryan Thomas Becker on lead guitar. Their searing, experimental folk rock often invokes influences like Sam Cooke, Captain Beefheart and Leon Russell, and Front man Ryan Becker is an entertainer through and through.
11:30 pm @ Andy's, Thurday evening
Savage and the Big Beat
Savage and the Big Beat: A piano driven, operatic rock tour-de-force,
Savage and the Big Beat, out of Denton, is tons of fun. Their newest EP, Love and Hunting plays like a pop-musical,like something Queen or the later Beatles or even later, more flamboyant Elliott Smith might have written.
11:30 pm @ Sweetwater, Thursday evening
Mind Spiders: Mark Ryan, also from the amaze-balls Denton garage punk band The Marked Men, heads this sci-fi punk rock outfit. Their high energy shows emit a healthy dose of Buddy Holly nostalgia combined with Ramones pop and sometimes eerie, theremin-like effects.
11:30 pm @ Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios, Thursday evening
John Wesley Coleman
John Wesley Coleman: This former Denton-based musician has been living in Austin for the last several years. His music is strange and engaging, on the fringes of garage punk and indie rock. Whether or not you get what he does, his shows are always entertaining, like a freak-out satire of a traveling bard.
12:30 am @ Andy's, Thursday night (Friday morning)
Warren Jackson Hearne and Le Leek Electrique: Hearne has been a Denton Staple for over a decade now, and he has almost single-handedly pioneered the death-folk scene in DFW. His newest local super group, Le Leek Electrique, has a big band, crooner feel to it, but still retains the dark aspects of his lyrics and music.
12:30 am @ Banter, Thursday evening (Friday morning)
Fungi Girls: The Fungi Girls fair deals in stellar acid-surf-punk out of Fort Worth. Be prepared to bounce about to songs such as Turquoise Hotel, Sun Blues and Pacifica Nostalgia.
5 pm @ Main Stage Two, Friday evening
Brutal Juice: Back in the early days of Brutal Juice, lead singer Craig Welch would stub cigarettes out on his tongue and forehead, and perform yoga like head stands while screaming into the microphone. Their savage metal onslaught is reflective of half of their band name, and their set at 35 Denton this year will no doubt be a pit inducing affair.
6 pm on Main Stage One, Friday evening
Roky Erickson: Almost five decades ago, Erickson and his band, The 13th Floor Elevators, became one of, if not the first pioneers of psychedelic rock. After a three year period in several different mental hospitals, suffering from schizophrenia, Erickson began a prolific solo recording career in the '80s and his songs have since been covered by artists such as R.E.M., ZZ Top, and The Jesus and Mary Chain. (It is highly recommended that those not familiar with the depth of Erickson's influence on countless musicians look into it, as his life is a rich story of artistic brilliance and mental illness, of tragic downfall and ultimate triumph. His is a life far too fascinating to be properly exemplified in a tiny blurb from a weekly alt-press paper.)
7 pm @ Main Stage One, Friday evening
Sleep: Sleep started turning heads in the early '90s with their Black Sabbath-style doom metal recorded with retro '70s equipment. They fizzled out at the end of the decade, but have reformed and been playing their unique brand of stoner rock since 2009.
8 pm @ Main Stage One, Friday evening
War Party: This Fort Worth band brings the retro with a tight, '60s psychedelic feel, mixed in with a little punk and garage rock for good measure.
9 pm @ J&J's Pizza, Friday evening
Peopleodian: This band has been a Denton favorite for four years, and the self-described "semi-weird post exotica pop" group is looking to make their first full length album sometime this year.
9:30 pm @ the Hive, Friday evening
Def Rain: Ashley Cromeens, former uber talented front woman of Recordhop, heads up this dreamy, ambling dance pop duo with backing beats and synth by Grant Ring. The ultra-reverbed out vocals and overall daydream -inducing soundscape of Def Rain make them a perfect set for anyone wanting to take a break from some maybe way too intense punk, metal or rock shows.
10:30 pm @ The Hive, Friday evening
Wayne Hancock: Playing this year on the strength of his several albums, including his newest, 2009's Viper of Melody, Hancock is a country roots purist, exhibiting elements of honky-tonk, western swing and rockabilly. He's worked with many country superstars including Robert Earl Keen and Terry Allen. Fans of Hank Williams will enjoy Hancock's unyielding loyalty to country music's origins.
11:30 pm @ Dan's Silverleaf, Friday evening
Shiny Around the Edges: Husband and wife team Michael and Jenny Seiman have called Denton their home since the early 2000s. Their new album, The Night is a Disco, released late last year, is a dark, experimental record, true to the overall thesis of the band, but definitely their most mature work to date.
11:30 @ Banter, Friday evening
Old Warhorse: This is Chris Welch's (Pinebox Serenade) gritty, Texas roots band, and they certainly do rock, evidenced by their standout tracks White Lightning and Dirty South.
