I spent this past weekend at the first Center of The Universe Festival in Tulsa Oklahoma. I arrived early Friday night to see the one band I was really excited to see, The Mowgli’s. They had played at The Vanguard a few months earlier, but I was off on a road trip to see another band and was unable to attend. I will also probably miss them as they perform at The Cains in October with Walk The Moon, but after seeing them at the festival, I am seriously thinking about road tripping to see Janette in Dallas and making the HOB concert, it’s actually on a date I can make. ( October is a busy concert month for the both of us )
The Mowgli’s were probably the highlight of the festival for me. They came out and played for a small crowd ( 5pm on Friday after noon, not the best slot as most people are still at work ) But the way they played you would have thought they were playing for a crowd of hundreds.
The whole street venue at the festival was set up strangely with wide divisions of sections. VIP ( people who had paid for overpriced tickets ) and the ” Free Zone ” (the area at a great distant from the stage where people who came to the free festival could kind of see the stage but were more than welcome to listen.) About half way thru their set, they said they didn’t believe in the separation and gathered up what instruments they could play unplugged and went into the streets in front of the free-zone. The crowd of course loved it and I imagine the Mowgli’s now have fans in Tulsa they didn’t have before they started.
During their hit song San Francisco a few tambourines seemed to be given to the crowd so they could join in . Colin, the lead singer stayed up on the barricade so everyone could see him, and the rest stayed in the street walking around and playing to the crowd. I happened to be sitting on the lower part of the barricade directly behind the drummer with his one snare drum. This is no way limited his ability to play as he used the iron barricade as his kit also. Their songs were catchy and full of positive lyrics, they made standing out in the 100 degree heat worthwhile and I got the feeling that not only do they sing songs of Peace and Love, but that this band really lives by what they sing about. Way to Go Mowgli’s. I am even more a fan than when I arrived there !
I missed One Republic, the headliner on Friday evening. I was busy down the street serving beer to the 50,000 people who attended the festival Friday night. We did however hear that Ryan Tedder, a fellow Tulsan and lead singer for One Republic, made the festival take down the barriers before he performed. ( The Mowgli’s love trickled down ) If some one was there and could confirm this it would be nice. From the press and the word of mouth One Republic did not disappoint their fans.
Saturday at 5:30 we were able to catch Mutemath. Now I am not a Mutemath fan, but the guy I attended the festival with had been trying to see them for a few years. In truth the only song I knew by them was that one song on the original Twilight Movie soundtrack ( I am even unsure of the name of that one..but they did sing it!) OH MY GOD people…hands down the best performance of the night.
They played strange instruments I had never seen before, something that looked like a chain saw slash guitar that when he touched it , it gave off these synth sounds. They filled the set with amazing stunts, from handstands on the piano, jumps off things with flips to crowd surfing on a large inflatable raft ( I’d like to thank Justin for allowing me to steal his picture, I was busy filming and did not get an actual picture of this moment, that was one of my favorite) If you have never seen Mutemath live, I strongly encourage it if they come to your area, the performance alone is worth the ticket price. I may not have been a fan when I walked into that crowd, but I damn sure left one.
Later that evening OK GO took the stage followed by Neon Tree’s. While both bands gave solid performances, nothing stood out to me with the exception at OK GO letting Mark ( I don’t know Mark, he was in the ” fancy” crowd in the front of the stage watching ) get up on stage and play the guitar with them during one of their songs. Many smaller bands played the festival, but I was unable to catch their performances as I stayed close to the main stage. It is my one pet peeve about multi stage festivals, trying to juggle who to see and who not to see. Tulsa said the festival was successful and they are hoping for better things next year. They do have some obvious tweaking to do, mainly the set up of the sections and ticket pricing. I could have gone to ACL( Austin City Limits Festival ) for close to the same price and saw a lot more bands I was interested in, but you can’t expect perfection on your first year out. Justin and I enjoyed our selves and we are already tweaking our own schedules to make sure we are there and doing things a bit differently next year.