Let me start by saying that I’m still new to this. This isn’t just a blog review over the night, but a musical experience as a whole. With that being said, I was as giddy as a child going into a candy store when being handed my photo credentials. I walk in, and couldn’t help but fall in love with the scenery. For starters, Tulsa’s Brady Arts District is one of my absolute favorite places in Oklahoma. It’s music, culture, and overall vibe easily presses a comfortable impression. To my right, there was a band by the name of “Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.” playing at the Bank Of Oklahoma Stage (who was absolutely incredible), and to my left there were dozens of beautiful, free standing, food truck vendor’s that carried anything from tacos, to smoothies.
First up was a band by the name of MisterWives. Mandy Lee, the lead singer, just turned 21 and has vocals that could easily blow you out of the park. Being a novice, I started tearing up a bit as the band made their way on stage. This being because music really does have the power to not only enhance emotions, but bring people together. I was about to first handedly experience music, in my home state, with thousand of strangers. I couldn’t help but think, “Life is perfect in this moment.”
Not shortly after, and right on time (WOO), American Authors took stage. I will admit that I personally only knew of American Authors for their ambitious persona and upbeat music. Most know them for the song “Best Day of My Life,” (if you’re having a bad day LISTEN TO THIS RIGHT NOW) which has an insane, but deserving, 138 million plays on Spotify. I specifically remember looking into the crowd and watching everyone on the front rail know every word to every song. It didn’t hit me by surprise, but more so hit me in realizing that these guys right in front of me may very well be their inspirations. I loved bearing witness to music providing inspirational guidance. I love knowing that festivals, such as COU (the nickname for the festival: pronounced “Q”) is capable of bringing music that people can look up to, in addition to bringing music that makes people feel happy.
Other songs of theirs to listen to: “Believer” and “Luck.”
At this point in the show, I was mentally thanking the festival committee vision for bringing so much joy into the eyes of the crowd. I knew this was going to happen, but seeing it first handedly is a whole new ball game. Everyone I spoke to seemed to be having the time of their lives, and loved to talk to the girl with the camera. I spoke to people that had never been to concerts before, I spoke to other photographers with really big and intimidating cameras, and I even met a guy that was there from Canada! He came down just to see Panic! At The Disco.
Speaking of Panic! At The Disco, it was their turn to woo the crowd. As I get up to the photo pit, the security guards are dancing and ready for the headliner of the night. The photo pit was more packed than ever, and the crowd was screaming “Panic! Panic! Panic! without end.
The thing about Brendon Urie is that 1. He’s gorgeous, and 2. He has the voice of an angel. I kid you not. A. Voice. Of. An. Angel. Falling in love was an understatement.
There were two benches on either side of Brendon, which the bass player (Dallon Weeks) and guitar player (Kenneth Harris) numerously stood on to gain enthusiasm from the crowd and build an even cooler before-your-eyes rock n roll monument.
Panic! covered a wide variety of songs including some newer stuff, which I would HIGHLY suggest you listen to. Start with “This is Gospel,” and make your way to “Hallelujah.” But it was when they covered “Bohemian Rhapsody” that my heart really began to burst. Being a sucker for some old tunes, I thought to myself “oh no, I hope Brendon can hit the infamous Freddie Mercury high note.”
He went there, and he went there beautifully.
Panic! At The Disco opened my eyes to what their music is. They write ballads of real life events, and intertwine their lyrics with Brendon Urie’s near Operatic (in the BEST way possible) voice. They showed me that they are no longer the “I write sins not tragedies” band that I once thought they were. They’re informative, dynamic, and each incredibly talented. I can only hope that they continue to release new music throughout the year because I’ve already had them on repeat for 48 hours now.
Oklahoma’s music scene is growing endlessly. Although I attended the Center of The Universe Festival last year, being behind a lens this year has taught me just how much the people of Oklahoma put into this festival to make it memorable for their audience. To me, this is a very raw and full festival. It is worth the money, and it is reasonably priced. The audience went nothing short of crazy, and the location was nothing short of well-thought out and perfectly planned. What a memorable night. We hope to see you next year, COU Fest!
Opening the night on the main stage was Minus the Bear, who formed in Seattle in the early 2000’s. This intriguing group brought an indie rock sound with a twist and have 5 full albums under their belts. As their first song began, the crowd moved and the band immediately flowed with energy. The first three songs went by all too quickly and before I knew it, my time in the photo pit was up. I walked away excited to scramble through the pictures I’d just taken and caught myself wanting to stay and listen for more. Each song went by and the crowd seemed to be more intrigued.
As the KONGOS started their set the crowd seemed comfortable with the music and moved in a fun and somewhat dreamy manor. Playing songs from "Come With Me Now," they provided the variety we’re all craving in our music these days and gave a reminder how diverse music can bring listeners together. The festival experience was allowing fans with different tastes to come together and enjoy music as a whole.
Center of the Universe did a wonderful job bringing all these artists together and really outdid everyone with the after party. GRiZ, an electronic producer that brings funk and much more, shared his wondrous works--it seemed like the crowd had hyped themselves up for this all day. There were beach balls flying through the air, sparkles every place you looked, bass bumping and all the anticipation surrounding you. Everyone was moving. I wont lie…It’s hard taking pictures and not get too carried away with feeling the music! GRiZ is great at keeping everyone interested by his use of a live instrumentation, and he really makes it sound cohesive. His audience was nothing but smiling faces and good vibes all around. A perfect act to close out the Center of the Universe Festival, and leaving people hungry for more eclectic music in 2016!