Photos and Concert Review: Experimental Music Finds a Home in a Denton House

Austin-based acts How I Quit Crack and Breakdancing Ronald Reagan headlined the tiny venue, and newcomers Viator proved a welcome addition to local fringe.

Last Sunday evening, an unassuming house in north Denton beckoned a couple dozen people through its front door. Marked by a red strobe light resting on a step, a series of sharply-curated musical exploits took place inside. Five acts seamlessly traded off time on the carpeted floor, with each offering a variation on the theme of nearly everything booked at this particular DIY spot: experimentation and noise.

Viator presented their debut performance, combining a black metal storm with a reel of cataclysmic projections. The band already had a pile of cassette tapes ready to sell, not to mention an iron-clad visual presentation. Hopefully these are indicators that we will see more from the trio this year. They will mix well with other local, sonically overwhelming acts, such as Terminator 2 and Pinkish Black.

Pairing distorted graphics with equally distorted iPod tracks, Half Asexual’s orchestration of hacked-up pop culture could make a millennial’s skin crawl. A Hoobastank sample was gutted during the set, laced with feedback and static. It was simultaneously agonizing and satisfying.

On the final stop of his tour before returning to Austin, Breakdancing Ronald Reagan also decided to pull a sample from the earliest aughts, and opened his set with this resurfaced Vanessa Carlton piano intro. The performer broadcasted a menacing smirk, which foreshadowed the prompt interruption of the chaotic percussive noise that followed.

Denton’s female duo, Ulnae (pronounced “ull·nuh”), was reconfigured to compensate for the absence of cellist Darcy Neal. Her replacement for the night was violist Joshua Westerman. The lighter instrumentation paired well with Lily Taylor’s vocals, which served as a palate cleanser.

After a final intermission, the house lights went black for Austin’s How I Quit Crack. Vocalist Tina Forbis nonchalantly applied glowing warpaint, a ritual common with every HIQC set. Layers of siren-like vocals glazed across primitive beats, while the slumped crowd bathed in the glow of neon fixtures. It is no surprise that the act is a favorite among underground venues worldwide.

Ulnae’s Lily Taylor was also the show organizer. Sitting on the sofa, she quietly says she cooks the band dinner prior to every event. I asked what was on the menu tonight. “A rice and beans veggie mix,” she says before she checks that the house is tidy. Such a simple and yet elegant production can only be attributed to someone so gracious pulling the strings.

Click on the image below for an expanded slideshow of photos from the concert.