35 Denton kicks off this weekend downtown

35 Denton kicks off this weekend downtown

35 Denton kicks off this weekend downtown
March 12
00:21 2015

Kayleigh Bywater / Staff Writer

From Woodstock to South by Southwest, music festivals have filled the hearts and ears of music lovers for decades. With a wide variety of bands, an upbeat atmosphere and opportunities to hang out with friends and band members, lovers of all music genres are able to find a place in the festival.

There is one music festival, however, that is close to the heart of Denton. 35 Denton is kicking off this weekend in downtown once again after a two-year hiatus.

“One thing that makes 35 Denton different than other festivals is our mission,” director of social media for 35 Denton Andy Odom said. “We are just a bunch of people who love this town and want to do something special for it, to give back and help build this town up.”

History in the making

At SXSW’s 2005 festival, 35 Denton founder Chris Flemmons was on a mission. At a floral design boutique in Austin, Flemmons and 13 Denton bands played shows for journalists and businessmen by invite only in order to show what Denton had to offer.

At that time, the event was called NX35: The Afternoon Party of the Other, Smaller, Music Town in Texas and only took place during one day. From then until 2008, the festival was held in Austin.

In 2009, Flemmons and a group of people moved the event, which they changed to NX35 Music Conferette, to Denton, making it a multi-day festival.

From then until present day, many changes have occurred in the festival ranging from ownership to the festival’s name to number of performers to vendors and stage locations. Through everything, one thing has stayed constant: the mission to show off the talents and skills of bands from all over.

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Hip-hop group #TEAMFROMNOWHERE joins artist Topic, center, for his set at 35 Denton in 2013. File photo by Christina Ulsh – Contributing Photographer

“35 Denton has helped spur the recent resurgence of downtown Denton,” Odom said.

As years progressed, 35 Denton needed to be more than a word of mouth festival, Odom said.

“With a title like director of social media, you would think that all I did was sit around and post to Facebook all day,” Odom said. “While that is a big part of it, over the years the role has grown into helping with all of the festival’s online presence, PR, advertising and so much more.”

With outlets like Twitter and Instagram booming in the last few years, 35 Denton has been able to reach a fan base that it was unable to before, Odom said. With millions of people using these sites, it allowed information on the festival to be retweeted, reposted and shared in seconds.

“Social media is free,” Odom said. “That type of real-time communication has been essential for us and is a bit more powerful than just updating bulletins on our website.”

Something for everyone

At 35 Denton, bands from Denton and around the nation come to play. Hollywood-based “primitive garage music” band Beach Day will play at 11:15 p.m. Friday at Dan’s Silverleaf.

Although the duo, vocalist Kimmy Drake and drummer Skyler Black, have only been playing together for a few years, Drake said they care that their music has meaning for the audience and want to explore what the music world has to offer, which led them to 35 Denton.

“All my friends in bands always say how cool Denton is and how much they love it,” Drake said. “We are really excited to finally play here for 35 Denton. We want people to dance and forget their troubles, but we also want people to have songs that they can relate to.”

The band Low Cut Connie comes out of Philadelphia and consists of Adam Weiner, Dan Finnemore, James Everhart and Will Donnelly. They will perform at 12:45 a.m. Saturday at Dan’s Silverleaf. 

“My partner in the band, Dan, invited me to come to England to do a gig together,” Weiner said. “But instead, we got stuck in an elevator together for four hours and the idea for Low Cut Connie came to life. We love playing, but we especially love playing in Texas. It has the best crowds around.”

The band tomkat consists of four former UNT students: Katrina Cain, Andrew McMillan, Mike Luzecky and Jonny Harmon. Although the band is fairly new, Cain said it hopes to inspire people as much as bands who have been around for a while.

“Our performance at Banter on Sunday night for 35 Denton is going to be our third performance ever,” Cain said. “However, I feel like music is important for everyone no matter how long the band has been around, both for entertainment purposes and for therapy. Music cultivates the brain.”

Influencing a generation

Drake said music is a way to let go and express yourself as a listener. For her, from all of the interesting and unique sounds comes an escape.

“Music inspires people in so many ways,” Drake said. “You can put on music for different moods. You can put it on if you are sad and it feels like a friend that understands you. It unites people.”

Even though 35 Denton will be full of festival-goers walking from The LABB to Harvest House and more to see a variety of bands and performances, the festival is also a chance for bands to grow.

“We are excited to have the chance to perform at 35 Denton despite not being a big home name,” Cain said. “That is what I love about festivals like this. We need to keep them around because live music by smaller indie bands is becoming less and less prevalent. Putting on a show without being a house name is hard. But 35 Denton gives us a chance.”

Featured Image: Tomkat rocks the stage at Dan’s Silverleaf on March 8. The band will play on the last day of the festival at Banter. Photo by Meagan Sullivan – Staff Photographer

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