Live Review: Crystal Skulls, John Vanderslice; the weekend…

Category: Blog — @ 1:50 pm April 14, 2006

Weird thing about the Crystal Skulls — I listened to their new CD over the last few days, dug the keyboards throughout. And yet, last night, no keyboards. What the… ? Still, an interesting if not low-key band that got better as the night wore on. They have a hit song on their hands if they can get people to hear “Baby Boy,” one of those tunes that jumps off their CD and off the stage. “I’m tellin’ ya, it’s sheer gold, Maury….” Here’s one of those bands where their CD was better than their live show. It’s a pretty good CD if you’re into that laid-back indie sound…

Vanderslice, well, seems like he plays here every six months when actually it’s probably about once a year, which is still a lot for a touring band. Who remembers the old days when Vanderslice had this madcap drummer who set up right at the front of the stage? You went to Vanderslice shows to see that guy. Well, he’s long gone, and while the current drummer is no pushover, he’s also no freakshow, like the last one. About a half-dozen people I spoke to during their set made the same comment. “Remember his old drummer? Man, that guy was a blast!” Anyway… Vanderslice sounded fine. I’ve never been a big fan, but I dig his clear, throaty voice, and the rest of his ensemble sounded rock solid. Still, nothing about the set stands out as I write this right after the show.

Not a bad crowd, btw — maybe 150? I suspect Sokol will see twice that many tonight with The Elected/Jake Bellows/The Family Radio.

Which brings us to Friday’s usual glance at the coming weekend (cue theme music).

It starts tonight with the show I just mentioned. And I’ll reiterate what I said in yesterday’s column — Nik Fackler and his band, The Family Radio, is really what I’m interested in hearing. Fackler tells me the band has worked up at least a half-dozen songs for tonight. Talk about an acid test — he’ll be debuting this band in front of most of the Saddle Creek Club, all of whom he knows, anyway, thanks to his ever-growing video work. You’d think playing in front of his pals would make him even more nervous. But never fear, with Dereck Higgins backing him on bass, everything will be all right. Get there at 9. Door is $10.

My plan is to jet out early and go cross town to Mick’s and see Bill Hoover & Friends. Hoover, if you don’t know already, used to front The Darktown House Band and is something of a legend ’round these parts — sort of Omaha’s version of Tom Waits. This will be a special show, and Mick’s will fill up early.

Saturday night’s marquee event is The Stills w/Raising the Fawn at Sokol Underground. I’ve heard the new Stills CD, and no, it’s not as good as Logic Will Break Your Heart, but it’s still serviceable. Meanwhile, The 49’r will be hosting Brother Trucker from Des Moines and Western Electric (Scott Roth ex-Such Sweet Thunder).

Look for reviews this weekend.

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