Box Awesome’s going away party, Japandroids tonight…

Category: Blog — @ 5:57 pm June 30, 2009

onight is the farewell concert for Box Awesome in Lincoln, sort of. Yes, I know that they’re closing their doors at that location after the smoke clears from this evening’s festivities, but we’ve already been told that the search is on for the next location. Box Awesome may be dead, but its death will be short-lived. Until Jeremiah Moore and Jeremy Buckley find a new home for the club, Buckley said to expect some of the shows to be hosted at The Bourbon Theater (when it makes sense).

The Lincoln Journal-Star did another story about the closing yesterday (here), and the reason given for the eviction (again) is late rent. Everyone knows there’s more to the story than that, but we’ll likely not know the real reason until the next tenant moves into 815 “O” St. Meanwhile, Buckley says in the story that the closure “is definitely going to limit the options of bands coming through town for a while.” Well, there’s always Duffy’s and Knickerbocker’s and The Zoo and what else? Regardless, Box Awesome filled a unique niche thanks to its willingness to host experimental and little-known bands along with the usual college-rock fodder. It will be missed… for awhile. But for tonight, expect a celebration featuring Somasphere, Triggertown and Plack Blague and a few hundred rock and roll well wishers.

Also tonight back here in Omaha, Vancouver low-fi/garage rock sensations Japandroids (on Polyvinyl Records) plays at Slowdown Jr. with the hangover-fueled tuneage of Dim Light. $8, 9 p.m.

–Got comments? Post ’em here.


Conor/Tilly pics; Speed! Nebraska Soapbox Derby deadline approaches…

Category: Blog — @ 5:41 pm June 29, 2009

Look for a review of last Friday’s Tilly and the Wall/Conor Oberst concert as part of this week’s column, which means it’ll be online Wednesday. Until then, feast on a couple photos taken at the event via my iPhone:

Here’s Tilly doing their thing in front of the rather huge mob. I didn’t get the numbers, but it seemed like the crowd was as big or bigger than last year’s Conor Oberst Anchor Inn show. Though they hadn’t played since last August, Tilly sounded as tight as I’ve ever heard them.

Here’s a shot of Conor and Co. Conor’s the one wearing the crazy oversized Amish hat, which made him look like the boy Samuel from the film Witness. Where’s Harrison Ford when you need him?

More later.

* * *

Our friends from Speed! Nebraska sent out a message this morning reminding folks that the race registration deadline for the Speed! Nebraska Adult Soapbox Derby at Seymour Smith Park is Wednesday, July 1.

Race details and registration materials are located here. The actual race is July 18 starting at 11 a.m. All proceeds benefit The Special Olympics.

And to commemorate the event, Speed! Nebraska is releasing the Soapbox Riot 10″, featuring racing songs by Wagon Blasters, Filter Kings, Mezcal Brothers, Domestica, The Third Men and Ideal Cleaners. The vinyl will drop July 18, and likely will be available at the race or at the after-race concert at O’Leaver’s that evening. That show will feature Filter Kings, Wagon Blasters, The Third Men, Domestica and The Sons of Soapbox Derby. More details at the Speed! Nebraska website.

–Got comments? Post ’em here.


No more kings; Live Review: The Stay Awake, Deleted Scenes; Conor Oberst tonight…

Category: Blog — @ 6:30 pm June 26, 2009

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but Michael Jackson died yesterday.

Even in an indie haunt like The Slowdown, there was an underlying buzz about MJ’s passing last night. The discussion: Will another music performer ever reach the same heights of global deification as Jacko? In this new world of multi-media multi-channel multi-message communication, the answer is no. You’ve seen the last King of Pop. There is no room for royalty in a musical democracy where anyone can listen to anything anytime.

Jackson first and foremost was a performer. Unlike Springsteen or Prince or The Beatles, he wasn’t known as a musician and he only wrote about a third of his songs (which included some of the best tunes on Thriller). Elvis was a performer. Sinatra was a performer. And though American Idol is designed to generate more and more performers, we’ll see fewer and fewer, and none that will equal the stature of those who came before them.

So here’s my question: When Dylan’s time comes, will he get as much attention as Jacko is now? I doubt it.

