As the crowd slowly trickled in, the smell of fresh paint stretched across the room from its navy curtains to its mute-grey walls. The stage stood still and dark as an air of mystery settled into The Criterion’s main foyer. With split-level seating, the venue’s upper balcony featured two projection screens that flanked the main stage to give every guest a clear view of the performance.
The lights started to dim, and soon, Gavin James appeared to a roar of applause. The purple backlighting gave a fitting allure of majesty, welcoming OKC to a new standard for live music venues. The venue’s crisp acoustics sharply resonated for the crowd, making dialogue from the mic easy and accessible to even the back corners. James pulled out all the stops, including a minute-long tribute to R. Kelly, to which the crowd responded in jovial laughter.
As James finished his set, stage lights dimmed, and the well-prepared crew rapidly made the necessary set change. Suddenly, an air of mystery sprang through the crowd as the anticipation reached a fever pitch. A spotlight appeared to a dreary piano, and Rector opened with “Make Something Beautiful,” a fitting introduction for both the venue and the homecoming of an artist born and raised in Edmond, Oklahoma. The house lights went up as drum kicks filled the venue, and the crowd crescendoed as “Brand New” brought singing and failing arms. Later, Rector took the time to credit his upbringing as he introduced his parents who had been watching front and center from the balcony.
The night brought fervor and excitement to Bricktown, uniting the community and cementing the fact that OKC’s music scene is on the rise. With a full slate of acts slated to perform at the venue’s inaugural summer, The Criterion looks to continue the growth of a burgeoning Oklahoma arts scene and become the premier location for touring acts in Bricktown.