Digital Leather at The Sydney, Dec. 3, 2011.

Welcome to Lazy-i, an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news.

The focus is on the indie music scene. Yes, there's a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area, but Lazy-i also offers interviews, stories and reviews about national indie bands.

Most of the feature stories and columns in Lazy-i will have previously been published in The Reader, Omaha's weekly alternative newspaper.



Live Review: 2017 Maha Music Festival, Stephen Sheehan, Sun-Less Trio…

The crowd during Built to Spill’s set at the 2017 Maha Music Festival.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

It was a crazy, busy week for music in Omaha, maybe the busiest week of the year (though there’s still a lot of stuff planned this summer, from Lincoln Calling to Future Islands outdoors).

Let’s start at the beginning…

Stephen Sheehan and his band at Reverb Lounge, Aug. 18, 2017.

If you’re acquainted with Stephen Sheehan than Friday night’s concert at Reverb Lounge was no surprise. Sheehan is a critical bastard and a stickler for detail and would never present his music on stage without it being meticulously honed to needle-sharp perfection.

Sheehan was the frontman to ’80s-’90s post-punk bands Digital Sex and The World, bands that made their mark on the Omaha landscape in a time before Caulfield and Saddle Creek and decades before the rise of Benson (a neighborhood Sheehan, ironically, refers to derogatively as “Beno”). Digital Sex hasn’t played together since the first half of the ’90s, and because of internal band frictions and the unavailability of other members (i.e., guitarist John Tingle) likely never will, despite constant needling from the band’s fans for a reunion. Friday night’s show was the closest they’ll get to hearing DS material, possibly ever again.

With this lone opportunity, Sheehan surrounded himself with an amazing group of musicians to bring his musical past to life. On top of the list was former Digital Sex drummer Dan Crowell, who white-knuckled the performance with panache — just tremendous stickwork from a guy who rarely takes the stage anymore. It was Crowell and bassist Randy Cotton (who had the difficult task of filling Dereck Higgins’ shoes on DS songs) that held it all together, and in Cotton’s case, even led the direction in some cases.

If Crowell and Cotton brought the deep blues, it was keyboard player Donovan Johnson and guitarist Ben Sieff who added the rest of the spectrum. Johnson, a fluent professional, steadfast and stoic throughout, was a contrast to Sieff’s orgiastic performance that was like a reincarnation of Mick Ronson. Sieff often was at the center of the arrangements, especially in the latter portion of the set.

But at the actual center was Sheehan, dressed a peacock in rose-print vest and blue eye shadow,  once again a frontman, where he belongs. He looked comfortable and at home, not a bit nervous.

The million dollar answer: Yes, Sheehan still has the pipes, though no doubt his range has changed and dropped somewhat since these songs were recorded 30-some years ago. Fans heard some of the  best of Digital Sex, including “In Her Smile,” “Roses on Wednesday,” “The Days Go” and “Red Girl.” These are the songs I remember.

I’ve never heard The World’s recordings or seen them perform, so I assume most of the unfamiliar songs were from that era as well as Sheehan solo materials. For me, (maybe because it was new to me) this was the most daring and provocative part of the set, and showcased Sieff at his revved-up best. Where does one find these World recordings?

One new song, “Less and Less,” pulled from the past and pointed to a possible future, though Sheehan has been adamant that he has no set plans to perform again. Time will tell. The full house at Reverb Friday certainly is ready for more.

The Sun-Less Trio at Reverb Aug. 18, 2017.

Opening was Sun-Less Trio, celebrating the release of their new album, though frontman Mike Saklar used the occasion to unveil even newer material. A solid core trio (with the addition of Saklar’s daughter on keys during one song) the centerpoint was Saklar and his guitar-work. Saklar’s vocals are serviceable for this material (and continue to improve), but it’s that glowing guitar that pulls it all together on psych-rock songs that recall early bluesy Zeppelin.

* * *

So… Maha.

At Maha in year’s past I could always find a window of time where I could skip out, ride my bike back home and take break from the heat (and take a nap). It was tough to do this year. My window came at the end of a rather flaccid Torres set, skipping Priests altogether and returning during New Pornographer’s set. Even then, a tough decision.

Downtown Boys at the 2017 Maha Music Festival, Aug. 19, 2017.

One of my favorite performances came early — Downtown Boys. I knew a little about the band and have heard their new album, but didn’t expect the dynamo in the shape of frontwoman Victoria Ruiz. A mesmerizing figure, Ruiz introduced every songs with a brief, thoughtful political statement that was forceful without being preachy — an incredibly difficult thing to do. And, remarkably, each comment seamlessly led into a rousing punk anthem.

I was amazed at how many songs incorporated the F-word, spit out in rage by Ruiz and her band. These are the folks who should man the ramparts at every anti-Trump-ian rally. You got a sense Ruiz meant every word she said, you could see it her eyes, in her facial expressions as she worked the crowd with her message.

High Up had the tough job of following Ruiz and Company from the smaller stage. Like every year, Maha sets up a small stage (on Stinson Park’s permanent Bradford stage) and a large stage just to the right. This year, the large stage was pulled closer to the small stage, giving more room for the VIP area, which for the first time, actually abutted the front of the big stage, making those VIP tickets even more valuable.

