Live Review: Son, Ambulance, InDreama; Pro-Magnum, Dumb Beach tonight; Hear Nebraska Take Cover, Lou Reed Tribute Saturday…
by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com
Saddle Creek tweeted last night that Son, Ambulance hasn’t performed in five years and “sounds like they’ve been practicing the whole time.” The sentiment was spot on. Joe Knapp stood proudly center stage backed by a four-piece band that included his brother on keyboards. He sounded like he never went on hiatus, his voice a Midwestern cross between Art Garfunkel and Elvis Costello, confidently pounding an electric guitar, shaking blood back into his hands between songs.
They opened with “Paper Snowflakes” off Key, and played a handful of favorites including “Juliet’s Son” off Someone Else’s Deju Vu and oldie “Katie Come True” off the Oh Holy Fools split. Hearing those tunes again was like slipping on a pair of well-worn shoes, comfortable and familiar, then looking at them in a mirror and marveling at how good they still look. Son, Ambulance music has indeed aged well and would fit in with the current mode o’ day of indie music.
The band’s overall sound seemed more straight-forward and less… ghostly than I remember from the old days. Listening to Deju Vu again after the show, I was surprised how much echo and delay they used in the studio on songs like the title track. Last night when Joe and Co. ripped into one of their more upbeat numbers they sounded like early, no-nonsense Marshall Crenshall; the sonic weight of the band felt stripped down and obvious. Nice.
While there might have been more than one new one (certainly there was more than one I was unfamiliar with) Joe introduced the set closer as a new song dedicated to last night’s birthday boy and his mother, the tune a gritty rocker about being a bad seed, a bad boy, a bad man. Sorry ma. Fantastic stuff. Hopefully Joe and Co. have more where that came from and we’ll be seeing a new Son, Ambulance record out on the Creek in the near future.
Prior to Son, Ambulance, InDreama lit the stage on fire with a ferocious performance that saw frontman Nik Fackler crush through the songs off the band’s debut LP. InDreama music dances between personal, quiet love songs and strange other-worldly bombastic head trips, a welcome extreme in contrasts few other bands local or otherwise seem to grasp. Ain’t nothing wrong with dynamics, folks.
I recognized one new song — or at least I haven’t heard it before — it came right after crowd-raver “Reprogram” and was straight-up big-rhythm rock. At their most enjoyable, InDreama strives for pop; at their most ambitious, they reach for epic. Great songs and great performances transport you. Set-closer “Exodus” conjured memories of standing along the Rio Grande River on the Laredo side and looking over at twilight, watching the neon and digital signage in the distance glow through the dust haze like staring at a futuristic third world, new and dangerous. With it’s huge, ominous duo synth tones growling like fog horns and Fackler’s feral yelps “Exodus” sounded like something off the Bladerunner soundtrack, like Vangelis on acid. Epic indeed.
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Onto the weekend.
Tonight’s feature show is at fabulous O’Leaver’s where Pro-Magnum headlines a bill that includes Dumb Beach, Fire Retarded and Coaxed. What’s better than a night of garage punk and mai thia’s? $5, 9:30 p.m.
Tomorrow night (Saturday) it’s the Battle of the Cover shows as two Benson venues host dueling covers nights.
At The Waiting Room, Hear Nebraska presents Take Cover Omaha, their annual fund raiser where a dozen or so Nebraska musicians cover a song by another Nebraska musician of their choice plus perform one of their own. The lineup includes Ted Stevens, Simon Joyner, Landon Hedges, Matt Whipkey, Darren Keen, Dan McCarthy, Sara Bertuldo, Ian Aeillo, Becky Lowry, Vic Padios, John Klemmensen, Rachel Tomlinson, Max Holmquist, Dan Scheuerman and John Larsen. I wonder how many will be doing Bright Eyes covers? $7, 9 p.m.
Meanwhile, down the street at The Barley Street Tavern, it’s Lou Reed Tribute night where (you guessed it) local musicians cover a Reed classic. Performers include Mitch Gettman, John Klemmenson, Ben Sieff and Scott Severin. $5, 8 p.m. Wonder how many are covering “Sweet Jane”?
Also Saturday night, Rainy Road Records is hosting a label showcase at O’Leaver’s with performances by Touch People, Worried Mothers, and Cooper Lakota Moon. $5, 9:30 p.m.
That’s what I know. If I missed anything, put it in the comments section. Have a great weekend….
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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 © 2014 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.
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