Perhaps the most amusing thing of 35 Conferette 2011? The ubiquity of the performers -- both scheduled to partake in the festivities and not -- rolling around the festival's venues and taking in the events as a whole.
Almost every big name in local music, it seemed, was present -- Jonathan Tyler of Jonathan Tyler & The Northern Lights coolly hid toward the back of various venues over the course of the festival's first two nights, Sarah Jaffe mingled among her adoring fans to take in more than a few shows, and even the folk-heavy members of Seryn could be seen moshing around and headbanging to the loud and fast hard rock of Record Hop.
But no band, perhaps fittingly, has been more present around Denton this week than Midlake, whose members, it seems, are hiding behind every turn. And none more so than guitarist and jack of all trades Eric Pulido, who could be seen working the booth set up for his church, Church of Saint David of Wales (which last year hosted performances from Jaffe and Seryn) and has been involved in various daytime events, as well. he and his bandmates, it seems, are just doing all they can to take things in -- no doubt a nice break from the record they're currently recording in their Denton studios.
More on that new album, as well as a few other briefs of note, after the jump...
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- Midlake is very much in the throes of recording the follow-up to their 2010 release, The Courage of Others, says guitarist Eric Nichelson, who also notes that the band is currently working on a number of songs brought to the table -- most by frontman Tim Smith, but some by other members as well. This process, he said with a relieved smile, seems to be going more quickly than recording has for the band in the past -- so much so, he says, that the record could be finished as soon as this fall. As such, the band is expecting the new record to be released at some point in 2012.
- We all expected it, but Midlake drummer McKenzie Smith confirms that the Denton band will indeed be backing John Grant at the enigmatic performer's Dan's Silverleaf performance on Saturday night. Grant recorded his acclaimed 2010 release, The Queen of Denmark, in Denton at Midlake's studio, and the band served as his backing band throughout the album.
- High Tension Wires, the punk side project from the Riverboat Gamblers' Mike Wiebe performed its first show in almost two years last night, with Wiebe backed by an all-star cast including Mind Spiders' Mark Ryan, plus Bad Sports' Daniel Fried and Greg Rutherford. The band just released a new album, available on vinyl and as a digital download on -- where else -- Dirtnap Records.
- Record Hop debuted a ton of new material at their Hailey's Club performance last night -- material that is just as loud as their self-titled 2008 release, but even more melodic. Among the new songs is a cut called "Jenny, Don't Be A Hero," which, the band announced on stage, is about Shiny Around The Edges' Jenny Seman. The band will be recording again with Steve Albini in the near future.
- The Labb is a venue with which most attendees at this year's Conferette are unfamiliar -- mostly because, at last year's fest, it was called Texas Eight-Ball. Bought and re-branded in January by talent buyer Bryan Denny, whose DHS Entertainment has made a name for itself by booking shows to Rubber Gloves over the past few years, the main bar looks largely unchanged. But the performance set-up, not out back on the patio, on a stage built by Denny himself earlier this week, is much improved. Keep an eye out for shows on this patio over the course of the summer -- it's already easily the best patio stage in Denton.
- Mad World Records has seen a steady flow of good business since opening earlier this week, owner Mark Burke told me yesterday while taking a break from attending to the customers at his store's check-out line. That much isn't altogether surprising, though -- the store looks great, and its window appeal is top-notch. Location, indeed, is everything.
- After Dr. Dog's performance last night, a city official got onstage and asked crowds to spend money in the various restaurants and businesses around the performance areas, saying that "We need you guys to support these businesses because we really want them to let us do this again next year." I imagine that much will be the case -- most restaurants have seen steady crowds throughout the festival's first two days, and crowds are only expected to increase this weekend.
- Denton Mayor Pro Tem Pete Kamp seemed especially pleased with the way this year's festival was going when I caught up with her during Dr. Dog's set last night. "I'm absolutely thrilled," she said, referencing the way the outdoor stages in downtown Denton have come together at this year's festival. "This is where this should be. This is the pulse of the Denton music community. Being down here is what makes it special."
- Not sure how great a barometer this is of a festival's success, but Chris Flemmons, the main main behind the festival, is passing the early eye-tests, looking vastly more calm and collected this time around than in either of the festivals two previous incarnations. "It's all these volunteers," he says. "They're unbelievable."