Oh it's good to be home! Don't get me wrong, SXSW was a blast, but there's something to be said for coming home. Even Tulsa got a little Austin fever with all of the indie and emerging bands stopping through on their way to and from the big festival down south. Now that the storm has passed, however, things are slowing down and getting back to normal.
That's not to say we don't have anyone else passing through, but this week's best touring shows feel more like visiting with old friends than meeting the annoying new kid that just moved in down the street and is always trying to draw attention to himself. Don't get me wrong, I'm always psyched to hear new music, but after seeing so many new bands that think they're the best thing since The Beatles, it's good to kick back with an old friend and just enjoy each other's company. Fortunately, that's essentially what we've got going on in town over the next couple of nights.
Not So Blue
Blue October may not really be a local band, but the Texas-based group has certainly built a strong enough following to make it feel like something of a homecoming when they return to Tulsa. The band's latest CD, Foiled, was release nearly a year ago, but constant touring and regular airplay on radio and VH1 for the singles "Hate Me" and "Into the Ocean" just pushed the band past the platinum barrier for the first time.
Of course Blue October isn't a new band or an overnight sensation to Tulsans. Here in T-Town the band has been a fixture for a few years, having played semi-regularly at Boston's and the Venue, and even landed a spot on the Main Stage at Edgefest a few years back. Now, with the latest CD, the group has moved up to headlining the Cain's Ballroom as the crowds keep getting bigger.
According to bassist Matt Nevesky, the band is acutely aware of its following here, specifically citing Tulsa as "one of the first ten or fifteen markets to really embrace us. The people in Tulsa have always supported us and seem to get it."
Tulsa radio (specifically, The Edge)and music fans were quick to support Blue October, latching on to the band's last CD, History For Sale, and the single "Calling You" far earlier than the rest of the US caught on with Foiled and the single, "Hate Me".
When asked why he thought Foiled was the album to finally catch the public's attention, Nevesky says that he believes it a combination of factors. Most importantly, Matt says that Foiled is currently his personal favorite of all the band's albums.
"It's not incredibly different from the last record, but I think it's more mature. On this album we didn't worry so much about what other people might like and just fought for the songs that we wanted to be on the album. As a result, I think it came out more honest," he says.
Second was just a matter of timing. From Nevesky's perspective, radio is in a lot better place than it has been in the past. "Even a few years ago, radio was a dead issue for me. I didn't like anything I heard and I think a lot of people felt the same way. People were just starving for good music..."
As a result, Blue October's eclectic pop sound has grabbed the hearts and ears of radio listeners with not only lead single "Hate Me" riding to the top of the charts, but the more layered and elegant single "In The Ocean" landing on the radio, MTV and VH1, as well. Although plans for another single weren't discussed, there are at least two more songs on the record that could impact radio in a big way, the most obvious being "Congratulations," which features a guest appearance by Imogen Heap. No matter which song is tabbed as the next single, we'll surely be hearing Blue October on the radio well into the summer.
For the time being, Matt says the group's plan is to continue touring and enjoy a little of its recently mined success. This Friday night's concert at the Cain's Ballroom is followed by a sold out show on Saturday night in Austin, at Stubb's Amphitheater, which will be recorded for a live CD to be released in the fall -- and, of course, even more touring.
Tickets are still available for Friday night's Blue October show with opening act Dropping Daylight and are $31 at the door. As airplay, record sales and audience numbers continue to multiply, it's not hard to imagine that by the band will be playing The Brady the next time it comes to town. Catch them now, up close and personal, at the Cain's. Doors open at 7pm.\
Keep it in the Family
When I first saw the lineup for tonight's show at The Otherside, I have to admit to being highly intrigued. Norma Jean and The Chariot on the same bill? Could that be right?
Granted, this is ticket that will make Hardcore fans ecstatic, but can it really work? After all, Josh Scogin, front man for The Chariot, did leave Norma Jean in the wake of "creative differences" to launch his current outfit. Upon first glance, it's a tour that's great for the fans, but could potentially cause some strife between two bands with a common history.
When I spoke with Scogin recently, though, he assured me that wasn't the case.
"It's exciting to go out with Norma Jean again," said Josh. "We grew up with each other and even went to middle school together. We're still friends -- they only live 10 minutes away from me -- so it will be cool to tour together again."
Of course, part of that comfort level could be attributed to the fact that their situation is one of the rare instances where someone leaves an established band for his own project and both parties go on to experience more success. Norma Jean has definitely proceeded to become larger and more popular over the past few years, while The Chariot has also built quite a following (especially here in Tulsa, where the band has previously appeared for numerous shows at The Pinkeye and The Hive).
And while the current tour with Norma Jean is one to look forward to as a road trip with old friends (Josh and his band are also friends with openers The Handshake Murders), Scogin has plenty more to be excited about. The Chariot's second full length album, The Fiancée, will be released in just a couple of weeks (April 3) and it marks a departure for Scoggins and his band on a number of levels.
