If you combine all the OWH press and TV airtime dedicated to covering the Omaha music scene over the past 10 years it wouldn’t equal the amount of ink spilled and airtime squandered by local media this past week toward American Idol auditions at the Qwest Center. Looking for yet another angle to cover the whore-ish event, today’s OWH put together this comparison of “Indies to Idols,” looking at things like hair styles, drinks and songwriting. Funny. Somehow during their comparison they left out what motivates the Idols and the Indies. But I guess that wouldn’t be very funny, would it? So are people taking this whole Idol thing too seriously? Probably not. It is, after all, the highest rated show on television and has launched a handful of untalented mega-stars.
It’s a busy weekend of shows, starting tonight with The Rentals, Copeland and Goldenboy at Slowdown. Rentals mastermind Matt Sharp (who was genuinely concerned about the Idol auditions — he thought Slowdown was located right across the street from the entrance to the Qwest Center and was worried that lines of people would be clogging up the works) said their set will blend songs off the first two Rentals albums along with tracks from the new EP. Last time I checked, the show wasn’t sold out. $18, 8 p.m.
Meanwhile, over at The Waiting Room, it’s the twangified rock of Forty Twenty with Lonesome Lloyd and the Hard Acres. You could go to The Rentals show and still catch the tail end of this one. I’ve never seen Forty Twenty, but from what I hear from the guys who run TWR, they put on a helluva show. $7, 9 p.m.
Electric Needle Room and The Fucken Snakes are hosting an “American Idol Rejects Show” at Shea Riley’s tonight. The hook: People who don’t make it onto the show (which will be everyone who auditions) will get in for $2 instead of $5. It’s a cute idea, unfortunately, the kind of people who would audition for AI would never go to a show at Shea Riley’s or any other club that hosts original live music.
Also tonight down at The Saddle Creek Bar it’s Christians & Lions, One for the Team, Foreign Elfest and Johnny Nobody. $5, 9 p.m.
Saturday night is just as packed show-wise. I will likely be down at The Saddle Creek Bar for The Big Al Band — that’s right, Al Hatfield, the guy behind the Killing Diva film has put together a two-piece metal act that’s debuting Saturday night. Opening is maybe the city’s best noise rock band, The Stay Awake (featuring Steve Micek), Panang (who are these guys?) and maybe the city’s best loud noise band, Bombardment Society. That’s a power-packed punch for just $5. Starts at 9 p.m.
Over at PS Collective, Paper Owls is hosting a CD Release Party for their new EP, Leaves, Trees & Galaxies. Six dollars will get you into the all-ages event along with a free copy of the CD. Opening is Pictures of Lily. 9 p.m.
Also Saturday night, metal animals Bloodcow play at O’Leaver’s ($5, 9:30 p.m.) and Chicago-based indie band Lacona plays at Slowdown Jr. with High Places and Soft Circle. $7, 8 p.m.
Finally, there’s Sunday and the concert in the park. Uh, who’s idea was it to book the Plain White T’s?
Going back in time, all the way to the ’70s, there were rock bands whose claim to fame wasn’t the bread-and-butter power chord extravaganzas that they hoped would make them famous, but instead, insipid acoustic heart-on-your-sleeve ballads that would plague their live shows for the rest of their careers.
The first one that comes to mind: “Beth” by KISS, a Grammy Award winning song that even your mother could enjoy. Forget the fact that it was sandwiched between crotch-kick rock ballads like “Detroit Rock City” “Flaming Youth” and “Do You Love Me.” “Beth” was the song that KISS was famous for, at least by the Johnny Lunchbucket crowd that could give a shit about heavy metal.
“Only Women Bleed,” by Alice Cooper, “Stairway to Heaven” by Zeppelin, moving into the modern era, “More than Words” by Extreme, “Name” and “Iris” by The Goo Goo Dolls, the painfully awful “Time of Our Lives” by Greenday, the list goes on and on. All million sellers, all not indicative of the band’s usual pumped-up sound. In the worse case scenario, people would spend $50 to see these bands, thinking they were going to get a night of warm, doe-eyed guitar strumming but instead got a bleeding earful of their lousy rock antics. They patiently waited to hear that one acoustic hit and then bulleted for the doors.
Methinks that’s the case with Plain White T’s. It dawned on me the other day that this was a band that had a No. 1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 with “Hey There Delilah” — the top dowloaded song on iTunes — and I never heard it before. Remember the days when you absolutely could not escape a No.1 Hit Record? Everyone had either bought it or quickly sickened of hearing it played in heavy rotation on every radio station in the city.
No more. What station plays the Plain White T’s hit single? Not the plethora of retro stations. Not The Z. Not the urban stations. The River? Maybe. It wouldn’t surprise me. Surely someone is playing it on the radio somewhere. Right? Right?
Further research was needed on my part, and it involved Napster. Turns out the Plain White T’s hit is another one of those acoustic ballads we were just talking about. The band, according to Allmusic.com, is characterized as a “Pop Punk” or “Emo” in the style of Jimmy Eat World, Saves the Day and Jets to Brazil. Their sound actually runs closer to Avril Lavigne. So, translated: 10,000 hot, sweaty, angry people impatiently waiting to hear the hit song, and they’ll have to suffer to the end to get it.
Did I say 10,000? Let’s take into account all the factors here:
— A band that’s virtually unknown except for its one hit song, who before the single exploded would have been hard-pressed to draw in a sizable crowd at Sokol Underground.
— A forecast heat index of around 110 during the concert’s zenith.
— A 1 p.m. start time, with a wrap-up of around 6 p.m. (no fireworks).
— A strong opening line-up that includes Little Brazil, McCarthy Trenching, Sarah Benck and Matt Whipkey — all fine performers that are unknown beyond the 300 or so people who listen to local indie bands.
It all adds up to a draw of, what, maybe 2,000? Look, if the weather’s good, two guys farting into a paper bag on stage will draw 2,000 people to Memorial Park for a free concert. Families are starving for something to do these days. Two years ago, 311 was a natural draw, pulling in more than 20,000 people. Last year’s Bright Eyes show had a curiosity factor for those who’ve heard of the band but never actually heard their music. Oberst is a local boy, by god, and deserves our support whether the music sucks or not. Maybe 10,000 were there (though I doubt it was that high). Now here’s the Plain White T’s — no local connection whatsoever, and yes, a No. 1 hit, but it’s not played on radio or TV. Ultimately, decisions must be made. Who wants to push a stroller to the park in 100-degree heat and humidity for a band they’ve (luckily) never heard before?
I will be there long enough to gauge the size and tenure of the crowd, then I’m heading back home. Look for me as you traverse the throngs of humanity back to your car. I’ll be the guy sitting on his porch with a shotgun cradled in his lap, yelling warm, neighborly phrases like, “Don’t put that THERE! Pick it up! Now!” or “Leave it alone. Just. Leave. It. Alone.”
Look for weekend updates. I’ll try to review the Rentals show tomorrow…
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