Sucettes120917
Sucettes at Pet Shop Gallery Dec. 9, 2017.

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 monthly alternative newspaper.



Glow in the Dark tonight; Bad Self Portraits, Pagan Athletes Saturday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 1:15 pm August 19, 2022

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

I tell people that even if they have just an inking of an urge to go to a rock show they should go because you never know when the next chance will come around. That’s never been more true than right now, as once again, there are no touring indie rock shows happening in Omaha this weekend.

But, there are a couple local shows to consider…

Glow in the Dark is opening tonight at Reverb Lounge for a couple bands I’ve never heard before. GitD alone is worth the $8 cover charge. They go on at 8.

Tomorrow night (Saturday) local indie band Bad Self Portraits has an EP release show at Slowdown Jr. Omaha prog duo Pagan Athletes is on the bill along with Estrogen Projection. $12, 8 p.m.

That’s it. Well, at least we had Petfest last weekend, right? And Outlandia? Like I said – when a good show comes your way, go! You never know when the next one will happen…

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 © 2022 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

weekend.

Lazy-i

Al Olender, James Felice (of The Felice Bros.) tonight at Pageturners…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 12:47 pm August 17, 2022
Al Olender plays tonight at Pageturners Lounge.

by TIm McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Pageturners Lounge doesn’t do a great job getting the word out about their shows. I usually find out about them a day or so before they happen, and maybe that’s by design. Maybe these shows are last-minute deals. Who knows.

That said, tonight at Pageturners, New Yorkers Al Olender and James Felice are performing. Olender’s latest, Easy Crier (2022, self-release) is a gorgeous collection of singer-songwriter stuff that includes contributions by The Felice Brothers. In fact, James Felice recorded and produced the album. So I guess it makes sense that James is playing the opening set tonight (and I wouldn’t be surprised if they play together). This is a free show that starts at 8 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 © 2022 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Live Review: Petfest (Marcey Yates, David Nance, Thirst Things First, No Thanks)…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , , , , — @ 2:14 pm August 15, 2022
Petfest 2022 was held this past Saturday, Aug. 13, behind the Petshop Gallery

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

So by all accounts, Outlandia was a success. The festival lucked out with the weather, as Friday night and Saturday ended up being not only tolerable, but pleasant. All the photos I’ve seen from the festival showed lots of folks having a good time. I have no official word on the attendance though it looked pretty decent for a first-year festival with stellar headliners that appeal to mostly middle-aged indie music fans.

I’ve been told by folks who were that that there were no traffic snafus, no parking mishaps, and that Falconwood Park worked out well, and there already are talks about Outlandia 2 (or whatever they call it next year). Congrats to all involved.

As I mentioned, i didn’t attend Outlandia, instead opting for Petfest, which took place Saturday behind the Petshop in Benson. This year they really rolled out the red carpet… literally, as a large red outdoor carpet was placed in the center of the space between the two stages. Other changes included moving the entrance to the south side of the compound as well as moving the larger stage to the northeast corner of the lot so it faced the smaller second stage located in the garage area of Petshop.

Marcey Yates at Petfest 2022.

I arrived just as Marcey Yates’ set kicked off. It’s been a long time since I’ve caught his set and I was knocked over. I have a very narrow bandwidth for hip-hop (which can be summed up by old school ‘80s, Kendrick and Tribe Called Quest) and Yates stylistically hits it dead center. Deep beats and clever flow, very groovy. He was joined by Conny Franko for one number, who just walked right up and grabbed a microphone.

Problems at Petfest 2022.

After Yates, Problems a.k.a. Darren Keen, moved his table of electronic equipment to the large stage’s back tent and ripped into a set that included a number of thick-beat songs off his last couple releases, many of which are focused on Darren’s love of dogs (and why you, too, should love dogs). It’s kind of weird in a good way. Electronic scrunchy tone sounds atop a cracking beat was the bed of lettuce for Keen’s spoken-word life lessons, from a guy who, after years of touring has seen it all and has the respect as one of the most original performers in Nebraska.

Cat Piss at Petfest 2022.

I ducked out for an hour after Problems and came back in time for Cat Piss on the smaller Petshot stage. Shifting between the two stages meant one act could be set up while the other was performing, with only a brief sound check before each set, just enough time to grab another Zipline or whatever you were imbibing in. A lot of folks were imbibing in smoking substances, especially when the sun began to set. There was a cloud of ganga over where I stood most of the day along the north end of the compound. Pot is slowly becoming omnipresent in all outdoor festivals in Omaha, I guess I’m just going to have to get used to it.

