POSTED ON JULY 6, 2011:
Turn Up The Heat!
Festival season roars back to life as Soundpony soaks the scene with its Festival of Wet Dreams
One of the best parts of summer arriving is live music in the open air. A great patio with a good sound system and a solid band makes for a near perfect evening, but what can be more exceptional than consecutive evenings? That's where the festivals come into play.
Although the season kicked off strong with Easter Island and Norman Music Festival in April, followed by Bixby BBQ & Music, Mayfest and Backwoods Bash in May, things have been relatively quiet for the past month. If you're like me, you might have started wondering if you'd drifted off to sleep and missed it all.
Fortunately, that's not the case. If anything, we've had a few weeks to catch our breath and prepare for a long, hot July. We already know that in the repeated absence of Dfest, Free Tulsa will rule the summer on July 28-29, but we don't have to wait until the end of the month to get our fix. If anything, we've got a few weeks to train and get our racing legs in condition.
If you're ready for a jump-start, then you won't want to miss the Festival of Wet Dreams at Soundpony this Saturday, July 9. In light of Free Tulsa moving to the Blue Dome District, the club not only gives Tulsa a great primer, but also brings some early festivity to the Brady Arts District.
Any event going on at Soundpony is usually free, but this weekend the club is charging a $5 cover. I think that's more than acceptable, however, to spotlight a dozen bands in a day full of music and give the neighborhood a reason to celebrate. The lineup includes most of the usual suspects from Soundpony's normal rotation, but it's only fitting considering these are some of the bands that have been stirring up the biggest buzz on Main Street and within indie circles over the past year.
Cop a Feel.
Of course, Algebra and Snorlaxx are included on the bill and rightly so. Algebra took home the Best Hip-Hop trophy from Urban Tulsa Weekly's ABoT awards last year and stands poised to do it again, but his friends and co-conspirators in Snorlaxx might just foil that plan. Soundpony regulars Lizard Police will cover the opposite end of the spectrum to wrap things up with a raucous blast of punk rock that verges on hardcore. Also on the bill are Scales of Motion and Guardant, both of which have released new albums in the past few months. Within the indie scene, Guardant continues to impress as the band has evolved from a very raw ensemble into a much tighter band that is better and more focused every time I see them.
What's truly exciting about the day's lineup, however, is split between a near icon and a new crop of bands coming up.
On the iconic end is the aptly titled And There Stand Empires. Principal members James Plumlee and Daniel Sutliff (more recently know for Callupsie and Daniels) have a history that reaches way back to their days in Antenna Lodge. And There Stand Empires was a break from that -- originally a two bass and drums outfit that included drummer James McCallister, whose career extended into Ester Drang and working with indie-folk favorite Sufjan Stevens. Although the group eventually disbanded, it reformed roughly two years ago with Hank Hanewinkle III on drums and Julia Hangs adding additional keys to the band's wall of sound. No matter where the band goes or who it plays with, its supercharged blend of punk rock energy and improvisational jazz aesthetic make it impossible to discount or ignore. Acts like Lizard Police and Algebra may be creating the current buzz, but And There Stand Empires will steal the show.
Standing at the other extreme is a small group of relatively unknown acts that promise to breathe some new life into the local indie-rock scene. Forever Blowing Bubbles sees Adrianna Faulkenberry and Mark Weintz pull double duty while splitting time between this band and it's more melodically minded sister band, Lunar City. Others worth checking out include The Fabulous St Knicholas Cage and Northside Hotdogs, with their lo-fi, garage-rock vibe.
All in all, it's a good picture of what's been happening at Soundpony and a sneak preview of what we should see at Free Tulsa later in the summer, making the rare $5 cover a sound investment.
More to Come
Although Festival of Wet Dreams is a welcomed addition to the calendar, it's merely the beginning of what's to come. If you haven't kept your head in the calendar of been checking your Facebook notifications and wonder what I'm talking about, here's a quick rundown to get you geared up.
Next week, Arnie's hosts Under the Tulsa Sun on July 16 with two stages, 12 bands, food vendors and live art to be auctioned for charity. More details will follow, but tickets are $8 in advance and the outdoor stage will be all-ages to feature Fiawna Forte, OK Sweetheart, King Cobra, Promo Dave & the Haters, The Last Slice, Sam & the Stylees and a "New Tulsa Sound" jam session with Paul Benjaman, Jesse Aycock, Dylan Layton, Eric Arndt, Josh Raymer and whoever else decides to show up and sit in.
