North Texas Daily

8 Denton-based bands give you a reason to support local at Oaktopia Fest

8 Denton-based bands give you a reason to support local at Oaktopia Fest

Jessie Fry plays at 11 p.m. Thursday at PAAC. Hannah Ridings

8 Denton-based bands give you a reason to support local at Oaktopia Fest
September 22
15:01 2016

By Cierra Edmondson and Kyle Martin 

Put on your festival outfits and get your cameras ready, Denton. This upcoming weekend is Denton’s yearly music festival, Oaktopia. Headlining artists include Norah Jones, Rae Sremmurd, Erykah Badu performing a DJ set as DJ Lo Down Loretta Brown, Fishboy and more.

With 13 venues and over 50 artists and bands, diversity plays a big part in the makeup of Oaktopia this year. With metal bands to acoustic performances, various genres of music are represented in one place for Denton and surrounding areas to experience. Along with music, there will be art installations, food-trucks, a place to get a haircut or beard trim, a tattoo station and much more.

While this year marks some bands’ first experiences playing the festival, others are veterans who have been able to see Oaktopia’s growth through the years. No matter their history with Oaktopia, however, there’s one reason they’re all there – to play, jam, rock out and perform together.

Here’s a look at some of the bands, old and new, that will be taking the 2016 Oaktopia stage.


Eric Michener is Fishboy and plays at Oaktopia Fest from 8-8:45 Thursday at Dan’s Silverleaf. Kyle Martin

Eric Michener is Fishboy and plays at Oaktopia Fest from 8-8:45 Thursday at Dan’s Silverleaf. Kyle Martin

Fishboy is a Denton-based indie-rock band fronted by guitar and vocalist, Eric Michener. The rest of the band consists of Brooks Martin, Grahm Robinson and Samuel Escalante.

Known for their narrative songwriting and story-based albums, many of their records are accompanied with comics drawn by Michener.

According to Michener, they are the first band to play on Thursday and they hope to kick Oaktopia off with plenty of excitement and energy.

“Oaktopia is like a visual flag to people who don’t know much about the music scene,” Michener said. “Here in Denton, we’re about the music, we’re going to be in your face about it this weekend, showing you how great the music is.”

Michener said he pulls inspiration for Fishboy’s songs, sound and videos from movies, storytelling and classic rock.When he gets an idea in his head and sits down to write a song, he often poses the question of what he wants the audience to feel as they listen. Then, he builds from there.

“I’m inspired to deliver a specific story or message or feeling in the most condensed, but effective way possible,” Michener said.

Fishboy is scheduled to take the stage 8 p.m tonight at Dan’s Silverleaf.


Orcanaut plays at 10:30pm Saturday at Andy’s Bar. Katie Jenkins

Orcanaut plays at 10:30pm Saturday at Andy’s Bar. Katie Jenkins

Pulling inspiration and influence from bands like Red Fang, Russian Circles and Mastodon, Orcanaut brings a progressive rock and metal element to Oaktopia.

Orcanaut, which consists of Cameron Hinojosa on guitar and vocals, Korbin Chase on guitar, Jake Mann playing the drums and Hayden Kirkby on bass and vocals, is scheduled to play at 10:30 p.m. on Saturday at Andy’s Bar.

The band name came about by combining the concept of an orca whale and an astronaut.

This will be their second year playing at Oaktopia. Last year, the band played at Oaktopia twice. Orcanaut expressed appreciation for the diversity of chosen bands at Oaktopia, adding that similar music festivals around Texas can sometimes ‘lack variety’ and ‘sound the same.’

“[Oaktopia] is definitely turning into a South-By-Southwest scale [festival],” Kirkby said. “Give it a couple more years and it’s going to be massive.”

The group describes themselves as being loud, rowdy and fun. Each member brings their own personal element to the band and they try not to subscribe to any specific genre.

“We just want the fans to have a good time,” Hinojosa said.


Sunbuzzed plays at 10:30 p.m. Saturday at Sprockets. Travis McCallum

Sunbuzzed plays at 10:30 p.m. Saturday at Sprockets. Travis McCallum

If you’re wanting to hear some “spooky, garage rock,” Sunbuzzed will be providing just that at this year’s Oaktopia festival. Its standing members include Lo Ramirez on vocals and guitar, Carli Elizondo on guitar, Ellie Alonzo on Drums and Daniel Serrano on keyboard.

