The Best of 35 Denton Night Four: Herb, Jameson and Finding Our Limits

Yes, we were there for the music, but if you weren't a local, you were also had a town to explore. The Denton trip is a short one, but for a Dallas lady like me it's generally just for a show. Maybe from the window at Paschall's I can sit and day dream about an afternoon spent roaming the charming Denton square, but it's closed to night owls.

The final day of a music festival is the perfect time to sort of barely attend the music festival. Everyone has those my-feet-hurt, what-time-is-it, I-need-some-water blues, trying to figure out their plans for the day. Indecisive and easily persuaded.

Starting out with breakfast on the Sqaure, we watched from a window as the wind blew the roof off of Denton Radio's tent near the courthouse. Some folks ran to help but the player calmly continued on her guitar.

Drank coffee, ate eggs, meandered to the record stores. Stopped in the candy store. Counted all the weapons in the Denton Mini-Mall Window Display. Skipped the ice cream because you had so many biscuits.

"Should we go see some music at this music festival?" someone asked. On this particular afternoon I might have even hesitated before saying, "Yes."

Thankfully I didn't, because Beach Fossils re-energized the crowd a bit, even with the downtime between songs. "We like to tune between every song because we really enjoy knowing we are wasting your precious time," lead-singer Dustin Payseur told us. They rock the guitar out of tune every time.

A pause from the band and they informs us their drummer's hands were bleeding. Well, if this isn't a way to kick the final hours of 35 Denton, I don't know what is.--Deb Doing Dallas

A friend described Beach Fossils as sounding like their lead singer didn't show up so the guitarist decided to give it a shot. The day could only improve from there. --Jesse Hughey

Catching unexpected gems is obviously one of the delights at a festival like this, and my two favorite Sunday bands were both free shows not officially associated with the festival. It's great that things like that have sprung up around it. Boombachs on the Square at the radiodenton.com stage were so funky I found myself in a great deal of physical pain, unable to process this much funk at once. At one point, a dog succumbed to the funk and just simply lay down. If it was any more funky, the festival would have been closed down, and Denton quarantined for dangerous levels of funk.

We also caught A Taste of Herb in Gerhard's, a new bierkeller-style German restaurant just off the square. Pretzels? Trumpets? Unreasonably-sized beer containers? It had it all. It was so pleasant in there that we didn't ever want to leave. Also, the mustard was really good. These are all things that Roosters just can't offer me, although Redneck Sushi set to a background of out-of-tune metal at 1 p.m. with a hangover was... an experience. --Gavin Cleaver

The wrestling was back today, and it featured what must have been the cultural high-point of, well, anything ever, when a man pulled out a black velvet bag, teased the audience with what was inside, and then pulled out a shake-weight. He proceeded to threaten a dazed hairy man with the shake-weight, and then charged at him, fury in his eyes. Of course, he missed, but then for the rest of the match the crowd was demanding answers as to who was going to hit who with the shake-weight. It doesn't get any better than that, people. There was a man standing outside Dan's, transfixed. As the shake-weight fell to the ground he charged round the corner into the festival area, demanding answers. He got none. None of us got any. That shake-weight may still be there. (GC)

Reigning Sound's set of straightforward bar rock with the fake Kyle Gass on keys made me forget about the cold. They'd be a great fit for Dan's Silverleaf. Funniest moment of the weekend for me was between songs near the end of their set when the opening riff of Pantera's "Walk" bled over from the Main Stage. The guys looked at each other, confused for a moment, until the drummer started playing along. Wonder what that cover would've sounded like if they kept going. (JH)

I was standing in the middle of a crowd of people during Thee Oh Sees set, and just as they finished their third or fourth song, I realized that the audience is so attentive you could hear a pin drop. This is probably the quietest a music festival has ever been, and it's because Denton has been said to have a very attentive, considerate (and usually very high) audience. --Rachel Watts

Who in the holy hell is running the music at the Oak Street Draft House? Did someone pull a song list straight from the happy part of my brain? In one of Denton's best bars, every goddamn song, from live Shins to Whiskeytown, was like a greatest hits playlist from a generation of dark, folky rock. Pure pleasure to hear on a gravely-patio with a cold Texas beer. Best bar in town. (NR)

