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"This is kind of a weird festival."

One of these days, I'll make a post about everything that happened and why I did a sudden disappearing act. That day is not today, though. Today's a day for more music.

I got back to Tulsa just in time for D-Fest. Which I thought was kinda awesome. The first two times I went there it was just local bands, I think. I saw The Effects and Ludo. Accidentally missed most of the Minutes Too Far show, but got to hang out with Kris and talk to him for the first time ever. Which was awesome because I love seeing what the artists are really like. I think the next year I only went to see MTF. But, anyway...

To this year's festival...

The first day we were lazy and did no research. We saw the big names: Phantom Planet, Paramore, and The All American Rejects.

Phantom Planet was pretty awesome. I think the lead singer was hella trashed, but the band still absolutely rocked. It was definitely a fun show.

Paramore was alright. Haley's performance seemed a little staged. And I haven't seen that much hair tossing since 80's metal. But whatever. As soon as they hit Crush, Crush, Crush the audience absolutely came alive. That was pretty fucking awesome.

Which segues nicely into what I think a show should be like. A show should be more than what's on the CD, because really... if it's not, I would just listen to the CD. It's, like, 60% band and 40% audience. Even the most rocksome show can be ruined by an awful crowd. Alternately, an awesome crowd can save a mediocre show. So, while watching Paramore (who were cool, but not awesome) the crowd was what really made that show. To the pissed off girl who spent the whole time ignoring her boyfriend to send annoyed texts to a friend: You're absolutely ridiculous. It's a concert. You'll never have this experience again. Have some goddamned fun.

The All-American Rejects was completely awesome. After I got over the shock of how much Tyson Ritter looks like a friend of mine from up close, I realized how much more rock they are live. Their control and interaction with the crowd was great. Seriously, the crowd support for them is rivaled only by Blue October and The Cure fans. At the end of their set, a family from the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame came up to make some special announcement. The crowd was begging for "one more song" and told this family-- husband, wife, three little kids-- to "get the fuck off stage". It turns out they were just informing us that AAR had been inducted, and that was cool, but everyone really just wanted to see them play more. Which they did.

To the guy guarding our standing area and kicking out all those people who thought they could come in late and stand in front of us, you rock. I wish I could've bought you a beer. To the two drunk hugging guys, you're hilarious and awesome. Sorry I yelled at you for standing on my feet.

In related news, if you're a rockstar, put your music on Rock Band. Guaranteed, everyone will know all the lyrics by the time you play in their city.

Saturday we actually did some research and came up with a list of non-headliners to see. I wish we'd done it for Friday. Turns out we missed some awesome bands. The Apples in Stereo being the one that I'm most upset about missing.

Our first stop was for Callupsie. They were voted Tulsa's Absolute Best for something and they do sound pretty cool on their MySpace page. Their show was alright. It was one of the earliest sets, though, so it's possible everyone was just warming up.

Luckily, next on that stage was one of our other top picks: Gentlemen Auction House. It's like Arcade Fire meets Bright Eyes. The lead singer's got the same emotion and waiver that Conor Oberst has, but he can also carry a tune (no offense meant. I love Bright Eyes more than Pepsi and Snickers combined). They had serious energy and honestly seemed to be enjoying themselves on stage. Especially the guy rocking out with his acoustic guitar. Their set was amazing. Totally made of win and brimming with awesome. To anyone at D-Fest that didn't see them, God, I hope it was worth it.

After that we sorta bummed around a little. Checked out Dwelling Spaces, a store that sells locally made stuff and accidentally exited into Tsunami Sushi. They had Sparky Quano on their stage, rocking out. I don't know much about this guy except that he's from Tokyo, kind of adorable, and wicked cool on guitar. It's not anything I would listen to just to listen to it, but it's cool to see him do it live and makes for killer background music.

We caught the end of The Maxtone Four. They sounded great and played it up even the 1974 stage sucked like whoa and there wasn't much of a crowd they could see (there were more, but kinda hidden from the stage). Their guitarist was incredible, by the way.

