POSTED ON FEBRUARY 1, 2012:
Vandevander steps back onto the live stage and Polyphonic sounds off in a cool venue
You can be forgiven if you thought that Vandevander had disappeared or possibly broken up last year. After all, the group didn't make a live appearance all year long, aside from serving as Desi & Cody's backing band at the duo's CD release in November. That didn't mean one of Tulsa's best rock bands had been retired. It was merely recuperating as its members attended to other issues.
It's not like everyone didn't stay busy during the band's hiatus. Drummer Nathan Price continues to play with more bands than I can keep track of and was part of Unwed Sailor's national tour with Owl City last summer as well as continuing on as an active member of Ryan Lindsey's Broncho. Likewise, Eric Arndt is possibly the busiest bassist in town, holding down the rhythm section with a number of projects like Pilgrim as well as continuing on with his own project, Refund Division.
Band leader Matt Fisher (aka: Vandevander), also kept himself busy as he returned to school and focused his efforts on classes and even a missions trip or two. Even though Vandevander wasn't active in the local clubs, however, that doesn't mean the group wasn't one of Tulsa's most successfully exposed bands in 2011.
You may not have seen and heard Vandevander in the clubs, but if you were paying any attention to the TV, you probably heard the group playing in the background, even if you didn't realize it. Yes, it's true: Vandevander scored over 30 placements in 2011 with eight of the group's songs.
The most prominent of those placements came for "1,000" and the song's driving guitar riff, which landed not only in the HBO series Weeds, but also made an appearance in American Idol spots last year. Cuts like "The Curse," "The Birth of Death," "The Getback" and "Burning for Love" each had multiple placements, including appearances in 40 Most Shocking Breakups. I have to chuckle to myself, however, in thinking that perhaps the most appropriate of the bunch may be the placement of "Devil Man" in Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations.
Somehow, even while taking a rest from the live stage, Vandevander continued to be one of the most active local bands of the year when looking at a broader platform and the group managed to still turn the focus of Los Angeles and New York industry types on Oklahoma music. When considering the competition for those types of placements, you've got to step back and give credit where credit is due and 2011 was an impressive year for Vandevander.
All the praise above is not to say that the creative flow stopped, however. When Vandevander returned to the stage at Fassler Hall a couple of weeks ago, not only was the band refreshed and more focused, but it also arrived with a trio of new songs in hand, most notably "Angel Wings" and "The Greatest of the Redeemed." If you had any worries that Vandevander would lose its edge with an extended hiatus, think again.
Most notable is the renewed spark and focus in Fisher's playing. He's always been a very fluid hand. But the break has renewed the fire in his musicianship, making his playing more lean and precise within the songs and even more vicious in his extended solos. And although Arndt and Price have continued to play in a number of other projects, their return to this material sees them come back with a tighter grasp on the material, giving it a new energy.
Fortunately, that Fassler Hall show wasn't just a one-off appearance for 2012, but a sign of the group's return from hiatus. This Friday night, February 3, Vandevander returns to the group's old stomping grounds for a full night of bluesy, from-the-gut rock at The Colony. This is where all of the old material got worked out and took flight and although the Fassler show was great, this is where you'll get to see the band get down and dirty and really settle into its groove once again. There's also a good chance you'll get to hear a few new tunes as Fisher keeps us looking forward to a new Vandevander release later in the year.
If you haven't been back to The Colony for a while, this is the weekend to be there. Vandevander will take the stage at 10pm and cover is only $5, so get there early because it will be packed for the return of one of Tulsa's best guitar rock bands.
A Polyphonic Return
Apparently this is the week for triumphant comebacks in Tulsa. Although The Polyphonic Spree hasn't put out a new album since 2007's The Fragile Army, founder Tim DeLaughter and co-leader Julie Doyle have been busy again and revived the group, as signaled by the arrival of the band's new single "What Would You Do?" and a return to the group's more lighthearted and celebratory sound.
Many a Muse.
DeLaughter and Doyle also relaunched their record label, Good Records Recordings, as a singles label with releases by DeLaughter's old band, Tripping Daisy, and his latest project, Preteen Zenith. Additional artists for whom the label is releasing material include Binary Sunrise, Sweet Lee Morrow, Pilotdrift and New Fumes.
This all may seem pointless, until you look at the bigger picture: The Polyphonic Spree will be doing its first full U.S. tour in more than four years and the first leg kicks off right here in Tulsa this Monday night, February 6. Tickets are only $25 in advance, but you'll want to get them early because tickets are limited.
Instead of launching this tour in Cain's Ballroom, the group is kicking things off in small clubs and playing an intimate show in Bob's to a smaller audience. This promises to be one heck of an event as The Spree is currently touring with 21 members, all returning to their white choir robes and idiosyncratic splendor.
New Fumes, which is the new project by former Spree member and Flaming Lips collaborator Daniel Huffman, will open the show at 8pm. This promises to be one of the wildest parties Bob's has ever hosted, so don't miss it and arrive early.
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