by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com
I wondered if I’m just getting old or if the crowd really looked as young as they did last night at The Waiting Room. I was assured by a few folks that I am not experiencing accelerated aging and in fact the crowd was real young last night, as evidenced by how easy it was to get a beer despite the near capacity crowd.
It’s been quite a few weeks since I’ve been to TWR. Since then, they’ve taken out the booths that were located behind the bar in the “pinball room” to make space for merch sales. The area is actually kind of nice, and did anyone ever use those booths anyway? All the improvements in the club have come together and the room feels more “complete,” or more like a formal music venue.
Anyway, I got to the club early to catch Cheatahs, a London 4-piece whose indie rock sound felt formulaic and smoothed out for radio approval. Vocals were moody tones. And while it was mostly by-the-numbers indie, there were moments of surprise, like when they threw in an unexpected break or riff toward the end of a song that made you nod your head and think, ‘That’s cool. They should do more of that.”
Cheatahs’ mannered rock approach was an odd fit opening for chaotic LA skate-punkers Fidlar. Were these the guys who the kids came to see? Their adolescent gawkiness is a decade younger than Cheatahs or Wavves more pro style. You knew it was going to be one of those sets when one of the Fidler guys (who looked like a miniature version of Little Brazil’s Greg Edds) invited anyone on stage early in the set. Sure enough, one awkward youth with a homemade “Fidler” (no points for spelling) T-shirt came on stage only to be quickly escorted off stage by a beefy security guy. “Hey security guys, we want people to come on stage,” said mini-Edds-looking dude.
With that, a parade of kids came on stage one at a time to stage dive and crowd surf around a pseudo pit. (BTW, someone pointed out last night that, like everything else from the ’90s, moshing apparently is back, and that mosh pits broke out at just about every performance he attended at SXSW). Fidlar’s music, while nowhere near hardcore punk standards, made for good dance fodder. It’s well-written, well-played, hook-filled garage-style rock that’s too polished to call punk (even if all the songs are about drugs and partying). Their music’s energy lives somewhere in a territory bordered by License to Ill Beasties (though they don’t rap), Kerplunk!-era Green Day, blue-album Weezer and ’90s-era Oblivians, but with plenty of modern-day lost generation drug-fueled fuck-it-ness.
By the end of the set, 30 or 40 people were on stage with them, jumping around like they didn’t give a shit about anything, which has to be a goal for a band who’s name stands for “Fuck it dog, life’s a risk.” It was one of the best live sets I’ve seen in a long time.
Next up was Wavves, but I just saw Wavves a couple years ago when they opened for Best Coast (and blew Best Coast off the stage). Instead of seeing a replay, I headed downtown to Slowdown Jr. , where I arrived just in time to see Pleasure Adapter’s set.
This is quite a departure for Jeff Ankenbauer, who someone described last night as Omaha’s GG Allin — or I should say formerly Omaha’s GG Allin. Ankenbauer says that’s all in his past and that he’s on a better path than his Shanks days, when you never knew from one show to the next who was going to end up bloody and broken.
On bass and vocals, Ankenbauer is the centerpiece of a balanced four-piece where really every part is as important as the next. The synth/keyboard work of Annie Dilocker (ex-Digital Leather) provides the band’s central tonal New Wave style, both tuneful and sonically retro. Ben Allen (Watching the Train Wreck, Peace of Shit) is fireworks on electric guitar, tearing away the edges with riffs and feedback. Drummer Joey Koneko is a fucking machine gun — technical, precise, bombastic, an amazing drummer. I was told last night that he’s leaving the band and moving back to New Jersey. Someone (who already has been chosen) has some big shoes to fill.
But it’s Ankenbauer who stands tall in the middle with a voice that’s more of a Johnny Lyndon/ PiL bark than any sort of rock croon. He spits and bends the words with controlled anger and angst. Dilocker pulls it back when she blends in counter-vocals/”harmonies” that push even further to New Wave territory. That said, their set was more punk than anything else I saw or heard last night. If the kids at TWR were looking for a place to mosh, they came to the wrong party.
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Well, if you missed out on the last two nights of rock shows, you’re in for some slim pickens over the next few days. Only a couple shows are worth mentioning, and they’re both happening Saturday night.
Outlaw Con Bandana is hosting a night of music Saturday at the Sweatshop Gallery in Benson. It’s being sold as the “Outlaw Con Bandana Record Release BBQ,” though I don’t think his new record is done (or is it? The kickstarter just ended). Food starts at 5, when you can also see a ton of artwork (details here); music starts at 9 and it’s free, but a donation is suggested.
Also Saturday night, at fabulous O’Leaver’s, Dim Light returns to the stage after a lengthy baby hiatus. Joining them is Lawrence Kansas band Sona and our very own Goon Saloon. $5, 9:30 p.m.
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Final note: Darren Keen of Touch People informs me that his new album, Brain Massage, is out today. You can check it out and buy it for the right price of $5 right here. You Lincolnites can celebrate the release tonight at The Bourbon.
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Happy Holidays for those of you who care about such things…
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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 © 2013 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.
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