Concert offers Dentonites a taste of what Oaktopia will be like come fall
Matt Olson, Copy Editor
Pretopia is related to Denton’s Oaktopia, a music festival that takes place during the fall. Oaktopia co-founder Matt Battaglia shared in an email: “Originally, Pretopia was a house show [or] series of house shows the weekend before Oaktopia. A DIY kick-off party to show a side of Denton that isn’t present at the festivals. Now, the vision is to bring nationally-touring artists to town year-round.”
He added: “Bringing a legendary band like Mercury Rev to Denton is always exciting. Kicking off our festival season with such a high-caliber act is a dream come true.”
Speaking on Pretopia in relation to Oaktopia, Battaglia shared: “We’re hoping it’s a snippet of things to come; carefully crafted events that give the attendee an experience worth remembering.” In addition to the concert, art displays and local vendors are planned for the event.
Mercury Rev’s latest, “The Light in You,” was released last October to positive reviews, and since then, the band has been touring. “The Light in You” is the band’s ninth album over the course of nearly three decades together. The Pretopia concert will be the band’s first show in Denton.
Guitarist and clarinetist Sean “Grasshopper” Mackowiack enthused in an email about playing in town: “We are looking forward to seeing our friends in Denton, and we always love playing in new places. That’s one big reason we wanted to be in a band in the first place: to see the world.”
When asked what he hoped audience members would take from the band’s performance, Mackowiack shared: “We hope audience members leave with their minds blown from an emotional rock and roll rescue.”
Guitarist and vocalist Jonathan Donahue added: “I’m uncertain anyone can ever take something ‘away’ from a musical experience. The best ones, at least to me, always seem to reveal something, expand upon something already inside us.”
Mackowiack shared experiences from the band’s latest tour: “We started the tour in Iceland at The Iceland Airways festival, which was a fantastic, surreal festival on the sea with white-beaked dolphins jumping in the distance, and we ended up six weeks later in the ‘bush’ in Perth, Australia, at a boutique festival with kangaroos jumping around in the distance.”
Donahue and Mackowiack spoke about the band’s relationship with its fans. Donahue stated: “Our listeners change as we do. Album to album, swaying to and fro on top of, and sometimes under, life’s waves. Their love of music, whether of ours or another group, likely never wanes.”
He continued: “Like laughter, your understanding of subtlety grows with your years, and you begin to appreciate the less obvious in music the older you and your favorite band become.”
Mackowiack added: “Over the years we have retained our old crazy slacker fans but have gained many young fans who enjoy our kaleidoscope of sound. The internet is a great way to connect with all of our old and new fans, whether through Twitter, Facebook, our website, etc. It is amazing how many people of all ages send us messages of love through social media.”
Speaking on the challenges the band has faced inits time together, Donahue said: “After 30 years of playing together and 25 years as Mercury Rev, the greatest challenges always rise from within us as people. The cauldron spills both ways. Not only do the intense moments and pressures arise from the outside pushing inwards, but also from the creative inside pushing outward. You find yourself constantly filling the outer valences with small, yet meaningful grace notes in order to remain stable and not become so vulnerable to the pull of the times around you.”
Mackowiack outlined other challenges: “The challenges from being around so long are trying to navigate the change that comes fast in the music world. Vinyl is ‘out,’ vinyl is ‘in’; it can be hard to keep up.”
However, he also spoke about the rewards of the band’s longevity: “Playing together now is just as rewarding as ever. We love connecting to the audience through the music. Otherwise, we’d stop doing it.”
Mackowiack offered encouragement to young musicians: “Living on the road can be tough, so live in the moment, and don’t forget to smile and breathe with joy in every step.”
Donahue added: “If there is anything at all worth being hyper-vigilant over in a ‘career’ it’s not your bank account, or your ‘artistic freedoms’ or even your rights as a musician and songwriter. Foremost it’s your own willingness to expand upon yourself as a human being in life proper. It’s your ability to breathe in and out, the world around you that will sustain your ‘career.’ Grow as a person, and likely your career will follow suit. Learn to conserve your energies for the creative work to be done on the inside of you before aiming it towards targets on the outside.”
Mackowiack concluded: “As the world seems to grow more crazy, remember that music is a unifying connection between people of all walks of life.”
Doors open at 8 p.m., and the show starts at 11 p.m. Tickets are $30, plus an additional fee.