The 11 Busiest (and Buzziest) Days in Texas Music

On Sunday night in Deep Ellum, a band called Zechs Marquise headlined Spillover Fest. They played at Sandbar Cantina and Grill, out back on the "beach," flanked by palm trees and on a stage made out of some kind of soft wood. Spillover — a festival curated by local promoting hero Parade of Flesh and designed to capture run-off from SXSW — was the coda on the 11-day stretch that sees Texas become the brightly burning center of the music world.

I sipped a gin and tonic and took off my shoes. "You're going to get foot AIDS," the person sitting next to me turned and said. I laughed, weakly, and dug my toes deep into the sand. On stage, the brothers Rodriguez-Lopez made hairpin rhythmical turns, and I reflected on the music I'd seen made over the preceding week-plus. It's all blurry snippets: Este Haim sneering ferally, Marnie Stern straining to play with no monitor, several generations colliding in the mosh pit for The Specials. Deep Throat at The Labb in Denton, Terminator 2 at Hailey's, old friends from out of town playing in an Austin bar in the bright daylight.

How can you quantify the live music that occurs in Texas in early March every year? Thousands of bands from around the world come here and ply their wares on stages ranging from 62-foot-tall mock vending machines to street corners. I don't know if it's the world's largest congregation of bands and artists. I'm not even sure how you'd measure that. All I know is what I saw, and what the rest of the music writers of the Observer saw, and that was a hell of a lot: We went from 35 Denton to Austin for SXSW, then back to brave the St. Patrick's Day debauchery at the Observer's annual concert on Greenville Avenue. Then we came here, to our final destination in Deep Ellum, for Spillover Fest on Sunday night. Shoes were no longer an option.

Here's what we saw and, more important, heard. Kiernan Maletsky, Music Editor

Thursday, March 7

Work was miles away; the real world was even further. It was Festival Season. We began at Hailey's in Denton. Terminator 2 kicked off the official portion of 35 Denton with a flexing of enormous sound. My everything shook involuntarily, and it was perfect. Kiernan Maletsky

No rain in Denton's Square. Oh, the joy. Last year 35 Denton was soaked. Wet hair and discarded ponchos everywhere. On Thursday, for one camera flash, Denton was rainless and goddamn beautiful for 35 Denton's kick-off. The Square was actually chirping, like the front porch of some lake patio, as the Denton Radio-sponsored outdoor stage filled the air with music. Ugh, awesome. Nick Rallo

Almost no one saw the brilliant set of Warren Jackson Hearne and Le Leek Electrique.

Every other show I wandered into during the opening evening was packed. I entered Banter at 12:15, though, and a scant 30 people were watching Warren Hearne. There should be a statute addressing this sort of crime.

Those 30 people, though, they were the lucky ones: They witnessed the guitar artistry of Dan Dockrill, and the precision percussion of Tex Bosley, and the spot-on bass of Ryan Williams, and the overall true emotion of a death-folk singer/songwriter who deserved far more people's attention. Brian Rash

RELATED: The Best of 35 Denton Night One

Friday, March 8

Watching wrestling 100 feet away from Sleep pounding the main stage crowd was, as it turns out, quite an experience. Various muscular men emerged from a tent into a full ring and threw each other at full force into the ground.

Seeing wrestling set to a pounding soundtrack of sludge metal was a perfect 35 Denton take-home. All sludge metal will now have a visual of wrestling in poorly lit circumstances for me to treasure. You can't buy this sort of association. Gavin Cleaver

A straight-faced security guard was battening down the gate outside of the temporary warehouse space The Hive, after someone had allegedly attempted to pull it apart in order to sneak in, when a random guy on the street, no older than 35, drunk and solo, said to the guard, "Hey dude, you need some help?" The guard blew him off, of course, and the guy, whom we'll call The Spirit of Denton, meandered away into the night. Nick Rallo

RELATED: The Best of 35 Denton: Night Two

Saturday, March 9

I sat down with a group of stage crew volunteers, and I was late. They'd already finished whatever drinks and food they'd ordered and were just joking around, lighting fresh cigarettes and discussing strategy for the long day ahead. For two days only, I was one of them. I'm still not sure why they invited me.

All of the acts at Main Stage One of 35 Denton must go off smoothly, and already there was so much to do. We walked to the stage, in the parking lot just west of Industrial Street, the segmented black wooden floor of the stage undulating under our weight like a wrestling ring surface.

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Kiernan Maletsky
Contact: Kiernan Maletsky