Live Review: Lars & Mal; Iceage, Oquoa, Eli Mardock, Bloodcow tonight; Nightbird, Plack Blague Saturday…
by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com
Lars and Mal are vocalist Mallory Finch and vocalist/guitarist Laura Weiss along with three other members, keyboardist/vocalist Chelsea Taxman, mandolin player/guitarist/banjo player Adam Sherrerd and Ricky Green on cajon, which I learned last night is a wooden box used for percussion, sort of like bongos.
But the core is those two front women/vocalists whose nicknames comprise the band’s name. It’s their intertwining harmonies that define their sound, along with their easy-going, Autumn-colored love songs. They reminded me of early ’90s Lilith-style women-fronted folk duos, such as The Story and Indigo Girls, and songwriters like Lucinda Williams, Shawn Colvin and Rebecca Jenkins, but that’s too easy. Someone last night compared them to Neko Case, which I didn’t catch.
Their voices are amazing. Finch is among the best women vocalists in the area, hands down, with Weiss right next to her, and when they harmonize it’s something special. The songs, on the other hand, are by-the-numbers folk stuff, pretty but predictable. The exceptions were the sublime “Weaker Now” and bluesy “Shoulda Known” that coaxed hand claps from the big crowd of (what looked like) around 100. The combo is worth keeping an eye on, especially when they begin to reach beyond their songwriting comfort zone.
Lars & Mal was the perfect combo to show off Reverb’s music room, which sounded stellar during their set. The club added acoustical tile to the walls in an effort to cut down on the bounce, and it appears to be working, though there was plenty of “boom” during last night’s opening set by The Derby Birds, a four piece rock band fronted by Tony Bonacci. Their debut album, released on Bandcamp this past May, was a pleasant surprise. Live the band brought the mid-tempo indie swing to life, though the mix was muddy. Bonacci is a talented guy whose music at times reminded me of former local crooner Jake Bellows (of Neva Dinova). Someone should get Derby Birds to open for that Neva show Dec. 23 at Slowdown (though that ticket already is filled with three openers).
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Let’s get to the show line-ups.
The “Big Show” of the weekend is tonight at Slowdown Jr. where Matador band Iceage takes center stage. The band’s new album, Plowing into the Field of Love, is blowing up thanks to a “Best New Album” recommendation by Pitchfork, which gave it a massive 8.5 rating. This is slurred, gritty indie rock sung by a troupe of angry slacker Danes. Opening is Aussie band Helm, whose music (released on Sumerland) sounds like indie grunge, and local dudes Telepathy Problems. $12, 9 p.m. Expect a crowd.
Also tonight, local dreamrock supergroup Oquoa plays at fabulous O’Leaver’s with hip-hop duo BOTH. $5, 9:30 p.m.
The Waiting Room is hosting the soundtrack release show for the film Bent Over Neal tonight. Among the performers are Eli Mardock, Bloodcow and The Strange Attractors. $8, 8 p.m.
Saturday night Travelling Mercies open for White Buffalo at Reverb. $15, 9 p.m.
Creepy electronic leather fetish freakout Plack Blague and electronic noise landslide Lvrk Late are among the performers at Industrial Night Omaha hosted at Sweatshop Gallery Saturday night. $6, 9 p.m.
Over at the Barley Street Omaha’s newest stoner/sludge rock band Nightbird (featuring Gerald Lee of Filter Kings), Bad Aqple and Western Electric open for Vago. $5, 9 p.m.
Be warned that Saturday is Zombie Walk day in Benson. I think the madness starts at 4. I hope to be watching it from the safe confines of the deck at 1912.
That’s what I got. 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 © 2014 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.