by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com
Oh Har Mar Superstar, how you vex me so as you jump around stage wearing nothing but thong underwear, your sweaty mane flopping on your chubby ivory shoulders like a filthy floor mop while your gigolo posse poses so demurely, so rock star, in the background.
It’s a shtick that never gets old, or does it?
This was my first time seeing Har Mar Superstar, and based on everything I’d heard, I expected a lot. There are those ’round these parts who consider a Har Mar show to be the epitome of fine rock entertainment. His O’Leaver’s performance from years ago is still whispered about with respect (and a little fear) by the elders who are slowly poisoning themselves into senility at that famous lovable shit hole.
And I admit to being a fan of HMS’s last full length, the sexy, sultry dance romp called Dark Touches. The man knows his way around a funk-o-licious beat.
So it hurts me to say that I was a bit disappointed by last Friday night’s performance at a packed (but not sold out) Waiting Room. Har Mar a.k.a. Sean Tillmann looked and sounded like the rest of us — half-gassed and exhausted after a week’s worth of holiday bullshit. He seemed tired as he bounded on stage in his full-length macramé hoody, only half singing his “hits” surrounded by a band that included two drummers, two bass players (including former local hero Denver Dalley in trademark white v-neck T-shirt and flowing blond hair), a guitarist and the one thing that was doing the yeoman’s share of the work — a laptop loaded with pre-recorded audio tracks. In fact, most songs started with a touch of a button before the band slowly started playing along. Half the fun was wondering if/when anyone was actually playing their instruments on stage (most of the time, they were).
The routine calls for Har Mar to slowly strip away his clothes at the conclusion of each song, eventually stripping to his thong by the end of the set. Those yearning to see his gleaming buttocks were not disappointed. On any other night, I’m sure we’d all be celebrating his virile portliness with ironic aplomb, but Friday night, Tillmann just looked like he wanted to get the set over with and get back home for New Year’s Eve. He sure didn’t look like he was having fun (though the rest of his band did). Maybe he was (too) loaded? Or maybe all of his shows are like this? I don’t know, but I doubt it. You don’t rise as high as Tillmann has by phoning it in every night.
One band that didn’t phone it in was Pinkerton, who opened for Har Mar Friday. Fronted by Criteria’s Stephen Pedersen and featuring former Cursive drummer Clint Schnase, this band of old friends gets together at least once a year to play a set of Weezer covers for fellow adoring fans. Many a fist was pumped in the air as they tore into the band’s greatest hits, including set highlight “Tired of Sex.” Running through my mind the entire set — will we ever see Criteria again?
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And speaking of burning questions, are the SLAM Omaha message boards — one of the oldest bastions of local online music “discussion” — finally closing down? Maybe, temporarily. After a recent spate of hate, SLAM admin “Mick” posted that the boards will be taking a little vacation. “At some point even the simplest of things need to be evaluated and decisions need to be made about how they help our cool art and music community.” As of this morning, the boards were still live but users who tried to post a comment were met only with a Terms of Service statement.
If SLAM Omaha goes away, it’ll be an end of an era for a website that used to be a viable source of music news and discussion. Yes, there are a lot of options for music calendars and news now, but other than Lincoln’s Star City Scene music board, none of them have been able to generate online discussions. Hear Nebraska’s “forums” are a barren wasteland, mainly due to the board’s poor design and usability. Omahype.com, which launched a snappy redesign over the holiday weekend (complete with “responsive design” for portable devices) only allows feedback on individual news items (as comments). And Saddle Creek Records’ old discussion area is a long faded memory.
These days all of the “discussion” is handled in well-mannered Facebook, where users actively monitor criticism and a “dislike” button doesn’t even exist. Are we better off not having some place where an anonymous critic can tell bands that they suck? Yeah, too much bitching can get old, and there should be no tolerance for personal attacks, racial/sexual comments and threats. That said, SLAM Omaha is/was one of the last places where bands could get unfiltered feedback, even if 95 percent of it was bullshit. Learning to deal with criticism — be it warranted or not — is an important part of being an artist. How you react to negative feedback helps define who you are. Unfortunately, we live in a town where criticism of anything “local” is viewed as hate, whether its constructive or not. The rule seems to be either throw roses at their feet, or go home.
But the cold hard fact is, maybe your band really does suck.
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Hey you — yes you!
Don’t forget to enter to win a copy of the highly coveted Lazy-i Best of 2011 Sampler CD! Just send me an e-mail (to firstname.lastname@example.org) with your name and mailing address and you’ll be dropped in the digital hat. Deadline lis Jan. 15. Enter today!
1. Eleanor Friedberger, “My Mistake”
2. Peace of Shit, “You Can’t Let Me In”
3. Lykke Li, “Youth Knows No Pain”
4. The Beastie Boys, “Nonstop Disco Powerpack”
5. tUnE-yArDs, “Gangsta”
6. It’s True, “I Don’t Want to Be the One”
7. The Decemberists, “Down By the Water”
8. Big Harp, “Goodbye Crazy City”
9. Kurt Vile, “Jesus Fever”
10. Low, “Try to Sleep”
11. So-So Sailors, “Young Hearts”
12. Destroyer, “Downtown”
13. St. Vincent, “Cruel”
14. Icky Blossoms, “Perfect Vision”
15. Gus & Call, “To the Other Side of Jordan”
16. Lana Del Rey, “Video Games”
17. Digital Leather, “Young Doctors in Love”
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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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