Sunday, September 2, 2012
Review: Denton’s Hot Wet Mess was a hot, wet success
We watched the inner child come out in ultra-cool hipsters as they shot face first down an enormous water slide.
With temperatures steadily in the triple digits for most of the day, thousands of soaking wet music lovers sloshed around the grounds in a concert-slash-beach party that was better than your typical outdoor event.
The 40-foot-tall inflatable water slide that was erected right in the middle of the grounds put this concert into its own category. After a 5 or 10 minute wait in line and a hike up a wobbly staircase, we found ourselves looking directly over center stage and the audience before plunging down four stories in pure joy. Playing on the slide was worth the $15 ticket price alone. You’ll never see the inner child come out in an ultra-cool hipster until you find one shooting face first down an enormous water slide.
While the slide was probably the most popular attraction at The Hot Wet Mess, it was just one part of the experience.
A half pipe set up on the outer edges gave skaters and BMX riders a place to perform. Along the opposite side was a huge row of local vendors selling T-shirts, souvenirs, and tons of other goodies. And the food trucks: Dentonites haven’t grown used to food trucks yet, and they were a real treat
The late addition to the programming at Hot Wet Mess was the XCW Wrestling ring, which was almost too perfect for the setting. Fans hurled slurs at the finest wrestlers Denton County has to offer, who in turn put on an entertaining show. It wasn’t exactly Vince McMahon’s WWE, but most wrestling fans would have appreciated the technical skill and showmanship from the athletes. Even I gasped when the wrestler who looked like a old-timey boxer – complete with the handlebar mustache and pantaloons – jumped from the top rope into the crowd.
Of course, it was 35 Denton that put this event together, so the lineup of musicians was meant to be the best part.
The show kicked off early with some local flavor – a short and patriotic commencement set from RTB2, complete with a Hendrix-esque rendition of the national anthem by Ryan Thomas Becker. It was followed shortly thereafter by former Dentonites Andrew Savage and Jason Kelly, of Fergus and Geronimo, fresh off the release of their second LP, Funky Was The State Of Affairs, which dropped in early August.
The big draw though, were the national touring acts that followed. Unknown Mortal Orchestra had to fight through a few technical difficulties early in their set before finally hitting their stride. When they did, it wasn’t hard to understand why so many people have proclaimed them as one of the most intriguing bands to watch in the near future.
Next up was Big Freedia, the “Queen Diva” of bounce music, who brought two things to the party in abundance: energy and “Azz” shaking. Wow, was there ever a lot of gyration happening on that stage. Reggie Watts, who came next, probably said it best. “Big Freedia, she’ll get you to move the f**k out of your pelvic core. That’s a great workout.”
Watts himself had an entertaining performance. At times, the show was like a hilarious self-help seminar set to a hip hop beat. The lessons are in the form of a gloriously afro’ed presenter, rhyming about how you shouldn’t leave your phone on and near your bed while you sleep, because the radio waves might be screwing with your brain. Or how to always remember to have the photo app open when you’re about to take a cell phone picture, or else it could lead to some uncomfortable moments for your subjects as they wait for you to figure it out. The topics of Watts’ rhymes and freestyles are as limitless as his creativity.
The evening neared a close with some mosh-pit-friendly rock. During the set from the Austin band No Age, the fortitude of the pit gates were tested, as a throng of people crashed through, into the press area. It forced security workers to physically hold up the steel gates to keep the crowd at bay, something they’d have to do for the entire set from the night’s headliners, The Black Lips, who were making their first ever appearance in Denton.
The band was actually spotted hanging out at Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studio on Friday, getting a real feel for the town, and proclaimed at the end of their set Saturday night that they were going right back there after the show. The gritty punk rockers were a worthy headliner for such an over-the-top event, closing things down with the all too fitting song, “Bad Kids.”
The Hot Wet Mess was the first venture for the 35 Denton master music braders to stray from their annual springtime festival. Since 35D’s debut in 2009, The Hot Wet Mess proved to be the most entertaining and action-packed event its organizers have ever hosted. With talks of more outside ventures coming soon, and the success of The Hot Wet Mess, the 35 Denton brand is poised for future greatness.