POSTED ON FEBRUARY 16, 2011:
This rabbit is fast, furious and fascinating
Calling all hipsters, garage rockers and anyone else who likes to drink cheap beer and listen to loud music in small, dark and crowded rooms: if you don't have plans this Friday, you do now.
Reverb, 5528 E. 11th St., is hosting what some are calling the show of the winter. California-based garage rocker(s) Nobunny and three of Tulsa's favorite indie bands are set to perform in what is shaping up to be a night of guaranteed sweatiness.
Headliner Nobunny is the brainchild (brain animal?) of Tucson, Ariz. native Justin Champlin, who said he decided as a little boy that he wanted to be an Elvis impersonator when he grew up, but with a twist. The twist, it turns out, is what looks to be a homemade bunny mask that is simultaneously terrifying and hilarious. The cartoonish headpiece and a pair of underpants --the kind I wore when I was little -- are about all Champlin wears when he performs with his band of revolving musicians.
Nobunny plays what Spin magazine calls "a version of '50s rock 'n' roll that sounds like Buddy Holly run through a blender." I guess that's about right. Champlin is a big fan of The Ramones and The Clash, and it's pretty obvious in his songs. At first listen, I was turned off by the lousy sound quality of some of the recordings. Catchy songs like "I Am A Girlfriend" (from Nobunny's first full-length album, Love Visions) sound like they were recorded on a cassette deck using "borrowed" power from an alley behind a Waffle House. Maybe they were. Regardless, somewhere under the thin, low-fi production lies something raw and real that people can jump around to, and isn't that what we want from this kind of music?
Nobunny's live show takes the band's songs to a whole other level. In front of a crowd, the music is much louder and more intense than the recordings. The same can be said about most bands, but in Nobunny's case, the live factor almost transforms the songs from gritty takes on early rock 'n' roll into all out punk free-for-all. Champlin himself says it all depends on which show you see.
"Sometimes we're a really good live band," he said, "but sometimes -- I'll go ahead and say it -- sometimes, we're a really bad live band."
Hare Apparent. Nobunny is the brainchild Justin Champlin, who said he decided as a little boy that he wanted to be an Elvis impersonator when he grew up, but with a twist. The twist, it turns out, is what looks to be a homemade bunny mask that is simultaneously terrifying and hilarious.
The first time I heard Nobunny, I immediately thought they sounded like La Panther Happens, a Tulsa band that happens to also be playing at Friday's show. (Full disclosure: I know the guys in La Panther and my own band's played with them a number of times.) La Panther rose from the ashes of another band -- Elliot The Letter Ostrich -- which was also led by guitarist and singer Jhohn Strum. Most of the band members are the same and both groups put a lo-fi, indie spin on early rock 'n' roll, but La Panther Happens seems to strive for a more genuinely 50s/60s feel -- without the 80s synth that was key to the ETLO sound. Either way, the guys put on a great show.
Also on the bill Friday night, and offering a more modern approach to indie rock, is Tulsa band Lizard Police. The four-piece group seems to draw from a pretty wide range of influences, and it's not easy to pin down their sound. It's indie rock for sure, but listening to songs like "A Little Bit Less Than Rad", it's clear these guys have more chops than they're letting on. They seem to be one of those rare bands that's modern and poppy enough for the radio, but with enough indie appeal that you could still catch them at a club like Reverb.
Last but by no means least on the list of Nobunny openers is The Dull Drums, a group that sounds to me like Tulsa's indie Led Zeppelin. The band's heavy guitar and drum sounds are, quite frankly, awesome. Among their influences listed on Facebook: "The Beatles, drinking, Herbie Hancock, and drinking to Herbie Hancock". Now you're speakin' my language! All kidding aside, these guys rock the way a good three piece should, and promise to bring a slightly psychedelic edge to Friday's show. Like a perfectly chosen wine with a nice dinner, their heavy, freaked out blues should pair nicely with the rest of the bands on the bill.
Will any of these bands change your life? Probably not. Actually, I shouldn't say that. Maybe they will. Maybe Friday will be the first day of a wonderful new existence for you! I hope so. If not, you'll at least go to sleep (or pass out) that night with a smile on your face -- knowing a grown man in his underwear and a bunny mask, and his newfound Tulsa brethren, got you to boogie.
Friday's show at Reverb is an all ages affair. Bring $8 and your dancing shoes and show up at 8pm.
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