Upon crossing the threshold to The Jagoe House, I detected a distinct feeling of otherworldliness. If someone had blindfolded me, spun me around and dropped me off at this doorstep I would've sworn I was in Austin. Here was a living room draped with technicolor christmas lights, packed with band gear and decorated with pop art. Down the hall was a tight-knit lounge housing the bohemian underground of Denton's art-loving community. And out back was a yard with 100-plus people huddled around bonfires, porch lights and picnic tables, sharing cigarettes and liquor handles in the downtime between sets.
Here was a self-sustaining music scene right under Denton's nose, a location where people didn't just come to get blitzed in a backyard, but to see bands. This wasn't a party with a band as a side dish or a venue with an expectation to pay attention and behave yourself. This was a living, breathing organ pumping red-hot lifeblood into the indie-rock scene of Denton, and suffice to say it's exactly what people have been looking for.
People at Jagoe House weren't attending to reluctantly see their roommate's boyfriend's brother's band; they're here because it's probably the most fun you can have in Denton for no cover. This space took off because the house's tenants were specifically looking to book the bands they had always wanted to hear, but which had never had their own space. The moment a band's name was hollered into the backyard by one of the residents, the crowd swarmed in and shifted accordingly. I blinked twice and was stunned.
And honestly, that's because no other place is really doing this.
On this particular evening, there were around four bands slated to play and each one would usually get about 60 people claustrophobically packed into the living room. The crowd would sway and dance and interact with the band, while simultaneously maintaining the unspoken rule of not being assholes to each other. A shared interest in keeping the peace prevented the party from turning into a testosterone-fueled, alpha-male brawl and instead built on the camaraderie of the folks who frequent the place.
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It was abundantly clear that this monthly event was what everyone couldn't wait for. A gathering with an invite-only Facebook page, no formal event announcement and no posters could only pull this kind of crowd because it was already where everyone wanted to be. They wanted to see bands catered to the non-hardcore crowd, and they wanted to bop along to garage rock while being transfixed by out-of-season holiday ornaments.
The house has been around since the fall of 2013, when most of the residents were upperclassmen at UNT. A shared friend had a band that wanted a place to play, and they realized their four-bedroom pad had ample living room space to house a show. The venture started off with one band, and the following show quickly escalated to a precarious six bands.
For one of the residents and operators of the house, Adam Selby, the necessity of the space was realized when other house venues had rotated out of the scene. Previous locations like the Normal House had disappeared as tenants moved out of Denton or graduated. During spring and fall, the Jagoe House usually puts on a show once a month, but they take the summers off since Denton resembles a ghost town when class isn't in session.
Though Selby and company were looking to fill a void, Denton doesn't have a shortage of dedicated house venues for the concert-going fiends. The DIY punk scene has a longstanding history and has been supporting each other for decades, but only recently has the Jagoe House come into play because it's appealing to a scene that was otherwise homeless.
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By catering to garage- and indie-rock acts, the Jagoe House draws from a crowd that otherwise would be limited to places like J&J's Pizza to catch one of these bands. And even then, age restrictions and a cover can act as a barrier of entry to the Denton newcomers. What's a broke, underage Dentonite to do? If you manage to ask the right people, the Jagoe House is the answer.
The proof of concept exists just by the sheer turnout the shows get. Selby and the other tenants spent no effort promoting the house themselves, mostly due to fear of having a Project X-scale party accidentally unfold. But each show you can expect about 200 people to show up just purely by word of mouth and repeat attendees. And that's because the house emits a field of energy that buzzes with possibility. The fellas at the Jagoe House managed to tap into something that Denton didn't even know it needed. And if you build it, they will come.
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