by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com
Sometimes bars start booking live music as a way to get people in the door to check out the place. That’s what I have to believe is happening at The Down Under Lounge. The bar, located off 38th and Leavenworth, is not in any way designed for live music. You could say the same thing about O’Leaver’s, but through persistence, technology, investment, know-how and years of booking shows, O’Leaver’s has become recognized not only as a viable alternative for touring bands, but as one of the better sounding rooms in Omaha.
The Down Under has a long way to go before it gets to that level, if it every does. But if the goal was to get people to discover the place, job well done. With its nautical theme, low ceilings and round windows, the bar (which I’ve driven by for decades without stopping in) felt like being down in the hull of a boat… almost. Actually, it felt more like being in someone’s basement that’s been made to feel like being in the hull of a boat. The room is cozy, even though it has its share of neon signs, flat panel TV and Husker shit nailed to the wall.
What it doesn’t have is any sort of stage. The Gotobeds set up in a corner opposite the door and did their thing surrounded by a few dozen guys holding tallboys. The band’s music clearly was influenced by early Pavement but has an additional layer of abrasion supplied by duel guitars that trade riffs and other distorted noises. No idea where the bar got that PA, but it was as rustic as I’ve heard in any public gathering. The vocals sounded like they were being blown from a bullhorn, which in the case of this music, was oddly appropriate.
I got to the bar at the top of Gotobeds’ short set, apparently after some unintentional pyrotechnics involving that PA (I was told the speaker only smoked, no actual flames were emitted). The band played about a half-dozen songs including highlight “NY’s Alright.” The set ended with both guitarists on their backs, feet slid up one of the room’s support poles. Very rock and roll.
So as not to be “Omaha’d,” Gotobeds played second, making New Lungs the headliner. DMax and company riffed though a fun, heavy set. Moving Cory Broman over to a Korg keyboard was a good idea — the sounds he was making added a cool element, especially on a couple new songs (or at least ones I hadn’t heard before). Again, vocals were fuzz/mud/squelch quality.
Like I said, this isn’t the best place to see a show, at least not the way it was set up last night. But the Down Under definitely feels like a cool place to have a beer or three.
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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.