Thin Line Film and Music Festival is Not that Other Music Fest. Does it Matter?
Perhaps it couldn't be helped. With somewhat spring-like weather in the Denton air on Thursday afternoon, it was hard to not have festival fever. In years past around this time, when 35 Denton would be taking place, you couldn't get past Dan's Silverleaf near Hickory Street before the festival fun was palpable. Last night was the first full night of Thin Line Film and Music Festival's programming, and make no mistake, 35 Denton this is not. Not that it's supposed to be.
Ed Steele Sam Lao
The organizers of this fine event haven't tried to fool anyone. In the past week or so, it's been tough to miss the mentions of this year's added music festival aspect to the original documentary programming the festival has focused on in years past. But with schedule grids and thoughts of bouncing from one venue just off Denton's square to another for various forms of frivolity, visions (delusions?) of grandeur danced about, regardless.
With the music portion of the fest not kicking into high gear until 7:00 p,m,, what better way to start a Film and Music Festival evening than to watch a documentary film about a musician? The Punk Singer: A Film About Kathleen Hanna is a tremendous movie, regardless of whether or not you are familiar with Hanna's stellar body of work with Bikini Kill, Julie Ruin or Le Tigre. Her pioneering spirit and zeal for forcing people to face sexism with serious and closer scope made for compelling subject matter, as does her bout with Lyme disease, which had, until last year, kept her from performing almost entirely since 2005. While the Campus Theatre, where the screening was held, can hold what seems to be two or three hundred people, only 25 or so were in attendance for this remarkable film.
Going from the story of a fearless woman to a performance by another seemed appropriate. The festival's main music stage, inside the so-called Denton Municipal Electric Tent (directly across the street from the Oak Street Drafthouse on Oak) was being dominated by the singing, rapping and shimmies of Sam Lao. As careful observers of North Texas' music scene will well know, Lao is a talent on the rise, and her skills can not be denied. But again, on this night Lao only had a couple of dozen attendees to tantalize and hypnotize in the cavernous tent.
Walking from the Main Stage back across the square to Sweetwater, it was impossible for anyone not holding a ticket or wearing a lanyard to know that a festival of any sort was taking place around the storied courthouse square. Certainly, there are far fewer music venues involved in Thin Line than there are 35 Denton, and without multiple outdoor stages, it's understandable that a vibrant atmosphere in the city center might be lacking, to a point, at least.