North Texas Daily

Marathons & Unicorns attract adults and children to Oaktopia’s opening night

Marathons & Unicorns attract adults and children to Oaktopia’s opening night

September 23
15:29 2016

Outside the Bearded Monk on Thursday night, a small crowd began to congregate around two drum sets and a guitar. Behind the instruments stood a tall man with two younger children. Some thought the group was there to celebrate the music festival while others thought it was just a family having fun.

While not many people were sure of what to expect, they were made curious by the children warming up on the drum sets. They were surprised to see the two young boys and their father pick up the instruments and begin to play. They were entranced in the fluid sounds and chemistry between the three guys in the band, Marathons and Unicorns.

Lead guitarist and vocalist Eric Nichelson started Marathon and Unicorns with his two sons, Owen and Tate. Nichelson, who is also a part of the band Midlake, strayed away from his American folk band for Oaktopia weekend to perform with his sons.

Owen Nichelson, 12, played confidently and comfortably. Tate Nichelson, 5, gave the “awe” factor that kept the audience engaged. Cute as they were, many were impressed with their talent while watching them play the drums.

“I’ve been playing drums since I could sit up,” Owen said.

He and his father started performing together two years ago at house shows. They have played twice at 35Denton. Recently, Tate joined the two in concert after continually practicing with them. Although he is only five, Tate said he feels like he has a talent for drums.

“I thought it was a wholesome experience,” film freshman Zach Hopgood said. “All the kids dancing and everything, it was really cool.”

While Marathons & Unicorns was performing, there was a crowd of children around Owen and Tate’s ages dancing to the music. Many of the children belonged to family friends of the Nichelson’s. Other audience members, including Hopgood, were wandering through the free show venues when they stumbled upon the unconventional band.

Not only were the childrens’ ages impressive, but even more so was the style of music. While almost all the bands at Oaktopia dedicate themselves to a certain genre, this family band strayed from the pack. Eric introduced their music along the lines of improv. They had no prior written material and instead created a raw sound from the beginning of the show to the end.

When the group performs in general, it’s completely on the spot. Even though Thursday was the first night of Oaktopia, that didn’t stop them from going forward with their impromptu setlist.

According to Eric, what the audience hears is most likely the very first time the three have played it. Although their set is always improvised, no mistakes were made during their performance. Each member was able to successfully synchronize with the next, creating a sound that seemed rehearsed to perfection. They created their own unique and creative sound with each song.

The more they played, the more the crowd grew. With each break between songs, the crowd cheered louder. Although the band was different than what many people would expect venturing to Oaktopia, they were impressed by these young proteges and their proud dad.

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Bina Perino

Bina Perino

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