Norman Music Festival will continue to highlight local artists despite the pandemic through a livestreamed concert series starting Oct. 9.
Norman Music Festival announced "NMF Transmissions" after the in-person festival’s cancellation June 24. Joshua Boydston, a board member of the Norman Music Alliance, said once it was clear that a live audience would be impossible, the board began discussing what a digital version of the festival would look like.
“Throughout quarantine, artists have done these awesome livestreams to keep people engaged, so we were looking into how we would create a digital version of the festival experience,” Boydston said. “We wanted to allow artists to best utilize that format for themselves and we wanted anything we did produce to reflect … the festival itself.”
Boydston said the artists who normally host livestreamed concerts possess an acoustic or folk sound, making a show from home a simple task. Artists who perform heavier music genres — such as rock or metal — have not had this opportunity, he said.
Transmissions' Oct. 9 headliner Helen Kelter Skelter is the type of band Boydston said the live-stream is hoping to promote.
“They haven’t played at all since February, as their experimental metal and psychedelic rock sound doesn’t play well from home,” Boydston said. “This is kind of an opportunity for us to spotlight some of these artists who haven’t gotten to play in the way that they normally do.”
The festival will be pre-recorded in a Toucan Productions warehouse, which normally stores stages and lights the company sells for live events. Boydston said the entertainment equipment company’s space has equipment waiting to be used by artists — making it the perfect environment to produce a live show.
Through the inclusion of laser lights and visual effects, Boydston said the concert will be staged in a way that allows audiences to feel like they are with the artists as they perform. He said the livestream will maintain an energetic environment and acknowledge local artists, despite its lack of an in-person audience.
“I think everyone’s trying to do things that … (are) the closest replication of what they're good at that they can,” Boydston said. “Every artist is hurting out there — there is no shortage of that … (and) we are here to celebrate them.”
In a pandemic where social distancing is becoming normalized, Boydston said it was hard to lose the community-building aspect of the festival, as he has seen it reunite people on- and off-stage. He said he is hopeful the livestream will allow people to connect in a comfortable setting while celebrating the work of local musicians.
“Everyone has been going through a tough time overall, but I think that to the extent that you’re able you can discover music through us … and find those musicians and people you love,” Boydston said. “The art itself is first and foremost, and (artists) just love to see their art spread around.”