2 Minutes to Tulsa : April 1, 2023 @ Cain’s Ballroom in Tulsa, OK

There were three separate heavy metal tours criss-crossing Texas and beyond. Two bands hailing from North America and one from England.

The first saw Canada’s Exciter celebrating 40 years of the band’s ground breaking debut, Heavy Metal Maniac. The band shredded five nights over nine days with support from Night Cobra and Sadistic Force. Four of those dates were in Texas with the final night in Tulsa.

The second saw England’s Satan out on the road with Night Demon and Haunt as support. The Hell’s Decibel 2023 Tour saw dates in Texas at the same time as Exciter. After the Texas dates, the tour route went north to Wichita, St. Paul, Chicago, Des Moines and back down to Tulsa. 

Following the Tulsa date, the Hell’s Decibels Tour travels northeast. There are dates in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey. The routing sees the tour heading back to Pennsylvania for shows in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia bringing everything to a close.

The third had Califonia’s Vicious Rumors hitting five cities in Texas over six days for part of the Over the Atlantic 2023 Tour. The final date in Tulsa concluded the US leg of the tour.

These individual tours have a common denominator. They all landed in Tulsa on Saturday, April 1 and this wasn’t a fluke. There’s a legit reason. All the bands were all playing the 2 Minutes to Tulsa Metal Showcase at the historic Cain’s Ballroom. 

The previous weekend, the bands were in Houston for the Hell’s Heroes V Festival. According to Brian Horton, President of Horton Records, the Hell’s Heroes Festival was a motivator to put on 2MTT.

There are several special things related to 2MTT. First, it was the inaugural showcase for 2MTT and second, it was Exciter’s first ever show in Tulsa. These two things were talking points in regards to 2MTT.

Along with the touring bands, two additional acts were on the bill as well, Hammerhedd and Blind Oath from Tulsa for nine bands total.

Prior to the doors opening, metal fans were already lining up for entry and a mad rush to secure a spot against the stage. Fans were coming in obviously from Tulsa and other Oklahoma cities. Fans also trekked from other states such Kansas, New Mexico and Arkansas. All were flying the Heavy Metal flag.

Mike and Rose even drove from San Antonio to attend 2MTT.

Once inside, attendees encountered a roomy sit down restaurant complete with a bar and a tasty BBQ menu. Those who opted for a bite to eat didn’t have to worry about missing out on the metal festivities in the ballroom. Bands on stage were being streamed in real time onto a large projection screen as the concert goers refueled. If one was lucky and ate early, they might have shared a table with some of the heavy metallers they would later see on stage.

At 4:15 sharp, Hammerhedd from Kansas took the stage. The band consists of the Ismert brothers who have been thrashing since 2012. The trio made their way through their 30-minute set. The band members are young. The brothers though are out pounding the pavement, earning their stripes but the foundation is there. 

Sadistic Force from Austin followed Hammerhedd but does have a connection to Tulsa. Bassist / vocalist Blaine Dismukes is from Broken Arrow, just outside of Tulsa but relocated to Austin nearly ten years ago.

Just like Hammerhedd, a three piece, the band turned out an aggressive set upping the adrenaline level in the building. 

Another Tulsa connection came in from Blind Oath. The band’s local and they have recently released an album simply titled Blind Oath. They stayed true to traditional American heavy metal throwing down plenty of old school riffs.

Fans on the Cain’s wooden dance floor early in the afternoon at 2 Minutes to Tulsa. Photo by Brian McLean

As anticipation of the six veteran bands built, there was a noticeable change and charge in the air. The upcoming bands had already been on the road for a week plus therefore perfection wasn’t anticipated, it was expected.

Houston’s Night Cobra would be the first of the six.

Fronted by Christian Larson, the band launched into “In the Praise of the Shadow” from 2020’s release of the same name. Sporting a black, buttoned up coat and a cobra specter, Larson led Night Cobra in stylish fashion. The band plowed through and delivered a tight, eight song set with hints of punk intertwined with heavy metal.

