With the opening of The Criterion theater in the spring, Oklahoma City finally had a venue for every size crowd. From the singer-songwriter haven that is the Blue Door to the large-scale headline acts at the Chesapeake Arena, the city has live music venues for nearly every genre imaginable.
Chesapeake Arena can accommodate crowds up to 18,000, and even more if the floor is open for seating. These are acts that typically sell out, so get your tickets in advance. This fall will see two country superstars with Oklahoma roots take the Chesapeake stage. Ada, Oklahoma’s Blake Shelton will be touring in support of his 2016 album “If I’m Honest.” Due to his popularity, Shelton is playing both September 9 and 10.
In November, Chesapeake will host Oklahoma’s sweetheart and American Idol superstar Carrie Underwood. She takes the stage November 23. In addition to these two superstars, check out the Avett Brothers on September 22, and for you acapella fans, Pentatonix will be in town November 19—they were the “Canadians” in “Pitch Perfect 2.”
If nostalgia is your thing, it’s hard to beat the Zoo Amphitheatre. As the name implies, it’s adjacent to the Oklahoma City Zoo, and it is by far the most popular outdoor venue in town. While best known for nostalgia acts—Bad Company, Disturb and Weezer this summer and fall for example—current headlining bands also stop at the Zoo.
The season ends in October, but it does so on a very high note. Current country superstar—and in some ways a bright light for a resurgence in traditional country music—Chris Stapleton will appear to close the season on October 1. The night before, Americana/Rock act The Lumineers will be at the Zoo in support of their new project—the first in four years—“Cleopatra.” Depending on the show, you can bring your own blanket, but chairs are never allowed, nor are outside food and drink.
The Criterion’s ownership formed a partnership with Live Nation to bring the best independent artists in the country to Oklahoma City. These bands usually have crowds of less than 5,000, so The Criterion is the perfect setting. Located in Bricktown, it’s convenient to plenty of bars and restaurants, and the venue has two bars inside. The lineup at The Criterion is always eclectic, and this fall and winter are no exception.
Seattle folk/Americana band The Head and The Heart will be at The Criterion on October 4. Their new project, “Sings of Light,” will drop September 16, so the band will be making one of their first appearances in support of the project in OKC. Yet another young country star who is expected to revive traditional country will be at The Criterion on September 12. Jason Isbell, who along with Chris Stapleton and Sturgill Simpson, was tagged as one of the hopes for country music in GQ magazine in January, will be in the metro as part of his “Something More than Free” tour.
For smaller venues—and some regional and local acts—check out the listings for the Blue Door (You can take your own beer and wine!), a small, intimate venue for “listeners,” located just north of Oklahoma City University, and Wormy Dog Saloon—especially for regional Red Dirt and contemporary country—in Bricktown.