When will Omaha bars reopen? New music: Eddy Mink; Pagan Athletes; No Thanks, Marcey Yates tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:40 pm May 21, 2020

No Thanks at O’Leaver’s, Aug. 2, 2019. The band plays a live streamed showcase tonight at The Slowdown.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

We’re all still sitting around twiddling our thumbs waiting to hear when bars are going to be allowed to reopen, especially after Iowa announced a 50 percent capacity reopening starting next Thursday (May 28).

If you’re like me and you’re watching the various and sundry COVID-19 reports/charts/graphs, the numbers seem to be flattening or headed downwards in Nebraska. Meanwhile, flip through Facebook and you’ll quickly find numbers that say Douglas County is still red hot — cases continue to rise, but so do tests. And yet, I’ve still (luckily) yet to know anyone who has tested positive (or know anyone who knows anyone who has).

With the Nebraska DHM (Directed Heath Measures) proclamation expiring June 1, I foresee we’ll be getting an announcement regarding bars reopening sometime in the next week. If they follow Iowa’s lead and allow for a 50 percent capacity reopening, will you be willing to return that first week of June?

* * *

New music continues to be released even during the shutdown.

The long-awaited new album by Eddy Mink (a.k.a. Kerry Eddy), Open Container Heart Surgery, dropped last week on Spotify and other streaming services.

Recorded at ARC with Ben Brodin in March 2018 with Ben Armstrong on drums/keys, Patrick Hargon on guitar, baritone guitar and pedal steel and Eddy on guitar and vocals, it’s one of my favorite local releases so far for 2020. Eddy has a bright, aggressive voice that’s like hearing one of the Wilson sisters (Heart) fronting a modern indie rock band. The songs gallop on a rhythm section whose bass lines lead the way (see standout tracks “Eaten Alive,” opener “Alarms”).

I’m including a Spotify link below because the band doesn’t have a Bandcamp page (though you can find the entire album here on YouTube).

The Wolf Brothers of Griffin and Nathan are sons of local rock royalty — John Wolf — but that’s not why you should check out their new four-song EP Live at the DN. The drums/synth combo’s recordings are jittery sonic acid trips of rhythm and noise. Call it electro-punk annihilation, or the soundtrack to your personal COVID nightmare.

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The doors are closed tonight at The Slowdown but there’s still a rock show happening on the big stage, and you’re invited to tune in via the internet.

Punk rock show-stoppers No Thanks and hip-hop master Marcey Yates (a.k.a. Op2mus) are the first to be featured in a new live stream experiment at Slowdown. With house sound guy Dan Brennan and renowned videographer Django Greenblatt-Seay behind the controls, this is sure to be a next-level streaming experience.

And it ain’t free. Tickets are $5 (though you can donate more) with the cash going to the talent involved. Ticket holders will receive a link to the event both 48 hours and 10 minutes prior to the event. Performances begin at 8:15 sharp. More info and tickets available here.

It’s the next best thing to going to a rock show. See you there…

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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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Write your congress person!; FXTHR^ (a.k.a. Dustin Bushon) tonight…

Category: Blog,Column — Tags: , , , — @ 1:40 pm May 14, 2020

FXTHR^ live streams tonight from Low End at the Bemis.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

There hasn’t been a heckuva lot to write about music wise over the past few weeks. At some point we’re going to start to get an idea how the clubs are going to react to COVID in regards to reopening their stages, but who knows when that’s going to happen.

You saw what Slowdown is doing in the interim, and while it’ll be a fun distraction amidst this void in live entertainment, it is by no means a true replacement. BTW, someone asked where the money’s going for those Slowdown shows, and the answer is the bands and crew, according to Slowdown’s Jason Kulbel.

In the meantime, if you haven’t gone to NIVA website and sent a letter to your reps in Washington telling them to get off their asses and help save live music, you should. The link is right here. It’ll take you 30 seconds.

* * *

Speaking of live streams, there is one tonight being brought to you by the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, specifically the folks who opened Low End late last year. Tonight they’re hosting a live stream featuring the noise/art/rock act FXTHR^ a.k.a. Dustin Bushon. Joining him is visual artist Alex Myers.

The stream begins at 8 p.m. You can watch live on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bemiscenter/ and Twitch: https://www.twitch.tv/bemiscenter . More info here.

