After following the local music scene for roughly the past six years, I've seen a lot bands come and go. Some don't have the right chemistry to begin with and dissolve quietly, others create a quick buzz and implode and still others run its course and the members go their separate ways. The hard fact is that most bands are temporary and just don't work out.
The bands that do last and have a staying power usually have two common characteristics: First, they gain a decent measure of success, and second, they continue to evolve and grow throughout time. It's hard enough for a band that is greeted with success to last more than three or four years, much less one that toils quietly in the background.
Every once in a while, however, you'll find a "late bloomer" that bucks the trend and proves to be an exception to the rule. Tulsa's latest buzz band, The Televised, is one such act.
You can be forgiven if you didn't realize this isn't a new band. Although the group's core has been together since 2005 as The Televised (after a title change from singer Dustin Storm, bassist Carlos D and drummer Tony Deleon's previous band, Green View Circle), the band has taken on a new life in the past six months.
Multi-instrumentalist Devon "Devo" McFarland (formerly of Society Society and Vito Ninefingers) and keyboardist/guitarist Valerie Stone joined the group roughly four months ago and added a breath of fresh air to the group. Now built out to six members (lead guitarist Jeremiah Haydock rounds out the lineup), The Televised has evolved into a dynamic live band that has turned enough heads to warrant landing opening slots for artists like Ian Moore, Flobots, The Wailers and Red Jumpsuit Apparatus among others.
Lead singer and primary songwriter Dustin Storm said that the main difference that McFarland and Stone have added has been the band's development of four-part harmonies and the opportunities that an expanded line-up offers.
"Now we have the ability to do live, what we record in the studio," he said. "Now that we're a six-piece band, we can bring a bigger sound to the stage."
Storm admitted that the assembling of the current line-up was "borderline accidental," and said that everyone involved were already friends that had been writing and working on music separately until they decided to do something together. Once they started to collaborate, it became obvious that there was special chemistry at work.
"I think every band has that magic moment that makes them a little more driven than before," Storm said, and for The Televised that spark was realized with the addition of McFarland and Stone.
The first single recorded with the current line-up, "Radio 101" was recently posted on the band's MySpace page and got 3,000 plays in its first week online--a sign that the band had tapped into something special. Sparkling with a guitar-driven, indie rock energy that is alternatingly informed by Brit-pop and the Minneapolis post-punk of The Replacements and Husker-Du, the single is only an inkling of what the band has up its sleeve.
A diverse and dynamic live show proves the band can swing from the evocative pomp and emotion of U2, to an intimate acoustic set, to the raw emotion and energy of the current indie and garage rock scenes.
Perhaps it's the combination of personalities that makes it work: Storm admits to being a folk singer at heart, and while the band's rhythm section are essentially rock kids, McFarland brings a hip/hop sensibility and Stone has a gospel influenced background. What could be a train wreck instead turns out to be odd and engaging and produce tangible electricity.
Now that the band has found its true sound and niche, it's full-steam ahead. Strom said that the group had only played casually throughout the past few years, but this line-up has inspired him to quit his job and pursue music on a full-time basis.
"After we were able to record the first song, I felt like we really had something to work from," he said.
Now, he treats The Televised as a full-time job, getting up at 8am to network all day and work on booking shows. The current plan calls for recording a live album within the next few months to boost momentum, while continuing to record in the studio and work toward a full-time touring agenda.
So far, the group's drive and effort are paying off. Instead of toiling in the background, The Televised has quickly built a name for itself throughout the past few months and is becoming one of our true buzz-bands.
Just last week, the group played a full night at Soundpony on Thursday, followed by a slot opening for Western Justice at Flytrap Music Hall on Saturday.
Unfettered by genre ties, the band is comfortable on either an indie-rock or pop bill. If you need proof, look no further than the band's February schedule that shows it share the bill for an MDA benefit at Eclipse with La Panther Happens, Fiawna Forte and GHOSTS on Feb. 6, then turn around and share the stage with pop-masters Oso Closo and local metal act Mercy Street at Flytrap Music Hall on Feb. 12. Somehow, I wouldn't be at all surprised to see the group work its way into the Manchester Orchestra show at the Marquee on Feb. 2, as well. In fact, it would be a more than appropriate fit for the group.
What can you say? Sometimes patience and a steady hand pays off. Against all odds, five years into its run, this is easily one of the top local bands you need to keep an eye out for in 2010. We're sure to see a lot more from the group this year--just wait and see.
By now it's a tradition. We know you need to get out during the weekend, and you know where to look to get some direction. If you don't see what you're looking for, scour our weekly events calendar or settle in at your favorite local haunt for more live music by your favorite bands. For starters, though, Thursday night, Jan. 21, sees Barn Von Swagger take the stage at Flytrap with The Oakes, Jon Malone and The Ne'er Do Wells, while Cairde na Gael holds down the fort at Arnie's and Soundpony hosts Giant Cloud with Dead Sea Choir.
The big show in Tulsa on Friday, Jan. 22, is Reverend Horton Heat at Cain's Ballroom, but you can't go wrong with the blues of Little Joe McClerran at Mercury Lounge that night, either. If you're looking for a party, Alex and the Anders settle into their home-turf gig at Arnie's on Friday, while Cody McCombs, Popular Culture and Two Steps Back play Flytrap and DRI headlines The Marquee.
If you're really looking for some good Texas-based blues and country, though, it will be more than worth the drive to check out Seth James at the Wormy Dog in OKC on Jan. 22 and tickets are only $5 at the door.
Saturday night's best bets are Sam and the Stylees at Mercury Lounge, Travis Linville at Arnie's or Mount Righteous at Soundpony. Of course, you can always stop off at The Colony where there's never a cover, and the music is always awesome, even if it's not advertised.
Finally, you can round out your week with The Fiery Furnaces and The Red Alert at Bob's on Sunday, Jan. 24 or a really cool show with Yo La Tengo at Cain's on Jan. 27 with Times New Viking opening the evening.
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