Over the years, O’Leaver’s sound system has been spotty at best. Let’s face it, there’s not much to it, really, a couple speakers hanging from the ceiling, a couple monitors that may or may not work. And on any given night, it can be good, bad, crappy, adequate, lacking, etc. The fact is, they don’t need much in there to make it work. And for whatever reason — maybe it was the sound guy, maybe they tweaked something that I don’t know about, maybe it was the bands — the stars aligned and it sounded pretty damn great last night.
Regardless of the sound system, Robot, Creep Closer sounded about a 100 times better last night then when I saw them a month ago at The Saddle Creek Bar. The Lincoln-based 5-piece plays crisp, chunky grunge-flavored punk inspired by Nirvana and The Pixies with a heavy dose of power chords. The lead singer was clearly more confident than at their SCB show. In fact, everyone was. I just wish they played their songs faster — they seem to chug along in one plodding speed, pushed along by a drummer that could use an extra helping of Wheaties. This type of music deserves some serious pounding. All night I imagined their tunes sped up, and liked with I thought. The songs also seemed to go on too long. Hey, I like a long song as much as the next guy, as long as something interesting is going on. RCC songs jump right out of the gate, but just when you think you’ve had enough here comes another repeated verse or melody. Still, they were pretty durn good.
The Monroes don’t get better or worse — they just keep doing what they’ve been doing for what seems like forever, reaching back to Pioneer Disaster and Frontier Trust a decade ago. At the core is ageless wonder Gary Dean Davis who has lost none of the high-jumping panache that he had when he was bouncing around The Cog Factory and Howard St. Tavern stages back in the ’90s. If you’ve seen them before, then you’ve seen them, and there’s a certain satisfaction to their consistency, and in where they deviate from the norm. The deviation comes in the form of Lincoln Dickison, whose guitarwork is as unpredictable as it is bone-jarring. There’s an almost athletic quality to Lincoln’s playing that — to me — raises The Monroes slightly above Gary Dean’s former projects. Frontier Trust was always fun-loving tractor punk. The Monroes, on the other hand, rumble through their set in darker shades of John Deere green, a metallic green at that.
And man, was it loud. O’Leaver’s will never have a sound system that matches The Waiting Room or Slowdown, but it has exactly what it needs for its size and stature and place in the Omaha music scene. It’s the hole-in-the-wall with the low-down vibe where good bands who don’t need nothing fancy are always welcome. In other words, it’s exactly what we need.
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