by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com
Small but boisterous crowd for Laibach last night at The Slowdown. Maybe 125 (pure guestimate) was on hand to see the Slavic titans put on their unique, goth version of a post-industrial dance party.
The entire production was well-constructed. I wouldn’t call what they played last night “Industrial” as much as art-synth rock with an accent. There were elements that sounded like the band was parodying a Cold War East German synth band when in fact this was the real thing, taken to a modern world where The Wall has been torn down for decades and the only thing to rant against is capitalism, in an “Occupy” sort of way.
The band consisted of three synths, a drummer and two vocalists, chief of which was the gravel-voiced Milan Fras, who I’m told (by the fan sitting next to me last night) sounded exactly like he did in the ’80s. Countering his growl was the Enya-esque singing of Mina Špiler. My pal said the band seemed like a kinder, gentler, modern version of the Industrial band he remembered from his youth. There were times during the second of two sets (complete with intermission) that their music sounded like a Euro-synth dance party, sort of a cross between Depeche Mode and The Faint, but with more growling.
Not to say that’s a bad thing. Add the dramatic staging and you’re getting your $25 worth — digital klieg lights beamed across the Slowdown’s empty balcony like WWII search lights, while images flashed on the screen behind the band — sometimes like Mac screen savers, other times showing clips from what looked like a German science fiction film complete with flying saucers emblazoned with swastikas, a sort of Battlestar Galactica fascist nightmare vision, which was actually pretty cool if not disturbing.
The best moments were the symphonic-style movements from the first set (again, very Enya), the cover of Bob Dylan’s “Ballad of a Thin Man,” and the encore, which was sung in a foreign language. These foreign-language songs were the most powerful, maybe because they were the most mysterious and — combined with the goth-synth music — the most disturbing. We add our own meaning when the language isn’t English, inescapably haunting and filled with post-apocalyptic dread.
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Well, one assumes there will be nothing dreadful about what’s happening at The Waiting Room and Reverb this weekend. The One Percent clubs are hosting the 3rd Annual Crom Comedy Fest Friday through Sunday nights. Says comedian Mike Perry, “The festival is locally produced and was started by OK Party Comedy, a local collective created to give Omaha an option that isn’t a corporate comedy club with drink minimums and hacky jokes.” You be the judge regarding hackiness. Pricing and line-up vary from club to club. Go to cromcomedyfest.com for more info.
Needless to say, it puts a hole in the musical calendar, though there’s still plenty going on.
The Barley Street has a full slate tonight, headlined by Strange Attractors with Kerry Eddy and The Current Situation and Scott Severin. $5, 9 p.m.
It’s another all-local showcase tonight at fabulous O’Leaver’s with Charlotte Sometimes, Kait Berreckman and The Ronnys. $5, 9:30 p.m.
The weekend’s big show is Saturday night at The Slowdown — the return of Built to Spill. The band is on the road supporting Untethered Moon (Warner Bros, 2015) their first studio album since 2009. Also on the bill are Wooden Indian Burial Ground and Clarke and the Himselfs. $20, 9 p.m.
Also Saturday night, 4ontheFloor headlines a show at O’Leaver’s with Clarence Tilton and The Sons of O’Leaver’s. $5, 9:30 p.m.
And that’s what I got for this weekend. If I missed your show, put it in the comments section. Have a great Memorial Day 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 © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.