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Denton Dispatch: Take the Long Way Home

It starts with shooting BB guns at Lonestar cans.
June 11, 2012, 3:15pm

If you haven't been following my adventures in Texas thus far let me fill you in. I spent four days covering Chaos in Tejas seeing as many bands and getting as many pictures as humanly possible without passing out from exhaustion. I saw trolls, balls, blood (real and fake) and swam in a pool that someone may have shit in. How do you top that? It's not easy but it starts with shooting BB guns at Lonestar cans in a compound of four depression-era portable houses with Xeno & Oaklander and Sam from Led Er Est.

Fun fact: New Yorkers are obsessed with shooting things when we go out of town. I was invited to the shooting range by three different sets of people while I was in Austin. I'm from the Midwest so shooting shit in my backyard isn't new to me, but I hadn't picked up a bb gun in over a decade. I still got four Lonestar cans in a row starting from my very first shot (yes, this is me bragging).

I think this is a very good look for Sean McBride of Xeno & Oaklander.

After shooting some shots we piled in a minivan that Andrew, one of the show's organizers, rented. Andrew drove from Denton to Austin to pick up Xeno & Oaklander and turned around and drove them back to Denton. It was amazing. I was lucky enough to tag along. Four hours later we were dropped off at the house we were crashing at.

They had a cute cat. Like a proper girl I take pictures of all the cats I meet on the road. Gracie became my new best bud. She's really into rubbing against boobs.

Oh look, it's video artist and musician Jonah Lange's Basket Case Halloween costume he made. No big deal.

The show was at a place called Rubber Glove Rehearsal Studios. It was by the railroad tracks, a shining beacon of hope.

The bathrooms were sexy too.

Enough with the scene setting, time for the main event. The night, Discipline is, well, disciplined. It's an industrial night, full of dark electronic vibes and no sell out dance hits. The only problem with it was that from the other room it was tough for us interloping out of towners to tell if a band had started or a DJ had put on another killer record. After a few false alarms Thule went on.

The Suspiria-hued lighting set the room a proper ominous glow for their noise set.

Next was Vulgar Fashion. After the first song the chain-smoking vocalist (who had a mustache painted on her upper lip) changed into this crazy striped cave woman costume during an instrumental interlude. I appreciated the showmanship.

The main event for me was Corporate Park. I'd been hearing about the band for a couple of years, even that they were up there with Pharmakon as one of the best contemporary American industrial acts. That's some big praise and they deserve it.

Corporate Park is fronted by Shane English and also includes Jonah Lange the creator of that magical Basket Case costume. Apparently getting to see them live is a rarity and nailing down recorded materials by them even rarer. The only releases under their belt are a limited CDR and a limited tape both released in 2009. Word has it that they will be touring and releasing an LP on a New York label soonish. One can only hope those rumors come to fruition.

The attention to detail that all three bands showed with set-up, performance, and lighting makes me kind of bummed that I live in a city where everything is influenced by whatever venues' pro lighting systems and prefab decor. Not that we have it bad in New York by any means, it's just difficult to do things outside of the box. Nine out of ten shows I go to are at bars or clubs that have a mandatory minimum that they have to make at the door and nearly ten out of ten DJ sets I see are required to have some sort of square-friendly sonic element. The all-vinyl DJ sets in Denton were entertaining and educational. I do appreciate the wealth of options I have as a resident of Brooklyn and remember a time when I wasn't so lucky in my hometown of Lincoln, Nebraska. It's nice not to have to drive three to seven hours to see a show in another state, but I also sort of feel like I had more fun in those days. There was more of a connection to the music, I really had to work for it and goddamnit I cared.

I'll stop myself before I go on a lengthy curmudgeonly rant about the old days of DIY shows and admit I'm surely romanticizing things. Also after experiencing some extreme festival fatigue, a smaller show that was well attended by an insular regional community was a welcome change of pace. Over-analysis aside, Corporate Park was incredible both musically and visually.

Perhaps influenced by the previous acts and an afternoon of extremely fetishistic tape and electronics conversations, Xeno & Oaklander played one of the better shows I've seen. Usually they are the picture of serene control, orchestrating extremely complicated synth music live with a calm focus that never belies the potential chaos that could erupt at any turn. This set was played with a sense of abandon. They pushed it sonically and the result was a noisier more energetic sound. Also resulting were some seriously amazing mad professor faces on Sean's part.

The night was over, while waiting for my boyfriend to raid the merch table covered with tapes I chowed down on a piece a birthday cake a stranger gave me thinking about how nice an escape it was go to a night that wasn't another fashion show. Music was the supreme focus, no fashionably goth Manhattanites standing around waiting to be photographed. And really, that's all a couple of New Yorkers pissing by the railroad tracks could ask from the ever-perplexing but sometimes amazing state of Texas.