You know, Dallas could stand to be a lot more like Denton. My musical taste admittedly leans more toward the big D as opposed to the little D. Having said that, both cities have their share of talented bands. And unlike Dallas, Denton is actually interested in having a scene. I'm not trying to say that Deep Ellum is dead. Deep Ellum has Club Dada, The Prophet Bar, and... uh, did I mention Club Dada?
What Dallas is lacking, however, is a good festival centered around music. Some folks in Denton have decided to put together a musical festival entitled NX35 (Gee, I wonder how they got the inspiration for the name?). The festival starts this Thursday and goes thru Sunday. There will be special daytime events, along with music at nine different Denton music venues in the evening. Wristbands can be purchased for as little as $20 (admission to all evening shows for one night) to as much as $65 (all day and evening events throughout the festival). The best bet is the $50 wristband (admission to evening events throughout the festival). Rumor has it you can also pay per club, but I might be wrong on that one.
You can find the complete list of performers, venues, and other info at the NX35 website. Dates, times, venues, etc. are subject to change. What I have compiled is a list of best bets per evening based on the information I have.
I saw The Heelers a few months back at Double-Wide, and their straight-ahead passionate pure rock sound left a major impression upon me. This is a band that I predict will be on many a music fan's lips this year. You can see them at Dan's Silverleaf and then tell me I was right. American Werewolf Academy has been impressing me for years now with their quirky power-pop nuggets, and you can catch them at J&J's Pizza while getting something to munch on. Rounding out the evening are Dead Twins at Andy's Bar, Cocky Americans at Boiler Room, and The Orbans at Banter.
I have unfortunately caught neither Grassfight nor True Widow live, but everything I've heard thru the internets gives me reason to believe that both bands would be sweet to see live. Catch both at Hailey's. I don't have to believe that Doug Burr is good live; I have experienced many a live show of his and still regard him as one of Dallas' finest singer-songwriters. He will play Dan's Silverleaf, along with RTB2 who I've only seen once and need to see again. Brave Combo always bring the party with them; their show at Boiler Room will not be an exception to the rule I'm sure. Telegraph Canyon may not be a party band, but is a must see for all fans of alt-country, Americana, and all around quality music. Catch them at Banter. Finally, I have to recommend The Theater Fire's show at Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studio. Sure, RGRS is definitely not within walking distance of the other clubs. Still, a Theater Fire show is a spectacle to behold. It's sort of like a backwoods version of Polyphonic Spree, except smaller and a lot bleaker. The feel good band of the year? Not quite. But their shows are so good that you are sure to be entertained.
I'm sure some of you lazy people out there don't like the walking from club to club aspect of musical festivals. For those who like to rest their feet, Boiler Room wins the award for best overall lineup in a given night. You can stay there and hear the noise rock sounds of Record Hop, The Boom Boom Box featuring members of Baboon and Pleasant Grove among others, as well as the now Brooklyn based band The Fieros. For those looking for something mellower, check out the classical music sounds of Chameleon Chamber Group at Hailey's. Stick around later at the venue to see Sarah Jaffe. Whatever you do, don't try the drinking game of doing a shot every time one of her songs sends a chill up your spine. You'll be in the hospital for alcohol poisoning, I promise. In case you need more choices for good music, I offer you Nervous Curtains at Banter, Ella Minnow at Dan's Silverleaf and A.M. Ramblers at J&J's Pizza.
Here's the bad news. I only found two bands for Sunday that get the GOBL seal of approval. The Drams, playing at Boiler Room, are the first. The other is Shiny Around the Edges, playing at Banter. The good news? You'll probably be so damn tired from the previous three days that you'll welcome the lighter musical load.
Only time will tell how well organized this festival is, and whether or not it is worth attempting again next year. The one issue that this festival will NOT face is a lack of quality bands performing. Hopefully this can be the birth of a great musical festival in Denton.
Still, there is one question that keeps nagging at me. Why is it that Dallas seems to be incapable of a festival even half as cool as this? Seriously, folks, this is a problem that needs to be addressed. That discussion needs to happen now.