OKAY – So maybe the headline’s a bit cheesy… but I can guarantee that if you went to see the band OnceOkayTwice, their music and personalities on and offstage would be enough to convince you that they are anything but that.
A teensy-eensy-weensy bit about me:
Being a musician myself, I’m quite familiar with the scene: you play a show, and some self-proclaimed music critic writes a less-than-discouraging review, and after you’ve read the article, you’re sitting there thinking, “What do you know? You’ve probably never even played a gig in your life much less a musical instrument.” So what makes me different from all the other self-proclaimed music critics other than the fact that I can relate to these bands on a different level? Do you really just want me to tell you what you want to hear? Are you only interested in what I have to say when you agree with me? I not only tell the truth, I understand that in the end, we’re all here to enjoy music. So let’s stop criticizing and start listening to the point of enjoying. Believe me, it’s a lot more fun.
Now, how do I get you to keep reading?
If you’re from the DC area, or if you like to support independent artists, you will. It’s really that simple. So let’s get down to it…
Washington, D.C., the Black Cat (downstairs), May 14th, 2008. I show up thinking that even though I’m feeling good and insistent on focusing on the positive, I’m there to just watch another indie punk/rock band, get disappointed, and leave tired and about 20 bucks less than what I showed up with plus the cost of gas. Turns out, I not only was impressed, but actually had a really good time. In fact, I found myself genuinely applauding at the end of their set! In turn, I felt motivated to give this seemingly musically dry and fruitless DC scene (which all indie music lovers know is completely untrue) a real shot.
Let me introduce the band:
Erika: Violin – age 26, soft-spoken yet not so shy onstage, works for National Geographic (not really exactly sure what she does, but how cool is that???)
Ian: Lead vocals, keyboards – age 25, a law student at Georgetown University (obviously very intelligent, so it makes you really take his lyrics seriously), writes most of the songs/lyrics, and wants you to take notice of his love and support for independent music with his MGMT t-shirt.
www.myspace.com/mgmt (Though they remind me of some stuff I’ve already heard before, it’s cool stuff! And they’re signed to Columbia… super rare these days).
Dan: Drums – age 24, works for the trauma department of a local hospital and still finds time (after saving lives, of course) to rehearse twice a week with a band, do a more than decent job at keeping time, and be inspired enough to know that he needs an outlet to his day-to-day routine.
Nick: Bass- age 27, is a spontaneous, unique, eclectic, and light-hearted bartender by night, started playing the ukulele at age 11, played guitar in a reggae band long before OnceOkayTwice despite his Neil Young influences, and now currently bounces like Sting when he plays the bass onstage.
Craig: Lead guitar – age 26, a bit more serious and reserved than the rest of the bunch (even though his tasteful and catchy guitar licks would prove otherwise), Craig works for Buzznet.com and went to Johns Hopkins to study film and economics.
Back to the Black Cat scene:
There’s a pretty good crowd for a Wednesday. You know what I mean – not too many people, not too few – and most of them are there because of the bands’ myspace and facebook upkeep. Now, I like to start out with the positives. The audience is there clearly to have a good time, and a good time is what they had indeed. People were dancing, laughing, drinking, participating, etc. Craig’s memorable Edge-like guitar riffs, Ian’s hooky chorus lines, the band’s congruency – like any appropriate relationship exchange, the crowd admires their band. Hell. They are not only there to be entertained, they are there to be “guided”. They are there to be accepted for who they are, for what they feel like feeling at that particular time, and for wanting to temporarily relinquish their inhibitions to the power known as music (or should I say, OnceOkayTwice). And they couldn’t have found a more appropriate band. To add to it, when a band is so into what they are doing, it’s so contagious you can’t help but just submit, sit back, and enjoy the ride. Exactly what an $8 per ticket show should be.
If only their recordings (on and off myspace) could capture the onstage charisma! The rest of the negatives are entirely too subjective to share. If you get a kick out of bashing independent artists trying to do their thing, then go and find your own online music magazine.
To sum it up, OnceOkayTwice is a band that is true to their sound, who they are as a band, who they are as individuals, and where they believe they fit in the music industry today. If you could join me backstage after the show, you would see that they are just as normal as anyone else who is passionate about what they do. They do it because they love it; the music is honest, unpretentious, a bit rough around the edges yet charming, catchy and commercial, simple enough yet thought-provoking for the average 9-5-er to stop thinking about his/her mundane schedule and just have a good time, bold and vulnerable, yet carefree and cool. They are livin’ “the dream”.
In a world where we applaud and award people for following all the rules, here’s a band that defies some of them. And that I will support. End of story.
Wanna check ‘em out?
Q&A with ONCEOKAYTWICE:
(All questions were answered by the band as a whole).
What do you think of the state of the music industry today?
OnceOkayTwice: It’s really about Industry vs. Music. It’s getting pretty difficult to distinguish yourself as an artist. However, the plus is that as an independent artist these days, it is more than possible to build a career and support yourself given all the available technology and resources.
Where do you think you fit in the mold of the industry?
OOT: We just want to be known as contributors, be it the DC area or on a more national level. We recognize that there is a genre/ego struggle in the industry, and we are hoping to contribute to overcoming that.
What are some of the other DC venues you’ve entertained?
OOT: Rock N Roll Hotel, Iota, DC9, The Red & Black, as well as some serious college tours, etc. Wait! I forgot to mention: they actually played a really sweet gig at the Levi’s store in G-town (which they landed by just walking in and talking to the store manager) and walked out with some fine merchandise… you other indie musicians might wanna take some notes, myself included.
What are your long-term goals as a band?
OOT: This answer is coming from me, the interviewer. Picking up on the hesitance, I’m just going to say that this band was not created to answer this kind of question. Why should long-term goals be relevant when all you really is to have a good time right now, hope for the best, and prepare for the worst? I had such a great time watching these guys play and hanging out with them after the show. I wish them nothing but the best and hope you will support them and me in saying so.