Cat Piss is a three-piece power-punk band where drummer Nate Wolf and bass player Sam Lipsett trade vocals on songs that sound about as close to ‘90s Omaha post-punk as you’re going to find outside of a band that actually was around playing post-punk in the ‘90s (and there are a few of them still out there). Casey Plucinski ripped on guitar, but it’s that rhythm section that kept it all hopping. Great stuff.

I should point out here that I didn’t see anything less than a great set all day, which was a credit to sound engineer and show manager Ian Aeillo, who was running around like a whirling dervish all day, making sure things where plugged in and sounded great (which they did). In what was a unique set-up, music came from both PAs at once, providing a sort of quadraphonic effect. Alan Parsons, eat your heart out.

Thirst Things First at Petfest 2022.

Thirst Things First have been around at least for a decade, though I’ve never caught them before. I didn’t even know who they were except that they might be from Lincoln and that the band includes A.J. Mogis on bass — yes, that AJ Mogis, the dude who created ARC Studio with his brother, Mike, and who also plays bass in Criteria.

Wearing (mostly) matching track suits, the band tore into a set of the funnest, tightest power pop you’re going to hear this side of The Faint. Fronted by Mike Elfers of The JV Allstars and including someone I remember from Las Cruxes also on vocals, the band was powered along by Mogis and drummer Jordy Elfers, and was nothing less than remarkable. How have I missed them all these years? Who knows. Their set was a high-water mark in a festival flooded with talent. As David Letterman would say, “I’ll take all of that you got.”

Uh Oh at Petfest 2022.

If Cat Piss embodies Omaha’s ‘90s post-punk at it’s finest, Uh Oh is the embodiment of if Omaha indie jangle pop. The four piece plays big-hearted indie rock that borders on Get-Up Kids-style emo, and did a good job capturing the crowd’s attention.

David Nance Group at Petfest 2022.

They were followed on the larger stage by who, for me, was the festival headliner, David Nance Group. For this iteration, Nance was joined by Dereck Higgins on bass, Kevin Donahue on drums, guitarist Jim Schroeder, and Rosali Middleman on synths. In April, Nance’s band backed Rosali when she opened for Destroyer at The Waiting Room, and now she appeared to be returning the favor.

The band ripped into that killer version of “Credit Line” that they played a month or so ago at Reverb, a version that kicks ass thanks to a super-funky rhythm section — again, I wish they’d record this version of the song (a more rustic and non-funky version appears on Nance’s latest release, which was sort of a solo recording). Known as a garage psych-rock dude, Nance sounds like he’s shifting to a more swinging, funky style — and it’s a welcome change.

Of course that doesn’t mean he’s lost any of his sheer guitar power. Nance and Schroeder still traded guitar riffs back and forth, and ripped it up old school closing their set with a kick-ass version of “Poison” from the break-out Peaced and Slightly Pulverized.

Living Conditions at Petfest 2022.

Next up on the small stage was a metal/noise set from Living Conditions. This aggressive-noise style whose vocals consists mainly of pained yelling is not something I generally go for, but even here, they glowed for group of fans tightly gathered in front of the stage.

No Thanks at Petfest 2022.

The final Petfest performer for me was No Thanks, who announced from stage that this is their second-to-last performance, which I guess means the band is breaking up. If so, that would be a terrible loss for the music scene, as No Thanks is one of the best bands in Nebraska — as musicians, performers and songwriters. Frontman Castro Turf a.k.a. Brendan Leahy is a force of nature, who moves and vamps like a short, Midwestern version of Lux Interior, yelling and barking more than singing, a magnetic performer. But just is notable is this band, that has created a new version, authentic post-punk whose closest relative are bands like Preoccupations and Ceremony.

They hit their stride on their second song of their set — a glorious versions of “Hot Water Rising” (which just happens to be my favorite). It continued to rise from there, with Leahy pacing the front of the stage, taunting the crowd, before poring some sort of substance over his head (fake blood? motor oil? I couldn’t tell in the dark light). No Thanks was a band that had everything in front of them, and like so many other great band from Nebraska, never really got their chance.

That was it for me at Petfest. If Maha Festival showcases the newest indie acts and Outlandia celebrates past national indie icons, Petfest is the ultimate showcase of the best talent this state has to offer. From that perspective, it might be the most important festival we have, because it provides a stage and a spotlight to our local talent, who these days have fewer and fewer opportunities to shine.

* * *

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 © 2022 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Outlandia / Petfest Weekend; Supersuckers, Wagon Blasters tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , — @ 12:20 pm August 12, 2022
This year’s Petfest will probably look a lot like last year’s Petfest. It’s going on this Saturday behind the Petshop in Benson.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Well it’s finally here, Outlandia — what will likely to be the biggest indie music festival of the year, held at Falconwood Park in Bellevue. Check out the site map.

