The Pretty Black Chains' free Friday show was meant to be the band's small, semisecret debut.
It didn't take long for buzz surrounding the Electro Lounge show to build " a frenzy spurred by the fact that the group was founded by Derek Knowlton and Jonathan Martin of local favorites Stock Market Crash.
"This will be good for people wondering what Stock Market Crash has been doing for the last six months," Knowlton said of his former band, which broke up despite having recorded an unreleased album.
"No bad blood," he said, "but after four years of trying, we just went our separate ways."
Trading in The Smiths for The Who, Pretty Black Chains bristles with energy and volume without losing the accessible sound that popularized Stock Market Crash. This is a band built for live shows, with an agile rock drummer in Kurt Freudenberger and a crooning lead singer, Kellen McGugan, who brims with youthful charisma.
Pretty Black Chains formed just a few months ago, but already has amassed an 11-song catalog.
"The songs have come pretty quickly," Knowlton said. "The hardest thing we've run into was coming up with a band name, so we basically thought of three words that would sound good in a name and put them together."
The new band had only performed the songs for outside audiences twice, once for a small group of friends and the other for Oklahoma Gazette at the band's practice space in north Oklahoma City. The three-song set brought to mind the ear-catching and aggressive pop-rock of Hot Hot Heat.
McGugan and Knowlton originally met at a Stock Market show a few years ago, and began discussing a side project that would focus more on high-energy rock. Martin and Knowlton knew Freudenberger from his full-time gig at a local Starbucks, as well as his previous group, Third Grade Scuffle.
At the time, he was just one drummer McGugan and Knowlton were considering out of many.
"When we brought him in to try out, we made sure he knew that good or bad, we were still going to look at other drummers," Martin said. "But then when we heard him, we were amazed and said, 'That's it, he's our drummer.'"
Knowlton and Martin aren't exactly starting over with Pretty Black Chains. Stock Market's former manager agreed to represent the new act, and Knowlton said many of the disbanded group's fans seem to be carrying over. The band members originally wanted to ease into the metro music scene, but said they were surprised by how quickly word spread " support rallied in no small part by the seal of approval from radio DJ Ferris O'Brien, who helped organize Friday's "Spy Night" show at the Electro Lounge.
"This show was supposed to be a really low-key thing, but after one day, it developed into something really exciting," Martin said. "It was supposed to be just a run-through, but we are warmed up already, we're ready to go."
And as far as the unreleased Stock Market album goes, Martin quickly interrupted any question on the matter by saying he and the group are "looking forward."
"That's all we're doing right now," he said. "Looking forward." "Charles Martin