The Best from 35 Denton Night One: The Dancing, The Technological Advances and The Artisanal Jello Shots

Work is miles away; the real world is even further. It is festival season. We begin at Hailey's in Denton. Terminator 2 kicks off the official portion of 35 Denton with a flexing of enormous sound. My everything shakes involuntarily, and it is perfect. --Kiernan Maletsky

Before there was a note from the band that kicked off a night of mountain-melter rock, 35 Denton began at Andy's with a sound check: Tony Ferraro, lead singer, laser blasted the words "living on sponge cake" over and over into the microphone. Pretty sure there's no better way to kick of a heavy, American rock and roll set than to mic-check with the words of Jimmy Buffett's "Margaritaville." It was epic, and the beginning of a great night. --Nick Rallo

See also: -How to Plan Your Night for Each Genre at 35 Denton, with Maps -The Ten Funniest 35 Denton Band Descriptions -How John Wesley Coleman Looked to Old Friends to Save His Set at 35 Denton

The women's restroom at Andy's Bar was literally duct taped shut (over the door frame) like a spiderweb, forcing women to use the seat-less toilet in the men's room. --Rachel Watts

Let it never be said that the staff of 35 Denton does not take requests. The lines were daunting last year, and this year this is a cavernous new venue for the overflow (The Hive) and a live monitor of the capacity of each venue. Right now, you can go to 35denton.com and find out what percentage of any given participating space is full. I find out because Bright ("Like a light!" he offers) asks me if what he is looking at on his phone could possibly be capacities. It is live updating as we watch it. I walk to Dan's Silverleaf and sure enough, there is a volunteer right by the entrance, marking each person coming and going. She has an iPhone and the screen displays four buttons: +1, -1, +5 and -5. She is not allowed to talk to me. After all, she has work to do. Spooky Folk is about to start here at Dan's and we are at 82% capacity and climbing. (KM)

No rain in Denton's Square. Oh, the joy. Last year, 35 Denton was soaked. Wet hair and discarded ponchos were a common sight. Last night, 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 set filled the air. Ugh, awesome. --Nick Rallo

Carly Tester, Journalism student at UNT, did not get the dance party she was hoping for. "I was expecting a hot, sweaty, disco but it was definitely lacking," says Tester. "It has the potential to be cool, but right now it feels like an eighth grade prom."

Tester isn't done. "Who wants to go to a huge dance party with cops lining the room?! It's a little excessive," says Tester. "And to top it off, they close the bar at 11:30 p.m. and are charging three dollars for a soda...not what I was expecting." --Megan Morris

Jessie, Kelsey and Kaitlyn don't normally hang out in Denton when the weekend approaches. But tonight, they heard from a DJ friend that there would be dancing at the new warehouse space on Sycamore and Bell, so they paid their $30 each, put on their furry boots and charged up their glowing paraphernalia and showed up. It did not work out. The crowd was thin. They tried to dance. "Everyone looked at us like they were annoyed," says Jessie.

"Fuckin' hipsters," says Kelsey. (KM)

At 11 p.m., Andy's is packed as Night Hawks take the stage. Off the bat, the band members appear to be on set of Anchorman. But their sexy, rockabilly sound enthralls the crowd. The audience sways in unison to the melody, and everyone takes their attention away from iPhones and Ecigarettes, and focuses on the band. MM

The crowd goes nuts for the hard-hitting drum solo in the first set, and just when you think the song's ending, the band chimes back in with their lyrics to "Keep Me Up All Night."

The crime of the first night of 35 Denton was that 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. Enter Banter at 12:15. Roughly 30 people are watching Warren Hearne.

About 30 people see 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 deserves everyone's attention, regardless of venue or fair.

In a way, that's sort of selfishly alright with me. It wasn't a full-on mob scene; no "Please excuse me" while waiting in line for the bathroom; no fighting in line for a drink (mainly because Banter stopped selling alcohol at midnight, also, perhaps, a big clue as to the poor attendance); no anything but seeing Hearne and his phenomenal band play as though it was half time at the Super Bowl.

It was a crime that almost no one saw their set, and it was beautiful all the same. --Brian Rash

It's entirely possible that

the set from John Wesley Coleman last night at Andy's was a lightning strike

: thanks to some help from his friends, it was filled with spontaneous, feverous, unlike-any-other moments. Best example? One of the improvised lyrics, as Rachel Watts pointed out, was Coleman dancing and blasting the words: "I-35 can suck my dick." Thank you.


John Wesley Coleman hands his guitar to a guy in the audience, who plays his song perfectly, all the way through. More on his improbable set here, including why Ryan Thomas Becker was on stage during it.(RW)

See also: -50 Don'ts For Your ACL Festival Weekend -Five WTF Examples of Marketing at SXSW -The 100 Best Texas Songs: The Complete List

One of the last bands of the night rallied one of the biggest crowds so far. Burnt Reynolds and the Arcadian Review Band uses humor to call out the drunken fans in the crowd between songs, yet manages to keep every person fixated on their next set.

Their songs vary from romantic love songs about Tarzan and Jane to heavy guitar riffs that end in the band jamming in unison on one knee, as if proposing to the crowd.

They were even kind enough to play a "brand spanking new song," titled "Hole in the Back of Your Head." It was a crowd hit, and the band stole the evening at Dan's Silverleaf. (MM)

And, in summary...

You get through with your shitty day job. You are excited to go to the big show. You meet your boss and you walk to the big show with him. You see Terminator 2 at Hailey's. You suggested this show and he approves of it, but adds the caveat that it's not really hardcore like you said it would be, rather, it's more like slowed down metal in the vein of Sepultura, or something like that. You leave and see Biographies at Sweetwater, and the sheer volume of people sort of eviscerates the sound of it all.

You both exit Sweetwater after seeing and talking with your former therapist, who is so proud of you by the way, and you head to Dan's, where, for god's sake, you just need to pee, but you wait in line anyway. And on the way to Dan's, you leave $1.32 in the hat of a spanger guitar player, and he and his friend are both so grateful, and they both thank you as you continue to walk toward Dan's.

You get to Dan's and forget that you have to pee because you know almost everyone, and everyone you know is frightfully welcoming, and you remember why you love Denton, or any town that you call home. You finally pee, and then you thank the lord that the bathroom at Dan's was so comfortable, and you catch three songs of Spooky Folk.

You leave and you walk across the train tracks to Rubber Gloves because you are so ashamed that you haven't yet seen Mind Spiders, and everyone you know has been telling you to see them for over a year, and you wait in line to see them, and they don't disappoint, but before they play, you text a picture to your boss of the turd resting on the back of the toilet in the Rubber Gloves bathroom as though it were fired like a missile. Mind Spiders are total Denton, TX punk rock to the core, you say to yourself, and then you drink another beer before you walk back across the train tracks to the center of town to The Labb, and you talk with other folks you know, and you do a jello shot with a buxom young woman before you walk across the street to Banter to conclude your evening to the virtuosic songwriting of Warren Jackson Hearne and Le Leek Electrique.

Then you walk home, glad that you saw what you saw, and that there are fewer headlights now than before, so there's not as much to dim the memory of a beautiful tryst with the night's lesser known stars. --Brian Rash

-How to Plan Your Night for Each Genre at 35 Denton, with Maps -The 14 Best Unofficial 35 Denton Shows -The 35 Must-See Bands at 35 Denton -The Ten Funniest 35 Denton Band Descriptions -How John Wesley Coleman Looked to Old Friends to Save His Set at 35 Denton

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