Tonight’s four-band line-up (to me) is really the festival highlight. It starts with local alt-country rockers Clarence Tilton at 4 p.m. They’re followed by Real Estate at 5:30; Band of Horses at 7 and The National at 9 p.m. Gates open at 3 p.m. 

The biggest challenge if you plan to attend could be getting there. Outlandia is saying the Kennedy Freeway drops down to one lane when approaching Outlandia from Highway 75 from downtown Omaha. This could be… challenging during Friday afternoon drive time so they recommend leaving as early as possible or taking Highway 34 Eastbound. 

As most who are going already now, Outlandia is a CASH ONLY enterprise, so drop by your local ATM and grab some cash before you leave. They’ll have ATMs on site, but they could be a bit wonky what with the dodgy wi-fi out in the middle of nowhere. 

Parking is pretty straightforward if you just follow the signs. On-sight and Off-sight parking are the first entrance, VIP parking is the second entrance. Finally, there is absolutely NO RE-ENTRY, so don’t forget your shit. 

Hey, it’s gonna be fun. I wish I were going. 

Saturday’s Outlandia line-up starts at 1 p.m. with Mesonjixx, followed by Kat Hasty at 2, and then… The Breeders at 3:30 (when people likely will begin showing up). Margo Price starts at 5, then Silversun Pickups at 6:30, Local Natives at 8 and Wilco at 9:30.

Gates at noon. It’s going to be hot, so prepare to hydrate. Tickets are still available for both days and VIPS at Outlandia’s Etix page. Don’t forget, you’ll need to buy a separate parking pass if you’re not buying VIP tickets. 

. 0 0 0 . 

I won’t need a parking pass when I go to Petfest Saturday, taking place behind Petshop Gallery in Benson. It’s the best local-band lineup of any Nebraska festival. This year’s headliners are Chicago electronic/industrial duo HIDE (Dais Records) and Amulets. 

Two stages, 20 bands, that means one band right after the other. Frantic fun! Here’s the schedule:

2:00 – Aly Peeler 
2:25 – Mike Schlesinger
2:50 – E Rawq 
3:15 – GLOW 
3:40 – Better Friend 
4:05 – Nowhere 
4:30 – Dirty Talker 
5:00 – Marcey Yates 
5:25 – PROBLEMS 
5:50 – Ruby Block 
6:15 – Bug Heaven 
6:40 – Cat Piss 
7:05 – Thirst Things First 
7:35 – Uh Oh 
8:05 – David Nance 
8:35 – Living Conditions 
9:05 – No Thanks
9:40 – Universe Contest 
10:30 – HIDE 
11:15 – Crabrangucci 

Plus performances from Molli Poppinz, Azalea Spanx, Purris Stilton and Academixxx throughout the day. 

Tickets are $30 today / $35 DOS, and are available right here.

. 0 0 0 .

In addition to all this, there’s a red hot-show tonight at Reverb Lounge, headlined by Tucson’s Supersuckers, who are described as sounding like the bastard sons of Foghat, AC/DC and ZZ Top after being weaned on punk rock. They’ve been on Sub Pop and Interscope but released their last one, 2020’s Play That Rock ’n’ Roll, on Acetate Records. Opening is Lubbock band Speedealer, and our very own Wagon Blasters and Bad Actors. (The folks at Black Heart Booking love their four-band bills, and may be the only ones who do!). $25, starts at 9 p.m. 

And that’s all I got. If I missed your show, put it in the comments section. 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 © 2022 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

A change in tune (in the column); Soul Glo, BIB tonight at TWR…

Category: Blog,Column — Tags: , — @ 12:56 pm August 10, 2022
Soul Glo plays tonight at The Waiting Room

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

This month’s column in The Reader is about changes in my music-listening habits and a modest proposal for a different way to compensate musicians similar to how we pay to go to movies. You can read it here or in print (I know you can pick them up at Hy-vee and La Casa). 

While the price to download music is about the same as it was when the iTunes store opened more than 20 years ago (Jan. 9, 2001, according to the Google), the price for movie tickets has steadily increased. I paid $12 each for tickets to see a movie at Alamo this past weekend. Movie tickets averaged around $5 back in 2001.

Tickets to see bands have only slightly increased over the past 20 years, and the now old-fashioned $5 local shows are around $7 or $8; low-end touring indie acts start at around $10 to $12 for tickets. So you can still see live music for less than it costs to go to a movie. 

