Formidable fest 

The Joy Formidable
Photo: James Minchin

Hailing from the United Kingdom, The Joy Formidable hardly hides what type of band it wants to be: U2. The group plays a similar bold brand of alternative rock.

Since forming in 2007 and spending a few years packing that big sound into small to mid-sized clubs, the band is finding its way onto platforms better suited for that boisterous energy and impervious confidence.

The group’s appearance Saturday at the Norman Music Festival marks another step up the ladder.

“It’s going to be the first festival we’ve ever headlined, I do believe,” said singer/guitarist Rhiannon “Ritzy” Bryan. “That’s so exciting. It’s where we want to be.”

The Welsh trio is more than just bark; its debut, The Big Roar, won over rock heavyweights, with Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl declaring its “Whirring” as 2011’s “song of the year.”

“When it comes from a fellow musician who has the type of lifestyle that you have, that really means something,” Bryan said. “It was very special.”

Grohl’s actions spoke louder than his words; he handpicked The Joy Formidable to open for Foo Fighters on tour.

“It felt like the right way to be invited,” Bryan said. “There was no middleman or because we were on the same label, none of that bullshit. It was band-to-band camaraderie.”

The act remained undaunted by the expectations heading into its sophomore album, January’s Wolf’s Law, vowing to worry about nothing but being itself.

“The only thing that you think about is making music that we can stand behind,” Bryan said. “There’s always been a real sense of creative integrity. We make records that we want to play. You can’t control anything else.”

Any external pressure placed upon the three only made them stronger, as expressed in the title’s slight twist on the 19th-century Wolff’s law.

“It’s a scientific term describing how bone adapts to the stress put upon it. We adopted it into our own with a little wordplay,” Bryan said. “It definitely evokes the primal, wild energy of the music we make.”

The rest of 2013 finds The Joy Formidable playing a host of European festivals, with an intent to return to North America. No matter the stage on a given night, the outfit plans on playing like there are 30,000 people watching.

“You always have to stay true to the band you want to be,” Bryan said.

JD McPherson
Photo: Samantha Franklin

For those about to rock

Hell-bent on leaving NMF with significantly worse hearing than when you entered? There’s a good chance you’ll leave with a new tattoo, a chipped tooth and/or a black eye, as well.

Broken Arrow native JD McPherson (8:15 p.m. Saturday) brings the refreshingly vintage rock ’n’ roll sound heard on Signs & Signifiers to his headlining slot on the Sailor Jerry Stage, preceded by Dallas rock band Jonathan Tyler and the Northern Lights (6:45 p.m.) and Beau Jennings & the Tigers (3 p.m.).

Stillwater’s Taddy Porter (7 p.m. Saturday)
brings its reinvented, Black Keys-worthy tunes to Sooner Theatre, 101
E. Main, while Norman metal lords Rainbows Are Free (9 p.m. Friday) will
melt faces at Opolis, 113 N. Crawford. If you’re more Ramone than Zeppelin, you
can catch Broncho (11 p.m. Saturday at the Blackwatch Stage) fresh from a
national tour, or Cosmostanza (7 p.m. Friday) and The Copperheads
(11:59 p.m. Friday), both at Dreamer Concepts, 324 E. Main.

For those too cool for school

are you’ll enjoy NMF mostly through your cellphone screen, Tweeting,
Instagramming, Tumbling, Vining and Snapchatting everything you hear,
smell and taste. It’s not as important that you see the bands as it is
that you be seen seeing them.

on a PBR and complain about how mainstream NMF has gotten as you camp
out at Opolis, where you’ll find kimono-donning indie poppers IO Echo (5
p.m. Saturday), Stillwater weirdos Colourmusic (10 p.m. Friday) and
freak folkers Horse Thief (11:59 p.m. Thursday).

The King Khan & BBQ Show

your fingers crossed for some outrageous stage antics from garage
punk’s The King Khan & BBQ Show (6:30 p.m. Saturday at the Main
Stage); get pummeled by Power Pyramid (6:45 p.m. Friday at Guestroom
Records, 125 E. Main); hustle over to upstart Tallows (11:59 p.m.
Thursday at The Brewhouse, 108 W. Main); and tell everyone about how you
heard Skating Polly (10 p.m. Thursday at Blackwatch) before it had a
record deal.

For those about to get weird

a pocket full of shrooms (illegal, by the way) and a head full of
dreams, trip over to Quilted Cherry Podium (9:30 p.m. Friday at Opolis),
which has figured out a way to make music from light waves. Blackwatch
gets taken over by part-time performance troupe Deerpeople (11 p.m.
Friday) and laser/ Goth-pop enthusiasts Depth & Current (11:59 p.m.

Witness Mike Dillon (5:15 p.m. Saturday
at Main Stage) get freaky on a xylophone, and drown in the noise of The
Hex (11 p.m. Thursday), Bloody Knives (10 p.m. Friday) and The Gentle
Art of Floating (7 p.m. Saturday), all at Bill & Dee’s Tavern, 311
E. Main.

Plan on
spending a good chunk of Saturday at the Spectacle Stage, the perfect
combination of lit-up objects, hypnotic motion and loud noises.

IO Echo

For those about to twerk

glitter in your hair from 2007; you don’t know what Red Bull tastes
like without vodka; and you have an emergency stash of glow sticks.
Life’s a party. Why should NMF be any different?

one gets things raging like Josh Sallee, who lights up the Main Stage
at 4 p.m. Saturday, although Jabee (8 p.m.), Algebra (6 p.m.), Regg (5
p.m.) and Myke Brown (2 p.m.) will do their best to match him that same
day at Stash, 412 E. Main.

Abello (1 a.m. Saturday) and Chrome Pony (11:59 p.m. Saturday) bring
sexy back to Blackwatch, while jamtronica act Montu (12:30 a.m. Sunday
at Brewhouse) should keep the celebration going to the wee hours.
Electro-poppers Jumpship Astronaut (11 p.m. Friday) and The Moai
Broadcast (11:59 p.m. Friday) aim to do the same at Stash.

For those about to strum

For a calm escape from the otherwise chaotic swarm that is NMF, turn to the stellar singer-songwriters.

Reid (noon Saturday) kicks NMF on a high note over at the Sailor Jerry
Stage, with Samantha Crain (4:15 p.m.) and Ramsay Midwood (5:30 p.m.)
keeping pace there.

sultry Chelsey Cope (5 p.m. Saturday) debuts her new band over at
Brewhouse, while The Bluebonnet Bar, 321 E. Main, becomes an oasis with
Young Readers (8 p.m. Thursday), O Fidelis (9 p.m. Friday) and Honeylark
(11 p.m. Friday).

sports an acoustic lineup on Saturday, trumped only by Michelangelo’s
Coffee and Wine Bar, 207 E. Main, featuring the likes of Radio Apathy (5
p.m. Saturday) and Allie Lauren (10:30 p.m. Friday) through all three

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