In fact, the entire Maha footprint felt bigger, roomier this year than year’s past. More comfortable. Maha has been doing this now for nine years, so they know how to put on a comfortable festival. Everywhere you looked you found smiling, T-shirted Maha volunteers eager to help out. Festival services were again, first-rate, though Maha needs to bring in better food vendors. There wasn’t much to choose from beyond county fair fried fare — they’d be better off making it a food truck rodeo. And though I understand Boulevard probably purchased booze rights, I’d love to see Maha incorporate more local craft beers into their beverage selection.

High Up at the 2017 Maha Music Festival, Aug. 19, 2017.

Back to the music… High Up did their usual fine performance. While I like their bluesy numbers, nothing touches the power and energy of “Two Weeks,” which simply stands on a different level than the rest of their material.  I know you need contrast, but I could use a full album of Two Weeks’ fire and fury.

High Up shared their set with two Omaha Girls Rock bands that represented the organization proudly and in rocking fashion.

Torres at the 2017 Maha Music Festival, Aug. 19, 2017.

Torres took the big stage next and played an OK set that included a number of new songs from her upcoming album. As I told a fellow music critic: I liked it better when St. Vincent did it.

New Pornographers at 2017 Maha Music Festival, Aug. 19, 2017.

As I said, I skipped Priests and came back for New Pornographers. By 5 p.m. Stinson Park  had filled in nicely. New Pornos sounded fine, though I missed seeing Dan Bejar and Neko Case, both absent. It didn’t stop them from playing some of their best material, however, like “Bleeding Heart Show,” “Whiteout Conditions” and “Champions of Red Wine.”

Built to Spill at the 2017 Maha Music Festival, Aug. 19, 2017.

Built to Spill was next from the small stage. Doug Martsch and gave us a greatest hits set that included “Time Trap,” “Carry the Zero” and “Broken Chairs” among their 10-or-so song set. I’ve seen B2S sets that were nothing but jam sessions — this wasn’t one of them. I guess they knew they’re playing a festival crowd…

Belle & Sebastian at the 2017 Maha Music Festival, Aug. 19, 2017.

Then came the second highlight of the festival (for me, anyway). Belle & Sebastian was one of my bucket-list bands, and delivered with a greatest-hits set list that included “Boy with Arab Strap” and “She’s Losing It,” as well as a special song about Nebraska that they’ve never played before and likely never will again. The song was written as part of a prize for a contest B&S held a few years ago.

Stuart Murdock is about as charming a frontman as you’ll ever find, and this band was on target, inviting members of the crowd to come on stage and dance along to Arab Strap. It was the first time I’ve seen a set at Maha that I wished would have gone on for another hour, and stands out as probably my favorite from the festival’s past nine years.

By contrast, I could have used about half of what Sleigh Bells was putting out, but then again, I’ve never been a fan of their monotonous, stuttering, electro cheerleader rock that sacrifices melody for sledgehammer rhythms. Ah, but the crowd loved it.

The Faint at the 2017 Maha Music Festival, Aug. 19, 2017.

And it certainly got them revved up for The Faint’s set on the big stage. By 9 the sun had gone down and crowd was at full force. As always, The Faint put on a good show, though for whatever reason it felt more low-key than when I’ve seen them before. The set featured a lot of their “newer” material including the extras from the CAPSULE compilation and “Evil Voices” from their last studio outing. Of course it was the hits that got the crowd moving, like “Paranoiattack,” “Desperate Guys” and set closer fave “Glass Danse” that finally got the crowd jumping.

Run the Jewels at the 2017 Maha Music Festival, Aug. 19, 2017.

If there’s one tradition at Maha that seems to be perennial it’s that I leave during the headliner’s set. The headliners are the dullest part of Maha, and this year was no exception. I know, I know, Run the Jewels is one of the biggest arena/stadium hip-hop acts on tour these days and Maha landing them was a huge coup. That doesn’t mean I like their music. In fact, I like the guys in RTJ more than I like their performance or their albums. It’s a matter of preference. I’d rather see Kendrick or Tribe Called Quest or something old school, but I’m ridiculously picky when it comes to hip-hop. I made it through two or three songs and headed toward the gates.

I’m lucky I did, because after I got home (this year, via scooter) the rain it did come, and I’m told RTJ had to cut their set short because of lightning.

So where does this year’s Maha rate in the history of Maha Festivals? For my money, it was best all-around line-up and a return to stride after last year’s ho-hum festival. Still, Saturday’s attendance of just over 8,500 didn’t exceed the crowd from two years ago, which was officially a sell out. That tells me Maha still has room to grow at Stinson Park.

And while 8,500 is a great draw, especially for a local festival that targets indie music, let’s not forget twice as many people were across town at the Lady Gaga show. What would it take for Maha to draw Gaga numbers? Probably a financial risk that they’re not willing to take, and I can’t blame them (though the speed at which Beck sold out Stir Cove tells me there’s a hunger for big-name college rock bands in this town)…

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2017 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Ten Questions with The New Pornographers; Stephen Sheehan tonight; Maha Festival, Digital Leather, Lupines Saturday; Blind Pilot Sunday…

The Maha Music Festival is tomorrow at Aksarben Village.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Before we get to the full weekend preview…

This is the eighth and final installment in a series of Ten Questions interviews with bands performing at the Maha Music Festival tomorrow at Aksarben Village. For the printed version of all interviews, pick up the August issue of The Reader.

New Pornographers are among the artist playing at this year’s Maha Music Festival.

The New Pornographers

They’ve been called an indie rock supergroup thanks to the richness of talent. The band’s 7-member roster includes three lead vocalists: Dan Bejar of Destroyer, Neko Case, whose solo career stands on its own, and the band’s founder, Carl (A.C.) Newman.

