2010 started off strong in Denton. In March, the North by 35 Music Conferette (recently re-branded for 2011 as the 35 Conferette) brought a flurry of activity in the city's music community, both within the festival and in its satellite shows. For a few days, bands and solo artists from Denton and abroad convened in an orgy of shows and high-spirited revelry, culminating with a Flaming Lips performance in the North Texas State Fairgrounds.
But as post-festival glee began to taper off, Denton started slipping into a musical malaise—one characterized by a lack of excitement among both creators and listeners alike.
Perhaps due to the economy, expatriation or the lack of youngbloods taking initiative, the artistic downturn has been a major topic of discussion in Denton for the better part of 2010. It could simply be that people's creativity has turned inward, though.
"It seems like this has been a year when people are sitting down and recording," Daniel Zeigler of Teenage Cool Kids says.
His point is not without merit—a host of local bands have albums slated for early 2011 release, including Vulgar Fashion, Old Snack, Wiccans and The Hope Trust, just to name a few.
As for the house show scene, the lack of DIY spaces—which became all-too-apparent with the closure of the Majestic Dwelling of Doom, The Schoolhouse and others—diminished people's opportunities to see bands in a live setting, with one notable exception. The Barn, a fairly new and successful DIY space, opened in the summer, but cannot host shows with enough frequency to make up for the hole left by its predecessors.
Among for-profit venues, the epidemic of the sub-$1 well drink has unfairly demolished any concept of cultivating a DJ-inspired music culture in the city for now, with Hailey's Club's five-year-running '80s Night resident DJG looking like a possible victim—along with Hailey's itself.
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It wasn't all negative: 2010 saw a handful of Denton artists getting signed and releasing albums, including Corporate Park, Florene, Sarah Jaffe, Sundress and White Drugs.
And, on the immediate 2011 horizon, more positivity looms: The A-train scheduled to connect Denton to Dallas in June will probably be a boon for intercity travel, which will naturally stir up the music pot for the better.
2010 could possibly be explained as a gestation period for Denton music, with more recording and rearranging going on than performance. And, certainly, the work done in 2010 will likely spawn a healthy and vibrant 2011.
And, in the same old cyclical way, it must be said: The 35 Conferette is right around the corner.