CDMG's Supplemental Guide to #NMFX - CDMG Picks
There is so much great music coming out of Oklahoma that it’s impossible to provide any kind of recommendation without excluding some of our favorites. We tried including as many as we could without going overboard, so without further ado, here are 40 acts chosen between myself, Evan Jarvicks, and Cellar Door’s founder/creative director Jennifer Maynord:
T H U R S D A Y
Thursday, 8:30 pm
Main Street Event Center
One of the music scene’s unheralded great indie bands, Haniwa has been working the scene for years while methodically crafting its follow-up album to 2014’s excellent self-titled debut. That follow-up is due out this summer, and you can bet you’ll be seeing this band’s name all over the place before long. Now is the perfect time to get familiar with the female/male dual-fronted, keyboard & guitar wielding quintet.
Jose Hernandez and The Black Magic Waters
Thursday, 9:00 pm
Jose Hernandez is lovingly known by some of his friends as “The Powerhouse of the Plaza District”, and the raw energy of his personal songs and rafter-tingling performances leave quite an impression. Since putting together a full rock band and releasing a debut EP, his sound has become more accessible without losing its intensity. Catch him at Sooner Theatre, a spacious venue that will wear his heartstring tampering folk rock well.
Thursday, 10:30 pm
Main Street Event Center
Space4Lease is a psychedelic rock band with an assortment of other genre influences, most notably a subtle touch of hip-hop in key places. If you dig nimble heaviness to a robust 6/8 time signature, this is one to catch, so see Space4Lease before they go on tour again. No, seriously. They tour all the time, so their locals shows tend to be few and far between.
Thursday, 11:00 pm
The comparisons to The National are certainly founded. Tonne also features somber rock music structured around a deep male vocal, and they have nailed the sound for which they are going. If you’re into the kind of frontman that gets really into the music in the way of, say, Lorde or Thom Yorke, you’ll love this guy. Catch this band in Opolis’ special Tape Gun showcase on Thursday.
F R I D A Y
Friday, 6:00 pm
Costello brews female-fronted psychedelic rock that’s groovy, gloomy, and delicious. If there isn’t a fog machine at this performance, one will surely manifest in your mind. Though a relatively recent upstart, the band has already put out two full-length albums, and the project doesn’t look to be slowing down any time soon.
Friday, 6:30 pm
One of the few R&B vocalists to book the festival, Gabrielle B is playing a set in the midst of a sea of hip-hop artists at the Depot Stage on Friday night. That should only serve to strengthen the breath of fresh air that her voice and music embody, so head out to the fest early to see this kinetically soulful performer gracefully pull together feel-good jams and thoughtful ballads alike.
Friday, 8:00 pm
Vonna Pearl as a full band very much embodies the rock that its core duo represents on a fundamental level, but some of the added capacity allows for further unique touches, such as the saxophone player that joined the band’s most recent performance. If you like your rock music infused with folk and soul and put on grand display through exceptional musicianship, you’ll want to catch this new band of seasoned players.
Friday, 8:00 pm
Dorian Small is a little-known veteran of the Norman music scene, having casually put out records for over a decade. His most recent from last year was my #3 Oklahoma release of the year, which I adored for its unconventional splicing of genre into a feel-good, rhythmic pop tapestry. Catch a rare performance from his assembled band, and be sure to pick up an album if he has any for sale.
The Fervent Route
Friday, 8:30 pm
Original Flow, emcee of The Fervent Route, is one of the most charismatic performers you can hope to encounter this weekend. Against a full band of guitar, drums, keys, and saxophone, his incredible verses gain an added organic layer that helps drill his proud message of love home. The Fervent Route isn’t just one to watch for the fest; it’s one to watch for the future. Don’t miss it.
Friday, 10:00 pm
You just can’t go wrong with Tallows, the indie rock scientists that use an array of effects and electronics to create a thrilling, inventive sound as unique as the band’s lead vocalist. Tallows has narrowed its focus in recent years to only a few high-profile shows (last year’s NMF found the band backed by choreographed dancers), so be sure to catch this one while it’s convenient to do so.