Having recorded all of the songs live in the studio with a full band instead of overdubbing parts, Josh believes that the new records captures the band's spontaneity and energy better for a CD that sounds "a little more punk-rock than the others."
And although using a live, one-take method of recording did result in a more energetic sounding CD, it also leaves room for some mistakes, which Scogin can live with. "It would be too fake for us to use ProTools to fix things," he said. "That's just not who we are."
Another thing that changed with the new album is the writing process. According to Scogin, The Fiancée doesn't have an overriding theme, but the songs are more closely tied together.
"Normally, when a song is written, I start the lyrics immediately," said Josh. "This time I didn't write any of the lyrics (for the CD) until all of the music was done, so the songs all have a common thread, even thought it's not linear."
"This time, instead of the (individual) songs writing the lyrics, the entire record wrote the lyrics, if that makes any sense."
When asking about plans to incorporate the new songs into the live show, Scogin said that the group will definitely be playing at least two new songs (both of which have been posted on the band's Myspace site) and possibly a third that no one has heard yet. Once the CD comes out on April 3, the band will likely start to work in more new material.
If you're a fan of either band (or both) The Chariot and Norma Jean will definitely be a concert you don't want to miss. Handshake Murders and A Life Once Lost will open the show and tickets are $15 at the door. The show is tonight (Thursday, March 22) at the Otherside and the show starts at 7pm.
The Week at a Glance
Even though the next week is dominated by touring shows, there are still a number of great local bands and shows coming our way. Mostly, it's up to you to decide what sounds best and fits your mood.
If you're a rap fan, you obviously won't be hanging at The Otherside tonight, but you may want to head downtown to the Cain's Ballroom for a Thursday night (March 12) show with DJ/rapper/producer Paul Wall. Tickets are $30 at the door and the evening's line-up includes openers Papa, Jess J, Real Recognize Real, Lega-C and GMC.
Friday, March 23, is busy around town with a number of local acts as well as the previously mentioned Blue October show. In the Boston district, TJ McFarland spreads the Red Dirt and country around Boston's dance floor while Mercury Lounge hosts a night of psychobilly chaos with Hickoids and Billy Joe Winghead. Meanwhile, Harmonious Monk chills out at 8OneEight and Dead Commuter rocks the Mooch & Burn.
Friday night's best local highlight, however, is definitely Jared Tyler at The Continental. It's been a few months since Tyler has played a Tulsa show, but he returns to the local stage in style on March 23 with Reed Mathis and Jason Smart (both of JFJO) as his rhythm section, so you know it will be a great night of music. Cover is only $5 and Sage Flowers opens the show around 9:30pm.
Of course, the biggest show in the state is Friday night in OKC. They may be dinosaurs, but The Who can still school all the youngsters when it comes to writing classic songs and rocking the house. Tickets are still available for $128, $78 and $53. Are you ready for the road trip?
Saturday night, March 24, has a little something for everyone going on around town. The Cain's hosts Thomas Martinez with Brandon Clark for the country crowd ($13), 818 has Mezclave for Latin-jazz fans, and The Continental welcomes Sam and the Stylees and Harmonious Monk for reggae, jazz and jam fans.
Of course, rock fans aren't left out on Saturday. The Soundpony hosts indie-rockers Lilim and High Blue Star and alt-metal act Shaolin Death Squad returns to Tulsa for a show at The Otherside. Shaolin tickets are $9 at the door.
Get your punk-rock on
Just in case you were wondering, HotrodboB isn't dead -- the band's just been sleeping (or passed out). Despite rumors to the contrary, the band is alive and well and returning to the stage (with new bassist, Phil) at the King of Clubs in Claremore this Saturday night, March 24. It's an all-ages show and the special guests on the bill include First Lady Assassins, My Solstice, Downstate, Vito Ninefingers and The Story Changes. Doors open at 6:30p, the show starts at 7p, and cover is only $6.
Also, for any old-school punks out there, rumors abound that there's private party/tribute show for Mike Lykins (AKA: Mike Automatic), the local legend and guitarist for bands like Automatic Fathers and New Mysterians who passed away unexpectedly in December. Devoted fans should keep their ears to the ground for more information -- you'll know where to find it.
Sunday night's big show is Widespread Panic at The Brady Theater. Doors open at 6:30 for the 7:30pm show and tickets are $40.
On Tuesday night, March 27, acoustic horror/folk/punk band Harley Poe returns to Tulsa for a show at Mooch and Burn. Joe Whiteford (formerly of Calibretto) and his current band came through town last year and it was a great time. I can guarantee it'll be worth stopping in for their return. It's Violent Femmes meets "Shaun of the Dead" in a twelve car pile-up. Don't miss the carnage or the fun.
Finally, Ian Moore returns for an intimate show at Boston's on Wednesday night, March 28. Expect a full night of acoustic singer-songwriter material, a touch of blues and some full-on eclectic rock and roll. Moore continues to defy categorization, but always puts on a great show.
Whatever your style or taste, make sure and get out and support the local music scene. I'll see you at the club this weekend and have highlights from SXSW for you next week!
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