The shape of OKC music to come 

With a little luck, Oklahoma City’s music scene is poised to explode in 2022 the way it was on track to do before COVID-19 arrived.

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  • Chad Whitehead

Looking ahead is terrible business these days. Pretending to know what’s coming in 2022 for the music world after the last 18 months is generally hilarious. As we head into another year marred by you-know-what hanging in the literal air, there’s a lot to be excited about in the OKC music scene. Bear in mind, I’m totally biased as a promoter for Patchwork Presents and part-owner of Ponyboy, Beer City Music Hall and Tower Theatre. If you can get past that though, here’s what I’m looking forward to:

New music

The OKC scene is loaded with talent and the larger music industry has taken notice. Agents are sniffing around town, looking for artists and asking questions that they weren’t two or three years ago. That timing is great as many artists are ready with new music and itching to play live shows, hopefully without the caveats of the last two years. I won’t be surprised to see several artists from OKC pop on the national scene.

Lo-fi power-pop duo Husbands sit in the pole position. Their new album, Full-On Monet, releases Jan. 18 and then they’re off to tour through Texas, the upper Midwest and some very serious East Coast dates (in rooms you’ve actually heard of). They’ve already been added to Treefort Music Fest in Boise again for 2022 and more festival invites seem likely based on their Spotify successes of the last two years.

In February, civil rights activist, community leader and the people’s mayor, Jabee, releases the first of four EPs, which bundled together are called Am I Good Enough? Each EP will be produced by a different producer and the list is serious: Derek Minor, Blu, Conductor Williams, Havoc (Mobb Deep).

Jason Scott & the High Heat release their debut album, Castle Rock, on Feb. 11. Jason has focused his music around his band, The High Heat, and the result is a one plus one equals three. If we’re lucky, OKC will get a hometown show in 2022, but I suspect Jason Scott & the High Heat will be on the road a lot if possible.

Later on in the year, watch for new albums from Twiggs and Swim Fan as well as new singles from Chloe-Beth, Stepmom, Mikah Young, The Flycatchers and Ken Pomeroy.

New shows

Usually a concert season loaded with BROCKHAMPTON, Elton John, Lucy Dacus, Waxahatchee, Gary Clark Jr. and Omar Apollo on the early calendar would make any capital city proud. Sadly, the overwhelming story of live music will continue to be the limitations to gathering in large, indoor groups. While we’re all tired of playing will they/won’t they with ticketed events, that seems likely to continue. Just between the first draft of this article and the finished version, I’ve had to cancel two shows and reschedule several more. It’s brutal for the fan, the artist and the venue and no one’s happy about it. As for vaccines? Tours as far out as King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard on Halloween night are requiring proof of vaccine or a negative test within 72 hours. Go ahead and buy that pleather vaccine card holder, many tours will continue to require proof of vaccine this year.

To zoom out though, the depth and range of live music in OKC has grown so much in the last decade. Whenever all the dates can play off, the city’s concert calendar is loaded. Every room in this city has incredible live music coming to town and the city wins when that happens. Notable shows coming to OKC include: Camila, Yola, Punch Brothers, Sierra Farrell, José González, Manchester Orchestra, Hovvdy and Joshua Ray Walker.

New rooms

The new ownership of The Blue Note Lounge in Uptown is putting a lot of work into the old space and it’s slated to re-open in March. A fuller live music and entertainment calendar is what I’m hearing and I’m excited for it. With three live music venues on the same stretch: Blue Note, Ponyboy and Tower Theatre, Uptown has quietly become the entertainment district of Oklahoma City.

Just up the road from Uptown, the Blue Door continues to remain closed. A recent Go Fund Me was announced with a goal of raising $25,000 for repairs and upgrades with the hope of a “grand re-opening” in 2022. Once reopened, it will be the Blue Door’s 29th year in operation.

Obviously, I’m excited to tell you about Beer City Music Hall. Beer City is a 500-capacity venue located just at NW 5th St. and Klein Avenue, just west of Classen Boulevard and downtown. It will be neighbors with Fair-Weather Friend brewery (already open) and the Flycatcher Club (opening in later 2022). Staffing and leadership at Beer City will be sourced from within our team at Ponyboy and Tower Theatre.

My business partner Stephen Tyler and I have been working to bring Beer City to market since 2018 and we are ready to go for 2022, as we can be in this current season. Artists like Destroyer, The Antlers and Knocked Loose are already on sale with more shows announcing soon.

A 500-capacity room has been missing in OKC since the Wormy Dog Saloon closed down in 2017 and is a crucial size in helping OKC develop as a market for live music. Beer City will be a lily pad between small stages like Ponyboy, The Speakeasy and Blue Note and midsize rooms like Tower Theatre and Jones Assembly. Bands need smaller rooms to tour through so that when they’re rolling in on a tour bus, their fan base is already established and waiting for them.

Beer City will feature an extensive craft beer menu, a strong whiskey program and will operate five to seven nights a week with anything from indie to hip hop, EDM, Red Dirt, rock and more. Simply put, Beer City is going to break a lot of artists and I hope you’ll check out some bands before they hit the arenas.

Keep watching this space in 2022; I’m excited to share more artists and concerts with you. Let’s hope bumping into each other at a concert in 2022 is more carefree than it was in 2021 and 2020. In the meantime, find me on Twitter and Instagram at @405chad.

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