Nights to remember: Local shows of the year
I’m proud to say that the first and last stories I wrote in my three years at The Daily were about local concerts.
From spring 2009 when I first wandered into Opolis to see Blitzen Trapper to April’s totally epic, full-scale sonic assault that was Norman Music Festival 4, it’s been an eventful and exciting adventure. I feel blessed to have shared it with so many wonderful people — the performers, the locals, friends and those who just seem to have spontaneously appeared.
From here, on the verge of graduating college, I look back at my time chronicling the local music and arts scene and only regret not shirking my work enough to cover it more comprehensively.
Norman really, truly is a great place for local music; the artists are talented, its supporters are dedicated, encouraging and engaged, and the general public is curious. They really, truly want to hear original music produced by their own community.
I’d like to briefly thank anybody who’s ever worked for the Norman Arts Council and the OU Campus Activities Council Concert Series for the tireless work they all do to organize Norman Music Festival and bring shows to campus, respectively. You are improving our town by bringing diverse, interesting music into it. Seriously.
And to anybody and everybody I’ve ever danced, jumped, moshed, fist-pumped, head-banged, chilled out or simply listened with, thanks for letting me share that experience with you.
Sharing music is an intimate and beautiful exchange, whether between the artist and a listener or a couple of concert attendees or even total strangers. There’s great joy in that connection, and Norman is a place where it happens every day. May our town forever rock.
So without ado, here are my six favorite local shows from this school year. Many shows I missed, so if your band or your favorite band isn’t included, I apologize. Please feel free to find me sometime. I’d be more than glad to put on a record and talk about it.
Ariel Pink (Sept. 15 at Opolis)
Even among indie musicians, Ariel Pink stands out as a particular weirdo. The guy’s tough to understand— he records catchy music with cheap equipment, and often sort of, well, does unexpected things live just because he can. “Menopause Man” tangled up gender norms in the most casual way at Opolis in September, and the album standouts “Beverly Kills” and “Round And Round” both absolutely killed.
Local Natives (Oct. 5 at ACM@UCO)
2010’s brightest rising indie stars, Local Natives, folk-rocked all hell out of the brand new ACM@UCO venue in Oklahoma City back in October. “Who Knows Who Cares” rose from charming and pleasant to straight-up cathartic with Kelcey Ayer, Taylor Rice and Ryan Hahn’s intricate, soaring three-part harmonies.
Other Lives (April 14 at Oklahoma Memorial Union)
Inclement weather drove the state’s dreariest band indoors where their solemn sound resounded through an enthralled crowd that shrank when the Stillwater band, opening for Mates of State, finished their set. Other Lives’ music always sounds like pent-up sadness that trickles out in catchy, solemn melodies. They played heavily from their forthcoming album “Tamer Animals” (which is now streaming at the website Hype Machine), confirming that, indeed, they’ll continue to sound elegant, powerful and gloomy for a long while to come.
Lightning Bolt (April 22 at Opolis)
My ears buzzed 48 hours after I staggered out of Opolis from this show. This Rhode Island noise duo were a thing to behold — just a bassist and a drummer, the latter — Brian Chippendale — a physical specimen. The guy was cut, but not for show. His chest and biceps bulged for the same reason Oklahoma City Thunder power forward Serge Ibaka’s do: because he needs them to do what he does. He played so frenetically, so desperately, as to suggest it was physically impossible for anybody lacking the same amount of fast-twitch muscle on their upper body to keep up. They went at it for nearly two hours: it truly felt like I was watching somebody sprint a marathon’s distance.
The Neighborhood (April 28 at Norman Music Festival 4)
I’d only heard rumor of The Neighborhood’s previous dominance of the Norman live music scene, as they’d called it a day before my time. So when the news of their Opolis stage show at this year’s Norman Music Festival first reached my ears, I was elated. The guys, reunited for the first time in years, didn’t disappoint.
The venue packed out and buzzed with excitement as they set up their gear, accompanied by some very foreboding specialty lights lining the back of the stage. “Your Longest Day” kicked off what would be a high-energy set, intensified by the sweaty kids half-dancing, half-moshing in the front. “Hot Water” ended it, the lights strobing behind the stage.
BRONCHO (April 30 at Norman Music Festival 4)
I’m going to go ahead and call whoever scheduled Ryan Lindsey and his band of merry punks to play the first set on the only stage open after The Walkmen finished at Norman Music Festival 4 a bloody genius. Hundreds, if not a thousand festival-goers, still hungry for rock, showed up at Blackwatch’s backdoor. Madness ensued.
People climbed on the nearby trailer to overlook the massive, moshing crowd, audience members climbed onstage to share Lindsey’s microphone and dive into the crowd; all the while BRONCHO snarled through a set of their signature busted-fuse punk thrashing. It was the wildest, happiest thing I’ve ever seen at a Norman show. And I’ll die happy if it’s the last one I ever see.
— Matt Carney, professional writing senior