Considering the fact that Only The Bugman originally came together in 2005, I should have seen the band already. Or maybe I have and it's all become a blur since then. With all due respect, though, it seems like I'd remember and audio blast like this one.
It's not that I wasn't vaguely familiar with the band -- after all, the band has been playing regularly and gradually expanding its reach as it carries on. After coming together in high school, Coweta natives Mitch Gilliam (on lead vocals, drums and keyboards) and David Akins (on guitar, vocals and keyboards) started a pet project somehow took on a life of its own.
"David was the only other guys in Coweta I wanted to play music with at the time," Gilliam recalled. "Both of us had guitar riffs that we'd throw back and forth in each others' garage."
Starting small, Gilliam said the first few Only the Bugman shows were "really bizarre," and said the duo largely performed for family and friends, many of whom may not have known what to think of the duo's unique sonic assault.
After all, when most people think of Coweta, they likely think of Crooked X and that band's take on the classic and hair-metal genres. Only The Bugman, on the other hand, has it ties to metal, but takes them in a far different direction. Instead of bowing down at the feet of Metallica's The Black Album, Gilliam and Akins listened to a variety of heavier speed and thrash metal, hardcore and punk bands.
Only The Bugman's sound ended up being something akin to "taking all kinds of metal and hardcore and throwing them in a blender," Gilliam said.
Aside from a few small shows, however, it was still a side project until Akins booked a show at Under the Mooch, an independent record store in Tulsa. From there, the band continued to play around town, primarily at D.I.Y. venue The Monolith until that all-ages venue closed down. In fact, for those who remember the club, Only The Bugman became somewhat famous (or infamous) for playing Monolith's birthday party and performing "Stairway to Heaven" in its entirety.
"The Monolith was a good venue for us because it's hard for us to play in bars," Akins explained.
"Yeah, we're not terribly bar friendly," Gilliam continued, "but Josh at the Soundpony really likes us so we get to play there quite a bit now."
These days, Soundpony essentially serves as the band's home venue and sanctuary. It should come as no surprise then that as Only The Bugman releases its first official EP, Executive Powerlunch, this Saturday night, June 18, the band will do so with a release party at Soundpony.
The band actually did release a CD previously, in 2008, but that one was a completely independent and self-produced affair, with the duo doing everything themselves, right down to the cardboard packaging. That makes the release of Executive Powerlunch all the more sweet as the band's first truly professional release.
Never a band to do things the conventional way, however, Only The Bugman is making this one extra special by putting the EP out on 7-inch red vinyl. The band has also enlisted a couple of friends for help and the disc will feature cover art by Austin McAfee of Lizard Police and an insert by Bearhug's Tyler Hall.
Don't be mistaken and expect another punk rock release, a la either of those bands, however. Even though Gilliam is also a member of Lizard Police, Only The Bugman is another monster altogether. The only thing they sonically have in common is brevity: Executive Powerlunch blasts all eight tracks out in under 15 minutes, leaving your head spinning and wondering what just happened.
For the more commercially minded, hints of System of Down and Mike Patton's Mr. Bungle float in the undercurrent. More directly, math-metal and hardcore influences like Dillinger Escape Plan also swim to the surface, mixed with touches of Fugazi, the Rollins Band and God knows what all else. Consider it the equivalent of having a small powder keg explode in your face. It doesn't really hurt, it just stuns you a little -- and makes you want to go back for more to figure out what just happened.
If you haven't been stunned lately, you can be part of the sonic detonation this Saturday night and get a limited run copy of the vinyl 7-inch to relive it all over again. And again, and again ... NoWater will open the show with a sound more akin to Soundpony's regular indie-punk aesthetic, but you can be sure Only The Bugman wont' let them steal the show. As always, there's not cover, so be sure to be there by 10pm to catch NoWater then stick around for the explosion.
If you picked up Urban Tulsa last week, you couldn't miss OK Mozart (it was the cover story, after all), but the festival is still running and has a few stellar shows left before wrapping up this weekend. If you're not opposed to making a little drive up to Bartlesville, you won't want to miss highlights like Carolina Chocolate Drops on Thursday, June 16; the outdoor concert at Woolaroc with Amici New York on Friday evening, June 17; Hot Club of Cowtown's afternoon matinee performance or the Grand Finale with Amici New York, featuring world class violinist Joshua Bell to wrap up the festival, both of which are this Saturday, June 18. Details on showtimes and ticketing can be found at okmozart.com
If you think you've caught your breathe and beaten the local concert scene, think again. It's only been a brisk job so far. This week the pace picks up and it's an uphill climb to boot. If you want the highlight, read on...
