So, was your weekend as action-packed as various publications, show fliers, and blogs around town promised it would be? I was almost convinced, since the THRWD magazine Fest on Saturday was already drawing a decent crowd when I was there early in the evening, and Andi Harman has a full recap along with her photos here.
You know how the government will often make an embarrassing or unpopular announcement on Friday evening so they don’t have to officially deal with the media fallout until Monday? That’s basically what I did with a piece regarding how many of our locals from say the class of 2010 or so have been doing recently. Except I am not embarrassed of this at all, and on the contrary, I think the acts therein are quite popular. A number of them were from Denton.
That leads me to another late Friday piece, albeit for another site, which tackled the so-called “fixing” that Denton’s music scene is apparently “in need of.” It was written by H. Drew Blackburn, a 35-Denton alum who has received some national attention of late with pieces for both Vice and Complex. This piece was for Central Track, which has basically led me to the conclusion that Blackburn should be let off the hook, though his article has naturally raised some opposition from the Denton crowd. But I have a feeling that it would have read differently had it been for any other publication. It’s actually Blackburn’s editor who has been trying to set off a false alarm about Denton’s music scene since as far back as 2010, a year I mentioned before, and mentioned for good reason. In an article titled “Denton’s Boiler Room Bites the Dust, Confirming, If Nothing Else, The College Town’s Serious Music Lull at the Moment,” (wow, what a headline), the self-described “bossman” for CT portrayed the town thusly:
Denton, ever the cyclical scene, appears to be in a serious lull these days, birthing fewer and fewer new bands of note, finding more and more of its musicians moving to Dallas, and seeing more and more touring shows opting to do the same.
Yet, a lot of the musicians I mentioned in my piece on Friday were extremely active in that time period. My conclusion is this: Blackburn’s piece was used like a sacrificial pawn in a foolish rivalry that his boss has been artificially trying to push for years. I’m giving Blackburn the benefit of the doubt that he was merely underwhelmed by the shows he saw. I can’t fault him for that. But, I for one am pretty tired of hearing how badly Denton is doing because a venue as inconsequential as the Boiler Room closed, or a last-minute festival does less than expected.
It’s an extremely tired narrative and it takes into account only receipt tallies as opposed to what actually goes on in Denton. Content on a site so obviously sympathetic to the Dallas booking industry should be taken with a grain of salt anyhow. Blackburn is a Denton resident, but the larger issue is that this “sky is falling” rhetoric about Denton comes from a longstanding editorial habit of the site’s founder, who is more concerned with sustaining an on-the-rise narrative for Dallas. And if you think music promoters in Dallas proper weren’t completely threatened and annoyed with the attention bestowed on 35 Denton, and the fact that so many acts out of the small town have broken nationally over the much larger city, think again. There is a reason why hollow claims about Denton’s supposed failings keep getting brought up time and again. It has everything to do with a money trail, keeping advertisers happy, and show sponsors happy. It has nothing to do with the actual quality of Denton music, or what the town has to offer.
Crystal Fighters/Botany (Club Dada): Show up early to catch Botany, and if you miss Crystal Fighters, don’t worry, you’re likely to hear their polished mix of indie rock and world beat in a commercial for an automobile with a very high safety rating at some point.
“Cool Out” (The Crown and Harp): Tonight’s guest is Tyrone Smiley, who is quite well-liked around town, so therefore I’m told you should factor that into your arrival time.
“Pho-King Mondays” (Vietnam Restaurant): Our region has a rich tradition of putting on unusual shows at dining establishments, and this unexpected event aims to add to it. DJ Ambushdrum will be playing bass-intensive music from 10 pm until 2 am at this Bryan Street staple, and there will be unique drinks for the occasion. You can eat until closing time, which is a huge advantage over most shows.
Boxcar Bandits (Hailey’s): The Boxcar Bandits will apparently be playing an “electric show” and I promise not to make any Pete Seeger-referencing jokes about the transition … Man, is it killing me to hold back on that one.
DJ Jordan Kline (Lola’s Saloon): Before he was in Ice Eater, Jordan Kline was a DJ for the Flashlight Party, who were a very reliable crew if you happened to be at a show where they were selecting tracks. Ex-Neon Indian guitarist Ronnie Heart, who is also an excellent DJ when he’s not playing an instrument, will be providing “live painting,” which is the kind of thing you can get away with if you were a lead guitarist in a big band.
Other Monday Shows—
John Wesley Coleman/Street Arabs/Drug Animal (The Crown and Harp)
“Vinyl Tap” (Double Wide)
Image: Crystal Fighters. Credit: Neil Krug.