#TBT: Sunshine, The Carsinogents, Sound of Rails The Sokol Underground, Omaha Nov. 19, 2000…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 11:00 am November 19, 2020
The Carsinogents at Sokol Underground, Nov. 19, 2000.

A little bit of #TBT action, 20 years ago today the Carsinogents played Sokol Underground with Sound of Rails and Czech punk band Sunshine, who I interviewed for this tour (read it here). Interestingly, Sunshine would go on to sign with Universal and Epic, who released their last LP in 2011, according to Discogs. The band still has an Facebook page, though they haven’t posted anything since March 2018.

And what of Speed! Nebraska bands Sound of Rails and The Carsinogents? Members of Sound of Rails — guitarist John Kestner, bassist Chris Palmquist, and drummer Eric Ernst — are still kicking around town in bands like Mere Shadows, Nanahara and Lodgings. As for The Carsinogents, well, we’re all still desperately waiting for the inevitable reunion (Come on, Dave…).

Sunshine, The Carsinogents, Sound of Rails 
The Sokol Underground, Omaha
Nov. 19, 2000

With a sound that was a blend of Sonic Temple-era Cult, Flock of Seagulls, U2 and PiL, Czech band Sunshine played the loudest set my bleeding ears have endured in recent memory at the Sokol Underground Nov. 19.

Maybe it was the 30 mph Arctic-blast winds or the fact that it was a school night, but fewer than 100 were on hand to take in the night of high-energy rock ‘n’ roll.

Sound of Rails started things off with a set of tight, rhythmic, almost mathy indie-style songs that featured a surprisingly dense sound for a three-piece. The combo takes an intense but tuneful tact, with spare vocals and constantly building dynamics that emphasize the instrumental side of their music that creates a dramatic vibe.

Their stage presence consisted of the bassist and guitarist basically standing to either side of the drum kit — not much of a show, but maybe my opinion was tainted because what followed them is arguably the best live performing band in Omaha. The Carsinogents know how to make the most of any stage. Missing from their normal set-up Sunday was their film/video that features a mix of Spanish masked wrestlers, bodybuilders and ’60s-era strippers. The projector apparently got busted at a 49’r show earlier in the week, but it didn’t matter, it just made for a cleaner stage.

I’ve seen the band four times now and this was probably their best sounding set — big, chunky guitars, horror-movie keyboards and a tight-as-a-tick rhythm section playing blazing, electrified punk with a tinge of vintage surf rock underlying all of it. Intense.

No Carsinogents set is complete without pyro effects. Sunday’s show included a blazing, rotating trashcan and drummer Eldon Vampola blowing alcohol into a flaming skull (a privilege usually handled by lead vocalist Dave Electro). The Sokol’s elevated stage kept the band far removed (maybe too far) from the audience, making it safer for onlookers as Electro swung the microphone stand over his head. Electro, a.k.a. Dave Goldberg, is the first frontman from an Omaha band since Ritual Device’s Tim Moss to bring a show’s energy all the way to the brink of the stage, and then into the crowd. The band is always better when nothing separates them from the audience.

Then came Sunshine. Only about 50 people remained to see the headliner tear through an ear-splitting set of classic-tinged ’80s-style head-bobbing New Wave-meets-punk anthems. Lead singer Kay was a tall, lanky, black-maned thyroid case swinging a guitar around like an electric necklace. The sound was rife with delay and feedback, chiming guitars and either a thick rolling bass or keyboards. The guitar effects were sheer ’80s echo-chamber stuff that brought back memories of a kinder, gentler, post-big-hair time when U2 still hadn’t played Red Rocks and MTV still played rock videos. Kay’s shrill, atonal, Johnny Rotten-esque vocals, however, took away from the effect and was an acquired taste. By the end of the set, you could hardly tell he was from a former Soviet Block country.

At one point in their set, chunks of something were falling from the Underground ceiling. Before the final song, I decided take out my earplugs (a must at all Sokol shows) at the back of the room to see just how loud it was and almost passed out from the sheer volume. Tinnitus, here we come.

Published in The Omaha Weekly November 22, 2000. Copyright 2000 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily (if there’s news) 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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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