The most unexpected show in town on Aug. 15 was in the Wal-Mart parking lot at Belle Isle Station. Warner Bros. Records had a tour bus there painted up to promote Mute Math, one of the label’s artists, and host the Oklahoma City listening party for the band’s stellar second album, Armistice, which was released three days later.
Since July, the bus had been hosting listening parties in dozens of cities to give fans who had pre-ordered the new album an advance listen of what they’d bought. The whole thing got me thinking about the zeitgeist of questioning the relevance and reach of major record labels in today’s topsy-turvy music industry. Most say the majors are dead, swallowed up by their own greed and failure to embrace online distribution when they had the chance. Lately, the music industry has repeatedly posed the question: “Who needs a major label when you’ve got Internet?” But maybe the question should be: “Imagine what we could do with a major label and the Internet…” To that end, Mute Math has it figured out. They used a major label’s money and reach to wage a month-long promotional blitz from a fun tour bus. They did this knowing that while only a few dozen people would hear their new album on the bus in each city, those few dozen people would tweet, Facebook and blog the crap out of how much they loved the album and hearing it on the bus, hopefully sparking the same buzz that now-defunct radio and press campaigns once did. Regardless, here’s hoping that the next time a Mute Math tour bus comes here it’s because they’re playing a show. Until then: Aug. 20 – Sam Sliva and The Good at Wormy Dog Saloon, 311 E Sheridan Patrons will hear solemn Austin-based roots rock that rings with the classiness of The Band and catchy flair of Collective Soul songs that didn’t suck. Aug. 21 – El Paso Hot Button, Colourmusic at The Conservatory, 8911 N Western Patrons will hear local indie rock heavyweights battle it out for the title of BBTROTCNTGACA, or Best Band The Rest of The Country Needs to Get a Clue About. Aug. 22 – Bricktown Unplugged at JJ’s Alley, 212 E Sheridan Patrons will hear acoustic sets from a who’s who of local songwriters, including Mike Hosty, Travis Linville and Camille Harp, at the best narrow bar in Bricktown.