Workin’ For The Weekend: Abbotsford Heat at Oklahoma City Barons “This Must Be The Place”

The Talking Heads are performance art defined. Blessed with musical talent, the foursome led by vocalist and guitarist David Byrne were the bastions of American new wave when all other acts were birthed across the pond. They were producing, writing and performing music in and around New York city in the late 1970’s in ways that very few understood at the time. Accompanied by art projects in both large and small form, the group was well known for blurring the lines between what it meant to be an artist. Their willingness to remain undefined by no one led them to great success both on the charts and by their critics.

You listen to a few Talking Heads albums and you quickly see how they became the forefathers of digitized music. In many ways, they paved the way for a generation of musical acts to follow that would only try to reproduce the sound. Although those bands would succeed, they struggled to genuinely fulfill the artistic nature of the trailblazers called the Talking Heads.

The light, and entirely dance-able track “This Must Be The Place” from their fifth album Speaking In Tongues is atypical Heads music. Yet the subject matter is a slight hard turn for the group. It’s a simple love song, and rarely did Byrne and company dabble in tunes where emotional feelings clouded their better judgement. In one track they pulled it off even if they didn’t often “go there”.

The words don’t seamlessly flow as if they are telling a story. Rather this is a happy roller coaster ride of love that Byrne is taking us on. While the author “burns with a weak heart” with his “head in the sky” and proclaiming “home is where I want to be” he settles nicely on “this must be the place”. As if some mythological place hadn’t existed, he suddenly finds love, and boy is it hitting him hard.

I love the quirkiness of the Talking Heads. There is something about their video structure, song placement, and perfectly executed boops and beeps that have long captured my imagination. As members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, apparently I’m not the only one that invites their world of oddities into my being. They are classic.

Have the Oklahoma City Barons, like the story teller in “This Must Be The Place”, found their sweet spot? A place where they are comfortable in their confusion, and fully committed to not understanding what to do with it? Sure, why not.

The Barons currently sit at .500 having just split a pair of games with the San Antonio Rampage, who are slightly less darling than OKC. I talked at length last week, in this very place, about mediocrity, and how it is okay to just be good not great. I’ve changed my mind. The baby Oilers can be good and they can win games. We have witnessed it first hand in the form of Omark dangles, Lander surges, and long distance wristers. Being capable and actually performing are two very different things, but we have experienced both as fans through October and November.

They will have their hands full as they welcome the Abbotsford Heat to the Cox Center for a pair of games this weekend. Their 12-4-0-1 start to the season is remarkable, and Oklahoma City will be hosting them in the midst of a 9-1 run that includes two recent beatdowns of the Texas Stars (7-3) and the Toronto Marlies (6-3). They are arguably the best team in the AHL, and there are many reasons for that.

As the Heat counterpart in the NHL finds themselves in a rebuild of sorts, the banner becomes permanently transcribed with the inscription “find offense”. Indeed they’ve found offense thanks to the oldest 22 year old Blair Jones and rookie centerman Corban Knight. Both have notched sixteen points a piece. Ben Hanowski and Markus Granland haven’t looked too shabby either, and that’s good news for the Flames/Heat.

Defensively, they struggle, but they are fine with that. They’ve given up 49 goals this season which is third in the entire AHL. 21 of those goals have been let in by Reto Berra who has looked awful when compared to rookie keeper Joni Orti who has yet to lose a game in in six starts. He is really good. His strength allowed the Heat to part with Laurent Brossoit, bring in Olivier Roy (still ?), and somehow manage to continue to be a good team.

Defensively, they are growing weary, and down the stretch it might do them in. Like the Barons, inconsistency is killing them. Chad Billins has been good at scoring goals and defending, but when you are a squad that likes to rifle shot on net, sometimes you give up space the other direction.

For Oklahoma City Linus Omak and Anton Lander seem to be the most important pieces to the puzzle. Leaders by sheer will and goal scoring, the rest of the team will need to pitch in for the Heat games to be respectable.

Likewise, Ilya Bryzgalov will need to shake the dust off his old boots, and saddle up for his first pro time in quite some time. Promised the start at least once this weekend, Ilya returns to the NHL via the AHL in Oklahoma City. I fully expect some rust, and I think he does too. But what happens if he gets outplayed by Joni Orti at the other end? What if Tyler Bunz has to come in to relieve him? Oh man, good times.

And defensively, Oklahoma City will continue to look to the youngsters in Klefbom, Marincin and the older(but still youngsters) Corey Potter and Denis Grebeshkov to carry the load. Ironically, Martin Gernat and David Musil played so-so in the previous game, and perhaps we are seeing a bit of life in their legs lately (although I’m not very hopeful; sad trombone).

So we await a really good opponent in the Cox Center Friday and Saturday. We cross our fingers for ‘ole Ilya. We pray for depth offense. We hope for really strong defense. And we excitedly watch Roman Horak play his former team. Get to the Cox Center. It’s worth your effort.