I've made no secret of the fact that I'm a behind-the-scenes punk fan. Sometimes nothing makes me happier than to let loose of all pretensions and rock out with a good punk act in two-and-a-half minute increments. The only problem has been finding good punk bands in Oklahoma. Over the past few years, though, our indie rock scene has continued to morph and develop -- and even generated a few punk acts that are worth our time.
Back in May, Tyler Hall of Bearhug put together a little showcase at Soundpony, packaging four punk acts into one evening. The evening went so well that it was deemed worthy of a reprisal and the title that Mitch Gilliam (of Lizard Police) put on the flyers, "Apunkalypse," stuck.
This Friday night, Oct. 29, Apunkalypse is back to prove that punk rock is indeed alive and well in Tulsa. This time, however, Hall has reached out to our sister city and even brought in a band from OKC, Blanche Devereaux, to help tie the two scenes together and start building a bit of unity.
Initially, the idea of putting four punk bands together on the same bill may sound like an evening of "more of the same," but don't be misled. Each of the bands was hand-picked to participate because they not only each have a distinct following, but each also represents a different take on the genre. Yes, there's a common thread tying them all together within the punk genre, but the evening will be far from four bands running together that all sound alike.
At the helm, Hall's band, Bearhug is perhaps the most prototypical of what many people think of when the punk label comes up. Deriving influences from '80s hardcore punk, this is revved up garage rock with attitude that recalls elements of classic Tulsa punk acts such as Brother Inferior and NOTA, but also warrants reference to seminal bands like Minor Threat and even Black Flag.
Although Hall generally credits Barf Makeout for kicking off the current punk movement in Tulsa, it has been Bearhug that has perhaps been the most active over the past year in working to keep the genre moving forward and get exposure for the band in Tulsa with semi-regular shows at venues like Soundpony, Crystal Pistol and Eclipse, while many bands continue to play house and basement parties, keeping true to the punk and DIY aesthetic.
Lizard Police makes a return appearance at the second installment of Apunkalypse as well, and for good reason: These guys are the ones that have really been working up a buzz. Musically grounded in punk, Mitch Gilliam has a slightly more melodic and pop oriented take on the genre lyrically, while the band tends to veer a bit faster and is more technical musically. Once you hear the band, they grab you by the throat in three minute increments and take you on a rollercoaster ride, leaving you standing at the gates waiting for the next round.
Perhaps it should be no surprise that Lizard Police is so engaging. Fronted by Mitch Gilliam of Only the Bugman and backed by Nick and Clay Flores, formerly the rhythm section of Black Gold Band, the pedigree here is undeniable. Guitarist Austin McAfee rounds out the lineup and keeps things just dirty enough to make it punk and clean enough to draw in listeners form indie rock and other scenes. When combined, Lizard Police has the most promise to tie genres together and cross between scenes.
Operator Dead:Post Abandoned proves to be the real wild card on the bill, even though the band has built quite the loyal following in Tulsa. Hall classifies the group as more part of the "crust-punk" movement, stating that if you don't know punk, you might think the band was a metal act.
In reality, Operator Dead:Post Abandoned walks a fine line between punk and hardcore. Musically, the band is harder, faster and more technical and the vocals step out of the standard punk wail into a growling scream.
While the band has really grown its punk following playing house parties and basement shows, its biggest exposure has come from being an opening act on multiple hardcore and metal shows at The Marquee and other venues. Nevertheless, Operator Dead:Post Abandoned has its roots in punk and an inclusion in this bill just goes to show how broad the genre's reach can be.
Finally, the band that you won't want to miss is Blanche Devereaux, the all girl punk acts from Oklahoma City. Sassy and raw, these girls bring a raucous and rowdy party from the garage to the streets to the clubs. All of the songs on their debut get in and out, hitting their marks and wrapping up in under two minutes. Yes, it's still raw and a little under developed, but that that's part of the joy of it all -- there's an unbridled enthusiasm that the band spreads to its audience, making every gig a garage party.
