photo by Jen Smith

Theory of a Deadman’s show anything but dead

The early ‘00s alt-rock band came to the Cain’s in order to give a nostalgia-fueling performance.

The rockers of Tulsa filed into Cain’s Ballroom with medium sobriety and maximum enthusiasm as they hosted Theory of a Deadman this week. The raucous crowd jostled in desperate competition to approach the stage with the collective gusto of impressive, if not unsettling, magnitude.

Seattle musician Ayron Jones opened up with his crew. His music was decent, but not quite noteworthy. For those into good rock music, I can see the appeal, but he lacked anything too extraordinary. Jones is the quintessential up-and-coming artist: he may make it big, but chances are slim.

Swedish band Royal Republic came next, dressed in antiquated formal wear, no less. Their vibe was one of absolute fun. Their most popular song, “Baby,” proved worth the hype, and their “Full Steam Spacemachine” was deliciously catchy. Yet, it left a little to be desired. The frontman focused more on theatrics and humor than music. That is not to say they are mutually exclusive, but if I cannot have both, I would take the music over his groovy dance moves any day.

By the time the main act came on, my head was already pounding from the opening act’s shared loved of seizure-inducing guitar solos. The crowd was bustling to get to the first row, probably crushing anyone under five feet tall into a mound of beer bottles and leather. Theory of a Deadman’s first few opening numbers were on the heavy side: loud, fast and almost angry. They left no doubt that they should be the headliner. By the time they played “Drown” I felt the need to cheer, but at times the heavy sound and volume lost clarity, and it verged on noise instead of music. However, like many of the bands, the guitar solo was clear and well-performed: I could actually hear the notes. The backdrops were simple — for “Drown” it was just a bubble and water animation — but even if they were forgettable, it was relieving to see a band that does not make them overly distracting.

A number with a slightly different sound, “Santa Monica,” commanded the stage with a nearly acoustic sound. Frontman Tyler Connolly sang with passion, the drums were particularly satisfying, giving a slow but powerful cadence, the vocals were clear, and the crowd got into it. Even the backdrops were interesting despite merely being images of driving down a road. It was very enjoyable.

“Not Meant to Be” was one of my favorite songs and perhaps the only one I was familiar with going into the concert. It was a rare that the live performance of a song sounded just as good as the studio recording.

They first ended the show and walked off stage with a disappointing performance of “I Hate My Life.” The song itself I found to be a little whiny, but the hundreds of fully-employed people out partying on a Wednesday night seemed to connect with complaining about work on a deeper level. If I were a real adult I may have appreciated the song more.

They walked back on stage (was anyone really surprised?) and took up their instruments. They proceeded to play “Rx,” also titled “Medicate.” The lyrics were against America’s favoritism of prescription drugs, i.e. psychiatrists prescribing antidepressants almost immediately as “treatment.” I have no stance on the issue, but Connolly apparently had enough of one to write the song.

The show as a whole was a great time, as Cain’s Ballroom generally provides. Although all the artists could have done a better job of making their music powerful without just making my ears bleed. For the numbers that were genuinely good, I would recommend their music to people looking for modern rock music with a heavier sound. I would describe Theory as a more creative Nickelback. My headache wore off in the afternoon the next day, and I did not regret a minute of it.

Post Author: Brennen Gray