Like tonight at The Waiting Room where Soul Glo headlines. The Philly hardcore punk act is an indie music darling. Their latest album, Diaspora Problems (2022, Epitaph/Secret Voice) is a Pitchfork “Best New Music” pick scoring an 8.5 on the Pitchfork meter (from PF tastemaker Ian Cohen, no less, a consummate Saddle Creek hater). Local hardcore superstars BIB opens the show along with Fire Sign and Pulse. It’s worth $10 just to see BIB. 8 p.m., bring your hard-toe boots.

* * *

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 © 2022 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Even more Maha news; Ian Sweet, Bnny tonight at Reverb…

Category: Blog — Tags: , — @ 12:37 pm August 8, 2022
Ian Sweet plays tonight at Reverb Lounge.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Here is yet one more article about the 2022 Maha Festival, this time published by main stage sponsor Union Pacific, but written by yours truly. If you’ve ever wondered what I look like, the article includes a photo of me taken by the super-talented Ben Semisch. Check it out here

. 0 0 0 . 

Been trying to figure out the backstory behind tonight’s Ian Sweet show — why is it presented by Slowdown but is being held at Reverb Lounge? Is it because Slowdown needs the full space to get ready for tomorrow night’s Sleigh Bells show? Or is it because that Ian Sweet show is a reschedule, and at the time of the resched, Slowdown was booked with something else (that dropped off)? Who knows and, I guess, what does it matter? 

Ian Sweet a.k.a. Jilian Medford is on a roll these days. Her 2021 album, Show Me How to Disappear (Polyvinyl) garnered a shit ton of college airplay as well as Pitchfork love. Her latest is a 4-song EP, Star Stuff, released a couple weeks ago and is more of the sweet indie you’ve come to expect from Medford. 

Opening tonight show is Chicago quartet Bnny, who dropped their debut LP, Everything, last August. $15, 8 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 © 2022 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Some Maha numbers/post-script; what’s up with Outlandia? BFF tonight; Marissa Nadler, Oquoa Saturday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 10:59 am August 5, 2022
Outlandia Festival is next weekend at Falconwood Park.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Why has Lazy-i been so deathly quiet this week? Maybe because like all of you I’m still recovering from the Maha Festival (that, and the fact that nothing has been happening this week).

Some post-Maha info: The folks at Maha reported attendance of more than 11,500 over the two-day event, that breaks down to 4,100 on Friday night (headlined by Car Seat Headrest) and 7,400 on Saturday (Princess Nokia/Beach House). That total attendance number includes an army of 850 volunteers, which is the secret sauce that makes Maha such a well-oiled machine.

Last year, Maha recorded attendance of 6,400 for the single day. The attendance was capped at around 70% of full capacity to allow for social distancing.

I can confirm Maha will again take place at Stinson Park in Aksarben Village next year. The real wild card is what will happen in 2024, when the new downtown river landing is completed. Now that would be a mammoth change for Maha…

. 0 0 0 .

The Outlandia Festival released a site map on their website, and based on everything I can see it looks like it could be a blast, especially if you have VIP tickets.

Two head-scratchers — where exactly is the off-site parking (which is $15)? It’s shown as an arrow that leads somewhere off the map, and may have a different driving route than the on-site and VIP parking. Actually, I don’t see how off-site patrons enter the festival on this map. If there’s a shuttle from off-site, where does it load and unload or do you just have to walk from the off-site parking? I’m sure there will be a map update or more clear directions in the coming week.

Also missing is Outlandia’s performance schedule, which one assumes could drop at any moment now. (UPDATE: They just posted it here). It appears at least one act has fallen off the Friday night line-up, Caroline Spence, who no longer is mentioned on the Outlandia website. That leaves four bands for Friday’s concert (unless there’s a last-minute addition).

The underlying message throughout the Outlandia FAQ — BRING CASH. They won’t have a POS system, likely due to connectivity issues. There will be an ATM on the festival grounds.

BTW, the Friday night VIP tickets, which were sold out, are no longer sold out. In fact, all VIP packages are still available as well as GA tickets from the Outlandia etix website. VIPs look like the way to go — great access, great facilities and VIP parking is included…

Also, BTW, Petfest is next weekend. Their schedule has been online since July 17, here.

. 0 0 0 .

