by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com
A recap of a busy weekend of shows…
It was noted by a fellow audience member at The Waiting Room Friday night that Little Brazil might be the band I’ve seen play live more than any other band. They’ve been doing it since the early ’00s, and over the years their line-up has subtly changed, specifically on drums and guitar (Frontman Landon Hedges and bass player Danny Maxwell always have been the centerpiece). This current line-up, with Matt Bowen on drums and Mike Friedman on lead guitar, is the heaviest, the loudest, thanks in a big part to Bowen’s muscular, heavy-sticked drumming (Maybe we should start calling him Matt Bonham?).
I recorded the first half of their set for the upcoming podcast, and realized afterward that I recorded the wrong half. In addition to having a better mix later in the set, I missed a couple new standout songs presumably from an upcoming album. One featured a swirling two-guitar interlude that was pure Thin Lizzy, the other (the closing number) was an epic masterwork. Little Brazil is back and better than ever.
Saturday night started early with the Juan Wauters in-store at the Saddle Creek Record Shop in the Slowdown complex. The little store was mostly filled as Wauters took the stage behind an electric keyboard and performed a handful of sweet, loopy pop songs that were light-hearted and playful. He switched over to guitar for the last few numbers (again, I recorded the wrong half of the set). Curious to hear how Wauters did opening for Tweedy last night.
Afterward, it was over to the 1200 Club at the Holland Performing Arts Center for the Matthew Sweet Hear Nebraska Benefit. There was some concern going in that ticket sales were light, but the club-inside-a-music-hall was well-populated. Most of the tables were filled when So-So Sailors came on at 8 p.m. for an insanely good set of witty, intelligent, urbane songs about love and life from the heart of Nebraska . Frontman Chris Machmuller is the city’s best frontman, keeping the audience mesmerized both while he sang in front of his rather large band and with his between-song patter (He’s a regular comedian, that guy).
We can speculate why the Sailors have been inactive the past few years. Life can get in the way of music, and everyone in that band is busy with jobs and family. Still, for purely selfish reasons, I covet a copy of the recording that Mach said (from stage) is basically in the can, and has been for a couple years. Maybe they’re thinking “What’s the point?” — there’s no money in releasing music anymore. Maybe they think they’ve moved past that sort of thing. Let’s hope not.
Finally, Matthew Sweet and his band (consisting of Paul Chastain and Ric Menck of Velvet Crush, and guitar-slinger Dennis Taylor) took the stage and ripped through a set very similar to what we got when they played O’Leaver’s and Vega last year. Chock full o’ the “hits.”
From my vantage point in the very center of the room the sound mix was, well, pretty bad. The bass drum was over driven, swallowing up Chastain’s bass rig — couldn’t hear a note he was playing. Sweet’s voice, however, managed to cut through the thump, as did the lead guitar’s high-flying solos. Someone afterward told me “the 1200 Club isn’t suited for this kind of heavy music,” which is like saying that any room with good acoustics shouldn’t host rock shows. Balderdash. All they needed to do was pull back on the kick drum.
Fact is 1200 Club is a pretty luscious space. Whether it’s better suited for quieter bands like So-So Sailors (which sounded exquisite) I cannot say, though I’d love to see more indie rock shows in that space, and would be willing to fork out top dollar to do so. Great room, great service, great night of music.
Look for music clips from the above performances in this week’s podcast, which will likely hit the web on Wednesday.
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Tonight at The Reverb Lounge its the return of Delicate Steve (Luaka Bop, Barsuk). $10, 9 p.m. No opener listed.
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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 © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.
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