1 pm @ Dan's Silverleaf, Saturday afternoon
Astronautalis: The incendiary word play of Astronautalis calls to mind one Marshall Mathers, and not just because they're both white rappers. Clever turns of phrase, dark curricula and ass-shaking backing music make this show one to witness.
3 pm @ Main Stage Two, Saturday afternoon
The Cannabinoids featuring Sarah Jaffe: Erykah Badu created this group as a sort of digital play list, wanting to ignite the Dallas scene to its core. The concept asserts that it wants the audience to achieve a high from their music, to be filled and fulfilled by it. The fact that Sarah Jaffe is playing with them means that you'd better get your ass to this set.
6 pm @ Main Stage One, Saturday evening
Killer Mike: Amid all the strange experimentation and soft noises emanating from the new crop of rappers, Killer Mike stands out. No frills, no gimmicks, just straight ahead ATL hip-hop. (KM)
7 pm @ Main Stage Two, Saturday evening
Solange headlines Saturday night at this year's 35 Denton.
Solange: Though sometimes compared to her older sister, Beyonce Knowles, Solange is similar only in that they write music in roughly the same R&B genre. Other than that, Solange's chart-topping hits have a more retro, '80s presentation to them, like Madonna's Lucky Star days.
8 pm @ Main Stage One, Saturday evening
How I Quit Crack: Tina F. from Houston, but now based out of Austin, literally used to smoke crack. She says that it made her want to commit suicide, and that the music she now makes under the name How I Quit Crack is a motivator for her never to do it again. Anyway, go see this one. If anything, just to watch her paint herself in neon, black light reflecting paint while she croons hauntingly beautiful black gospel music.
9:30 pm @ Hailey's, Saturday evening
Mary Walker: Singer/songwriter Mary Walker is relatively new to the music scene in Denton, but she has already released a full length album, Heavy Hearts, late in 2012. A multi-instrumentalist, Walker studied piano under Julie Bonk, who also taught Norah Jones.
10:30 pm @ Banter, Saturday evening
Dust Congress: Frontman Nick Foreman moved to Florida in 2011 to get his Ph.D., but is returning to reunite Dust Congress just for 35 Denton. Their stripped down, banjo-centric songs are filled with hummable melodies and sharp hooks, and it's a damn shame that they only get together to play when Foreman comes back to Denton, if even then.
10:30 pm @ Dan's Silverleaf, Saturday evening
The Soft Moon: With their airy, androgynous vocals similar to My Bloody Valentine, and 80's style, industrial, bass driven synth accompaniment, this post punk gtoup out of San Francisco has been rising in popularity since 2010. This is a must-see set for fans of Joy Division and post-punk enthusiasts.
12:30 am @ Hailey's, Saturday night (Sunday morning)
Mariachi Quetzal: It's just really cool that 35 Denton invited a mariachi band to play the Dan's Silverleaf day party on Sunday.
Noon @ Dan's Silverleaf, Sunday afternoon
Chelsea Light Moving: There doesn't need to be anything else said besides the fact that this is Sonic Youth founder Thurston Moore's newest band.
8 pm @ Main Stage One, Sunday evening
Delicate Steve: Delicate Steve is good vibes incarnate; it is trickling guitar in all the right places and beats that bloom underneath. Let's all hang out in the big warehouse and get a little weird. (KM)
9:30 pm @ The Hive
The Coathangers: Whether there's a more punk rock band name than The Coathangers, especially given the back-alley reference to DIY abortions, is debatable. The all-female quartet out of Atlanta started as a joke in 2006, and have since released several seven inches and a couple of albums, their latest being 2011's "Larceny and Old Lace." Look for a raucous good time with song titles like "Shut the Fuck Up," and "Nestle In My Boobies."
11:30 pm @ Dan's Silverleaf, Sunday evening
Talk Normal: Sarah Register and Andrya Ambro's Brooklyn duo represent a new generation of New York no-wave noise. Though slightly more accessible than the more experimental Sonic Youth, but perhaps less accessible than the Cocteau Twins or the Velvet Underground, Talk Normal is fierce minimalism at its best.
11:30 pm @ Andy's, Sunday evening
Doug Burr: Burr is a seasoned Denton singer/songwriter, and last year, Dan's Silverleaf had a line 100 deep that couldn't get in to see his set at 35 Denton 2012. This year, plan on seeing him, and plan on getting there early.
11:30 pm @ Sweetwater Grill and Tavern, Sunday evening
Marnie Stern: Say it back to yourself: "I will not say the S-word." If you have read literally anything about the dynamo from New York, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about. So yes. Her new one, The Chronicles of Marnia, comes out in a couple weeks and it promises more heartbreaking lyricism and blinding guitar. (KM)
12:30 pm @ Dan's Silverleaf