While Sunbuzzed came together with each member experiencing their own individual backgrounds in the music scene, the band said they can hang with the best of them.

This will be the first year Sunbuzzed has played at Oaktopia.

“We know a lot of people [in] the lineup we are playing with,” Ramirez said. “So it’s like we’re gonna be playing in front of friends.”

When it comes to what Oaktopia does for the community, as well as for local musicians, Sunbuzzed said the festival provides an outlet for artists in the area.

“[Oaktopia] shows the power of grass-roots and community and how music means a lot to Denton,” Serrano said. “[Oaktopia] could be something that, yearly, is a part of our community.”

While venue closures around Denton may have cause for concern for some artists, Sunbuzzed seemed relatively confident in Denton’s ability to keep the music alive.

“I think a lot of people are realizing they have to work together to keep the pace of the music going,” Elizondo said. “I think it helped everyone realize that instead of sitting around and complaining about it, we should really shift focus toward keeping it going and not letting this bring it down.”

Sunbuzzed will be playing at 10:30 p.m. on Saturday at Sprockets.

Jessie Frye

Jessie Fry plays at 11 p.m. Thursday at PAAC. Hannah Ridings

Jessie Fry plays at 11 p.m. Thursday at PAAC. Hannah Ridings

Jessie Frye is a pop-rock group that specializes in putting on a show.  At previous Jessie Frye concerts, the band has dressed in goth-inspired clothes and makeup and committed to being a part of the experience with the audience. Having played Oaktopia before, the band knows what it’s doing and said they will be worth staying out past your bedtime for.

“I’m just really excited to see the city come alive for a whole weekend,” Frye said.

Frye said she’s hoping to inspire people with her performance.  She’ll be playing late the first night of the fest, but the show must go on.  Her band, comprised of Jessie Frye on guitar and vocals, Michael Garcia on guitar, Chad Ford on drums and Androo O’Hearn on bass, is in the process of writing new music. This show is the band peeping their head out above ground for a minute before they disappear back into the dark depths of the studio.

“It’s gonna be short and sweet, but it’s gonna be super energetic,” Frye said. “What you can normally expect from a Jessie Frye show.”

Jessie Frye will be playing from 11-11:45 p.m. on Thursday for the Blood Moon Parties in the Greater Denton Arts Council building.

Marathons and Unicorns

Taylor Ratcliff | Videographer

Midlake guitarist Eric Nichelson has put together a new Denton rock band that includes himself, and two up-and-coming musicians: Owen, 12, and Tate, 5.  The three-piece family jam band features the two boys as the drummers and Eric on guitar, vocals and keys. They will be playing a free show outside of the Bearded Monk, so even if you don’t have tickets to the fest, there’s no excuse not to catch some improvised rock and roll off the square.

“We have a couple different styles, you could say, or avenues to get into, but for the most part it’s all improvised,” Nichelsen said. “What you hear is probably the first time we’ve ever played it.”

Owen and Tate are both homeschooled, so they have the privilege of doing school and music all at once. They both play baseball on the side, listen to heavy metal and rock and roll and gig with their dad when they can. They’ve gone on tour and have played in a few different spots around the country, including here in town for 35Denton.

“We’re just trying to get out there and do the thing, just like everybody,” Nichelsen said.

Oaktopia will be the biggest festival that the kids and their dad have played together as Marathons and Unicorns. Nichelsen, though he shares his own views on the Denton music scene, said that this festival is something that is good for the town and the artists that reside in it.

“Everything helps, like having festivals, as many as you can,” Nichelsen said.

Marathons and Unicorns will be playing at 8 p.m. on Saturday at the Bearded Monk.

Leoncarlo Canlas

Get into the air conditioning and grab some caffeine at the West Oak Coffee Bar Saturday night as you listen to Leoncarlo Canlas and prepare for the all-nighter you have to pull because you went to a music festival instead of studying for your classes.

Canlas is a classically trained violin solo act, equipped with looper pedals and effects that he hopes to change viewers’ perspectives of the way a violin can be used.

