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Topic: austin city limits
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NMF4 life

The pros and cons of Norman Music Festival 4

Norman Music Festival 4 is officially in the books. It came, it saw (metaphorically), it conquered (also metaphorically).

It had a lot of new things: a third day, more stages, new locations for old stages, a weird laser-tag thing, a Friday day stage and more. Many of these changes had pros and cons.

The addition of Thursday to the slate gives the fest the ability to grow into a heavy hitter, but this year, it made things spread a little thin on Friday and Saturday. It felt as if some of the bands were stacked toward Thursday to entice people to go to the new thing: Opolis blew it out with tons of talent on the first night, then had an abbreviated day on Saturday.

Still, despite this enticement, Thursday attendance only hit 3,500 (35,000 people attended Saturday, with 9,000 hitting up Friday). This could have been due to the distance between stages, lack of advertising (several people told me they didn't know it was on Thursday) or the fact that people are busy during the week, but only toward the end of the evening at Opolis did the night really feel festival-esque.

Still, I like the move, and I hope that people get adjusted to a Thursday/Friday/Saturday schedule. I think that as the fest grows in prominence, talent will fill out all three days. The same is true of the new stages; as the festival grows, stages will both be able to fill out their schedules and secure only the best of the best. I sincerely hope that there is at some point a cap to stages, however, lest NMF become like SXSW and get far, far too big to maintain quality.

On that note: Laser tag? What the heck?

The new location for the Main and Jägermeister stages was excellent planning. Main Street was much less crowded, which was necessary. Last year felt like human pinball, and it was quite uncomfortable. The new stage locations make a lot of sense and open the festival up. Super high-five for that.

Speaking of location, putting Dust Bowl Market across from Opolis was a neat move. I liked it there. Whether or not it's been there in the past, I have no idea; I've only recently been getting appreciative of crafts.

The one big complaint I have with the fest is that I still have no idea what it wants to be. There was an upsurge of Austin bands this year (Football, etc.; White Denim; Black Joe Lewis), which could have been due to money constraints or a decision to focus on regional and local talent. The Walkmen are from New York City, which doesn't help either theory. Is NMF a local music festival? Is it going to try to be full of national acts, like Austin City Limits? There has always been a huge amount of local acts, and the presence of Montu so late on the Jägermeister stage provides ammunition for the idea that this will be a continuously local thing.

This confusion is partly due to a lack of clarification in their ad campaigns, and partly because it's still being worked out. And really, I don't care which one it is; I'd love to see an all-local festival, and I'd love to see The Mountain Goats, Sufjan, Radiohead and the Pixies all kicking it in Norman. I doubt the fest will swing to either of those extremes, but it would be nice to know which direction it’s heading. This knowledge would make judging its success and growth easier: I tell a person that the local aspect is the big deal instead of the headliner, there will be less expectation placed on national headliners.

If the headliners are the deal, then NMF should take pains to get bands that would not ordinarily come to Oklahoma. If organizers want it to be a festival about exposing Oklahoma to the outside music world, we need to make a splash every year. This year's headliners weren't a splash: if you search "Norman" at Pitchfork.com, a listing of 2010's headliners comes up, but no 2011 lineup. Seeing as we don't really know if the headliners were intended to be a big deal or not, it's hard to judge the effectiveness of this year's fest.

It was a boatload of fun, however. That can't be knocked. I'm looking forward to NMF5. —Stephen Carradini

by Stephen Carradini 05.09.2011 45 years ago
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Westerns’ union


Music

Joshua Boydston
Smith Westerns with Evangelicals
9 p.m. Tuesday
Opolis
113 N. Crawford, Norman
opolis.org
820-0951
$14   
 
Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Now entering Austin City Limits

Check OKSee all weekend for updates from the region’s biggest music festival!

In just a few short hours, I’ll depart my sweet Oklahoma for the very large state of Texas. Specifically, I’m headed to its capital, which is hosting its wonderful, annual Austin City Limits Music Festival. 

Now on my third trip (’08, ’10), I’ve seen some really incredible shows (Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova in ’08 stand out, as does LCD Soundsystem’s raucous, cathartic show last year) and gotten to interview some really great, talented artists, and this weekend’s shaping up to promise much more of the same!

