Ryan Lawson's folk/country amalgam is unique for several reasons: he doesn't have much twang (like folk), he strums a lot (like country, and his vocals knob is perpetually set to "holler." He falls in the space between the genres, and his singular vision is always exciting and interesting. His set at Sooner Theatre Stage was no different. He entertained the audience with his excellent tunes and charming stage presence, despite putting up with some unnecessary shuffling of other people's equipment during the front end of his set. It was a joy to just kick back and enjoy some foot-stompin' good tunes.
It was also a joy to see Laura Wiederhoeft and Kyle Reid at Sonder Music. I'll listen to anything Kyle Reid does — so this set was guaranteed on that front — but it was also Wiederhoeft's (Off Boyd Jazz) last Oklahoma set before a move to Wisconsin. This can't-miss set lived up to its promise, as Wiederhoeft (vocals) and Reid (acoustic guitar) trotted out originals by both, jazz standards and even a Reid instrumental on cigar box guitar (his latest venture). The originals were the most riveting, with Reid's instrumental being a jaw-dropping highlight. Wiederhoeft's voice was sultry and inviting as usual, shining brightest on a Reid-penned tune about (what else?) the craziness of being in love. It was a thoroughly calming and enjoyable set. Wiederhoeft will be missed.
Because I knew I was going to miss Penny Hill Party on the main stage, I stopped back in at Opolis to watch Penny Hilary ("I am Penny Hilary, my band is Penny Hill," Pitchlynn said) acoustic. Her loose, meandering songs quite impressed me, exciting me for a 7" record that she said was coming out on Nice People this summer. Although her modus operandi included a flowing, easy pace, her best songs tightened up the formula a bit, allowing for immediately memorable melodies.
I hit Traindodge every year at the festival, because their crushing rock'n'roll has a been a favorite of mine since 2002's "On a Lake of Dead Trees." They mashed out their solid set of bruising tunes at Bill and Dee's. If you're not familiar with their rock'n'roll, you should check it out; it's heavy, loud and passionate. They've got a new EP coming out soon called "Remains," and I assume that Traindodge remains as heavy as ever.
Also, at some point during Friday evening, I hit up the Sonder Music open jazz jam, partly because I wrote about jazz jams a couple weeks ago and partly because I hoped Cami Stinson would be there.
The next day, I started my day with Gum, whose pensive piano rock was punctuated with bursts of noisy rock. With the bright blue sky behind them and a full day of music ahead of me, the mood didn't really fit, but the music was good. Also, the Red Bull had not kicked in yet, so this set is a little hazy in my mind.
Dr. Pants gained my love by introducing their drummer as Disco Pony. Their power-pop did even more to gain my love once they started singing about young men who love John Cusack (guilty), bearded hipsters (guilty), Firefly references (guilty), donuts (guilty) and ironic rapping (guilty). This band seems as if it were scientifically engineered for me to like it. Their power-pop tunes split the difference between Fountains of Wayne and Weezer, albeit with ironic rapping every now and then.
I'm really thankful that Bluebonnet was literally next to the main stage, because The Non went on promptly at 1:20, just barely giving me time to step out the door from Dr. Pants' set to the OKC four-piece's instrumental mastery. After the band's incredible showing last year at NMF with a full orchestra, I was interested to see what they would do to top it. They didn't try to: They just went out and did their really excellent thing on a really huge stage. I and other writers have gushed about The Non before, so I'll say this and then go on: This band could open for Sigur Ros or Explosions in the Sky tomorrow. They are ready.