Actually, there is a new King of Pop, and his name is The Stay Awake. I’m sort of kidding (really?), though last night’s set by The Stay Awake in front about 50 at Slowdown Jr. was the closest this trio has come to making pop music. Their typical style is a ferocious wall of guitar, bass, drums, feedback and screaming, delivered with all the subtlety of a knee to the groin. The music is throbbing, jittery, staggering, at times hypnotic, but always ballistic and rarely boring. But last night there was even more of a throbbing vibe to their set; it seemed less random, more organized. It’s as if they’ve begun to evolve from a rhythmic, mathy noise collage band to something more…musical. And I like it. Kings of Pop indeed. (see action photo).

Deleted Scenes, a four-piece from the District of Columbia (see photo), played songs from their new album, Birdsheed Shirt, none of which I recognized. In fact, the band didn’t sound anything like their record, which is much more mannered and straight-forward than what I heard from stage. Part of the problem was the sound mix — it was way too bottom-heavy, too bassy, and that bass crushed everything in its path. Still, an interesting set, but not as interesting as their quaint, trippy pop record.

* * *

Tonight Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band play again at The Anchor Inn. Those of you wondering whether it’s worth it, here’s a detailed review of when the band played at the Anchor Inn last September. It was a blast, and it’s likely going to be a blast tonight even if there aren’t any fireworks. Opening the show are Tilly and the Wall, Deep Sea Diver and Michael Runion. We all know Tilly. I have no idea who the other two are. Show starts at 8 and is $20.

Of course, also tonight is the annual concert in Memorial Park, this time featuring The Guess Who, Grand Funk Railroad, and the main attraction — fireworks. The show starts at 6 and please don’t park in front of my house. Thanks.

Afterward, you may want to swing down to The Sydney for a punk rock extravaganza featuring Pornhuskers, Blood Cow and Coffin Killers $5, 9 p.m.

Also tonight, O’Leaver’s is hosting No Blood Orphan with Matt Whipkey and Ashley Raines. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Tomorrow night (Saturday) Brooklyn band White Rabbits is playing at Slowdown Jr. The band’s new album was produced by Britt Daniel of Spoon. Also on the card, The Subjects and Little Black Stereo. $8, 9 p.m.

The Dinks return to O’Leaver’s Saturday for an eclectic show that includes The Lonely H and Western Electric. $5, 9:30 p.m.

The Sydney has Mal Madrigal and the horribly named Box of Baby Birds (from Chicago). $5, 9 p.m.

And Led Zep tribute band The Song Remains the Same returns to The Waiting Room with rock karaoke band Girl Drink Drunk. Here’s your chance to climb on stage and do your best MJ impersonation. $7, 9 p.m.

–Got comments? Post ’em here.


CD Review: John Klemmensen & The Party; Deleted Scenes, The Stay Awake tonight…

Category: Blog — @ 5:58 pm June 25, 2009

The following appears in the current issue of The Reader. The best song on the album, btw, is the second to last one: John’s ode to Amy Winehouse…

John Klemmensen and The Party, Advanced Hedonism (Slo-Fi Records) — Klemmensen is a staple of the Omaha music scene, both for his solo work and work with bands such as Landing on the Moon and Satchel Grande. Once you’ve see him, you’ll never forget him. On this solo effort, Klemmensen channels his inner-Dave Matthews (or Van Morrison) for an album’s worth of songs that dissect a relationship from start to finish, but mostly finish. Klemmensen has no qualms about letting you peak inside his broken heart, but all too often his words are taken from arm’s reach instead of digging from a darker place. We know you loved her, John; now tell us what really happened. Musically, this is warm, acoustic singer/songwriter fare with vocal lines that tend to follow the chord progressions rather than their own path. Horns (from Klemmensen and Satchel bandmate James Cuato) add some much-needed swing, especially on acoustic rocker “Dotted Line” and the loungy “Late at Night.” Lazy-i Rating: Yes. The Reader Rating: 3 stars.

* * *

There are three pretty solid shows going on tonight. On top of the list for me is DC band Deleted Scenes at Slowdown Jr. Their latest record, Birdseed Shirt (on What Delicate Recordings), got a nice little 8.0 rating from indie tastemakers (for better or worse) Pitchfork. The band is indeed distinctly indie in that their style is all over the place but clearly rooted in solid, groovy songwriting. Check out some of their stuff on their Myspace page. They’ve also got a tape out on Omaha label I’m Drinkin This. Your $5 cover charge will also get you music by two of Omaha’s best post-punk/noise rock bands: The Stay Awake and Techlepathy. Show starts at 9.

