Official, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, BandCamp, SquareUp), Black Canyon (Facebook, BandCamp), Shut Up Matt Jewett (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, BandCamp)
Venue: 51st Street Speakeasy (Official, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)
Last night was the CD release show for Oklahoma City's Don't Make Ghosts and their stellar EP Death Ride at 51st Street Speakeasy with Black Canyon, and Shut Up Matt Jewett, along with an art show of local artists. This was my first trip to the Speakeasy and I must say that I was very impressed. The venue was easy to find (which is a big deal for someone that gets lost as easily as I do), had great parking (also an important, but often not thought about, thing in a venue), was clean, had a tremendously cool vibe, and had separate smoking and non-smoking sections (luckily the bands performed in the non-smoking section). Since it was my first time there, I didn't do any exploring because I had no clue where anything was and was afraid I'd get lost so I sadly missed out on the art show portion of the event. Overall I loved the place and can't wait to see another concert there in the future.
The show opened up with the folk punk duo Shut Up Matt Jewett. These guys were fun, super high energy, and knew how to work the crowd. Singer/guitarist Matt Jewett is a natural rock 'n' roll frontman, dripping with charisma and whit. The band tore through a blistering set of catchy and biting songs before leaving the stage. This was a perfect start to the evening. Shut Up Matt Jewett got on stage, got people excited, and got the hell out of there leaving people wanting more. Next up was alt country act Black Canyon. The four-piece knocked out a quick set of whisky soaked tunes that were equal parts classic country, classic punk, and classic rock. The band was tight, the songs made you tap your feet and sing along (for those who were familiar), and they also got on stage, did their thing, and got out before too long. To me this is a very important aspect of a successful opening band set; it should be short, to the point, and leave the audience wanting more. In other words, get the crowd pumped and get the crap out of there and both Shut Up Matt Jewett and Black Canyon succeeded in this endeavor.
Don't Make Ghosts took the stage, opening with "Pine Box" from their debut Death Ride. This was a great way to start the show with its opening that slowly draws you in before kicking in to high gear. And from there things never let up as the band ripped through a rousing set that included all tracks from the EP, some unreleased numbers, and a killer cover of The Replacements' "Bastards of Young" with bassist Dirk Matthews taking on lead vocal duties. The band's performance was something to behold with guitarist/vocalist Nick Waggoner's understated every-man delivery, guitarist Jerod Vance's clean licks and on-point solos, drummer Jesse Smith's awe-inspiring work with the skins, and Matthews' undeniable energy and enthusiasm. Watching Don't Make Ghosts, you'd think you were seeing a band that has been together for many, many years, not just one. This band is so good that it is scary. They are writing and performing at such a high level that there is absolutely no reason why they shouldn't be one of the biggest bands in the indie/punk world. No scratch that, there is no reason why Don't Make Ghosts shouldn't be one of the biggest bands in all of rock 'n' roll. Period. So, if you haven't gotten around to checking out Death Ride or made it out to a Don't Make Ghosts show, please I implore you, do yourself a favor and buy this record and go to a show. You can thank me later. Oh and one last thing, if this band being absolutely amazing wasn't enough motivation for you, they are also excellent people, so show them some love, okay?