Norman Music Festival 6: Day 1 

Best Case for a Main Stage Spot at Norman Music Festival 7:
Horse Thief

you hear bands in a small room and know they won’t be playing there
much longer. You definitely got that feeling watching Oklahoma City’s
Horse Thief
at Opolis Thursday night. The outfit didn’t rely on crowd
favorites off Grow Deep, Grow Wild, either, largely performing
material from what looks to be a stellar full-length debut. Other Lives
stole the show at last year’s NMF, and Horse Thief feels primed and
ready to do the same in no time. This rapidly rising psych-folk act
isn’t just built to perform at big, outdoor music festivals; Horse Thief
is built to headline them. —Joshua Boydston

Most Enthusiastic Photographer:
that one dude at Tallows

Thursday marked the one-year anniversary of Tallows’ first live show. But given how remarkably polished they were — both in sound and performance — they could have fooled me. The Oklahoma City indie-poppers sound like a band in the prime of their career, and the audience, as a whole, was captivated by their lively and infectious set. Although none seemed more captivated than the really-amped-up photographer perched atop the Brewhouse Stage’s tiered sidewall. Song after song elicited fist pump after fist pump by this Tallows superfan, as he bellowed out lyric after lyric, only to occasionally remember that he had a job to do. His enthusiasm was infectious, although no one could quite match his zeal. —Zach Hale

Skating Polly
Photo: Joshua Boydston

Best Sign That the Children Really Are the Future:
Skating Polly

It was fitting that despite playing at 10 p.m., Peyton Bighorse sported a pair of sunglasses on top of her head. Skating Polly’s future is so bright, it could probably use them even in the thick of night. Opening up the Blackwatch Stage, the stepsister duo played mostly highlights from its recently released sophomore album, Lost Wonderfuls, before absolutely destroying the stage with brand-new cut “Alabama Movies” that wrapped up with Mayo throwing her guitar and rolling around the stage like a grizzled vet. If the girls in Skating Polly looked like punk icons, it’s probably because they are well on their way to that status. —JB

Best New Song Title:
“Tuna,” by Sonic Violence

Although the festival technically started an hour before its 7 p.m. set, Sonic Violence officially kicked NMF6 into gear. The murky, fog-filled Red Brick Bar bared witness to a barrage of blistering guitar swells and a band delivering on its promise of playing “harder than [they] ever have before.” The Oklahoma City shoegazers performed some new material as well, even taking to the crowd for song-title recommendations for what was a previously unnamed tune. One patron suggested “Donkey Show” — a commendable effort in its own right — although the band would eventually settle on “Tuna” as a working title. Rock ’n’ roll. —ZH

DC Pierson
Photo: Joshua Boydston

Best Jesus Sighting:
DC Pierson

You probably recognize DC Pierson as the shaggy-haired dude in an Allstate Auto Insurance commercial, but he’s a supremely talented dude. He founded sketch comedy troupe Derrick Comedy (Mystery Team) with Community’s Donald Glover, writes young-adult novels (Crap Kingdom) and even raps. Pierson might be at his most formidable doing stand-up, bringing down the Sooner Theatre house with tales of the creepiness that being a dead ringer for our personal Lord and Savior can suggest. —JB

Best Band Playing in a Venue Not Exactly Suited for It:
Magnificent Bird

Ideally, Magnificent Bird’s slow-burning sonatas ought to be absorbed in a dark and intimate setting. But whatever the opposite of dark and intimate is, that’s what the Brewhouse Stage was during the Norman quartet’s set. It was especially apparent in the quieter parts, when droning swashes of strings and guitar were lost in droning chatter and clanging glasses. While there was certainly an attentive crew toward the front of the venue, the gregarious nature of a sports bar didn’t exactly suit this band that commands the attention of those willing to lend it. That Magnificent Bird still was able to impress given the less-than-ideal circumstances is nothing less than a miracle. —ZH

Photo: Joshua Boydston

Best Coming-Out Party:

A.M.P. made a quiet, mysterious debut at last year’s Norman Music Festival, eventually revealing itself to be Andy and Marian Nunez (Starlight Mints), Becky Carman (ex-Gentle Ghost) and Matt Duckworth (Stardeath and White Dwarfs). It amped (get it?) things up this year at Blackwatch with a deliciously entrancing set that can best be described as a case study in contrasts. Warm, bass grooves over tightly coiled, post-punk guitar squiggles, booming percussion over Carman’s dainty vocals … it’s everything at once, and only musicians with this level of pedigree could pull off the most airtight set NMF6 is likely to see. —JB

Best Songwriting by Your Average Dude:
Tanner Blair

If you didn’t know any better, you’d never guess that Tanner Blair was in a band. The Norman-based songwriter doesn’t really fit the “rock star” mold, resembling Office Space’s Peter Gibbons more than he does Keith Richards. Appropriately, Blair’s performance had a similar confidence: His songs are written modestly, but he beams with assurance when he plays live. And in conjunction with the honesty of his lyrics, his performance — backed by a full band — stood out as one of the evening’s most endearing. —ZH

Depth & Current
Photo: Joshua Boydston

Everyone’s Favorite Game Show, Concert or Apocalypse?:
Depth & Current

Norman Music Festival may not have a haunted house on the grounds, but who needs one when you’ve got Norman doom-poppers Depth & Current roaming around. Making your way past the Ferris wheel toward the Blackwatch Stage, you’d assume that — judging by the flashing lights, violent sound and wall cloud of fog — Satan himself was making his uprising out from the bowels of hell. That vicious boom only intensified the closer you got to the stage, but underneath the awesomely deafening bass was a penchant for shimmery hooks and guitar melodies, highlighted on the band’s new, standout micro-album, Transient. Being swallowed in flames never sounded so fun. —JB

Hey! Read This:
• Depth & Current’s Transient album review   
Donald Glover: Weirdo DVD review    
• Gentle Ghost interview   
Horse Thief’s Grow Deep, Grow Wild album review     
Mystery Team DVD review      
• Norman Music Festival 6 preview  
Skating Polly interview   
Sonic Violence interview
• Stardeath and White Dwarfs interview   
Tallows at SXSW 2013   

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