Also tonight, God Sham God (formerly Prostitute America) plays at O’Leaver’s with Daughters of the Sun. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Finally, a band that sneaked in under the radar but that’s beginning to make an impact — The Answer Team — is opening for Paria at The Sydney. $5, 9 p.m.

* * *

Brief culinary detour: Last night I went to Wohlner’s for dinner (for the first time) and had what easily was the best French Dip sandwich that I’ve ever eaten. I’m not kidding. Look, over the years I’ve eaten a lot of French Dip sandwiches from literally all over the world. They all paled in comparison to the delicacy that was served to me at Wohlner’s last night. 5 stars.

Now, back to the music…

–Got comments? Post ’em here.


Column 227: Macey Talks Conor; Fromanhole, John Klemmensen tonight…

Category: Blog — @ 5:42 pm June 24, 2009

Mystic Valley Band bass player Macey Taylor said among his options after this summer’s touring is rejoining his sister, Maria, on the road. “I’m still hoping to do some more stuff with her in August,” he said. “Yeah, I miss her. I recorded on her last record (Ladyluck) and am going to go back and play with her when I can.” What a nice brother…

Column 227: Knowing Conor
Mystic Valley Band’s Macey Taylor talks Oberst.

Conor Oberst isn’t doing interviews these days, at least not with me or other small writers at small publications like The Reader.

The slight isn’t a personal thing, it’s just the way he’s handling the press for this Mystic Valley Band project. If you’ve seen One Of My Kind, the hour-long documentary about the making of the band and their first album, you know that Mystic Valley was a spur-of-the-moment attempt to break free from the way he’d been doing things for years as Bright Eyes. The results are obvious to anyone who’s followed both of bands. Mystic Valley is looser, more direct, less introspective. It’s like a long drunken weekend spent with your old high school buddies vs. Bright Eyes’ trip to the confessional where Oberst’s sins are spoken to a stranger through a mesh screen while his family stands right outside the door.

So when it came time to write something in support of the Mystic Valley Band show this Friday at Anchor Inn I was told by his publicist, “No Conor, but you can have Macey.”

Macey is Mystic Valley Band bass player Macey Taylor who also performed with Bright Eyes on the Cassadaga album and tour, and who just happens to be the brother to Oberst’s former girlfriend Maria Taylor. It was through their relationship that Macey first met Oberst.

“He was visiting my family with Maria and we were just hanging out,” Macey said from the pool in the back yard of his mother’s house in Birmingham, Alabama. “We just sat on the floor and started playing some songs with Maria.”

Macey said Bright Eye’s ’07 tour was like “being asked aboard this big, huge warship.”

When I did the Bright Eyes tour, it was such a huge body of work that they chose from and played,” he said. “The first time on tour with (Mystic Valley Band) we drew from 10 songs Conor wrote, and we only played that stuff. That’s what set it apart in a lot of ways.”

The other difference with Mystic Valley was the lack of Mike Mogis. “Obviously Mike’s presence is one of the strongest parts of Bright Eyes,” Macey said. So who fills the Mogis void? “In the studio, Andy Lemaster is a huge help, though we all kind of try to help produce. So in that sense, Andy is. But on stage, I wouldn’t say that someone is filling the void of Mogis. That’s another main difference between the bands.”

So far the Mystic Valley tours have seen mostly highs, but there have been some lows, especially in the beginning. “We had our best show and worst show back to back,” Taylor said. “We played this private thing in Los Angeles because Jason (Boesel, drummer) and Nik (Freitas, guitar) live there and set up a show for their friends at the R Bar. It was a clusterfuck, just too many people. We played late and got drunk and ended up hiding in the bar’s kitchen. The next day we played at The Troubadour and that was really our first good performance. It was still very early on in the band.”

If spontaneity defines the Mystic Valley Band, it also defines its future. Taylor said they have plans together throughout the summer, but nothing after that. “It’s casual where it wouldn’t be a big deal if we wouldn’t do anything or if we did,” he said. “It wasn’t a big deal to start it. It just happened, and that’s the attitude to have. I’d say we most likely will continue to try to do something. It depends on what’s going on. We could play here and there, but it would never be a busy, main thing. Both Taylor (Hollingsworth, guitarist) and Jason have records coming out this year.”

