First, a Merry Christmas to all you faithful Lazy-i readers. Here’s hoping you got everything you wanted for Xmas or Chanukah or Festivus…
Shopping and other important demands prevented me from writing a review of Friday night’s Virgasound show at O’Leaver’s, which was surprisingly well-attended considering night-two of The Good Life was going on (and sold out) downtown at Sokol with GTO upstairs. First up was Jaeger Fight, a five-man band that includes two guitars, a drummer, a frontman and The Reader‘s Andy Norman on bass. I had no idea going in what they sounded like and was pleasantly surprised that their sound was an homage or tribute to late-’90s hardcore. Throughout their set of short thrash songs a couple of us leaning against the railing struggled to ID who they were trying to sound like. 7 Seconds? Descendents? Certainly early Epitaph bands (They even did a Bad Religion cover, or so they said). Suicidal Tendencies? Someone mentioned Propaghandi. You get the drift. And they weren’t bad, except that they seemed to lack that angry spark that makes those bands so magnetic. It probably doesn’t help that the frontman wore a polo shirt and glasses and looked like someone from IT who would come fix your computer. The two guitar parts could have varied more, while the drummer needed to throttle the drums, not just rat-a-tat them. Good punk bands are angry or else they sound like they’re merely emulating the style. Andy did fine, looking like the spitting image of Elijah Wood in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, right down to the haircut and sideburns. At one point I wanted to yell “Frodo Lives!” but figured Andy might take umbrage to that comparison. His bass playing was spot on, by the way.
Though I have a couple of their CDs, I’ve never seen Lincoln’s Her Flyaway Manner before. They seem to be endlessly opening shows, and I’m notorious for always arriving late, usually making it to the bar or venue after seeing a movie earlier in the evening. Live, the trio is much more progressive, downright arty, but they have the chops to pull it off. Bass player Adam2000 is the anchor that holds it together, playing a fretless bass like a Midwestern Jaco Pastorius. Just as technically jaw-dropping was drummer Boz Hicks, whose unique style was a sick morph of Buddy Rich and John Bonham. The rhythm section is everything to this band, steering it through an obstacle course of ever-shifting styles, staying on no one rhythm for more than a few bars. The constant change-ups left me both uneasy and in a trance-like state. Frontman/guitarist Brendon McGinn barks rather than sings his lyrics while chopping chords on his guitar, adding yet more layers to the band’s rhythmic stew. Because of the variance in styles, you don’t leave their sets with any residual melodies ringing in your head — just ringing in your ears.
Finally there was Virgasound. These guys have emerged as Omaha’s all-star team. It’s like watching The Yankees at bat, knowing whomever comes up next is as good or better than the last guy and certainly better than anyone on the opposing team. Just look at the line-up: Mike Saklar on guitar — Saklar’s downright legendary for his guitar style, having played in everything form heavy outfits like Ritual Device and Ravine to folk bands like Mal Madrigal. Drummer Jeff Heater is arguably the most over-the-top guy behind a set, having played with Jimmy Skaffa, Carmine, and yes, Men of Porn. Marc Phillips, formerly of Carmine and The Carsinogents, is one of the most underrated bass players in Omaha and is the most important member of this ensemble. Finally there is Chris “Brooks” Esterbrooks (also formerly with The Carsinogents), a stylish in-your-face frontman who isn’t afraid of the microphone, making him impossible to ignore. Together, they’re sort of a murderer’s row of rock, creating a big, booming sound like Social Distortion on speed. They’re drawback may be in the samey-quality of their songs, rarely breaking up their sound. But when they do, like on a song who’s lyrics are either “I want to piss on you” or “I put a curse on you,” it makes all the difference. I think they need to go through their entire repertoire and identify the best songs and get rid of the near duplicates. It was a great set, nonetheless, and a great way to bring in Christmas Eve.
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