I’m still catching up on last weekend. The most notable event was, of course, the first annual Speed! Nebraska / O’Leaver’s adult soapbox derby held at Seymour Smith Park. As predicted, there was plenty of bloody mayhem in the form of grisly crashes. The crowd was… unfortunate. When I showed up shortly after 11, only 20 or so people were there. That number would balloon to about 50 when I left at 1, and I was told by an organizer that another 100 or showed up later in the afternoon. This was the first time for this annual event, after all. I don’t think anyone expected a Horsemen’s Park-sized crowd. Six soapbox cars entered the fray, and from its first test run it was obvious that the three-wheeled death contraption driven by Jon Taylor of Domestica was going to win the whole thing, for among other reasons it was the only entry able to make it to the end of the course. It was also scary fast, like watching someone luge head-first staring at a spinning blade. Here’s an awesome picture someone took of Taylor and his ride prior to the race. Frightening.
Gary Dean Davis’ race car also was bad-ass (here’s my not-so-awesome photo), and would end up coming in second pace. O’Leaver’s El Camino took third-place honors.
But who cares about the race results? People go to the races for the crashes, and there were two doozies. Taylor lost control of his death mobile the third time down the track and went airborne before performing a tumbling exercise on the asphalt mat that scored him a perfect 10 along with a gashed elbow. Very exciting. After I left, Mike Tulis and his rolling piece of plywood crashed into a guardrail. The damage could still be seen on his face later that evening at O’Leaver’s. So yes, there was blood, but no permanent damage except maybe to the pride of the guy who raced the H1N1 pig mobile…
Later that evening the racers took a musical victory lap at O’Leaver’s. I caught the tail end of The Third Men’s set, along with all of Domestica’s, which sounded better than ever (see photo). At the end of the day, a few hundred bucks was raised for Special Olympics of Nebraska, which made everyone a winner.
Earlier in the evening I caught Neko Case’s sold-out performance at The Slowdown. It was a different crowd than the usual hipper-than-thou scenester/slacker club — mostly couples in the late 20s and 30s out for a date night. Case is an indie-music diva who appeals to a smarter, more refined audience than you’ll find at, say, a Sheryl Crow concert. She sounded terrific on Slowdown’s big stage, backed by five musicians including a back-up singer who was more of a stand-up comic, playing the role of EmCee in charge of keeping the laughs rolling between songs while Neko tuned her beefy Gibson SG. Neko got a few choice lines in as well, but it was mostly the side-kick that kept the audience engaged. While her music is uplifting, Neko’s lyrics are agonizingly depressing. Adding to the gloom, projected on a stage decorated with a giant crowned owl, were images that looked like were shot on Super 8 film of storm clouds and buildings being demolished and gloom. Depressing indeed. Still, Case was in her usual terrific voice, and the band was dead-on — one of the better shows so far this year.
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There are a couple shows worth mentioning tonight. Down at Slowdown Jr., new local indie super group Our Fox opens for country-flavored Tennessee chick-punks Those Darlings and Tin Kite. $7, 9 p.m. Also tonight, eastern European carnival ride Gogol Bordello plays at Sokol Auditorium. $25, 7 p.m.
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