Speaking of Petfest, it’s the first Friday of August which means it’s Benson First Friday. The full event map is here: https://www.bffomaha.org/map.html

Saturday night, so-called “gothic singer-songwriter” Marissa Nadler headlines at Slowdown. Her most recent LP, The Path of Clouds (2021, Sacred Bones/Bella Union) received a 7.5 on the Pitchfork meter, where they said, “The thrills of The Path of the Clouds are far richer than most true crime fiction, but like the best examples of the genre, it leaves you breathless.” Whoa. The music is, indeed, haunting. Opening is Omaha indie band Oquoa, playing for the first time in long time. $20, 8 p.m.

There are no 1% shows worth mentioning this weekend.

That’s all I got. If I missed your show, put it in the comments section. 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 © 2022 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Live Review: Maha Music Festival 2022 (Sudan Archives, Car Seat Headrest, Indigo De Souza, Beach House)…

Beach House at Maha Music Festival 2022.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

In the minds of a few folks involved in the Omaha music scene, there are two festivals this year going head-to-head — the Maha Music Festival, which happened last weekend, and Outlandia Music Festival in less than two weeks.

There is scuttlebutt, rumor and legend that Maha begat Outlandia. I’ve heard Outlandia described as a “revenge festival.” And when August comes to a close, it is inevitable that some will compare and contrast the two and declare a winner.

I won’t be one of those people. Because despite local music industry politics, I still see Maha and Outlandia as two very different animals, with two very different audiences. That doesn’t mean, however, that Outlandia didn’t impact Maha’s ticket sales.

I don’t have the numbers (yet), but my eyes tell me the crowds last weekend were among the smallest at any Maha including last year’s COVID-limited success. And in the music business as in life, size always seems to matter no matter what anyone says. Maha’s line-up, more than any in the past, was laser-targeted toward a very young demographic — not Gen X or Gen Y but squarely on the Z. And the audience reflected it – the youngest music-going audience I’ve seen at a Maha Festival. If that was their intent, congratulations.

But it was smaller. Friday night looked as if fewer than 3,000 paid ticket-goers were in attendance, though Stinson Park and the grounds surrounding it still had a festival feel, thanks to a set-up that boasted a great arcade-like area and a fun Community Village populated with energized non-profiters taking advantage of the unseasonably cool weather. Yeah, weather might be a decider between which festival was more fun to attend.

Maha’s biggest change this year was physically moving the main stage closer to the smaller second stage, and shifting the VIP area north of the main stage so VIP tents were actually visually obscured (though VIPers could still walk right down near the edge of stage left). I didn’t visit the VIP area this year because I wasn’t sure my Media Pass would let me in. (Edit: I’m now told they didn’t move the stage. It just seemed like they did because they moved the VIP area).

Realigning the private suites on the east end made the park feel smaller, tighter, which was fine considering the smaller crowd. That stage location meant concert goers were blinded as the sun fell behind either stage.

Which brings up one more positive addition — this year Maha finally added a big screen projection system, with the screen placed left of the main stage. These screens have been a staple at festivals around the country for years, and are a long time coming for Maha, obviously enhancing the experience for those seated along the walkways and in the suites. Maybe next year they can afford a second screen for the other side of the stage.

One last technical thing before we get to the music — Maha continues to be Omaha’s most well-run outdoor event thanks in huge part to their army of volunteers who help in every conceivable way, right down to helping you decide how to throw away your trash. Their volunteers have always been Maha’s greatest asset.

Las Cruxes at Maha Music Festival 2022.

OK, onto the show. I caught the entire Friday night line-up, which kicked off right at 5:30 with punk band Las Cruxes, now boasting a ridiculous nine members. It certainly didn’t sound like nine people on the big stage, and, having seen these folks a half dozen times in the past, they could have pulled off the same performance Friday as a five-piece (though they gotta keep those two drummers).

Las Cruxes punk feels like a psych-rock concert at a blunt-instrument crime scene in a vacant apartment located somewhere just south of the boarder, say Nueva Laredo. It’s a bit unfocused, with sweeping, almost violent melodies sung in a static haze, and of course, entirely in Spanish. I have no idea what they are singing, and I’d be lying if I said the lack of translation didn’t take away from the songs. I like lyrics. If you’re uni-lingual, you’re left with only the psych-punk vibe, which by itself was potent. Punk bands typically aren’t designed for outdoor festivals, but Las Cruxes pulled it off, and I can’t wait to see them again in a club. PS: the sound mix was impeccable, Ian.

Bad Self Portraits, another local band, was next up on the small stage, which by contrast, didn’t sound much smaller. The band played their just-released EP, Fear of Missing Out, which leans more toward singer-songwriter than indie, the lead singer at times reminding me of Aimee Mann. This was the first time I’ve seen them, and probably not the best place to be introduced. It’s tough enough to get people to listen to your new album, even tougher in front of mostly empty festival grounds.

