Here in Oklahoma, it seems we've got a festival for damn near everything and every type of music. Folk, Red Dirt, rock, blues, indie-rock, even alt-country gets a turn in the spotlight, but the one thing that always seems to get overlooked in Tulsa is punk rock. That's too bad, really, because we've had a pretty impressive run of punk acts come from our neck of the woods (N.O.T.A., Los Reactors and Assembly of God are just a few that come to mind) and we're currently experiencing something of a minor indie-punk revival with the bands like The Decomposed, Rude Amps, Lizard Police and The Shame, not to mention the relative success of Norman based Broncho.
Still, even with a local music community that has generally been supportive of the punk scene, Tulsa hasn't had a festival that represented that movement -- until now. All of that changes this weekend when !@#$ You, We Rule OK! lands in downtown Tulsa and takes over The Vanguard for three nights of punk rock featuring almost 30 bands.
When looking for some answers as to how this finally all came to fruition, I recently caught up with Tony Cozzaglio, who is organizing the festival with Ryan Richards.
"I moved here about a year ago and came from Michigan," he explained. "I've got a small group of friends up north in Chicago, Milwaukee, Minneapolis and Denver and normally they throw a festival in one of those cities with bands we all know or have played with at one point or another. After I moved here, I asked and no one was throwing a festival up there this summer, so I decided to try and do it here."
Initially, Cozzaglio was thinking of something smaller, admitting that his initial plan was to do a two day event with 14 bands. When word got out, though, that's when things started to grow.
"I was previously a full time touring musician for seven years," he explained. "Most of the bands I know from touring and a lot of them, when they heard about it, they thought 'I'll get hold of Tony and see if we can play, too -- that would be cool.' And basically, I'm bad at saying no."
As such, two nights expanded to three and the band count grew from 14 groups to 26 at last count, with an impressive cross-section of national and regional bands and even a few locals thrown in the mix. Most notable from the local scene are Streetlight Fight, the pack of young guns who have continued to build a following with their explosive energy that translates into indie circles while staying true to the band's punk roots, and The Shame -- who have quickly become a staple of the local scene as Chad Malone, Josh Troutman and Kevin Gissendaner play their old school Oi! close to the vest and true to its original spirit.
When asked which bands he's most looking forward to, Cozzaglio admitted, "Oh, man... I can't pick. I like all of them. After all, I booked it and most of them are my friends." After a little prodding, though, he admitted to a few bands that he's looking forward to seeing, either again or for the first time.
I Use Egg Whites in Mine. Violent Affair is one of several bands coming to town this week for !@#$ You, We Rule OK!
At or near the top of that list is The Krays, a Brooklyn-based street punk band that formed in '94 and has continued to hammer it out. "I'm really looking forward to seeing them because they've been at it for 20 years and I've never gotten the chance to see them, but I've been a fan since I was 16," Cozzaglio admitted.
Other highlights from the weekend promise to be Austin based Krum Bums, which Cozzaglio described as "one of the hard-touring, bigger names on the bill who always puts on a great show" and Brassknuckle Boys. "They're an older band that doesn't play much now," he said of the band, "but they used to play frequently, and the singer actually lived here in Tulsa for a short time.
"I thought it was kind of funny when I called him, because he's in New Mexico now, and his phone number still has a Tulsa Area code," he continued. "I never got to see them, but they should be familiar for Tulsa's older punk fans."
Smaller bands worth noting are Victory, a newer act that is building a buzz in punk circles, and Who Killed Spikey Jacket, the mock street punk band that has been around for roughly a year, but has gained a following for what Cozzaglio called "street punk satire."
Also included on the bill are Bad Engrish and The Potato Pirates, both of which have played at the Vanguard over the past year and bands that I'm personally looking forward to seeing like Austin's Sniper 66, Chicago's The Jetbirds, Philly-based Combat Crisis and one of Tulsa's latest punk acts, The Wheelz.
Overall, it will equate to a great weekend for punk fans, not just from Tulsa, but from all around the U.S. Once Cozzaglio decided to put the show on here, his friends from the north all started planning their holiday weekend, as did bands from Austin and elsewhere. Cozzaglio has even talked with groups who are renting 15 passenger vans and splitting the cost to make the trip in to attend Tulsa's first punk rock weekend. In fact, there's also a big punk showcase in St. Louis on July 4th, so a group of bands and fans will be traveling by caravan to spend the rest of the weekend in Tulsa.
