My only show this weekend was the Speed! Nebraska showcase at O’Leaver’s Saturday night. And as you might imagine, the house was utterly packed.
In many ways, it was a throwback to a better, simpler time, circa 1990-something, when Mercy Rule and Frontier Trust were among the top punk bands in the Omaha/Lincoln area. Now some 15 years later, here was the same primary talent at it again, doing their thing better than ever. I wonder if they knew they’d still be jumping on stages after all these years…
As you may or may not know (and surprisingly, a few people I talked to before the show, didn’t) Domestica is two-thirds of Mercy Rule — vocalist/bassist Heidi Ore and guitarist/vocalist Jon Taylor — but instead of Ron Albertson, Boz Hicks is behind the drum set bringing a completely different style of drumming to their sound. Beyond that difference, it’s pretty much business as usual. Domestica, as Mercy Rule before it, excels in punk-rock anthems — loud, soft, loud, as Taylor put it, the only way to go. Listening to the band’s new five-song EP, I’m reminded of Mercy Rule circa Providence. Heidi’s voice has the same sweet coo, Taylor’s guitar has the same guttural growl. The CD is a must-have for any Mercy Rule fan, astutely recorded by engineer Ian Aeillo at ARC Studios in Omaha (the Mogis compound).
Strangely, Domestica’s mix Saturday night was muddy and somewhat restrained — you can always use more Taylor guitar. On the other hand, The Monroes’ set was dead-perfect all around, probably the best set I’ve heard from these guys (and I’ve seen them at least a dozen times). Yeah, O’Leaver’s has a tiny PA, but the room is perfectly suited for certain bands, and The Monroes is definitely one of them. I’m listening to their new “Drillin’ Daylight” 7-inch as I type this, recorded by Brooks Hitt at his Hittsville! U.S.A. studio in Havelock — it’s the best-sounding record they’ve ever released. Great sleeve and pressed on sexy ruby-colored vinyl. What more do you want? And in case you didn’t know it, Lincoln Dickison is one of the best guitarists in Omaha. Beyond the music, the other highlight was the ongoing trivia contest, where fans were given Richard Petty Pez dispensers as prizes to questions like “How fast was I going when I got a ticket?” Answer: 47, a rather wimpy speed for a Plymouth. You can do better than that, Gary.
Ideal Cleaners played last to a crowd that only got bigger as the night rolled on. I was pinned against the wall by the door throughout the set, no way to move to the railing. Of the three bands, IC is the most straight-forward, and the most brutal. Their new full-length, Muchacho, is an orgy of pounding punk rock that never loses sight of the melodies. A few songs (like the title track, for instance) remind me of Criteria, while other tracks (like “You’ve Got the Prettiest Fingers”) sport a dirtier, grittier groove. I would compare them to Ladyfinger, except that their music is a bit more accessible and less acidic. Nice stuff. Nice night.
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