Sweeping Promises at Maha Music Festival 2022.

Next came the first of three touring indie acts. I hadn’t heard of Cambridge band Sweeping Promises until Maha, and wasn’t terribly inspired to check them out until: 1) local legend Jeff Runnings (of For Against fame) pointed me toward their 2020 album, Hunger for a Way Out, and 2) added that the band just got signed to Sub Pop. The aforementioned album is, indeed, awesome. Some of the innovation heard on that record was lost on stage, however. A power trio, front woman/bass player Lori Mondal’s vocals were too exposed and left hanging in the very narrow arrangements. Their performance could have benefited from a dirtier mix.

Indigo De Souza at Maha Music Festival 2022.

I was still waiting for the crowd to show up by 8:15 when Indigo De Souza and her band took the stage. The Saddle Creek Records act is one of the most successful new indie bands in the past couple years on the strength of two amazing albums. A small cadre of fans pressed toward the small stage, and got what they came for — a terrific set. De Souza’s between-song comments were a bit… disturbing. She said she felt cursed whenever she comes to Omaha, adding “Good luck to you.” After singing her next song she continued on about what a strange day she’d had here, and not in a good way.

But you wouldn’t have known it by her performance, which was spot on, while the small stage crowd sang along to highlight “Kill Me.” Wish more people had been there to see it.

Car Seat Headrest at Maha Music Festival 2022.

Finally at 9:30 on came Car Seat Headrest. I was at Stinson earlier that day to help set up the Union Pacific suite and caught their soundcheck, where they ended up playing most of their set. Even at the soundcheck, frontman Will Toledo wore his now trademark gas mask-with-the-glowing eyes (and floppy ears).

But whereas he wore a T-shirt and skinny jeans during soundcheck, for the actual performance he came out in his full, weird orange costume that sort of looked like a hazmat jumpsuit. He wore the mask throughout his set, a microphone tucked away either in the mask or somehow next to it (his voice sounded fine).

I’ve heard people complain that Car Seat’s performances are boring without the costume, and I disagree, but maybe it’s because I think Teens of Denial and Twin Fantasy are two of the best albums of the late 20-teens. His songwriting and arrangements are confessional and provocative, and always interesting, so I don’t need the theatrics. That said, it was was more than appropriate for headlining a festival.

Undercutting the costume, Toledo chatted with his audience and his band between songs, seemingly disconnected from the fact that he was wearing a creepy mask. The New York Times wrote about the costume, saying it was a reflection of his deep admiration for David Bowie and how he always reinvented himself. With that in mind, it’s time for Toledo to dump the costume and take on his own Thin White Duke persona.

Of the two nights, I preferred Friday. There’s talk about pumping up Maha’s Friday night line-ups, but I would keep it indie-focused and leave the big pop-fueled bands for Saturday night.

So here’s my thoughts about the Saturday events — there’s no reason to start the festival at 1:30 if you’re only going to book local bands to perform up until 5 p.m. It’s great that these bands are getting an opportunity to play on big stages, but it’s disingenuous when you consider they’re playing mainly for Maha vendors and staff. After watching a couple minutes of DJ Short-T, I split and didn’t return to the park until Geese’s set.

Maybe the biggest winner of the local bands involved was The Real Zebos. More people told me about the band than any other local on the bill (other than Las Cruxes’ colorful backstage hi-jinx). They’ve got an album release show Sept. 23 at The Slowdown.

Geese at Maha Music Festival 2022.

When I got back to Stinson at around 5, Geese were already on the big stage, but… without a drummer. After a few texts, I found out their drummer and guitarist were both MIA (the drummer apparently had a hand injury).

Geese was considered a huge “get” when it was announced. “Low Era,” the single off their Projector album, is on heavy rotation on Sirius XMU and has a cool vibe reminiscent of early Tame Impala. Of course we got none of that Saturday as the band ended up doing a free-form set that sounded more like noodling than anything else (I was reminded of the Jazz Odyssey scene in Spinal Tap). They were apologetic throughout, and it was a good effort to make the most of a bad situation, but I was just waiting for them to wrap it up. We still haven’t seen Geese.

Things went from bad to worse, as Sudan Archives were tortured with technical problems on that small stage. I was standing just right of the stage as frontwoman Brittney Parks struggled to get her violin pick-up to work, talking back and forth with the stage sound dude. She would plug things in, unplug and replug and the stage sound guy would say “Nothing” or “I have one channel now.” This went on and on and the schedule looked to be blown.

And then, out of the blue, two other performers went on the small stage, unscheduled, and played a couple songs that I will only describe as… challenging. I was beginning to think we weren’t going to get Sudan Archives at all.

