Notorious Moment of 2016
2016 had its lows and highs for Denton; we lost beloved venues, saw the community come together and share its stance on different views and causes, and saw national acts grace the stage of our very own hometown festival. There were memories made, new paths forged, and no matter what you hear, the Denton Arts and Music scene has continued to thrive. Now that you’re drowning in nostalgia, check out the nominees below for The Most Notorious Moment of 2016.
Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios Closed
When the announcement released that RGRS was closing its doors in early June, hearts across Denton broke. The venue had been a Denton staple since 1997, hosting national acts like Modest Mouse, Death Cab For Cutie, At The Drive-In, Joanna Newsom, Animal Collective, Vampire Weekend, Boris, Rilo Kiley, Hot Water Music, Vic Chesnutt, of Montreal, TV On The Radio, and Ghostland Observatory - just to name a few. Cheap covers and cheap drinks kept the younger crowd pouring in with their pocket change, and weekly lineups were always filled with local and touring bands that spanned genres. Social media blew up with theories, posts reminiscing on the times you stumbled out of the bar after a night of rocking out, and a call to action for the community: don’t let us lose another sacred part of Denton. RGRS still offers studio rooms that musicians can rent out to practice, but no one has graced the stage since the doors shut early last summer.
J&J’s ODB Closed
You can still get damn good pizza from one of Denton’s longest-standing pizza kitchens, but the Old Dirty Basement is no longer your late night stop to sweat and raise a couple of Schlitz's with your buddies. With the heartbreak of RGRS closing still fresh, Denton reeled in August when the renovations were stopped on the ODB because the property management company decided to no longer grant J&J's access to the basement. The last weekend of shows was emotional; the ODB had hosted shows since the early 90s, and was a haven for the underground music scene. They went out with a bang, though, with the last week of shows beginning on Wednesday, leading up to a full day fest on Sunday that many Dentonite’s can look back on fondly. Rumor has it that the basement will become a martini bar (because we totally need one of those), but there haven’t been whispers or the hint of an opening happening anytime soon for a business in the fondly-remembered space.
Denton Music Town Hall
We’re pretty sure Chris Cotter had no idea what he was getting himself into when he introduced the idea of the first Denton Music Town Hall. Everyone had an opinion (they always do) about why it should happen, why it shouldn’t, who was this guy anyway?, and why the hell they weren’t invited. The latter was my favorite because it’s a Town Hall, y'all. There are no invites — you just show up. Local festivals and entertainment labels reached out to Cotter to be involved, and a panel was created to help address and offer feedback on issues brought up by the crowd. With the loss of Banter, Haileys, J&J’s, and RGRS still fresh on everyone’s minds, there was a lot of talk about what the city and business owners could do, and 5 months later, not much has been done. The house venue scene is thriving, the music scene is picking up pace, and if we took anything from the meeting, maybe it’s that it’s up to us as members of the community to continue to support the arts and music scene by paying for shows, supporting the venues, buying music, and buying art. We can’t rely on someone else to fix the problem. We have to make a difference ourselves.
Richard Haskins being arrested moments before playing at J&J’s
Richard Haskins and his band The Wee Beasties had been set to play J&J’s as part of the festival lineup for 35 Denton last March, but that attempted bank robbery from 2012 caught up with him and he was arrested before taking stage. A parole violation in October of 2015 triggered a warrant for his arrest, and the 10-year probation terms had been set by the settlement of the attempted robbery. While Haskins planned to turn himself in after his performance, the US Marshalls waiting behind J&J’s had other plans and tackled him behind the venue, arresting him in front of a crowd of onlookers. In July of 2016, he was sentenced to two years in jail, which he is currently serving at The Buster-Cole Unit in Bonham, Texas.
Oaktopia and Petty Fest
This was ALMOST the fest where it didn’t rain, and that is notorious enough in its own right. The weather was perfect until the final hours of the fest, and even then, the gale-force winds and epic downpour of rain didn’t stop the show. The dates were shifted, moving the fest to a Thursday through Saturday, so we could all be miserably hungover together on Sunday. The Oaktopia Pre-Party that was Petty Fest kicked off Thursday evening, featuring an all-star lineup celebrating the music of Tom Petty. Our ears were gifted with the sound of The Cabin Down Below Band, and Norah Jones herself ended the evening. Oaktopia took over downtown, spanning a fair stretch of Oak Street with vendors, sponsors, and two Main Stages in addition to the additional venues around town. Oaktopia brought national acts likes Wavves, Best Coast, Andrew WK, and Rae Sremmurd to the Little d, and UNT alumni Norah Jones made her grand return. The love was still spread to the locals, with the Blood Moon Parties featuring full lineups of local talent across town. It’s not just about the music either; Oaktopia celebrated the art and culture of Denton with panels at the Patterson-Appleton Arts Center, a live art installation next to the main stage grounds, and a film and comedy showcase at the Campus Theatre. Offering a little something for everyone, and taking home a DOMA for the second year in a row for Best Fest, Oaktopia is another reason on a very long list that Denton is super rad.
Header image design by Brittany Keeton