Late Live Review: The Ointments, Pomonas, Fizzle/Flood; my chat with The BBC; Sufjan Stevens tonight
The usual Tuesday message: Too busy yesterday morning writing a feature on Lincoln Calling (it’ll be online tomorrow) and this week’s column (about the First National Bank comp CD, it’ll be online Thursday) to write an update. Such are the pressures of deadlines.
Saturday night. Packed crowd at O’Leaver’s (what else is new?). Ointments on stage — that swinging Kyle Harvey, that commie Reagan Roeder, that madman Landon Hedges. Hedges looked like an emaciated Animal from the Muppet Show on drums, but man, could he play, swinging the lumber like a real pro, like a tribal warrior. It was Hedges’ stickwork that fueled this revitalized version of The Ointments, along with the songs, of course. I just saw these guys a couple months ago at Shag and was only mildly amused. There’s something about Shag and its big stage so far away from the audience that just seems to suck the life out of bands. The Ointments that played Saturday sounded like a different outfit altogether. Much more animated, much more soulful, much more into the crowd. And the crowd was into it right back. Roeder has a way of adding something filthy from his guitar at the end of every song. Feedback, squeal, static, like Crazy Horse but different. Their songs are, of course, pure indie pop that, as I mentioned before, reminds me of Big Star or Teenage Fanclub, especially on songs whose endings stretch out ad infinitum.
Then there was the Pomonas. No more slop for these guys. Nope, they’re true professionals, now playing every note tight as a tick. Consider them a Midwestern version of GBV or Pavement but with poppier hooks and three-man harmony and playful hi-jinx usually involving a tambourine. A few people even came up from Lawrence to see the set (Don’t know why, since they’re from Lawrence). I grieve at the idea that it could be months until they come back to Omaha, though our friends at Someday Never swear that they’ll do what they can to book them here soon. I was there when Joe from SDN told frontman Justin Ripley he was going to make it his personal mission to get these boys back on an Omaha stage toot-sweet. And now, through the power of the Internet, the whole world knows. Get on it, Joe.
Finally, there was the White Stripes version of Fizzle Like a Flood, featuring singer/songwriter Doug Kabourek on drums and guitarist Travis Sing on, uh, guitar. The gig was celebrating the rerelease of Golden Sand and the Grandstand, a lush, multi-layered opus that combines 40 tracks on each song. Needless to say, the version heard Saturday night in no way resembled that recording. Kabourek stripped it all down to raunchy guitar chords and big-fisted drumming while he struggled to sing along Don Henley style. The new arrangement completely changed the complexion of the music, not necessarily in a better way, but in a different way. Kabourek is said to be putting together a bigger supporting line-up for when he opens for Okkervil River later this year. He even talked about making a rock record. This could get interesting…
Speaking of interesting: Last week I was interviewed for about a half-hour by BBC for a 2-hour program dedicated to “the Omaha scene,” but with an emphasis on Saddle Creek Records (of course). The chat took place in a studio off 110th and Mockingbird, where we were patched in to Ireland via an ISDN connection. Very high tech. It was kind of fun answering questions for a program that I probably will never hear (The interviewer said it’ll air at 3 a.m. sometime in the future, no specific date was given). They wanted to know about old days circa mid to late-’90s. They asked about Mousetrap. They asked about Simon Joyner. They asked about how Creek influenced the whole scene. They asked about other Omaha bands not on Creek and said they were going to play some songs from them (Kite Pilot was one mentioned, as was Ladyfinger and a few others). They asked about the hot venues (I described O’Leaver’s to the Nth degree, mentioned Sokol, etc.). They asked if there was any resentment about Creek’s success — how could there not be? And on and on. This was apparently the same producer that posted on the Saddle Creek webboard a few weeks ago, asking for people to call and give their impressions of their favorite Creek bands. He told me no one called, probably because no one wanted to eat the international long-distance charges. Or maybe because they may never hear the finished program. I’ll let you know if they let me know when it’ll air.
Tonight at Sokol Underground: Sufjan Stevens with Liz Janes. This will be the first time Stevens has ventured into this part of the Midwest. I’m told by our friends in The Pomonas that despite selling out three nights in NYC, Stevens was unable to sell out The Bottleneck for a recent gig. Something tells me this one will either sell out or be damn close. Get there early if you want to get in. 9 p.m., $14.
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