The 11 Busiest (and Buzziest) Days in Texas Music

From 35 Denton to SXSW, Snoop to Spillover, traversing Texas in search sonic bliss.

The more experienced among us carried walkie-talkies. We were trying to figure out how to open the back of the Little Guys Movers truck full of needed equipment.

kkkkkkrrrrcccckkkttttttchhhhh

"Wendall?"

kkkkkkkrrrrccckkttttchhhh

"Yeah, this is Wendall"

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"OK, the guy I'm talking to said he gave the keys to someone from the stage crew, who said he gave them to Wally, who said he doesn't know where they are."

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Everyone on Main Stage One who heard this transmission laughed. Brian Rash

At this point it was almost fate that 35 Denton would get some rain. Gray clouds were rolling through the sky like a bunch of trains, and they unleashed a handful of silent, summery lightning bolts. Moments later the house show we were at was a deluge, and musicians from Sealion and Treelines were shouting, laughing and scattering in the rain. It was spontaneous and wild. Nick Rallo

As every festival attendee made her way down to The Hive to see The Cannabinoids with Sarah Jaffe, the line loomed as large as the storm. Looking around, you could see people on their phones texting to try and avoid it, scanning for a back-door entrance. Once you actually made it inside, it was a who's who of resourcefulness. Extreme weather conditions are some sort of music-festival natural selection. It's not always who you know. Sometimes it's just how you approach that security guy.

The Granada's Gavin Mulloy was a perfect example. He approached the back entrance. Security simply looked at him and said, "Sir, you don't have any credentials." Mulloy, who did not even have the festival wristband at this point, said, "I know! I never do." Moments later, we were at the bar together. Deb Doing Dallas

I've experienced two earthquakes that registered 5-plus on the Richter scale, but the floor rumblings at about 12:30 a.m. at J&J's Pizza were more bone-rattling than either. I just wanted some pizza, but I had to check out what was going on down in that basement. It was Communion, a heavy doom trio with more Marshall amps than I could count. The bass was excessive in the best way. Eventually the shirtless drummer, whose beard and chest piece could also qualify as excessive, grimaced, gripped his wrist and shook his head. Tendinitis. Jesse Hughey

RELATED: The Best of 35 Denton: Night Three

Sunday, March 10

Catching unexpected gems is obviously one of the delights at a festival like this, and my two favorite Sunday bands were both at free shows not officially associated with the festival. It's great that things like that have sprung up around it. The first, Boombachs, who played on the radiodenton.com stage on the Square, were so funky I found myself in a great deal of physical pain, unable to process this much funk at once. At one point, a dog succumbed to the funk and simply lay down. If it were any more funky, the festival would have been closed down and Denton quarantined for dangerous levels of funk. Gavin Cleaver

Here are the four best things Eat Avery's Bones' frontwoman, Meggie Hilkert, said during their set:

"This song is for all of the slutty bitches. I can smell your labia fold from up here."

"This song is for all you people with glasses. It's about pretending you're blind so that you can feel up people at the grocery store."

"This song is about kind of being an alcoholic ... or something."

"This song is about another band that's not us, and it might be really good, but it's probably not." Rachel Watts

For four days, 35 Denton ensured that I spent not one single minute zoned out. I watched no Hulu and never once sat on a couch, wondering what to do next. I did not consider my bills or what might be going on with the suspension in my car.

Instead I went from cramped basement to cavernous warehouse to adapted restaurant and back through all of them, again and again. On stages, people screamed and played guitar chords and built symbiotic rhythms and quietly told little stories. In a vacuum, those things mean little more than vibrations in the air. But in a room with a bunch of people, they have a chance to turn into the only prayer I'll ever understand.

That's true at any show, of course. At a music festival, it can be harder to reach that transcendence because there is so much diffusion — people just trying to kill some time before a band they actually care about, an infrastructure stretched a little thinner. But the trade-off is that you get to spend so much time immersed in a world where those moments are possible, surrounded by people who are also looking for them. 35 Denton, maybe more than any other festival I've ever attended, was dense with belief. Kiernan Maletsky

RELATED: The Best of 35 Denton: Night Four

Wednesday, March 13

Aw, I know, it is a shame you aren't here with us at SXSW in Austin. I can only imagine the aching and longing in your heart for walking aimlessly and standing in long lines for no reason and sweating through your cardigan to see a band you heard on one of the Twilight soundtracks.

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3 comments
commiebiker
commiebiker

left out was the incredible Nick Cave show on the 14th, which  justified not going to Southby 

primi_timpano
primi_timpano topcommenter

Best SxSW show I saw was the Split Squad and the Minus 5. Excellent reminder of rock and roll at its exuberant best.

It is too big. There is no way to bar hop around town to catch acts, but it has been this way for the past couple of years. I suggest hanging at the Continental/San Jose/Yard Dog, especially during the day. Every Saturday Mojo Nixon hosts an extravaganza at the Continental. People line up before 9:30am to catch the awesome Allen Oldies Band open and stay to hear Mojo close. BBQ in the back, drinks in the front. R&R heaven.

 
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