Since their debut in 1997 in Vancouver, B.C., Canada, the band has released seven studio albums starting with 2000’s Mass Romantic (Mint Records) before moving to indie powerhouse Matador Records for some of the most iconic releases of the 2000s, including 2003’s Electric Version and ’05’s Twin Cinema.

Their latest, Whiteout Conditions, released this past April by Concord Music Group, debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard Alternative Album charts.

1. What is your favorite album?

Carl Newman: Love, Forever Changes

2. What is your least favorite song?

I think it is still out there. I haven’t heard it yet. If I have to answer, probably something that is #1 at country radio right now.

3. What do you enjoy most about being in a band?

I like all the people I have met. It is a good foot in the door for meeting people you admire. A great community.

4. What do you hate about being in a band?

Being away from my family. Feeling like you need to please people, like your best isn’t good enough. That sort of thing.

5. What is your favorite substance (legal or illegal)?

I like red wine. I often champion it.

6. In what city or town do you love to perform?

D.C. has always been an amazing place for us. A lot of love for all of our projects.

7. What city or town did you have your worst gig (and why)?

I remember playing in a cafe in Chapel Hill in the ’90s. No one there, they were stacking the chairs on the tables as we played. I recall thinking, “Am I paying my dues right now?”

8. Are you able to support yourself through your music? If so, how long did it take to get there; if not, how do you pay your bills?

Yes, so far so good. I played in bands for about 10 years before that happened. Not a tough, hard-working 10 years but still… 10 years. In this era when no one buys music, that might change soon.

9. What one profession other than music would you like to attempt; what one profession would you absolutely hate to do?

I would love to be a writer of some kind. Comedy, TV, film, novelist. Always had a lot of respect for the profession. I know, I am sort of a writer, in my way. So many things I would hate to be, it’s hard to choose.

10. What are the stories you’ve heard about Omaha, Nebraska?

Best place on earth. It rules, other places drool. Things like that.

The Maha Music Festival is Aug. 19 at Aksarben Village. The day-long concert runs from noon to midnight. Tickets are $55. For set times and more information, go to mahamusicfestival.com.

* * *

Here’s the weekend we’ve all been waiting for. Lots o’ shows, and it looks like the weather is going to cooperate.

It starts tonight at Reverb Lounge with Stephen Sheehan and his band performing songs from Sheehan’s past projects, notably Digital Sex, The World and his solo outings. Here’s the background on this special event. I have a feeling I’m going to see a lot of old, familiar faces tonight. Opening is Sun-Less Trio, who is celebrating an EP release of their own. $10, 9 p.m.

And then along comes the 2017 Maha Music Festival at Aksarben Village. The set times:

12:10: The Hottman Sisters
12:50: Downtown Boys
1:45: High Up and Omaha Girls Rock
2:55: Torres
3:50: Priests
4:45: The New Pornographers
5:55: Built to Spill
7:05: Belle & Sebastian
8:15: Sleight Bells
9:30: The Faint
11:00: Run the Jewels

Tickets today are $55. I’m not sure what the walk-up price will be (or if it’s different).

Downtown Boys is currently trending on the hipster meter, thanks to their hot new Cost of Living LP (Sub Pop) produced by Fugazi’s Guy Picciotto, which is enjoying a massive 79 rating on Album of the Year composite reviews. Torres also is getting a lot of attention thanks to an upcoming release. Add Priests and, of course, Run the Jewels, and this one of the more progressive Maha line-ups in the festival’s history. They’ve made it hard for me to sneak out and grab a nap tomorrow.

So where’s the after party?

In year’s past, one or two of the Maha acts played a second show somewhere after the festival. I don’t see it happening this year. So for me, the after party is at fabulous O’Leaver’s, where Digital Leather will be burning up the stage along with Sucettes. $5, 9 p.m.

If that doesn’t float your boat, you can’t miss with Lupines, Sun-Less Trio and Bled Notes at Brothers Lounge Saturday night. $5, 9 p.m.

And here’s a sneaky one: Dwight Twilley is playing at Growler USA in West O Saturday night. $15 Adv/$19 DOS, 9 p.m. How is that one not sold out yet?

And yeah, I’m aware there are a couple other big concerts going on Saturday night. But neither Lady Gaga nor the guy from Hootie in the Blowfish are exactly in my wheelhouse, though I’d be interested to see how Jocelyn does opening for Hootie at Stir Cove.

Finally, Sunday night Portland’s Blind Pilot (ATO Records) plays a sold-out show at The Slowdown. They’ve been touring through Omaha for years, growing every step of the way. Gregory Alan Isakov opens. 8 p.m.

And that’s all I got. If I missed your show, put it in the comments section. If you see me at Sheehan, Maha or Digital Leather, say hi with a Rolling Rock. Have a great weekend.

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2017 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Ten Questions with The Faint (@Maha Saturday); new Sun-Less Trio, Sam Evian; Graham Ulicny, Field Club tonight…

Category: Blog,Interviews — Tags: , , , , , — @ 12:51 pm August 17, 2017

The Faint at The Slowdown, Dec. 30, 2016. The band is among the acts playing at this year’s Maha Music Festival.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

This is the seventh in a series of Ten Questions interviews with bands performing at the Maha Music Festival Aug. 19 at Aksarben Village. For the printed version of all interviews, pick up the August issue of The Reader.

