By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
north of the dial
On the final night of NX35, as Monotonix loads its gear and merch into a van in front of Hailey's, some guy a block away at The Boiler Room is already updating the sign high above the main entrance of the venue to reflect the coming week's shows. The names of the bands that played the club that night—and every night for the last four days—have been erased.
Soon, all those black and white NX35 posters, signs and fliers that have been plastered all over Denton for the last six months will come down too, quickly replaced by handbills and posters for other shows. But, for those who attended the four-day music festival and felt the energy of the crowds and the bands, there's no way the events of the "conferette" will be so easily plastered over and forgotten.
Monotonix alone put on the kind of kinetic, instantly memorable show that, years from now, people will be discussing. Dragging and throwing their drum kit and their sweaty, hairy selves all around the club, the machismatic garage-rock trio from Tel Aviv, Israel, completely owned the crowd. The show had been sufficiently hyped, and Hailey's, as a result, was teeming with people jumping, cheering and pumping their fists. Putting the bow on the NX35 package, Monotonix's set was the perfect culmination of the electricity that had been building over the past three nights.
But people weren't just turning out in droves to see the touring acts.
Twenty-four hours earlier, The Boiler Room was packed. The Boom Boom Box had just wrapped up its set, and people who wanted to see Record Hop had to brave a nearly 10-minute wait to get downstairs. And, by the time the mob finally got inside, they were ready for a rock party. That's what The Hop gave them, even covering Black Sabbath's "War Pigs" with the help of Kaboom's Brad Santulli.
"That was easily one of the greatest shows in Denton we've ever played," Record Hop's Scott Porter says of the performance, pausing to clarify that he wasn't just talking about how well Record Hop played its set. "We were good, but it was the crowd. The vibe. The energy. Instead of just standing there, passively watching, people were up and moving around. The energy was incredible."
And the "energy" and attendance levels for NX35 stayed fairly constant for most of the event. Well, except on Friday the 13th, when cold, rainy weather and two-hour highway traffic jams kept attendance down during the early evening hours.
"Rain always affects the turnout for shows," says NX35 founder and coordinator Chris Flemmons. "Because of the weather, I was actually shocked that we had the turnout we did on Friday night. And on the other nights, I was terribly happy to see so many people milling about on the Square. It means a lot to me, and I hope that it meant a lot to the city. I think we really have perked some ears."
Two nights of wet, chilly weather weren't the only hiccups that afflicted NX35. After a good run on Thursday night, Friday saw the festival's schedule quickly sync up with "Denton time," with some bands taking the stage an hour late. On a normal night in town, that's not such a big deal. But it makes it very had to plan which bands to see once a single venue gets any more than 15 minutes behind schedule (much less when a venue starts early or rearranges the schedule on its own).
A less serious complication that's bound to happen when scheduling an event like NX35 here stems from the incestuous nature of Denton's bands. Locally based bassist Ryan Williams was especially busy: "I was double-booked for four out of five of the sets I played," Williams says before laughing about the situation. "On Thursday night, I played the first half of a set with Sabra [Laval] at J&J's, then I had to run over to Andy's to play with We Are Villains." And a little later that night, he played with Flemmons in The Baptist Generals.
For the most part, though, from the outside looking in, NX35 seemed to run as well as any first-year event could be expected to. But how does Flemmons feel about it?
"I purposely didn't go into this thing with any expectations," he says. "It's pretty hard to be disappointed that way. And I wasn't disappointed—not at all. I'm more than pleased with the turnout and the way things went. Everything wasn't perfect, I know that. But, like I've said, we knew that this was just a place to start—and we learned a whole lot for next year."
No word yet, though, on when we can expect the posters for next year's event to start popping up.