The Dose: Thin Line Festival spotlights local bands at Backyard on Bell

The Dose: Thin Line Festival spotlights local bands at Backyard on Bell

The Dose: Thin Line Festival spotlights local bands at Backyard on Bell
April 25
22:07 2017

Taylor Crisler | Staff Writer

Hen & the Cocks and In Spite of Madness took the stage during the 10th annual Thin Line Festival Saturday night. Backyard on Bell, an intimate venue tucked away across from the Denton Civic Center on the Square’s edge, hosted the local talent.

Both bands have founding members who were UNT students, and have been building a growing local fan base for the past couple of years.

“I’ve been performing longer than I’ve been driving,” said Lydia Low, 25, front woman for In Spite of Madness.

The band formed out of a desire for catharsis because her solo work wasn’t delivering.

“We decided to pull this together and have a bigger, louder, angrier sound than my singer/songwriter stuff,” Low said.

Low said her music is most often inspired by a fondness for telling others’ stories and that Denton nurtures this inspiration. She cautioned young musicians from believing all venues in Denton are able to pay artists as much as they should and recommends playing cover songs in affluent communities to start out.

“I think that the fans and friends that you’ll find here are more loyal than most other places you’re going to find,” Low said. “But bands will benefit from figuring your stuff out here, and then moving out of your comforting zone. If you stay in your hometown forever, you’re not going to find out what you can be capable of.”

While venues like Dan’s Silverleaf dedicated their festival programming to established artists from across Texas, such as Peelander-Z or Party Static, Backyard put a spotlight on local artists.

“This is definitely the best [festival] we’ve ever played,” said Bree Hill, who drums for In Spite of Madness. She describes the band’s sound as if “a perfect circle was fronted by a badass woman.”

Hill is a full-time musician who performs with four different bands in Denton.

“I’m conflicted in a way,” Hill said. “I want people to know how great this town is, and I want people to know how great the music and the artists and everything here is. But I don’t want it to get like Austin where everything is expensive and crazy.”

A friend of the band, Travis Barton, volunteered at the festival on nights off from bartending in town.

Thrill Bill played at Andy’s Bar and Grill at the square in Denton, Texas on Saturday as part of Thin Line Festival’s music lineup. Jake King

Barton said Thin Line has been getting better at curating the music side of the programming, and artists have flocked to the festival in the absence of the formerly venerable 35Denton.

“35Denton started out really strong, and they did a really good job, but they’ve sort of been screwed over by South by Southwest and since they’ve started falling apart,” Barton said.

A musician himself, he has received a lot of cultural education through the festival’s organization and felt it was time to give back this year.

“If I can help out and make it even more beneficial to local artists, documentarians,” Barton said. “I think I would give my free time for it.”

UNT sophomore Lauren Taylor came to see In Spite of Madness.

Taylor said the intimate, social aspect of Denton’s music scene has provided a release from the stress of always studying and an outlet for finding friends after moving away from home for the first time.

“This is actually kind of my first time going out and seeing different bands,” Taylor said. “I saw [In Spite of Madness] at LSA a couple weeks ago, and we bought their CDs. We just, like, love them.”

Both bands have been setting their horizons outside of the small Denton scene, however. In Spite of Madness have a small tour in June planned for Austin and San Antonio, which will be their first venture outside the DFW metroplex. Hen and the Cocks played at The Door, a Dallas venue, on Friday night.

JoAnn Henkel, lead singer for Hen and the Cocks, said she formed the band in 2014 after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in biology from UNT.

“[The band is] ballsy, babe-fronted, babe-backed, straight up rock n’ roll,” Henkel said.

Although that’s how Henkel describes the band, she said their lyrics reflect an environmental conservationist message.

In between songs, Henkel spoke about attending Denton’s March for Science, a national effort organized by local activists advocating against policies aimed at discrediting scientific consensus with regard to threats like global climate change.

The band’s song, Antworld, reflects how “a lot of people don’t think about the millions of species of insects that exist on this planet and how they contribute to our well-being.”

Vanessa Gilbreath, a friend of Hen and the Cocks, has seen the band perform about 20 times. She worries about the possibility Dentonites will not be willing or able to adequately support the arts with festivals like Oaktopia possibly leaving the area.

“I think if you have enough people willing to do it just for music’s sake, we’ll continue to have a really good music scene in Denton,” Gilbreath said.

Featured Image: Hen & The Cocks played at Backyard on Bell in Denton, Texas on Saturday as part of Thin Line Festival’s music lineup. Jake King

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North Texas Daily

North Texas Daily

The North Texas Daily is the official student newspaper of the University of North Texas, proudly serving UNT and the Denton community since 1916.

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