Column 280: So Long, OEAAs; MAHA lineup complete; Concert for Equality sold out; Speed! Nebraska hangover; Techlepathy, East of the Wall tonight…

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

BTW, a quick glance at Craigslist yesterday showed Deluxe Concert for Equality tickets were being offered for as much as $200 each, while general admission tix were being offered for $100 each. There are 25 listings there now, and most are “want to buy” ads.

Column 280: Goodbye, OEAAs…

It’s better than beating a dead horse…

I just finished writing a 1,000-word critical review of this past weekend’s Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards showcase in Benson, and then I threw it out.

It dawned on me after adding the -30- (a traditional, out-dated way of ending news stories) that I should take the same tact that I take for bands that I don’t care for — just don’t write about it. There’s no point in tearing down the OEAAs. The bands that participate aren’t indie bands, aren’t bands that I cover in my column and website, and aren’t the kind of bands Nebraska has become nationally known for.

In truth, the OEAAs don’t target any specific “type” of band. The organization’s showcases are open invitations to anyone willing to play for free, with apparently no criteria that eliminate anyone from consideration. As a result, the showcase has become a two-day open mic night, where truly talented performers like Ember Schrag, Ground Tyrants and a couple others, get lost in the overwhelming fog of mediocrity.

Even the annual awards process has become somewhat misguided. As an OEAA Academy member, I found myself not voting in a number of categories last year because the nominees simply didn’t fit the category definition — and I’m not talking about from a genre standpoint, but as representing the best bands from the Omaha/Lincoln area in a specific category. I have no interest in voting for the least mediocre among five mediocre bands, while the area’s real talent — the bands that release albums on nationally distributed record labels, the bands that go out of state on tours — are consistently ignored by the process or refuse to participate.

When the OEAAs began four years ago as a non-profit, there was some discussion that money generated from the effort could some day support a scholarship fund or some other worthy cause. But that never happened. Conceivably, money raised from the showcases is funneled into covering costs involved in putting together the annual awards banquet — a program that’s supposed to showcase the best and brightest, but where the best and brightest rarely perform.

Despite all of this, there’s no question that folks enjoy the OEAA showcases and awards banquet, whether I do or not. Who am I to begrudge anyone for having a good time? So with that, I wish the OEAAs the best of luck as I resign my position as an Academy Member, put down my gun and slowly walk away…

* * *

Speaking of the OEAA’s, the MAHA Music Festival filled its final opening slot for bands performing on the Kum & Go Local Stage from those participating in last weekend’s OEAA showcase. In an open vote of OEAA patrons, the winner was R&B act Voodoo Method, a band that harshly clashes with the national acts chosen to perform on the main stage. I guess that’s what the MAHA committee gets when it leaves a decision as important as who will perform at their concert up to someone else.

* * *

If you were on the fence as to whether or not to buy tickets to the Concert for Equality, being held July 31 in Benson and featuring Bright Eyes, Cursive, Desaparecidos, Lullaby for the Working Class, Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, The Envy Corps, David Dondero, The So-So Sailors, Conchance, Simon Joyner, Flowers Forever and Vago, along with some TBA superstars, you can forget about it. The event sold out last week. Deluxe Tickets, which originally cost $50 each, were being listed on ebay for $315 a pair last week, and I suspect you’ll see even higher prices as the event gets closer. Could the concert be moved from one of Benson’s side streets to Maple Street, freeing up more tickets? We’ll have to wait and see.

* * *

Finally, I skipped Day 2 of the OEAAs to attend the Speed! Nebraska showcase at a crushed-full O’Leaver’s — the epilogue to the Soapbox Riot soapbox derby held at Seymour Smith track earlier that day (and won by Wagon Blasters’ frontman Gary Dean Davis). Speed! Nebraska Records boasts arguably the best roster of pure rock bands in Nebraska — including Mercy Rule, Ideal Cleaners, Techlepathy, The Third Men, Mezcal Brothers and Wagon Blasters, all of whom performed that night (and none of whom played the day before at the OEAA showcase). Note to the MAHA committee: Any of those bands would have been an amazing addition to the Kum & Go stage. Maybe next year?

* * *

It’s a night of nightmare music at Slowdown Jr. tonight with Gunnison Beach, New Jersey noise band East of the Wall (proggy, syncopated rhythms, monster vocals, loud), Name (crazy fast guitars, metal, screaming), Masses (pounding instrumentals, violently loud, torturous), and Techlepathy (intricate, tense, free-fall explosions). Earplugs highly recommended. $8, 9 p.m.

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2010 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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