Tag Archives: Center of the Universe

I Couldn’t Have Asked for A Better Introduction to the World of Live Music

ImagineDragons20You may have noticed that I love live music.  I went to more shows, concerts and music festivals in 2013 than I even had time to write about for you!  Muse, Alabama Shakes, Center of the Universe Festival, Seether, ScotFestRascal Flatts, Jay-Z, and Zac Brown Band all in 2013, and it was marvelous!  (I think I may be forgetting some smaller ones too…oops!)  If I’m given the option, I will pick something with live music over just about any other form of entertainment.  I don’t even have to know who the performers are, just give me music.  This is the kind of enthusiasm worth sharing and passing down.  In an effort to infect someone else with this passion, this weekend I took my nephew to his first concert, and, man, did we pick a great one. Nico Vega, The Naked and Famous, and Imagine Dragons played at the BOK Center to a sold out crowd, and it was awesome.

Nico Vega

Nico Vega

Nico Vega opened, and although we missed the first song or two, the set was great. With her bouncing blonde ponytail, sparkling jumpsuit and contagious energy, she definitely got the crowd moving. Nico Vega’s lyrics and impressive voice definitely deserve a search on Spotify.

The Naked and Famous

The Naked and Famous

The Naked and Famous were next.  They come from New Zealand.  (I don’t know what that has to do with anything other than I want to go there.)  Their opening visuals were stunning, but their first song took my by surprise. The match up of vocals and beat were unusual, but not bad. Not something I could dance to, but it was definitely interesting. By the end of the song I enjoyed it.  The rest of the songs were wonderful, and I particularly enjoyed the male vocal lead and guitarist. They all had great stage presence and energy, and The Naked and Famous have earned a couple of spots on my playlist.

Imagine Dragons Radioactive

Imagine Dragons- Radioactive

The main attraction took the stage in a swirl of light and fog. Imagine Dragons were even better than I expected. Dan Reynolds exudes enthusiasm and passion for his work and his audience. Never was that more apparent than this evening. The Imagine Dragons frontman became visibly emotional when talking about the importance of tonight’s performance. “This is a special night,” he said.  “Probably the most special night of the tour.”
All of the proceeds for the show went to the Tyler Robinson Foundation.  Tyler Robinson was introduced to the band three years ago when Tyler’s brother sent an email to Dan Reynolds. Tyler was sixteen and had cancer and was coming to a performance. The two struck up an unlikely friendship. One year ago Tyler succumbed to his illness, and Imagine Dragons teamed up with the Robinson family and the Tyler Robinson Foundation was born. The Foundation assists families with the unseen costs that all too often accompany a battle with childhood cancer.   With Tyler’s family in attendance, they dedicated Tyler’s favorite song “It’s Time” to their lost friend, and the crowd lifted up their voices to join in. I have never heard a more beautiful choir sing, and it don’t know of an individual there who wasn’t moved.

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Then the party started.  These guys seriously rock.  They’re a new(ish) band, having formed just five years ago, and since then have skyrocketed. Even after winning a Grammy for “Radioactive” this year, you get the distinct sense they have a hard time believing that playing for a sold out arena is actually part of their lives.  They have fun with their shows, and a concert is always so much better when you can tell that the people on stage have fun with it and truly love what they do.  Imagine Dragons love what they do.

BGCTIE15Between Dan Reynolds and guitarist Wayne Sermon playing the drums that scattered the stage, Wayne’s seriously awesome guitar solos, and the enormous confetti filled balloons that made an appearance during “Top of the World”, I think my nephews first concert will be far from his last.  He might even let me dance next time, because, let me tell you, refraining from dancing at this one was hard….really hard….really, really hard.  Once again, I left the show with no voice to speak of (which my nephew thought was hilarious), a new t-shirt, some great pictures to go with a perfect introduction to the world of live music.  Before we made it back to the car, he was already asking about the next one.  Enjoy it, kid.

‘Til next time,

Jessica

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Center of the Universe Festival…T-Town is Hot, Hot, Hot!

photo (13)This week I got to experience the first ever Center of the Universe Festival here in Tulsa, OK.  Now how exactly do we get a “center of the universe” moniker?  Well, let me ‘splain it to you, Lucy.  The Center of the Universe is a well worn concrete circle in Tulsa that is an acoustic…anomaly.  When you stand in the center of the….circle, any noise you make is reflected back at a greatly increased volume.  So, imagine dropping your earring and expecting to hear a little ping, but what you really get sounds more like a gong.  Oh yeah, already planning a trip with my niece and nephew, just so I can freak them out.  Why would that freak them out?  I’m not TELLING them what happens when they stand there.  I’ll let them figure it out on their own.  The reason this would work with both of them…and maybe a few select friends who don’t read my blog, (let this be a lesson to them) is because, when you’re standing outside the circle you can’t hear anything.  Well, they can’t hear anything but a really distorted voice.  I’m sure there are some sciency types out there that can explain, but I am not a sound wave expert.

The Center of the Universe is located in the heart of downtown at the top of the Boston Street bridge that spans the railroad tracks between 1st Street and Archer.  Seriously, it isn’t hard to find.  There’s a brick path that leads to the pedestrian bridge that goes over the railroad tracks.  It is accessible from the corner of W. Archer St and N. Boston Ave.  The old Union Train Depot is there, although it is more recognizable now as the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, just south of the Williams Tower.

