Live Review: Desaparecidos, Joyce Manor; Kamasi Washington tonight; Blackstone Farnam Fest (Digital Leather, M34N STR33T), Palehound Saturday…
by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com
In this awkward political season when President Trump (roll that one around in your head for a few moments) is making headlines while stealing music from the likes of R.E.M., Desaparecidos punched back at ol’ Teflon Don by playing some (likely unauthorized) Trump audio as an introduction to last night’s SRO show at The Waiting Room.
There was Trump’s blather at its most boob-tatstic presumably “introducing” the band during the audio pre-roll, right before Omaha’s own took the stage and proceeded to blow the place up with their cynical brand of spirited, punk-fueled political discourse, spewing a world view that couldn’t be further away from The Donald’s own.
If last night truly was the last time we see this band on an Omaha stage, they certainly went out with a massive thunderclap. Easily the best set I’ve seen them play — on edge, angry, musically precise. They performed all the best stuff off their two full lengths in what Oberst said was a record-breakingly long set, even though it only clocked in at just over an hour.
The differences between the band’s two albums never stood in more contrast than they did last night. Payola is a more guttural record, more intense and straight forward than Read Music, Speak Spanish, which we forget was written during Oberst’s creative peak, right around the time of Lifted and just before Wide Awake.
Payola songs are all power and political invective reflecting a specific time and specific political issues, while Read Music provided broader social commentary, certainly more subtle and poetic. Oberst was more apt to scream the lyrics of Payola songs, while for tunes like “Man and Wife, The Latter (Damaged Goods)” (which probably could have been a Bright Eyes song) he pulled back and sang with a focused clarity. It was that contrast that gave last night’s show added depth.
The entire band was on point. Bassist/guitarist Landon Hedges’ role as a second voice never sounded more vital to the overall sound. Denver Dalley’s guitar solos were raw and majestic, and Matt Baum proved once again he’s one of the area’s most powerful drummers. Balancing it out was Ian McElroy, a bobbing head of hair slouched over his keyboard.
Between-song patter was kept to a minimum, except toward the end of the set when Oberst introduced “Marikkkopa” by underscoring the racial divide in Omaha and the rest of the country. Oberst said (and I’m paraphrasing here) just when he thought things were getting better, along comes Trump (“I shouldn’t even say his name.”) or another story about a black kid getting shot by cops for doing nothing more than buying Skittles. But at the same time, there’s Obama “who’s been a good president” and the liberation of South Carolina from its hateful Confederate flag. For a brief moment, Oberst sounded hopeful. Right before the band blasted into a song about one of the most vile people in the history of these United States.
I don’t know if the show ultimately sold out. They were selling tickets at the door when I arrived at 10. That said, I can’t remember the last time The Waiting Room was so packed — butt-to-belly from stage to back bar, a youngish crowd, with a handful of old folks like me standing in the corners, watching the crowd-surfing from a safe distance. Was it their last hurrah? Something tells me we haven’t seen the last of this band on an Omaha stage.
Opening act Joyce Manor, who released music on seminal indie punk label Asian Man before signing to Epitaph, played a brief set of brief songs clearly influenced by Weezer. They were at their best during the moments they strayed the furthest from CuomoLand and into their own emo-pop-punk territory. Loud, fun, but very much a retread of everything we’ve heard before, from The Get Up Kids to You Blew It. Still, the kids loved them.
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Let’s get to the weekend.
I’ve always thought The Slowdown (specifically Slowdown Jr.) would make an amazing jazz club. Tonight you’ll be able to see how Slowdown’s big room works for jazz as one of the most critically lauded new jazz performers takes the big stage. Kamasi Washington has pushed beyond the jazz world with his latest recording, The Epic (Brainfeeder, 2015). And part of the reason for that extended reach is an 8.6 review in Pitchfork, where the album was honored with Pitchfork‘s “Best New Music” classification. And there’s also the fact that Kamasi is playing venues like The Slowdown on this tour. Delve Trio (formerly Luke Polipnick Trio) opens. $25, 8 p.m.
Here’s a taste of Kamasi’s latest album:
Also tonight, Omaha alt-country band Clarence Tilton opens for Iowa City indie band The Olympics at fabulous O’Leaver’s. Eklectica also is on the bill. $5, 9:30 p.m.
Local hip-hop hero Buck Bowen headlines at Reverb Lounge with bIXill & A Ferocious Jungle Cat. $8, 9 p.m.
The weekend’s BAE (Big Ass Event) is Saturday at the new Farnam Street District. The Blackstone Farnam Festival features food and booze from the fine establishments located in this happening now part of town, along with music from Digital Leather, M34N STR33T, Oquoa, Huge Fucking Waves and producer/DJ Kethro. It all takes place on 40th Street between Farnam and Dodge. Starts at 5 p.m., runs to 11, and is absolutely free.
Later that night, it’s back to Benson for what will be one of the last (if not thee last show ever) at Sweatshop Gallery. The line-up: headliner Palehound, Uh Oh, Low Long Signal and Strawberry Runners. $8, 9 p.m. Someone needs to save Sweatshop’s iconic zebra zig-zag stage backwall design.
Look out for motor scooters in Benson Saturday night as the Hell On Wheels Scooter Rally 2 will be in full effect, with a concert at The Sydney featuring The Bishops. $5 or free if you’re a registered rally rider. Starts at 8 p.m.
Back at O’Leaver’s Saturday night Red Cities headlines with The Broke Loose and Once a Pawn. $5, 9:30 p.m.
Sunday night, Japanese punk band Mugen Hoso plays at The Lookout Lounge with The Big Al Band. The show is listed as starting at 6 p.m. and is $5.
And finally, it’s once more back to O’Leaver’s for the homecoming of New Yorker Darren Keen. Joining him is Channel Pressure (Todd from The Faint and Graham from Reptar) and Giant Claw. $5, 9 p.m.
And that’s all I got. If I missed your show, 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 © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.
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