Column 232: OEA Redux; The Whigs, Honey & Darling, The Lepers tonight…

Category: Blog — @ 5:45 pm August 5, 2009

Other thoughts about the OEA showcase:

For the most part, the bands ran on schedule, sometimes too much so. I missed The Answer Team because apparently The Barley St. was running the schedule on bar time rather than human time. Only two bands canceled. The smaller venues sounded great, specifically The Barley and Burkes. Burkes was hampered by having the bands set up next to the front door — there must be a reason they don’t set them up in the back of the room.

Though I say below I didn’t hear any complaints from the bands, I did hear one — at some clubs (maybe all of them?) performing bands had to pay for their own drinks. This seems to be a slap in the face considering they’re already not getting paid to play. At the very least, bands should be given drink tickets that can be used at all the venues, or better yet, a laminate that would give them access to a venue’s green room where free refreshments would be on ice. Considering that 60 bands were scheduled to perform, each with an average of four members, that equates to 240 potential lost paying booze customers, which means this idea will never materialize.

Column 232: OEA Redux
The showcase enjoys its best year ever.

MarQ Manner, the organizer of last weekend’s Omaha Entertainment and Arts (OEA) Summer Showcase, must be pleased.

By the looks of the crowds (and the lack of available parking throughout Benson) the two-day showcase of mostly unsigned local bands was a big wet success — at least on Friday night when a downpour fell halfway through the night’s docket of bands.

This is the third year for an OEA-related festival held in Benson. Cash generated from wristband sales went to the non-profit organization, apparently to help pay for all those heavy crystal trophies that will be handed out at the annual awards presentation this January.

As per usual, the bands who played got nothing except exposure to the same people who they expose themselves to during non-festival nights at the very same venues, but I didn’t hear any complaints. No one held a gun to their heads and said they had to play the showcase.

The weekend’s real beneficiary, of course, were the clubs involved — The Waiting Room, Burke’s Pub, The Sydney, The Barley Street Tavern, and PS Collective. They got two days’ worth of free entertainment on their stages and kept every penny of the booze sales, which had to be staggering judging by the zombie-like patrons seen stumbling along the sidewalks toward closing time.

By the way, this wasn’t an official “qualifying round” for this year’s OEA awards. That showcase, where nominated bands perform for the OEA’s “music academy” (of which I am a member), takes place later this fall, but will likely be a rerun of what we got this weekend.

With 60 band performing, it was impossible to see them all. Here’s my personal scorecard:

Boy Noises — Consisting of former members of Sleep Said the Monster, these guys have awoken into a Franz Ferdinand-flavored big-beat dance band. If It’s True is Slo-Fi Records’ Bright Eyes, Boy Noises is their Faint. Word has it that the band’s days are numbered, as their drummer is moving and their keyboard player wants to focus on his other band (the aforementioned It’s True, and who can blame him?). Catch them while you can (Pssst… Sept. 12 at TWR with Broken Spindles and Pharmacy Spirits).

Anniversaire — I tweeted that they are “a baroque Ben Folds w/cello and giant bass drum,” and that’s about right, though their songs go for “slow building epic” more than Folds’ “sing-a-long,” and could do with a bit of editing (as if that’ll ever happen). They’re playing Aug. 6 at Slowdown Jr. with Little Brazil.

Brad Hoshaw and the Seven Deadlies — Sporting the best local album released so far this year, Hoshaw is bound to take home more of those OEA crystal penises. The Seven Deadlies have been cut to three, but they’re just as deadly. Maybe even deadlier. Hoshaw now has no reason for not getting this tightly hewn unit onto the road (and I mean roads outside of the quad-state area).

Sweet Pea — Chop pop upbeat dance rock that at times seemed to be trying for a fun (rather than dour) Pixies vibe and at other times bordered on cabaret (or Broadway). They could be theatrical if they wanted to be, but they just want you to forget about them and dance. They’re almost there.

It’s True — Adam Hawkins and his crew are blowing up. They drew the largest crowd of the weekend (that I saw, anyway), bringing The Waiting Room close to capacity and then killing it with their epic soundtrack. I remain quietly amused that these guys and Hoshaw are not signed to a mid-sized indie label (including one that resides in their hometown).

There was more. The Midwest Dilemma Orchestra played half unplugged resulting in an exuberant performance that turned The Sydney into a heated gypsy orgy. Goodbye Sunday went out in style, playing their farewell show to an adoring Burke’s crowd. Honey and Darling pulled the short straw and got gypped by PS Collective’s inferior sound, while Fortnight got buried beneath a muddy mix at TWR. My weekend ended by watching DJ Brent Crampton getting the shorties moving with his thick-ass beats (I Zimbra indeed).

Manner said around 850 paid over the weekend, but that numbers seem light if (as he said) they sold 500 wristbands on Saturday alone. Regardless, the showcase is the organization’s most successful to date. Still, whether the OEA folks want to admit it or not, many are starting to consider the OEA’s as “a Benson thing” that only involves the neighborhood’s bands.

Which brings us to that point in the story that you’ve all heard from me before. Most of the city’s best bands continue to be missing from OEA events. There were no Saddle Creek, Slumber Party, Speed! Nebraska (except for The Filter Kings) or “Goldberg bands” (you know who I’m talking about) playing on either night. It wasn’t for lack of trying. As one band that declined an invitation told me over the weekend, they don’t need exposure in this market, and they’d like to get paid for what they do.

But they never will, not at this event, which means you’ll likely never see those bands play an OEA showcase, and that’s OK. The OEAs are doing just fine without them.

Tonight is busy show-wise.

At The Waiting Room, Athens GA trio The Whigs (on ATO Records) plays with London trio Band of Skulls. Should be nice and loud. $10, 9 p.m.

At O’Leaver’s, The Lepers are headlining a show with Giant Squid and Grayceon.$5, 9:30 p.m.

Down at Slowdown Jr., locals Honey & Darling and Akita-Ken are opening for One for the Team. $8, 9 p.m.

And finally, Midwest Dilemma is playing at The Barley Street Tavern with Long Shadowmen. $5, 9 p.m.

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