It was four days facing the elements: Wind, rain, solar flares and, on Saturday night, a Slime Rave at the Lion's Den.
There was the aforementioned late-night basement dance party, close calls with golf carts, mysterious bruises, random introductions and the chance to catch music at every turn. 35 Denton feels like what SXSW probably did before it got huge, where any corner you turn might hold a surprise. There's not the isolated feel bigger festivals have, even if long lines on Friday and Saturday made some folks feel that way.
Still, with all the weather issues, there was never a feeling that the train was veering off the tracks, a testament to just how well this new group of organizers has taken ownership. Thanks for the memories, Denton, and for a great festival.
Danny Brown Hailey's, Saturday A few things I remembered from Danny Brown's visit to DFW last year, opening for Das Racist: His yowling Michigan accent, Tony the Tiger hoodie and reluctant but coarse personality. This time, he was clad in sweatpants, white sneakers and a sparkling camo tank top, and started his set at Hailey's with "Die Like a Rockstar." His energy quickly surged through the soggy crowd like a lightning bolt. A layer of of dancers behind Brown, on stage since Main Attrakionz's and Brain Gang's set , increasing their numbers and collective friction.
"As long as you're up on stage," one guy yelled, "you should just grind up on all these women". The set was a tidal wave of intensity with the occasional rip current of male guilt for enjoying it. Brown's set ended as the crowd roared the mnemonic chorus "blunt after blunt after blunt," probably his way of exorcising the ton of Id he unleashed on the crowd. - Shahryar Rizvi
Bad Sports Andy's, Saturday "We're Bad Sports, and you're welcome," Daniel Fried told the one-in, one-out crowd at Andy's immediately after the Denton/Austin punk band finished their set. The crowd clapped, cheered and at least one guy in the back hollered back: "Thank you!"
The band had just delivered a break-neck set, including rousing performances of "Teenage Girls," "Should've Known" and "Days of Denton," which had folks in the audience stage diving within the first few notes. Granted, many of the folks in the crowd had piled into Mad Worlds Records to see Minneapolis' Birthday Suits and High Tension Wires earlier in the evening, and Denton's Idiots primed the audience with their own brand of punk.
The venue was already 25 away from capacity by the time Idiots took the stage at 9:30 p.m., and by 10 p.m. the doorman announced to folks waiting in line that the venue was one in, one out. Singer-guitarist Orville Neeley told the crowd the show was the first time Bad Sports had played Andy's since their very first show. While Gregory Rutherford hammered away at the drums, Neeley and Fried bounded around on the stage like they owned the place. - Daniel Rodrigue
Atlas Sound Main Stage 2, Saturday The rain Saturday evening provided Atlas Sound fans a proper backdrop for a completely sane solo performance by Bradford Cox. The audience huddled under umbrellas and the weather elicited some interesting banter from the Deerhunter frontman, who mentioned this was the last stop on his tour.
"I like the percussion of the rain," he said between songs. "You're going to have to listen real hard to hear me over the rain, because I'm going to do this one real quiet. I wish I could loop the rain. It sounds nice. You know?"
While strumming his acoustic guitar, Cox said, "Well, I think I've done a pretty good job of the sad, rainy kind of thing, so this next song is a real bright, uplifting nugget of sunlight." Needless to say, it wasn't. He later acknowledged, "All my songs are rainy day songs." - Daniel Rodrigue The Raincoats Main Stage 2, Sunday As we all migrated from the Raincoats' stage to the Dum Dum Girls' yesterday, you could sort of see their lineage. Now that the UK group is playing out again, you can see their influence in many bands. Guitarist Ana da Silva and bassist Gina Birch, dressed in matching stripes, looked thrilled to be playing in front of so many fans, but took a few songs to warm up.
The cadence of Raincoats songs has always been their signature, never ones to employ traditional tempo changes or choruses. The four-piece's cover of The Kinks' "Lola," plus "No Looking," "Adventures Close to Home" and "You're a Million," all from1979's self-titled album, didn't sound dated at all, and the violinist gave them an ominous, distorted edge. Closer "Shouting Out Loud," from 1981's Odyshape, especially rang true in our current sociopolitical landscape. "We wish we could have played longer," Birch said. "We talk too much, that's our problem," da Silva added. Perfect. - Audra Schroeder
Built to Spill Main Stage 1, Sunday Thirty minutes before Built to Spill was set to play on Main Stage 1, the crowd had already massed to over a thousand people. Right before the lights dimmed, frontman Doug Martsch, geared up in his Bob Dylan t-shirt, walked on stage and sat on his amplifier to peruse some notes. This prompted several screams of "Doug!" from die-hard fans.
After a funny little apology broadcast on the big screen saying The Jesus and Mary Chain were now playing at the North Texas Fairgrounds on Wednesday night, BTS launched into their 13-song set, lasting just over an hour-and-a-half. During their second song, "Untrustable Part 2," Martsch sang out to the crowd, head shaking in rhythm with his violent guitar strokes: "And God is whoever you perform for." Highlights of the set included the sweet love song "Weather" as well as "Carry the Zero," during which the band's three guitarists stayed on stage, manipulating their effects pedals into cathartic feedback harmony for several minutes. - Brian Rash