After a week off, Free Tulsa moves from the Brady Arts District to the Blue Dome District for an encore year that will see the festival not only actually be free, but grow to 15 stages and up to 175 bands. If your band hasn't applied yet, but still wants to play Free Tulsa, there's still time: submissions are open until midnight, July 15 at www.sonicbids.com/freetulsa.
Of course, if the application process is still open, we can't tell you everyone on the bill, but you can be sure this will be a virtual "who's who" within the Oklahoma music community. Not only will we see a great selection of Tulsa acts, but you can expect a healthy contingent for Oklahoma City and Norman to show up as well for two nights of live music that should make your head spin.
If you're thinking even bigger, are itching for a road trip and have cash to spare, then a trip up to Kansas Motor Speedway for Kanrockas over the Aug. 5-6 weekend just may be the ticket for you. It's a two night festival with free camping in the Speedway's parking lots and a music festival inside the track. General admission tickets are $179 in advance and $225 at the gate, but this isn't a local music festival -- this is more like Lollapalooza meets Austin City Limits and the two crash in Middle America.
Although that sounds steep, you may find it worth the investment when you realize Friday's headliners include, Arctic Monkeys, Primus, Ween, Bassnectar, The Flaming Lips and Eminem. Saturday is just as impressive with OK Go, Cage the Elephant, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, A Perfect Circle, The Black Keys and Muse. Those are just the big names. The full lineup, schedule, prices, directions and details can be found online at kanrocksas.com.
If you're not up for the drive, but still need a long overdue Flaming Lips fix (after all, they haven't been to Tulsa since Dfest 2007), never fear. The Brady Block Party pulls Wayne Coyne's crew and Primus down to Tulsa on Saturday, Aug. 6 and adds Mutemath, Civil Twilight, Awolnation, Solid Gold, Particle, That 1 Guy and Pretty Black Chains to create a single day mini-festival at the corner of Boulder and Cameron. Better yet: tickets are only $45 and you don't have near as far to drive.
August quiets down after that, but summer isn't officially over until October. When the weekend of September 22-25 arrives, you'll have three festivals to choose from. Tulsa International Film Festival will bring more than 100 films to downtown Tulsa and open it with a block party on Thursday night, Sept. 22.
Over at the Corner of 18th and Boston, Tulsa Greenfest has morphed into the just announced Tulsa Underground and is promising over 70 bands over three nights with multiple stages, outdoor music and a variety of vendors.
In my book, however, the best way to close out your summer festival season is to make the trip out to Chandler, Okla., for the second annual Stone River Music Festival, Sept. 23-25. Dustin Pittsley Band heads this one up again with a roster that currently includes Steve Pryor, Jesse Aycock, Brad James, Barrel House Revelers, Randy Crouch, Paul Benjaman Band and more to be announced. Tickets are $15 for Friday, $20 for Saturday or $25 for the entire weekend and can be purchased at the gate or in advance at stonerivermusicfestival.com.
If thinking about all that's coming up makes your head spin, you're not alone. The best remedy is to head out the door and start training now. This week is nearly as busy, albeit stretched out into multiple nights, so here are the highlights to get you started.
• Thursday, July 7 -- Red Dirt Rangers play a free show at Utica Square and The Molly Ringwalds bring their retro shtick to Osage Event Center, but the big show of the night is the long awaited Ben Folds concert at Cain's. Originally planned for February 1, but postponed due to that wicked snowstorm, Folds finally brings his band and collaboration with Nick Hornsby, Lonely Avenue, to the ballroom for his loyal followers.
• Friday, July 8 -- Josh Turner plays The Joint at Hard Rock Casino for the contemporary country crowd and a show that will likely be packed out. For the more locally minded, The Del Toros play the Hunt Club patio or you can kick back with a margarita at Los Cabos in Broken Arrow with Jet Set Kings.
• Saturday, July 9 -- We've already mentioned Festival of Wet Dreams at Soundpony for a full day and night of tunes, but if you're looking for something different, you don't have far to go. Ill Fated holds its CD release party at Crystal Pistol with The Physiques opening and The Treehouse starts to finally find its real groove with Montu and Vibesystem. If you love big guitar riffs and strong melodies, however, your guilty pleasure may just be found at Osage Events Center, where Better Than Ezra and Tonic co-headline with a cheap, $20 ticket.
• Sunday, July 10 -- I already discussed weekly residencies last week, but you belong in The Church on Sunday and you shouldn't miss David Ramirez and Wealthy West. Doors open at 6pm and there are two shows: 7pm and 10pm, but only 100 seats per session, so make sure to RSVP by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
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