The last weekend in July, Tim and I went to the two-day Dfest music festival in Tulsa. It was our third year to go, having seen awesome performers including the Flaming Lips and mc chris in 2007 and Ghostland Observatory, the Apples in Stereo, and the Roots in 2008. Although always hot enough to melt my shoe soles, I couldn’t miss out on going this year when I happened to be in Oklahoma at the right time.
On Friday evening, we stuck with one of the giant outdoor parking lot stages, where the theme seemed to be internationally-flavored bands with over six members. First was Dusty Rhodes and the River Band, a six-person group from California which played some 1960s-influenced indie rock. I wasn’t expecting to like them when I first walked up, but their enthusiasm won me over. They were followed by a favorite band of mine which I’d never seen live: Dengue Fever, a Cambodian pop band based in Los Angeles. Their spectacular lead singer, Chhom Nimol, mainly sings in Khmer with a few songs in English and is accompanied by five amazing musicians. Next was Ozomatli, an eight member group which was new to me, and played an exciting mix of hip hop, Latin, and rock music. It seems they are pretty popular, and I can see why and I’m glad that we stayed for their set. However Gogol Bordello, the last band that night, put on one of the best live shows I’ve ever seen. I’ve listened to their music for a while, but had never had a chance to see their gypsy punk live, and they were over-the-top energetic and had the crowd dancing like they were east of the iron curtain, rather than in the middle of downtown Tulsa.
After some much needed sleep, we went back to the cluster of music venues and stages in the Blue Dome District and decided to spend some time at the other giant parking lot stage. I should mention that there was some sort of underwater theme, so the massive stages were called the Poseidon Stage and the Triton Stage respectively and featured artwork like an octopus playing the drums and a sea horse playing a trumpet. With the heat and the asphalt, I wouldn’t have minded being submerged.
We started by watching a local Oklahoma act, the Uglysuit, and then saw Mates of State, a husband-wife duo from Kansas. They were yet another group I’ve been keen on for a while, but have never had the opportunity to see live. Then we switched stages to see Chicago/Detroit hip hop group The Cool Kids. I’d heard one of their albums, but they were much more engaging live and the crowd was really into it. There was still a while before the headliner, but we decided to go back to the appropriate stage to assure a close place. Blue October was playing, who are apparently popular, but it was my first encounter with their insanely dramatic music. But it was endearing and reminded me of the music I listened to in high school. Plus, they lucked out by singing a song about the rain coming down right when we got a 10 minute downpour. Finally, it was time for Cake, the headlining band. I hadn’t really heard from them since the 1990s, but I was surprised at how many songs I recognized and I loved their performance. Even better, we were next to a railing that we could sit on and see over the huge crowd. I’m really curious to see who they get as the headliner next year. How do you top the sequence of the Flaming Lips, the Roots, and Cake?