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Last but not least, due to a back-office/clerical/editorial error, my Over the Edge column wasn’t published in the May issue of The Reader, which was devoted to writers’ COVID-related experiences. The column is online, however. Read about how I’m adapting to COVID-19 and learn about a 1971 film starring Charlton Heston. Check it out. I should be back in the printed pages of The Reader next month, barring any more snafus…

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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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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The Slowdown gets in the livestream concert game; Ramon Speed tonight, Matt Cox Saturday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — @ 11:45 am May 8, 2020

Ramon Speed at Junkstock #20 at Sweatshop Gallery, Nov. 8, 2014. The band has a livestream tonight at 6 p.m.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

The Slowdown announced two upcoming concerts featuring full bands. No, you can’t attend. Both are livestream events.

The first is Omaha punk newcomer No Thanks and hip-hop royalty Marcey Yates (a.k.a. Op2mus), Thursday, May 21 at 8 p.m. (RSVP/tickets here).

The second features two of Omaha’s most beloved punk/indie bands — Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship and Little Brazil Saturday, May 23 at 8 p.m. (RSVP tickets/here).

These are not free streams. Tickets are $5, and ticket holders will receive a link to the event 48 hours and 10 minutes prior to start time. The shows begin at 8:15 p.m.

No doubt you’ll get your money’s worth. Expect the highest quality stream experience possible, with sound by house engineer Dan Brennan and video production by Love Drunk’s Django Greenblatt-Seay – it doesn’t get any better.

All acts will be performing on the big stage, making them safe from a social-distancing perspective.

I intend to tune in for both, and have to wonder if this livestream approach is successful if it isn’t something Slowdown will continue even after COVID has gone its merry way. Because some nights you just want to stay in, but you don’t want to miss the rock…

Speaking of livestreams… there’s a red hot one going on tonight.

Tonight at 6 p.m. via their Facebook page ( https://www.facebook.com/ramon.speed ) tune in for a performance by Ramon Speed (Unread Records).

Tomorrow night (Saturday) Matt Cox is live from Mars House starting at 7 p.m. Go to Facebook to watch the stream.

While we’re talking streams, Low End, the new performance space that used to be Bemis Underground, is hosting a livestream Thursday, May 14 , featuring FXTHR^, the sound collage art of Dustin Bushon. More info here.

I’m sure there’s more live streams going on this weekend I don’t know about. If I missed yours, 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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Opa! New downtown venue is moving right along despite COVID-19…

Category: Blog — Tags: , — @ 12:59 pm May 6, 2020

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Well, Kevin Coffey is back at the Omaha World-Herald (Yay!), and today reports that Omaha Performing Arts will begin construction of its new $109 million live music venue by the end of summer, according to this article in today’s paper.

That construction schedule was reaffirmed Tuesday in front of the City Council by an attorney representing Omaha Performing Arts,” Kevin wrote. “The city is considering paying for some of the public infrastructure work related to the privately funded music venue.

The venue was announced just last November via a press release (see the Lazy-i story here), leaving more than a few people scratching their head wondering if we really needed yet another live music venue when the ones we already have are struggling to drawing audiences.

Now, during these Days of COVID when independent music promoters and venues are just trying to keep the lights on as they wait for the pandemic to subside, the idea of moving forward with another venue seems foolhardy, especially for a non-profit like Omaha Performing Arts, which suspended all performances at its venues since March 14 through at least mid-May. I wouldn’t be surprised if those postponements stretch into the summer months.

Ah, but when you have the donor power that Omaha Performing Arts has, something like a pandemic isn’t going to slow you down. BTW, Kevin pointed out that the organization rebranded itself “O-pa” last fall (an obvious nod to Omaha’s historic Greek roots?).

The City apparently is going to reimburse O-pa for up to $1.1 million of public improvements during a time when the city budget will be suffering a rather massive shortfall due to loss of tax revenue as a result of the pandemic.

I’ve been told that this project is somehow tied to national promoter Live Nation, who could be involved in booking this new venue. No doubt O-pa doesn’t have the in-house firepower to book the kind of artists needed to fill a 3,000-capacity venue when it opens sometime in 2023. By then, COVID-19 should be merely a painful memory (right?)…

* * *

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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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One Percent says tell Congress to #SaveOurStages; new Shiner (after 19 years)…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 1:19 pm May 5, 2020

It’s time to write congress and tell them to save the live music industry.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

I’ve been waiting for this NIVA thing to take off and maybe this is the week it happens.

