by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com
Yeah, I know. Cheap Trick ain’t exactly “indie.” And looking over my record collection I realize I own all of zero Cheap Trick records. But as someone pointed out, why would I need to buy any since all their best songs are played in regular rotation on Z-92? If I need a Cheap Trick fix (or Zeppelin fix or AC/DC fix) I always can turn it to the Z for an hour for a helping of “The Flame” or “Surrender” or “The Dream Police.”
That said, Cheap Trick was always one of the cooler radio bands of the ’70s. Certainly cooler than REO Speedwagon or Journey. The chance to see them for free Friday night — and just a few blocks from my house — well, I’d be stupid to turn that down.
The impact of moving the Memorial Park concert stage from the “west bowl” — where it’s always been held as long as I can remember — to the north side of the park was immediate. In year’s past, wife-beater-pulling-a-cooler traffic began as early as noon on show day. Not this year. In fact, if someone had been searching for a parking space, there were plenty down by my house — unheard of in years past.
But the best part of the shift was seen at the park itself. With the stage now located on the much larger south end of the park there was ample room for the toothless to roam and sit and watch the show without having to trample someone’s precious bedspread compound. Paths were cardoned off with plastic snow fence, allowing anyone to walk unimpeded all the way to the soundboard only a few yards from the stage — another impossibility in past years. Everything just seemed bigger and better and… cleaner. Bravo to Bank of the West and whoever else was responsible for this year’s changes.
I didn’t get to the park until 8:30, well clear of .38 Special. Shortly after arrival at the standing area near the soundboard, Cheap Trick came prancing on stage and ripped into a set of every one of their radio oldies that I know. Intermixed was new material which fit in well with the old stuff — a testimony to the band’s continued creative output. Seeing as we will never hear this new stuff on the Z, I may actually have to run out and buy a copy if I want to hear any of it again.
Unlike some of the legacy bands playing at this year’s Red Sky Festival (Journey, 10,000 Maniacs), Cheap Trick has maintained its core structure of vocalist Robin Zander and guitarist/madman Rick Nielsen. Zander, wearing his usual Dream Police costume, sounded fantastic for a guy pushing 60. In fact, he managed to keep his voice pushing those high notes all the way through an encore of “Gonna Raise Hell,” a song that would tax even the youngest karaoke yodeler. All-in-all, a fantastic show by a band that helped define arena rock in the ’70s.
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So the question is, how much will it hold?
I’m talking about Stinson Park in Aksarben Village where it was announced a week or so ago that this year’s Playing With Fire concert will be held July 16. The concert, featuring Sharon Jones and the Dapkings, was moved due to the flooding of Lewis and Clark Landing. Jeff Davis, PWF’s organizer, would like to see attendance exceed 7,000, which could very well happen. But will they all fit comfortably in Stinson?
Having never really explored the area before, after having a lunch at one of the eateries in Aksarben Village Saturday, I walked over to Stinson Park, which is just west of the main businesses and along the south side of Mercy Road to get a glimpse of the stage. It looks like a prime set-up, especially if Davis can get them to close Mercy Road and use that area for concessions and beer tents. How the additional lights and PA equipment will fit on the hill should be interesting.
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Tonight, of course, is The Black Keys at Stir Concert Cove. How will the Stir folks manage the parking problems that have arisen due to flooding? I’m told the bus/shuttles didn’t work so well at Mumford & Sons a few weeks ago. Hopefully they’ve figured it all out. Good luck to those of you who got tickets to this long sold out show. Opening is Cage the Elephant. Show starts at 8.
As for the rest of us, there’s always All Young Girls Are Machine Guns playing at O’Leaver’s tonight with 19 Action News and Moscow Mule. $5, 9:30 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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