5 Reasons You Don’t Want To Miss Oaktopia

Is it just us or does Oaktopia seem like the most underrated Texas music festival this year?  Marking the fourth year of the festival, Oaktopia is launching another 3-day extravaganza from September 22-24.  Denton boasts an incredibly unique downtown, scattered with college students, a dynamic local music scene, and delightfully cheap beer.  With this in mind, and three previous festivals under their belt, Oaktopia is planning to shake things up this year, with experiential art, music, and fashion elements.

We sat down with Ashley Whitby, the Experience Director at Oaktopia to hear about what’s new and noteworthy at Oaktopia this year.  Whitby has a rich history of working with the best of Dallas’ fashion scene and brings her experience of running RAW Dallas to the Oaktopia scene.  If you’re heading to Oaktopia this week or still considering, here’s our top 5 Oaktopia experiences you won’t want to miss.

1. A Magical Music Lineup

Unlike previous years, Oaktopia is boasting some big names like Beirut, Dr. Dog, Mates of State, Wavves, Best Coast, Cat Power, and Norah Jones, and a little closer to home, 88 Killa, Jonathan Tyler, Jenna Clark, and Texas Gentleman.  Spread between Thursday and Saturday, this lineup is an exciting mix of fan favorites and local flair, soundtracking the entire weekend in Denton.

This year, Oaktopia hired a full-on logistics team, combined with top-tiered sponsorships and a wildly creative new Art Director and Experience Assistant, Michael Houlihan to give a new feel to the music performances.  From a festive color scheme, stage decorations, and a nostalgic feel that Houlihan created, Oaktopia promises a playful vibrancy and must-see lineup.

Crate Diggers must-see performances:

Wavves — Friday, 6-7  p.m. at The UNT Stage
88 Killa — Friday, 10:45-11:10 p.m. at The Lab
Mates of State — Saturday, 3-4 p.m. at West Stage
Best Coast — Saturday, 9-10 p.m. at West Stage
Texas Gentlemen — Saturday, 11-Midnight at Dan’s Silverleaf

2. Denton Courthouse Video Mapping

On Thursday night, a Tom Petty tribute performance will showcase Norah Jones, Jakob Dylan, Butch Walker, and many more playing the best of Tom Petty in front of the Denton Courthouse.  Petty Fest will kickoff the first night of the video projections, in which the Experience team is video mapping the Courthouse building and lawn with a display of light, video, and sound — similar to Dallas’ Arora. Eric Trich, a renowned video projection artist in Dallas, best known for incorporating new and innovative technology into his artwork, will be heading the display with a 20,000-Lumen Projector. His projections will also be scattered throughout the festival to help with announcements, sponsorship placement, and various effects.

There will also be a 15-minute musical performance accompanying the video mapping that will take place on Thursday night. “For the first 15 minutes we’ll include music with the live visuals, and for the 15 minutes afterwards, attendees can go upstairs and actually interact with the program and see the actual movement on the courthouse,” says Whitby. “Eric uses this camera that detects hand movements, so if you close your hand it will change the frequency, or if you open it, it will change the color.”

3. The Root: Alternative Fashion Show

“I am so happy to bring fashion [to Oaktopia] — this is going to be a big production for the show,” says Whitby.  Oaktopia will host their very first fashion show and runway Friday night after Norah Jones’ performance.  Having operated fashion shows in the past, Whitby explains the need for a festival to include a fashion show, emphasizing, “They don’t need to be bougie, you’re showcasing streetwear. Why not showcase local designers?” According to Whitby, all the fashion show designers are local to Denton and Dallas, vintage boutiques, recycled headpieces, plus-size designers, edgy menswear — and Willy Johnson is coordinating it all.

4. Art Installations

According to Whitby, visuals are the biggest difference at Oaktopia compared to past years. From bright, colorful venue decor to a mega art entrance structures, there’s a lot more to experience visually as you explore downtown Denton. The entrance structure is a massive art piece, 7ft tall X 53ft wide X 6ft deep that sets the stage for what to expect at the festival. Also, keep an eye out for the perspective-changing Oaktopia art installation showcasing the newly branded logo.

In addition to the large structural pieces, scattered throughout the festival will be local art vendors, street art, and mixed media performance art. The mixed-media installation will feature performance artists dressed in white, representing various emotions through their expressions. Whitby also mentions that the Experience team is “plastic wrapping trees so it will look like a huge Alice and Wonderland playground."

5. Denton Venues

One of the coolest experiences of Oaktopia is simply exploring Denton.  Musicians, comedians, and artists will be performing all around downtown Denton at over ten local venues. This gives attendees the opportunity to experience different bars downtown that they may not otherwise check out. “We’re trying to get the community together on many different aspects,” says Whitby, in order to create many new experiences for Oaktopians.  Each Oaktopia venue will have branded elements on the outside, such as bright blue, yellow, and pink floating installations to indicate which bars are a part of the festival.

Stick around for the nighttime portion, as there are a number of Blood Moon Parties (aka: late night shows) worth checking out. Thursday will feature Tele Novella and Jessie Frye, Friday will feature a New Media Interactive Experience with Scal and Kind Beats, as well as The Root fashion show. And, Saturday will feature various industry panels, Siamese, Dark Rooms, and Sky Windows. Check out the lineup to find the location for each Blood Moon Party.

Explore the schedule for the full three days and plan your day ahead of time to make sure to optimize your weekend! Stay tuned into our Instagram and Twitter for updates throughout the weekend. Happy festival season!


Amy Mrstik