The Problem With Putting On A Festival Like NX35...

north of the dial

Ryan Williams stood sipping on a double whiskey and soda at the bar in Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios. Minutes earlier, he'd finished playing a set with Dust Congress, one of more than half a dozen bands he plays bass in. That list of bands includes the Baptist Generals, whose frontman Chris Flemmons happened to be waiting in line behind Williams for a drink.

After some brief small talk between the two bandmates, Flemmons began growing visibly flustered, even raising his voice at Williams.

"I lost my shit and said some thing I shouldn't have to him," Flemmons explains after the fact. "But, I felt real bad. I immediately apologized to him and told him that I'd just spent the last 19 hours in the office."

"The office" is the unassuming 700-square-foot headquarters of NX35. The four-day music conferette, as it's being billed, started in 2005 at South by Southwest as merely an afternoon party spotlighting Denton-based artists.

"Back then," Flemmons says, "it seemed like overreaching to try to book even a small festival here, so I decided I'd wait until I mustered either enough will, or foolishness, to start something in Denton—until it seemed a little less daunting."

Last year, Flemmons mustered the, um... we'll go with the will... to start the work necessary to have NX35 take place in Denton and to feature performances by bands and artists not just from the metroplex.

"But, it doesn't feel any less daunting." he says. "I'm averaging two freak-outs a day. It's been a fucking nightmare. I'm not gonna lie to anybody, it has been really scary."

From getting on a timeline with the sponsors to working with the booking agents of the anchor acts to keeping the lights on in the office, Flemmons says the whole process has been a challenge. And he'll readily admit that the possibility that the first-year festival (like other local attempts of the past) will not do well and turn into a grab-ass session for area musicians is "fuckin' scary."

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So, with all eyes on him, it makes sense that Flemmons is a little on edge after working on the festival for nearly 20 hours a day, six or seven days a week. But what had Williams mentioned that triggered the tense discussion at Rubber Gloves?

He'd asked Flemmons, "So what's the deal with Sonicbids?"

The deal is that bands that want to play NX35 must, for a modest fee, create and submit an "electronic press kit." But, many local bands figured they would just be asked to play the festival, so they haven't yet submitted their application (and the original "submission window" ends January 22). But, in Denton, where "-ish" is a way of life, there's still time.

"It's day-to-day, hour-to-hour," Flemmons says. "Nothing happens on time. But, then, we knew it would be like this." —Daniel Rodrigue

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