10 Bands to See at Oaktopia

We are sitting on the eve of Oaktopia 2016, and we are so ready to get this weekend started! There are so many different bands to hear and so many forms of art to see this weekend, we can hardly keep track. Picking out our 10 most anticipated acts for this years festival was not easy work, as this may be the best programmed music festival Denton has seen in years.

If you want to keep this party rolling, check out our Meet the Locals video series on Facebook (or Youtube, for you non facebookers) that highlights more than 25 local bands playing Oaktopia this year (out of like, 90).

White Denim
Austin, Texas
Friday night, UNT Stage, 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

White Denim came together in 2005 and have been living the life of a touring blue-collar band ever since. With hints of blues, psychedelia, punk, jazz, and soul many have found it hard to classify White Denim – often just calling them the definition of  the live music experience.

White Denim’s lineup has seen changes in recent years. After six albums together founding drummer Joshua Block and guitarist Austin Jenkins have moved on to other musical ventures. Guitarist/vocalist James Petralli and bassist Steve Terebecki retreated back to Austin to reexamine the vision and purpose of the band. Enter Austin musicians Jeff Olsen, drums, and Jonathan Horne, guitar. The new lineup came together and recorded 2016’s “Stiff”.

Oaktopia festivalgoers can expect White Denim to play a set heavy with tunes from “Stiff”.  The band has been touring extensively in support of their newest album, often tailoring their entire set around its music. One thing that is certain Friday night in Denton, the Oaktopia crowd will be treated to the ass-on-fire energy of White Denim’s live sound. To say that they play fast would be a gross understatement. They tour constantly, spending most of this past year on the road. Being from Austin Texas, this is the band’s first time playing in Denton. The Oaktopia crowd will make it memorable for them.
-Sam Beckett

Mother Tongues
Denton, Texas
Saturday night, Sprockets, 11:30 PM.

Mother Tongues (comprised of Tyler Spears, Garrett Spears, Chris Moline, and Jared Starcher) write some of the fuzziest, dreamiest tunes in Denton. A Mother Tongues show is just as likely to chill you out as it is to get you amped up, which makes this band a great choice for your festival schedule—their sound moves from bright, melodic psychedelia to crunchy, driving noise. You'll do yourself a favor by making a point to see an act that's mastered the art of the truly rangey set. Tyler Spears' soaring vocals and moody guitar are offset by Garrett Spears' wild bass lines and Moline's clean, technical riffing, while Starcher drives the whole thing home with tight timekeeping and shimmering cymbals. Denton is home to tons of excellent psych-rock acts, but Mother Tongues' shoegazey leanings set them apart: take note of the band's extensive pedal skills and you too will catch yourself looking to the guys' feet to figure out how the magic happens. If you haven’t heard Mother Tongues yet, you’re in for a treat. Make sure you catch them at Sprockets on Saturday, September 24th! They go on at 11:30 PM.
-Bess Whitby

Los Angeles, California
Friday night, UNT Stage, 6:00 PM - 7:00 PM

Hailing from California, Wavves is a virtual embodiment of the West Coast vibes. Equal parts surf and pop-punk, Wavves perfectly marries sunny, lively beach grooves with the punchy, aggressive, sometimes manic delivery and lyrical content so central to punk rock. The end product is a deceptively upbeat sound well-suited for moshing and headphone listening alike.

Originally started as a solo project in 2008, Wavves has a long history of experimenting with their musical style. Wavves’ eponymous debut album, created with the help of drummer Ryan Ulsh, immediately grabbed the attention of online music magazine Pitchfork as a chaotic, abrasive, nearly off-the-handle tour de force in modern noise rock.

Despite their gradual shift toward more mainstream content, Wavves is still no stranger to innovation, incorporating hints of indie, shoegaze, and noise rock into their already distinct sound. Additionally, though their production quality has increased dramatically over the years, Wavves still retains the spirit of the lo-fi garage rock band they once were. Now more than ever, Wavves promises to deliver energetic surf-punk jams sure to please the ears of any listener.
-Elaine Ballard

Cat Power
Los Angeles, California
Thursday night, Petty Fest at UNT Stage, 8 PM - 10:30 PM
Friday night, UNT Stage, 8 PM - 9:00 PM

Seeing Cat Power live not only once but twice in one weekend...in Denton... is a dream come fucking true. Chan Marshall, better known by Cat Power, will be playing Petty Fest on Thursday night and then again on Friday night - both on the UNT Stage. Marshall has not released a full studio album since Sun in 2012, but was featured on a single earlier this summer with Cassius. Fan shot footage from her 2-night stint in Istanbul in 2014 shows Marshall playing a new song, too. opefully she graces us with some new music soon! Until then, catch her in Denton this weekend.
-Sara Button