I’ll be posting interviews with artists and daily recaps here on OKSee all weekend long, regularly updating my Flickr page, and tweeting incessantly, so check in with me to know what’s happening as it’s happening.

Anywho, here’s a list of the artists I’ll be chatting with in the press tent this weekend. Tweet me if you have any questions for them!

• Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.



• Reptar



• Wax



• Big Boi

Big Boi Ft. Gucci Mane - Shine Blockas Video from SNORTTHIS.COM on Vimeo.



• James Blake

by Matt Carney 09.15.2011 2 years ago
at 02:20 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
 

ACL: Day 2 recap

Dale Earnhardt, Sooner football and Christian Bale?

OKSee took it easy Saturday at ACL, as the crowds turned out in their typical Saturday droves, making it difficult to get close enough to shoot artists on stage. But that’s not to say there wasn’t much going on, as Zilker Park was hopping with Sooner football fans anticipating not just their biggest road test of the season, but the conflict between their school pride and headlining bands.

I chose to join my friend James Corley, the Oklahoma Daily’s sports editor (and roving ACL reporter) in the TV lounge at 7:00 p.m., which turned out to be a great decision because we got to watch OU beat Florida State in an ugly, gritty fashion soundtracked by My Morning Jacket’s badass Kentucky rock ‘n’ roll.

The morning began with an interview Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jr. an excellent electronic indie rock duo from Detroit who record thoughtful pop music over gorgeous, tinkling textures. The dudes were very friendly and endearing in person, and asked a lot about the Flaming Lips, which is always a plus for me. Expect a writeup from that in my post-coverage.

Once finished, I hurried over to the AMD stage to see The Antlers, who played terrific cuts from their excellent sophomore record “Burst Apart." “Every Night My Teeth Are Falling Out” held the early morning kids in a daze.

The Antlers at Austin City Limits 2011

I zipped over to the Google Plus stage immediately after to catch another buzzy Brooklyn band (you’ve really gotta use big festivals to catch acts that don’t tour the Midwest so heavy), Twin Shadow. George Lewis, Jr.’s songs were similarly hypnotic and way, way sexier. Shortly after “I Can’t Wait,” he showed off his sense of good humor, laughing at a Waldo in the crowd. “I found you, man! You gotta leave and go to the next page.”

Twin Shadow at Austin City Limits 2011

After another visit to the press tent for sustenance from the ubiquitous, muggy South Texas heat, I got up fairly close for Iron & Wine, who no doubt disappointed a few of their more faithful fans with an all full-band set. “The Creek Drank the Cradle,” this was not, but Sam Beam and company slayed a whole bunch of newer songs in a neo-trad fashion, including “Boy with a Coin,” (which was shifted into more of an uptempo funky number) and the wistful, brand-new “Tree by the River.”

Iron & Wine at Austin City Limits 2011

According to a few different sources, Christian Bale was at the front of the crowd for the Iron & Wine show, flanked by a working camera crew who appeared to be filming him and some “cute indie chick,” according to a witness. Curious, and very cool!
 
From there I wandered around a bit, easily able to hear Aussie dance band Cut Copy’s heavy electronic rhythms and high-pitched singing. Be sure to check the Gazette’s advance of their upcoming Tulsa show in the Sept. 28 issue! “Corner of the Sky” and “Take Me Over” have now returned to my heavy rotation.

Okie rockabilly legend Wanda Jackson told stories at the Austin Ventures stage while Cut Copy thundered from the much larger AMD stage nearby. It was mind-boggling to hear her talk about how nobody was recording “rock ‘n’ roll for girls in 1955, ’56.” From there she tore into her classic “Mean Mean Man,” quickly followed by a brief sermon and the gospel standard “I Saw the Light.”

