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Festival fever: Denton music goes all out

Festival fever: Denton music goes all out

Festival fever: Denton music goes all out
September 17
23:46 2014

Matt Wood / Senior Staff Writer

Dentonites have a fair bit of culture and music to soak up this weekend, with the overlapping Oaktopia Festival and the Denton Blues Festival.

And with the return of 35 Denton in March, these festivals will satisfy any music lover’s craving.


$30 for two-day pass, $25 for Saturday only

Starts 6 p.m. on Friday, 2 p.m. on Saturday

This escalated quickly. Last year, Oaktopia had a strong line-up, but a Dallas Observer review of the festival said that despite the talent, the crowds were thin, and the event felt like a bigger version of a house party these bands play every weekend. Reviewer Aaron Ortega said, “considering this was done entirely by a young group of kids on their first festival go-around, they succeeded.”

But now, Oaktopia will sprawl across 10 Denton venues, including Dan’s Silverleaf, Hailey’s, Rubber Gloves, Andy’s and more. The colossal line-up will feature about 100 bands, both local and national. Tons of Denton staples will be present, as well as Aesop Rock, XXYYXX, Baths and the return of Denton’s own Neon Indian, who will be performing a DJ set.

On top of the long list of bands, Saturday will also feature a comedy set at The Labb, right off the Square. Oh, and of course, there will be food trucks, as well as “street art,” according to the site.

There’s also the “barlympics,” which are intended to test the mettle of the seasoned drinkers of Denton in a series of competitions. Events include darts, pool and bean bag toss competitions, with the winning pair taking home a free t-shirt and winning free admission to next year’s festival.

One of the featured local acts is Denton’s own alternative rock outfit The (Sunsets). The band went from only playing house shows to selling out local bar venues, and now, playing in the festival, as of just last week. Singer and guitarist Alex Rogers and the other members are UNT students, and the group just recently got a recording contract with producer Matt Aslanian, who Rogers said worked with Shakira and Miley Cyrus.


A guitar custom painted for The Sunsets’ lead singer Alex Rogers, who is playing at Oaktopia this weekend. Jon Orbock painted the guitar. Photo courtesy of Alex Rogers.

The expected turnout for The (Sunsets) at Oaktopia was so big, the band had to cancel their Facebook event because it was overtaking the venue’s own Facebook event. Regardless, Rogers is looking forward to it.

“We have a ton of people who are going to come,” he said. “Everything in Denton has just been getting bigger and bigger lately. It’s crazy.”

During the band’s set, painter Jon Orbock will paint live in front of the audience. In five minutes, he and another local artist or student will compete to paint a pre-decided idea while the band plays, and at the end the audience picks a winning painting, which is auctioned off for charity.

Also helping with the art side of things will be Denton glass blower Matt Marchand, who will blow a glass creation over the band’s 45-minute set. Marchand has even had his glass flowers featured in Neiman Marcus fashion shows.

Rogers said the reason Denton hosts so many festivals is because of the community environment, where people are excited to work together to showcase art or music.

“It’s really just the attitudes of the people here,” he said. “No one is trying to show you how cool they are.”

Denton Blues Festival

Free Admission

Starts 12:30 p.m. Saturday, 1 p.m. Sunday

The annual Denton Blues Festival overlaps slightly with Oaktopia, but offers a completely different aural aesthetic to those seeking a music festival. A long list of vendors will be present, as well as acts such as Denise Lasalle and Joe Louis Walker headlining.

The event is put on by the Denton Black Chamber of Commerce, which formed almost 20 years ago with the purpose of forwarding community businesses.


Several vendors’ tents set up for the Denton Blues Festival. There were 38 vendors who set up shop at last year’s Blues Fest. Photo by Edward Balusek – Visuals Editor

In its 16th year, the Denton Blues Festival aims to celebrate the genre and bring people together to enjoy it. The whole event will take place in Quakertown Park, as it did last year. The event as a whole is more relaxed than the frantic Oaktopia, partially due to the kind of music played as well as the more family-friendly atmosphere.

Expect lots of food, especially barbecue, to enjoy while listening to blues acts wail away.

35 Denton

March 2015

After taking a year off, 35 Denton is set to return with a vengeance. In 2012, 35 Denton had hundreds of acts play over four days and had a massive turnout, which led to all the more shock when it announced it was going silent on an, at the time, indefinite hiatus.

Last year, several of the key players in the making of 35 Denton stepped down from working with the festival, but festival founder Chris Flemmons returned to bring the festival back. He said that although he may make some changes, the idea of the festival will remain in place — bringing national and local acts together in a giant multi-day festival.

“We strive to maintain some measure of weirdness in our programming,” he said. “Like one year we installed an 8-track tape museum.”

Three weeks ago, 35 Denton hosted a pre-sale party at Hailey’s featuring AV the Great and about 12 other acts, which nearly filled Hailey’s. With about 16,000 Facebook likes and a huge following, expect 35 Denton to make a huge comeback. this year as it likely retakes its place as the king of Denton festivals.

Featured Image: The Jerry Clark Band plays a cover of Mustang Sally at the 15th annual Denton Blues Festival last year. Photo by Edward Balusek – Visuals Editor

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