- Mad Honey plays at Opolis’ two-day music festival Summer Daze 2.0.
To completely misquote Alice Cooper, school’s in.
7 p.m. Aug. 30-31
113 N. Crawford Ave., Norman
It might not seem very rock ’n’ roll, but Summer Daze 2.0 Aug. 30-31 at Opolis, 113 N. Crawford Ave., celebrates the start of the academic year with two days of music by local and touring bands. Opolis owner Andy Nunez said the event helps introduce University of Oklahoma students to Norman.
“The student population, it’s changing every year, and they’re coming back into town,” Nunez said. “It’s a way to say, ‘Here’s this group of businesses doing this stuff. … We’re downtown and we’re a little off of campus, but there’s a heartbeat down here that’s been going on.’ … I think everyone in downtown Norman can benefit from it.”
The first Summer Daze was held in 2016, but Nunez said any thoughts of making it an annual event were postponed for birthday parties, first in 2017 for Opolis’ 15th anniversary celebration and then in 2018 for the 15th anniversary of “comrades” Guestroom Records.
“These mini festival things are kind of a lot to put together,” Nunez said. “Besides Norman Music Festival, we can probably handle doing maybe one a year.”
Though Opolis regularly hosts live music, putting on a larger festival with an outdoor stage in the parking lot requires additional legal permissions.
“There’s a bunch of hoop-jumping you have to do, basically, to make sure you do it right,” Nunez said. “Just like anything else, you have to call the city and state offices.”
As a restaurant as well as a bar and concert venue, Opolis benefits from having a catering license with Oklahoma’s Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement (ABLE) Commission and already carrying a “pretty substantial amount” of liability insurance for concerts, Nunez said, and sponsors The Garage Burgers & Beer, Notorious P.I.E. and Anthem Brewing Company help mitigate the “kind of a massive amount of production costs.”
The lineup includes Sports, Hovvdy, Lomelda, Tyson Meade, Break Up, Smokey Motel, Spinster, Swim Fan, Net, Poolboy, LCG & the X, Mad Honey, Masterhand, Laine, Burl, Mt. Terror, Buzzcut and Audio Book Club. Nunez said he wishes he could have found space for even more acts.
“There’s a lot of bands that we probably should have booked that we couldn’t have booked,” Nunez said. “We don’t have a huge budget, so it’s a lot of relationships that we’ve built over the course of the year with local bands and regional bands and, in some cases, passing-through-on-the-highway bands touring. Lomelda and Hovvdy jumped on, and we were either going to have the festival and they were going to play that or they would just do a normal show. … It’s a relationship thing more than seeking things out so much, and we’re trying to make it mutually beneficial for everybody.”
Los Angeles-based Lomelda, aka singer-songwriter Hannah Read, released M for Empathy in March. Pitchfork said the album’s songs “feel expansive, shapeshifting like shadow puppets on a wall.” Austin-based tourmate Hovvdy (pronounced “Howdy”) releases Heavy Lifter in October. Fader described the music made by Hovvdy’s Charlie Martin and Will Taylor as “the sonic equivalent of a hug.”
OKC’s Mad Honey is currently recording six-song EP debut Theories.
- Austin’s Hovvdy (pronounced “Howdy”) releases Heavy Lifter in October.
“It’s a collection of six new songs that includes things we’ve been playing for our whole existence as a band as well as songs written in just the past couple months,” guitarist Keegan Ball wrote in an email interview. “We think it really shows our growth as writers, musicians and people over the past year.”
Mad Honey vocalist Tiff Sutcliffe, in the same interview, agreed that the band has evolved since it began.
“We’ve changed a lot as a band since our first single, and each time we’ve released something new, it’s involved a lot of experimenting and just growing as people individually,” Sutcliffe wrote. “We’re now at a time where we feel more secure in knowing who Mad Honey is and what we’re trying to say with our music. Though we’re still developing our sound, our upcoming releases feel a little more raw emotionally, finding some kind of hope in a dark time.”
Drummer Austin Valdez said whether the band is playing a smaller show or a larger festival, the goal is to stay present and in the moment onstage.
“We don’t really approach it differently,” Valdez said. “Instead, we tend to approach each set specifically to each show we play, both for the audience and ourselves, to keep things fresh. The rest is up to the music.”
Collectively, Mad Honey described its sound as “dream pop but a little darker” and said its songs are intended to “make people feel something.”
Poolboy released its self-titled debut in June. In a video review, Make Oklahoma Weirder’s Evan Jarvicks said the “high-energy” album is one he really looks forward to “just rolling down the windows and blasting out of the car.”
Spinster, fronted by The Annie Oakley’s Jo Babb, released its self-titled debut in June. In a previous interview with Oklahoma Gazette, Babb said Spinster’s plugged-in indie songs have “a little bit more energy” and might also be “a little bit more pissed off” than The Annie Oakley’s stately acoustic folk music.
Audio Book Club released its debut EP What If We Got Buff? — which frontman Zach Pearson described in a previous Gazette interview as “straight-up rock music that doesn’t necessarily have a lot of pretty things” — earlier this month.
Nunez said Oklahoma’s music scene has so many good bands that even a two-day festival leaves many worthy musicians out.
“I think the lineup is going to be fun,” Nunez said. “It’s all bands we like. … If there’s anything I want to communicate, it’s that if there’s any bands out there that didn’t get called about this or whatever, it wasn’t that we weren’t interested; it’s just that some bands got thought of and the slots disappeared pretty quickly. A lot of times, I would just run into people and was like, ‘Hey, we’re going to do a back-to-school show if you want to do it,’ and I had a little list in my phone, and then, before I knew it, the list was kind of long.”
Passes good for both days are $15. Visit opolis.org.