This one goes out to the ones they love, as local acts join forces to pay tribute to The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Smiths and R.E.M.
’80s Alternative Tribute
9 p.m. Wednesday
Opolis 113 N. Crawford, Norman
Filling Morrissey’s shoes is no easy task. Many have tried, few have succeeded, and Will Muir will add his name to the ranks tonight.
“I can maybe do a good imitation. Hopefully, if the crowd closes their eyes, they will think they are listening to … his cousin,” said Muir, laughing. “As long as my hair looks OK, and I remember the words, I think I’ll be doing a good job.”
Members of local bands Gentle Ghost, The Boom Bang, Shitty/ Awesome, Depth & Current, The Nghiems and Locust Avenue will assemble into three ’80s alt-rock tribute acts — The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Smiths and R.E.M. — to revive the music that helped shape their tastes and desire to play music. Don’t expect cheap cover bands, but serious musicians spending the time to nail down set lists from the groups whose music has always been there with them.
“For me, it’s what I grew up with, or at least came of age to,” said Muir, who fronts Shitty/Awesome. “You can hear a lot of what’s going on then, and a lot of what’s going on now.”
A lifelong Smiths fan, he has never really given up the music from this era; new tunes have just hopped along The Moz train.
“They’ve been my favorite band since 1984,” Muir said. “It’s not so much going back as much as continuing an affair.” However, this wasn’t necessarily the soundtrack to all the players’ youths. Born in 1989, Boom Bang guitarist Tommy McKenzie wasn’t exactly cognizant of music at the time, but that doesn’t mean he missed out on the influence the ’80s had to offer.
“That decade had many artists that got very tired with the direction the popular culture was going with what it really glorified,” McKenzie said. “Some of the music was extreme, but it got a reaction out of people. People lose sight of that goal, make the people react to what they are listening to … even if it is hate.”
He will perform in a tribute to The Jesus and Mary Chain, an act he first discovered, along with My Bloody Valentine, through Spin magazine’s list of the most influential albums from 1986 to 2005. He fell in love with the sonic assault of their music that continues to inspire his guitar work today. “That decade had a lot of albums that really set up this idea that there are no limits to what music you can make and what people react to,” McKenzie said. “I was only alive for one year of it, but it rocked.”
Commemorating the bands for all of their inspiration is the least many of the guys could do; this music has even molded some of their career paths. They’ve taken it seriously — while having fun, of course — and are getting eerily similar to the group they are memorializing. It’s probably the closest many metro music fans are ever going to get to hearing this selection of ’80s alternative icons.
“I feel really lucky to be working with some of the most talented musicians in the metro area. Sometimes in practice, I’ll get lost in the music because it sounds like I’m listening to The Smiths play live. That part has been awesome, because we are never going to hear The Smiths live,” Muir said. “Everybody has worked really hard to make it feel authentic. These sets are really meant as tributes to these bands. There’s a lot of love brought to it.”