WORDS// ERIN DEVANY – PHOTOS// ELLIE ALONZO & ERIN DEVANY
In the year that I’ve lived here, I’ve learned that Denton is an ever-developing tiny-town with a huge heart. There are a plethora of diverse groups of artists with magnificent talents and characters, just chomping at the bit to create something. This weekend, at the first ever Backyard Block Party, these truths continued to stay evident. While plenty of people were flocking to Oaktopia (which sadly was moved from Denton just in this past year), there was an absolutely incredible turn out to this event full of your favorite local – and not so local – bands, artists, and friends.
The artists that were asked to perform each came through with their own energy to deliver, whether they were playing at five in the afternoon or closing the day out at midnight. Each style was carefully selected in order to create a festival that was easily accessible to all demographics, in a city that is as diverse as it gets. You could step into the venue at any time throughout the three days that it occurred, and you were going to find music you like –
Let’s take a walk down the block.
I may be a little bit biased towards this band considering the drummer is the love of my life, but I can honestly say that TEENAGE SEX take on punk is a refreshing and emotionally charged sound that is an intimate look into the lives of the artist that create it. Don’t let the name deter you, these boys are talented and exciting, and will probably get their songs stuck in your head.
TRAP LORD is like three’s company, but with a lot more gut-vibrating doom metal. The complication behind their music is what makes their sound so unique, and even if you’re not into hardcore, I can guarantee you’ll still be headbanging when listening to them.
TRAI BO – A sexy, transcending, groove-inspired sound that I’ve actually seen shake a house due to the dancing it ensued. Trai Bo may be hard to pronounce, but it’s a name you won’t soon forget, once you experience them live.
SEALION is Probably your mom’s favorite punk band. This beautiful ensemble has been conquering the Dallas scene for a few years now, and doesn’t seem to be stopping any time soon. Their style is smooth but rough around the edges, and it’s nearly impossible to not be having fun while watching them.
SPRINGTIME AND THE CHANGES – Okay, definitely going to have to be biased towards this one as I am actually in this band, but it has been an incredible first experience with the Denton music scene. The energy flowed through each of us on stage during that performance, and the overwhelming amount of positive responses we received once our set was over warmed my heart to no end. Thank you to everyone that came out and supported us.
LOAFERS are here to have a good time and they’re gonna make damn sure you are too. I have never once experienced a dull set from these dudes, and this last weekend didn’t change that. Their somewhat “party punk” style is unique, interesting, and downright dirty.
Austin never fails to crank out some incredibly talented musicians, and HONEY AND SALT are most certainly one of them. Their abstract math rock and ability to make their instruments seem to flutter with sound is mesmerizing to listen to and watch.
FELT & FUR – An electronic fever dream that will put you in a trance from start to finish. Their intensity and deconstruction of the typical electronic genre is impressive, and not to mention spooky.
HEAVY BABY SEA SLUGS – I was almost convinced I was going to break my camera in that crowd, but it was worth every fear inducing second. I’ve heard rumors about these dudes, and they didn’t fail to disappoint. Backyard on Bell got rowdier than I’ve ever seen it, and the pit was absolutely nuts.
MAESTRO MAYA – I was only able to catch the end of their set, but was immediately sucked into their sound. This is the kind of band you catch once and will do everything you can to find more about them the second their set is over. They almost defy genre, and that is the kind of sound I can get behind.
SEAFIRE – An instrumental band that can impact you more with your instruments than many lyricists can do with their words. These guys may be young, but they are talented and determined to show it. Their music will soothe you like a lullaby, and a few seconds later ignite your senses with rises in energy.
WHIT – This band belongs in a David Lynch film, no doubt. They have their own take on psychedelic rock, which is refreshing in this day and age when the genre is quite frankly overpopulated. They are a very organized, neat, and with a beautiful sound, to boot.
ORCANAUT – Stoner doom metal with a zesty twist. These boys are not messing around, and will overwhelm your ears with tasty metal riffs you’ve never heard before. They honor their influences well.
MOTHER TONGUES – A bit more of a heavy take on psych rock, with a damn good set of musicians behind all 5 instruments on stage. They’re far beyond their years in the sense of their well rounded sound, and I will forever suggest them to anyone trying to find a band that is different but knows its roots.
FUN BUTTON – The name says it all. I have been a huge fan of Fun Button since before even seeing them live for the first time because their sound is familiar and comfortable and the kind of music I want playing over my favorite movies. They know how to draw a crowd in and leave them wanting more.
DOME DWELLERS – A vocalist with insane range, instrumentalists with no limits. What more could you ask for? These guys have built an entirely new and interesting sound that peaked my interest from the first time I heard them.
HIKES – Although many members of this band started off in the heavy metal scene, they have created a beautifully mastered refined metal sound that is admired by all. Their music is chant worthy, and will bring crowds together no matter the circumstance or show.
Denton has the capability to make you feel at home wherever you go within its city limits. Backyard Block Party was an experience that I will cherish with me always, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it come back around next year, even stronger. Creating a tradition like this one in a town that supports and carries its fellow dreamers is incredibly important, and will only allow more outlets for the artists that are doing everything they can to further their work. I have a great reverence for the community that exists here, and only want to continue to explore it in every which way. These sort of happenings are what lay the groundwork for future projects, future festivals, future opportunities. Without the home-grown, DIY attitude of these open minded individuals, there wouldn’t be pockets of the world where changes are happening
Although a multitude of beautiful minds went into building this from the ground up, I want to mostly shine a light onto Zach Walker, who, aside from being my bandmate and one of my roommates, is one of the most dedicated people I know. In a month’s time, he worked himself to the bone to put this phenomenal event together, and I didn’t once see him let the stress deride from the experience he was going to ensure for each and every individual that walked into that festival. The sort of coordination an event of this magnitude takes is outstanding –
So for that, Zach, hats off to you.
When the PA’s were shut down, all the booths packed up, and every band had played their last note, there was a sort of quiet lull that fell over Denton. The excitement of the weekend had been powerful, and it drove a lot of us to ask the question: now what?
What can we do to ensure this sort of energy doesn’t ever die out? Do we wait for next year, or do we begin paving the stones for something different, something that will benefit this town the way Backyard Block Party was able to do in a matter of a few days?
The answer is up to you, Denton. Dallas. Fort Worth. Wherever you may be, wherever your heart lies, that is where you are capable of making a difference. Where you are able to open the minds of those around you to the talented, creative, and substantially important individuals that exist beyond their normal realm of day to day. Make it your mission to shine on those who you believe to be capable, instead of creating an environment of competitiveness. Leave behind a legacy that lets everyone know: there are greater things out there, all you have to do is look.
Here’s to next year, Backyard on Bell. We can’t wait to see where you take us, but until then – take a look at what Denton’s cooking here.