Sudan Archives at Maha Music Festival 2022.

As 6 p.m. rolled around (15 minutes late), they finally introduced Sudan Archives, who played as a duo, with a guy manning a laptop/synth/beatbox. The first song went fine, but then 30 seconds into the next song, the amps erupted in static, and the sound was cut. I thought for sure the set was over, when Parks picked up her violin, said “I’m just going to plug this in direct” and began playing a stripped down version of one of her songs, using a pedal repeater, the beat box and her vocals. It was amazing.

By the time that song finished, the tech problem was worked out, but time had run out. Maha wisely let them go on, and we got stunning versions of “NBPQ (Topless)” whose chorus is “I just want to have my titties out, titties out, titties out,” and breakout single “Selfish Soul.” What could have been a disaster ended up one of the best sets of the festival. Sudan Archives will be that act who, in a couple years when she’s playing huge audiences, we’ll say, “I remember when she played Maha.”

Things went pretty smoothly after that.

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever at Maha Festival 2022.

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever came on maybe five minutes late, so things were getting back on schedule. A huge Australian act, they could headline most any other mid-size festival, and were a great late pick-up for Maha. They played with absolute precision their hits, including the ubiquitous “Talking Straight.” I’m not a big fan of this band — the music is a bit too mainstream for me. In a few years, this will be prime Dad Rock material (Outlandia, take note), but I know a lot of people love them, and they got exactly what they came for.

Every year, Maha has one earlier-in-the-day act that ignites the crowd. A few years back, for example, it was Atmosphere. This year it was PUP.

PUP at Maha Music Festival 2022.

The emo-punk band said the festival was the last gig on their world tour, and you could tell. They’re the kind of band with rabid fans who sing along to every song. A fairly large mosh pit formed in front of the stage as kids bounced around into each other more like pogo moshing than slam dancing. PUP’s music isn’t dark, gritty or hardcore; it’s more like pop punk with emo at its center, extremely well played, and the kids loved it.

Princes Nokia at Maha Music Festival 2022.

They were a huge contrast to Princess Nokia, a red-hot New York-born Puerto Rican MC, singer and performer. She had literally just flown in for the performance (or so she said), and it took her awhile to get comfortable on stage, using her opening song as her sound check. Backed by her DJ, she ran through her a set along with a few a cappella raps and a ton of between-song messaging about social issues, equality, and not taking shit from anyone. At one point she invited the people of color to come up front. I thought her arrangements and DJ were solid; her rhyme and flow, not so much.

By the end of her set, the crowd size looked somewhat impressive, but nowhere near as big as past years’ closing nights. We’ll see what the numbers say, but I think the data will prove this to be an off year for Maha. Part is due to the headliner choice. Beach House is far from a household name unlike past Maha headliners like Weezer, Lizzo, Garbage, Run the Jewels, etc. If you think Maha should continue to cater to indie (as I do), then you’re OK with that.

Beach House is a top-drawer indie band, but they’re not a huge draw, like festival headliners that Maha may never attract because of cost or scheduling, such as The Smile (ex-Radiohead), Tame Impala, LCD Soundsystem, Arcade Fire, Lana Del Rey, IDLES, Fontaines D.C., Wet Leg, and yeah, apparently Phoebe Bridgers (but that’s another story).

Beach House at Maha Music Festival 2022.

Beach House used a solid backdrop to facilitate a huge projection system throughout their performance, effectively setting a tone that complimented their spacey, droning indie music. Like last year’s Khruangbin headliner, it made for a laid-back closing act, but as I’ve said before, I never go to Maha for the headliner and never stay til the end.

So, another successful Maha Festival in the books, certainly in terms of execution and artistry. Maha continues to have the most diverse line-up of any local festival. And their hospitality is flawless, especially with those volunteers. Still, there’s always room for improvement, like getting a second big screen and it’s high time they hire an event DJ to keep the vibe flowing between sets.

Maybe the best thing about Maha is that it’s so damn easy. I rode my motorcycle to the park and walked right into the festival — zero hassle. The location and convenience are unmatched (and that’s something that may be lost if/when Maha makes its eventual move to downtown Omaha).

