Photography by Ben Oliver and Central Track
One of our favorite indie music festivals is the annual 35 Denton fest in North Texas each Spring. Located in one of North America’s greatest indie music incubators, the college town of Denton hosts one of the most underground, best stacked line ups in existence. The five year old fest grows stronger and bigger each year, and features over 150 bands this time around. Some of this year’s headliners include Chelsea Light Moving (their first Texas show), Solange, Roky Erickson, Silver Apples, Merchandise, Killer Mike, Sleep, Beach Fossils and Thee Oh Sees. Other highlights are K.Flay, The Soft Moon, Com Truise, Zorch, Astronautalis, Eyehategod, Fat Tony,Talk Normal, Delicate Steve,Yeahdef, Prince Rama, and a shit ton more.
I took the typical 45 minute trip up from Dallas to Denton on Thursday, listening to some Spotify on the way. Last year, we made the mistake of arriving too late, and not seeing the shows that were our first picks. I tried to avoid that this time, and arrived at the legendary Rubber Gloves early enough to see a local band called The Atomic Tanlines. Luckily I arrived just in time, only two or three people behind me were let in. The venue reached capacity around 10:30 pm, and stayed that way throughout the night. It holds 250 people max, and we have seen some great shows here before, like Neon Indian and Om. The other options I would have liked to also see this night would have been Dustin Wong, Jamaican Queens, Sinkane, Pinkish Black, and Pallbearer.
I was familiar with their The Atomic Tanlines in name only, recognizing it from when they provided the local opening support for Ty Segall recently. The best description I can come up with is extreme: they are extremely loud, extremely exciting, and extremely unpredictable. They brought their own energetic form of dark, goth punk and the rowdy crowd soaked it up. A respectable sized mosh pit spring up almost immediately after the band’s first note, and lasted during most of the set. Fronted by a hard rocking female, the 5 piece demand attention and are difficult to ignore. From her tall hair, dramatic looks, and the band’s overall brash obnoxiousity, they are a cyclone of chaos. They seem to have potential but didn’t quite live up to it this time, but they weren’t a train wreck either. They received a mixed reaction overall.
According to their bio on the 35 Denton site, birthed in 2012 at your local Denton Waffle House, The Atomic TanLines met, formed a band and booked a show all in one week.Their like some sort of fucked up Gregg Araki fairy tale but with much more of a future. They label their music as ‘maladjusted’ punk for all the obvious reasons but one thing is for sure, they will never stop dishing out that Texas filth and their live show is bound to be full of chaos and bliss. Weird right?
The building began to show just how filled it was as everyone gathered to anticipate the next act, local favorite turned national break out Mind Spiders. They have already been featured in Spin, Stereogum, and Pitchfork, and we have been following the Fort Worth based punk outfit since seeing them live at Fun Fun Fun Fest in 2011. The four piece consists of two guitar players, a drummer and a keyboard player, and they even started earlier than expected. Led by guitarist and vocalist Mark Ryan also of The Marked Men, they dominated the night with their blistering set. It would be surprising if many in the crowd didn’t know who Mind Spiders were. The band took advantage of the almost hometown crowd by playing a nearly perfect set. Their timing, energy, and sound converged for flawless execution. They tore through many of their most popular songs from both of their albums like “Wait For Us”, “Don’t Let Her Go”, “Join Us Now”, “You Are Dead”, “Upside Down”, and “Go”. The entire audience in every corner seemed to be captivated by the group. They lived up to their stellar reputation of hard rock music that you can dance to. You couldn’t tell this was a week night, everyone seemed to be caught up in festival fever already.
The headliners of the night slated to play at 12:30 am were the Florida trio Jacuzzi Boys. Bringing a six pack of Miller Lite with them on stage, they promptly kicked off their slot and were somehow even louder than anticipated. This was my first time to see the band live, I was first turned onto them from the Scion A/V & VBS.tv documentary New Garage Explosion!!: In Love With These Times. Their party reputation preceded them, and they played songs from both of their records, No Seasons and their latest from 2011, Glazin’. They began with incredible momentum until the third or fourth song, when they started to encounter sound system issues. Two of the three members continued playing, mostly instrumentals, while the other tried getting his gear repaired. They kept at it and completed their set, but never quite recaptured their initial spark. I would like the chance to see them again another time. It seemed that as the night progressed each band tried to be louder than the last, and Jacuzzi Boys weren’t going to let some temporary issues stand in their way of being the loudest band in Denton on this night. Water, sweat, beer, and bodies were flying everywhere. Although ultimately upstaged by Mind Spiders, Jacuzzi Boys were a spectacular end to a great opening night. Below is a highlight video from the fest itself, covering many of the different acts throughout the first night.
Photos of Atomic Tanlines via Centraltrack, all other photos by Ben Oliver