Live Review: Wombats, Mona; Mountain Goats, Oh Pep! Filter Kings tonight; 10 Qs w/ Ryley Walker, Simon Joyner Sunday…
by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com
I don’t go to as many shows as I used to. I blame my work schedule, my fitness schedule and the lack of quality shows for this. But the fact is, popular music has changed in a way that I simply don’t find interesting.
The Wombats are an example. The UK trio played a packed show last night at The Waiting Room. I’d never heard of the band prior to this gig, and the only reason I went last night was because the promo company behind the opening act offered me a spot on the list (and the fact that I had today off work).
While I’ve never heard of The Wombats a lot of people clearly have. You know you’re in for a crowded show when the club has cleared out all the tables and chairs, which was the case last night. Where these folks came from and how they heard of Wombats is a mystery. Maybe they’re getting radio play on The River (a station I avoid); because despite being hyped as an indie band, they’re certainly not played on Sirius XMU.
Though it’s been a few months since I’ve been to a Waiting Room show, I figured I’d see at least one person I knew in the mammoth (though not sold out) crowd. Instead, it was all new faces, most all younger than mine. So I was prepared to hear what’s hot with the next generation.
What I heard was a well-played set of songs that sounded like they were written to be used in car or restaurant commercials — gleamingly slick pop-rock anthems beautifully sung by frontman Matthew Murphy with sweet backing harmonies by the bassist and drummer. We’re talking an arena-quality performance of some of the blandest, most formulaic rock songs you’re likely to hear selling Taco Bell glop or Ford Fiestas. And the crowd loved it.
It’s odd that this kind of pre-fab pop music is being passed along as indie these days. Even Pitchfork has written about the Wombats last record (though they panned it). After hearing variations of the same anthem four or five times, I hit the door.
What about that opener I came to see? The band, Mona, is label mates with The Wombats but shares little else.
Frontman Nick Brown has a vocal presence similar to Roger Daltrey on the band’s records, and it came through on stage, though Brown is nowhere near the showman Daltrey is. A three-guitar five-piece, their bread and butter is slick mainstream rock anthems in the Kings of Leon / post-Pop U2 vein, which makes their sound somewhat dated, though no doubt compelling to a radio-fed audience like the one in TWR last night.
In the end, I was more impressed with Mona than Wombats, if only because they veered somewhat closer to something that resembles authenticity. All’s they need is to dirty up their sound a little, maybe find a nice, greasy garage and listen to some classic Oblivians albums, then see what happens…
Here’s a quick rundown on the weekend…
The hottest show has to be The Mountain Goats at The Waiting Room tonight. The band is on the road supporting their latest, Beat the Champ (2015, Merge). Opening the show is Oh Pep!, which you read about in yesterday’s Ten Questions. $25, 9 p.m.
Also tonight, legendary Omaha outlaw country band The Filter Kings gets together again for a gig opening for Americana punk-country band The Punknecks at fabulous O’Leaver’s. Jeremy Mercy also is on the bill $5, 9:30 p.m.
If that wasn’t enough, check out the twisted, leather-clad porn-noise of Plack Blague at Reverb. With Ruby Block and Chalant. $6, 9 p.m.
Tomorrow night’s looking a bit thin. If you got ideas, put them in the comments section, otherwise it’s going to be a long night at The Brothers.
Sunday night Chicago folk rocker Ryley Walker plays at Reverb Lounge. His latest album, Golden Sings That Have Been Sung (2016, Dead Oceans) has been kicking my ass for the past few weeks. They call it blues rock — very brooding, very good.
Ryley did my 10 Questions survey. Here’s his take:
1. What is your favorite album?
Ryley Walker: Pink Floyd – Meddle
2. What is your least favorite song?
Joan Jett – “I Love Rock n Roll”
3. What do you enjoy most about being in a band?
4. What do you hate about being in a band?
5. What is your favorite substance (legal or illegal)?
Yeah right, copper
6. In what city or town do you love to perform?
7. What city or town did you have your worst gig (and why)?
Dallas. Every awful thing came to a head there.
8. How do you pay your bills?
Press “ignore” on my phone
9. What one profession other than music would you like to attempt; what one profession would you absolutely hate to do?
Something in film. Would never want to be a bus boy again
10. What are the stories you’ve heard about Omaha, Nebraska?
Simon Joyner tells the best ones
Opening for Walker is Circuit des Yeux and our very own Simon Joyner. $12 Adv./$14 DOS. Showtime is 9 p.m.
That’s all I got. Like I said, 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 © 2016 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.