POSTED ON JUNE 12, 2013:
Mix It Up
Blurring genre lines to shake things up
Last week, we gave you a rundown of this week's NewVo Showcase that Urban Tulsa is hosting at IDL Ballroom this Thursday night, June 13. It's a night full of music with a little bit of everything: from acoustic tunes by Robert Hoefling to the folk/punk of Johnny Badseed & the Rotten Apples to the indie rock of Dead Shakes and surf punk of The Fabulous St. Knicholas Cage to the bluegrass/world beat blend of Grayless and the straight up rock of RL Jones.
Some people see SocietySociety as a rock band, while some see it as a hip-hop act, and others don't care because there are just as many influences coming from indie and college rock. Whatever the case, SocietySociety is back and causing a stir on the local music scene.
SocietySociety originally formed in late 2007 out of the ashes of Vito Ninefingers, with lead vocalist Devo McFarland and guitarist Joe DuFresne, when they came up with their first song on acoustic guitar and called drummer Jordan Forrester, telling him "You've got to hear this -- the girls are gonna love it!"
At Least Itís Not An Affliction T-shirt. SocietySociety rocks NewVo. Come get some.
From there, the band expanded on the eclectic hip-hop of Vito Ninefingers with a pop-punk energy that aligned the band with early Gym Class Heroes. The band played around town for nearly two years before splintering over personal differences and going separate ways, with DuFresne continuing on with his punk band, Streetlight Fight, and McFarland playing in a number of projects, most notably The Televised.
Ultimately, however, after a two-year hiatus, all of the members of SocietySociety came back together last fall, looking to recapture a chemistry that none had found outside of the group. With bassist Chris Reynolds and guitarist William Vickers (the only non-original member) completing the lineup, the band accepted an opening spot to knock the dust off and see what response would be. When word got out that the band was planning a return, it drew roughly 100 people, including the core of its original audience for its initial return performance on a multi-band bill at Shrine on a Thursday night in February of this year. Just a few weeks later, the group publicized its first headline performance at Vanguard and more than doubled that number.
When asked what initiated the reunion, DuFresne shared that "I started writing again, but what I had didn't really fit what I was doing with Streetlight Fight, so I started sending Devo the riffs I was writing."
Before long, the two started jamming with Reynolds and Forrester, and they called in Vickers on guitar, whom they already had a chemistry with from their days in Vito Ninefingers. And the wheels were set in motion.
When seeing the band perform, there's an obvious camaraderie that's undeniable. After two years apart, the members are older and a little wiser, but more than that, they are noticeably more mature and focused in their vision. Now that the group has reformed, it's ready to pick up where it left off and go running into the future.
The only real question, however, is just exactly where SocietySociety falls within Tulsa's musical landscape. Guitarist DuFresne comes from a punk rock background, drawing inspiration from The Transplants and Autopilot Off, while McFarland grew up on Prince, Michael Jackson and 80s R&B and hip hop. Meanwhile, Reynolds has a love for reggae, while Vickers started out in hardcore and metal before falling into punk and indie rock.
Even asking the band about its influences provides a confusing picture as artists as diverse as 311, Minus the Bear, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Murder By Death, The Roots, Transplants, James Brown, Mumford & Sons, Matisyahu, Outkast, Childish Gambino, Modest Mouse and Gym Class Heroes all get brought up. Somehow, though, the group processes all of that to create something that has a little of everything in it. Ultimately, for lack of a better term, McFarland described SocietySociety's sound as "progressive, full-band hip hop", a catch-all that incorporates the band's hip-hop, rock and punk elements.
"I've noticed that people tend to take what they want to take out of it," Vickers said when explaining the band's sound. "We've also seen people incorporate their influences into what they hear, but at the same time, once they say it, we can hear it too."
The comparisons have been wide ranging, from the obvious to the obscure: from Beastie Boys, Jane's Addiction and Rage Against the Machine to 311, Modest Mouse, The XX and Thievery Corp.
Perhaps that's why SocietySociety has already been able to play to such diverse audiences while opening for Hell or Highwater in April, Aaron Carter in May and House of Heroes in June. What other band could open for a hard rock act one month, a dance-pop singer the next and follow up with a melodic rock band? It's because of the diversity and ability to mix with any genre that SocietySociety is poised to blow up and do something different.
Now that the group has come back together and recaptured its chemistry, it's not setting any boundaries. The group has already started recording its debut EP, shot a live video and started booking out of state shows, beginning with a round of dates in Texas last weekend.
As Devo McFarland explained it, "For me, making music just doesn't feel natural without these people. I've been in other bands, but that's not who I want to write with, it's not who I want to make music with, and it's not who I want to get famous with. These are the guys I'm supposed to do all of that with."
With that attitude as well as a new vision and focus, SocietySociety has quickly caused a stir within local music circles and positioned itself to be one of the hottest local bands to come out of Tulsa this year. If you want to see if they can live up to the buzz, you can check them out this Thursday night as part of this year's NewVo (New Voices) Showcase at IDL Ballroom. It's a free show, but you have to be 18 or over. Doors open at 6pm, so get there early to catch a full night of music and Tulsa's hottest rising bands, including what should be an exciting set from SocietySociety.
Send all comments and feedback regarding SoundCheck to firstname.lastname@example.org.
URL for this story: http://www.urbantulsa.comhttp://www.urbantulsa.com/gyrobase/Content?oid=oid%3A61089