Live Review: Ester Drang; Jenny Lewis, Criteria tonight…

Category: Blog — @ 3:59 pm March 11, 2006

Weak draw last night for Ester Drang. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. With a weekend full of shows, people have to pick and choose carefully, and something has to lose. So there I was with about 30 people watching one of the better sets I’ve seen down at Sokol in quite a while. Ester Drang managed to do something that few bands do well. They used electronics to replicate the strings and horns on their CD in a way that didn’t sound cheesy or made-up. The mix blended the prerecorded orchestra tracks via Powerbook seamlessly with the live musicians, which included one guy who switched between keyboards and guitar throughout songs without missing a beat. The result was a lush, earthy, atmospheric sound that would make any Radiohead, Coldplay or Roxy Music fan nod in appreciation. The other thing they pulled off was effectively using AV equipment. How many times have you seen bands project video on a whitescreen during their performance only to distract or confuse the audience? Not with these guys, probably because a band with this much cinematic flair in their music has to live, eat and breathe the movies. Their footage appeared to be entirely drawn from film — not digitally created on the Mac. All black-and-white, the images subtly supported every nuance heard on stage. The genius moment was when they used footage from High Noon — cropped scenes of a self-conscious Gary Cooper looking stern and unafraid — to enhance their spiraling, dustbowl epic “Hooker with a Heart of Gold.” Inspired. Though they sounded remarkable, the four-piece didn’t look like they were having a very good time up there, never once cracking a smile. Or maybe that’s just their style.

Tonight: Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins at The Scottish Rite Hall. This is a sold-out, general admission “sit-down” show, and I’m told that if you, in fact, want to get a seat you better get there relatively early or else you’ll be forced to stand in a small area in front of the stage (which, to be honest with you, sounds like the place I’d want to be anyway). Parking could be a challenge as the Omaha Press Club is having their annual grid-iron show at The Rose tonight. There should be a parking garage open nearby if you can’t find a place to park on the street. The hall is located at 202 S. 20th St. (20th & Douglas). The show starts at 8 p.m. and is sold out. So for those who didn’t get tickets, keep driving south to Sokol Underground where Criteria is playing tonight with Thunderbirds Are Now! and Rahim. $7. And I forgot to mention yesterday that there’s also a show at O’Leaver’s tonight: The Terminals and The Blind Shake. For whatever reason, the O’Leaver’s myspace site says this one starts at 8 p.m. (The usual start time is 9:30).

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