NIVA is the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA), a group of more than 1,200 independent music venues and promoters in all 50 states, which I wrote about here.

Today, One Percent Productions joined those venues and promoters nationally urging folks like us — music lovers who go to rock shows — to write Congress and ask them to protect the live music industry and everyone it touches by providing financial support necessary for it to survived and reopen after COVID ends.

When this crisis began, independent music venues were the first to close, and we will be the last to open. While completely shuttered, we have no revenue, our employees and artists are without jobs, and normal bills keep coming, regardless,” wrote One Percent Productions, which runs Reverb Lounge, The Waiting Room and brings in the best touring indie bands to perform throughout our city.

They’re asking us to go to nivassoc.org/take-action and send a message to our senators and congress people.

Yell it, scream it, clap your hands, and pound your feet like you’re calling the band back for an encore! Please help us ensure we survive by using your voice now (and tell a friend or 100 friends!). #SaveOurStages.

NIVA sent out its initial call for legislation a couple weeks ago. I haven’t heard whether it resulted in any actual legislation. But once that legislation is written or added to another bill, it’ll be even more critical for us to lobby our representatives to support it. The first step is to get off your ass and go to nivassoc.org/take-action and tell them to start legislating this sucker…

* * *

Kansas City band Shiner has a new album coming out this Friday called Schadenfreude, their first album in 19 years. Check out the first singles, “Paul P. Pogh,” and “Life as a Mannequin.” Just like old times…

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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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Bandcamp waves fees again today; new music from Big Nope, Mike Schlesinger, Simon Joyner, Poster Children, The Golden Age…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — @ 12:18 pm May 1, 2020

Bandcamp is waving its share of revenue on all purchases at the site today.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

The last time Bandcamp waved its cut on all online shares for a day it resulted in $4.3 million in music and merch sales. It also resulted in some pretty sloooow Bandcamp server speeds.

Well, Bandcamp is doing it again today, waving its “revenue share” on all shares at its website today until midnight PDT. In addition, 150 artists and record labels are offering donations and special merchandise (check out the list). It’s kind of like Records Store Day but for online music sales. Among the labels taking part is Saddle Creek Records, which is giving 100 percent of revenue from generated sales to artists.

Actually, most of the good indie labels are participating this way, including Matador, Merge, Captured Tracks, Dead Oceans, Jagjaguwar and more.

With that in mind, here are a few recordings to check out (and buy!):

Big Nope, the new project from See Through Dresses’ drummer Nate Van Fleet, today released the 3-song Back to You EP. Recorded and mixed by Ben Brodin with contributions from Nick Costa and Charlie Finnigan, this is the best Big Nope release yet. Buy here.

Last month’s Live at The Sydney live stream will be remembered as one of the few bright spots from this COVID misery we’re currently suffering, and now you can relive it after the pandemic has subsided, thanks to today’s release of Mike Schlesinger – Live at The Sydney. The six-song EP is one of the best live sets I’ve heard in a long time. Buy here.

Speaking of live sets, Simon Joyner today released Simon Joyner & The Bingo Trappers Oct. 21st 2012, an 11-song LP that features Joyner favorites like “The Only Living Boy in Omaha,” “Three Well-Aimed Arrows” and “Christine,” along with a couple Bingo Trappers covers. Buy here. Also check out Joyner’s Bandcamp merch page that includes a new T-shirt designed by urban folkie Jeffrey Lewis, with all profits today going to Food Bank of the Heartland and MusiCares Foundation.

Seminal ‘90s punk band Poster Children today released a live recording from their 1992 Cabaret Metro show. It’s a scorcher. Buy here.

Finally, released today is a vintage track from Lincoln band The Golden Age, called “Home is a Hotel,” recorded in the first half of the 2000s. The band featured Rob Hawkins on guitar/vocals with Tim Jensen, Alisa Heinzman and Ian Aeillo. Ah, where are they now? Buy here.

