Live Review: Yuppies, Digital Leather, Los Vigilantes; Baby Tears, Eli Mardock tonight; Conchance, Kite Pilot Saturday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 4:29 pm April 6, 2012
Yuppies at Slowdown Jr., April 6, 2012.

Yuppies at Slowdown Jr., April 6, 2012.

by Tim McMahan,

If I had to choose a winner of last night’s battle of the punk bands at Slowdown Jr. it would be Yuppies by a furlong. I haven’t seen them for more than a year and didn’t recognize their sound or style. Here I thought they were run-of-the-mill low-fi garage rockers. Instead, they’re more like noise/prog/punk than the usually sloppy garage doo-rah.  They came on at around 9:30 to a crowd of around 50 and played all their material as one long song with a lot of changes and shifts, from spoiled-rotten, screamin’ punk to throbbing distorted prog/noise, intense enough to drive a few outside for a smoke. The set’s last “movement” was something akin to listening to a wasted lumberjack chop down a tree or a tired killer kick someone to death one boot-to-the-head at a time. I don’t know if their recordings are a reflection of their live show, but if they are, it’s probably not something you’d want to listen to at the gym. Yuppies don’t so much play songs as perform ebb-and-flow music that, when it does have a semblance of songcraft, can be driving and catchy and inspired. The rest of it will leave you bent over, coughing up blood.

Digital Leather at Slowdown Jr. April 6, 2012

Digital Leather at Slowdown Jr. April 6, 2012

It was an off night for Digital Leather. Frontman Shawn Foree’s guitar sounded out of tune most of the set. He even noticed, saying something to bassist Johnny Vrendenburg between songs, trying to tune to his bass. It sounded so off at times I wondered if there was something wrong with his guitar. Unfortunately, the vocal mix was bad as well, leaving Foree lost in the fog of noise, and making the whole set off kilter. It wasn’t a total loss.  The rhythm section of Vrendenburg and drummer Jeff Lambelet pushed forward in their usual breakneck fashion. Lambelet is the best rock drummer in Omaha.

What made DL’s off night more disappointing (for me, anyway) was that before the set someone I know and respect told me one of the reasons he was there was because of how I’ve been lauding Digital Leather on this blog. I asked if he’d heard DL’s albums before, and he said he had, and didn’t much care for them. I’ve got a feeling he now thinks his suspicions about the band have been empirically proven, which is a shame.

He’s not the first person in the past couple days to tell me I’m wrong about a band. Since last night, I’ve had no less than three people tell me I’m way off about Capgun Coup. One told me I was stupid to call them a “garage band” (I didn’t really call them a garage band; what I said was their new record showcases “Intelligent garage rock songwriting,” which one could argue is an oxymoron on a number of levels). Turns out most people I’ve spoken to who don’t like Capgun Coup’s music don’t like Sam Martin for whatever reason. I don’t know Sam Martin, just like I don’t know Shawn Foree, and the fact that I do or don’t know either of them doesn’t play into my opinion of their music. But I’m finding more and more that people’s opinions about certain local bands are based entirely on their relationships with people in those bands. If they’re pals, the music is great; if they don’t know the people, they’re indifferent or apt to not like the music; if for whatever reason they don’t like the people in the band, they hate their music. I’ve met a lot of musicians that are complete pricks who make great music; conversely, I know a lot of super nice musicians whose music sucks.

But I digress.

Los Vigilantes at Slowdown Jr., April 6, 2012.

Los Vigilantes at Slowdown Jr., April 6, 2012.

Last up was Los Vigilantes, an upbeat band from San Juan that’s more rock than punk, sort of Black Lips meets Social Distortion sung in Spanish. Very energetic, the lead guy even took off his shirt during the performance. I thought they were fun and the crowd seemed to like it, but apparently not enough for the band’s guitarist, who said “Why don’t you fucking dance?” between songs. I guess he never heard the rule about Omaha crowds and dancing. Now he knows.

* * *

Lots o’ shows going on this Easter weekend.

Tonight at O’Leaver’s it will be a reconvening of the same crowd that was at Slowdown Jr. last night, as Baby Tears takes the stage with Watching the Train Wreck and recent Omaha transplants Worried Mothers. $5, 9:30 p.m. I’m buzzin’ already.

Also tonight, opening for Des Moines band Envy Corp, is Eli Mardock, whose new five-piece band in many ways already has exceeded Eagle Seagull (see review). Also on the bill is Machete Archive and Great American Desert. $8, 9 p.m.

Tomorrow night’s big show is the Conchance album release party at House of Loom. Not only will this vinyl record mark Conchance’s debut, but it also is the debut release by new Omaha label Make Believe Records, an offshoot of Make Believe Studio. Also on the bill are Dirty Diamonds, Max Fischer, DJ Kethro and DJ Really Real. $5, 9 p.m.

Also Saturday night, it’s yet another return of Kite Pilot, this time at The Barley Street Tavern with Well-Aimed Arrows and We Live in Sod Houses. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Meanwhile, back at O’Leaver’s, it’s Dim Light with Electric Jellyfish, Snake Island and Saintseneca. $5, 9:30 p.m.

One more thing: Tomorrow afternoon another “Songs @ Shop” event is being held at the Saddle Creek Shop in the Slowdown compound. Performers include Dan McCarthy, Anna Marie McClellan of the band Howard, and who knows who else will show up for this Slumber Party Records showcase. Performances start at 3 p.m. and it’s free.

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — 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 © 2012 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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