I spent the rest of the night in the TV lounge, stressing out about the OU-FSU game in a den of obnoxious, beer-spattering Longhorns. It was great being able to hear My Morning Jacket (who are hugely loud anyway) from the comfort of my big screen-viewing seat. “Holdin on to Black Metal” stood out, backed by a brass band. I’m just sad they didn’t play “I Will Sing You Songs,” but other than that, it was a remarkable, headliner-worthy performance, full of heavy metal, hair-whipping, and a caped Yim Yames.

Day 2’s in the books, folks. Currently OKSee's Day 3 plans are to catch Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. at 1:30, then proceed to camp out at the Bud Light stage for a good view off the Airborne Toxic Event, Broken Social Scene, Fleet Foxes, and Arcade Fire in succession. It's gonna be a great day.

For more ACL coverage:

Twitter

Day 1 photos
Day 1 recap

Day 2 photos

Day 3 photos to come
Day 3 recap to come

Interviews with Reptar & Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. to come

by Matt Carney 09.18.2011 2 years ago
at 12:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
 

Watch Arcade Fire's Win Butler crossover dribble

Thunder forward Nick Collison, Butler, others play charity ball in Canada.

So what did we learn from watching this video of Arcade Fire ringleader Win Butler participating in a Toronto charity basketball tournament with a handful of actual (white) NBA players, musicians and others?

1. He's better at shooting threes than Matt Bonner.

2. While kinda lanky and awkward, he's got better-than-average ball-handling skills and left-hand finish ability, so long as Matt Bonner is not patiently waiting in the paint to swat the eff out of it.

3. Dude hustles.

4. Dude passes OK from the low post.

5. Dude talks decent white-boy smack, at best.

Also, OKC Thunder workhorse Nick Collison deserves a shoutout for his awesome deadpan humor here (which comes at no surprise to anyone who follows him on Twitter). When asked why he should be the top overall draft pick in the charity tournament, he dropped some real talk: "I'm one of the only professional athletes here." Watch below.

by Matt Carney 09.23.2011 2 years ago
at 09:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
 

A little bit of everything

A variety of entertainment awaits at the Plaza District.

 
Wednesday, September 28, 2011

OKS Chatter: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.

The Detroit band talks Wayne Coyne, hip-hop beats, pop radio and Pitchfork.

The three best shows I saw at this year’s Austin City Limits Music Festival were two obvious choices (Kanye West, Arcade Fire) and one dark horse I’d pinned a lot of hope on. That band is Detroit’s Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., and the duo’s Sunday-afternoon set showed off their flair for garish styles, fun-loving melodies, twinkling electronic textures, falsetto harmonizing, bubble machines and straight-up rock ’n’ roll. Also, they tossed Popsicles to a thankful crowd, heat-exhausted by three days of loud music in the Texas sun.

With those antics – the names, the games, the showmanship, these press photos  – it’s hard to tell whether or not Daniel Zott and Joshua Epstein have their tongues wriggling in their cheeks. Luckily, I had the chance to chat with them the day before their set, and the guys seem as genuine as the homegrown, preservative-free cheese I bought at Forward Foods during my lunch break yesterday.



My verdict: They’re ambitious, quirky guys who record weirdly lovable music and are nostalgic for a time when physical media was more important and radio stations crackled with music that was beautiful and challenging. But I’m rambling now. On to the chatting:

Zott: So what’s up with Wayne Coyne? He gets to do whatever he wants on a major label, and everyone loves him. It’s weird.

Epstein: He has like, three houses, right? Right in a row?

OKS: It’s actually four. He’s expanded. I think they’re all back-to-back, and connected by the backyard. It’s just a gigantic compound.

Epstein: That’s so weird.

OKS: It’s in the shady side of Oklahoma City, so the houses are probably pretty cheap. He’s spent a lot of money remodeling and redecorating them.

“Nothing but Our Love” at ACL 2011


Epstein: That’s awesome. Is he part of the community?

OKS: I see him at concerts all the time. There’s a venue in Norman called Opolis, where a lot of the smaller-name indie acts come through, and he’s there with friends and family at a lot of the shows I go to. He just walks right up to the stage, pulls out his phone and tweets photos. He’s checking out new bands and hanging around.

But on to you guys. One of the things I like so much about your music is that a lot of it’s textured with electronica — the little fizzly sounds that keep things going. How is that coming out of Detroit? It seems very different to me, from most of the music that comes out of there.

