Live Review: Diet Cig, The Front Bottoms; Ten Questions with Cross Record; Day Wave tonight…

Diet Cig at The Slowdown, May 3, 2016.

Diet Cig at The Slowdown, May 3, 2016.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

The Slowdown, god bless ’em, runs a show on time. Last night was no exception. I’d raced downtown to catch Diet Cig, who was scheduled to begin their set at 7:30 p.m. — an early start time for any show. A quick dinner and I was tooling down Cuming Street. I arrived at 7:30 to be met by a line that snaked along the sidewalk past the Saddle Creek Store toward Film Streams. As I waited in line I heard Diet Cig playing inside Slowdown. Nobody’s fault but mine.

It took a good 10 to 15 minutes to get inside, but once there, I got to hear at least half of Diet Cig’s set. They’re a new band with a very small selection of songs — they haven’t even released a debut full length as far as I can tell. Only singles and EPs.

Not only are they a new band, they’re a young band, or more precisely, a young duo consisting of frontwoman/guitarist Alex Luciano and drummer Noah Bowman. Their brand of indie is post punk bordering on garage rock, big riffs, big drums and a little voice. The product is cute… no it’s adorable, especially as Luciano in Daisy Dukes does her half-ass chorus-line-style step kicks while bouncing around stage.

What the songs lacked in clarity (I couldn’t understand a word she sang, and blame it partially on the sound mix, which was muddy all night) the duo made up for with brazen energy, managing to get the early-evening crowd to pump their fists. I’m ready to see how they top it when they play the Maha Music Festival this August.

They were followed by Brick + Mortar, a three-piece indie band that wasn’t really a band at all. It was a frontman singing over prerecorded tracks and live drums while a gimp in tight green satin shorts pranced around stage in nipple tassels spraying water into the audience. Meanwhile a gruesome blood-spray video was projected on the big screen behind them.

While their music was not my cup of tea, I salute them for their indie ethic — the band says they’ve done everything on their own, including releasing all their music on their own label (though AllMusic lists their 2013 Bangs EP as having been released by Universal Music). The crowd loved them.

The Front Bottoms at The Slowdown, May 3, 2016.

The Front Bottoms at The Slowdown, May 3, 2016.

Finally at around 9:25 (10 minutes late!) The Front Bottoms took the stage to the screams of their adoring fans who packed the bowl (though this was not a sell out — the balcony was even closed).

I won’t repeat how I described them the last time I saw them because their sound hasn’t changed a lick. Actually, nothing about the band was different than when they played at The Waiting Room three years ago. They even had the same spray-painted backdrop. Why would they change anything? Their fans don’t want them to change. They don’t need elaborate staging, just the band playing the songs they love.

And play they did, with the crowd singing along to every word. I haven’t seen this sort of sing-along since Dashboard Confessional. The quality that Dashboard and Front Bottoms share (other than being unabashedly emo) is a front man who writes songs that any sad sack can relate to, who then sings them with the clearest enunciation. You only have to hear a Front Bottoms song once and you’ll know all the words the next time ’round.

To be fair, about halfway through the set, the band did break out some lighting effects that looked like icicle Christmas lights. And there was a bubble machine and the those floppy “windsock dancers” that are so popular with used car lots.

To me, their set was less enthralling and sloppier than when I saw them last. They rolled out my favorite of their songs, “Au Revoir (Adios)” fairly early in the set and rushed it as if they just wanted to get it out of the way. Still, the crowd was enraptured by the performance, bouncing and singing and waving along to every note.

So far, every time they’ve come to town they’ve played bigger stages, despite having virtually no local airplay. A glance at their wiki entry implies their popularity has been fueled mostly by YouTube videos, which I guess makes them “YouTube phenoms.” You have to assume they’re just going to get bigger, if they don’t burn out first from constant touring along the way. Here’s hoping they sell out Slowdown next time through.

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Cross Record plays at fabulous O'Leaver's Thursday, May 5.

Cross Record plays at fabulous O’Leaver’s Thursday, May 5.