Then there’s the just-announced Monsters of Folk project that will reunite Oberst with Mogis along with M. Ward and Jim James of My Morning Jacket. Their new album is slated for release Sept. 22 on LA label Shangri-La Music.

And what about Bright Eyes? Interestingly, Taylor said there “could be a crossover” between Bright Eyes and Mystic Valley. In fact, the grinding psychedelic headtrip and centerpiece of their current live show, “Roosevelt Room,” originally was a Bright Eyes song.

“We played it with Bright Eyes,” Taylor said. “When we recorded it for Outer South (Mystic Valley’s new album), we were interested in getting Mike (Mogis) to come down and record the guitar part on it, but he was busy and didn’t really want to. When we played it, it wasn’t that much different than how Bright Eyes did it. Mogis added a different attitude, but Tayor (Hollingsworth) goes crazy on it. It’s kind of a jammer song, where toward the end everything could fall apart.”

As our phoner came to a close, Taylor described Oberst as an everyday Joe who just happens to be a helluva songwriter. “He’s never really gone past what’s in his heart and gut,” Taylor said. “He’s stayed with the people he’s worked with, the team players — not the big music industry people, and that’s different.

“Conor exists in his own bubble, and he doesn’t play attention to a lot of this. He doesn’t listen to critics and businessmen and whatnot, and it’s the same way for the people that surround him. And that’s a good way to stay.”

Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band plays this Friday, June 26, at The Anchor Inn with Tilly and the Wall, Deep Sea Diver and Michael Runion. Tickets are $20.

Tonight at O’Leaver’s it’s Fromanhole with Chicago band Bear Claw and Italy’s Three Second Kiss. The out-of-towners will be joining up with Shellac on tour after this O’Leaver’s gig. (Come on, Brendan, don’t tell me you couldn’t get Shellac to play here). $5, 9:30 p.m. Across town at The Barley St., John Klemmensen and The Party headlines a show that also features Bright Light Forever and By Sunlight. $5, 9 p.m. Finally, at The Waiting Room Black Squirrels play with Sarah Benck and the J.J. Wills Band. $5, 9 p.m.

–Got comments? Post ’em here.


Au Revoir Simone, Matthew Sweet tonight…

Category: Blog — @ 5:52 pm June 23, 2009

Here’s a little something I wrote for The Reader about the Au Revoir Simone show tonight at The Waiting Room:

The new album by Au Revoir Simone, Still Night, Still Light, was sent to me via the interweb. There was no artwork save a picture of the album sleeve. No photo of the trio’s members — Erika Forster, Annie Hart and Heather D’Angelo. But as I listened to their sad, sweet music — a swirl of keyboards, synthesizers, sequencers, drum machines and their heavenly voices — a picture formed in my minds’ eye. I imagined not three girls, but one — rail-thin, not a super model, but still remarkably pretty in a way that every guy thinks was designed especially for him. Quiet, smart, unassuming, unpretentious, funny when she decides to speak up, but saving the best stuff for when she’s alone with you, in the back of a taxi cab, standing in line to get into a show, flipping through album bins at the record store, her eyes cutting right through you, breaking your heart, because in the back of your mind, you know it will never last.

Opening is UK singer/songwriter Findlay Brown. Tix are $10, show starts at 9.

Also tonight is the return of Matthew Sweet, this time at The Slowdown. Last time I talked to Sweet was way back in October 2004, when he was playing at Sokol Underground supporting his then-new album Living Things. Since then, he’s worked with Susanna Hoffs of The Bangles on an album of covers as well as 2008’s Sweet Sunshine Lies on Shout Factory. My hats off to him for doing what he’s done all these years. Opening is the golden pop stylings of The Third Men. $15, 9 p.m.

Tomorrow: Macey Taylor

–Got comments? Post ’em here.


Live Review: Lincoln Invasion; Box Awesome update; Telekinesis tonight…

Category: Blog — @ 5:44 pm June 22, 2009

The organizers of last weekend’s Lincoln Invasion festival have to be somewhat satisfied with the way the event went down. LI organizer Jeremy Buckley said they sold around 150 wristbands on the first night. Ultimately, bands probably took home around some cash. Friday night seemed more crowded than Saturday night. Neither night was a crush mob anywhere, though there was at least 50 people in Barley Street during Triggertown and around 75 in PS Collective during Columbia vs. Challenger.