For Haunt, 13’s a good number, not a curse. Their showing at 2MTT was the thirteenth date on the Hell’s Decibels Tour with Satan and Demon. The band utilized five releases of full lengths and an EP for the night’s material. Through the tour, the setlist has remained consistent. This allowed Haunt to easily cruise and navigate their allotted stage time.

With the night progressing, stage times increased. Satan was granted more stage time as with Night Demon, Vicious Rumors and Exciter. The remaining four all had the same amount.

According to vocalist Brian Ross, he had to sit out the previous two nights due to illness. Ross was very apologetic and genuine. It’s the mark of a true professional that sincerely cares for the fans. He felt as if he was doing the fans at 2MTT a disservice but he wasn’t. 

Ross stepped away from the microphone for the last song but by that time, Satan already won the crowd over. His voice didn’t sound off and if there was no mention, no one would’ve known.

Satan vocalist Brian Ross. Photo by Brian McLean

Hell’s Decibel tourmates Night Demon followed. 

Fresh off the release of their new album Outsider, Night Demon blasted off into the title track, “Outsider.” The volume level increase was evident. One song after another, the trio blew away any obstructions sonically. Their nine song performance was that strong.

A close up view of Armand John Anthony’s guitar and hands. Photo by Brian McLean

The night before 2MTT, Vicious Rumors played San Antonio. If the band was exhausted from an eight plus hour drive, it didn’t show. Vicious Rumors was tight, kicking their way through seven songs. 

The band’s arrival in Tulsa for 2MTT was the conclusion for their 17-date tour that started in Reno.

It should be noted that vocalist Ronnie Munroe fronted Metal Church from 2004 through 2013. Munroe joined Vicious Rumors in 2022 and his stage presence and vocal style are an ideal fit.

By the time Exciter took the stage, the schedule was off a bit. That may have been a factor as to why some of the crowd dispersed. In doing so though, it would be a regrettable mistake.

Exciter Vocalist / drummer Dan Beehler and bassist Allan Johson have been banging it out for 40 years. Some may not know though, there’s fresh, new blood in the band courtesy of guitarist Daniel Dekay. He brings a heightened level of intensity and youth even though he’s been in the band for four years.

Exciter drummer and vocalist Dan Beehler. Photo by Brian McLean

Dekay’s first appearance with Exciter was at the 2019 Hell’s Heroes II Festival. Since then, the band has played numerous stages around the globe.

Celebrating 40 years of the debut, Heavy Metal Maniac, it was only appropriate to open with “Holocaust.” Downing a beer and crushing the can, Dekay launched into “Stand Up and Fight,” the track that follows the opening instrumental.

It was at this point, the pace was set as the Canadian speed metal trio ripped through their set. Fans heard classics such as “Violence and Force,” “Iron Dogs,” “Long the Live the Loud,” “Heavy Metal Maniac” and others.

Beehler’s double bass drive pounding into fans gave Exciter’s song “Pounding Metal” a literal meaning. Their sound could be felt and Beheeler’s double bass was jarring to the body.

Exciter concluded their set with a crushing version of Motorhead’s “Iron Fist” from the 1982 album of the same title.

An exhausted Exciter thanks the crowd after their first ever performance in Tulsa. (L – R) Daniel Dekay, Dan Beehler and Allan Johnson. Photo by Brian McLean

Even though this was Exciter’s first ever appearance in Tulsa, more than likely it won’t be there last. One thing is certain though, Exciter’s appearance at 2MTT was one for the books. It’s bound to be the topic of discussion for Tulsa metal heads over the next few weeks.

The organizers of 2MTT were hoping for a solid turnout and it happened. Horton (Brian) said he would like to have another 2MTT in the future. What went down on April 1, 2023 at the historic Cain’s Ballroom was no April Fools joke, it was real.