Column 144 — Lincoln Calling this weekend; Sound of Urchin tonight…

Category: Blog — @ 5:45 pm October 3, 2007

The burning question I had about Lincoln Calling that isn’t addressed in the column below deals with motivation. I’ve seen most of the bands on the schedule before, or will likely be able to see them sometime soon at an Omaha venue. Why would someone like me want to drive Lincoln to see them during the festival? Event organizer Jeremy Buckley said that he’s not really targeting “someone like me.” Sure, he’d love to see all the usual music goers at the shows this weekend, but he’s really after the folks who — for whatever reason — rarely go to shows (but always want to). Buckley said that the typical Maria Taylor or Capgun Coup show doesn’t get covered in all the media the way Lincoln Calling does. The event raises public awareness and gets people to get off their lazy asses and head out to the venues.

Can Buckley reach his goal of drawing 1,500 patrons this year? Let’s look at the event from a day-by-day perspective:

Thursday: Duffy’s show looks like a sell-out — you can’t beat Domestica, and there’s a lot of buzz about Team Love’s Capgun Coup. Knickerbockers could sell out, too — Buckley says there’s a lot of Saddle Creek fans in Lincoln who have been waiting for a show like this.

Friday is the wild card. Will people go to Duffy’s to see Zeppelin tribute band extraordinaire The Song Remains the Same? Buckley’s concerned. He said Duffy’s patrons have a history of shunning “tribute or cover bands.” He insists that The Balance (a band I haven’t seen before) has a large fanbase and will draw at least a couple hundred people to Knicks. The show at Box Awesome would do very well in Omaha — people come out for Flowers Forever and Bear Country. But as Buckley said, in the past Omaha stalwarts like Little Brazil have drawn as few as 30 people in Lincoln. The sleeper event could be the Lincoln version of Goo. Buckley said he talked Derek Pressnall into hosting the event since he’ll be playing earlier that evening anyway. Goo is huge in Omaha, and Buckley said he knows a lot of people who make the pilgrimage to Omaha for the “dance party” whenever it’s held at Slowdown (there’s one going on Thursday night, actually). This could be the biggest night of the festival.

Saturday’s highlight (for me, anyway) is Eagle*Seagull and Little Brazil at Knicks. That said, I would probably pass on this show since E*S plays here almost monthly, as does LB. Buckley points to the Killigans show at the Zoo as a lock. The cold, hard fact is that all these shows will be competing with Nebraska V. Missouri, a game with an 8:15 kick-off that will run well past 11.

Finally, Sunday’s back for Lincoln Calling, but only out of convenience. Head of Femur was slated to play Duffy’s anyway. Buckley asked the band if they’d want the extra promotion that comes with Lincoln Calling. Why not?

So, to pull off 1,500, Buckley will have to do at least 500 on Thursday, 500 on Friday, 300 on Saturday and 200 on Sunday — a tall order indeed.

Column 144: Labor of Love
Lincoln Calling enters year four.

First, this disclaimer made in the interest of full disclosure: Jeremy Buckley, the earnest, young entrepreneur, journalist and music expert who organizes the Lincoln Calling music festival is a contributing writer at The Reader, the paper you hold in your hands. No bias or favoritism was tolerated in the creation of this column (at least, not that much).

That said, Buckley is sort of a hero. This is the fourth year that he’s put together Lincoln Calling, and the only reward for all of his hard work has been a few nights of terrific music. He certainly hasn’t reaped any financial rewards, nor has he ever expected to.

“I’ve always wanted it to be something that the bands care about,” said the soft-spoken Buckley. “The goal is help bands get to know each other better, and build a sense of community.”

Past Lincoln Calling participants have included Neva Dinova, Tilly and the Wall, Criteria, The Prids, The Show is the Rainbow, For Against and dozens more. This year’s festival, which runs from Oct. 4-7, includes Maria Taylor, Head of Femur, Eagle*Seagull, Little Brazil, Charlie Burton & the Dorothy Lynch Mob, Capgun Coup and Flowers Forever. It is arguably the strongest line-up in the festival’s history.

“There’s more emphasis on Omaha and Lincoln bands this year,” Buckley said. “Of the 38 bands, only five or six are from out of state. We didn’t need to try to recruit from outside of Omaha and Lincoln because we have so many good bands here already.”

