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Work it, make it, do it

Local musicians channel Daft Punk

In March of 2016, a group of Tulsa musicians performed Radiohead’s OK Computer in its entirety to a ravenously enthusiastic crowd at Fassler Hall. The band endeavored to accurately recreate the album’s lush sound—down to every note and electronic blip—in a live setting. This was no cover band; it was an offering of reverence.

After OK Computer, the band, whose members eschew the notion of giving the group a name, knew a follow-up was in order. The obvious choice, it seemed, was to play Radiohead’s equally heralded next album, Kid A, but the group decided it best to avoid the pigeonhole of becoming a trib-ute to any one band and looked elsewhere for their next project. They landed on Daft Punk’s Discovery.

On the journey into the French duo’s masterpiece, returning band members Costa Upson (vocals, synthesizers, programming), Chris Combs (guitar, synth), Aaron Boehler (bass, synth), and Nathan Price (percussion) were joined by Riverfield Rocks director Paul Knight (vocals, guitar, synth, sampling), Jake Lynn (drums, vocals), and Malachi Burgess (drums).

When you’re dancing or otherwise swept into Discovery’s groove, it seems deceptively minimalistic, but it’s exacting in its precision. Over seven months of rehearsals, the musicians shook the proverbial fist at the pair of robots responsible for the nu-disco opus.

Upson called the process “a terrific nightmare” and said it took a full month to dial in the wide-eyed, childlike innocence in the vocal tone on “Digital Love.” Much of the early process was dedicated to experimenting and learning how Daft Punk created the sounds and textures of the album in the first place, asking questions like, is it a vocoder that makes their iconic robot voice, or a talk box? (It’s both, together.) Eventually the group honed their French touch.

When the band performs the album on December 15 and 16 at Fassler Hall, they’ll be accompanied by ambitious audio and visual production, befitting the scope of the musical undertaking. Mike Russell will run sound with three times the subwoofers typically present at the venue. Logan Sours of Iconic Lighting is the last piece of the puzzle; he will create an immersive light show incorporating visuals from the album’s accompanying anime film, “Interstella 5555.” Matt Leach will capture the performances on video.

Upson said his personal goal in these shows is “to grow as much as possible in too little time” and to show that large-scale productions are not out of reach for local artists. Eventually, he’d like to do more in a year, and he already has a short list of albums to tackle. For now, if this show can set a new bar for what’s possible at a local concert, the future of our music scene shines bright.

Daft Punk Discovery
Friday and Saturday, December 15 & 16
Opening sets by Darku J on Friday and Afistaface on Saturday
Fassler Hall, 304 S. Elgin Ave.
$15 at the door

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