And while Outlandia may have bigger names in their line-up — ultimately drawing a larger audience — the jury is out as to how they’ll funnel a ginormous audience into Falconwood Park, with its access via a two-lane road and $25 on-site parking. I’m confident they have all that figured out, right? We’ll find out in less than couple weeks…

* * *

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 © 2022 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Maha weekend (Car Seat Headrest, Indigo De Souza, PUP, RBCF); Lincoln Exposed weekend; Wavves Sunday…

Category: Blog — @ 7:26 am July 29, 2022
Car Seat Headrest at the 2016 Maha Music Festival. The band returns to Maha tonight.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

It’s Maha Festival time, as detailed Wednesday. Tickets available at the gate. Tonight’s show at Aksarben Village starts at 5:30 with Las Cruxes on the main stage, which you absolutely don’t want to miss. Indigo De Souza is at 8:15, and Car Seat Headrest is at 9:30. What will Will Toledo and company throw at us as the headliner?

Tomorrow’s show starts at 1:30 but the first touring headliner, Geese, doesn’t play until 4:45. Then it’s one after another with Sudan Archives, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, PUP, Princess Nokia and headliner, Beach House. The more I look at it, the more impressive the line-up seems. I’m not a big Beach House fan, and their past shows have been a real snooze, but I have to believe they’ll bring something amazing Saturday night. All Maha info here.

If you’re in Lincoln, there’s Lincoln Exposed, which started last night and runs through Saturday. The full weekend lineup is here. Tickets, available online or at The Bourbon, are $12 tonight and tomorrow. The highlights for me (if I was going) would all be Saturday night with Domestica at The Zoo Bar at 9, blet at Bourbon Theater at 10:20 and Universe Contest at Duffy’s at 11:40.

Cap off the weekend Sunday night with Wavves at Slowdown Jr. The band is on the road supporting 2021 release Hideaway (Fat Possum Records). BOYO and Smut open at 8 p.m. $20!

Have a great weekend. If you’re at Maha, look for the guy wearing the Union Pacific ball cap and say hello.

* * *

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 © 2022 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Mark Burgess (Chameleons) tonight; let’s get ready for Maha…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 1:07 pm July 27, 2022
Mark Burgess, right, performing with Dereck Higgins at Omaha Healing Arts Center June 26, 2003.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Mark Burgess of Chameleons is no stranger to Omaha. He came through and played accompanied by Dereck Higgins way back in 2003 (and had a scheduled concert three years later that he cancelled). Now he’s back, this time playing tonight at new downtown/midtown bistro performance spot The Berkley, 1901 Leavenworth (just down the street from Shuck’s, by where The Milk Run used to be). Alexis DeBoer (Drakes Hotel, who were also on the bill, cancelled due to Covid) opens. Show starts at 8 p.m. $25.

Some background for those of you wondering who Burgess is, here’s my 2006 Q&A with Burgess and my 2003 feature on Burgess. Enjoy.

. 0 0 0 .

And here’s an early head’s up for this weekend’s Maha Music Festival.

I’ve been going back and forth with people about this year’s eclectic line-up. Is it great or the worst ever? I guess it depends on how you define success. From a forward-looking new band perspective, it’s pretty on point, considering Princess Nokia, Sudan Archives and Geese are definitely indie buzz bands. Beach House remains on heavy rotation on Sirius XMU, as is late addition Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever. Car Seat Headrest is a personal favorite, but an odd choice considering they played Maha just a few years ago. Indigo De Souza is another personal favorite, though she also just played at Slowdown just last year. PUP’s performance will likely be the one that people will talk about the next day. As for Sweeping Promises, well, this will be my introduction to that band. 

I think it’s a solid line-up, though I don’t foresee it selling out.

The only local act on the bill that piques my interest is Las Cruxes, certainly one of our best local punk bands. I’ve mentioned this before — Maha seems to have ignored what I consider to be the best indie bands in the area, a list of which you can see right here. Ah well, I guess that’s OK seeing as so few people are on hand early in the day for the locals (still, it’s probably a nice pay day). 

The sched for the two day festival:
Friday
Las Cruxes – 5:30 p.m. 
Bad Self Portraits – 6:15 p.m. 
Sweeping Promises – 7 p.m. 
Indigo De Souza – 8:15 p.m. 
Car Seat Headrest – 9:30 p.m. 

Saturday
DJ Short-T 1:30 p.m. 
Dominique Morgan – 2:15 p.m. 
The Real Zebos – 3 p.m. 
Omaha Girls Rock – 3:35 p.m. 
Marcey Yates – 4 p.m. 
Geese – 4:45 p.m. 
Sudan Archives – 5:45 p.m. 
Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – 6:45 p.m. 
PUP – 7:45 p.m. 
Princess Nokia – 9 p.m. 
Beach House – 10:30 p.m. 

VIP and General Admission tickets are both still available. Those GAs are $85 for both days, $35 for Friday and $65 for Saturday. See you there. More info here.

* * *

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 © 2022 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i