by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com
The last time I attended an Omaha Girls Rock! summer-camp showcase was the organization’s inaugural year in 2011. That concert, also held in The Slowdown’s big room, was a warm, fun family affair that attracted maybe 100 people, mostly parents of the girls on stage. The crowd clapped politely as if attending a school recital.
This Saturday’s show was totally different. You’d have thought you were at a sold-out Bright Eyes concert. In fact, this year’s Omaha Girls Rock showcase nearly sold out. There was barely enough room to stand on the floor without being jostled by either a roving band of boys playing whiplash or by those boys’ parents walking blind through the crowd because their eyes were focused on their cameras, which were squarely focused on their daughters on stage.
There were 10 bands playing this year, most were 5-piece ensembles and almost all featured five vocalists. The play order went from the youngest to the oldest and/or most experienced. Kudos to the wise OGR organizer who figured out that if you have a steady beat going on stage, you can keep nearly anything together. The drumming for all 10 bands was pretty darn good (and the last few were nearly “real” band quality!). No matter what anyone was playing on bass or keyboards or guitar, that boom-chuck drum kept it going.
I’m not one to go on about ultra-cute kids’ stuff. I don’t have any kids and have never been one to really give a shit about other peoples’ kids. You know, good for them. Whatever. But I have to tell you this program is a ton of fun if only for the mere fact that you know these girls were scared out of their skulls. As mentioned by the organizers, most hadn’t held an instrument prior to going to camp. And here they were, just a week later, having written a song with a group of new friends, performing it in front of a near sold-out Slowdown crowd. Every note played, every word sung was a little triumph of will over fear. There’s something to be learned there, even by the most jaded of music critics.
Best band of the evening honors goes to the one with the most stage mileage. This was the third time Urban Scrunchies have played at an OGR concert, and their experience showed from the singing to the instrumentation to the professionalism. Their tune was weird and proggy, like an indie campfire song. I guess you can thank the volunteers for the overall indie-influence. Most of the bands, right down to the pippest of pip-squeaks, had funky Velvet Underground overtones.
Omaha Girls Rock has to be one of the most successful grass-roots non-profit efforts in the Omaha arts community. Everyone involved should be proud.
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The good news: The head cold that hung on through the weekend has finally let me out of its grip. The bad news: It kept me from a lot of good shows this weekend. Looks like I got some catching up to do…
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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.