DENTON – Things tend to get a bit raggedy when spring break starts.
By all accounts, Friday and Saturday’s live performances at NX35 in Denton went off both on schedule and on point. Several venues were at capacity early (Friday’s Centro-matic/Robert Gomez/Doug Burr/RTB2 gig was one-out-one-in by just past 9 p.m.), and a trusted source said that the fest had broken even financially by sometime during that evening.
But Sunday’s annotated finale of shows (two venues, the Hydrant Cafe and J&J’s Pizza, were closed) were as unpredictable as Friday’s were phenomenal. Maybe spring-break fever at UNT rubbed off. Hailey’s‘ docket ran more than an hour late. Gigs at Dan’s Silver Leaf and the Boiler Room ran a half hour early (blame Roger Clyne‘s persnickety aim to start early and finish late). Andy’s Bar flip-flopped its Bay-Area bookends: original headliner Bart Davenport and initial opener Sugar & Gold.
The unpredictability bugged some (fans of the Drams fans likely missed most of Brent Best and co.’s joyous Boiler Room turn) but also built in a degree of forced discovery for the inaugural NX35’s final attendees. That ended up a positive, really, if that was your bent on this night full of deeply indie out-of-town SXSW-bound acts.
For instance, the critically informed compositions of Austin’s Moth Fight possessed a studied cuteness at Dan’s, as if Eisley hooked up with Arcade Fire and Animal Collective (products of an AP literate shoegaze class? Sure). It’ll likely grow as the amalgam matures, because the band’s quite young. That preciousness was only topped by a gorgeous, swoon-inducing set by one of instrumental shoegaze’s standard bearers, Casiotone for the Painfully Alone, also at Dan’s.
But barring an on-stage death or natural disaster, the evening was destined to be dominated by crazed Israel blues-rock outfit Monotonix. The trio’s participatory live shows are the current free-form indie standard – they play within the crowd and encourage all manner of frenzied interaction, from slam dancing and stage diving to trash-can dunking and drink dousing. At its fest-closing gig at Hailey’s among about 250 attendees, it at one point brought its set outside, where singer-rabble raiser Levi Yontov proceeded to stoop-dive into the street.