Tapes ’n Tapes with Oberhofer
9 p.m. Tuesday
113 N. Crawford, Norman
After seeing a rather traumatizing video (no matter what side of the divide you're on), I decided to clear my head (and yours) with some music videos.
Australian singer Lenka dropped this charming video for Valentine's Day. If you like indie visual design and/or bangs, you'll love this vid. Look for an OKG review of her new album, "Two," soon.
Young the Giant released an enigmatic (but awesome; wait for the end) video for ace single "My Body." The band looks like it's a blast to see live; catch them next Wednesday, the 9th, at Opolis.
The Kill Van Kulls (featured in this OKS) go surfing in the '70s. Yep.
In previous years, Norman Music Festival has done an incredible job of bringing acts to town that would rarely, if ever, come here. Of Montreal, Dirty Projectors and The Polyphonic Spree are were headliners that sparked an “oh, man, I can’t believe that they got them” excitement.
This year’s main stage doesn’t feature an artist like that. With the exception of Ty Segall, four of the five national touring acts on the main stage have been in the metro before (two of them in Norman!) within the last two years:
• The Walkmen: Meacham Auditorium, October 2009
• Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears: Diamond Ballroom, June 2009
• Peelander-Z: The Conservatory, October 2010, among other concerts
• Foot Patrol: Opolis, May 2010
Here’s the full Saturday main stage schedule, in reverse:
9:30 p.m. — The Walkmen
8 p.m. — Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears
6:30 p.m. — PeeLander-Z
5 p.m. — Ty Segall
3:30 p.m. — The Fortune Tellers
2:30 p.m. — Foot Patrol
1:40 p.m. — The Non
12:50 p.m. — Penny Hill Party
Headliner letdown aside, I’m relentlessly stoked that The Non finally made it to the main stage, but I’m baffled that they’re opening for The Fortune Tellers on the bill. The Fortune Tellers are an on-again/off-again band based in the metro and, uh, Greece.
I’m also surprised in a good way that Penny Hill is opening the main stage (and a band, I’m assuming, as the “party” bit). Good for her!
Headlining other stages: jam band dude Keller Williams on the Jagermeister Stage, Mississippi indie-rockers Color Revolt (not to be confused with Colourmusic) on Sooner Theater Stage, and Austin indie-pop group White Denim at Opolis.
But the most exciting headliner of the entire festival is on Thursday night at Opolis, as Norman indie-rockers The Neighborhood are re-forming. Philip Rice (now of Visions of Choruses), Matt Duckworth (now of Stardeath and the White Dwarfs), Blake Studdard (also Visions of Choruses) and Eric Mai threw down some of the best rock that the metro has heard in recent years, and it was a shame that it fizzled out a couple years back. And now they’re back for at least one show, and perhaps more. This is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, headline of the festival.
NMF4 is scheduled for April 28-30. The Gazette will be there, tweeting and blogging away, just as at SXSW.
The Love Language is here!
And I don’t just mean physical touch, words of affirmation, etc. (I mean, that’s here, too, if you want to discuss it, but …) The sunny pop band’s stop at Opolis tonight will be its third metro jaunt in the past year, as Stuart McLamb and company recently supported Telekinesis and Local Natives. If you haven’t caught them yet, you must not want to; but if you’ve yet to witness, hightail it out to Opolis.
Norman pop/rock band Ape Angel will open the night.
After arriving too early at Blackwatch Stage for Unwed Sailor, I also arrived too early at Opolis for ManMade Objects. Instead, I caught the end of Saturday Sirens' frantic set. They were really pounding on their instruments and voices. It was a pretty impressive ruckus with a lot of movement.
After thoroughly enjoying Standridge's music, I returned to Opolis to actually catch Man-Made Objects (right). Their tunes fell in the space between psych and shoegaze, which made for a woozy, mind-melding experience. The band didn't move around much, but they made up for their lack of motion in dissonant volume. Fans of reverb and My Bloody Valentine should perk up their ears.
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.
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
I’m no fan of cloning, but only because it doesn’t actually do what I want it to do. When I say, “I wish I could clone myself,” I really mean that I wish I could replicate/duplicate myself. Bill Watterson, genius creator of Calvin and Hobbes, understood this and created some of the best strips of the best comic series ever about it (scroll down to the sixth strip).
The reason I need a replicator tonight is that there are five local concerts I want to attend tonight. I need duplicates.
The one I’m going to be hitting for sure is the one I’ve been looking forward to for weeks/months: Brine Webb and The Nghiems’ double-CD release show in Norman. I’ve been stuck on Webb’s gripping tunes for weeks now, and I’m thoroughly excited to see them played live. Also, he and The Nghiems are planning to accommodate Thunder fans by having The Nghiems play during halftime, and Webb play after the fourth quarter. As a pretty rabid Thunder fan, I’m stoked about this.
The one I’m most depressed about missing is Feathered Rabbit, Junebug Spade and The Gentle Art of Floating at Belle Isle Brewery. Both Feathered Rabbit and The Gentle Art of Floating are on my to-see list — the former because it’s a new Kyle Mayfield (O Fidelis, Junebug Spade, Larry Chin, everyone else in Oklahoma City) project, and the latter because they throw parties, not shows. Alas, I will have to wait yet again.
If the Webb show gets done early, I’ll traipse my way over to Opolis, where Kite Flying Robot, Chrome Pony and Guardant will be throwing an end-of-school dance party. I have been known to dance wildly at Opolis.
Before all this started getting crazy, I had planned on going seeing Ryan Lawson, Ali Harter and O Fidelis at Bad Granny’s Bazaar, as all three are OKS faves. If you like acoustic country/folk, this is your show; these are three of the best in the metro at it, and rare is the show where they all play together.
And I just heard that Anty Shanty, 318 Main Street in Norman, will be hosting Skating Polly, Luna Moth and Shitty/Awesome as part of Second Friday Art Walk. I still haven’t been to a show here yet, despite my desire. Must everyone play on the same night?!
As for non-local artists, Jamey Johnson will be stopping at Diamond Ballroom for those who are into straight-up country. It doesn’t get earthier than Johnson these days, so if that’s your bag, this is your gig. Red-dirt Austinite Brandon Jenkins will play Joy’s Palace, 300 E. Main Street in Norman, also as part of Art Walk. Finally, Avenged Sevenfold ,Three Days Grace and Bullet for My Valentine will be rocking faces off at Zoo Amphitheatre.
Saturday is less stacked, but still a difficult choice, as The City Lives’ final show is at The Conservatory; The Boom Bang, Copperheads and Purple Church make ears bleed at Opolis; and new band Bona Fide Villains (ex-Sweetwater) play Sauced.
Don’t ever let ‘em ever tell you this town had nothin’ for ya.