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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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New Nathan Ma, Protomartyr, Land of Talk, Big Thief; Stathi live stream tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:50 pm April 30, 2020

Singer/songwriter Stathi is performing a live stream tonight in Instagram.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Thought I’d share some new music that crossed my path over the last few days…

Local singer/songwriter Nathan Ma dropped a new song via YouTube called “Blue Bird.” The track, produced by David Nance and recorded and mixed by Jim Schroeder, features Colin Duckworth on pedal steel, Tanner Rogerson on drums, Jonathan Cobb on bass and Nathan on guitar and vocals.

Detriot’s Protomartyr dropped the second track from its forthcoming album, Ultimate Success Today, out July 17 on Domino. The track, “Worm in Heaven,” is downright laid back compared to previous Protomartyr burners.

Saddle Creek Records is releasing a new LP by Land of Talk July 31 called Indistinct Conversations. The first single is called “Compelled.” Got to hand it to the Creek for sticking with these folks.

And then there’s the one that got away… Big Thief yesterday dropped a stand-alone track called “Love in Mine,” that’s an outtake from 2019’s Two Hands’ sessions. The band recently released Demos Vol. 1 – Topanga Canyon, CA – Feb 2018, which benefits their road crew. Check it out here.

* * *

Tonight at 7 p.m. local singer/songwriter Stathi is doing a live stream from Instagram Live at @thestathi. He’ll be playing six songs from his debut EP Life of Compromise, released in March 2019. That recording included a lot of local folks we’re all familiar with, including Mike Mogis on pedal steel/mandolin, Pat Oakes on drums, Megan Siebe on cello/viola and MiWi La Lupa on assorted instruments.

Listen tonight, but wait until tomorrow to buy the album, as Bandcamp is waiving fees again tomorrow to help artists during COVID.

* * *

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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Bright Eyes cancels tour through mid-June; why aren’t artists backing NIVA efforts? Old Cactus Nerve Thang, new Beauty Pill, PUP…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — @ 12:58 pm April 27, 2020

D.C. band Beauty Pill has a new single from a forthcoming album.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Last Friday Bright Eyes sent out a press release saying it is cancelling or rescheduling a number of U.S. dates beginning in May through mid June.

From the release: “Regretfully, yet predictably, we have had to re-think many of our upcoming tour dates. We hope to be in a better position to gather and celebrate at a later date.

No surprise here. Hey guys, when’s the album coming out?

* * *

What I am surprised about is why artists haven’t jumped onto the NIVA efforts to drum up legislation to help venues, promoters and artists sidelined by the COVID pandemic. NIVA is the National Independent Venue Association, which I wrote about here last week (take a look).

I assumed this week we’d see a bunch of artists voicing support for NIVA’s lobbying effort, which will no doubt impact them and their careers greatly. And yet, I haven’t seen a word on social media or elsewhere from artists lending their support. Or maybe it’s too soon for them to act? Certainly amplifying NIVA’s current efforts can’t be a bad thing.

* * *

A couple new songs came through my email this morning.

Beauty Pill is a D.C.-based indie rock act that’s been kicking around since 2002, born out of the ashes of another band I dug called Smart Went Crazy. The band has a new album coming out May 8 on Northern Spy Records called Please Advise. “The Damndest Thing” is the second single. Check it out out.

The last concert I saw before the lock down was PUP at The Waiting Room March 4. Fun show. The band today released its first new song of 2020 called “Anaphylaxis.” Check it:

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I almost forgot…

Once upon a time there was an Omaha band called Cactus Nerve Thang. It consisted of Lee Meyerpeter, guitar/vocals; Pat Dieteman, drums/vocals and Brian Poloncic, bass/vocals. Their sound was a sloppy mix of lo-fi noise, rock, grunge and punk. Their one and only album, Sloth, was recorded in ’93 at Junior’s Hotel in Otho, Iowa, and released on Grass Records, and featured what many believe to be one of the ugliest album covers in the history of recorded music (though I don’t think it was that bad).

Over the weekend someone posted an old Cactus Nerve Thang performance on YouTube: “Rose,” performed live at Davey’s Uptown in KCMO, 2/19/1993. Enjoy.

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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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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What is NIVA and why (and how) is it trying to save the live music industry?

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 11:45 am April 24, 2020

The National Independent Venue Association is trying to save the future of live music as we know it.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Jason Kulbel who runs The Slowdown yesterday forwarded me a copy of the letter written by NIVA that was sent to Washington outlining how the live music industry and its participants will quickly go the way of the dinosaur unless Congress does something now to help support them during and after the COVID pandemic.