Ten Questions with Cross Record

Cross Record is vocalist Emily Cross and her husband, Dan Duszynski. The couple live a seemingly idyllic life in dusty Dripping Springs, Texas. Reading their bio, you’d believe Cross and Dyszynski fled to the tiny town of 1,788 to escape the hustle-bustle of their former home in Chicago, having “grown fed up with the violence and lack of warmth.” Good story, until you realize the Dripping Springs is located just 24 miles west of Austin, and includes among its residents (according to Wikipedia) Sam Bean of Iron & Wine, Johnny Gimble of the Texas Playboys and Kurt Neumann of BoDeans, and so on.

The contrast is important. Because despite being a half-hour away from one of the largest music cities on the planet, Dripping Springs is also known as the Gateway to the Hill Country. It is, indeed, isolated, especially if you live on an 18-acre rented ranch, which they do. That remoteness permeates Cross Record’s new album, Wabi-Sabi (2016, Ba Da Bing), a wispy collection of big-horizon music often broken mid-song by lightning-crash distortion and/or percussion, as if saying no matter how you try to escape, the din of life will keep on finding you.

We asked Cross Record to take our Ten Questions survey. Emily answered most of them, with help from Dan. Here’s what they had to say:

1. What is your favorite album?



Emily Cross: It changes, depending on my mood. Right now it’s ANTI by Rihanna.

2. What is your least favorite song?

Dan Dyszynski: “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz.. “It’s the whitest, most generic, singer-songwriter-reggae-ripoff-piece-of-shit in the world”

3. What do you enjoy most about being in a band?

Sharing, communicating, connecting, smiling, making friends.

4. What do you hate about being in a band?

Nothing, really.

5. What is your favorite substance (legal or illegal)?

It’d have to be water. I’m made out of mostly water.

6. What city or town do you love to perform?

Glasgow.

7. What city or town did you have your worst gig (and why)?

Honestly, I don’t like to think about or dwell on my “worst gigs.” Even the worst of shows provide me with some sort of valuable experience. I often feel pretty terrible about my performances, so no single one really stands out in my mind.

8. How do you pay your bills?

I’m a nanny, and I’ve had about a million little odd-jobs.

9. What one profession other than music would you like to attempt; what one profession would you absolutely hate to do?

Full-time animal activist or animal sanctuary owner. Certified Public Accountant.

10. What are the stories you’ve heard about Omaha, Nebraska?

I haven’t heard any stories about Omaha, Nebraska. I’ll have some, soon.

Cross Record plays with Simon Joyner & the Ghosts and Those Far Out Arrows Thursday, May 5, at O’Leaver’s, 1322 So. Saddle Creek Rd. Showtime is 9 p.m. Admission is $6. For more information, go to liveatoleavers.com

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Bonus! Late yesterday afternoon Diet Cig finally supplied the answers to the Ten Questions survey, which went online at The Reader website a few hours prior to last night’s show. Here it is:

1. What is your favorite album?

Diet Cig: Space Jam Soundtrack

2. What is your least favorite song?

Anything by the Talking Heads

3. What do you enjoy most about being in a band?

Getting to tour and meet other people’s pets.

4. What do you hate about being in a band?

Nothing comes to mind… it pretty much all rawwwks.

5. What is your favorite substance (legal or illegal)?

Pixie Sticks (Ed note: Pixy Stix)

6. In what city or town do you love to perform?

Philadelphia!

7. What city or town did you have your worst gig (and why)?

First time in Denver, CO, our car had gotten broken into and we were so bummed out all day, we just wanted the show to be over.

8. How do you pay your bills?

Cash $$$$

9. What one profession other than music would you like to attempt; what one profession would you absolutely hate to do?

Dog walker!!! I’d hate to work at a deli ever again… I still get nightmares about processed meats.

10. What are the stories you’ve heard about Omaha, Nebraska?

Conor Oberst walks around with a super soaker full of Nair on Halloween and terrorizes local kids.

* *

Tonight it’s back to Slowdown Jr. for Day Wave, who you met yesterday. Also on the bill are Lot Walks and Bokr Tov. 8 p.m. showtime, $12.

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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 © 2016 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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