Music video for “Simple Girl”


Zott: You’re talking about the garage-rock scene.

OKS: Yeah, that’s usually what I think about when I hear about Detroit.

Zott: There’s that element, and we do have a rock element to our sound, but Detroit does have an electronic scene that’s really huge. It kinda started there.

Epstein: Yeah, techno music came from Detroit.

Zott: There’s a lot of bands doing that kinda stuff right now, and the roots are there for it. A lot of bands we like are electronic-type bands. It’s more natural than you think, there’s a lot of electronic tinkering going on up there.

Epstein: There’s a huge, underground hip-hop scene that’s getting notoriety also. I think hip-hop’s actually a big part of our music, too.

Zott: I’d say more so than electronica is a hip-hop type vibe. It’s a little bit warmer. There’s a groovier beat than a stale, 4-4 beat.

OKS: I definitely feel like – listening to you guys’ music – it’s more intimate and warm-sounding.

Zott: Yeah, there’s definitely some of that electronic texturing, but it’s Detroit to us.

OKS: You guys did the “Summer Babe” cover for The A.V. Club. Do you guys have a particular affinity for Pavement, or that song in particular?

Epstein: Well, the songs had to have “Summer” in the title, but I’ve always been a huge Pavement fan, so it seemed to be a pretty obvious choice.

Zott: And I hadn’t listened to them much. Usually when we do a cover or a remix or something like that, one of us has heard the song and the other hasn’t, so it makes it more fun because you can’t quite put as much of a spin on the song if you know it in and out. That’s really hard to do. I think we were able to get away from it because I wasn’t familiar. Josh kept the things that we needed to keep, but we also made it fresh.

OKS: Let me ask you guys about your album, particularly the Gil Scott-Heron cover, “We Almost Lost Detroit.” Did you guys pick that one out because you’re big fans of Gil Scott-Heron, or because of the hometown mention, or kind of a mix of both, or what?

“We Almost Lost Detroit” live on KEXP


Epstein: I think initially it was because of Detroit. We really liked the version we did. It felt updated, in comparison to the original. But also we really liked the sentiment in it. It sums up so much about our record, especially the name “It’s a Coporate World,” so it felt like we had to include it. It was just kinda meant to be.

OKS: Do you guys’ songs start out with words, or do you go melody first or what?

Zott: It’s different every time. I think the key is to keep it inspired and to avoid forcing anything. Sometimes Josh’ll have an idea and we’ll work it out, sometimes I’ll have an idea and we’ll work it out, sometimes we push something together, or sometimes we write a whole song and there’s no lyrics. Sometimes you need to make lyrics sound good. It’s different every time, I think.

OKS: If you guys had to record a pop album or a folk album, which one would you choose?

Zott: That’s where we’re kind of a mix. We want to be a pop band. We hate the idea that a pop band has to be dumbed-down — lyrically, sonically, chord structure-wise. It used to not be like that. “God Only Knows” was a massive hit worldwide, and that song has the weirdest chords in it, it has time-signature changes, a key change. It’s weird: It would never fly right now on pop-radio format.

God Only Knows:


OKS: It’s morbid, too.

Zott: Yeah! It was considered a beautiful love song, and it is. But it’s got these funky lyrics that aren’t typical love-song lyrics. But we think people can still digest that stuff, and people do. I’d like to write a pop album that breaks that rule. We’re just making music we love, that we think could be pop music and doesn’t necessarily have to be Top-40 radio. It can be complex. I think we’d do a pop record.

Epstein: To me, they both exist within me, and I don’t think I can separate them. I’ll still feel the need to write lyrics that are meaningful and challenging. You can do it. People just aren’t doing it in the Top 40 anymore. The system’s a bit broken. People at the radio stations want to keep their jobs. Radio plays a huge role to make bands visible to people who aren’t on blogs, who don’t seek out new things.

People who read Pitchfork fail to realize that most people in the world don’t read Pitchfork. I was working with this band, recording a song, and they were like, “Pitchfork’s gonna love this.” And I told them they were idiots. Do it because you love, not because Pitchfork’s gonna like it. They’re just one opinion, anyways. Somehow they’ve managed to make people think they’re the authority.

