The return of Denton music festival Plus Fest 3 celebrated the exuberant sounds of math rock, mathcore, midwest emo, indie and more – giving stages to fringe sounds that paint the outer edges of the music scene tapestry.
This year’s 2-day installation hosted at Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studio last weekend was the first Plus Fest since 2019, as the COVID-19 pandemic halted production to continue the series until now. The inaugural event was held at Killer’s Tacos in 2018, and then at BackYard on Bell in 2019. Both venues are now closed.
“We want to create a kind of counter culture community,” said Danny Laake-Sprague, the mastermind behind Plus Fest. “We’re a lot of nerds being nerds about super complicated music.”
The fest featured 30 bands from all over the country (and one international band from Japan), with 15 bands playing on each day of the event.
Photos and videos in this article show just a slice of 4 bands from the lineup: Abelia (Dallas, TX), saturdays at your place (Kalamazoo, MI), the silhouette of nude (Tokyo, Japan) and Snooze (Chicago, IL).
“We’ve taken more chances with more out of town bands,” Laake-Sprague said.
Artists not pictured include TRSH (Springfield, MO), Via Luna (Kansas City, MO), Dwellings (Sacramento, CA), AnimalJam (Fort Worth, TX), Not Nearly (Pheonix, AZ), halfsleep (Denton, TX), Terra Collective (Denton, TX), Mylets (Austin, TX), Islands of Pear (Houston, TX), Medians (Tallahassee, FL) and more.
The electric energy of the crowd stood out at this event, as attendees were actively engaged with each set that took the stages.
Many fans knew the lyrics to some of the touring acts’ music, showing that BLVR Booking was able to reach its desired audience.
Plus Fest has grown in size each year it’s been put on, and this year’s event was packed with music lovers in what mostly seemed like the younger demographic. It looks like younger fans are leaning into heavier music, more alternative styles, and creating a kind of resurgence of the early 2000’s vibes (in regards to midwest emo music blowing up lately).
So what’s next for Plus Fest?
There’s already a Plus Fest 3.5 in the works, which will take place close to South By Southwest 2024 – as bands are leaving the Austin area and get a chance to swing up to North Texas to be on the coveted Plus Fest lineup in Denton.
There will also be an unofficial SXSW event down in Austin that week – called the Math Rock Homies Showcase, hosted at Spiderhouse Ballroom.
In June 2024, Plus Fest 4 will be back in Denton, and Laake-Sprague is determined to make it another one to remember.
“We have some bucket list bands in the works, so keep an eye out for that,” he says.
At the end of the day, Plus Fest is a remarkable event that reminds one of the simple pleasures of enjoying music with people who are deeply appreciative of the art that comes from focused disciple in the trade.
“Anybody that wants to be a part of a community [should come],” Laake-Sprague encourages. “There’s no mystique to the bands, it’s super chill and approachable. Most of them hang out among the crowd and watch other bands. We’re here to share community.”
Jessica Waffles is a freelance photographer/videographer and regular contributor to KXT.
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