"The nice thing is, this is normally in the north, which for the people from Texas, can be a long drive," he commented. "Tulsa is a nice middle ground because it's basically the same distance from Chicago and Austin, so it's a little longer for some people, bit probably more fair for everyone."
This is a great weekend for both long time punk fans and any rock fans looking for a breath of fresh air and some positive energy. Single day tickets are $15 for Friday and Saturday and $10 for Sunday, or a $30 weekend pass covers your entry all weekend for a great cross section of punk bands with music starting at 5pm on Friday with The Krays and Krum Bums headlining, 3pm on Saturday with Who Killed Spikey Jacket and APA highlighting the night and 3pm on Sunday with Brassknuckle Boys and Bad Engrish capping things off.
As an extra bonus, Oi! The Boat Records and Joe Pogo Records will also be on hand as sponsors and Joe Pogo has even produced a sampler disc with one song from each band on the weekend's bill that will be available for free to anyone who attends.
If you've been looking for a punk rock fix or waiting for the local punk scene to get the recognition it deserves, you won't want to miss the best party in Tulsa over the July 4th weekend: !@#$ You, We Rule OK!
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The holiday weekend is here and that means many Tulsan's will be headed out of town to visit family or settle in at the lake, but that doesn't mean it's all quiet on the home front. There's still plenty of music to be had and noise to be made. If you're staying in town, we've got the highlights to get you out for the evening to enjoy what Tulsa's got going on to celebrate this week, so check these out:
Thursday, July 4
The biggest party of the night is an all-evening showdown at Mercury Lounge with John Moreland, The Jag, Billy Swayze, The Gills, Blackfoot Gypsies and Lucky Tubb & the Modern Day Troubadours. The games begin at 4pm and the party wraps at 2am with a little something for everyone. Meanwhile, Grasscrack throws down its own brand of unhinged bluegrass at The Shrine with no cover
Friday, July 5
The show that's been flying under everyone's radar is a special night with Bill Champlin (formerly of Chicago) with Grady Nichols at Infuzion Ultralounge (101st & Mingo). Champlin plays two shows, one at 6pm and one at 9pm and tickets are $10. If you're looking for something a little more contemporary, Wink Burcham plays Mercury Lounge while Hunt Club hosts Ice Cold Glory and Manhammer and Brain Food throw down at Soundpony.
Friday is also the first night of the !@#% We Rule OK Punk fest at Vanguard with The Krays and Krum Bums headlining and local sets by The Shame and Streetlight Fight in a night of music that throws up 10 bands to kick things off.
Saturday, July 6
FUWROK! rocks on for a second night at Vanguard with 10 more bands including Who Killed Spikey Jacket, APA, Victory and local boys, The Wheelz. Next door at Hunt Club, you can get your pop/rock fix with Jason Ferguson, All About A Bubble and Carnegie. Elsewhere, Mercury Lounge steps up again with Left Arm Tan and The Colony stays chill on a relaxed night with Travis Linville.
Sunday, July 7
Wrap up your weekend punk fix at Vanguard with Brassknuckle Boys, Bad Engrish and more -- including Sniper 66 -- providing one last round before packing it in. The show that's at risk of being overlooked however is Terrapin Flyer, the Grateful Dead tribute featuring Tom Constanten (who played with The Dead from 1968-70), at The Shrine. It will be a full night of partying, however, as the Shrine's parking lot turns into "Shakedown Street" for the evening with food trucks and art vendors to create the tailgate and pre-party experience that belong with a Dead show. Also on Sunday, King's Harbor plays The Yeti and Dirty Creek Bandits take over Soundpony.
Monday, July 8
The Vanguard hosts breakout band The Gallery with All About A Bubble and Jacob Gann opening at 8pm.
Tuesday, July 9
Todd Snider returns for a show at Cain's Ballroom with Dustin Pittsley with proceeds going to the Woody Guthrie Foundation. Just down the street, Jason Ferguson plays an acoustic show at Hunt Club for a nightcap
Wednesday, July 10
The week wraps up with Son Volt and Colonel Ford at Cain's Ballroom and Tom Skinner's Science Project continues on at The Colony.
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