by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com
Ah, the joys of being an amateur meteorologist. The various and sundry weather services had warned all day that there would be thunderstorms Saturday evening, and lo and behold, the skies became angry just as the Dundee Spring Fling was about to erupt just past the rapture hour of 6 p.m. A glance at the radar indicated a line of hail-laden thunderstorms bearing north from Lincoln, so I sat tight and waited out Armageddon at home. I’m told the sky began falling about halfway through Gus & Call’s set. People ran for cover under the beer tents as pea-sized hail began to bounce off their heads.
I arrived at Underwood Street at around 9 p.m., after the storm had passed… mostly. As So-So Sailors got ready on stage, streaks of lightning veined across the sky just to the north. SSS’s frontman Chris Machmuller looked a tad nervous, but said that the show would go on, and indeed it did. Unlike Jake’s Block Party last weekend, the sound system was unreal, just terrific sound, and SSS took full advantage of it, playing to a crowd of a few hundred booze-soaked neighbors. The band — which was back to its usual 5-piece configuration (only two keyboards this time, and no Laura Burhann) ran through their non-released hits one after another in sort of medley fashion, right up to the last tune, where Machmuller said something like, “If this is the Rapture, take me home Jesus” before the band exploded in rock ‘n’ roll bliss.
Before Conduits came on, Gus & Call was called back on stage to finish off their interrupted set. Dan McCarthy sang lead on one song that channeled The Band circa 1968/Big Pink. They closed with what’s becoming their signature tune, “The Other Side of Jordan,” played with the same energy as that night I first saw them play it at Slowdown. This is a band to seek out; a band that could break out if they could ever find the right balance between their fun rock stuff and their slow-stroll boot-gaze drone ballads.
Finally at around 10:45, Conduits lit up the stage sounding like a black-light Euro dance band, thanks to Roger Lewis’ pulsing drums. Yes, they are self-proclaimed shoe-gazers, lovers of the drone, but there was a bigger swing to their sound Saturday night, a righteous throb that enhanced the overall glow.
The crowd looked like a typical packed night at The Waiting Room — a lot of familiar faces and fixtures of the local music scene. But in addition were the college kids, the big white bald guys, the backward hatters and the out-of-place high heels, the kind of crowd that you’d expect to see at a small-town street dance. And though these weren’t the usual cover bands and shallow pop acts that usually play at Dundee Days, the crowd still seemed into it. In some ways, this show was a dream come true — a showcase of some of Omaha’s best indie bands performing in the heart of the city, outside of both the bands’ comfort zone (i.e., not in Benson) and the crowd’s. Here’s hoping the fine folks at Amsterdam Felafel get another chance to book this event next year.
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Tonight at The Mid-America Center in Council Bluffs it’s the Foo Fighters with Motorhead and Biffy Clyro. General admission tickets are $58.75 from Ticketmaster. Show starts at 7.
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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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