photos by Melissa Payne
I didn’t know much about either of the bands playing at Mercury Lounge on this particular night. I mean, obviously I knew enough about both to buy a ticket to attend the show, but nothing more than just folks telling me to listen to their stuff. I’d heard mumblings about both from the music communities I visit often on my social media accounts and I’d had the occasional song recommendation pop-up in my streaming playlist, but aside from that I purchased tickets simply to satisfy a curiosity about what all the fuss was over.
I got there early to secure my spot near the stage (and also a seat, because I’ve been known to be lazy from time to time). No sooner than I walked in, I ran into the entire Vandoliers entourage. Even though it was a sold-out show and the crowd had already started to gather, the troupe was still mingling and drinking with everyone that surrounded them. As show time drew closer each band member individually excused themselves from their respective conversations and gathered on stage. At this point, I’ll admit my preconceived notions were all a flutter and I found myself wondering how this band of such polite and diverse individuals would be able to pull off the live show that everyone had been raving about.
They opened the night with “Miles and Miles” and immediately the energy that saturated the room was intense, but exultant and with each song the band’s energy drew the crowd in and before long everyone was tapping their feet and nodding their heads to the beat. (It just so happened that a work acquaintance of mine was in attendance for the show that night as well [albeit for the Mike and the Moonpies set]. He’s a man of few words and even fewer likes, but by the end of the first song he was enjoying the Vandoliers performance as much as all the rest of us and by the end of the show he was sold on their sound and a new fan of their music. He was impressed with the Wynonna Judd t-shirt Josh wore on stage, the fact the Cory [the band’s “multi-instrumentalist”] tended to use his trumpet as a tambourine just as much as a brass instrument and that Travis (the fiddler) was the absolute damn life of the party! http://vandoliers.com
Not long after the Vandoliers left the stage, the folks that make up the band, Mike and the Moonpies, found their way up to the stage of this co-headlined show. I write (and talk) a lot for this thing that I do, but I almost don’t have the words to justify how captivated I was after about two and half minutes into their set. They played all the fans favorites and even their cover of Fastball’s cult classic “The Way” …which was surprisingly fitting for the band’s personality and the energy that evening. About, three-quarters of the way through the band’s lead (and partial namesake) Mike Harmeier climbed atop the Mercury Lounge of Tulsa’s bar top, beside it’s easily recognizable “Big Bad Love” neon sign and strummed out an absolutely astonishing rendition of Marshall Tucker Band’s “Can’t You See”. Omar Oyoque (the band’s bassist) took over steel guitar and the band’s record producer (and sixth member) Adam Odor took over bass.
The night ended with every member of each band taking the time to chat, drink and hang with everyone in the place; not one of them was put out or worried about spending the time with their fans and each was more than happy to just be themselves and talk about whatever with whomever. I learned that Omar started his career as a teacher and even though he has always been a performer and loved music, never thought that he would ever be touring with a band (but loves every minute of it). Cory is a huge Joshua Ray Walker and the Ottoman Turks (JRW’s band) fan and happenstance found him (and his amazing mustache) in their promo photos. Mostly, I learned that the rumblings and curiosities of the folks that convinced me to go to the show was one hundred percent spot on!!! This two bands are now on non-stop repeat in my house and I’m officially part of the crowd that tells everyone to “go to the show!” https://www.themoonpies.com