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Cain’s Ballroom

The festival took up a little more than two square blocks in downtown and was comprised of two stages, vendors, food trucks, shops, bars…it was a fun time to be had by all.  The main stage was right outside the scene of last week’s escapades, Cain’s Ballroom.  The main stage was located on Main Street, and that’s handy. After a few drinks it is best not to confuse people.  Downtown does that to enough individuals with all their crazy one way streets and such, or it could be a happy coincidence.   Based on this quote from the Festival’s webpage, I’m thinking it is probably not an accident, “Where do you drown a hipster? In the mainstream. Where do you drown your eardrums full of hip music? On Main Street.”  The second stage was just a couple of blocks away at Guthrie Green, so named for Woody Guthrie.

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Guthrie Green

They had arranged it so you were able to purchase VIP Passes, BOK Zone tickets, or you could just print off the free passes…I opted to pay nothing.  It isn’t that I’m cheap, but I couldn’t see the appeal of paying that much money to get that close to the stage, when they had LED screens and a decent view of the stage from the free area.  Damian Kulash of OK Go referred to it as the “fancies” and the “non-fancies”  I was definitely a “non-fancy”, but back to the music…again!  The lineup was fantastic.  There were nearly 70 bands that played over the course of two days.  Mutemath, OK Go, and Neon Trees played on the main stage on Saturday.  These were the bands I was there to see.  Tulsa has some great acts, but quite frankly, it was too dang hot to be walking back and forth between the two stages.  (Walking from a viewing spot to an air conditioned bar?  That was super easy!)  Although many of the bars were only supposed to be open to VIP Pass holders, I think they took pity on everyone, because did I mention it was hot?  The heat index soared to 100.  Personally, I think it felt hotter than that, but once it hits the triple digits does it really matter 100, 101, 105…freaking hot.  The sun was relentless, because although we were downtown, this section of Main Street is flat on the West side.  No protective buildings to provide shade, minuscule trees, pretty much nothing to relieve the heat…well, the scissor lift for the camera crew provided a bit of shade.

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Mutemath

My friend and I arrived about halfway through the Mutemath performance (it didn’t help the temps go down any) grabbed a frosty beverage and got to watch the inflatable crowd surfing…right, just let me show you.  He crowd surfed on an inflated square with lights around the edges.  It was kind of awesome.  It would be the kind of crowd surfing I would enjoy.  Have you ever crowd surfed?  They were fun, energetic and definitely kept the masses engaged despite the sweltering temperatures and soaring humidity.

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OK Go Guest Guitar

Next to take the stage was OK Go, and I have to say this was my favorite performance of the day.  Damian Kulash was engaging and funny.  He talked to the people in the crowd more than most.  There were questions about which section was which, was Tulsa always this hot in the summer, who could play guitar….wait, what?  Yep, he asked who in the “fancies” could play guitar.   Then he pulled a guy from the crowd on stage to play.  There was even a warning that if he was lying he was going to look like an idiot. (I may be paraphrasing a bit, but you get the idea.)  There’s the concert goer, playing guitar with OK Go on the left.  You can tell it’s him because a) he’s not actually a member of the band and b) he’s wearing a bright blue shirt…actually his shirt kind of matches the banner at the side of the stage too, although you’ve probably already figured that out by now.

OK Go

OK Go

Mr. Kulash also came down to the fencing that separated the “fancies” from the “non-fancies”and sang there for a while.  There’s a picture, but all you can see are a bunch of people holding their phones aloft…I’m just not that tall, even standing on a curb.  They also did an entire song with handbells.  It was a really cool concept, but I don’t know that it translated well for an outdoor event.  The sound of the handbells didn’t project well (at least not to us “non-fancies”), and how do you get sound set up for that outside?  Damian Kulash actually took a picture of the crowd and posted it on instagram….what do you think?   I’m told there were 20,000 people at the Center of the Universe Festival, and I think I agree with that.

In between OK Go and Neon Trees we took the opportunity to wander a bit.  There were food trucks to check out, t-shirts to buy and vendors to explore.  Also, my friend had a craving for nachos and cotton candy. (Completely gross combination, in my mind, but whatever floats your boat, my friend.)  Unfortunately for her, although there were a multitude of food trucks offering a plethora of tasty treats, none of those treats included cotton candy, and we forgot where the nachos we saw were located…Does stuff like this ever happen to you?  Maybe it is just us.  Anyway,  to make a already long paragraph shorter, I spent more money than I intended.  I needed a festival t-shirt…yes, I do mean NEED.  Then I checked out a new shop that will be opening downtown, The Bookerie, and they had pendants made from bits of maps.  I found one with Dublin, which is probably tops the list places I’ve been…I had to buy it.

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Guthrie Green Splash Pad

We moseyed on down to Guthrie Green and listened to a brass band there for a little while.  Watched the kids playing catch, and playing in the splash pad.  I did not join the kids in the splash pad, although I did think about it, for a while…quite a while.  The evening was actually really pleasant now that the sun was going down, and I really appreciated the chance to explore a bit.  This space is really cool.  They have Fitness on the Green with Tai Chi, Zumba, Boot Camp, etc. out here.  They have a Sunday Market, Guthrie Green hosts a lot of musical acts and they even show movies out there as well.  Luckily they have a webpage, because when they reopen August 2nd, I’m going to have to come back…like a lot.

Neon Trees took the stage around 9:00 pm, and we were not feeling the crowds anymore.  However, the festival organizers had done a fantastic job by providing a LED screen for those of us who decided to hang back a little.  They were really great.  Hopefully, the crowd was more responsive closer to the stage, because they were working hard to get everyone pumped up and engaged in their show.  I know, I was singing along…I may have been the only one in at least a 20 foot radius, but I was having a great time.  Admittedly, I didn’t stay for the entire set, I wish I could have but there were people to meet, nachos to find…

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Neon Trees…way up there

‘Til Next Time,

Jessica

P.S. I learned how to take panoramic pictures this weekend…could you tell?