Sidewalk Prophets' virtual concert includes McAlester

Sidewalk Prophets are planning a virtual live-streamed concert for Oklahoma that includes McAlester at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 27. Lead singer David Frey, third from left, recalls the band's 2013 concert at the Expo Center in McAlester, with fellow artists Matthew West and Jason Castro.

It's been seven years since David Frey and Sidewalk Prophets gave a rousing performance at the Expo Center in McAlester — and now the band is planning to make a virtual return to parts of Oklahoma on Aug. 27.

Plans call for an online virtual concert to be live streamed from the Great Big Family Virtual Theater in Nashville, Tennessee for an Oklahoma City concert which includes McAlester, according to the band's website.

The concert is set to begin at 7 p.m. Thursday night, with doors to the virtual lobby opening at 6 p.m. It can be streamed on a variety of devices, including laptops, cell phones, tablets and Smart TVs, the website states.

Details on obtaining tickets, including the possibility of free tickets, to the virtual concert can be found on the band's website at sidewalkprophets.com.

Frey, who is the lead singer for Sidewalk Prophets, says Oklahoma audiences are special.

During a phone conversation with the News-Capital, Frey said he still felt a little sleepy, because his infant son, William James Frey, kept him awake most of the night.

"He's a good boy," Frey chuckled.

Frey has a lot to be happy about these days. Sidewalk Prophets' new album, "The Things That Got Us Here," debuted in July at number 1 on the contemporary Christian music charts. The band recorded a video for the album's first single, "Smile," before the pandemic hit.

Sidewalk Prophets made the video in front of a church in downtown Nashville. In addition to shots of the band performing, it includes segments with Frey asking passers-by to play a game of ping-pong with him on a table set up outside just for the occasion.

He found plenty of takers to accept the challenge — even if he was wearing a "ridiculous '80s track suit," Frey laughed.

"There were a lot of people. Most people wanted to play ping-pong with me," he said.

With the exception of one guy from a Nashville ping-pong club, Frey said all of those in the video were bonafide passers-by, not extras who were booked for a video shoot.

Frey said it doesn't seem like it's been seven years since he and Sidewalk Prophets played at McAlester's Expo Center as part of triple header that included Matthew West and Jason Castro, who had been a top contender on "American Idol" before embarking on his recording and concert career.

"I miss Jason. We don't stay in touch nearly enough." Frey said. "We were on the road for a year straight, on four different tours."

Frey, in a 2013 interview with the News-Capital prior to the band's Expo Center performance, had promised a surprise at the McAlester event. That came when Frey and other musicians joined Castro onstage for an all-star rendition of one of his songs.

Now, Frey's looking forward to performing again — even if it won't be on the concert stage in front of a live crowd. Instead, he's joining the other members of Sidewalk Prophets for a concert he said will be geared especially for the Oklahoma City area from a studio near Nashville.

"With these times, we thought let's figure out a way to still get out there," Frey said. It includes some special touches, including what Frey called 3-D elements and a way for fans to vote on some of the songs the band will play." If you have 3-D glasses, Frey advised wearing them to get the maximum effect.

This is not a "living room" performance like some artists have been doing since the pandemic shut down live performances.

"We were doing living room stuff with low audio quality," Frey said. "We put a lot of time and effort to make this as quality as possible."

It took a few adjustments.

"We're not in front of an audience; we're in front of a crew," Frey noted, saying the people in the studio consists of "the five of us, our sound guy and two camera guys.

"Our audience is the camera," Frey said.

While it's different, Frey said "It's great trying to keep it safe for our listeners. We're trying to make it feel like you're at a concert together." Frey said a friend of his told him he got so caught up in a previous performance, he did feel as if he were at a live concert.

"That's so important," Frey said.

For those who access the band's website, go to the home page at sidewalkprophets.com and scroll down to the list of virtual tour dates that lists Oklahoma City, then click on the tickets icon.

A pay what you want ticketing system is deigned to make the virtual concerts available to everyone, the website states. Tickets are set up in increments of $5 with a suggested ticket price of $20 "but you can choose whatever pricing tier you, like including free!" the website continues. Only one ticket is needed, per household.

Each virtual concert is a unique performance. The Oklahoma City virtual concert is sandwiched between concerts in Buffalo, New York and Baltimore Maryland.

Frey said the event is designed to give those watching some fun and to let those who've been isolated know they are not alone. He misses live musical performance not only as a musician, but as a music fan himself.

"It's been too long since I've been to a concert," said Frey.

Contact James Beaty at jbeaty@mcalesternews.com.

Contact James Beaty at jbeaty@mcalesternews.com.

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