This weekend, Tulsa holds a somewhat unfortunate honor. As fate would have it, one of our favorite adopted bands, The Feds, has run its course and is calling it quits. The last show is Saturday night.
When word came out via the band's Web site and MySpace, there was a collective pause and sigh that could be felt, even if only virtually, throughout Tulsa's music scene. You see, The Feds not only affected listeners but other bands in Tulsa as well. Scan a few of Tulsa's hottest rising rock bands and it's a safe bet that nearly all of them were impacted by The Feds in one way or another: from My Solstice and Congress of a Crow to Violence to Vegas, Swamp Fox and even First Lady Assassins.
Many young bands took cues from The Feds, looking at them as a role model or as an older brother. These guys personified the rock and roll attitude, had great stage presence and musicianship and always treated their audience well. Mostly, though, they never seemed to forget that rock and roll is supposed to be fun.
When asked about the demise of the band, frontman Matt Slider said, "There wasn't any big fight and there's no bad blood or anything between anyone. Everyone is on the same page about moving on to something else.
"We're pretty lucky to be able to go out this way and do farewell shows like these," he explained, noting that all of the band's Texas shows are complete and this weekend's Tulsa performance will officially be the band's final one. "We've had 10 members through a 14 year career and all of them will be there to perform a song or two -- or several," Slider said.
When I recalled the band's last performance at The Marquee with The Hanks in August and an incident where he called out the sound guys for inadvertently starting the tear-down music between songs, he laughed and reassured me. "That won't be an issue this time. We've got great front-of-the-house guys doing sound for us."
In fact, he went on to explain that the show is being fully produced by The Feds, from planning to production and everything else. "We're holding it at The Marquee because the room is the perfect size," he said. "All they have to do is show up, open the doors and sell beer. We're producing it ourselves to make sure everything is exactly how we want out last show to be-- including a lot of friends and fans."
Opening acts, The Underwater, was hand-picked by The Feds because the two groups have toured together in the past and are friends. Coincidentally, Slider shared that this will be the lead singer's last show with The Underwater, so it will be a farewell performance for both groups.
Slider assured me that the band is digging deep into its back-catalogue of songs and anticipates playing for roughly three hours. "We plan on being on stage a while," he said. "We've had three different drummers and four bass players and people will be moving on and off stage for different songs and parts of the show. Hopefully, we'll even have a big drum solo section with all three drummers on stage at the same time."
If The Feds are known for one thing in Tulsa it's for putting on a great show and making sure everyone has a good time. After all, this is one band that has consistently reminded us that rock and roll is supposed to be fun.
Saturday night, Jan. 10, Tulsa gets to see The Feds take a final bow at The Marquee, 222 N. Main. Tickets are $18 and The Underwater opens the show, so arrive early.
Blast from the Past
While '80s music is both widely revered and reviled (and each with good reason), a handful of bands stood out at the beginning of the decade embodying the peak of arena rock. And although they may be rightly blamed for the onset of the overly earnest and bombastic "power ballad", a few of them also turned out a number of hits that have become staples of classic rock radio.
Unfortunately, the advent of the power ballad also clouded the perception of most of these bands. And Foreigner, playing in Tulsa Jan. 8, is no exception. The band is remembered for the single "Waiting on a Girl Like You" (which peaked at No. 2 on the singles charts and the band's sole No. 1 single "I Want To Know what Love Is" from 1984's Agent Provocateur) than the songs that went on to become AOR/classic rock staples. Songs like "Urgent," "Break It Up" and "Jukebox Hero" were far more indicative of the band's rock pedigree and extensive catalogue.
When founding member Mick Jones reformed the group in 2004 without singer Lou Gramm, even I admittedly questioned his motive. Was this just a quest to cash in on the band's classic and '80s rock legacy?
The band that Jones assembled also cast doubt in my mind. Singer Kelly Hansen (previously of Hurricane), former Dokken bassist Jeff Pilson and drummer Jason Bonham (yes, of that Bonham lineage) were all accomplished musicians, but the lineup still seemed rather mercenary.
Once the band was out on the road, however, warm receptions and solid reviews piqued my interest. Then, this past summer, I stumbled across the new single "Too Late" from the group's latest retrospective. Not only did the group re-package the feel and sound of classic Foreigner, but Hansen was dead on with Gramm's soulful growl.
With the current group having been together for four years now, this is Foreigner for 2009. And while it might not actually "Feel Like the First Time," this formation has definitely breathed new life into the Foreigner catalogue.
"Once this version of the band got going, it took off like a rocket," Hansen explained. With high interest in bookings and an overwhelmingly positive response from the fans, Foreigner has since been averaging 150 shows annually and has played in 35 countries on five continentsin the past four years.
"Once it got started, it's been hard to stop and take time to write," Hansen said. "Nevertheless, that's what the band is trying to do at this point, in hopes of working up new material. You can't force something to be what it doesn't want to be. We're in the process of massaging the group to see what we've got and what works."
And while he wouldn't put a timetable on when to expect a new album, Hansen assured me that he was "confident that we'll come up with some very interesting material."
For now, Foreigner continues touring and performs at the Osage Event Center at Million Dollar Elm Casino, 951 W. 36 St. North, Thursday, January 8.
According to Hansen, the band will play much of the group's classic hits, many of which often evoke an "I didn't know they did that one, too..." response.
Thursday night's show starts at 7pm, so there should be plenty of time for the band to hit most of your favorites. General admission tickets are still available at the box office for $35.
Tulsa is waking up a little this week, but we're still in the midst of the winter doldrums. Nevertheless, we've got a few highlights for the weekend to get you out the door.
On Thursday, January 8, Cody Clinton plays an acoustic set at Ida Red as part of the boutique's "Artist Sessions" and Travis Kidd and Brandon Clark resume their partnership for a standing Thursday night gig at SoCo's Sports Grill in South Tulsa.
Friday night's highlights include Polar Opposite Bear at The Monolith for the indie crowd, DeWayn Brothers at Mercury Lounge for the American set and Ali Harter and Oscar's Gastro Pub for those with a taste for singer-songwriters. Meanwhile, Cairde na Gael will be spreading Irish cheer at Arnie's and Flytrap Music Hall hosts a night of rock with New Science, RadioRadio and Jirraff.
Saturday night's spotlight show is the aforementioned Feds farewell gig, bit we've also got plenty of other shows in town. More prominently, El Paso Hot Button returns for a show at the Blank Slate with Stevedore, Recorder and The Blacks.
Also on Saturday night, Mercury Lounge hosts Turnpike Troubadours and Rodney Parker; Soundpony has Heavy Handed Soul and DJ Soulfinger and The Monolith hosts Bubonic Bear, JorDan and Only the Bugman for a heavier set.
Looking out into mid-week, the Marquee hosts the only standout shows with Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Tickle Me Pink and The Becoming on Monday, January 12 ($16.50) and a metal show with Unearth, Emmure, Impending Doom and Born of Osiris on Wednesday, January 14.
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