The transition from spring to summer often marks a shift in the local music scene each year.
As the weather continues to warm, more people are going out and the audiences tend to grow. Patios begin opening and outdoor stages become common, providing another outlet for our local musicians, as well. This year, however, more than years past, the transition also marks the beginning of a season of CD releases.
This week is the first of no less than five consecutive weekends of CD releases, spanning everything from hard rock to rap, punk, Americana, indie rock and everything in between.
While Samantha Crain will undoubtedly mesmerize with her third release for Ramseur records and show out at Bob's on Friday night (See more details from C.M. Rodriguez on Page 41), we've also got a young new band that's in danger of being overlooked.
Comprised of four high school friends from the Berryhill area, Afterlights has already grown stylistically since the foursome began playing together three years ago. According to lead vocalist Cale Chronister, who also plays guitar and keyboards, the guys started out playing worship music at their Wednesday night youth group and a bond was formed.
From there, they became a real group and began a musical journey that's already seen the group explore and transition styles and become stronger musicians and songwriters.
Granted, the idea of a worship group transitioning to becoming a rock band might make some people cringe. How many times have we heard the rhetoric, "We believe in God and we're Christians, but we don't consider ourselves a Christian band..."? I've heard it far too often, only to be followed by weak songwriting.
That's not the case with Afterlights, however. Yes, the group is young and has much room for growth, but the songwriting is already ahead of many of the band's peers. Influenced by the more commercial side of indie-rock (if that's possible), the band melds pop-smart melodies with an emotive, indie sensibility.
Lyrically, the group's faith is apparent but doesn't come across as preachy. According to Chronister, who writes the lyrics, most of the songs are more about his doubts: doubt in God, himself or outside situations.
It's a theme that takes hold from the opening strains of the title track, "Bolivar," with the lyric "I'll try to be more content with what I do, but the only thing that's left in me is you."
More often than not, the songs search doubt and discontent, yet find a positive spin.
What's most interesting is the band's musical development. After starting out as a worship band, the guys started playing together and writing outside that setting and explored a pop-punk direction before finding influence in bands like Radiohead, Copeland and Deathcab for Cutie. The group even released its first EP just more than a year ago but has developed in leaps and bounds in the past 12 months.
According to Chronister, the band jumped at the opportunity when Jonathan VanRisseghem took an interest in the group and offered to produce its next disc. The recording process began nearly a year ago and Chronister said, "It's been a non-stop learning experience ever since."
Part of that experience has included a more concentrated focus on songwriting as the band took the time to specifically work on each verse, chorus and transition.
The results are far from those of your typical high school band.
Although Chronister notes the aforementioned bands as influences, Afterlights doesn't come off as just another young band of impressionists. The urgency of youth and energy of the group's pop-punk phase still comes through, now balancing it with a new emotive response. Yes, there's a touch of Radiohead in there, along with a bit of Deathcab and Modest Mouse. To my ears, however, I hear a sound more in the vein of Copeland, Lovedrug and Mae.
Considering the band's youth and how quickly the songwriting has progressed, Afterlights might be one of the best indicators of what we have developing under the surface in our younger and heretofore overlooked young bands. I can only expect the groups will continue to evolve into something even more creative in time but can find no argument with where they are at right now.
Afterlights will be holding a CD release party for its new six-song EP, Keep Yourself Awake, Friday night, May 28, at The Marquee.
Doors open at 6:30pm, and music starts at 7pm with Mandy & Erin, followed by Van Risseghem and Zeke Duhon before Afterlights take over and present the new material in a live setting.
Tickets are $10 and include a copy of the new disc at the show. Friday night is busy and packed with great shows, but this is the one to stop at if you want of peek at some of our most promising young artists.
Rocklahoma may be getting all of the mainstream and commercial attention this weekend, and we've even taken note of it here in the pages of Urban Tulsa (see Page 41), but the show that's likely of more interest to many of our readers is Backwoods Bash -- a three-day camping and music festival, now in its third year of existence. Throughout the past two years, the event was held at Thundermoon Ranch in Mannford, but this year it has grown and moved to Old Walnut Creek State Park on Keystone Lake in Prue, Okla.
The festival provides three days of music and camping with an emphasis on local and regional talent, featuring acts such as Red Dirt Rangers, Eleven Fingered Charlie, Paul Benjaman Band, Moai Broadcast and Sam and the Stylees.
Best of all, admission is only $20 for the entire weekend. If camping and music is your thing, this is the best way to spend your Memorial Day weekend. More details and directions are available at backwoodsbash.com.
With Memorial Day upon us, many of you will undoubtedly be escaping to the lake. For those of us who opt to remain in town, however, there are plenty of shows to choose.
Thursday night, May 27, kicks off the weekend for the Country crowd at Cain's Ballroom with a KVOO-sponsored show by James Otto with Josh Thompson and Jarod and the Long Road. Anyone looking to go dancing, however, need look no farther than The Marquee where DJ Robbo holds his weekly "Thursday Night Get Down."
Friday, May 28, is the biggest night of the week, with too many great shows within walking distance. The country audience only got a warm up on the previous night as Brooks and Dunn arrive at BOK Center on Friday.
Meanwhile, the aforementioned CD release parties by Samantha Crain at Bob's and Afterlights at The Marquee bookend Main Street in the Brady District. On the other end, the second best punk show of the month (following Stephen Egerton's CD release a couple weeks back), is Broncho with La Panther Happens and Lizard Police at Soundpony. Also on tap is Stars GO Dim at Flytrap with Oxygen, Foe Destroyer (previously Oso Closo, less vocalist Adrian Hulett) and The Televised. These guys always put on a great show for pop and rock fans, so you'll definitely want to mark it on your calendar.
If you're looking to relax in south Tulsa, Riverwalk Crossing has started its summer concert series and features London Tymes on Friday night followed by Motive For Movement on Saturday.
Saturday, May 29, is more relaxed and less hectic in town. If you're not at one of the festivals, you can relax and enjoy with Alex and the Anders at Arnie's or William Joseph Band at Hunt Club, and enjoy the patio at each. Meanwhile, you can never go wrong at The Colony where one of Tulsa's most heralded indie bands, Dead Sea Choir, takes over for the evening.
If you're in a dancing mood, you can either check out the '70s versus '80s dance party at The Marquee or settle in at Electric Circus, where there's no cover, but a rotation of some of Tulsa's best local DJ's.
Whatever you do, take it easy and enjoy the holiday weekend -- and make sure to support out local music scene.
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