The Faint

This isn’t the first time The Faint has graced the Maha Music Festival stage. The band was one of the headliners along with Spoon and Superchunk at the 2010 festival, held at Lewis & Clark Landing. Their top-bill status — then and now — is well deserved.

One of a trio of acts that put Saddle Creek Records (and Omaha) on the indie music map in the late ’90s and throughout the 2000s, The Faint exploded onto the national scene with 1999’s Blank-Wave Arcade, an album that defined their post-punk, electronic-fueled dance-rock style. Non-stop touring and a reputation for putting on electrifying, sweat-soaked live shows quickly made them concert favorites throughout the country.

Fronted by Todd Fink with guitarist Dapose, drummer Clark Baeckle and newest member, keyboardist Graham Ulicny, The Faint continues to put out new music including three new songs on 2016 “greatest hits” compilation CAPSULE:1999-2016 (Saddle Creek).

What is your favorite album?

Todd Fink: I would never do that to  myself.

2. What is your least favorite song?

Bare Naked Ladies, “Cherry Cola”

3. What do you enjoy most about being in a band?

Free Cabernet

4. What do you hate about being in a band?

The music.

5. What is your favorite substance (legal or illegal)?

Egg nog.

6. In what city or town do you love to perform?

Tokyo or Berlin.

7. What city or town did you have your worst gig (and why)?

A festival in Switzerland(?) I had a complete Billy Joel/Casey Kasem meltdown on stage.  I used to really hate it when the vocoder wasn’t hooked up right.

8. Are you able to support yourself through your music? If so, how long did it take to get there; if not, how do you pay your bills?

We live in a castle for free.

8.5 What do you eat then?

Carrots.  With bunnies.

9. What one profession other than music would you like to attempt; what one profession would you absolutely hate to do?

I’ll be a milliner soon.

10. What are the stories you’ve heard about Omaha, Nebraska?

That Omaha made the reuben.

The Maha Music Festival is Aug. 19 at Aksarben Village. The day-long concert runs from noon to midnight. Tickets are $55. For set times and more information, go to mahamusicfestival.com.

* * *

With everything else happening this weekend, I didn’t want the fact that Mike Saklar’s band, Sun-Less Trio, is celebrating the release of a new album, When Rivers Rebirth Different Maps, at two shows. The first is tomorrow night, opening for Stephen Sheehan at Reverb Lounge (which you read about here). The second is Saturday night at Brothers Lounge with Lupines and Bled Notes.

From the album’s liner notes, Saklar describes the sessions as: “A fabulous disaster. Like a broken record that hops back a few grooves endlessly. The completion of this record is yet another audio miracle notch in the analog belt. The third recorded miracle.” Check it out below:


* * *

Speaking of new albums, Saddle Creek announced today it’s releasing a new EP by Sam Evian with drummer Chris Cohen called Need You, out Oct. 8. Evian also announced a fall U.S. Tour, but it’s a NOmaha affair at this point.

* * *

Former Omahan Maria Taylor is part of the band backing Daniel Johnston when he plays in Los Angeles Nov. 2, according to Pitchfork. Other band members include Ben Lee, Mike Watt and members of Silversun Pickups.

* * *

A couple shows tonight…

Graham Patrick Ulicny (the newest member of The Faint) is playing at Kaneko tonight as part of their Soundscapes Series. 7 p.m., $10. More info here.

Also tonight, local indie band Field Club plays at Reverb Lounge with The Senators and Bokr Tov. $7, 9 p.m.

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2017 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Ten Questions with Torres (@Maha Saturday); Hartford/Focht tonight…

Category: Blog,Interviews — Tags: , — @ 12:00 pm August 16, 2017

Torres is among the acts playing at this year’s Maha Music Festival. Photo by Ashley Connor.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

You may or may not have been aware of the fact that I’ve been out of town since last Thursday, enjoying some R&R in Cape Cod. But I’m back, just in time for Maha and some other happenings this weekend. Sneaky, I am…

Now this…

This is the sixth in a series of Ten Questions interviews with bands performing at the Maha Music Festival Aug. 19 at Aksarben Village. For the printed version of all interviews, pick up the August issue of The Reader.

Torres

Torres is the creative alter-ego of Brooklyn’s Mackenzie Scott, who has been playing a unique brand of gritty, guitar-fueled indie rock since releasing her self-titled self-released debut in 2013. In its 8.1-rated review, Pitchfork compared her to Cat Power and Songs:Ohia. She followed with 2015’s critically acclaimed Sprinter (Partisan Records).

Leaked tracks from her upcoming 4AD release, Three Futures, due out Sept. 29, hint at a more electronic-driven approach, with blaring synths, crisp drop beats and glowing guitars, reminiscent of St. Vincent, but with lyrics that embrace ecstasy, desire and indulgence rather than self-denial.

1. What is your favorite album?

Torres a.k.a. Mackenzie Scott: Kate Bush, Hounds of Love

2. What is your least favorite song?

Napoleon XlV, “They’re Coming to Take Me Away”

3. What do you enjoy most about being in a band?

Traveling and experiencing the world

4. What do you hate about being in a band?

Sitting all day, every day, when touring

5. What is your favorite substance (legal or illegal)?

Lord’s lettuce. I strongly prefer Sativa-dominant hybrids.

6. In what city or town do you love to perform?

All of them. I always feel good when we play in Scottsdale, AZ, strangely.

