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OKLAHOMA CITY (Free Press) — Well, the Omicron surge is in full swing now, with the newest and fastest-spreading COVID variant blasting through the population and sending many of us back into social distancing mode.

Unfortunately, January should be a time of great local shows and events. With the cold weather forcing everyone indoors, past years have seen the early months as a perfect time to crowd into venues and heat up with dancing, drinks, and music loud enough to drive the winter blues away.

Alas, the continuing (and potentially worsening) pandemic has left a lingering hesitance in many of our minds about cramming into any venue space that isn’t requiring and checking vaccinations at the door and openly encouraging masks for attendees.

There was a short period where lots of venues and event spaces (and certain major NBA arenas) were adamant about requiring vaccinations for entry, but the majority of them have inexplicably dropped that stipulation by now, leaving only a small handful of places around the Metro where a cautious music fan can go to enjoy some tunes in relative safety.

HeartWerk – January 8th – Ponyboy

Speaking of dancing yourself warm, Tulsa’s HeartWerk is set to ignite the upstairs dance floor at Ponyboy for a perfect weekend dance party to kick off the year.

A master of the blippy, lo-fi side of House music, HeartWerk’s first love is the kind of classic, retro breakbeat rhythms you know and love subtly layered-up with vintage synths and nostalgic, video game-y tunes and atmospheres. 

Ponyboy (along with sister stage Tower Theatre next door) made local headlines last year as one of the very first venues to publicly announce a vaccinated-only policy for guests, and they haven’t changed or amended that stance yet. You can feel assured that everyone enjoying the night at Ponyboy, including the staff, are fully-vaxxed and ready to party safely.

The show is free, but for capacity concerns, it’s best to RSVP online at ponyboyokc.com.

Stepmom / Keathley – January 14th – Opolis

Sometimes you have to venture all the way out to the southern end of the OKC Metro for a place where you can feel comfortable and confident in the health and safety of your fellow concert-goers. Norman’s legendary Opolis is the town’s stalwart leader for vaccination-proven entertainment.

Friday the 14th brings us the transcendent Stepmom, very probably the only band in the state that can claim a description of “orchestral dream punk,” and Keathley, one of the most introspective, honest, and soulful songwriters you’re likely to find anywhere this side of Phoebe Bridgers.

Stepmom run the dream-pop gamut from sparkly pop-punk to glittery, ambient synthscapes, sometimes even in the same song, and Keathley and Her Burning Bras (easily among the best backing band names anywhere) bring exactly the kind of indie-folk the winter season demands. With their powers combined, this is bound to be a memorable night.

Tickets and info can be found at opolis.org.

Trampled By Turtles – January 16th – Tower Theatre

Heading all the way back up to 23rd Street now to the unmatchable Tower Theatre, currently the only place in the city to catch some larger-scale, national level touring acts in a guaranteed, fully-vaccinated environment, for alt-country mainstays Trampled By Turtles.

One of the indie-folk world’s biggest and most beloved cult acts, Trampled By Turtles were doing the stompy, bluegrassy, fist-pumping thing for nearly a decade before Mumford & Sons blew it up worldwide, and they’ve been keeping it alive with a fierce and loyal fan base for years.

If you’ve been craving a loud, energetic night of music to get you through the winter hump, this is it.

Be aware, though, that the Tower venue is a much larger space and a much larger anticipated audience. Even with vaccine status checked at the door, you’d do well to keep a little distance and mask up for the night, so that when you’re singing along at the top of your lungs, you’re not risking anyone else’s.

Get tickets and information at towertheatreokc.com.

Masters of Musical Theater – January 21st & 22nd – Civic Center Music Hall

The Civic Center has been one of the beacons of COVID-safe protocol since kicking off their 2021 season, and they’re still going strong with their simultaneous strict vaccination checks and round-the-clock mask requirements. In fact, they may be the only place in the city requiring both. This adherence to the strictest of safety policies means that attendees can enjoy the theater feeling largely comfortable and well-protected even in a full house.

Musical theater fans will be especially excited about this show featuring a lineup of three Tony-winning musical megastars: Debbie Gravitte, Scarlett Strallen, and Hugh Panaro.

They’ll be tearing through some of the greatest and most legendary songs the theater has to offer, including more than a few classic Andrew Lloyd Webber numbers. Here’s hoping they throw in some tributes to musical theater’s recently departed all-time master Stephen Sondheim.

Visit okcciviccenter.com for tickets and showtimes.

Last Updated January 7, 2022, 5:36 PM by Brett Dickerson – Editor