Here’s a recap of both nights:

For me, the best performance Friday night was the first one of the evening — Triggertown at The Barley Street Tavern. I love this band, and so did Teresa, who would have been happy to just listen to them all night (She wasn’t happy when we had to leave before their set ended to catch another band). I don’t know how you define “traditional bluegrass,” but Triggertown must come pretty close. The band includes an upright bass, a couple guitars, fiddle and a guy sitting playing what looked like a lap steel guitar (I couldn’t see what it was). There was no drummer, which I guess follows the bluegrass rules. Still, Triggertown’s sound isn’t buried within bluegrass conventions. They have an infectious, twangy, acoustic rural style, with gorgeous harmonies and a sassy little fiddle player that would make anyone smile. Here’s a blurry photo of the action.

Like I said, I hated to tear myself away from their set, but I didn’t want to miss The Machete Archive at TWR. I tweeted Friday night that their sound was “electric prog rock instrumental power trio w/amazing hair solos,” and that about sums it up. I wouldn’t call them “metal” as their sound isn’t evil enough for that sort of thing. Instead, their music was all about rhythmic precision, violin-like guitar tone and that crazy-ass bass player and his amazing afro (Whipkey now has competition in the “best hair” department) who was impossible not to watch. He also was the featured “whistler” on a song that was the highlight of their set. See pic.

Next it was down the street for Lucas Kellison and the Assembled Soul at the PS Collective. Buckley said they forgot to hire a sound guy for that room, and it showed — it sounded bouncy and hollow for music that was more “lounge” than “soul.”

I strolled back over to TWR for about 15 minutes of Ideal Cleaners — they sounded big and huge and angry. Very nice. See photo.

Then it was back to Barley Street for Pharmacy Spirits. I’m listening to the band’s self-released album of demos called Teen Mindwash right now, which I picked up at the show for $5 (get one if you can). They remind me of Boys-Don’t-Cry-era Cure mixed with New Order and a smidge of Pixies. I point to their bouncy bass style/ tone, which sounds as if it was lifted directly from the British Isles circa 1980. I like frontman Jim Reilly’s voice better here than in Beep Beep, but I wish he’d sing closer to the microphone — I was having a hard time hearing him. In fact, I could have used a ton more of both guitars in the mix. While I’m making suggestions — don’t do a thing to the drums, they’re perfect — simple, crisp, the epitome of ’80s post-punk percussion. I want to see this band on a larger stage, with a larger set-up — it will either ruin their sound or take them to the next level. One more thing about Pharmacy Spirits — they do something that no other bands seem to do these days — they find a groove and exploit it for two, three, four minutes per song, and I could listen to it all night. (Another crappy photo)

The first night ended with The Show Is The Rainbow at TWR — Darren Keen, his guitar, his laptop and his video, playing to around 75 dazzled fans. He said he had to cut his usual set short due to computer problems, and instead ended with three or four songs sung only with guitar. Among them was a new one designed to be a comment about his recent dealings with Saddle Creek Records, which (in the end) turned out in his favor, though that wasn’t exactly reflected in the lyrics. There was a couple others that he said were about moving into a house with his girlfriend — sweet/cute. (a blurry photo).

Saturday night began with singer/songwriter Manny Coon at TWR, playing to a somewhat sparse crowd — hey, it was early. MC’s style was traditional story-teller folk done up on acoustic and damn good. See photo.

Next was Once a Pawn at PS Collective (with Jon Taylor of Domestica handling the soundman chores!). Last time I saw them they were a trio. Saturday night they were just a guitar-and-drum duo with more than enough fire power to fill out their sound (though I do miss that bass). The music was loud and punky and a lot of fun, though only about 20 people were there to hear it. (See creepy pic)

Did I say loud? Well, it was nothing compared to Domestica at The Waiting Room, which was the highlight of the festival’s second night. The band always sounds enormous, but was particularly epic on that stage. I don’t know if they were playing new material or if I just didn’t recognize it in this setting, either way it was mega-good, and mega-loud as all good Domestica shows should be. See pic.

