POSTED ON JULY 13, 2011:
Congress of a Crow revisits its former glory for a night while King Cobra basks Under the Tulsa Sun
In rock 'n' roll, reunions aren't anything new. At times, it seems the hardest thing to do is keep a band together, so reunions almost become a byproduct of the music scene.
It's only once in a great while, though, that a band reunion actually generates interest. Sure, friends and relatives will show up, but how often does a band reunion actually create a buzz -- at least on the local level?
As the Crow Flies.
When Congress of a Crow reconvenes at The Marquee this weekend, it promises to be one of those rare instances where the audience truly responds and sparks fly -- and hopefully in a good way. The band's last performance together was for the tulsaoriginalmusic.com showcase at Cain's Ballroom on Feb. 4, 2009 -- and yes, the members of the band readily remember that show, right down to the date.
Granted, the roughly two and a half year absence leaves plenty of questions about a potential reunion. Has it really been long enough to warrant a reunion? Or has it been too long to matter? The one question that doesn't come up, however, is whether or not Congress impacted enough listeners to draw interest.
As far as impact on the local modern rock scene is concerned, Congress of a Crow was at the front of the class, consistently drawing large audiences and touring relentlessly to expand its reach. A reunion at this point, however, is something of Eagles-type stature -- and not necessarily in a "this is a landmark band" manner so much as a "has hell frozen over?" scenario.
You see, for those even vaguely familiar with the band, its final demise wasn't a huge shock. It was written in the sand and was more a matter of when than if. With a lineup that shifted almost constantly from the time of its inception to its final days, Congress was a band that was known almost as much for its drama and infighting as its electric live shows. Perhaps that was part of the band's intrigue and the spark behind its explosive chemistry, but sooner or later, the powder keg was going to blow. When it finally did, local fans were sad to see the band go, but not particularly surprised.
But why now? With the popularity level the band experienced and its reputation for tumultuous internal chemistry, it's hard to imagine wanting to revisit that tornado. After sitting down with guitarists Adam Tichenor and Ted Scott and bassist Todd Shaver, though, I honestly believe that's not necessarily the case. When asking the trio why now, the resounding answer from each was, "the time just seems right."
Tichenor said he saw a Facebook post by drummer Nate Lindley this spring, which said that said he had just heard Congress' song "Feel So Good" on KMYZ-FM The Edge and felt the final spark to explore the possibilities of a reunion.
"I had been thinking about it," Tichenor said, "because I'd still get these little checks in the mail every couple of months from people still buying out stuff online. Our songs never stopped selling."
Tichenor started thinking about how listeners would respond to a reunion, then decided to get in touch with the rest of the band.
Lead singer Danelle Phillips agreed about the timing of the reunion. Both she and Tichenor -- who dated -- said that time had softened the blow of their breakup.
"It doesn't matter that we didn't get along. That's in the past," Tichenor said. "What mattered then was kind of the feeling that if this isn't going well, maybe it's a sign that we're wasting our time."
"And we miss playing the songs," Shaver interjected, drawing another unanimous agreement amongst the three.
Phillips acknowledged the tension within the band prior to it's dissolution. "We were so hot and heavy with the fighting near the end," she said. "Then, when our gear got stolen, that was just kind of the final blow that took the wind out of our sails. I've really missed the music, though, and every so often I still hear from people that say, 'We miss you guys.'"
Phillips said the split was traumatic. "I didn't listen to any of those songs for a little over a year after we broke up. I couldn't -- it just hurt too much," she said.
By the time Tichenor reached out to the band, the idea had already been in the back the musicians' minds.
"Why now? Because we love these songs, because there's no reason not to and because the timing is perfect," Tichenor said. "Plus there's no chance of breaking up, so we're not risking anything."
"And we know other people will enjoy it as well," Shaver added. "There's clearly residual interest in the band still."
The band announced its reunion show on Facebook and the response was immediate, Tichenor said. Almost 100 people responded that they would be "attending" the event on the first day -- a good sign that it's not just the band members who are eager to revisit Congress of a Crow's songs.
The reunion show is Friday, June 15 at The Marquee. Tickets are $10 at the door, which opens at 7pm. The show starts at 8:30pm with a pair of new bands: RL Jones and King Cobra.
If you're an old fan that misses the band, or even if you missed the Congress era but have heard how good the shows were, it will be worth the time to see the band together one last time. And for those who need a memento for the occasion, the band still has a few CDs left and is printing a pair of new shirts just for the occasion.
