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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Red Cortez: The Opolis 5/19

To those of you who have not yet heard of Red Cortez, rush to the nearest computer and take a listen. No, they are not an extremist militant group. They are, in fact, one of the most interesting bands to burst on the scene in the past few years. Coming to the end of a three month long tour, the band made a quick stop in Norman this past week, and though the crowd was small, one by one, the crowd was slowly converted into a new legion of fans.

            Hailing from Los Angeles, the band has been quietly plugging away the last few years, honing their craft and getting rowdy on stage. But a band this good couldn’t stay hidden for too long.

            Over the past year, Red Cortez has exploded onto the scene. The launch began when Morrissey handpicked the band to open for him over a short jaunt across the US. It was then on to SXSW, an experience lead singer Harley Pritchel-Cortez described as “hectic, amazing, and unforgettable.” They got to open for bands as diverse as Black Lips, Delta Spirit, and Viva Voce. Since SXSW, the band has trekked across the States and has steadily amassed an army of fans.

            Opening for the likes of Tallest Man on Earth, the Submarines, and the Mother Hips, I am all but sure that Red Cortez has stolen the show nearly every time. The played to a sold-out crowd at the Bowery Ballroom in New York City and were surprised and intrigued when the played a show for a strict Christian college in Indiana where the crowd participation was limited to clapping in a seated position after the conclusion of the song. If you have seen the band, you will know how hard it must have been to stay seated.

            Red Cortez live is an unforgettable experience. The crowd at the Opolis probably could have been counted using just your fingers and toes, but the second they rip into that first chord you feel like you are in a sold-out crowd at the Madison Square Garden.

            Pulsing with energy and passion, the band performs like their lives depend on it. The drummer plays on a small set, yet makes a sound bigger than dual drummers. Guitarist Calvin Love slashes and rips through the set, jumping into the crowd without missing a beat. The true spectacle is lead singer Harley Prichel-Cortez. He leaps between songs with the guitar, piano, and harmonica, howling and wailing the entire time. Witnessing the conviction he embodies brings to mind a maniac street preacher, twisting and turning like a gymnast. And the music doesn’t suffer for the theatrics.

            The music of Red Cortez is a puree of punk, bosa nova, blues, soul, and a rock and roll. These diverse influences make for an unmistakable. They bounce between frantic, hurried rock songs to gorgeous blues melodies with unparalleled expertise. “Fell on the Floor” exemplifies that energetic compassion they are known for on the stage. “All the Difference” shows just how light and beautiful they can play.

            So do yourself a favor and go take a listen. I know you will thank me. Just continue to spread the word.

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