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Hidden Gems: the Underground Music scene.

Countless times, when asked what music people listen to, they respond with “a little bit of everything.” Unfortunately, this is a good sign these people only listen to popular “mainstream” music. 


For frame of reference, popular music can be what is played on radio or social media viral posts and/or released by EMI, Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group or Warner Music Group. 


Recently, popular music has subjectively become increasingly more formulaic and derivative. Straying away from popular music reveals a vast, authentic world of sonic variety and a tight knit community.


One of the hardest challenges in finding underground music is knowing where to look. Bandcamp is an invaluable website to browse and find music that is out of the norm. They provide various ways to explore new genres and musicians. 


Music Map is another helpful reference to find more musicians and bands connected to ones already known, utilizing the gnod AI. Afterwards, Gnoosic provides a way to triangulate new bands to follow.


 Facebook is a helpful resource to find local music events. Circumstantially, most local concerts are not happening due to COVID-19; however, usually concerts can be found under the events tab. These event pages can be a great way to see what local bands are active in the area. Once a certain number of band pages are followed, Facebook will start suggesting other local bands. 


When local live shows start coming back in full force, they provide a rich experience to music listener. There is a great difference between an arena concert and a local show. Many local venues are coffee shops, houses, garages, warehouses or clubs.


Typically there is no stage or maybe a stage a foot high up from the ground. This substantially changes the dynamic of a live music encounter. Suddenly, the musicians become peers with the audience, as the energy exchange between both parties become far more intimate. 


Vocalists often will walk into the crowd and physically engage with them. A band stops being a spectacle and starts being a conduit of energy for community cohesion. Popular bands very rarely play in these small venues. There is a loss of connection and community in an arena concert. 


Between sets, audience members will leave the building and talk. Bands that have already played will remain at the venue and socialize with the audience, usually because the audience is family friends or potential fans.


Audience members may customarily walk up to a musician packing up their gear after a set and ask questions. Locally, there is very little sense of competition, as performing musicians are often freely willing to give advice and answer questions to musicians in the audience. 


Touring and local bands often intermingle at shows and get to know each other personally. Large concerts do not provide such a possibility for audience or fellow band engagement.


Underground music is where far more styles of music thrive. Not only do common genres of music divide into styles and substyles, but also underground music can see styles mix with others forming new sounds.


 Hip-hop/rap becomes lo-fi, krunk, grime, horrorcore and cloud rap. Country becomes red dirt, bluegrass, southern gothic, outlaw and Appalachian. Rock becomes grunge, math-rock, indie rock, coldwave, emo, post-rock and shoegaze. Electronic music becomes house, dubstep, acid, techno, vaporwave, ambient and industrial. Genres that mix produce styles like trip-hop, folk metal, indietronica and the Tulsa sound. 


Music in the underground typically is more often authentic in its expression of self. There are no teams of writers trying to piece a song together, but rather an individual or band writing themselves. 


When underground artists write music, there is no striving for making a product to sell, but a need to express an internal feeling. A lot of underground music is made for the artist themself instead of for a crowd or for money. As a result, the music is more honest and introspective. Underground music is where most lyrical themes arise. Mental health and current social issues were first written about by underground artists before the trends are picked up by popular musicians. 


Probably the most important aspect of underground music is how it becomes a community. Music is a great catalyst for community. Local shows are a fantastic way to meet people with similar interests. There are online groups and forums for specific genres that develop online communities. 


These circles are often very inclusive and welcome newcomers. There are a variety of often true stereotypes of people in the local music scene. Understandably, some of them are toxic to the subculture. Most people in the scene have a level of empathy and an aesthetic thirst of passion untapped by those outside music. Being in a community of underground music benefits individuals who join.


Popular music is eye-catching, easy to find and accessible. Finding underground music takes time, but is well worth the effort. Many hidden gems exist at record stores and websites such as Bandcamp. 


These gems have a higher chance of being vulnerable, honest expressions of self from the musicians.The communities found in connection to this music are also hidden treasure chest full of unique people. Tulsa has a solid local music scene catering country, rock, metal, indie, punk, hardcore, emo and experimental communites.


There are a variety of venues open in Tulsa that host shows in these styles. Tulsa has a good selection of local musicians who are making a name for themselves in their own respective scene and some of these  hidden gems are right outside Oral Roberts University.