“I just want to give people kind of like an intimate, thoughtful opportunity to just sit down or stand, and just absorb my music,” Canlas said. “Hopefully that’ll create a special place for Oaktopia.”

Canlas sees a lot of potential in Denton and appreciates the creative outlets that are supported here in town and at Oaktopia. He said the music scene has changed since he started getting into it in 2007 but that Denton is a great place to be nonetheless.

After starting his solo project, Canlas has found a passion in developing his own sound, pulling influence from his time jamming with different bands and playing in the Two O’Clock Lab Band.

“The solo project started out as a pursuit of education and creativity to just find the sound that didn’t exist anywhere, and I haven’t stopped,” Canlas said.

During his Oaktopia set, Canlas is looking to hypnotize and mesmerize people with his creative outlook on a classical instrument.

“The thing about this town is that there’s an ebb and flow to the creative scene here,” Canlas said. “I’ve been here nine years and I love this place.” Leoncarlo Canlas will be playing in the

West Oak Coffee Bar Sept. 24 at 10:00 p.m.


Taylor Ratcliff | Videographer

If you are looking for a way to wind down your night or to reminisce upon the weekend you’ve spent in the hot sun, grab a burger at LSA and check out the Monkberries.

“We want to transport people to another time period with our set,” vocalist Marissa Hunt said. “We want to go full 60s.”

The band, started by Hunt and Adam Millard when they started dating, plays live as a six-piece “time-machine into a different dimension.” The name Monkberries draws from the song “Monkberry Moon Delight” off of “Ram,” a Paul McCartney solo album. The band draws influence from the 1960s era of music, naming the Beatles and the soundtrack to George Lucas’s “American Graffiti” as some of their main influences.

“I was raised a lot on the Beatles, so that was kind of the soundtrack to my childhood,” Millard said. “The 60s is really the golden period of music.”

Their music is intimate and cozy, and they said their goal is to have the audience leave the building feeling better than how they walked in.

The Monkberries will be playing from 6-7 p.m. on Saturday at LSA, so make sure to check out this Denton duo.

The BoomBachs

Connor Veteto (Left) guitar player for The BoomBachs sits with band mates Matt Westmoreland (left middle) keys, Marcus Wheat (middle) keys, and Adonias "A.D." Wondwesson (right) outside The Bearded Monk in Denton, Texas.

Connor Veteto (Left) guitar player for The BoomBachs sits with band mates Matt Westmoreland (left middle) keys, Marcus Wheat (middle) keys, and Adonias “A.D.” Wondwessen (right) outside The Bearded Monk in Denton, Texas.

The BoomBachs is a local Denton band that got its start in an unconventional way-a music class final. Marcus Wheat, the keys player in the band, started the band while studying at UNT. This jazz-influenced, hip hop collective has been playing around Denton for several years and strives to pack a house, or living room, full of energetic, fusion music.

“This was his semester composition final, so not only was this for fun, this was for a grade,” Adonias “A.D.” Wondwessen, BoomBachs lyricist, said.

The BoomBachs is comprised of Wheat on keys, Wondwessen as lead vocalist and lyricist, Connor Veteto on guitar, Matt Westmoreland on keys, Ray Rose on drums and David Farrell on bass.  Most of the band met as UNT students, with four of them meeting while living in the Bruce Hall dorm.

“Matt told me what it was about and said, ‘Marcus has the tunes, but you can do whatever you want with it,’” Veteto said of his time during the early stages of the BoomBachs. “From the first rehearsal to the first show, I knew this was the band.  This is what I wanted to do, so here I am, here we are.”

Having played Oaktopia since its inception, the band is comfortable on the festival’s stage. The band has shared lineup space with acts like Thundercat, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros,  Neon Indian, Del Funky the Homosapien and more since Oaktopia’s humble beginnings.

“It’s fun to watch a small group of local people do big things that inspires everybody that’s working beside them and with them, which is really important for a town like this with the music scene like it is,” Veteto said. “[There’s] a lot of voices to be heard, and they’re putting our names out there and also associating us with big-time, professional acts.  I couldn’t ask for more at this point.”

The BoomBachs will be playing at 11:30 p.m. on Saturday at The Bearded Monk.

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Kyle Martin

Kyle Martin

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