9:30 p.m. Saturday
Norman Music Festival Main Stage, Porter Avenue and Main Street
By the time Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears went on at 8:00 p.m., I had spent 24 solid hours at the Norman Music Festival. I was pretty well exhausted, and it was going to take a lot to please me. I hadn't been swayed by Black Joe Lewis' recorded music, but I kept an open mind. I'm glad I did.
The band rocketed out of the starting gate, swinging, swaggering and generally making a ruckus. The band was dressed up dapper, with button-downs and ties. The horn section, which doubled as backing vocals, swung their horns violently back and forth to the music, playing or not. Black Joe Lewis and his rhythm guitarist dueled. Lewis played guitar with his tongue more than once. Burlesque dancers had a dance-off onstage. The band's muscly, horn-laden delta version of rock just wowed the audience. That is, after the audience figured out what to do with the spectacle before them; as Oklahoma has no real musical equivalent to this band, the NMF audience was a bit confused on how to enjoy the band. But they figured it out, and things were festive by the end.
After stopping in at the busy Buffalo Lounge at Five for some refreshment, I went back out — Red Bulled and ready — for The Walkmen. I've previously seen them, so I knew what to expect. But it's still hard to prepare for Hamilton Leithauser's primal howl. Of the forty or so pictures I took of the band, over 3/4ths were of the lead singer, because he's just so electric on stage (well, and the rest of the band is, nicely put, static). The Walkmen's minimal set-up meant that they started pretty much right on time, which was wonderful. They proceeded to rip through their indie-rock songs, playing songs old and new. I loved seeing them play "The Rat" once again, which is just a killer song. They're not really a band to dance to, but they certainly are a blast to hear and watch.