By Amy Price
Guests lined up one by one to receive colorful cloth wristbands for the 35 Denton music festival behind The Love Shack. Patrons came out by the thousands for the four-day festival, despite the unstable weather.
March 8 was the first day of the third annual 35 Denton, once known as North by 35. The walkable festival featured more than 150 bands, many local and some international.
The festival took place around the Denton County Courthouse on the Square. Eleven surrounding bars, clubs and restaurants teamed up with 35 Denton to host the shows.
The smell of fried food wafted over the main stages from nearby food trucks lining the entrance. Around the corner, a small strip of vendors invited guests to shop inside the canopy tents.
Under one of the tents, Pan Ector Industries let customers choose from a variety of T-shirt designs and watch employees put designs on the shirts.
Another popular tent was the University of North Texas Painting and Drawing Association. The UNT PDA was responsible for the backdrop art on Main Stage 1.
Pete Kamp, Denton’s mayor pro tem, introduced The Mountain Goats March 9 at Main Stage 1. Frontman John Darnielle shared stories from his past and had the crowd roaring in laughter. Attendee Kate Sizemore said she came from Austin to see The Mountain Goats perform. “I’ve been a fan for six years, and I am happy to finally see them,” Sizemore said.
Hailey’s Club drew a massive crowd March 9 with a line wrapping around the block. It was one-in-one-out as the venue reached capacity. The Hood Internet attracted the large crowd.
Opening acts included MillionYoung, The Burning Hotels and Class Actress. The Burning Hotels played a 30-minute set, during which one avid fan jumped onstage to sing with the band.
Outside Hailey’s Club, local group Distrustful Neighbors set up a 12-hour lithium-battery-powered amplifier on the sidewalk. Band member Boston Morgan said the group has been playing for three years and sent out a mass text message to everyone on the group’s online call directory to tell them when the group would play. “We just like to come out and start sidewalk dance parties on the Square,” Morgan said.
The Kiwi Sisters, a local band, played March 11 for the crowd at Hailey’s. The duo, Caleb Flores-Gutierrez and Taylor Boardman, described Kiwi Sisters’ music as synth pop. “We have a good following in Denton,” Flores-Gutierrez said.
Boardman said The Kiwi Sisters has only played in Denton a couple of times – including the time the duo was kicked off stage at the Simone Lounge. Flores-Gutierrez said the band is working on a follow-up album, Lovely Gallows, which will be released later this year.
Down the street at Sweetwater Grill and Tavern, Houston’s Wild Moccasins played for a small crowd outside the bar area. Lead singer Zahira Gutierrez said this was the second time the band played in Denton. “I really like the atmosphere and the art culture around here,” Gutierrez said.
She said Wild Moccasins almost had to cancel because the group’s van made a horrible noise and had to be put in the shop all morning. “We then had to drive through the pouring rain to get here,” Gutierrez said.
The Jesus and Mary Chain, the headlining act of the entire festival, was forced to cancel its Sunday night show. According to 35 Denton’s Facebook, the Scottish band had trouble acquiring work visas. The band rescheduled with 35 Denton for a free show March 14 at the North Texas State Fairgrounds.
Heidi Martinez, festival attendee, said she was really mad The Jesus and Mary Chain rescheduled. “A lot of people probably bought wristbands just to see this band and now can’t take off work,” Martinez said.
She said 35 Denton could have done more to make it right, like give out a free T-shirt.
The Jesus and Mary Chain show was free to the public, but those who wore a 35 Denton wristband had access to priority seating. In addition to The Jesus and Mary Chain, opening band Ty Segall was added to the showcase. The Jesus and Mary Chain played 8:30-10:30 p.m. and gave an encore performance for the hundreds who attended.