7. What city or town did you have your worst gig (and why)?

I’ve had a lot of terrible performances. One that I remember as being especially humiliating was in December 2015 opening for Sleater-Kinney in Brooklyn. I broke a string before my penultimate song and didn’t have a backup guitar. I walked off the stage in the middle of the set and frantically ran around looking for a spare guitar, but there were none available. I walked back onstage empty-handed and sang “Honey” sans guitar, then skipped the last song of the set. The crowd was gracious and I know it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was, but I still agonize over it.

9. What one profession other than music would you like to attempt; what one profession would you absolutely hate to do?

I’d love to act in any capacity, whether it be film, TV or theatre. I would hate to have any job where I have to answer to somebody else. I always knew I wanted to be my own boss.

10. What are the stories you’ve heard about Omaha, Nebraska?

Zilch! I’m looking forward to arriving with no preconceived ideas about Omaha.

The Maha Music Festival is Aug. 19 at Aksarben Village. The day-long concert runs from noon to midnight. Tickets are $55. For set times and more information, go to mahamusicfestival.com.

* * *

Tonight at Pageturners Lounge Hartford/Focht (Matt Focht of Head of Femur fame, and wife Crystal Hartford) opens for Effluvium. This is a free show and it starts at 9 p.m.

Also tonight, City and Colour (Canadian singer/songwriter Dallas Green of Alexisonfire) headlines at The Slowdown with Marlin Williams (Dead Oceans). This 8 p.m. show is sold out…

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2017 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Ten Questions with The Hottman Sisters (@Maha this Saturday)…

Category: Interviews — Tags: , — @ 12:00 pm August 15, 2017

The Hottman Sisters are among the bands performing at this year’s Maha Music Festival.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

This is the fifth in a series of Ten Questions interviews with bands performing at the Maha Music Festival Aug. 19 at Aksarben Village. For the printed version of all interviews, pick up the August issue of The Reader.

The Hottman Sisters

The Hottman Sisters are Jessica and Heather Hottman (plus Ed Getzlaff on drums). They’ve been gigging in the Omaha area for at least a couple years, playing a style of twangy indie-pop rife with harmonies that recall acts like Decemberists, Neko Case and First Aid Kit. The band self-released its debut album, This Two, in 2016, before heading out of town on tour.

What is your favorite album?

Jessica Hottman: Anything by Bing Crosby. My grandpa, who was a performing musician and who passed away before I was born, I am told had a voice like Bing. I like to imagine it’s my grandpa singing those songs. I am also a super nostalgic person, and he sings beautifully composed music that brings out “all the feels,” as they say. Also, anything by Elvis Presley.

2. What is your least favorite song?

I will call them “endless songs.” For example, the song that goes ‘99 bottles of beer on the wall, 99 bottles of beer, take one down, pass it around, 98 bottles of beer on the wall. Pause. 98 bottles of beer on the wall, 98 bottles of beer…‘ you get the picture.

3. What do you enjoy most about being in a band?

That moment while performing, when my sister and I look at each other and want to smile and cry all at once because we love what we do.

4. What do you hate about being in a band?

I hate how fast things go sometimes. Like when I look forward to a show and then, BOOM, it’s over and done. It’s fleeting like anything else, so I try to stop and enjoy the little steps along the way.

5. What is your favorite substance (legal or illegal)?

Ice cream. Definitely ice cream.

6. In what city or town do you love to perform?

Baton Rouge, LA, has been one of our favorite places so far. NYC is amazing as well.

7. What city or town did you have your worst gig (and why)?

We had a show that got rained out in Austin, TX.

8. Are you able to support yourself through your music? If so, how long did it take to get there; if not, how do you pay your bills?

We are able to support ourselves. It has taken us about three years to get here. All of us do work gigs when we are back though, to boost our income. I have my teaching degree, so I sub elementary school (K-6) in the Westside District. I also do some local modeling. My sister, Heather, works to sort and digitize records at a medical office, and our drummer Ed, teaches private drum lessons through a nonprofit. He also plays jazz gigs when he is back and occasionally drives for Lyft.

9. What one profession other than music would you like to attempt; what one profession would you absolutely hate to do?

I would love to be an actress. I definitely would not want to be a surgeon. Lots of blood = passing out = not helping the patient = not good.

10. What are the stories you’ve heard about Omaha, Nebraska?

I live here so I hear stories everyday! When I am out of Omaha, many people have no idea where Omaha or even Nebraska is at. If they do, they usually talk about the corn, flat land, CWS, or that one time they drove through Omaha.

The Maha Music Festival is Aug. 19 at Aksarben Village. The day-long concert runs from noon to midnight. Tickets are $55. For set times and more information, go to mahamusicfestival.com.

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2017 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Ten Questions with High Up (@Maha this Saturday)…

Category: Blog,Interviews — Tags: , , — @ 12:00 pm August 14, 2017

High Up is among the bands slated to play at this year’s Maha Music Festival.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

This is the fourth in a series of Ten Questions interviews with bands performing at the Maha Music Festival Aug. 19 at Aksarben Village. For the printed version of all interviews, pick up the August issue of The Reader.

It should be noted that High Up, The Faint and Hottman Sisters are the first Omaha acts to have ever taken the Ten Questions survey, which was designed solely for traveling out-of-town bands. Still, all three had something unique to say about their home town…

High Up

High Up is the most talked about indie act to come out of the Omaha music scene since the band debuted sometime around 2015. Driving all the talk is frontwoman Christine Fink, sister of Azure Ray’s Orenda Fink (who also is in the band). With a voice reminiscent of Janis Joplin’s, Christine belts out High Up’s unique flavor of golden blues in a style Joe Cocker would admire — all jerky moves and pained expressions with a little James Brown shake thrown in to make it ultra-groovy.