Johnny Manchild & The Poor Bastards
Friday, 10:30 pm
Red Brick Bar
In the wake of a debut EP and a gathering fanbase, piano-led alt-rockers Johnny Manchild & The Poor Bastards are new kids to the block. Don’t let that fool you, though; the individual members’ experience and skills combine to form a catchy wave of energetic pop melodies and rock edge to engage even the most passive listener.
S A T U R D A Y
Saturday, 2:00 pm
If you like your hip-hop with a posh sense of style and an abundance of stage-made swagger, Deus has you covered. His cutting-edge trap-influenced instrumentals are the perfect backdrop to his finely tuned lyrical flow, and you can bet he’ll look good on that big Jumbotron they keep at this stage.
Saturday, 3:00 pm
Chiptune maestro DBOYD (short for Don’t Blink Or You’ll Die) will be delivering candy-coated 8-bit electronic instrumentals in abundance. Though he isn’t the only artist literally rocking a Gameboy this year (see also: Metroyd Myk), he is the most established with a dedicated local cult-like following that doesn’t lie.
Saturday, 3:00 pm
Rockabilly extraordinaire TJ Mayes will be bringing his upbeat roots rock sounds to the outdoor Depot Stage. A mainstay on The Spy’s Juke Joint Revival program, he is one of OKC’s best purveyors of the genre. Whether you bring a lawn chair or your dancing shoes, you’re bound to have a swinging good time.
Saturday, 3:30 pm
A harp, a voice, and some effects pedals are all that sun riah uses to create beautifully haunting experimentations, and the result has been near-universal critical acclaim. She’ll be playing new material from her upcoming sophomore LP, but the best reason to catch her this year is the venue, which will bring out the best resonance in her work.
Flock of Pigs
Saturday, 6:30 pm
Still a young band at just one year, Flock of Pigs has caught fire in the Norman scene, going from experimental house shows to full-blown headlining sets at signature music clubs in the OKC/Norman area. If you enjoy the fusion of jazz, funk, and hip-hop with unexpected genre left hooks sprinkled in, you won’t want to miss the Flock.
Saturday, 8:00 pm
If you’re sad about missing Explosions in the Sky’s show on Saturday at The Criterion, make up for it with one of the Tulsa area’s long-time major players in the rock scene. The atmospheric chamber post-rock band is expected to perform new material from an anticipated comeback album.
Saturday, 9:30 pm
Main Street Event Center
Post-hardcore emo outfit Naturalist is loud and frank with its striking balance of docile rock instrumentals and throat-shredding lead vocals, and yet there is a warm charisma somewhere within the plight of the band’s angsty repertoire. Expect an all-cylinders performance by the frontman.
Saturday, 9:45 pm
Hailing from Tulsa, this big group of nearly a dozen players includes latin rhythms and a full horn section to convey its signature blend of jazz, funk, and world music. While not the only band to represent this sound at the festival this year (see also: The Royal Jelly), Count Tutu certainly is the most robust. The band will serve as an opener to Portland transplants ADDverse Effects, a hip-hop live band act that headlines the stage.
Saturday, 12:30 am
Red Brick Bar
The Bourgeois is punk-tinged garage rock at its best. If you’re into a good snotty vocal and bustling guitars, you gotta see these Tulsa rockers. Additionally, if you like a good rock groove that isn’t over-the-top or cliche, you gotta see these Tulsa rockers. You know what? Just see these Tulsa rockers. Jenn’s pick for festival closer, LCG & The X, is definitely one you should consider seeing, but for me, I can see no better way to cap off the festivities than with The Bourgeois.
The So Help Me’s
Chase Kerby + The Villains
Beau Jennings & The Tigers
LCG & The X
The Dirty Little Bettys
CDMG's Supplemental Guide to #NMFX - Schedule
Next to each act, you’ll find a bracket that corresponds with the above legend. We’ve gone through each and every artist playing the festival this year and classified them based on genre. Note that this is LOOSELY APPLIED, as some artists are so unique as to not fit any category. Many fit a number of them simultaneously. For a quick reference, though, this may help you get a feel for what to expect, since it’s quite an undertaking to go through every artist one by one (trust us).
