Broken ceiling tiles and spent beer bottles littered 66 Bowl after last year’s Okie Twist-Off served as the historic venue’s swan song. Fans lingered outside, cussing under their breath, wondering if they’d witnessed the end of an era.
After all, the bowling alley that opened its doors in 1959 had been the perfect place for a music festival celebrating blues to rockabilly.
“It had been the home of the event since day one,” Okie Twist- Off organizer John Manson said. “We were sad to see them go. We’ve bowled there, played in bands there, but there was never a desire to let the event go away. Immediately after the dust was settling on Okie Twist-Off 4, we started looking for new spaces.”
Oklahoma City Limits stepped up to host the event’s Saturday threestage music festival and car show. For the Friday-night warm-up, VZD’s and Beck’s Garage will host a 21-andup neighborhood party.
Among nearly 20 acts slated to perform are Oklahoma City’s The White Girls, a punk outfit renowned for a blistering, 13-minute set. Member Dirk Mathews — also part of the Ratty Bastards Car Club, which organizes the event’s car show — said the mood of Okie Twist-Off is different from other festivals.
“It’s a gathering of those that know what they enjoy and aren’t ashamed of it,” said Mathews. “These are people from different generations, different cultures, from Texas, Arkansas, Kansas.”
To send a message that the event is still going strong post-66 Bowl, the organizers went to the top of their wish list to bring in New Jersey punk act Electric Frankenstein. Traveling from Texas is country/punk concept band ConvOi!, which first pinged on the Twist-Off radar four years ago.
“We got an email from them our second year, and it read something like, ‘We have a plan for world domination, and the only way we can achieve this plan is by playing the Okie Twist-Off’,” Manson said, noting that ConvOi! adapts country songs to punk stylings, and vice versa, making it a festival favorite.
The band returns for its fourth straight Twist-Off with a new EP, “Star Trucker.”
“We keep coming back to the Okie Twist-Off for the fame, the money, the groupies, but aside from that, it is the sense of community that doesn’t exist down here in Austin,” lead singer Matt Jones said. “It’s like a family — a sick, twisted family, but still a family, dammit! These people seem to care about the scene and are willing to do something to sustain their musical community.”