Consider it a blessing or a curse but it feels like the flux of shows in Tulsa is feast or famine. Not that we're different in that respect from any other city, but it still can cause frustration at times. If that's the case, this week is that of the feast. Sometimes it's hard to pick and choose; and if you can't give everyone your full attention, at least you can spread the love.
Bear with me, because we've got a fistful of hometown boys and recurring visitors that all deserve some recognition.
Signals of a Return
Anyone who has been plugged into the local music scene for an extended period of time may recall the late '90s alt-rock act, Utica. Although the band split and reformed for a period in Texas, it is still highly regarded amongst those who remember it.
Key to the band's songwriting was guitarist Beau Bretz, who also served a term of service in another adopted favorite, The Feds. When personal tragedy struck (a close friend committed suicide and a family member relapsed from sobriety at a Feds show), Bretz took some time to reflect on life and realized he had lost his original focus with music.
Although he holds no grudge against the party-rock scene, he decided he wanted his music to be inspirational. And although he has remained relatively low-profile in Tulsa, he never stepped away from music. Diving directly back into his songwriting, Bretz formed The Aria and auditioned a number of singers including, ironically, Dave Cook before taking center stage and stepping up to sing with his latest project, Rescue Signals.
Armed with a handful of solid songs and the clout from his time in Utica, A Farewell Address and The Feds, Bretz landed a deal with Rock Ridge Music and promptly recorded a debut that will be distributed by Warner Music Group.
With things falling into place, Bretz returns to his hometown with a new outfit to reconnect with his old fans and to release his latest material.
Rescue Signals stops at Flytrap Music Hall on Friday night with openers Bronze Whaler opening for what will the band's third Tulsa appearance and first spotlight performance after opening for Anberlin last month and filling a last minute opening slot at Exit 6C.
Although Rock Ridge has pushed back the CD's release date to July 21, Bretz and crew are already gearing up for the release and beginning to tour regionally to establish a solid foundation. Anyone who remembers Utica or has wondered what Bretz has been up to can find out this Friday night. Or, get a sneak peak of a few new songs, including the video for "Every Word You Said" at www.myspace.com/rescuesignals. You can be sure we'll be checking back in with Bretz as the release comes closer. Just consider this week's show a teaser.
As recently as a year and half ago, Hardcore/pop-punk hybrid band A Day to Remember was a quarterly regular at small clubs like Crush Lounge, The Tree and King of Clubs, drawing a couple hundred kids at a time. While a record deal and major distribution with Victory Records certainly helped, it seems that all of the intense road work is finally paying off for a band that has built a loyal following here in Green Country, as well as across the country.
Monday night, April 27, the band co-headlines Cain's Ballroom with good friends and brothers in arms, The Devil Wears Prada.
Lead singer Jeremy McKinnon said in a recent telephone interview that he's surprised at how well the songs from the latest disc, Homesick, have been received.
"We just came back from a Europe and UK tour where we were doing well, but we weren't sure how it would go over here," McKinnon said.
Teaming up with The Devil Wears Prada, an act with whom the group already has a history, allows both acts to step up to a new level. Early dates on the tour, especially on the West Coast, are sold out and further dates continue to sell well, putting the band in front of some of its largest audiences to date.
Material from the band's latest CD, including "The Downfall of Us," "You Already Know What You Are" and title track "Homesick" show a band that found a middle ground and retained its heavy roots while making it more accessible. Any old fans alarmed by the band's one-off covers of "Since U Been Gone" or "Over My Head (Cable Car)" need not be alarmed.
"The response to the new material has been amazing," McKinnon said. "We've always gotten a good response anyway, but this has taken it to a whole new level. It's hard to explain, but the kids are going nuts so we're playing more [of the new songs] for them."
The current tour is but a step in the right direction. Following the current tour with The Devil Wears Prada, Emarosa and Sky Eats Airplane, the band does another run through Europe before joining the Vans Warped Tour for a summer of major market and large venue shows. Tickets for Monday's show are available for $19.25 in advance or $22.25 at the door.
For anyone who's been wondering, I scammed a preview of PDA's forthcoming Act III disc, which is still in production. If you thought this kid had blown all his tricks on the last one, you were wrong.
Of course, one song doesn't account for a whole album, but if "Your Girlfriend" is any indication, our hottest local rapper still has plenty up his sleeve. PDA leaves no stone unturned, channeling a late '50s, early '60s surf rock beat while bragging about stealing your girlfriend before bringing it all back to the future with a huge breakdown at the end of the tune. This one should be huge. Stay tuned.
As if the aforementioned shows aren't enough to keep you occupied, we've got plenty more going on in town this week. Here are a few more highlights:
Thursday night provides a strong kickoff for the weekend with Ingram Hill, Sterling Y and Eric and the Adams at Bob's and an acoustic gig with Paul Benjamin Band at Ida Red.
Friday, April 24, sees the downtown area packed with shows as Toadies, People In Planes and Aranda rock the Ballroom; Videology and Stevedore play Soundpony and The Marquee packages The Nightlife, Hush Hush Commotion, Popular Culture and Restless Ribbon, all along Main Street.
Obviously, we think Saturday night's best bet is UTW's NewVo Showcase at Flytrap Music Hall with The Yellow Pansies, Society Society, Daniels, The Pons and Callupsie (see page 16 for details), but we're not the only game in town. Deke Dickerson provides a rockabilly fix at Mercury Lounge on April 25, while Philip Zoellner plays Arnie's and The Monolith hosts the Tulsa "No Genre Film Festival."
...and we can't forget the hometown hero and American Idol David Cook is back in town for a show at University of Tulsa. Management has kept this one reeled in, so Dave will be playing the ACAC, which only holds 700. Rumors have it there may be a few tickets still floating around out there, but you'll likely need a heavy dose of luck (and a student ID) to score them.
Sunday night's big show is Black Label Society with Sevendust, Dope and Cycle of Pain. This one promises to be a "don't miss" show for a couple of reasons. After quickly selling out Cain's Ballroom, the concert was moved to Brady Theater and continues to sell, which will undoubtedly add to the excitement around the show.
The potential surprise of the night, however, may come from opening act Cycle of Pain. Black Label bassist John DeServio pulls double duty and debuts his new band to get the night started. DeServio called in favors from a slew of rock all-stars including Wylde, Ray Luzier, Brian Tichy, Burton C Bell, amongst others. Arrive early to see if he can deliver the goods live.
Finally, Wednesday night, April 29 sees a couple of well respected songwriters play opposite sides of the city. Matt Costa has the relatively low profile show at Bob's with Mayola opening. If you look to the south, however, Jason Mraz returns for a show with Plain White T's at SpiritBank Event Center. Tickets are $19 for Costa and $34.50 for Mraz.
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