POSTED ON JULY 29, 2009:
Night at the Movies
Vandevander celebrates its DVD release at River Parks Amphitheater
Sight and Sound. A Vandevander show is always a visceral experience and the live footage captures this far better than I expected, which is a testament to Arndt's treatment of the material.
After a weekend as exhausting as DFest, it could be tempting to stay in and recover, perhaps kick back on the couch with some popcorn and a movie, or just sit and watch the sunset.
You could also do both by catching a live show Friday evening at the River Parks Amphitheater.
If you're wondering just what I'm suggesting, you probably haven't been following Vandevander, one of Tulsa's more prolific and emotionally jarring live bands. Upon finishing the second of a trilogy of EP's that will cycle through the emotional psyche, Matt Fisher recorded the release party for The Great State of Denial at The Colony in August of 2008. Nearly a year later, the group emerges with a documentation of that show, produced by bassist Eric Arndt, and will debut it with a release party and concert at the amphitheater Friday night, July 31.
Surprisingly, the DVD is more than just another performance film. Yes, the bulk of the footage is taken from the release party and concert, but instead of focusing solely on the show itself, Arndt inserts commentary and interview footage with not only Fisher and his bandmates, but also a number of friends and peers from Tulsa's music community. And while some of the commentary, especially at the beginning seems a bit blustery and over-the-top, by the end of the film, it's clear that Fisher has truly earned the respect of his peers with the vision and honesty of his work.
More than a portrait of the band, the film sheds light on the local music community and the expanding role The Colony continues to play in that effort. Rumored by some to be the location of now legendary sit-ins with Clapton, Harrison, JJ Cale and Leon Russell in the '70s, the small bar at 28th and Harvard has become a safe haven of sorts for musicians and music fans since reopening as The Colony just a few years ago. Although the club doesn't advertise or post a schedule, it does host music seven nights a week and has become a favorite stage for many local musicians because of its intimate atmosphere.
As much as the interview clips add to the film, the live experience reveals the most about Matt Fisher and his creative vision with the band; the live footage does not disappoint.
Arndt's camera crew captures the angst, anger and pain of the band's music with appropriate dark and backlit hues, conveying the vibe of the night nearly as well Fisher transposes his emotions through his guitar. Occasionally spastic and angular, the footage fits the music near perfectly, matching the emotions, rage and intensity of the evening with an unparalleled quality.
A Vandevander show is always a visceral experience, and the live footage captures this far better than I expected, which is a testament to Arndt's treatment of the material. Of course, Fisher obviously knew the show was being filmed, and while a film crew might be an impediment to some, it proved to be no obstacle to him, adding to the victory of the performance.
The entire package is capped with an incredible treatment of the soundtrack by engineer Jonathan Schroeder, who captured the evening and turned out one of the best local live recordings I've heard to date, harnessing the energy and input of both the band and the audience.
In celebration of the DVD's completion, Vandevander, with assistance from The Colony, is holding a release party and the floating amphitheater stage at River Parks this Friday evening. Gates open at 4pm and the evening opens with performances by a number of Fisher's close friends and peers, including Wink Burcham and The Division, Pilgrim, Jesse Aycock Band, Sage Flower Trio and The Boy Modern. Although Vandevander is not on the bill, there's a possibility that each band may cover a song or two, and I wouldn't be at all surprised to see Fisher sit in with a few of his buddies.
The evening will wrap with a full screening of Vandevander, The Colony on the big screen. The afterparty will then be held at The Colony, appropriately enough; with a performance by Dead Sea Choir at 11pm. Tickets for the DVD event are $10 at the gate or $15 with a copy of the DVD. As with all Colony shows, admission to the afterparty is free.
This weekend may not provide the single shot overload that we experienced with DFest, but there is still plenty going on to keep you entertained. And as always, we've got the highlights to get you pointed out the door.
This Friday evening, if you aren't chilling at the park with Vandevander, you may want to head over to Cain's Ballroom to catch Michael Franti & Spearhead with Project Huckleberry, which promises to be a great show. If that's not your thing, you can hop down the sidewalk a bit and find Dignan rocking the Soundpony on July 31 or get in on the dance party at The Marquee with True Faith: New Order vs. The Cure.
Saturday, Aug. 1, will be the night to stop in at Mercury Lounge, which hosts a double bill. Back Porch Mary always delivers a high energy show, but it's a bonus this weekend when The Last Vegas returns to add some sleaze rock to the night. This is the band's first return to Tulsa since landing and opening spot on Motley Crue's spring tour and The Merc is one of the band's favorite Tulsa clubs, so it should be a wild night of rock and roll. Meanwhile, modern rock fans can check out Mayday Parade at The Marquee and indie rockers will dig on GoGo Plumbay at Soundpony.
August 2 sees two relatively big shows downtown for a Sunday evening. First up is Barcelona at The Marquee with Meese, Seabird and Stars Go Dim for more pop-minded music fans. Across the tracks, hardcore, scream and metal fans will dig on August Burns Red with Bless the Fall, All Shall Perish and I Wrestled a Bear Once.
Bob's comes back to life on Tue., Aug. 4 when tHE pORTRAYL and Taddy Porter open for The Whigs, then it's back to the Ballroom on Wednesday with Crystal Method and DJ Demko.
Finally, the week's biggest show also wraps things up on Wednesday with Journey and Night Ranger at BOK Center for a night of classic hits and a few choice new cuts.
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