Finally, it was back to PS Collective for the farewell set by Columbia vs. Challenger. Actually, the band repeatedly told the rather large crowd that they played their “real farewell show” a few weeks earlier in Lincoln. This one, apparently, was a bonus round, though you wouldn’t have known it by all the technical problems they suffered. They were supposed to go on at 10:10 but didn’t actually start until about a half-hour later, and then kept having even more problems. After their first song, they discovered that their keyboards weren’t working, which delayed the show for another 10 minutes. They ended up playing only four or five songs to a crowd that was hungry for more. (see photo)

And that, my friends, was the end of my Lincoln Invasion experience. Overall I thought it was a lot of fun, and again proved that Benson is great place for festivals (We’ve got two more coming in the months ahead). The only disappointment was the lack of the usual Benson crowd at the shows. Where were all those Benson musicians and singer/songwriters? I did see plenty of other musicians in the house — including a contingency of Saddle Creek folk, Speed! Nebraska pit crew and a few other local legends. Now we wait and see if Buckley and Dub do it all again next year…

* * *

This just in, a last-minute update from Buckley himself:

“Hey Tim, looks like we had about 330 paid for the weekend — 164 and 165 respectively. Each band made about $35 a piece after the expenses were taken care of (which was about 1/2 of the door when all was said and done). From the communications I’ve had with the bands I know some of the obvious things we’d like to improve on for next year, but overall (bandwise) everyone expressed how much fun they had over the weekend, getting out of town, seeing faces new and old, etc. The venues were all pretty easy to deal with, the bands and Lincoln fans who drove up all were into the spirit of the event and the faces I didn’t know seemed genuinely excited to be trying something new. The goal for now is to build on this initial venture and work out the kinks to make an even better Lincoln Invasion 2.0. Here’s to seeing who else can invade where!”

And here’s an update on Box Awesome, also from Buckley:

“…had our second court date this morning. We are out of the current Box Awesome location by July 6 and our last show will be on June 30 featuring Somasphere, Triggertown and Plack Blague. We’re hoping to get up and running by the end of the year at Box Awesomer. Now we get to figure out who’s moving in. :)”

* * *

Telekinesis kicks off a very busy week of music in Omaha. The Seattle band that’s signed to Merge Records is playing at Slowdown Jr. with Brisbane’s An Horse and Our Fox. Amazing line-up for a mere $8.

–Got comments? Post ’em here.


Lincoln Invasion starts tonight…

Category: Blog — @ 5:47 pm June 19, 2009

The keynote event of the weekend is the Lincoln Invasion festival in Benson. The details/background/schedule is here. Like I said the other day, I intend to see as many bands as possible (thanks to staggered scheduling), but my don’t-miss suggestions for tonight are Twiggertown, The Machete Archive, Pharmacy Spirits, Ideal Cleaners and The Show Is the Rainbow. For Saturday night, it’s Columbia vs. Challenger, Domestica, Once a Pawn and Strawberry Burns.

Bands that I didn’t mention are bands that I haven’t seen before, and there are a lot of them. You’re not going to find a better festival value than Lincoln Invasion — $5 per night gets you into all three venues all night long.

But it’s not the only thing going on tonight. Down at Slowdown Jr. it’s the debut of Boy Noises with Sweet Pea, AM Revival and In the Spring. $7, 9 p.m.

Meanwhile, O’Leaver’s has a sweet show tonight featuring The Stay Awake, Gold and Anatomy of a Riot. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Saturday night’s other hot events include Blood Cow and Black Skies at O’Leaver’s, $5, 9:30 p.m.; and Shiver Shiver, Goodbye Sunday and Black Squirrels down at Slowdown Jr., $5, 9 p.m.

Then on Sunday, Chicago instrumental band Russian Circles is playing at Slowdown with Coliseum and The Answer Team. $10 adv/$12 DOS, 9 p.m.

–Got comments? Post ’em here.