If you're looking for your fix, or even if you're just curious as to what's been stirring underground with Tulsa's punk scene, Apunkalypse won't tell all, but it will definitely give you a good glimpse and introduction to what's been brewing behind the scenes.
In case you haven't noticed, this is Halloween weekend, and as expected, there are more festivities than one person can keep track of. Nevertheless, we've put together a short list of the highlights so you can pick the best or bounce between them.
Of course, Rocky Horror has to go at the top of the list. By now, the live production has become a Halloween tradition for myself and in my own, biased opinion should be a tradition for everyone. The move to The Joint at Hard Rock Casino only ups the ante and will make it a far more elaborate (and comfortable) production than last year's outdoor experiment in the Brady district. No matter which night you attend (it plays Thursday, Friday and Saturday), it will surely be a blast. Take note, however, that Saturday's audience is traditionally the most raucous and involved and the Hard Rock is encouraging everyone to make it a true Rocky Horror experience by coming in costume and bringing all the necessary props (rice, squirt guns, burnt toast, etc...), so don't miss out on the best year yet.
The other Tulsa tradition that can't be overlooked is the 36th Annual Freaker's Ball at Cain's Ballroom. Tickets are $10 at the door and the lineup includes GHOSTS, Triple Fang, Tony Romanello and the Black Jackets, Color9, Oklahombres and Mariachi Tulsa, among others. As tradition would have it, the $1,000 costume contest continues on at midnight this year as well.
Elsewhere around the downtown area, Downtown Tavern is holding its own Halloween Party and costume contest while The Marquee hosts the Assimilation 6th Annual Halloween Ball and The Max Retro Pub throws a Retro '80s Halloween Costume party complete with Ghostsbuster's themed "Slimer" drink specials and a $100 costume prize.
The biggest dance party downtown, however, must be the 2nd annual Spider Ball at the IDL Ballroom complex. $5 cover to the Bacardi-sponsored event includes three DJs in each of three rooms, including DJ Danger Granger, DJ Moody, DJ Dilation, DJ Souldfingaz and the "Panic Crew", led by DJ Kylie as well as Grand Marshall Steve Cluck.
Aside from Halloween festivities, there are still plenty of other shows in town this week as well.
Thursday night sees Bone Thugs and Harmony return to Tulsa yet again for another show at Cain's with local acts The Ne'er Do Well and Infamous opening. Meanwhile, The Colony keeps its groove going with Hostile Hippies and no cover.
Friday night, Oct. 29, is rather quiet as everyone prepares their costumes for Saturday night. Even so, you can't go wrong with Philip Zoellner Band at The Colony, Brandon Clark Band at Hunt Club or the aforementioned Apunkalypse showcase at Soundpony.
On Saturday night, if you aren't at one of the Halloween parties, you ought to be celebrating the official "Grand Re-opening" of Mercury Lounge. The same great vibe is up and running with new ownership and familiar faces, so don't worry -- just show up and enjoy!
Also on Saturday night, 17-year-old guitar phenom Tyler King plays Woody's and Soundpony hosts a reggae party with the Rebellion.
The biggest show of the night, aside from the Rock Horror blowout, however, is JoDee Messina's Music Room tour at River Spirit Event Center, proving a full night of stories behind the songs and a more intimate environment than last year's stop at Spirit Bank Arena.
Sunday night's latest secret is being exposed at Yellow Brick Road has been hosting some great indie rock and punk shows every week. This week's lineup calls for Northside Hot Dogs and Here Is There, so make plans to check out the latest Sunday evening hotspot.
Also on Oct. 31, hot young buzz bands Never Shout Never and The Maine co-headline Cain's Ballroom with two openers. Make sure to frequent Urban Tulsa's Facebook page this week for a chance to win free tickets!
Finally, the week wraps up on Wednesday evening with a dichotomous pair: Pop fans and teens will likely flock to The Marquee for American Idol star Kris Allen while metal fans wouldn't dare miss Zack Wylde's Black Label Society at Brady Theater with Clutch, Children of Sodom and 2 Cents.
No matter what your preference, enjoy the weekend and pick wisely!
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