In addition to genre, there are couple of location codes that can help you know which bands are from out of town. The main stage headliners aren’t the only groups that come in from out of state, as some of the smaller stages also feature regional talent from Arkansas, Texas, Colorado, and so forth. Tulsa area groups are also given a special code because a good deal of Tulsa talent makes its way to NMF every year.
Lastly, there are exclamation points next to Cellar Door recommendations made by Cellar Door founder and creative director Jennifer Maynord as well as myself, Evan Jarvicks. We whittled our abundant lists of artists to see down to 20 each, and you can see them all in one place at the “CDMG Picks” button above.
Note that we’ve organized the schedule by stage location rather than stage size. This is because the festival covers four blocks of downtown Norman, and it’s not very feasible to jump back and forth between some of these stages. For more info on these stages, go to the “Stage Guide” button above.
The full schedule is below, and we realize that it is in small print. You can zoom in to view each image individually (right-click, “view image” for you PC users), or you can download all of this in a PDF that we’ve prepared at this link here:
CDMG's Supplemental Guide to #NMFX - Stage Guide
When navigating the festival, especially for the first time, all of the stages can be hard to wrap your mind around, but there truly is something for everyone at NMF. Some are big outdoor stages, while some are small indoor coffee shop and bar stages. Some are all ages, and some aren’t. Some have seating, and some don’t.
To help you with this, we’ve put together a handy chart to inform you which stages are open on which days as well as which ones are indoor, have available seating, and are open to all ages. This is based on prior experience with the festival and may be subject to change.
You’ll notice also that the stages are ordered by location; this is because the festival stages cover four blocks of downtown Norman. If you’re wanting to catch two bands back to back, for instance, but one is at the Bluebonnet Bar and the other is at the Brewhouse, you’ll be in for a lot of hustling between venues. Our “Schedule” segment (see button above) is also ordered this way to help you see this sort of thing before it happens on festival day.
(map provided by Norman Music Festival)
The festival organizers have always been fantastic at giving cohesion within stages to the sprawling festival. In general, Red Brick Bar hosts rock music, Sooner Theatre hosts more intimate music, whether it be folk or experimental, Michelangelo’s hosts a lot of singer-songwriters, and Opolis tends to go with adventurous indie music. There are a couple of specific showcases happening at a couple of these stages, though, so we’d like to spotlight these as well.
Tape Gun Records is an experimental music label run out of Norman that is host to all of Blake Lusk’s projects and others. This showcase is a combination of those artists and some that aren’t technically on the label but play music in much the same way. Expect lots of art rock and experimental soundscapes at this lineup hitting the Opolis indoor stage on Thursday night.
The next night, OBNEAC takes over the Opolis indoor stage for a showcase of associated acts. OBNEAC started up a cassette tape series a year ago, and artists Weak Knees, Plain Speak, and Student Film have all been on that series. With exception to Flaming Lips-associated DJ act Brothers Griiin, this lineup is dedicated to full band rock and pop music with an emphasis on fun.
Anyone familiar with Subsonix knows that there is a thriving DJ/EDM scene in Oklahoma City. The fourth annual Brother in Bass, which happens each day at the small but mighty Bison Witches stage, serves to showcase that. Expect bass-heavy mixes with beats and samples galore to complement the light show that has accompanied these performances in the past. Note that this doesn’t represent all of the acts playing Bison Witches, as there are rock bands that take the stage earlier in the day.
This article was originally written for Cellar Door Music Group (cellardoormusicgroup.com). It is archived here with the publisher’s permission.
aka Jarvix, the Chief Executive Weirdo of Make Oklahoma Weirder. His out-of-the-box music coverage has been published by the Oklahoma Gazette, KOSU, and The Oklahoman among others. He also makes DIY music as a solo multi-instrumentalist live looper in his spare time.