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35 Denton fest's 10 must-see concerts

The 10 must-see concerts at what's become one of DFW's great festivals

02/28/2013 1:05 PM

03/14/2013 3:10 PM

Slowly and steadily, North Texas has become a music festival powerhouse.

Where once there were just a handful of events, scattered throughout the year, the calendar now boasts an almost continuous cycle of single- and multiple-day gatherings in Fort Worth, Dallas and Denton.

From mainstays like Main St. Fort Worth Arts Festival and Mayfest to relative upstarts like Fort Worth Music Festival and the Untapped Festival (which announced its plans to go national this week), there's no shortage of live music events for practically every taste.

One of the most eclectic and rigorously curated fests is the four-day 35 Denton, beginning March 7. It's heading into its fifth year and is keeping things relatively low-key in 2013. (Past headliners have included the Flaming Lips and the Jesus and Mary Chain.)

There are plenty of impressive names scheduled to appear this year, provided you keep tabs on the next big thing at home and elsewhere. From veterans like Thurston Moore (appearing with his side project, Chelsea Light Moving) to upstarts like Solange Knowles, the four-day festival promises a smart mix in an easily walkable setting.

Here are 10 can't-miss acts, local and national, out of the 150-plus bands scheduled to perform across 35 Denton's more than one dozen stages. For the full schedule, visit 35denton.com. (Stages and times subject to change.)

Pinkish Black (10:30 p.m. March 7 at Hailey's)

The guitarless Fort Worth duo of Daron Beck and Jon Teague has had a busy few months, what with the release of its acclaimed, self-titled debut, signing with California-based label Century Media Recordings and completing work on a sophomore LP at the Echo Lab in Denton. Wasting little time, Pinkish Black will preview tracks from its forthcoming album during its sure-to-be-intense set.

Quaker City Night Hawks (10:30 p.m. March 7 at Andy's)

Another Fort Worth band riding high on a new album, this hirsute foursome is gearing up for a full slate of shows in support of the just-released (and fantastically gritty) Honcho. The Hawks have built a reputation as one of the area's sharpest live acts, so if you haven't seen 'em before now, consider this an open invitation.

Roky Erickson (7 p.m. March 8 at Main Stage Two)

Something of a godfather to the avant-garde set in Texas, psych-rock legend Erickson has artistically rebounded from a life that was drifting into oblivion. In 2010, he released his first album in 14 years (a thrilling collaboration with Austin indie band Okkervil River titled True Love Cast Out All Evil) and just last year, he toured Australia for the first time.

Old Snack (9:30 p.m. March 8 at Mellow Mushroom)

This Denton trio makes no bones about what it does -- smart pop-rock tinged with enough punk and country overtones to make it stand out from the crowd. The band's 2011 debut, Everything Is Happening So Fast, remains a master class in breakneck jangle-punk.

A.Dd+ (5 p.m. March 9 at Main Stage Two)

Paris Pershun and Slim Gravy are fresh from releasing the bold new mixtape DiveHiFlyLo. Teamed with longtime collaborator DJ Sober, A.Dd+ remains one of DFW's truly great live rap experiences.

Solange Knowles (8 p.m. March 9 at Main Stage One)

She may not sell out stadiums like her sister, Beyoncé, but the younger Knowles arguably has the more interesting career. At the very least, Solange has one of 2013's best releases -- the Dev Hynes-produced EP True, anchored by stellar single Losing You -- and a quirky, hyper-hip style all her own.

Datahowler (10:30 p.m. March 9 at the Hive)

Known off-stage as Ross Edman, the Dallas-based DJ Datahowler excels at stitching together gorgeous blankets of sound that envelop the listener. His latest effort, the faintly psychedelic The Crystal Gazers EP, will likely make for a dazzling sonic display in concert.

Jessie Frye (11:30 p.m. March 9 at Banter)

One of Denton's most relentless creative singer-songwriters, Frye, a 35 Denton veteran, is hard at work on the follow-up to 2011's John Congleton-produced Fireworks Child. Tentatively titled Obsidian, the record is due out later this year.

Camera Obscura (7 p.m. March 10 at Main Stage Two)

The Glasgow indie-pop sextet hasn't released anything since 2009's My Maudlin Career (the band's website says it is "slowly putting together new songs"), but it's a testament to the group's sparkling melodies and facility with wistful lyrics that they remain in demand Stateside. It's a band best consumed through headphones, but this set is still a treat for North Texas fans.

Doug Burr (11:30 p.m. March 10 at Sweetwater Grill & Tavern)

A Denton staple and arguably one of the most underrated troubadours in Texas, Burr has reportedly been working on new music, intended for a follow-up to 2010's O Ye Devastator. His live performances are never less than riveting, and his 35 Denton set should be no exception.

Preston Jones is the Star-Telegram pop music critic, 817-390-7713

Twitter: @prestonjones

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