POSTED ON JULY 3, 2013:
Stars in the Wings
A peek at CUFest bands you haven't heard yet...
By now, word is out and the buzz is building. Yes, the Center of the Universe Festival (CUFest) is just a couple of weeks away and bringing a stack of big names to draw the city's attention to the Brady District. Even after our introduction a couple of weeks ago, the festival announced another headliner, OK GO, to add a little more weight to an already impressive lineup.
Most people should already be aware of the stars of the show. While rising acts Churchill and Mayer Hawthorne may not have won Tulsa over yet, they are both building a buzz nationally and serve as an appetizer for Friday night's main event: One Republic, the pop band that everyone has been talking about. For my money, Saturday night is even better with Mutemath, OK Go and Neon Trees lighting up the main stage for a show that will keep modern rock and even a segment of the indie rock crowd content.
What most people haven't focused on yet, however, is the action over on the Guthrie Green stage with a crop of rising acts that are just on the cusp of breaking into the national spotlight or are simply creating some great music that deserves attention on a broader scale. This is the stuff that music festivals build their reputations on: being ahead of the curve and exposing people to great talent before they explode on radio and the Billboard charts and Center of the Universe has pulled a cool cross-section of bands that could steal the night for anyone willing to go beyond the big names.
YO MAMA’S BIG FAT BOOTY BAND
So who's worth checking out? Beyond all of them, you mean? I won't miss The Mowgli's, who recently played at Vanguard and are poised to get big on radio with their new single. Saturday night on The Green could be the stealth lineup that everyone leaves the festival talking about, though, with a trio of bands that are all stellar in their own right.
If you love intelligent indie rock, you shouldn't miss Austin's Quiet Company at 6:30pm Saturday evening. I first came across them at SXSW in 2012 and gave them my time begrudgingly as they swept the Austin music awards for best singer, best band, best record, best you name it. When they started setting up, I wrote them off as yet another hipster band, but when they hit the stage, I was blown away. Intelligent lyrics, killer musicians and live horns all come together for a great live performance that puts these guys in a category with Stillwater's Other Lives, even if they don't step out quite so far into the atmosphere. We Are All Where We Belong remains a staple in my iPod and CD player, however, so I can't wait to see what new they've got up their collective sleeve.
Rebirth Brass Band throws the festival crowd a curveball of sorts, but with a weekend loaded with commercial pop and indie rock, an hour of jazz with a New Orleans institution will breathe a whole new life into the crowd and set the party atmosphere before heading into the home stretch. Yes, this one is appropriate for all and will likely draw an older audience, but why not let them drop their guard before exposing them to a few new things? Two words: Don't miss.
Finally, the real wildcard of the weekend is the one I just might be looking forward to the most: Yo Mama's Big Fat Booty Band. Ten years of playing together means this group doesn't have any problem finding its groove when they hit the stage and these funk monsters from Asheville, NC dive headlong into funk grooves that promise to have the Guthrie Green dancing from the first song to the last. The main stage may have the big names from radio and the internet, but one listen to Yo Mama and you'll know this is what a hot summer night sounds like. Plan on having their grooves burned into your brain and feeling like dancing again when you wake up Sunday morning.
Don't forget: admission to the CUFest grounds is free, but you still need to get a ticket for entry. You can get pick yours up at Ida Red or get them online at CenteroftheUniveverseFestival.com. And if you want premium access to the main stage, a limited number of VIP tickets are still available for $245 for the weekend or $122.50 per night with BOK Zone tickets available for $135 for the weekend or $67.50 per night. Whatever you do, you don't want to miss the party.
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