Tulsa Overground’s Vibe
Tulsa Overground Music and Film Festival was a nicely timed series of events that laid smack dap in the middle of Cinco de Mayo and first Friday. For those who have never experienced First Friday, it is a time where local artists and vendors gather downtown to sell their work and show off their talent.
The sidewalks were filled with artists from all different kinds of mediums as I walked the sidewalks to enter into the FlyLoft where I picked up my festival passes.
Of course Tulsa Overground would not have been what it was if it weren’t for its generous sponsors such as Normal Publication. They attended the two day festival in order to release their third issue of Normal. The brand new pages included 3D glasses and effects. If you have not yet checked out their amazing work, please go to NormalPublication.com and order some copies.
The first day, Friday May 5, I stayed at the Vanguard to watch one of my favorite musicians, Jay Derubeis, from The Girls Room play in her band Planet What.
Normal Publication wrote a band feature over Planet What in their second issue. For more information over this female lead rock band you can follow them on Facebook @PlanetWhat. You can also check out their BandCamp account, and listen to their latest album.
Aside from these amazing female rockstars, the festival did not start off on a strong foot. The venues never really filled up, until late into the night (like past midnight).
Saturday May 6, however, was pretty eventful on the music side of Overground. I was constantly hopping back and forth between Chimera and the Vanguard show after show to link up with some of the most talented young bands in Tulsa right now.
The first band I went to go see rocked the house down, and featured the lead singer and guitarist from The Shelter People. Another female lead band with three wicked guitarist to back up their sound, it’s The Golden Ones.
This band is made up of four members with Sarah Dickenson on Lead Vocals/Guitar, Jesse Frick on Bass/Guitar, Dakota Hurley on Guitar, and Adryon Dasilva on Drums.
Dickenson’s meer presence is enough to gather a crowd. She blew my mind with her powerhouse voice and groovy dance moves. The rest of her band provides an amazing support team, and together they play so in sync that their sound flows out of their instruments naturally. Getting to hear this band perform live was a privileged delicacy that proves the theory of how some people were born to rock.
The next band I went to go see have been a favorite of mine ever since I first saw them perform at Battle of the Bands three years ago as well as this year. SteelyFace is made up of five members with Ian (Mikey/ Froggy) Rosario on Drums, Eilyn Hammer on lead vocals, Diego Lezcano on keys/guitar/vocals, Bronson Camp on lead guitar/rhythm, and Atticus Wise on guitar.
“It started with me and Mikey,” said Lezcano “The actual SteelyFace didn’t start until Bronson and Eilyn came in.”
Steely Face‘s show at Tulsa Overground went phenomenally well. They were all in tune with each other. Usually the bands main gigs are held at Cain’s Ballroom, so for their first ever time playing a festival, they rocked it.
“The biggest ting for me is the feeling of playing” said Hammer “I always feel better than I ever have in my life. I love it every time.”
“We have gotten a lot of exposure in the last few months, so we are just trying to further that,” said Lezcano.
They have a really nice sound that only they can describe. In general it falls under the category of rock- but no two rock bands are ever the same.
“We are big fans of Rage Against the Machine, protest music in general, and really trying to say something with the song,” said Lezcano “I like very straight forward repetitive lyrics because 90% of the time nobody is going to hear your lyrics, so we try to portray that in the feeling of the song. Most of our songs are really indie space punk, thats what we call our genre, but we also have that protest music that is really taking a turn on rock metal.”
My personal favorite song that they performed was a track called Nimbus. The title for the track apparently comes from the inspiration of vape clouds.
“We get fed up with a lot of things in life a lot of the time, and we are high schoolers,” said Lezcano “The first line I sing is slow down, just take a deep breath. Let it all go and think about what you are going to do next without anger getting in the way. I believe in peaceful ways to solve your problems.”
The next band to bless this festival with their presence was none other than The Manta Rays.
The band is made up of Jackson Gillett on Lead Vocals and Guitar, Ronnie Bunn on Drums, Parker Vay on Lead Guitar, and Britton Gregory on Bass.
Their genre has a lot of alternative features to it, but they self described their sound as disco cowboy.
“The main goal of our music was to successfully put all of our inspirations into one, but to not make them apparent,” said Gillett.
A close supporter of the band and their growth, Kamryn Tarwater, stood by to chat about the band’s young success and performance of the night at Tulsa Overground.
“[The performance] went great,” said Tarwater “It is cute seeing them together and everything. Tulsa doesn’t really get that many music festivals, so its cool to see my favorite bands all in one.”
Aside from The Manta Rays, Tarwater was really stoked to see a rock n’ roll band who is no stranger to this website, The Shelter People.
The Shelter People is made up of three band members. Dakota Hurley- also from The Golden Ones- on Lead Vocals and Lead Guitar, Garon Burch on Bass, and Justin Mathais on Drums.
I am a huge fan of these rockstars, and they are only going up from here. While performing gig after gig around Tulsa, The Shelter People are also working on the release of their first debut album. I suggest you keep an eye out for these fellas and join the revolution while you still can.
The last band that I stayed to see perform blew me away. Terminal A is a special kind of rock band with Lee Busch on Guitar and Colin Peterson on Vocals.
Terminal A recently just finished up their West Coast tour when they were invited to play at Tulsa Overground. They perform all across the nation, but they are originally from LA scenic San Pedro.
“We haven’t hit the east coast or anything, but we have gone as far down as TJ and as far north as Canada and the Island of Vancouver and Victoria,” said Peterson.
The beginning of it all starts when they met in high school from a mutual friend due to their interest in the same old LA synth punk band, The Screamers.
“We just got together and started doing stuff because life was so sad back then,” said Peterson “Life was terrible. If we didn’t do anything it would have been a loss of time.”
They started in 2012, and they describe their sound as old school punk rock, but with a drum machine and synthesizers. Therefore, it falls under the category of synth punk or electro punk.
When asked what they could expect from Tulsa Overground, their lead singer had some deep thoughts running through his response.
“If you go through life with a bunch of extraneous expectations, you are only setting yourself up for disappointment,” said Peterson “You may as well enjoy being where you are, when you are.”
What Terminal A was hoping to happen during their performance was a completely different story.
“As long there is a couple of people that dig it or have fun then I’m stoked,” said Busch
“Maybe a couple people to have a good time, maybe piss a couple people off, we will see…” said Peterson
Terminal A made good use of their time and enjoyed other parts of Tulsa Overground while they were they were there for their gig. The night before their show, May 5, they went to the 21+ venue and saw some bands perform at the Soundpony.
“It was so sick, there were so may people,” said Peterson “In the front room they had The KoreaTown Oddity play, but before that they were spinning old disco and old southern bronx style hip-hop, like really groovy stuff. It was so fun, the drinks were so cheap, and everyone was so good looking.”
They also caught some of the film festival section of Tulsa Overground while they were here May 5.
“We caught The Dundee Project, Mark Borchardt’s new movie, and that was really rad,” said Busch “And he had some of his early shorts, and stuff that was really cool.”
“It was awesome to interact with someone that is legitimately of a stable American underground cinema.”
During their set, Terminal A does something that I have never witnessed any other band do in my entire career of music writing (which is not that long yet, so a few other bands may practice this art as well).
THEY JUMP INTO THE AUDIENCE. I am not talking about crowd surfing or stage diving.
They walk around and get in your face. Looking around during their set, I could see a lot of shocked faces. No one seemed visibly uncomfortable, they all kind of just accepted Terminal A and invited the band in. It was a very intimate performance. I caught up with Terminal A afterward and asked them why they did/do this during their performances.
“What is the use of participating in a subculture, if you are going to reenact the woes and power structures of the culture you are handed?” said Peterson.
As for the rest of Tulsa Overground, what left is there to expect? Can we look forward to a next year?
“I hope there is a next year,” said Tulsa Overground Volunteer, Sarah Sullivan “I think they have to assess how this year went. I mean every year is a little different from the last. It changes locations. It changes sponsers. It is kind of a independent guerrilla situation even though it has been going on for so long that there may be a Tulsa Overground next year, ut it may be completely different from this year. So we will see.”
15 years ago, Tulsa Overground started off as just a film festival without the music scene side of it.
“I used to go to it in high school, and I though I was the coolest person on the planet because the other high school students weren’t going there,” said Sullivan.
There was a hiatus for a while, and then the festival came back stronger than ever.
“Tulsa Overground is awesome,” said Sullivan “Volunteering itself is pretty easy, but I’m happy to be apart of it because it is one of the best things that Tulsa has done.”
Sullivan shared her favorite part about Tulsa Overground and what it does for its community.
“I love that it brings together relatively unknown things like local bands,” said Sullivan “It gives them some exposure, and with all the films it dives into an aspect of film that Tulsa doesn’t see that often. It is like exposure for independent creative people.”
For more information over the past festival you can visit their website at www.TulsaOverground.com.