Millennials usually get a bad rap; mostly attributed to the stereotypes they are often given. They’re perceived as lazy and entitled. So how exactly do millennials challenge this stereotype? They work ten times harder. Perhaps that is the true beauty of Generation Y;

a generation that has the ability to push themselves when so many are waiting for them to fail.

In its fourth year, Oaktopia was the perfect example of millennial perseverance. The festival was mostly curated by young adults who spent so much time building up the Denton’s music scene. It demonstrated the power of innovation, creativity, and determination; regardless of age. The 2016 lineup proved it’s no longer an underdog. The festival has finally taken its place as one of the best in North Texas.

Headliners this year included, Dr. Dog, Best Coast, O. T. Genasis, Norah Jones, Beirut, DJ Lo Down Loretta Brown aka Erykah Badu, Rae Sremmurd, and many more. As the festival grows larger so will the expectations. Will Oaktopia be able to conduct a large-scale festival in a small town?

Let’s make it clear; Denton is a small town that has a large music scene.

At every show you go to, there is a familiar face. It is an intimate community dependent on the creative talents of its residents. Oaktopia represents something that many residents feared; a threat to Denton’s intimacy.

That can be attributed to the star power of this year’s lineup; there were so many out of town acts. This fear sparked the creation of a counter-festival, Broketopia. One could call it a DIY Oaktopia, after all most of the performers didn’t make the cut for Oaktopia. On top of that, sets played relatively the same time.

Counter- festival and all, Oaktopia still managed to be successful. Despite the blistering heat, hundreds of people came to experience what the festival had to offer. Events included, live art shows, a video game tournament, a comedy show, and even a fashion show.

While the major acts performed on the two big stages, a handful of restaurants, bars, and shops hosted events as well. The participation of the town outside of the festival grounds, managed to make the festival an inclusive event.

Oaktopia served as a platform for many residents to display their talents. Oaktopia’s ability to cater to a diverse audience did something special; it made the festival feel like an easygoing block party. A relaxed experience that performers and audience members alike noticed.

That being said, the festival was not without hiccups. Loose security allowed people access to areas they shouldn’t have been. There were so many acts that it was almost impossible to catch every show.


Photo by Eric Sonson

The first night of the festival, Main stage hosted a Tom Petty tribute show. The band included personalities like Dan Masterson, Michael Peña, and Norah Jones. Even with a star studded show most of Denton’s locals were at Dan’s Silver leaf. Dan’s was pretty isolated compared to the other venues, and people had to make the tough decision of disregarding other venues. Dan’s seemed to win, because almost half of Denton was there. That was probably because some of Denton’s top local bands performed, including Criminal Birds, Biographies, and the beloved Black James Franco. BJF, was easily the most anticipated band, the crowd was thrilled to get a chance to see them perform after years of inactivity.

On the second day of the festival Wavves, Dr. Dog, Beirut, and Norah Jones rocked the main stages. Noticeably the small town feel influenced their performances. It felt like a large hang out session; the artists seemed really comfortable with the crowd. Wavves kept up their bad boy act, cracking crass jokes here and there. At one point the lead singer (Nathan Williams) admitted he couldn’t play a song because he didn’t know how to play the proper strings, which was met with laughter. Dr. Dog pretty much blended in with the Denton crowd. They looked like those cool slightly older guys, you see at Paschall’s every once in a while. You know the type, right? Beirut’s set left hundreds screaming “Encore, encore!” No one however received a better welcome, than Norah Jones, a Denton and UNT alumni.

If anything her performance embodied Denton’s thriving spirit.

Day three included acts like Andrew W.K., Erykah Badu, Best Coast, O. T. Genasis, and Rae Sremmurd. A line up that was just as wild as the weather. Ms. Badu took a considerable amount of time to begin her set, leaving many audience members anxious, however that didn’t stop them from getting down to her mix of “We Like To Party.” Best Coast’s show was rained on, but dozens of loyal fans stuck it out. O.T. Genasis brought fans on stage to dance, sending the crowd to a roar. The last big act of the festival, and the biggest highlight was Rae Sremmurd. They popped a bottle of champagne, pouring it all over the hyped audience. They ended the evening with hundreds of festivalgoers jumping up and down.

Each year Oaktopia comes back bigger and better. It demonstrates what happens when young people come together to support their craft, and represent their community. In the words of Lesley LaBarba, an Oaktopia coordinator “I saw some of the best artists in town, that I am lucky to call friends create art right there in front of me.”

The wonderful thing about Oaktopia is that it’s about the community.

Oaktopia brings people together to celebrate the talent created there every day. As the festival grows larger each year, it will have a lot to live up to. They are going to have to deal with the pressures of being a big town event, in a small town. That should not be too big of a challenge for the brilliant people of Denton, Texas.


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