by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com
I have to tell you, I love going to debut performances by local bands. A few weeks ago it was Beauty in the Beast (Eli Mardock of Eagle Seagull fame’s new band). Last night it was InDreama, a new band fronted by Nik Fackler that includes an all-star cast, as described in yesterday’s blog. Fackler made it very clear before the set that this was, in fact, the first time the band had performed in front of a club audience. It showed. The set was only about 15 minutes long and focused only on four songs that shared the same psychedelic sonic palette. As you can see by the photo, Fackler was going for drama with his lighting — a projector off stage left that shot beams at a hatchet angle augmented with a couple floor strobes, all other stage lighting was turned off. Add billows of stage smoke and you’ve got a recipe for theatrics, and there were plenty.
Fackler and Co. opened with a couple acoustic songs that showed his knowledge of Bookends-era Simon and Garfunkel. Vocally, he sounded nothing like how he did in The Family Radio, instead his voice was deep and resonant and enhanced by effects and it all sounded actually very good, backed with harmonies from Sam Martin (Capgun Coup) and Dereck Higgins (Digital Sex). The lyrics were slight and simple and somewhat affected (I could imagine these songs sung in French).
The set went full-bore when Fackler switched to electric guitar and closed out the micro-set with “Exodus from Reunion, A + STORM > great = End” that turned into a psychedelic soundwash complete with dramatic deep-blue synth effects and rigid, pounding power chords that eventually pulled back with the now-ritualistic kneeling-down-and-fiddling-with-the-foot-pedals noise collage. Very dramatic, very promising, but all-in-all, very short. Missing were their poppier rock numbers that the band has on their iLike page, but then again, I’m not sure how they would have fit into the dark interlude that Fackler was trying to create. So yeah, a work in progress, a dream half-dreamed. But Fackler tells me there’s more to come when he’s back from El Lay and the InDreama CD is released in December, backed by a tour.
Next up were The Prairies, a local garage noise-band that I wasn’t in the mood for but that converted me to their punk rock sound by the end of their set. More than half of their success rides on their incredible drummer, who hits his drums harder than anyone I’ve seen on stage in a long while. Just amazing drumming that drove this hot rod right over the edge, pushed along by some tasty guitar solos.
In the third slot was Montreal band No Joy, a buzz-saw shoe-gaze band fronted by two shaggy-haired women with electric guitars and a love for righteous riffs. I was reminded of Jesus and Mary Chain, Slowdive, My Bloody Valentine, Lush, Dinosaur Jr., and a bit of Throwing Muses. Each song was a pounding fuzz factory that chugged along at a hypnotic pace that made you wish they’d go on for 20 more minutes (even though most of the songs sounded pretty much the same). As described in yesterday’s Sentimentalist write-up, they closed out their set and began packing their gear while the amps were still buzzing, without saying a word to the crowd. I don’t know if that’s cool or insolent, and I doubt they care either way.
The crowd of about 50 or stuck around for Flowers Forever, whose sound continues to evolve from its original psych-rock to something that more closely resembles Talking Heads New Wave meets The B-52s with some deep-bass synth-dance beats thrown in to liven it all up. During their pogo-party moments, frontman Derek Pressnall turned into a Midwestern version of Fred Schneider, talk-echoing with the band’s cute blonde frontwoman whose rather demure singing has a dry air of Debbie Harry. Biggest surprise (of the night) was electric guitarist Nik Fackler providing some very interesting counters and leads that made it all work.
FF has been evolving into a psych-dance band for awhile now, and it seems close to the final stage. There’s no question that Pressnall enjoys leading the crowd on dance numbers more than anything else he’s doing on stage — leading the band as it repeatedly played two party-friendly songs over and over. He knows what his crowd wants and by-damn he’s going to give it to them. Things got weird toward the end when someone (Sam Martin?) threw a gigantic bag of popcorn into the crowd, which eventually became throwing material. More hi-jinx ensued, climaxing with an abrupt confrontation over a microphone stand that had made its way into the crowd. No one got hurt (at least while I was there).
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I hate Halloween. I don’t mind giving candy to kids at the door, that’s fine, that’s what it should be. I’m not into the adult side of Halloween where everything turns into a costume party. And when Halloween’s on a Sunday, that means the costumes stretch over the entire weekend. That said, it would be kind of weird to see people dressed as pirates (or zombies) at Saturday’s Joan of Arc show at Slowdown Jr. though you can pretty much count on it. Also on the bill are Bear Country and Thunder Power. $10, 9 p.m.
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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.