Live Review: Deer Tick; More LI coverage; Vanishing Kids tonight…

Category: Blog — @ 5:28 pm June 18, 2009

When I arrived at The Slowdown last night at around 9:15 I discovered that there was a third, unannounced band on the bill, added as an opener. I have no idea who they were, other than they weren’t from around here (Bear Country would have been a terrific opener, btw). So my hopes for an early evening were quickly dashed. Ah well, it only meant that I would be skipping Jenny Lewis’ set altogether as I had an early wake-up call this morning. I’ve seen Lewis in her various configurations at least a dozen times, so I knew I wasn’t missing anything I hadn’t already seen before. The band I came to see was Deer Tick anyway, who didn’t get on stage until around 11. I was surprised at the number of covers they played, considering they have two albums-worth of material to select from. The covers included a weak version of John Mellencamp’s “I Fight Authority,” which I could have done without. The highlight was a duet with Liz Isenberg on “Friday XIII,” which I had told frontman John McCauley during our interview was my favorite song off their new album Born on Flag Day. He had told me that it was unlikely that they’d be playing it in Omaha since he doesn’t do it without Isenberg, and she wasn’t coming along. Well, there she was. From stage McCauley also apologized for his voice, saying he was just getting over a cold. He sounded just fine to me. As fun as the band was last night, I have to think they’ll be even more fun to watch tonight in Lincoln when they play in the intimate confines of Box Awesome with UUVVWWZ and Manny Coon. Here’s a really fuzzy action photo.

* * *

Speaking of Lincoln, The Lincoln Journal Star published its story on this weekend’s Lincoln Invasion festival in Benson. Check it out here.

* * *

I have been told by at least three different people not to miss tonight’s show at O’Leaver’s featuring Portland band Vanishing Kids. The music I’ve heard on their Myspace page is lush, trippy, brash, post-punk, and pretty darn good, too. The show’s line-up includes Honey and Darling and Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship. $5, 9:30 p.m.

–Got comments? Post ’em here.


Column 226: Lincoln Invades Omaha; Jenny Lewis/Deer Tick tonight…

Category: Blog — @ 5:51 pm June 17, 2009

In addition to filling me in on Lincoln Invasion, Jeremy Buckley updated me on the status of Lincoln’s Box Awesome, which is being forced from its current home by its landlord who hoped to have them out well before the end of their lease (Oct. 31). The issue already has gone to court and the case has been continued to June 22, with hopes that both parties can reach some sort of agreement/settlement. In the meantime, he and Box Awesome owner Jeremiah Moore have been scouting new locations for the venue. “We’re going to be picky and make sure the situation is something we can sustain for a long time,” Buckley said.

He said they know they’ll be able to host their shows through the rest of the month, but will likely be gone shortly after that. In the meantime, they’re looking at ways to make the new Bourbon Theater “smaller” for smaller shows — this could involve some strategically placed curtains. “We’re not going to do shows where we know no one is going to show up,” he said. “Shows that draw 50 or less won’t be happening at The Bourbon.”

The ultimate goal, however, is to find a new location for Box Awesome. “We want to get this all figured out and have something up and running by the end of this year,” he said.

Right now, though, Buckley’s focus is on Lincoln Invasion. Someone asked me the other day which bands I’ll be most eager to see at this weekend’s festival. Buckley said he staggered each venue’s band schedule so that “theoretically” you could see some of every band performing at all three venues. So my answer is: All of them.

* * *

Column 226: The Lincoln Invasion
2 nights, 22 bands, 3 venues

Let’s start by clarifying that I don’t really have anything to do with this weekend’s can’t-miss event, Lincoln Invasion. We’re talking two nights of top-flight musical entertainment — 22 bands by way of Lincoln, Nebraska — at three of Benson’s finest clubs. For just $5 each night you’ll get into all three clubs all night. It’s a veritable smorgasbord of entertain direct from the Star City to you — the easiest way you’ll ever have of experiencing the best of Lincoln without having to truck 50 miles south by southwest on I-80.

My only role in this amazing extravaganza is coming up with the idea. Years ago, before there was an OEA Showcase or a Mid-America Music Festival, I was chatting with Jeremy Buckley, who’s organizing this weekend’s event along with Duffy’s booker Jeremy “Dub” Wardlaw. Buckley had just held his first Lincoln Calling Festival (which you’ll hear more about in the coming months), and I suggested that instead of me having to drive my lazy ass down to Lincoln, that he pull together a handful of Lincoln bands and have them play in Benson, where folks could walk from club to club all night long.

