Live Review: The Third Men; McCarthy Trenching, Nebraskafish tonight; Todd Grant/Ted Stevens, Antelope tomorrow…

Category: Blog — @ 4:31 pm November 30, 2007

So I’m standing there next to the wall that divides The Waiting Room’s stage area with the rest of the bar, next to a video camera that was recording The Third Men’s entire set, wondering how anyone was ever going to hear this band’s music.

Like I mentioned before, Boost is one of the best CDs I’ve heard this year, released on Speed! Nebraska records, eventually available from iTunes and Rhapsody and other online sales points. That’s a lot of availability, but still, who would go out and buy this disc? Here we were at their CD release show with maybe 50 people. The band was pleased with the turn-out, but I thought it was kind of light. What did I expect? It was a Thursday night and there had been very little pre-show hype (My item in The Reader was useless, seeing as the paper apparently hadn’t been distributed that day — there certainly weren’t any new copies at TWR last night). I’m watching them run through their set of songs from the new album, and this guy tells me, “These guys are the most accessible band in Omaha. I could play this for my friends (He was a youngster) or my folks and all of them would be able to get into it.” He was right. And it was because of that accessibility that Third Men music would work so well on radio. But we all know that will never happen.

Neither would serious touring. Here was a band whose style would work well in rock clubs around the country. I can imagine them opening for Matthew Sweet or R.E.M. or Wilco (talk about dreaming). Still, every member of the band has a real job/career and isn’t about to let that go to hit the road (well, unless Matthew Sweet or R.E.M. or Wilco called).

On top of that, I also know that Boost will never get reviewed in Pitchfork or any of the mainstream music publications (not that the band sent copies to them anyway). What would Pitchfork think of this album? It’s not indie, it’s not electro-dance, it’s not freak folk. It wouldn’t get reviewed. Believe me — I get a lot of CDs in the mail. As hard as I try to listen to them all, I’ll never have that much time. Imagine how many discs Pitchfork gets per week? I assume they shuffle through them and decide which to review based on being familiar either with the band or its label. Any copies of Boost sent to Pitchfork would wind up in a bin with all the other CDs from bands and labels that the editors never heard of.

So how does The Third Men’s music get heard? On stage, at shows like last night’s. Hopefully people who went will tell their friends and the next time they play, the crowd will be a bit bigger (though their next show, at TWR Dec. 20, will be part of a night of cover acts — i.e., they’ll only be playing cover songs). At that pace, without radio, without touring, The Third Men’s record will be lucky to sell a few hundred copies. Which is probably enough for these guys, anyway. Still, it’s a shame that it’ll likely never get heard by a bigger audience, an audience that would eagerly embrace this band…

Anyway… onto the weekend, which starts tonight with McCarthy Trenching at The Waiting Room with Alina Simone, Brad Hoshaw, & Reagan and The Rayguns. Sounds like the only full band on the bill is The Rayguns, everyone else is either playing solo acoustic or with only one or two side players. $7, 9 p.m.

Meanwhile, down at Sokol Underground, it’s the Nebraskafish Rising showcase featuring Sam Martin (Capgun Coup), No, I’m the Pilot, Ingrid Blood, Outlaw Sin Bandana (Brendan Hagberg), Robert Cook and FTL Drive. $6, 9 p.m.

Tomorrow night could be tricky if we get hit with an ice storm. Hopefully it’ll miss us and I’ll be able to make it to The Barley St. where singer/songwriter Todd Grant is scheduled to play a solo set accompanied by some of the area’s best troubadours including Scott Roth (Roth canceled, he’s being replaced by…) Ted Stevens, Cary Smith and Jake Bellows (Neva Dinova). Grant, a former member of ’90s band Compost, will unveil a set of new material as well as songs recorded with Tim Kasher (Cursive) and, for the first time in years, will perform songs from his critically acclaimed 1995 solo album, Strangled Soul, an album which I still listen to regularly. Todd Grant shows are always unpredictable, and I suspect this one will be as well. 9 p.m., absolutely free.

Meanwhile, down at Slowdown, it’s Dischord Records band Antelope with The Stay Awake and Bring Back the Guns. Antelope carries on the Washington D.C. punk tradition, sounding like Fugazi meets pre-dance Rapture. The Stay Awake are one of Omaha’s best math/punk bands. Only $5, 9 p.m.

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