Live Review: Digital Leather, Millions o’ Boys, Baby Tears; Red Sky at night, whoop whoop; The Sky Drops tonight…
by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com
My weekend was so musically voluminous that I had to split it into two blog entries. And this is part 2:
I admit I was a little bummed when I heard Digital Leather’s lineup no longer would include keyboards. Not just that Annie Dilocker no longer was playing with the band, but no keyboards at all. Listen to Sorcerer or Blow Machine or Warm Brother. The keyboards are a center point of the band’s sound on all those albums. Make that were a center point. Someone told me that DL frontman/songwriter/genius Shawn Foree’s new songs simply didn’t use keyboards, so there is no reason to have a synth on stage anymore. In fact, Digital Leather was down to a three piece Saturday night at O’Leaver’s. Former guitarist Austin Ulmer is apparently living large in Grand Island. Foree is now on guitar, backed by John Vredenburg on bass and Jeff Lambelet on drums.
So here’s the thing about Foree: He’s a prolific songwriter that’s constantly evolving his sound. And no matter what the lineup, that songwriting style — his voice — comes through on everything. Such was the case with the new material unveiled Saturday. Yeah, I missed the keys, but to be honest, they almost always were (regretfully) lost in the mix during live sets anyway. And even without them, there was no mistaking these for anything but DL songs. As a three-piece, the shift is to a more stripped down sound (naturally) that borders on traditional garage punk, which isn’t too far from where they’ve been headed for the last couple of years (on stage, anyway). Meanwhile, DL standards like “Your Hand, My Glove” were transformed into punk trash anthems that ride the bass line. “Studs in Love,” with extended riffage, was a highlight (Vredenburg called it their “Pink Floyd version” of the song). After the main set was done, the crowd wanted more and got it. The night ended with a cover of M.O.T.O.’s “Deliver Deliver Deliver.” beefed up raw and twice as fast as the original. Where’s that new album, boys?
Baby Tears opened the night with a set of gutter punk that was all grit and sweat and pain; with staging punctuated by a hilarious smoke machine that looked more like car exhaust than a special effect. Millions of Boys, the second opener, has transformed themselves from the twangy indie band that I saw last August at their debut to a full-out punk band with pop leanings. Both are recommended.
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MECA / Red Sky finally began making some announcements, just a few months before their 6-day spoogefest at TD Ameritrade Park. Last week they announced their initial pricing scheme: 1-Day Pass: $15; 3-Day Pass: $30; 6-Day Pass: $60. Hey Red Sky — there’s no discount between the 3-Day and 6-Day pass — what the f**kl? Doesn’t matter anyway because “All passes include admission to Stages B & C only. Entry to Main Stage in TD Ameritrade Park Omaha is not included.” (their bf, not mine). So, $15 a day to see the county fair bands and the local yokels. If you want to see the headliner, well, that’ll cost ya extra, son.
Red Sky also announced last week that it’s pulling the ol’ “Battle of the Bands” shtick to fill those 20 or so local band spots. I guess I can’t blame them since your typical MECA schlub very likely has never heard a local band play before. I suspect we’ll see all the same bands at their showcases that we’ve historically seen at OEA events — i.e., none of the local bands that actually tour outside of Omaha and/or release distributed recordings (i.e., Saddle Creek bands). But you never know. Red Sky boasts on its “Battle of the Bands” webpage that it’s paying acts who play at their showcases (depending on the draw, whatever that means), as well as those who emerge victorious and make it to the C Stage.
And yesterday, RS announced its first headliner – 311 – which I suspect will set the tone for the entire festival. 311 is a local favorite, and should do very well, especially since tickets are reasonably priced at $35 and $25 (and includes admission to the B & C stages). RS also announced Sublime as part of the 311 package, but we all know that they mean Sublime with Rome, the Sublime knock-off band, who should fit right in line with the Journey knock-off band that will probably be announced next, but not until next week, apparently. RS is drawing out their announcements, for reasons no one knows for sure. Probably because they’ve yet to ink deals with the other big-name acts. Regardless, so far I’m 1-1 on my lineup hunches from way back in March.
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Finally, here’s an interesting show going on tonight: Wilmington, DE, duo The Sky Drops plays at The Barley Street Tavern with Eli Mardock and Pastel Pistol. The Sky Drops is Rob Montejo, formerly of Smashing Orange, who once opened for Lush in London and recorded a John Peel Session in February 1992. The other half of The Sky Drops is Monika Bullette (drums/vocals). This show should be required attendance by anyone interested in first-wave shoegaze. $5, 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 © 2011 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.
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