• Thursday, June 16 -- This is your chance to warm up slowly with Cairde na Gael at Arnie's for some Celtic folk, Dave & the Haters at Hunt Club for some covers and originals or Cowboy, Indian, Bear for the indie crowd at Soundpony.
• Friday, June 17 -- The monthly Brookside Music Crawl is back, this time featuring acts like Clay Welch & Sean Al-Jibouri, Desi & Codi, Paul Benjaman Band, Grasshopper, Adam Lopez & the Lo-Tops, Sage Flower, Dylan Layton, Wink Burcham, Travis Fite and Moai Broadcast spread out between venues for a full night of music, all within walking distance.
The night's big shows, however, are the return of 80's pop icons Huey Lewis & the News for a show at The Joint and Christian pop and worship act Hillsong United at BOK Center. Elsewhere around town, Lava Children, Lizard Police and Ptiaradactyl play Soundpony; Steve Pryor tears up at Blue Rose Café; best metal nominee Tiranico plays Sheninagan's and Mercury Lounge hosts Back Porch Mary with Brandon Clark Band opening the show.
• Saturday, June 18 -- If you're feeling a little more eclectic and "jammy" on Saturday evening, you can check out Sam & the Stylees at Hunt Club or Mountain Sprout at Mercury Lounge. TJ McFarland returns to town for a gig at The Treehouse that will keep Red Dirt and Americana fans happy and country fans will flock to The Joint for Trace Adkins. Perhaps the night's most intriguing bill, however, is indie-rock act Heypenny landing at The Marquee for a how that will feature openers PDA, The Last Slice and a chance for you to check out "Newcomer of the Year" nominee R.L. Jones.
• Sunday, June 19 -- Local jazz fans can rejoice as Olivia Duhon plays an early gig (5pm) at the Jazz Hall of Fame and Annie Ellicott plays later in the evening at the Riverwalk Crossing Amphitheater in Jenks. The big show of the night, however, is Widespread Panic, celebrating its 25th anniversary with a tour that stops at Brady Theater.
• Monday, June 20 -- The nostalgia carries on at Cain's Ballroom as Little Feat continues to roll along on its 40th anniversary tour with Roy Jay Band opening the night.
• Tuesday/Wednesday, June 21-22 -- Everything else gets overshadowed as Cody Canada & The Departed take on two nights at Cain's Ballroom to celebrate the Tuesday release of This Is Indian Land. Tuesday night's listening party is semi-private with tickets available to fan club members and a few promotions on the band's Facebook page. Wednesday will be a full on blowout, however, as the Departed take the stage for a full night of tunes with everyone invited to take part.
If you haven't cast your ballot yet -- or you just want to cast a few more for your favorite local musicians -- you've only got a few more days to do so. This year's runoff has been close and every vote counts, so get your ballots cast by Monday, June 20 then go get your tickets for the awards show, to be held July 16 at The Joint. You can vote online at abotmusicawards.com or mail in the ballot included in this week's paper, but do it ASAP!
We would be remiss in not mentioning the recent loss of a good friend of the local music scene in Dale Simpson's passing. As one half of Hoffman Simpson Entertainment, Dale has been involved in management and artist development for local artists like 2 Steps Back and Kristin Nicole Band in recent months and has worked with additional local artists such as Travis Kidd.
On May 31, Simpson was admitted to the hospital, complaining of pain in his legs. A blood clot was found, but it had already started to dislodge, with clots spreading to his lungs. On Thursday, June 2, a blood clot reached his heart, causing heart failure and the passing of a true friend to the local music scene.
Over the years, Simpson's involvement with PBR (Professional Bull Riding Association) led him to get involved in the planning of Country Fever and the original Rocklahoma festivals as well as other events around the country. He had always been involved in the local music scene, but became more active and involved within the past two years, founding Hoffman Simpson Entertainment with his business partner, Wes Hoffman, a little over a year ago and championing a small stable of local and regional artists.
Simpson's death will be felt by many within the community and our condolences go out to his family, associates and close friends.
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