From my past experience with SXSW, DFest and other festivals, the best way to experience the music and get the most out of the experience is to go in prepared with an outline of what you want to see, then be ready to throw it to the wind and follow the buzz.
With eight stages and more than 120 bands at FreeTulsa!, you obviously can't hear every act, but you should be able to see a few of your favorites, catch the buzz bands and find a few new groups that impress.
Much like FreeTulsa!, Oklahoma Black/Gold Music Run is attempting to provide a broad snapshot of Tulsa's local music scene. There are a few less stages and bands, but the roster is little more diverse and can be just as daunting when trying to choose between more than 85 bands in two nights.
If you find the weekend a little intimidating going in, however, both C.M. Rodriguez and I have our own recommendations on who to start off with before veering off on your own sonic adventure.
With that in mind, here are our thoughts to get you started in the right direction.
Travis Fite - Bob's, 6pm: I'm not sure how I've missed Fite for so long. Perhaps it's because he lurks in the shadows as a producer at SoulTree Studios playing a supporting role in a number of other projects. Fite's solo material is outstanding, though, encompassing pop, soul and world music simultaneously.
PDA -- Tulsa Live stage, 7pm: Tulsa's favorite rapper returns for the weekend and plays the headlining stage to get the weekend started off in a playful and partying mood.
Guardant -- Hard Work Records Stage, 7:30pm: If you love indie rock and love to dance, the two come together with a band that continues to get better and tighter every time I see them.
The Pretty Black Chains -- Crystal Pistol Saloon, 6:30pm: Oklahoma City's The Pretty Black Chains brings their garage rock to the Tulsa area to really get the night started.
Mayola -- Crystal Pistol, 11:30pm: Amongst all of the indie rock bands that have caused a stir in the past five years, these guys have impressed me the most. Not pretentious without devolving into kitsch, they keep indie rock fresh, exciting and most importantly -- fun.
Black/Gold Music Run
Susan Herndon -- Utopia, 4pm: One of Tulsa's most engaging female singer-songwriters gives you a reason to come out early and ease into two full nights of music with her vivid storytelling.
Klondike 5 -- Coors Light Stage, 5pm: If you would like to throw yourself into bluegrass while the sun is still up be sure to catch this group and groove till the sun goes down.
Jesse Aycock -- Flytrap Music Hall, 6pm: Whether you see him at FreeTulsa! or Black/Gold, you shouldn't miss the man who can knock you out with his voice, his guitar or his songwriting.
Apollo -- Coors Light Stage, 7:15pm: One of the most promising high-school bands I've crossed paths with in the past two years looks to make an impression on the big stage. These kids have game -- good songs, great musicianship and enough stage presence to hold your attention. In case you miss them here, they play at the Marquee at the FreeTulsa! Festival at 10:30pm.
Steve Pryor -- Miller Light Stage, 7:45pm: If fantastic and tasteful blues guitar playing is what you seek, the safest bet of the festival may be local heavyweight Steve Pryor.
Love Ghost -- Bob's, 4pm: If there's only one band that can drag me out early in the heat of the day, it's Love Ghost. Jason Weinheimer and other key members are now in Little Rock, but have Tulsa ties and don't play here often enough. These guys will make it worth arriving early and staying late.
Bearhug -- Soundpony, 8:30pm: As an unrepentant punk fan, I'm only ashamed that I haven't been able to catch Bearhug earlier. Loud, fast and in your face, I plan on stepping into Soundpony with these guys like Happy Gilmore taking his turn in the batting cages.
7 Degrees of Stephen Egerton -- Live Tulsa Stage, 9pm: Stephen Egerton is not only one of our city's best producers but a true punk icon. This is one of very few appearances he's made in support of his solo album of the same title, which has been one of the best local discs of the summer.
Jesse Aycock -- 10pm @ Bob's: Aycock's latest CD, Inside Out of Blue, and the live show only takes this artist to another level when brought to life. This has got to be one of the best stages all around of the festival
Brine Webb -- The Hunt Club, 1am: Probably the sleeper hit of the festival will be the talented singer-songwriter Brine Webb who performs into the wee hours of Saturday night or Sunday morning.
Black/Gold Music Run
Brandon Clark Band -- Miller Lite Stage, 4:45pm: Tulsa's hardest working honky-tonk/rock band kicks off the main stage for a hard-working, music loving crowd.
Televised -- Flytrap Music Hall, 8pm: Out of all of Tulsa's current modern rock acts, The Televised has developed the most throughout the past year, stepping up its live show, song writing and stage presence by playing whenever possible. The hard work is paying off and making them one of the best live acts in their genre.
Crooked X -- Miller Lite Stage, 9:15pm: The young band from Catoosa that scored a record deal and MTV special has been laying low but emerges to reveal a revamped lineup. With a new bassist and lead singer Kevin Currie (formerly of River City Ransom and We Stay Gold), the band still looks to impress with big guitars, huge vocals and a high energy show.
Mercy Street -- Flytrap Music Hall, 11pm: This former Urban Tulsa cover artist might have undergone a fine tuning of the lineup, but it's still the most promising and impressive metal band on the scene.
Eric and the Adams -- Flytrap Music Hall, Midnight: Front man Eric Himan can do it all, from acoustic singer-songwriter material to hard rock. Here, he cuts loose with some straight up pop/rock and what has become one of the most popular bands in town.
Driveby Sonata -- Flytrap Music Hall, 1am: Fronted by Jocelyn Hughes (formerly of Rook), Driveby Sonata has emerged with a few impressive singles but is yet to really break out on the local live scene. Hopefully, this will be a coming out party for the band's brooding, layer modern rock.
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