Live Review Beck at Stir Cove; X, Spoon, Twin Peaks, Jay Som tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , , , — @ 12:54 pm September 11, 2017

Beck at Stir Cove, Sept. 9, 2017.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

This is as much a review of Stir Cove as it is Saturday night’s Beck concert, though there’s plenty of Beck in this write-up. It’s actually a reaction to last week’s blog entry, wherein I asked for advice about attending my first Stir Cove concert after receiving a lot of warning about how much the venue and its “parking problem” suck.

Past horror stories about Stir were giving me anxiety about the show, and were the reason I’d never attended a Stir concert (along with the fact that Stir books mainly legacy, pop and country acts, which aren’t in my wheelhouse).

So, Saturday night came rolling around and we were off to Stir at 7 p.m., arriving at around 7:15. Prior to leaving, I’d studied a Google Earth map of Stir and the surrounding parking like a robber trying to case the joint for the quickest getaway. The two most common pieces of advice I’d been given: 1) Park on the Nebraska side of the river and walk or ride a bike over the Bob Kerrey Bridge, and 2) Park in the parking garage or use valet service.

I ignored both suggestions and instead parked in the second to last row of the surface parking. The plan: Leave during the last song, which, according to setlist.fm, would be “One Foot in the Grave,” which would lead into a reprise of “Where It’s At.” Beck has closed his sets with that combo all summer.

So we parked, and walked the massive half-full lot and entered the casino — the heavy door opening to reveal the smell of wet cigarettes and room deodorizer. We pushed through all the usual suspects: Big dudes in baggy cargo shorts and seed caps with their wives in colored print tops and bad hairdos, the elderly, the trailer park kids, all of them ready to Strike It Rich at the slots or tables.

In a VIP room off to the right a small, vacant-looking crowd of gamblers watched the Huskers lose —probably not the only losing they’d see that night.

We escaped out the back exit which led to the entrance to Stir Cove tucked behind the hotel. Getting in was easy, maybe because we were so early and the game was still going on. I bought a pair of $9 Blue Moons and we found a place to sit along the grassy ridge facing the stage while DJ Kethro — a.k.a. Keith Roger — spun sides to a small crowd up front. I figured since he was spinning at 7 the show probably would start at 8. Wrong.

My first impression: The Cove was much smaller than I thought it would be. In fact, it looked smaller than Stinson Park where Maha is held every year. Certainly the capacity was smaller

I liked the set up, with an area designated for lawn chairs, another astroturfed area for standing near the stage, and our grassy ridge. Off to the right was a strange VIP area, which looked like really lousy seating because of the bad angle to the stage.

One annoyance from where were were sitting was the whap! whap! whap! of the out-house doors slamming shut. Already people were lined up to use port-o-johns, and there would be a steady “stream” all night…

DJ Kethro at Stir Cove, Sept. 9, 2017.

As 8 p.m. rolled around the house turned up the sound on stage along with the lighting, which marked the beginning of Kethro’s formal set. In front of us, a girl in a hippie hat lit a hash pipe and within seconds a portly security guard in a fluorescent polo with SECURITY printed in black walked straight up to her and said, “Hope you’re having a good time.  There’s no smoking anything in here.” As he walked away, a hipster in glasses dressed like a life guard whined, “Come on, man!

Meanwhile, as the sun went down Kethro heated up, spinning “Do It” by Tuxedo, “My Girls,” by Animal Collective and closing the set with “Pardon my Freedom” by !!! (pronounced chk chk chk) one of my favorites, and a band I recently was told by one of our many local promoters that “no one listens to anymore.” Well, here were a few thousand people bouncing to it.

Actually, that wasn’t Kethro’s closing number. He ended with a classic: “Fame” by David Bowie, the spotlights and strobes from stage made the dancing crowd glow.

Beck came on at around 9:10 with “Devil’s Haircut.” By then the standing section was completely full, or so I thought. After I took a piss (the port-o-john lines had disappeared) I went to see how far I could get to the stage. It was surprisingly close. That giant crowd wasn’t densely packed, and you could easily walk through it.

Stir Cove at the height of the crowd, Sept. , 2017.

Navigation throughout that mammoth crowd was fast thanks to the security folks keeping people from standing on paved walk paths. I could walk from one end of the venue to the other in seconds.

Beck sounded great. I saw a few people on my social channels complaining about the sound. Not me. Way in the back was as good as up front, and you didn’t need earplugs, the sound was so clean.

His performance was flawless. Beck’s band is loaded with seasoned pros. The set list (read it here) followed closely what he’s been playing on tour all year. Highlights included a slower section with “Lost Cause” from Sea Change (my favorite Beck album), “Qué Onda Güero,” which turned the place into a party, and a smokin’ version of “Dreams” (soon to be rereleased on his upcoming album).

And then there was “Loser.” I remember first hearing that song way back in ’93, thinking it was a trash rap track with an infectious hook. A year or so later it ended up on MTV, but Beck still managed to retain a sort of subversive, outsider tone. Though he was 22 or 23 at the time, he looked like a 16-year-old stoner. Quite a contrast to the 47-year-old dude Saturday night playing a song that has turned into a shopping-mall anthem for the dad-rock set, coaxing the crowd to sing the verse (which they did with gusto).

Finally at around 10:15 Beck got to his encore and rolled out “Where It’s At,” which he used as an intro to a pseudo medley that highlighted each member of his band. Among the song snippet covers were Gary Numan’s “Cars,” B-52’s “Rock Lobster,” The Rolling Stones’ “Miss You” and Phil Collins “In The Air Tonight,” complete with drum solo.

And then he got out his harmonica and began playing “One Foot in the Grave,” which was my cue to skedaddle. We headed to the exit, pretty much alone, heard Beck say “Good night” and walked to our car and drove straight out of the lot. The only hitch in our getaway plan was not being allowed to get back on I-29 North, as they forced everyone to turn right. No matter, we got on at the next exit.

Later that evening I heard from a number of people who said they had no issues leaving Stir, but not everyone. One dude texted me at midnight, saying he was still trying to get out of the back parking lot, 90 minutes after the concert ended.

The bottom line for me: It was one of the most well-run outdoor events I’ve attended. Was it an anomaly? A friend told me the Darius Rucker show last month (also a sell-out) was a complete and total cluster-f***. Maybe Stir learned from that mistake. Regardless, I’ll be paying more attention to their calendar announcements in the future…

* * *

Three huge shows on the same Monday night, and surprisingly, none of them have sold out.

Top of the list is X at The Waiting Room. Skating Polly opens. $30, 8 p.m.

Meanwhile, down at Sokol Auditorium, Spoon headlines. I’ve heard a lot of people complain about their latest album, Hot Thoughts. I love it. There’s no question it’s a departure from their older sound, a stab at dance rock that hits the mark, though there’s a lot of overhang from bands that came before (For example, single “Can I Sit Next to You” sounds like the Cure’s “Fascination Street,” with synths from The Cars’ Heartbeat City, and so on). Opening is Twin Peaks, who just keep getting bigger. This one’s $35 and starts at 8:30.

Finally, indie act Jay Som plays at Reverb tonight with Stef Chura and Soccer Mommy. $14, 9 p.m

And I will miss all three.

* * *

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 © 2017 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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