After a string of local live gigs, the band hit the studio and recorded a a self-titled EP, released this past January by Team Love Records. The highlight, a smoking single called “Two Weeks,” is guaranteed to turn the Maha crowd into lifelong fans.

1. What is your favorite album?

Christine Fink: Grand Prix – Teenage Fanclub

2. What is your least favorite song?

“Centerfold” – J. Geils Band

3. What do you enjoy most about being in a band?

Being able to connect with people on a real, emotional level, without having to maintain any kind of friendship afterward.

4. What do you hate about being in a band?

Being broke and juggling schedules.

5. What is your favorite substance (legal or illegal)?

Xanax

6. In what city or town do you love to perform?

Minneapolis so far, but I have a lot more touring to do!

7. What city or town did you have your worst gig (and why)?

We played a show in Oklahoma City on the way to SXSW. The room was long and narrow, with a mirror on the other end. There was literally no one there, so I had to watch myself perform to no one in that giant mirror across the room. Toward the end of our set a member from another band heckled me and then jumped our bass player, who inadvertently sent the guy crashing into the monitors, and then my pocket-sized sister had to get in between him and the rest of the band. All of this WHILE we were playing. Oklahoma City and the club were cool though!

8. Are you able to support yourself through your music? If so, how long did it take to get there; if not, how do you pay your bills?

No. I work full time and sulk a lot when we’re not on the road.

9. What one profession other than music would you like to attempt; what one profession would you absolutely hate to do?

I’d love to be an archaeologist or historian. I’d hate to be a doctor. Too much responsibility.

10. What are the stories you’ve heard about Omaha, Nebraska?

I heard a staircase at Hummel Park counts differently going up and down, which I couldn’t verify because I can only count up to how many fingers and toes I have, and there’s way more than nine steps.

The Maha Music Festival is Aug. 19 at Aksarben Village. The day-long concert runs from noon to midnight. Tickets are $55. For set times and more information, go to mahamusicfestival.com.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2017 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

 

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Ten Questions with Built to Spill; Closeness, Chemicals tonight; Lungs, Chemicals Saturday…

Category: Interviews — @ 12:00 pm August 11, 2017

Built to Spill is among the bands playing at this year’s Maha Music Festival.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

This is the third in a series of Ten Questions interviews with bands performing at the Maha Music Festival Aug. 19 at Aksarben Village. For the printed version of all interviews, pick up the August issue of The Reader.

Built to Spill

Along with Death Cab for Cutie and Modest Mouse, Built to Spill defined the Pacific Northwest indie rock sound of the late ’90s. The band is the product of singer/songwriter/guitarist Doug Martsch, who formed Built to Spill in Boise, Idaho in 1993. While 1997’s Perfect from Now On is considered the breakthrough, my favorite is the follow-up, 1999’s Keep It Like a Secret, which included seminal songs “The Plan,” “Time Trap” and “You Were Right,” a trio of hits that weren’t hits fueled by soaring melodies and blazing guitars.

Built to Spill has since released five more full-lengths, all on Warner Bros, including their latest, 2015’s Untethered Moon. Martsch is no stranger to Omaha, having played here a number of times dating back to one very memorable, smokey show at good ol’ Sokol Underground.

What is your favorite album?

Doug Martsch: Welcome to Miami by Slam Dunk

2. What is your least favorite song?

The whole album is good.

3. What do you enjoy most about being in a band?

Fucking around.

4. What do you hate about being in a band?

People throwing things at me.

5. What is your favorite substance (legal or illegal)?

Legal

6. In what city or town do you love to perform?

All of them.

7. What city or town did you have your worst gig (and why)?

Aspen, Colorado, because rich people suck.

8. Are you able to support yourself through your music? If so, how long did it take to get there; if not, how do you pay your bills?

I think it took me 26 years.

9. What one profession other than music would you like to attempt; what one profession would you absolutely hate to do?

Scientist; contortionist

10. What are the stories you’ve heard about Omaha, Nebraska?

Too many to account.

The Maha Music Festival is Aug. 19 at Aksarben Village. The day-long concert runs from noon to midnight. Tickets are $55. For set times and more information, go to mahamusicfestival.com.

* * *

All right, what’s happening this weekend? Of note, you’ll have two chances to see one of the area’s most dynamic acts.

The first chance is tonight when The Slowdown hosts a fundraiser for Mind & Soul 101.3 FM. Headlining is R-Style, described as “a high energy, R&B, Pop, and Soul show band based in Omaha, NE.” Also on the bill is hip-hop act The Dilla Kids featuring Marcey Yates.

For indie fans, this benefit also features 2016 break-out act CLOSENESS in what I’ve been told may be one of their last Omaha shows for awhile. Opening is the aforementioned “dynamic” act, Chemicals — an inspiring, progressive jazz-rock combo that must be seen to be believed. This 8 p.m. show is $10 adv/$12 DOS.

Also tonight Milk Run has Colorado act Gleemer with Minnesota’s Infinite Me and Rivercourt. $8, 9 p.m.

While over at fabulous O’Leaver’s it’s a handful of locals headlined by Satellite Junction with Time Giants and Doom Lagoon. $5, 10 p.m.

