What's a band to do when it wants to set itself apart from everyone else? That's a question that haunts many acts these days, though not everyone has an answer. While refining a stage show, adding lights and video, or even turning each album or performance into an artistic statement is a noble gesture, none of these things is really new or boundary breaking.
Sometimes, however, just learning from your predecessors or heroes and being willing to think outside the box is enough to help chart you on the right course. For local band Moai Broadcast, doing something fresh and out of the ordinary was just that type of combination.
On Saturday, June 26, the band steps out of the shadow of its peers and sets itself apart by throwing its own festival, dubbed Easter Island.
"We wanted to do something for ourselves, to be able to show our imagination," said drummer Nick Bernson. "Instead of playing just another bar, we get to put on a show in our own setting."
By planning the event themselves and doing everything from helping prepare the land to building the stage to organizing the campgrounds and even arranging for a few select food and beverage vendors, the members of Moai Broadcast have made every effort to make Easter Island a positive experience for its fans. Perhaps most significantly, the band has made a conscious effort to make sure the weekend festival is a relaxing and enjoyable experience.
"I've been to so many festivals where I come back exhausted, there's so much going on you just can't absorb all the music," Bernson said. "Last year, my wife and I and (Moai guitarist) Cody Brewer went to Phish 8 (the festival held in Indio, Calif. last October), and it was nice because they played three shows a day, and you could go back to your camp and relax in between."
Bernson said that the band had been considering doing some kind of festival type event for a couple of years now, but the experience at Phish 8 cemented the idea and set the band off looking for a location to hold the event.
Ideally, they had hoped to find a site which had the space to play and camp but still had a view of the Tulsa skyline. Although the search didn't play out that way, the band found the next best thing: a near perfect space in Broken Arrow, allowing the group to keep the event close to town.
The inspiration of the Phish 8 experience truly comes through, however, in the pace of the festival. Instead of overloading the day with music, Bernson and his band mates decided to keep the overall lineup small and consolidated, leaving space in-between sets to relax and enjoy the day and evening. There will even be a group yoga session and an art display at the event, further promoting a relaxed atmosphere.
The band also hand-picked the Tulsa-based acts it would most like to play with and has come up with a line-up that represents a great cross-section of Tulsa's music scene.
Of course, The Moai Broadcast is the main event, but every band is worth hanging around for the bill as rounded out by by Paul Benjaman Band, Panda Resistance, The Move and Guardant. Late-night sets by Heady P and DJ crew Bassmeant will carry the party throughout the night until sunrise and sets by a couple of friends and rising acts, Fyn and Dylan Angleton round out the lineup.
The festival is being held on a private location in east Broken Arrow, a mile south of the NSU-BA campus, just off of the Creek Turnpike. Space is limited in order to keep things small this year as the band learns the ropes of throwing an event of this magnitude. Even so, it promises to be a cool weekend as the site provides an awesome clearing for the stage and concert site with campgrounds just a 300-400 yard walk away.
All attendees will be allowed a 20' x 20' spot for their car and campsite, with more space allowed as needed.
Being this festival is only a one-day, overnight event, it is a strictly primitive camping event, with no open fires allowed. All attendees are encouraged however to bring ample supplies -- not only food, but plenty of water -- and yes, copious amounts of beer for those who are of age. For those who opt to not bring food and drink, a few select food vendors have been arranged to provide options at a reasonable cost.
One other option that sets this festival apart and is possible due to its close proximity to the city is a bike ride, which has been coordinated through Tulsa Hub. The ride begins at Soundpony at 8am with the group using the Riverside trails, for an approximately 25 mile ride to the campsite.
Vans will be on site to carry riders' equipment to the festival grounds with additional pickup points, for those who want to join the ride later, at 41st and Riverside and 96th and Riverside. Anyone who joins at the latter meet points must have their camping equipment at the site by 8:45am and 10am for the 41st Street and 96th Street locations, respectively. Riders will also receive a $5 discount off the gate admission price of $15.
Yes, you read that right. The ticket price is only $15 at the gate or $10 if you purchase directly from a member of any of the participating bands. Gates open at 11am with music beginning at 2pm and carrying on until sunrise on Sunday morning. Since this is a private event, gates will be locked at 11pm for legal and safety reasons, so participating campers are encouraged to come prepared.
The actual address of the festival grounds is 20555 E. 111th St. in Broken Arrow. Directions and full details on the event can be found online at moaibroadcast.com, by clicking on the "Learn more about Easter Island" link.
If you've never experienced The Moai Broadcast, this will be your best opportunity. As Bernson said, the band wants to create an experience more than just a show and an opportunity to step into the band's imagination. The band will be bringing its full light show, which a club environment has never truly allowed for, so it's sure to be a special night.
If you're looking for a special show that stands out from the crowd, you can't overlook the Blue Dome Diner Friday night, June 25, as Jared Tyler shares the stage with Luke Bulla and Jeff Autry. Bulla and Autry are both of fine pedigree in country and bluegrass circles.
Bulla, in particular, has been a National Fiddle Contest winner multiple years and eventually wound up playing with Ricky Skaggs. He's currently a member of Lyle Lovett's Large Band and is working on a new project, W.P.A., with Sean and Sara Watkins (of Nickel Creek), Glen Philips (of Toad the Wet Sprocket) and Benchmont Tench.
Jeff Autry has toured the world and played or recorded with a number of artists including Ricky Skaggs, Bela Fleck, Sam Bush and Vassar Clements -- to name just a few. Throughout the past eleven years, he's been an anchor member of John Cowan Band, but this summer he's touring with his material, which brings him here for a special show with Bull and Tyler.
Tickets are only $15 and includes a full night of music with the three artists. Fiddle players will also want to go to tulsastrings.com to find out more details on how to participate in the fiddle workshop with Luke Bulla on Saturday afternoon at 3pm.
Even though Moai Broadcast is holding a special event on Saturday, that doesn't mean it's the only game in town. We've got plenty going on this weekend, and we've got the tips for you.
The big show Friday night, aside from Jared Tyler's show, is Eisley at Cain's Ballroom with The Lion and The Sail, Christie Dupree and All The Kings Men opening. We've also got club shows by DJ Soul Fingaz at Soundpony, Alex and the Anders at Mercury Lounge and Native Son at Hunt Club to choose from. If you're looking for a can't-miss evening, though, you can never go wrong at The Colony, which hosts Travis Linville.
Also on Friday night, Caroline's Spine returns to the Tulsa area for a free show at Friction in the Hard Rock Casino. If you're willing to make a short drive, you can get your rock fix and play a few games while you're at it.
On Saturday, June 26, you can't forget about the CD release party for last week's cover band, My Solstice. (Check out "The Rising Solstice" at urbantulsa.com.) It's a free show sponsored by Greenhouse Clothing and Astellaway and The Televised will open the show. This is your best bet for a great night of rock 'n' roll as last year's "best Band of the Year" debuts its new CD and opens the doors to everyone for free.
Elsewhere around town on Saturday night, Living Machines and Heat Circle play Eclipse, Brandon Clark Band is back at home at Mercury Lounge, Hector Backwoods plays Hunt Club with Hurricane Mason and Larkin plays a rare summer show at Arnie's.
Sunday night wraps up the weekend as The Terrible Airplane plays Soundpony and Bob's hosts Bleu Edmondson with 2 Steps Back.
Whatever you do, choose wisely and enjoy your weekend.
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