Volume: Review – 35 Conferette – Denton, TX 03/10-13/11

Boom Boom Box

Denton, you rarely cease to surprise me. You’re unassuming sleepy college town with your laid back atmosphere and forward thinking antics to yesteryear put me on notice this weekend, reminding me I am certainly not a hipster. I felt my mid-stage beard and love of music would be enough to allow me to blend in, but alas I was wrong. I should have shaved my face to reveal some form of moustache, and maybe tried on a pair of cut-off mom jeans, although I am male, to get with it. Instead, I failed.

Whereas I saw these two trends among the hipsters, I was even more surprised by what appeared to be something I hadn’t seen in well over a decade: brand new local band cassette tapes at Recycled Books and Records. Nathan Brown and his 8-Track label The Dead Media may have already been trumped by this.

Welcome to Denton, TX.

Davila 666

I haven’t spent this much time in Denton since The Argo and Rick’s Place were in operation; which is a shame, since I always seem to have a great time when I’m there. This weekend proved no different. 4 days with over 200 bands on 13 stages at my disposal? I like it.

There were highlights and lowlights as well during the course of the weekend. Fortunately, the good well outweighed the bad, and I have to tell you North Texas, be very proud of your local music scene. The touring headliners might have gotten the most time on the main stages, but by and large, our own homegrown talent showed them up.

Sarah Jaffe

Telegraph Canyon’s Friday night set was just a continual reminder of what this band offers us. Far outclassing Main Stage headliners Dr. Dog, Chris Johnson and company led the charge of locals for the weekend. Very strong sets by Denton’s Sarah Jaffe – pulling of a fun acapella rendition of Drake and The Dream’s “Shut it Down”, the versatile two-piece version of The Cush that wowed the Dan’s Silverleaf patio, while wall shuddering performances by Boom Boom Box, Descender and Saboteur commandeered the basement of J&J’s Pizza offering a mere taste of what N. TX provided this festival. Doug Burr with collaborator Glen Farris’ set featuring one half of Austin’s Monahans fleshed out favorites from last year’s O Ye Devastator in flawless

The Cush

fashion, while RTB2 and Aledo’s Analog Rebellion kept the guitar/drum based duo set proud. Slobberbone and The Orbans country rocked festival goers into the night at The Labb, and Maleveller took their metal to a whole new volume, as was clearly witnessed by their Square tormenting set Saturday night – from SWEETWATER.

One of my favorite things I overheard this weekend was “2012 is the year of Record Hop.” I desperately hope so – the 2 songs I watched through a window at an off-site house party were a true testament to the power of this band. If you are not on the Record Hop tip, do so. Now.

OK Sweetheart

I stumbled into some nice surprises as well. OK Sweeheart’s touchingly gorgeous Thursday performance kicking off the Main Stage #1, with their haunting vocal melodies and very Denton like laid back approach. I need one of their records. Stat. Bravo, Max! was another very nice surprise, which I shouldn’t have been surprised by since I have had so many people tell me I needed to see them. The disappointing thing was that I waited so long to do so. Seriously, whatever “IT” is, they have it. In spades. Adventures In Magnetism was the only thing to pull me to the Square stage all

Adventures In Magnetism

weekend. The band formerly known as Stumptone were fantastic, incorporating and infusing sound effects into their decidedly Denton sound and approach. It was good to see George Neal, Frank Cervantez and company on that stage, especially when I had no idea they were playing until an hour prior.

The touring acts, for the most part, felt almost like an afterthought. I am not nor have I ever been a Dr. Dog fan, and the bit of their set from Friday night confirmed this. The standout national acts I saw included the imaginative, humor filled set from Reggie Watts, masterfully sampling and looping

Reggie Watts

himself live, the Puerto Rican power garage attack of Davila 666, Austin’s jam heavy garage heroes White Denim, Royal Bangs, Generationals, and the Main Stage finale of Outkast superstar Big Boi, who trotted out hit after hit making his set larger than life.

Big Boi

There were some disappointments as well, as I was tickled to see the other George Michael (Bluth) in the flesh, Mister Heavenly’s Michael Cera, I found them to be only marginal at best. Unfortunately I felt the same for Portugal. The Man. Their performance began and ended in an interesting fashion, but the middle just dragged on to me.

Esben and the Witch

What was my favorite thing I saw this weekend? I realize as a music fan I am supposed to say Mavis Staples, who was tremendous in every way. I could feel the presence of her legendary greatness before me as she charmed and blew away the audience before her. If you can see her, by all means do. It is something to behold. Yet as much as I enjoyed her, the act this weekend that truly blew me away the most was the UK’s Esben and the Witch. This young, inventive experimental Goth trio’s show, bathed in blue at a fairly full Andy’s Bar captivated all who witnessed their intense 35 minute exploration of guitars, tribal drumming, synth, howls and chants.  This was not only my most anticipated act of the weekend, but most thoroughly delivered – what could have gone down in flames did not disappoint in the least.

!!! (Chk Chk Chk)

Did I miss a couple of things? Sure did. You just can’t be everywhere at once. Locals Nervous Curtains, Whiskey Folk Ramblers, Pinebox Serenade and The Angelus were all on my list, as were Local Natives. And evidently missed out on scorching sets from Soviet and Big Freedia as well. Sometimes there’s just too much.

And so the third installment of 35 Conferette has come and passed. Although I feel there are still a few areas that need to be tighter (organization for one), 2011’s 35 Conferette will be remembered fondly. 4 days of great music, in a comfortable setting, in one of North Texas most charming downtown areas.

Thank you Denton, for opening yourself up so graciously to all who attended.

~ by thesynaptic on March 16, 2011.

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