For those of you who may have attended Oaktopia Fest this year, it was an adventure to say the least. Between all the new events going on simultaneously to the concerts, minor weather hemorrhages, scheduling hiccups and, well, your typical injuries—Oaktopia managed to slam the scales as the biggest event of the fall.
Thursday, September 22
On Thursday, the festival hit it off early in the afternoon with the Food Truck Festival at 4 p.m. A mixture of smells floated down Oak St. and by Eastide all evening. Any type of food a starving, or drunk, festival goer could want was at their fingertips.
Petty Fest, this year’s artist tribute brought to Denton by Best Fest, featured many of the headliners for the festival, such as Jacob Dillon, Robert Ellis, Norah Jones, Nikki Lane and Nicole Atkins. The artists who gave their time to the fest sang their hearts out to Tom Petty covers and put on lively performances—if anything, they looked like they were having a blast, just look at the photos. The best part: all the proceeds from Best Fest performances are donated to charity.
As a fangirl side note, actor, photographer and skater Jason Lee performed with his wife, Ceren who is pregnant with their third child. Their two youngest were in the crowd as they were performing and the folks in the press pit couldn’t mistake their excited screams of “Mommy!” It was pretty adorable.
Biographies played late Thursday night at Dan’s Silverleaf and received some major props from the crowd as they performed. They were totally digging the vibes with the relatable lyrics, one song in particular talks about coming back to Denton, which reminded folks that once they’re here—it becomes home.
Friday, September 23
Friday started earlier at 3:00 p.m. As people were trickling in, parking was a fun task. As the first day of headline performances, festival goers got to see St. Beauty, White Denim, Nikki Lane, Wavves, Dr. Dog, Cat Power, Beirut and Norah Jones back-to-back. Wavves solicited some crowd surfers, which made them smirk, if not the rest of the audience—maybe not so much the people who had to lift up their hands.
Cat Power wore a “no guns sign” pin on her outfit that evening, showing that she was aware of the changes to Texas public university campuses underwent this August. Her performance was poignant, with a few minor, but humorous hiccups, eliciting a supportive response from the crowd.
Norah Jones ended the festival at the UNT stage with a huge gathering of people and waving glow sticks. A UNT grad, Norah Jones figured as the “musical success come home,” making the performance sentimental and special for students who aspire to be “getting somewhere” someday.
Saturday, September 24
Saturday was hands down the most interesting. By the end of every festival, people start dropping off like flies, so it wasn’t surprising to see an ambulance or two pull up to the blocked off side of Oak St. every two hours or so.
OT Genasis performed after Pete Yorn and DJ Low Down Loretta Brown. OT pumped up the throngs of people with his posse of performers, some VIP gals eventually getting up on stage to dance with them. Beach balls were flying through the air and a hint of marijuana (evident all weekend) was definitely strong by this point. However, OT was obviously not about his own fame or agenda. He stopped the crowd with a “Make some noise if you love your life,” in addition to a few other personal anecdotes that helped him to connect with the crowd.
By the time Best Coast was up for their debut, clouds had rolled over Denton skies and cast a dark, heavy haze above the stage. Winds picked up quickly and stage hands scrambled to secure the hanging speakers. The audience waited in anticipation and chanted as they waited to see if Best Coast would perform with the impending storm hanging above them. Sure enough, the skies opened and rain fell in torrents. The crowd scrambled to cover, though some stayed to wait it out despite the crew yelling at people to stay back from the stage.
Press members in the pit were frantically trying to cover their equipment, some going so far as to hiding under the stage—the few that could squeeze under there until the storm passed. No worries though. Best Coast could not not go on with a crowd like that one. Wet and all, Bethany Cosentino and Bobb Bruno braved the elements for their fans for a stellar show.
While there is so much more to cover from the weekend, I’ll pass on the mic so you guys share your unique experiences with one another. Comment below if you had a funny or interesting experience at the festival this year.