Jeremy let that idea steep in the back of his mind until this year when, after graduating from the esteemed University of Nebraska-Lincoln, he realized he was about to have a lot of time on his hands. “I was freaked out and had to find something to do,” Buckley said. So he contacted the folks at The Waiting Room, PS Collective and The Barley Street Tavern, found an open weekend in their crowded schedules, and with Dub’s help started contacting bands. The rest, as they say, will be history this Friday and Saturday night.

Buckley said his motivation other than filling a hole in his social calendar was to get Lincoln bands into the Omaha spotlight. In a sordid effort to help hype the event, I tried to get Buckley to say that Lincoln Invasion was really a chance for him to once-and-for-all prove that Lincoln bands were far superior than Omaha bands. But he just wasn’t biting. “That’s just a weird notion,” he said. “Both (cities) have fantastic bands that will go to the other city and play for 10 people, and that sucks — everyone involved (in those shows) feels like shit afterward because they know that the bands deserve more.”

Lincoln Invasion is a chance to get the broadest Omaha exposure to the largest number of Lincoln bands in the shortest span of time. “It gets Lincoln bands out of town and (afterward) gives Omaha people a reason to drive to Lincoln,” Buckley said. “The cities aren’t that far away from each other.”

It’s also a chance for the bands to make some money. Unlike some other local music “festivals,” bands will actually get paid for playing, that is if enough people show up. Buckley said total costs for printing fliers and posters, and paying the sound guys, is only around $500 to $600. “Every band splits what’s left after covering expenses,” he said. “All bands get an equal share — from the band who might be playing to 10 people at the Barley Street to another playing to 100 at The Waiting Room. The entire pot is split evenly.”

That’s all very magnanimous, but really, why should anyone go? Buckley points to acts like Machete Archive. “They’re beloved in Lincoln, but Omaha people don’t know them at all,” he said. Machete Archive plays instrumental math rock along the lines of Mars Volta and “are fun to listen to live. Everyone in the band is talented, but everyone fixates on the bass player, who is just all over the place. They’re one of the most entertaining bands in Lincoln.”

Buckley also mentioned Manny Coon, a singer/songwriter in the Wilco vein. “He tells amazing stories with his songs. It’s easy to get fixated on what he’s doing.”

And then there’s Columbia Vs. Challenger, a band that’s been kicking around Lincoln for years. One of the band’s members is about to move to Honduras, making the Lincoln Invasion gig the band’s last show ever. “That’ll be bittersweet and awesome and sad,” Buckley said. “It’ll be interesting to see how the band handles it on stage.”

Buckley said he has no expectations on the success of Lincoln Invasion. “Whatever happens this first year will help us decide if we should try it again,” he said. “The answer should be obvious. I think we’ll be looking at ways to improve it for next year, with more bands and more venues, and figure out how to do an Omaha Invasion in Lincoln.”

In fact, Buckley and Dub have even talked about doing a cross-border exchange. “We should have a Nebraska Invasion in Kansas and have 20 bands from Omaha and Lincoln take over Lawrence for a weekend, and then get 20 bands from Lawrence to come up here,” he said. “The options are limitless.”

Here’s the schedule. Just $5 each night will get you into all three venues.

Friday, June 19

PS Collective: The Allendales (9:30); Lucas Kellison and the Assembled Soul (10:40); Andrews Ave. (midnight).

The Waiting Room: The Machete Archive (9:40); Ideal Cleaners (10:50); The Show Is the Rainbow (11:55)

Barley Street Tavern: Triggertown (9:20); The Amalgamators (10:20); Pharmacy Spirits (11:20); The Big Gigantic (midnight).

Saturday, June 20

PS Collective: Gooses (9:10); Once a Pawn (10:10); Columbia vs. Challenger (11:10); Knots (12:10).

The Waiting Room: Manny Coon (9:40); Crush the Clown (10:20); Domestica (11:20); Somasphere (12:20).

Barley Street Tavern: AM Revival (9:00); Jodie Loves Hinkley (10:00); Orion Walsh (11:00); Strawberry Burns (midnight).

* * *

Tonight at The Slowdown, it’s Jenny Lewis with Deer Tick. This show sold out a few days ago, so no tickee no luckee. It starts at 9 and I suggest you get there early for Deer Tick.

Of course if you’re in Lincoln tonight, check out Cursive at Box Awesome with Ideal Cleaners and Box Elders.

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