Live Review: Digital Leather at The Sydney; Clarence Tilton on the street; Mannequin Pussy tonight…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:48 pm September 9, 2019

Digital Leather at The Sydney, Sept. 6, 2019.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

It’s been so long since Digital Leather played locally I thought frontman Shawn Foree moved back to Arizona. The project came out with a limited edition vinyl compilation on the Stencil Trash insignia in January called Feeet, as well as a limited 8-track tape (you read that right) version of 2007’s Blow Machine (FDH Records). But still no local appearances.

Then last Friday night Foree and his current Digital Leather line-up took the stage at The Sydney for a half-hour set. DL has had numerous iterations over the years, swinging between ‘80s electronic synth-driven No Wave to full-on guitar punk, with Foree either behind a keyboard rack or slinging an electric guitar. This time he stood out front with an electric bass backed by two synth players — a pal from Arizona named Jason and Omahan Blake Kostszewa of FiFI NoNo — while veteran stickman Jeff Lambelet took his usual place behind the drum kit.

Bringing the bass out front proved to be a bold move as the band ran through a set that included standout track “Puff” off the new record (but originally released on 2018’s Headache Heaven) and a re-imagined version of “B12” (originally released as part of Foree’s Mere Mortals project and later covered (with lyrics rewritten) by The Faint as “Damage Control”).

Foree put down his bass and returned behind the synths for the set closer, singing lyrics read from a sheet of notebook paper. I figured it was maybe an obscure cover, but he said afterward it was a new song called “Compass” — red hot and the evening’s highlight. Here’s hoping the song gets a proper release, along with whatever else the prolific Mr. Foree has been working on.

Clarence Tilton at the Parkwood Lane Bluegrass Festival, Sept. 7, 2019.

Saturday night I walked around the block to the Parkwood Lane Bluegrass Festival to catch a performance by Clarence Tilton. This is actually the annual block party held on Parkwood Lane just west of Memorial Park — picture lots of neighbors standing in the street eating covered-dish gourmet while kids speed around on mini BMX bikes, big-screen TVs showing whatever game is on ESPN. And at the end of the street, a small stage under a tent where the bands played.

I keep comparing Clarence Tilton to ’90s-era indie power-pop acts and I’ve got to admit, it’s kind of a stretch, especially when you see them perform live. I mean, don’t get me wrong, they could be a fantastic power-pop act, especially with their backgrounds, but the fact is these guys are playing countrified Americana music, and the twang is unmistakable on stage, where they resemble The Statler Brothers more than The dBs, and that’s not a bad thing.

Overheard from the neighborhood crowd: “These guys are the real deal.” And they are. I don’t know why they haven’t been discovered on a national level, they’re certainly as good or better than anything I’ve heard on the country Sirius stations. The Weber Brothers are among the best axe men around, and then you’ve got three different (very good) vocalists. I guess maybe their lack of national notoriety has to do with the fact that the band members have other careers — and lives — that prevent them from touring outside our little burg. That means Clarence Tilton will likely remain Omaha’s — and Parkwood Lane’s — best kept secret.

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Tonight at Slowdown Jr. it’s Philly band Mannequin Pussy. Though they’re on Epitaph Records, they don’t sound like a run-of-the-mill Epitaph band. With their shoe-gaze shimmer, I’d more likely mistake them for someone on 4AD. Their latest, Patience, is shoe-gaze leaning on heavy metal. Opening is Sacramento band Destroy Boys (Uncool Records) and UK producer/musician Ellis. $15, 8 p.m.

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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 © 2019 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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