Saturday night Minnesota doom sludge band Lungs plays at Brothers lounge. It’s also the world-wide stage debut of Howlett. Noise act Höchste kicks it off at 9. $5.

Finally, Saturday is that second chance to see Chemicals, this time headlining at Reverb Lounge. Opening are Oketo and The Grand Poobah. 9 p.m., $6 Adv./$8 DOS.

So you have two chances to check out Chemicals. Unfortunately I’m going to miss them both as I’m writing this from the road. If you’re in town, check it out.

That’s all I got. If I missed your show, put it in the comments section. Have a great weekend.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2017 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Ten Questions with Priests (playing Maha Aug. 19)…

Category: Interviews — Tags: , , , , — @ 11:30 am August 10, 2017

Priests are among the bands playing 2017 Maha Music Festival. Photo by Audrey Melton.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

This is the second in a series of Ten Questions interviews with bands performing at the Maha Music Festival Aug. 19 at Aksarben Village. For the printed version of all interviews, pick up a copy of this month’s Reader.

Priests

The post-punk band (proudly from DC) has been ripping out their socio-poli-fueled anthems since 2012 but caught fire this year with their angst-driven full-length debut, Nothing Feels Natural (2017, Sister Polygon). The album captures a dark, stark world of haunted capitalism, anxiety and glum modernism bouncing along to a surf-rock beat. Vocalist Katie Alice Greer sings, howls and spits out lyrics atop the quick-pulse rhythms and jittery bass-driven arrangements that sound like ’80s post-punk Debora Iyall/Romeo Void territory, upbeat and often angry. This is the nervous sound of tomorrow.

What is your favorite album?

Drummer Daniele Daniele: it changes all the time, but Lanquidity by Sun Ra is an album I come back to over and over again.

2. What is your least favorite song?

Guitarist G.L. Jaguar: Journey, “Don’t Stop Believing.” Fuck that song.

3. What do you enjoy most about being in a band?

Bassist Taylor Mulitz: Answering interview questions 😉

4. What do you hate about being in a band?

Vocalist Katie Alice Greer: Anything directly in opposition to making music, there’s a lot of distracting BS you gotta wade through sometimes

5. What is your favorite substance (legal or illegal)?

Daniele: Sunshine

6. In what city or town do you love to perform?

Jaguar: DC ’cause of the home turf advantage.

7. What city or town did you have your worst gig (and why)?

Greer: New York City. We’ve played there a lot, had some of our best gigs there, too. But one time I was taunting the audience, expecting that we’d put on a really fire gig and blow them away. Instead it was a set rife with technical difficulty, I was totally embarrassed!

8. Are you able to support yourself through your music? If so, how long did it take to get there; if not, how do you pay your bills?

Greer: I do some other odd jobs, but I’m getting there. It’s taken five years at least.

9. What one profession other than music would you like to attempt; what one profession would you absolutely hate to do?

Daniele: I would love to be a weaver! Or textile designer. I’d hate to have a job where I had to carry a gun.

10. What are the stories you’ve heard about Omaha, Nebraska?

Greer: Haha. In the movie The Wizard Of Oz, at the end the wizard is in a hot air balloon headed for the Omaha State Fair…. that, and the steaks. But I’m vegan, so Omaha’s a bit of a mystery to me. Looking forward to exploring.

The Maha Music Festival is Aug. 19 at Aksarben Village. The day-long concert runs from noon to midnight. Tickets are $55. For set times and more information, go to mahamusicfestival.com.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2017 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Live Review: TFOAs, Ron Gallo, Buttertones; Sucettes, Jocko tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 12:41 pm August 9, 2017

Those Far Out Arrows at Slowdown Jr., Aug. 8, 2017.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

I’m giving this show short shrift due to time limitations, etc., i.e. I’m probably not giving the bands their due. And I’m going at this chronologically rather than by how the bands were billed, i.e., I’m starting with the opener, Those Far Out Arrows (or TFOAs in lazy shorthand), because for me, they were the highlight of the evening, closely followed by the band in the middle, Ron Gallo, with the headliner, Butternotes, trotting home in third.

TFOAs has evolved over the past year or so to a tight garage band with deep psych-rock leanings influenced by bands as diverse as Them and Velvet Underground. You’ll hear just how much they’ve evolved if you listen to their early, drone-filled cassettes and contrast it to their current thick-beat guitar rock that’s as good or better than anything I’ve heard on Goner or In the Red.

You knew last night at Slowdown Jr. the band was getting to this very young crowd (who, btw, likely  never heard of TFOAs prior to this show) when the pack in front of the stage naturally erupted into a pseudo-mosh pit, pushing and shoving and jumping along with one of the band’s mid-set songs. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen that at a garage-rock show.

Right now TFOAs is looking for someone to press a new 7-inch and has plans to enter ARC studio for a full-length in the very near future. Keep an eye on them.

Ron Gallo at Slowdown Jr., Aug. 8, 2017.

I was told by a Slowdown staffer that last night’s young crowd was there for Gallo, though my source wasn’t sure why. I have no idea, either. Maybe Gallo’s stage charisma precedes him. He and his band played a lively set of garage rock that got the crowd moving (and yeah, there was more moshing. I guess moshing is a thing again?).

The Buttertones at Slowdown Jr., Aug. 8, 2017.

