Live Review: The Family/Eagle/Coyote; Virgasound (and Heater) tonight, Centro-Pedro tomorrow, Urban Outfitters and Slowdown…
Compare and contrast the version of The Family Radio I saw last night at The Waiting Room with the version I saw at O’Leaver’s a year ago (almost to the day) and you’re talking about two completely different bands. Nik Fackler and company are now a fully realized rock band vs. the thrown-together twee ensemble from ’06. The music is completely different. Instead of run-of-the-mill indie folk, he’s put together a sound that is ambitious if not theatrical in its intricacy. The music goes outside the boundaries of linear song structures, bordering on baroque indie prog, with influences that range from ’70s sunshine folk rock to Stravinsky to ornate chamber pop. That unbridled, unstructured approach can be rather challenging, but Fackler and Co. hold it together through sheer exuberance and a first-rate rhythm section that includes drummer Craig D. and bassist Dereck Higgins, whose own lively style adds to Fackler’s devil-may-care approach. If you’re looking for standard indie rock fare, you’re not going to find it here. Fackler’s confidence as a frontman has grown steadily without losing site of the fact that he’s really doing this for fun. He’s got a serious film career in front him, which allows him to walk that tightrope on stage without a net. That said, The Family Radio obviously has become more than a side project for Fackler. From what I saw and heard last night, it could become his main thing, if he wanted it to.
Just returning from a lengthy European tour, Eagle*Seagull was road-hardened last night, and maybe a bit road weary. I think I’ve mentioned before that they seem to be evolving into a Franz Ferdinand-style dance band. That certainly wasn’t evident during the first couple songs, which bore the same piano-driven ensemble feel that can be heard on their debut. But as the night wore on, the back-beat dance grooves kicked in. There were at least three songs that could — and should — be career-defining club hits (and that will likely be on their new album), including a simple dance number with the line “We came to dance” that will eventually find itself onto a lot of mix tapes (if that new record is ever released). Their other highlight was the set-closer, a love-song anthem with a killer chorus that was angelic.
Finally, Coyote Bones. I told you yesterday how good their soon-to-be-released debut is, and the music translates just as well live, even without the all-star contributors that flesh out the disc. Stripped down, the music is more straight-forward, cutting through the fat to reveal the songwriting meat and bone that propels this band. They could (and probably will be) the next big thing to come out of Omaha. You heard it here first at Lazy-i. I mistakenly said that their CD release show will be held down at Sokol May 5. In fact, it’ll be held at The Waiting Room May 5, with Dereck Higgins and Flowers Forever. Mark it on your calendar.
And speaking of calendars, this weekend is looking pretty solid for shows, starting tonight with Antelope, The Stay Awake and Virgasound at The Waiting Room. The real draw is that this will be the last time you’ll get to see Jeff Heater behind a drum kit with Virgasound, as one of our city’s best drummers will soon be moving out of Omaha for good. If you’ve never seen Heater before, you won’t want to miss it. Get there early. $5, 9 p.m.
As the result of a booking log-jam, a show that would normally be booked at Sokol Underground or TWR is headed for The Saddle Creek Bar on Saturday night — David Bazan of Pedro the Lion is playing with Will Johnson of Centro-matic. I’m not sure why Centro-matic has never played in Omaha before — they’re one of my favorite alt-country/indie rock bands. Johnson will be bringing a different, more introspective sound to The SCB than what Centro-matic fans are used to. Regardless, his amazing voice will still be center stage. Bazan is one of the most important indie singer-songwriters of this decade, with an intense Christian message that is never preachy (and believe me, if I thought it was preachy, this devout non-Christian would tell you). In fact, a lot of Pedro the Lion fans don’t even realize that his music is non-secular in nature. This show has gotten almost no publicity, which is a crying shame. $10, 9 p.m.
Trumping Bazan and Johnson at Sokol Underground is hip-hop artist Brother Ali, who has emerged as one of the more popular MCs of the underground hip-hop movement. Performing with him is Psalm One, BK One and Trama. $10, 9 p.m. Meanwhile at The Waiting Room it’s Sarah Benck and the Robbers, with Zack Hexum and Matt Whipkey. $7, 9 p.m. Last but not least, over at O’Leaver’s it’s Tomato a Day with Whatever Happened to the Dinosaurs; $5, 9:30 p.m.
Finally Sunday, Matador artist Jennifer O’Connor takes The Waiting Room stage with Little Brazil and The Holy Ghost Revival. $8, 9 p.m.
One last bit of news — The Omaha World-Herald announced what most people who have been following The Slowdown project (or who read Eomaha.com’s message boards) have known for weeks — Urban Outfitters is going to be the anchor retailer at a complex that already boasts the Film Streams theaters, The Slowdown Music Hall and bar, The Blue Line coffee and booze shop/bar, and — though it’s not been confirmed — Yia Yia’s Pizza (the anonymous restaurant referenced in the OWH article). Urban Outfitters specializes in a lifestyle clothing line that epitomizes the indie music scene — slacker chic. We’re talking pre-washed, faded T-shirts and jeans, Castro hats, all kinds of hip stuff that has the appearance of having been found in a thrift shop. The popularity of their T-shirt line alone has resulted in Target and Old Navy ripping off the style, especially in the faux pre-worn T-shirt market (though they don’t seem to “get it.”). See for yourself at their online catalog. Saddle Creek gurus Robb Nansel and Jason Kulbel had been trying to get Urban Outfitters involved in the project for over a year, and finally succeeded over a month ago, but have kept the news (mostly) under their hats. The retailer could be the final piece in the puzzle that makes The Slowdown project complete.
I assume that the folks at Village Point and other shopping centers will be bummed, but they never had a shot at Urban Outfitters anyway. Anyone who’s ever been to one of their stores knows that they only go into old-school well-established urban areas with a lot of history, like downtown Chicago, downtown Lawrence, NYC, etc. That’s the reason why Nansel and Kubel had to struggle so hard to convince them to buy into Slowdown. There was no way that Urban Outfitters was ever going to open a shop at Village Pointe or any of the new “shopping villages” popping up in the suburbs. Those places will now cast their gaze toward acquiring an American Apparel storefront. American Apparel is arguably more popular these days than Urban Outfitters with the indie music crowd, thanks to their policy of selling clothing that is three or four sizes smaller than what’s printed on their labels. A men’s XL T-shirt, for example, is equivalent in size to a typical Youth Medium. Bright Eyes T-shirts that are being sold on tour are American Apparel garments. That said, American Apparel’s market is lazer-targeted to 16-21 year olds — they’re sort of the Hot Topic of the indie crowd. Anyone over 25 would look odd wearing one of their shirts or any of their club-wear items (gold lame pants, anyone?).
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