I just think that, ultimately, if it were DJs playing the songs they wanted to play, like it was in the ‘60s, then we’d have a much more diverse popular music scene. People are hungry for good stuff. That’s how Phoenix became a Top-40 band. I think mostly probably because it was so different when it played on those stations. People were like, “Holy crap! What is this? It’s not Nickelback!” y’know?

OKS: So are you guys going to get to go around at the fest at all? Who are you going to see?

Zott: If we have time, we’d love to see Stevie Wonder.

Epstein: As a musician, it’s really hard for me to go to a show and just be entertained. And when bands can do that, I’m always so blown away. Like going to a Flaming Lips show: You feel like a little kid and you just want to cry. I learn a lot from them.

Zott: I don’t go to concerts, which is kind of a weird thing. I guess I’m going to have to make up for it now.

Epstein: I go to too many. I played with OK Go one time, and they said something along the lines of, “Everything we do, we try to be like The Flaming Lips.”
by Matt Carney 09.28.2011 2 years ago
at 01:45 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
 

OKS Chatter: Reptar

Oddball five-piece Reptar rawrs its way into your heart.

At an early day set at this year’s Austin City Limits Music Festival, I caught the Athens, Ga.-based Reptar hosting a big party at one of the smaller stages, plopping synth melodies and jumping around onstage while encouraging the audience — that really didn’t need the prompting — to join them.

I later caught up with synth player Ryan Engleberger and multi-instrumentalist Graham Ulicny to talk about the band’s hometown, extroversion and why its debut EP is named “Oblange Fizz Y’all.”

OKSee: What’s the music scene in Athens like right now?

Engleberger: Athens is really interesting, because there’s this constant tension between people like Graham and I, who are townies who moved there because there’s a lot to offer that isn’t related to the University of Georgia. Then there’s the U of Georgia side that’s Andrew and William. We actually represent a pretty good merger of townies and school kids.

Sometimes people who write for publications take sides and create divisions when there aren’t really any. But we all play with each other. It’s hard not to be influenced by one side, if you’re the other.

OKS: What’s each side specifically known for?

Engleberger: I think the stereotype is that the townies are a little weirder. Then the UGA side is frattier.



OKS: Explain the title of your EP. Because I don’t know how to pronounce or what the hell it means.

Engleberger: The title is actually a combination of a couple of ancient, now-defunct languages. And also English. You can find “fizz” in the Oxford English Dictionary. To fizz. To have fizzed. Having been fizzed.

Graham Ulicny: Desperately want to fizz. To fizz oblangley.

Engleberger: Right. “Oblangle” is a combination of words from ancient languages. There’s a symbol from a Mayan word, a Latin word and not Czech, but a precursor to Czech. There’s a combination of that, the deep linguistic studies we all do. I think mostly, it’s just from the sonic, train-of-thought conversations we have that don’t always make sense, but have to do with us making sounds and reciting things that we maybe have half-learned before. It just kinda came up.

OKS: Did you guys study linguistics in school?

Engleberger: I totally made that up. I studied Latin for a bit, I guess.

OKS: Why do you guys go full steam ahead into synthesizer-driven melodies?

Engleberger: I think the melody-heavy part is because of pop songs. Pop songs are all about melody. We wanted experimental elements, but mostly we want to record songs that people will listen to and enjoy, you know? We want to mess with them and take them out of their comfort zone, but in order for them to get into it, there has to be a good melody. Graham studied jazz, and it’s all about melody. A lot of really complicated stuff spins out of that, but that’s the basis.

Ulicny: It’s about a communal experience. There’s a lot of ways to enjoy music in a crowd, but we’re always looking to encourage people to be extroverted. And the best way to do that is to have something relatable, like a melody. And energy onstage.

OKS: And you guys are nothing if not extroverted, onstage.

Engleberger: We try.



Photo by Matt Carney
by Matt Carney 11.09.2011 2 years ago
at 12:25 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
 
 
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