A New Denton Fest Tried to Make Space for Teens, But Many Sets Were Cut Short or Canceled

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The three-day Free Underage Cool Kids Fest got underway in Denton on Friday, with the mission to engage an oft-neglected demographic: teens. For many of the organizers it was their first major foray into the world of event planning.

The inexperience showed.

For starters, noise complaints beleaguered the event. With over 40 bands on the lineup spread across only two homes, afternoon start times were necessary to accommodate all of the talent. However, this early start didn't appear to be enough to appease the neighbors.

Friday was perhaps the most successful day in terms of attendance, interruptions and noise complaints. The day’s lineup featured notable local acts such as Half Boy Scout, Same Brain, Moon Waves and the once dormant Sad Cops. The house venue on Fannin Street, which hosted Sunday's proceedings as well, was large enough to allow for a handful of outdoor performances. Despite one visit from the police, Friday went off without a hitch. The same could not be said for the following two days.

More troubles arose after the venue change for Saturday's festivities. The event moved from the house on Fannin Street to a more residential neighborhood in Historic Denton. In this part of town, the likelihood of upsetting suburban families increases tenfold. Aggressive metal and punk acts like Anwar, Supercancer Sunshine and IINY were either cut off in the middle of their sets, or were prevented from playing at all.

This resulted in some less than pleased musicians, some of whom had ventured from Dallas to play their sets for free. Eventually, as the noise complaints compounded, and in an effort to preserve the ability for other bands to play their sets, organizers Gabe Thompkins, Justin Piel, Violet Krause and John Kuzmick elected to move the festival back to its Friday location. At this point the only creature who suffered was the shark adorning the wall, who fell from grace amidst a particularly rowdy mosh pit. The night resolved itself in a much more successful fashion than it had begun, although many attendees had already left.

On Sunday, the neighbors just weren't having it. Four noise complaints were made before 8 p.m. Teenage Sexx, Bliss, Homeschool Sex Ed, and Acid Carousel and The Tangerine Dream Machine still performed successful, entertaining sets, but when the cops returned at 10:40 p.m., it was game over. The headliners — local greats Dead Mockingbirds, Loafers and Sealion — would not get to play, despite having trekked out from Dallas. Attendees were forced to clear out under threat of ticketing. Most left with smiles on their faces, but some scowled that their evening had been cut short.

Even with the various obstacles hurled at both the event and its organizers, one could still consider F.U.C.K. Fest a success. A new wave of young people showed up ready to carve out their own niche in Denton's ever-evolving music community; a new house venue opened its doors for the very first time, and now has shows booked for most of the weekends through the end of next month; and hey, at least they had cool T-shirts.

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