Finally on came The Buttertones, a big ensemble with a guy who played some tasty tenor sax (which made everything work). A tight act, it was too easy to hear their influences. Derivative? Yeah, but isn’t all rock music derivative to some extent? Their failing was in their lack of original song structure — I felt like I’d heard it all before. But what the band lacked in originality the frontman made up in swagger. Let’s see where they are in three years.

* * *

Tonight at Pageturners, hardcore act Jocko opens for the Sucettes at Pageturners Lounge. This one’s free and starts at 10.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2017 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

 

 

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Ten Questions with Downtown Boys; The Buttertones, Ron Gallo, Sylvan Esso tonight…

Category: Blog,Interviews — Tags: , , — @ 11:15 am August 8, 2017

Downtown Boys are among the bands playing 2017 Maha Music Festival.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

This year’s Maha Music Festival, to be held Aug. 19 once again at Stinson Park in Aksarben Village, has arguably the best line-up in the festival’s 9-year history.

That’s high praise considering past Maha Festivals have included stellar acts such as Death Cab for Cutie, Garbage, Guided by Voices, Spoon, Dum-Dum Girls, Desaparecidos, Car Seat Headrest, Bob Mould and Superchunk, among others.

After last year’s strong, dance-driven line-up, Maha refocused on upcoming and semi-classic indie rock acts, striking a balance between veterans, up-and-comers and some of Omaha’s hottest bands.

Over the next couple weeks,  I’ll be publishing profiles of the 10 performing at this year’s Maha which also appear in this month’s issue of The Reader. Each band was sent my Ten Questions survey, an email questionnaire based on the Pivot Questionnaire made popular in this country by the TV show Inside the Actors Studio (but originally created by French talk show host Bernard Pivot). My version of the questionnaire adds a unique musical slant. We start with Downtown Boys…

* * *

Downtown Boys

It’s hard to top the description published on Downtown Boys’ Spotify page, which calls them “a six-piece multiracial, gender-integrated, bilingual rock band from Providence, Rhode Island, that plays fierce but joyous punk rock with blazing energy, howling saxophones and breakneck rhythms guaranteed to start a pogo frenzy on the dance floor.”

After releasing their full-length debut, Full Communism on Don Giovanni Records in 2015, the band is hopping over to Sub Pop for Cost of Living, due out Aug. 11.

What is your favorite album?

Joey La Neve DeFrancesco: That’s hard and changes regularly. Right now I really love the new record by Algiers, The Underside of Power.

2. What is your least favorite song?

If I could never hear “Closer” by The Chainsmokers + Halsey again I’d be pretty pumped.

3. What do you enjoy most about being in a band?

Performing live is the best part. Getting the immediate satisfaction of reaching people with something, sending a message, being a part of that community in the moment.

4. What do you hate about being in a band?

That musicians and cultural workers of all stripes are hugely undervalued, under-respected, and underpaid

5. What is your favorite substance (legal or illegal)?

Pass

6. In what city or town do you love to perform?

We like playing all over the place! Our favorite city is probably McAllen, TX, a city at the very bottom of the state right by the border. There is a really inspiring community there working in both culture and activism. It’s one of those places where after we play we’re like, “OK yeah this is why we do this.”

7. What city or town did you have your worst gig (and why)?

Hmm I’m not sure! And if the gig was bad I’m sure it’s more the circumstance and arranging of the show and not the city’s fault, so I don’t want to throw any particular municipality under the bus. Victoria and I have another band called Malportado Kids and once we played at Skidmore College and a drunk bro was being super violent in the crowd and we got in an argument that ended with him choking me against a wall, so that was probably the worst for me personally.

8. Are you able to support yourself through your music? If so, how long did it take to get there; if not, how do you pay your bills?

After doing this for years and years, we are only now at the point where we can even look at this as something that’s somewhat sustainable. We all still have other jobs to supplement what we make with music. There are five of us and we split everything evenly, so it’s pretty hard to make a real income on what we do just with the band. We continue pushing to make this something that we can do more and more full time, but the cultural economy treats workers like trash.

9. What one profession other than music would you like to attempt; what one profession would you absolutely hate to do?

Everyone in the band would have a different answer to this. I worked at a history museum for a while and I like that sort of public education work. As for what I would hate to do, I’m not sure – I’ve had so many awful minimum wage jobs over the years and I’m glad I’m not doing one right now, but I think all of those jobs could be sustainable and dignified and meaningful if we organized our economy better.

10. What are the stories you’ve heard about Omaha, Nebraska?

This is the first time we’ve played Omaha or anywhere in Nebraska so we’re very excited! I was really into the Saddle Creek bands like Desaparecidos and The Faint in high school, so that’s most of what I know of the city, and I’m thrilled to be playing with The Faint at the festival.

The Maha Music Festival is Aug. 19 at Aksarben Village. The day-long concert runs from noon to midnight. Tickets are $55. For set times and more information, go to mahamusicfestival.com.

* * *

It’s a garage rock smorgasbord tonight at Slowdown Jr. So-Cal surf rock band The Buttertones headlines, a band whose sound was inspired by The Sonics, The Beatles, The Monks and The Cramps. Opening is Philly garage rocker Ron Gallo (New West Records), and our very own Those Far Out Arrows. Wear black. 8 p.m., $12.

Also tonight, Carolina electro-pop duo Sylvan Esso plays at good ol’ Sokol Auditorium. Their latest, 2017’s What Now was released on Loma Vista and is indie-pop candy. Flock of Dimes (Partisan Records) opens. 8 p.m., $25.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2017 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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