Growing up near Tulsa, I never really thought of it as a hip college town. But as I’ve gotten older and Tulsa has evolved, I have realized I could not be more incorrect. Tulsa is a thriving city with plenty of opportunities, increasing community involvement, and, most importantly, extensive entertainment.
My absolute favorite aspect of Tulsa is the live music scene. I have been able to see some of my favorite artists in the past few years thanks to Tulsa’s developing music culture. Even though I have a particular taste, I have been exposed to several different genres of music.
One of the best parts of a concert is the venue. Tulsa has several different venues that bring in a diverse array of artists.
The Vanguard is one of Tulsa’s more intimate venues. Many local Tulsa groups play here. I fulfilled my middle school dream of seeing NeverShoutNever when they came this past summer. It is located in the heart of the Brady Arts District, and is near coffee shops, brunch spots, and Guthrie Green.
Cain’s Ballroom is one of the most iconic Tulsa music scene symbols. It is just down the street from The Vanguard, and it brings in the most artists I like. I have seen artists like The Head and the Heart, Young the Giant, The Lumineers, and Ben Folds. Cain’s often hosts bluegrass festivals, country nights, and other popular bands.
From Taylor Swift to Ed Sheeran, from Justin Bieber to Mumford and Sons, the BOK is centered downtown and brings in the most popular names. It was here I attended my very first concert (Imagine Dragons), won tickets from a radio show (The Black Keys), and experienced my first ever country concert (Brad Paisley). Artists who play here appeal to the largest majority, and trending music stars frequent this venue.
In addition to the multiple venues Tulsa has to offer for live music, one of Tulsa’s most valuable musical events is the music festival Center of the Universe. It is a fairly new music festival, but it is quickly gaining momentum. Three years ago, it featured Young the Giant, Foster the People, Capital Cities, and other local artists. Two years ago, Panic! At the Disco was the headliner. The festival did not return this past summer in order to give the planners ample time to prepare, but I am ecstatic for them to release the lineup for summer 2017. This festival brings in an audience from across the nation and attracts multiple bands.
Despite the flourishing venues for live music in Tulsa, much of the entertainment comes locally. At each First Friday Art Crawl, there is free live music on Guthrie Green downtown. This event has brought in the Tulsa Symphony, a steel drum band, and other local talent for entertainment.
Growing up near Tulsa, I never thought of it as a strong presence on the music scene. After hanging out downtown on the weekends, my opinion has completely changed. Tulsa has so much to offer musically, even to a pretentious music lover like myself.