Today’s teenagers are poised for a rotten inheritance: an escalating student loan crisis, stagnant wages and a dying planet, to name just a few. But this bleak reality hasn’t stopped a group of local 2019 high school grads from banding together to celebrate the finer things. The result is the second-annual Don’t Tell Dad festival—a two-day music and art show featuring local art and a line-up of exclusively non-binary and women-fronted bands.
"Don’t Tell Dad is a way for kids—well I guess we’re practically adults at this point [laughs]—but like young artists to come together in a collective process and express themselves," said Dax Dyson, one of the event’s organizers.
The young art collective launched the festival last year as a way for the then-high schoolers to show their art in a more professional way. The first year went so well, they are back again. "I feel like right when the show ended, we were like, ‘We’re definitely doing this again next year,’" Dyson said. "It actually turned out to be way bigger than we thought it would be. Throughout the day we probably had like 150 people that came out, and this year hopefully we’ll have even more."
This year’s Don’t Tell Dad will be bigger and better with more immersive art, the Waffle That food truck, an extra day and more music. The event’s seven recently-graduated organizers have spent months collaborating on ideas for the show, booking bands and creating the immersive artwork.
"This year we wanted it to be more installation-based," said organizer Charlotte Bumgarner. "We were inspired by The Experience at ahha to have different rooms with different colors and themes."
Of course, with any DIY venture, the planning includes a healthy amount of improvisation. "We’re kind of just making it up as we go," Bumgarner said. "This is kind of a new thing for all of us but we trust each other as artists and our vision, so we know it’s gonna be cool. We’re just getting there slowly but surely."
Bumgarner booked the bands for both nights of the show with the goal of showcasing only non-binary and women artists whose work is so often overlooked. "We thought it was important that we had a message and we weren’t just booking random bands. It’s good to have intention behind it. I think it will be one of the only shows like this for a really long time," she said.
Bumgarner plays in the band Graveyard Party, who will kick things off on Friday night, and she is also a solo artist. She knows first-hand how hard it can be as the only woman performing at a show or festival, and she wanted this one to be different.
"I have definitely felt really isolated in the scene … and I wanted to put something together like this, knowing that those were the voices being heard," Bumgarner said. "I’ve never been so excited for a show. I even played last year, but we didn’t have this theme of non-binary and female-led bands just because it was so hard to try to do that. I played solo and that is such a scary thing. But this year is gonna be so different."
Another change coming this year is sponsorship from the Tulsa American Film Festival (TAFF). The planning committee originally started with a GoFundMe. "Because, like, we’re kids—we don’t have money," Bumgarner said. "Dax’s dad has some connections, which is ironic because it’s called Don’t Tell Dad [laughs] but he really wanted to help us make this cool."
TAFF offered valuable financial help to these artists trying to get their work seen. "I feel like it brings another crowd out too, like everyone who is familiar with them will see the logo and be like, ‘Oh cool, let’s check that out,’" Dyson said.
If live music, immersive art installations, live painting and supporting young local artists sounds like your idea of a killer weekend, Dyson urges you to come out. "Show some support for creatives in the community and just see what the community has to offer because I feel like this is giving an outlet for hidden talent to show itself to Tulsa."
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Don’t Tell Dad
1002 N. Peoria Ave.
Doors: 6 p.m. / Show: 7 p.m.
All ages, free
Fri. July 19
Sat. July 20
Ramona & The Phantoms
LCG and the X