Fatigue sets in by Sunday, and my respect goes out to those that made it all the way from Thursday to Sunday. Maybe I'm just not European enough any more (or I really like Texan food and the Texan attitude to exercise) but a lot of my high-points of today were sitting down. The comfiest of all chairs has to be the leather ones in Pascal's. Everything in there is so cultured that we even got passive-aggressive thrown out, by a staff member putting a piece of paper on our table that said "RESERVED FOR PRIVATE EVENT AT 6PM". This was at 5:45. I have never been ejected from an establishment entirely by a piece of paper, but I guess this is the future now, and he didn't have my number to text me that. (GC)

I ran into people on the street who had these little knit mustaches on their faces. I asked them what they are wearing them for and they say they're merely promoting world peace. They hand me one and ask if I'd like to keep it. I am overjoyed with their kindness. Hours pass and I'm in the back at Dan's Silverleaf having a conversation when I run into those people again and find out that they're my next door neighbors who I have never met before. Small town. (RW)

One of the most energetic sets I've seen at 35 Denton this year is Eat Avery's Bones, a female vocalist-led punk band from Dallas. It absolutely rules. One funny thing that I have noticed about them, however, is that in between their 30-second to two-minute long songs, and amidst the lead singer's crazy antics, they kept telling us what their songs were about. Here are the top five.

-"This song is for all of the slutty bitches. I can smell your labia fold from up here."

-"This song is for all you people with glasses. It's about pretending you're blind so that you can feel up people at the grocery store."

Then, as the hard punk song revved up, she hopped down onto the floor in front of the stage and began getting in people's faces. She touched one girl's face, shoved one guy and then grabbed some poor, unsuspecting dude's face and started making out with him. He was shocked, but turned beet red and laughed it off.

-"This song is about kind of being an alcoholic...or something."

-"This song is about another band that's not us, and it might be really good, but it's probably not."

-"Alright, audience survey time. How many of you motherfuckers are from Rowlett High School?" About 10 people in the audience raised their hands in the air and cheered. "Well, this song is for Coach Rigby."

I don't know who Coach Rigby is or was, but whoever he is/was, he certainly stirred up Eat Avery's Bones and helped inspire them to play what was one of the most energetic, sarcastic and fun sets I've seen at 35 Denton this year. (RW)

Dan's Silverleaf was predictably packed, but there was nothing predictable about the blistering set from the Coathangers. Each of their songs had all the fervor of a great punk band, and all the talent of a rehearsed garage rock band. Why this was a favorite: on Sunday at Dan's, with the visage of the next day of work approaching, their set made work worries dissolve. A perfect band for Jameson shots, which I'm not saying I did. Not at all.(NR)

I'm awestruck by Silver Apples. His singing is a little hippie-sounding but otherwise I'd have more likely guessed the electronic music pioneers formed in 1997 than '67. I just wish he still used the closed circuit screens showing how he was doing it, as he did at Sloppyworld during the Melodica Festival in '08. What a great way to close out the fest. (JH)

I crossed North Carroll Boulevard for the eighth and final time a few blocks from where I stayed: A friend's house a little ways off the square. You pay a physical toll for too much time spent drinking and walking and listening to music at high volumes. I'd long since past the usual stuff - headaches and sore feet - and was now experiencing a strange tingling in my jaw. My eyeballs felt like they were too big for their sockets. For a couple hours earlier in the day, I lost feeling from my pinky to my wrist. My ears were not ringing so much as howling. My shoulder wasn't sitting quite right after someone charged through it in the middle of the Deep Throat pit. I looked back at the courthouse, still lit up in the center of the Square, and smiled.

What a wonderful weekend.

For four days, 35 Denton ensured that I spent not one single minute zoned out. I watched no Hulu and never once sat on a couch, wondering what to do next. I did not consider my bills or what might be going on with the suspension in my car.

Instead I went from cramped basement to cavernous warehouse to adapted restaurant and back through all of them, again and again. On stages, people screamed and played guitar chords and built symbiotic rhythms and quietly told little stories. In a vacuum, those things mean little more than vibrations in the air. But in a room with a bunch of people, they have a chance to turn into the only prayer I'll ever understand.

That's true at any show, of course. At a music festival, it can be harder to reach that transcendence because there is so much diffusion - people just trying to kill some time before a band they actually care about and an infrastructure stretched a little thinner. But the tradeoff is that you get to spend so much time immersed in a world where those moments are possible, surrounded by people who are also looking for them. 35 Denton, maybe more than any other festival I've ever attended, was dense with belief.

Denton claimed a few brain cells and maybe gave me a couple crossed wires somewhere this weekend. I'd go back for more tomorrow. --Kiernan Maletsky

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