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SHARPENED SOUNDS

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ACM@UCO PRODUCT PAPERSCISSOR BELIEVES THE SCHOOL IS HELPING SPAWN A MORE UNIFIED MUSIC SCENE.

BY GAZETTE STAFF

FIVE YEARS OF MUSIC ROCKS BRICKTOWN

Now in its fifth year, the ACM@ UCO Rocks Bricktown Festival provides a glimpse into the talent being developed at the Academy of Contemporary Music at the University of Central Oklahoma. It’s also free and open to the public, with a charming springtime backdrop set in downtown OKC’s Bricktown. Springtime, live music, free. Got it?

This year’s festival kicks off at 3 p.m. Friday and includes three outdoor performance venues, including a stage in lower Bricktown, one in front of the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark baseball stadium and another in front of the school itself, overlooking the Bricktown Canal. A number of local bars and restaurants will host bands as well, with more than 70 bands performing throughout the day.

In addition to the local talent on display, influential electronic music heavyweight Moby will perform a headlining DJ set at 10 p.m. at the Chevy Bricktown Events Center, 429 E. California Ave.

Moby is a musician, DJ, producer and photographer from Harlem, well-known for his small stature and huge sound that mixes electronica, rock, punk, house music and more. He has also remixed, co-written and produced music with artists including Daft Punk, Metallica, Michael Jackson and Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne.

Moby’s latest album, Innocents, was released in October and features collaborations with Queens of the Stone Age, Skylar Grey, Coyne and more.

Former event bands and headliners have included Nile Rodgers (Chic, Daft Punk), The English Beat, Colour Revolt, The Mutating Cell Ensemble with Steven Drozd of the Flaming Lips and more.

There’s no one way to become a music mecca.

New
Orleans and Memphis have their history. New York City and Los Angeles
hold the direct lines into the industry. Austin, Portland and Seattle
have the offbeat, DIY sensibilities and an insatiable appetite for live
music.

Many, like Evan
Michael Crowley — frontman of alt-pop act Paperscissor — think The
Academy of Contemporary Music at UCO could be the starting point in a
path to a similar status for Oklahoma City.

“I
had always wondered why nobody stayed here and worked to make Oklahoma a
better place for musicians,” Crowley said. “You look at all those
places, and it’s like, why not here?” Oklahoma has never been in short
supply of legendary musical minds (Woody Guthrie, Garth Brooks, etc.),
but most of them sought their musical schooling of sorts elsewhere.
ACM@UCO might represent a chance to keep those talents closer to home.

It
seems to be bonding the Oklahoma City scene as a whole more than
splintering it apart, with performers like Jabee and Samantha Crain with
no university affiliation offering their wisdom to students and master
classes featuring worldfamous names — Jackson Browne, Ben Folds, Roger
Daltrey, John Oates — open to the public and students alike.

“More
and more people who aren’t directly tied to the school are getting
involved and using it as a platform to mentor and share their knowledge
and experience,” Crowley said. “As that grows, it’s really making a
unified music scene that lets everybody have a little more sense of
belonging.”

Crowley
was instantly attracted to the school, enrolling early on in its
formation and using the handson training and industry insight to
navigate Paperscissor’s road from a fledgling band with a muddled
identity to an emerging, streamlined electropop outfit. The band will
follow Friday’s appearance at the ACM@UCO Rocks Bricktown festival with a
spot opening for Blue October at Diamond Ballroom the next night.

Paperscissor
is Crowley and bandmates Jonathan King (guitar), Marcus Jackson
(guitar), Josiah Tullis (bass) and Clayton Stroup (drums). The group has
one EP to its name and is looking to record and release a full-length
debut in the next six months.

“We’re
in a place where we are ready to start to approach an album in terms of
quality and bigger and better shows,” Crowley said. “It feels like
there are more people watching.”

Pulling
cues from alternative heavyweights like The Killers and The Strokes,
Paperscissor is looking to make its first substantial trip across the
U.S. upon finalizing plans for the new LP.

“More
than ever, we’ve really been able to grab ahold of who we really are
and write with a consistent sound rather than experimenting in such
great leaps between songs,” Crowley said. “Things are making much more
sense because we understand ourselves at a level that we didn’t before.
We know how to write songs that we’ll be proud of.” — Joshua Boydston

Bands
to watch: — Bored Wax — Bowlsey — Eureeka — Paperscissor — Kaitlin
Butts — New Westerns — Q.U.I.L. — Sonic Violence — Travis Traps — Willis

Check this ACM@UCO Rocks Bricktown pull-out section, as well as the Oklahoma Gazette cover story this week, for a full lineup, a map, a list of venues, interviews and more.

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