by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com
I was a bit surprised at the turnout for last night’s Get-Up Kids show at The Waiting Room. The band’s heyday was almost a decade ago. They broke up in the mid-’00s. And even at their height, they were never on my shortlist of important indie bands, veering more closely to the “alternative rock” / AP-style power-pop emo rock bands that Vagrant loved so much back then. That style of “emo” — some might say true emo — always felt more adolescent that indie rock, perfect for 18-year-olds (as GUK’s Rob Pope said). Nothing wrong with that, except that such style of music tends not to age so well. Anyway, I figured their fans had forgotten them or moved past their music, but lo and behold, there were around 100 people at last night’s show, a testament to just how popular GUK was back in the day.
I got to the club at around 9:30 when I discovered the second opening band, The Globes, were already well into their set — uh-oh, the start time was 8 p.m., not 9 p.m. as I said yesterday. Apologies to anyone who showed up late (the good news — it would be an early evening). The Globes recently signed to once-trendy Pacific Northwest label Barsuk, original home of Death Cab for Cutie and Rilo Kiley, among others, so I was curious if they carried on those bands’ tradition. They didn’t. Though a solid band with a terrific rhythm section, I’d classify them as indie prog bordering on noise-rock with tiny peeps of melody trying to escape through the cracks, despite having two pretty good vocalists that weren’t afraid to harmonize. The Globes are one of those bands where, moments after a song ends you couldn’t recall the central melody (if there even was one). That said, it’s not the kind of music you’re going to “get” in one listen (especially if that first listen is from in front of the stage). I think there’s something interesting hidden in all those time-shifts and chord changes, but I don’t know if I have the patience to find out what it is.
The Get-Up Kids came on at around 10:30, looking older and wiser and more confident than I remember them from the old days. Their music hasn’t changed much. Even their new stuff has that roaring anthemic lilt, like a Midwestern indie combination of Green Day and Weezer, but without either of those bands’ knack for hooks. Never being a big fan of the band, I couldn’t tell you which songs were oldies and which were new, though the crowd obviously knew the difference, occasionally bursting with applause to a familiar opening riff. The best moments were songs that leaned more on synth lines rather than riffage, though after a few songs everything began to blend into one long alt-rock tune that their fans obviously loved.
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It’s a busy weekend for music. The highlight is the Omaha debut of Saddle Creek Records’ newest act, Big Harp, tonight at Slowdown Jr. I suspect that the crowd will be rife with familiar faces as it will be a homecoming of sorts for The Senseneys. Opening is Kansas City/Lawrence Americana band The Grisly Hand and local favorites Gus & Call (ex-Bear Country, get there early for their set). $8, 9 p.m.
The other big event of the weekend is, of course, The Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards Summer Showcase in Benson tonight and tomorrow night. The program is the same as in year’s past — bands will be playing all night in five Benson clubs — The Sydney, The Waiting Room, Burke’s Pub, The Barley Street and PS Collective — starting at 8 p.m. A $10 wristband gets you into all the clubs all night, or you can buy 2-night access for $15. The full schedule is in Facebook, here.
As in year’s past, one band among the 55 participating will be voted via public ballot to play the “local stage” at this year’s MAHA Music Festival at Stinson Park / Aksarben Village Aug. 13.
Also as in year’s past, the bands performing are of a, shall we say, “Benson flavor.” Once again there are no representatives from the city’s important, progressive records labels — i.e., no bands from Speed! Nebraska, Saddle Creek Records, Rainy Road, Doom Town, Grotto or Slumber Party Records — nor any of the first-tier acts who are on other labels or are looking for labels, such as So-So Sailors, Conduits, Icky Blossoms, Little Brazil, Digital Leather, etc. This continues to be a MAJOR problem with the entire OEAA program, which is supposed to be celebrating the best bands in the area. But the organizers don’t care, nor do the clubs, who are getting their usual two-nights’ worth of free entertainment on their stages.
I know, I know…that big ugly thing lying in the middle of the road is a dead horse, and all I’m doing is kicking it again… As I told one person who was bitching about the OEAAs the other night at O’Leavers — it is what it is. No, the area’s best talent is not represented at their showcase, but it’s still a good time if only to be able to bump around Maple St. from club to club all night. The only thing that would make it better (besides, of course, involving the area’s best bands) would be closing down Maple St. altogether and turning Benson into a giant beer garden so you could take your drinks with you from club to club.
Speaking of O’Leaver’s, tomorrow night (Saturday) McCarthy Trenching plays everyone’s favorite drunk-tank, with Lincoln band Kill County. $5, 9:30 p.m.
Then Sunday night, Deleted Scenes returns to O’Leaver’s with Landing on the Moon. $5, 9:30 p.m.
Finally, it’s another blast-from-the-past Sunday night when another old Vagrant band, Alkaline Trio, headlines a show at The Slowdown with Smoking Popes. $18/$20 DOS, show starts at 8.
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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.