Last week we took a look at all of the bands that Oklahoma is sending to Austin for this year's SXSW music festival. If you can't make it to Austin for the showcases and parties, there's no need to feel left out. You can still get a taste of what's going on in Austin if you just look around and get out in Tulsa this week.
As is always the case, we aren't just exporting our bands to Texas for the week. As an unbelievable number of bands migrate to and from the venerable music Mecca, Tulsa reaps the benefits of being part of many bands' journeys to the big showcase down under.
Whether heading south to the festival or making the trek back home, Tulsa makes for a great stopover to get some rest, pick up a gig and hopefully make a little gas money to keep the bands moving to the next show. Some of them are little bands you've never heard of, others are major players on the music landscape and a few are old friends or favorites that make sure to route their SXSW journey through Tulsa to reconnect with old friends and fans.
With that in mind, you don't have to miss out completely on what's going on in Austin, even if you can't take off work and head south by southwest for the week. If you're willing to get out and look around, you can partake of a nice little sampler without leaving town.
A number of bands have already rolled through Tulsa over the past week, but there are plenty more to check out. If you think I'm kidding, just check a few of these out.
You can start your sampler off tonight by stopping in at Fassler Hall to check out The Steepwater Band, a bluesy groove-rock band from Chicago that lands in Austin for a final night blowout on Sunday evening. Cover is only $5 at Fassler and Paul Benjaman Band opens for the group that garnered the endorsement of Jambase.com, stating "If you're charged up by what The Black Keys or The Black Crowes are putting down lately, there's little doubt The Steepwater Band will flip your wig big time."
Steepwater will arguably be the perfect after party if you were fortunate enough to score tickets to the sold out Jack White show at Cain's Ballroom on Thursday night. Tulsa was the last of four hand-picked dates that White chose to play in advance of the release of this new solo album, Blunderbuss, which is due April 24. The Cain's show also serves as final warm-up for White and his new band to find their footing before blowing the doors off the Third Man Records showcase in Austin on Friday night. The Cain's gig sold out in 15 minutes or less and you can rest assured that White's Austin appearance will cause a crush on the small club as well. If you landed tickets for this gig, count yourself lucky and savor it.
Perhaps most active in booking Austin bound bands has been Crystal Pistol with its "2012 Get a Long" concert series. The club brought a string of bands through town last week on the way to SXSW and catches another group on their way back this weekend. If you want a great SXSW sampler, stop in to check out Mumfords and Little Rucku$ on Saturday night, March 17 or Valerian Swing with Time Columns on Sunday evening. The parade continues with the electronic of Eureeka and psychedelic rock of Backwoods on Monday night, followed by the songwriter/composer work of Aaron Orbt with rock band 8 Stops 7 on Tuesday, March 20. Best of all, there's no cover for the shows at Crystal Pistol, so you can check out some new music and if you dig the band, buy a CD or t-shirt to help fill the gas tank.
Sunday is the day that most bands and fans will be heading back home. As such, it's also the night that Tulsa catches on one of the rising stars that is sure to cause a buzz in Austin this week. Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros stop in at Cain's Ballroom on March 18 with Rocco DeLuca for a show that epitomizes what SXSW is really all about at this point.
During the week of the music conference there are hundreds of unknown bands looking to get noticed and a healthy dose of big names (like Jack White) stopping in to help launch new albums and give the festival some serious firepower. The real joy of the week, however, is stumbling over the rising bands that will be making an impact and grabbing attention over the course of the next year or two and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros are just that type of band.
The Cain's show will be the first stop for the band following the screening of Big Easy Express on Saturday afternoon as part of the film festival, which will be followed by an evening screening of the film and a concert performance that sees The Magnetic Zeros share the stage with members of Mumford and Sons and Old Crow Medicine Show.
If you're on a tighter budget, or if you just need a nightcap after, stop in at The Treehouse, where Snake!Snake!Snake! stops in a for show with Denver's Flashbulb Fires. Both bands are headed back home after showcases in Austin, but Flashbulb Fires has made Tulsa a regular stop on its summer tour schedule, building a solid local following with shows at Soundpony and The Colony in the past couple of years.
With a new album, Gasconader, due for release later this year, the band is gearing up for a busy summer. Sunday night's show will be a great opportunity to get a sneak preview of the new material and reconnect with old friends, making it worth checking out.
Finally, if you only make it out to see one band that played SXSW, you need to get off your ass and head over to Fassler Hall on Monday night, March 19 to see No Kind of Rider. This is a homecoming show for the guys formerly known as Black Swan and even though the name has changed and the guys relocated to Portland due to a job transfer for one of the key members, the music is just as intense and they're all still Tulsa boys.
In fact, listening to the band's latest tracks verifies that the band has gotten even stronger and more focused over the past couple of years. After a long absence, the band's return promises to be one of the most intense shows flying under the radar this month. Fellow Portland band, Rags & Ribbons, is included on the bill and local act Tell Tale opens the show at 9:30pm. It's an early gig and cover is only $5, so you have no excuse to not come out and support our hometown boys as the journey back to the great Northwest.
Hopefully, this gives you a glimpse of what all Austin has to offer during SXSW, albeit in a more organized and less chaotic fashion. Check a few of these bands out to catch the fever, then start saving now to finance your trip to Austin to take it all in during SXSW next year.
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