Corey Chisel and the Wandering Sons played next at Dirty's Tavern. Okay, D-Fest. What. The. Fuck. How did you decide which venue got which bands? Did you just randomly draw names or something? Because putting Corey Chisel with his beautiful country-esque ballads in Dirty's Tavern, a loud, obnoxious bar with big dumb bouncers, crass graffiti in the bathroom, and vaguely lewd murals on the walls, is quite possibly one of the stupidest things you've ever done. These artists are going to tour with other artists and they're going to tell everyone about how much it sucked to be in Tulsa. To his credit, he took it as well as any musician could, having only about three listening people in a noisy bar. "It's great to be the balladeer at a rock show." It's okay, man. You were great.

Anecdote time. So, while were watching Corey Chisel, I notice this guy. I swear, he looks like Jared Leto. I say as much to Christian who, in a completely heterosexual way, says, "Omigod! He does!" I get a little giddy about standing next to a guy who looks like that, but do my best to maintain my cool and enjoy the show. I imagine I succeeded because the guy didn't give any indication that he was freaked out or anything. We hit the next show at the Blue Dome Roadhouse, a venue that looks like they haven't decided on or finished their interior design, to see Joshua James.

And guess who takes the stage?

Yep. The Jared Leto look-a-like.

I'd been excited about seeing him since I heard him on MySpace. His voice has this heartbreaking vulnerability that immediately made me want to cuddle him into oblivion. The entire band was absolutely awesome. And Joshua's apparent shyness melted away as soon as the music started.

The time slot he was in had several other bands we wanted to see. We finally tore ourselves away and headed over to check out the others. It's not my job to review bands or shows and I certainly don't get paid to do it, so I'm going to leave the name out on this one. Guys... seriously. I'm sorry. It was late, the day had been hot, and I'm sure you traveled a long way, but you can't half-ass your way through the set. Yeah, your crowd was small. There were only, at any given time, two or three people standing up in front of the stage. But there were at least fifteen others in the seats to the side of the stage and tons more in the back that you probably couldn't see because of the lights. And there you guys were, sluggin' your way through the music like you'd been forced to play at your little sister's eighth birthday party. You were playing at The Blank Slate, arguably one of the best indoor stages, with air conditioning and seating. You know why you couldn't hold a crowd? Because it didn't look like you wanted to be there. I am very forgiving, especially when it comes to live music. I love shows. Of any kind. I would have stayed just to give you a crowd if you'd given us any hint that you appreciated it. I really liked your music too.

Onto better things, we checked out The Boxing Lesson. It seemed like they were awesome, but The Continental had the sound waaaaaaaay too loud and Christian had been fighting off some sore throat/headache sickness all weekend, so we couldn't stay long. Luckily, it turns out they're from Austin, TX, so we intend to check them out later.

We headed back to see if Joshua James was still playing and catch a little more of his show. Yay! He was. He plays the kind of music that you just kinda find yourself shutting up and listening to. After they finished up, we went to see about CD's. Apparently, they hadn't really expected to sell any so they hadn't brought many inside. He ran out just as we got up there. Which was awesome for me, because that meant I got to talk to him for a while. For once, I managed not to say anything alarmingly stupid (I hope!). He ranks up there with Kris Monier and Justin Furstenfeld on my nice rockstar list. I actually wasn't sure about buying his CD, not because I didn't like the music, but because I didn't really have the money. But sweetness goes a long way with me.

One more note to the D-Fest people... when one of the artists notes that "this is kind of a weird festival" you need to be very careful. I love how it's improved since it began and I hope to see it improve even more, but you guys need to make sure the artists are happy too. Otherwise, they won't come back. And they'll tell their friends how much Tulsa sucked. And no one wants that.

P.S. I originally wanted to also cover some of the bands I didn't get to see, but then I realized how ridiculously long this post was getting. I'll try to do something on them later.

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