That only leaves one question: After a history that saw 10 different versions of the band, exactly what will the lineup be for the evening? Founding members Danelle Phillips and Adam Tichenor are a given on vocals and guitar, respectively. Guitarist Ted Scott and bassist Todd Shaver are obviously included, and the band will be rounded out Nathan Lindley on drums -- an explosive combination that will live up to the band's reputation on the stage.
Catch Some Rays
Last week I addressed the summer festival season that's kicking into high gear and mentioned Under the Tulsa Sun. If you haven't heard details yet, pay attention, because it's this weekend and offers a pretty balanced mix of bands from across most corners of the music scene.
As if King Cobra isn't busy enough picking up gigs, releasing free music (yes free, via the band's Facebook page) and opening for Congress of a Crow this weekend, guitarist Dustin Howard apparently decided he needed something else to occupy his time and set out planning what has turned into "Under the Tulsa Sun" with the help and cooperation of friends at Arnie's and Budweiser. With all due regards, Howard had already begun planning this event before the Congress show presented itself .
The band will be plenty busy on Saturday as it heads up a lineup that will feature two stages and 12 acts at the corner of 2nd Street and Elgin Avenue. Gates open at 4pm for the outdoor stage in the Arnie's parking lot that will be open to all ages and a "New Tulsa Sound" jam session and performances by The Last Slice, Promo Dave & the Haters, Sam & the Stylees, Fiawna Forte, King Cobra and OK Sweetheart. Arnie's will also have an indoor stage (open only to the 21+ crowd) with performances by John Moreland, Hiphopotamus, Jason Ferguson, Desi & Cody and more.
Sure it's small, but it's also self contained and has all the aspects of full festival atmosphere, including food and drink vendors, live art (painted by Bugsy Morris and Wes Jackson as the bands play) and even a rumored "surprise" luchadoor wrestling rivalry on tap for the evening. The art pieces will be auctioned off with proceeds going to local charity Tulsa Equality Foundation.
If you're ready to get out to catch some rays and good music as the sun goes down and the temperatures start to fall, this is a good time and place to do it. Tickets are only $8 in advance via Ticketstorm.com or $10 at the gate for the all-ages (outside, anyway) event, with kids under 10 admitted for free. If you aren't at the ABoT Music awards, make sure and check this out -- or head downtown afterwards to make it your after party.
Yes, those are two big shows and we've also go the ABoT Music Awards at The Joint on Saturday night, but those three events are just flashes of this week's heat wave. Read on to get this week's highlights.
• Thursday, July 14 -- Chris Lee Becker plays The Colony and ABoT Music nominees The Del Toros play Junkie this week, but the best show to jump start your weekend is Ben Miller Band returning to mercury Lounge for a rare Thursday evening gig. Meanwhile, Christian rock fans won't want to miss Showbread as the band headlines Enerje Event Center in Owasso with White Collar Sideshow and Ember Days opening. Tickets are only $13 at the door.
• Friday, July 15 -- If you're looking for something a little more relaxed than the Congress of a Crow Reunion at The Marquee, you can always enjoy Paul Benjaman Band at Fassler Hall or kick back on the patio at Blue Rose Café with Dustin Pittsley. If you're looking for something even more quaint and relaxed, check out Tim Casey at George's Pub in Jenks to recharge for the rest of the weekend.
• Saturday, July 16 -- Of course, you know we think you should join us at The Joint for the ABoT Music Awards to hear who you picked as this year's winners. Afterwards, however, if you don't join the party at Arnie's, you can chill on the patio at Hunt Club with Dante & the Hawks, kick back with Panda Resistance and Pa Pa Win at Fassler Hall or get your dance thing on with the PANIC! Party at Electric Circus. And don't forget that Randy Rogers Band is back for another round at Cain's Ballroom with Wade Bowen opening.
• Sunday, July 17 -- The Brady Village will get "Hot as Hell," both literally and figuratively with Rob Zombie, Five Finger Death Punch, Sevendust, Underoath, 10 Years and Times of Grace while Riverwalk Crossing plays it cool with GoGo Plumbay. All the middle aged (and not quite middle aged) females will be at BOK Center, though, for New Kids On The Block with Backstreet Boys.
• Tuesday, June 19 -- Young metal fans will be at The Marquee for In Fear And Faith while the retro crowd packs out BOK Center for Def Leppard and Heart in a double bill that spans at least three decades.
• Wednesday, July 20 -- Finally, wrap up your week by relaxing at the Blue Rose Café with a classic standby, Tom Skinner's Science Project, and recharge for next week's action.
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