It’s the sports fan’s mirage, the oasis in the desert: You’re upper level, looking down on the action and wondering, “What would this game look like from down there?”
For me, Student Film is the Oklahoma indie-rock OG. When I was just getting into Oklahoma City music in 2006, Student Film had already kicking it for years. The band started before The Neighborhood did, kept playing after they broke up and was still performing by the time that Philip Rice and company reunited (which happens in several paragraphs). If Student Film's shows have a little bit of Charlie Daniels-esque "That's how you do it, son" air about them, well, they earned it.
And they keep earning it, by churning out complex, frantic, erratic rock. Their NMF set at Opolis caused me to keep looking back and forth between members to determine who was making what noise. The blaring keys and thrashy bass held most of my interest, as they dominated the sound. These aren't simple songs in any universe; the songwriting and arrangement is head-spinning. That they can perform it live with such panache is the other half of the reason they're the OG. Student Film isn't for everyone, as the tunes can occasionally err on the side of heady noise, but the best moments toward the back of their set were thoroughly inclusive. "Witchitawesome" set, guys; just writing about it is causing my computer to freak out (seriously).
And then, lo and behold, The Neighborhood. In the aforementioned beginnings of my time in Oklahoma City music, The Neighborhood was the first band I truly loved. Their passionate songs struck a chord in me that hadn't been hit before by tunes of the pop/rock persuasion (I still cringe at calling them pop/rock because the tunes mean so much more than most "pop" ditties). Pretty much everything I've heard from them has been golden. When they broke up, it was a sad, sad day.
It was, then, with great anticipation that I awaited this set. People flew and drove in from out of state to be at this concert. I saw people I hadn't seen in years. This was, by my humble reckoning, an "I was there" type of moment. The Neighborhood did not disappoint.
After setting up the stage in their particular idiom (drums stage left, facing the band), they kicked off the set with "Your Longest Day," which whipped everyone into a dancing/moshing frenzy that only let up during their two acoustic tunes. The Neighborhood's energy fed through the audience and back to the band, resulting in one of the most awe-inspiring sets I've witnessed in years. It was easily the best performance I saw at Norman Music Festival.
The band tore through favorites off "Our Voices Choked With Fireworks" ("Stand Up, Chin Up, and Say," "Slingshots and Cannons") as well as unreleased ragers like "What? Hey!" and a song that probably isn't called "In the Lawn" but should be. The four-piece showed negligible signs of rust, missing only a single note in a bass solo the during opener. The rest of the set was flawless, either in truth or in audience perception. For the group to be spot-on after three years of not playing together is absolutely incredible.
Everyone sang, danced and sweated. No one had reason to be disappointed, unless they had held out hope for "The Television Set" — but that's no party song. And that's what The Neighborhood brought: a huge party. Good news for those who missed it: I've been told there will be more of these concerts going down. Hallelujah.