Yeah, I know, the music part of South by Southwest doesn’t really begin until next Wednesday (though the film part begins today). In all my years, I’ve never been to the festival, not because it was too expensive (which it is) or because it interferes with my “real job” (which it does, though I’s gets vacation too, massa). The reason I’ve never gone is because it sounds like such a hassle — waiting to get into the clubs only to miss the act you wanted to see, then dashing down 6th St. to the next club so you can get into the queue to get inside. And so on. I’m sure it’s more fun than that. What I’ve never understood, though, is people who go all the way to SXSW and then watch either Omaha/Lincoln bands or touring bands that come through here all the time. What’s the point of that? (I know, I know… you’re lending support in their time of need…).
Anyway, it’s becoming a tradition that the weekend before SXSW brings some of the best shows to Omaha as the bands make their way to Austin. This year is no exception. We have four solid nights of good shows right here in river city.
It starts tonight with Ester Drang, The Minus Story and GO! Motion at Sokol Underground. You’ve already read about Ester Drang (here). Lawrence’s The Minus Story came through Omaha last November. Here’s what I said about that show:
I’ve heard they’re all the rage down in Lawrence. I was told last night that a certain Omaha record label had looked long and hard at them a year or so ago, but missed out to Jagjaguwar. I can see why they’d be interested. To me, The Minus Story sounded like a slightly more indie version of Now It’s Overhead, probably because vocalist Jordan Geiger has the same nasal high-end delivery as Andy LeMaster. Their opening song was a bit of a dud, but they only got better as their set went on. I’m a bit reticent about saying more because I wasn’t really in the mood for their style of dreamy/indie/pseudo-psychedelic rock, or maybe I’m just getting tired of the drone. They’re probably better than I give them credit for (Hey, Jagjaguwar doesn’t sign slouches).
I have no idea who GO! Motion is. $8, 9 p.m.
Meanwhile, there’s a four-band bill tonight at O’Leaver’s featuring Omaha’s Latitude Longitude, Denver’s The Photo Atlas, Billings Montana’s 1090 Club and Jake Bellows of Neva Dinova/Cocoon fame. $5, 9:30 p.m.
Saturday night brings some big decisions:
— Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins are performing at The Scottish Rites Hall with Jonathan Rice and Whispertown 2000. This show is SOLD OUT.
— Meanwhile, down at Sokol Underground, Criteria takes the stage (on their way to SXSW) along with Thunderbirds Are Now! and Rahim. NYC trio Rahim are on French Kiss Records (home of The Hold Steady, Les Savy Fav, etc.). I’ve been listening to their new release, Ideal Lives, for a few weeks. Reminds me of laid-back Gang of Four, sort of. Very cool. $7, 9 p.m.
Sunday night, decisions are geographic in nature:
— At Sokol Underground, it’s the return of Of Montreal with Saturday Looks Good to Me. Not much buzz about this show, probably because it’s been overshadowed by everything else going on this weekend. $10, 9 p.m.
— Meanwhile, at Duffy’s in Lincoln, you have The Heavenly States with The Floating Opera and Hockey Night. The Heavenly States just played O’Leaver’s last October. Here’s what I said about that show:
Oakland’s The Heavenly States, an upbeat 4-piece ensemble that prominently features violin on most songs, were unbelievably entertaining. If pushed for comparisons, Spoon or Dismemberment Plan comes to mind, but neither really fits. Leader Ted Nesseth plays a left-handed guitar and sports a wicked phrase (for whatever reason, his vocal phrasing sometimes reminded me of Phil Lynott). His between-song patter is also some of the funniest stuff I’ve ever heard on stage. The motor behind their sound, however, is their rhythm section anchored by Jeremy Gagon on drums, a veritable dynamo that keeps it simple and keeps it moving. Violinist/keyboardist Genevieve Gagon blew me away as well. I picked up a copy of their new CD, Black Comet, and while the songs were just as good, the mix sounded muddy and unfocused — it just didn’t pop from my speakers the way this band popped from the stage.
If you’re in Lincoln, don’t miss this show. 9 p.m. $5 (cheap!).
We’re not done yet. Because Monday night there’s a great show at O’Leaver’s. Seattle’s Slender Means takes the stage with Landing on the Moon and Le Beat. Slender Means records on Mt. Fuji (home of Little Brazil and The Cops) and sports a laid-back indie vibe and a lead singer with a smooth set of pipes. $5, 9 p.m.
After writing all that, I’m almost too exhausted to go out! Look for live reviews online this weekend.
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