Dark Rooms
Dallas, Texas
Saturday night, PAAC, 11:00 PM - 11:45 PM

Dark Rooms is fronted by the expertly talented Daniel Hart who recently composed the film score for Pete's Dragon. In Dark Rooms, he is joined by Casey Trela, Bobak Lotfipour, Rachel Ballard to present a sonically epic experience. Seeing Dark Rooms is an absolutely transcendental experience in a manner similar to Broken Social Scene. They top my power rankings list as there is absolutely no national act I'd see over Dark Rooms. Check out their video with Music Bed Sessions, and you'll get a clear sense of their musical power. Their vocals bring sunshine to a cloudy mind while their melodies are constantly churning through a contemplative arrangement. They perform Saturday night at the PAAC.
-Mateo Granados

Denton, Texas
Thursday, Dan's Silverleaf, 12:00 AM - 12:45 AM

Biographies are as much a Denton band as one can be. Members Chance Maggard, Ethan McClure, J.D. Perry, Katie and Michael Slusarski, and Kollin Weaver grew up in the Denton area and formed Biographies in October 2011. They were the first band I ever saw live in Denton (before I even moved here) when they played 35 Denton in March 2013, and they've been on my must-see list ever since. I cried when they played their set at the final RGRS weekend and stood in awe when they opened for The Basement's reunion show last month. The music speaks for itself and would alone make a great set, but why stop there? With thematic lighting (and sometimes even glitter), you can expect that a Biographies show will be as pleasing to the eyes as it is to the ears. No show is ever exactly the same, leaving both new fans and old fans alike wondering what to expect each time they show up. With a DIY first album and a second one in the works, their brand of indie rock will take you on a dramatic musical journey while making you contemplate life. They play Oaktopia at midnight on Thursday at Dan's and if recent shows are any indication, they've got some new stuff up their sleeves that shouldn't be missed.
-Tiffany Youngblood

Big Thief
Brooklyn, New York
Saturday night, Dan's Silverleaf, 7:00 PM - 7:55 PM

Fresh off their stellar debut release in May of this year, Big Thief is a band that shows no signs of slowing down. They just wrapped up a tour with Kevin Morby and wasted no time hitting the festival circuit. This does not come as a surprise, either.  The band is highly regarded for their unique brand of indie rock, one that masterfully synthesizes elements of folk, punk, and even country music.  Haunting, resonant lyrics seep from their songs. They painstakingly chronicle love, loss, and confusion in times of youth. The band slips in and out of various tempos, deftly weaving between soft acoustic ballads, and more boisterous, angsty tunes. None of this energy is lost in the translation from studio to stage. In fact, it feels almost as if they somehow draw even more power from the presence of anyone willing to listen to their lovelorn tales. There is a naked honesty to the way the members of Big Thief present themselves to their audience, just as there is in their music. They charm you with their subtlety juxtaposed with the raw energy they bring to their live performances. Concert goers need not worry, the only thing Big Thief will steal is your heart.
-Taylor Frantum

Mates of State
Stratford, Connecticut
Saturday night, West Stage, 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM

At some point during the Mates of State set, you'll see Kori Gardner and Jason Hammel smile at each while playing. This husband and wife duo will melt hearts quicker than the Texas heat can make you sweat. They'll also make you dance. They haven't released an album since 2011, but their brand of indie electronica will compel you to make some funky moves. Typically their songs are set up as a dual in the same way you love to compete against your lover in a game of Mario Kart. They take their turns but they'll also sing over each in a way reminiscent of a duet written by Stephen Sondheim. Mates of State are magical.

Denton, Texas
Saturday night, West Oak Coffee Bar, 10:00 PM - 11:00 PM

Leoncarlo is a treat for music lovers of all walks. Watching him play live is mesmerizing, and this weekend you get the perfect opportunity. Leoncarlo's debut album, Still Forms, has been on near-constant repeat in my car since I picked it up at a show a couple months ago. There is a whole lot to take in during Oaktopia - from the local and national acts, to the art, the panels, and everything else going on, but Leoncarlo's set should absolutely be on your schedule. His live performance will blow your mind and make you wonder why more people don't pair classical violin with loops and overdubbing more often (probably because it's the opposite of easy). I've seen Leoncarlo play at venues such as Harvest House and at intimate Sofar Sounds shows in Denton living rooms - each time, I leave even more amazed. Saturday at West Oak is sure to be no different.
-Tiffany Youngblood

Dallas, Texas
Saturday night, PAAC, 10:00 PM - 10:45 PM

This band only has 2 songs available on Soundcloud, but you can't make a summer mixtape without including one of them. The group is self-described as theatrically inclined glam rockers, and they got a nod from the Dallas Observer as having one of the ten best local songs released in 2016 so far. This is music for lovers, friends, and single people. Your relationship status doesn't matter when you have the lo-fi bright rock of Siamese compelling you to sway with the music.