Buckley said another change this year was to reduce participating venues down to Lincoln’s “Big Four” — The Zoo Bar, Duffy’s Tavern, Knickerbockers and Box Awesome (formerly The Chatterbox). Two of the venues recently underwent serious cosmetic surgery. Box Awesome was dramatically remodeled by its new owners, who moved the stage from beneath the windows at the front of the 175-capacity venue all the way to the back of the long, narrow room.
“The sound is better, and there are no distractions from things going by outside the windows,” Buckley said.

Changes at Duffy’s, however, have been less well-received. Buckley said the owners recently built an elevator shaft that takes up a corner of the legendary venue’s stage. “Where it’s been placed is kind of unfortunate,” he said, explaining that the elevator allows access to stores on the building’s second floor. “From a money standpoint, it made sense. From a show-goers’ standpoint, it’s a frustration.”

Another frustration for Lincoln music-lovers has been a steady decrease in the number of big-name indie shows. Buckley said One Percent Productions — a major promoter of indie shows in Omaha — is booking fewer Lincoln shows these days. And Buckley doesn’t blame them.

“What do they have to gain by bringing anything to Lincoln?” he said. “Lincoln people will drive to Omaha for shows, but not as many Omaha people will drive here.”

For the record, Marc Leibowitz, who runs One Percent with business partner Jim Johnson, denies they’re booking fewer shows in the star city. “We’ve never done a ton of shows in Lincoln,” he said. “We’ve done a few each year.” Leibowitz said part of the reason Lincoln is overlooked is because the primary venues don’t allow all-ages shows. “Minors have to be out by 9 p.m., so most of our shows have to be 18+.” By contrast, Omaha venues can host all-ages shows with the proper policing of alcohol sales.

Buckley also admitted that the sheer number of quality venues in Omaha has made Lincoln a secondary market for touring bands. “Sadly, I go to a lot more shows in Omaha than Lincoln,” he said. “Lincoln doesn’t have anything like Slowdown and never will.”

Still, Buckley thinks Lincoln’s “big four” could easily draw as well as Omaha venues. “If you took the show schedule for The Waiting Room and slapped it onto Knickerbockers or Box Awesome, they would do well day in and day out,” he said.

Buckley hopes to prove that theory this weekend. Last year the three-day festival drew 1,350 attendees. This year’s Lincoln Calling has been expanded to four days, and Buckley hopes to draw at least 1,500. “The Saturday night Husker game should make things interesting,” he said. “We almost had to compete with a White Stripes concert on Thursday. It’s too bad that got canceled, but it’s also a blessing in disguise.”

Here’s the skinny: All shows are $5 except Maria Taylor ($8) and Head of Femur ($7) and the Thursday DJ session at Box Awesome, which is $3 for 18-20 and free for 21+. Early shows are labeled with times; late shows start around 9 p.m.

The Zoo Bar (136 No. 14th St.) Age 21+
10/4 The Tijuana Gigolos w/ Cory Kibler (6 p.m. show)
10/4 Cornerstone Dub w/ Executive Steel Band
10/5 Charlie Burton and the Dorothy Lynch Mob w/ The Bellflowers (5 p.m. show)
10/5 Matt Whipkey Three w/ Son of 76 and Sarah Benck
10/6 The Killigans w/ The Vandon Arms and Tenth Horse

Duffy’s Tavern (1412 O. St.) Age 21+
10/4 Domestica w/ Capgun Coup and Pharmacy Spirits
10/5 The Song Remains the Same
10/6 Ideal Cleaners w/ Gito Gito Hustler and Paper People
10/7 Head of Femur w/ Sit In Wait

Box Awesome (815 O St.) Age 18+
10/4 DJ Blac w/ Miss Knotty and Mattman
10/5 Bear Country w/ Flowers Forever, Goo Dance Party and Natalie Illeana
10/6 Somasphere w/ Flobots and Blue Martian Tribe

Knickerbockers (901 O. St.) Age 18+
10/4 Maria Taylor w/ Spring Gun and Good With Guns
10/5 The Balance w/ Tsumi
10/6 Eagle Seagull w/ Little Brazil and 1090 Club

Tonight at The Waiting Room, Sound of Urchin with Life After Laserdisque. $8, 9 p.m.

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