Not being able to go to South By Southwest, SXSW for most, would have been dreadfully painful had it not been for Denton's 35 Conferette, formerly NX35 or North By 35. This four-day event featured many of the same artists that SXSW would be hosting but 35 was much more cost effective and convenient for many who could not afford the lodging and expenditures in Austin. Having not been to NX35, I was very excited and somewhat skeptical of something of this magnitude occurring in Denton, TX; I don't mean this in a bad way, I was simply curious to see how it would play out and come together.
My first impressions of the festival were not too great. Having arrived early to retrieve my wristband and creditentials, I was told that I was on the list but I did not have a badge made yet and I would have to wait until the next day to receive my cloth bracelet. 'Strike one', I thought. But these annoyances were quickly cast aside when I reached the two main stages and was greeted with a vast, impressive lineup. Though indie rock reigned supreme for most of the festival, you could wander around and find just about every genre of music imaginable. I personally heard reggae, hip hop, electronic, folk, gospel, punk, experimental, et cetera. Music was everywhere. You didn't even have to have a wristband to enjoy music as 35 presented the 'square' stage that featured free music everyday during the four-day span; you could also find 'unofficial' showcases and performances all around the festival grounds.
Most of the performances were run without a hitch, outside of normal difficulties that occur onstage, but there were a few that really stuck in my brain. Night One, Main Stage 2, Pains of Being Pure at Heart. What was supposed to be one of the more anticipated performances of the festival slowly turned into a nightmare for the band and a shot of Benadryl for the crowd. The hapless tech didn't bother to plug in three instruments, could not get the sound right throughout the set, the power went out onstage, and a painful, awkward standstill of almost 50 minutes. Fortunately, the band stood firm and performed a pretty great set. Two other mishaps occurred on both the Main Stage and Main Stage 2 when the festival crew underestimated the star power of Michael Cera and thought more of performers and VIPs than media and press. Both instances were dealt with and overcome but inconveniences nonetheless.
As for the highlights, there are literally too many to name. That is what made this festival so great. Despite the mishaps and whatever could have been misconstrued as amateur or inexperienced, the music made up for it ten fold. In only its third year, this event has the makings of a premier destination for artists and fans alike. Where else in northern Texas can you see Dan Deacon and Big Boi? The artist selection was fantastic and I can only imagine where they can go from here. Another great thing about 35 was the cost. It was definitely cost effective. $85 for a wristband, most of which were discounted before the festival was underway, was a steal for the amount of performances the festival had. The vendors onsite were genuinely cheap for an event like this or for a music venue in general; water and sodas for $2 and beer for $4. There was also a ton of restaurants in and around the grounds, so there was a variety of food that was easily accessible. Having heard about the complexities of last year's festival, this year's location proved to be a key part of its success. The proximity of the venues made it easy to pick and choose which shows you wanted to see, all within walking distance of each other.
I know this festival will smooth out the edges in the years to come but I thought this year's festival was top notch. With an abundant amount of great artists, pretty fair weather, cost effectiveness, and an overall great atmosphere, I cannot wait until next year's event to see how it progresses and continues to build on its already sturdy foundation. Videos from each day's performances are below:
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
!!! (chk chk chk)
More videos will be added as they become available. I will also make a separate post featuring photos taken at the festival. Thanks 35 Conferette!!
35 Conferette @ Denton, TX Reviewed by Scott Rowe, Editor on 4:55:00 PM Rating: