The 2013 Norman Music Fest is robbing you blind. Sure, in monetary terms it is completely 100% free to see as many of the hundreds of musical acts as you want. But what they don’t want you to know is you’re paying what economists like to call opportunity cost. That’s right, for every band you go see at NMF this weekend, you pay the price of not being able to see any of the dozens of other bands playing at that very moment. That’s how they get you!
In the interests of minimizing the information asymmetries that keep you, the consumer, from partying like a rational actor, I have made for you this handy list of my personal highlights for the three days of this year’s festival.
Thursday is all about pacing yourself. You have to work in the morning. There are two more days of festival to enjoy. Go out and enjoy the great music, but see the shows that aren’t going to wear you out on day one. You’re not getting any younger.
Depth and Current – Blackwatch @ Midnight
If you live in central Oklahoma and haven’t heard D&C yet, you’ve done something wrong. The Norman darkwave trio gets compared to Joy Division (but with distortion pedals) all the time, so you know they’re an uplifting bunch. Think of them as a sobering palate cleanser of somber fuzz to prepare you for a weekend of revels.
Magnificent Bird – Brewhouse @ 11 p.m.
Speaking of sad music, it may be a little on the nose to call Magnificent Bird’s music “haunting”, especially if you watch the video below, wherein a man is literally haunted. That said, Nathan and company make some gorgeous music, and it’s a perfect way to keep the first night of NMF chilled out and thoughtful.
Friday is freedom day. This is the day you rock your ass off and spend too much on booze, because that’s what freedom means. There’s not much worth doing tomorrow before noon anyways, so you might as well go all out for day 2, right? I was lying before, you actually are getting younger. It’s weird and you should see a doctor, but only after a night of pure overindulgence.
Rainbows Are Free – Opolis Outdoors @ 9 p.m.
RAF is the best rock and roll band in Oklahoma. There are a million Sabbath-worshipping 70’s rock revival bands out there willing to play 20 minute heavy stoner grooves. RAF sets themselves apart with their aggressively weird frontman, the occasional use of wizard capes, and riffs that will stick with you long after the haze has cleared.
Shitty/Awesome – Opolis Indoors @ 11:30 p.m.
Not feeling like you’re keeping up with the intense pace of jubilation you’ve set for yourself? S/A is an ancient roman oarmaster, compelling you to row faster, slave. Except instead of an oar, you have a can of PBR that you’ve prepped for shotgunning. Ramming speed!
Also, they put my wife and my rubber horse mask in a video.
Lost Empires – Guestroom @ 9:30 p.m.
Not feeling like you’ve gone far enough overboard this Friday? You probably need some death metal. Scratch that, you definitely need some death metal. Lost Empires is death metal, by way of hardcore punk, with a little piano thrown in to class up their songs about maggots and snakes. The Oklahoma metal scene isn’t a big hill right now, but these guys are on top of it. IMPORTANT WARNING: these dudes show up to fucking shred.
Saturday is the big day. You’ve rested up after a rough Friday. You found parking somewhere, somehow. You spent the day buying cool shirts and prints at the Dustbowl Arts Market. You rode the ferris wheel. You scammed a VIP pass and loaded up on as much free stuff as you could get. You watched a belly dancing troupe make a family of four very uncomfortable. Now it’s time for the big finish.
JD McPherson – Sailor Jerry Stage @ 8:15 p.m.
Don’t let anyone tell you different: JD McPherson is the headlining act of NMF2013. The Okie native has had a pretty blessed last couple years, scoring spots on Conan O’Brien and opening for a little stadium franchise you may have heard of called Dave Matthews. Don’t worry, JD isn’t anything like Dave Matthews. McPherson is pulling the rockabilly scene kicking and screaming into a more soulful place, more Chuck Berry than Brian Setzer. You haven’t heard anything like it since KOMA changed its programming (the bastards).
Jabee – STASH @ 8 p.m.
I first heard Jabee ten years ago when underground hip hop was still a thing and he was part of a duo called Little Earth. Back then, I knew he was destined for great things, and it made me proud to see OKC represented by such a talented young MC. Since then, the indie hip hop world went bust and only just now seems to be recovering. Jabee is front and center in that recovery, with new tracks produced by the patron saint of indie hip hop himself, El-P. Jabee killed it last weekend in Guestroom Records for Record Store Day, and I don’t expect this weekend to be any different. This is as good as it gets in this part of the country, which is to say this is as good as it gets anywhere.
King Khan and the BBQ Show – Main Stage @ 6:30 p.m.
King Khan is kind of the Mirror, Mirror version of JD McPherson- the same early 60’s soul but warped and twisted by some kind of cosmic force beyond the veil of time and space (aka Germany). I’ll be honest, I didn’t know much about these guys until every single one of my friends said they were looking forward to seeing King Khan more than anyone else at the festival. So take it from literally all of my friends and watch this bizarre and enchanting proto-rock.
BRONCHO – Blackwatch @ 11 p.m.
NMF is great at bringing in national and international acts of modest renown to play for a big audience for free. But the festival shows its true value when it shows off the local acts that have become or are about to become a Big Deal. BRONCHO is one of those bands that is in the early stages of Big Deal-ness, and you get the privilege of seeing them play before they were cool. Instant cred, and all you had to do was show up!
Sunday is the day you sleep until noon, eat a big lunch at Juan Del Fuego, and waste the rest of the day until Game of Thrones comes on. You’ve earned it.