NIVA is the National Independent Venue Association, a just-formed organization that currently has more than 900 charter members in 50 states, including all the legendary clubs we know and love like 9:30 Club in D.C., First Avenue, Bowery Ballroom, Mohawk in Austin and of course our very own Slowdown, The Waiting Room/Reverb/Sydney and fabulous O’Leaver’s.

The first half of the letter, which you can read in its entirety right here, explains the role music venues, promoters and artists play in our economy, our culture, the very fabric of our country. Next it outlines the problem — how venues were the first to close and likely will be the last to reopen, and how everyone involved is being impacted, and how historic, iconic institutions could be forced into permanent closure.

Finally, the letter outlines solutions, including flexible and abundant federal loan programs, tax relief, unemployment insurance, mortgage and rent forbearance, debt deferral and recovery funds.

Those recovery funds and tax credits will help venues comply with new health guidelines when they’re allowed to reopen.

Another key provision: “Establishing national guidelines for resuming and continuing large gatherings in a safe manner to ensure uniformity throughout the industry.” This is critical because without it, there’s no way artists and promoters could schedule tours without knowing which states’ venues are able to book shows; without national guidelines each state would do its own thing and that would be a mish-mash, patchwork approach.

Unfortunately, Trump doesn’t appear to support those kinds of national guidelines, leaving it up to the states to decide. Oh what a mess he’s made.

I was skeptical when I saw this letter, figuring most members of Congress don’t know a thing about the entertainment industry. But Kulbel wisely pointed out that Congressional staffers know what’s going on; they frequent venues and understand what role they play in communities. He’s optimistic.

Kulbel continues to book shows at Slowdown despite the constant wave of cancellations so the club will have something in place when allowed to reopen, hopefully sometime this summer. Keep your fingers crossed.

In the meantime, keep an eye out for legislation that includes the above provisions. No doubt some smart congressman or senator will include them in a bill or create a bill that adopts these provisions, and when he/she/they do, it’ll be your job to reach out to your representatives and lobby for their support.

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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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Bright Eyes drops another one; more depressing COVID music news…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 1:21 pm April 22, 2020

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Yesterday Bright Eyes dropped the second song from their upcoming album on Dead Oceans. The track, “Forced Convalescence,” features a bevvy of guest players including Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Jon Theodore from Queens of the Stone Age.

From the press release:

“’Forced Convalescence’ finds Conor Oberst at his world-weary best, picking apart the human condition and struggling to reconcile the past with whatever the future holds. All from the comfort of his bed. The slick, near-joyous sounding fever dream grows into a rich and languid swirl with help from a gospel choir. This may be as close to a Rat Pack-era lounge singer as Oberst has ever come. Albeit one with a head full of prose and existential angst.”

Check it out below:

No word on the album’s release date. I can’t imagine they’re in any hurry with touring on hold everywhere.

I’ve been mulling over how bars and venues are going to reopen and allow shows when things begin to ease up COVID-wise. There’s no doubt some states will be opening much sooner than others.

If you believe what it says at this COVID website, social easing wouldn’t begin in Nebraska (and Iowa) until July, whereas Missouri could start as early as June 7 and Minnesota would start May 30, all based on projected peaks, etc. Hot spots like California could begin in mid-May.

With such a random pattern — each state doing its own thing — how are bands supposed to book tours? I guess when you can’t even fathom how a venue will be able to even host a show, tour booking is probably not front of mind.

This NME article describes a show in Sweden where “a room that can hold 350, capacity is restricted to 40 punters – plus a sound engineer, two members of staff and the band, bringing the number up to the guidelines of 50 people in total.

Think about applying similar limitations at our clubs. How many could you allow in for a typical show at The Waiting Room and “be safe”? Fifty? Slowdown’s big room, maybe 75? How about tiny Reverb or fabulous O’Leaver’s?

That being the case, it seems more likely that we’ll see small local live shows before we see any big name touring acts. Or, imagine if you booked a band that would naturally sell out The Slowdown. Could you up the price for tickets knowing they would be limited to fewer than 100? It would be like an intimate performance, with people standing 6 to 8 feet apart… Still, very unlikely when you’re going to have a hard time just getting people to overcome their fear.

Arena shows and festivals now sound like they’ll be on hold until late 2021 or longer, if you read this Los Angeles Times article that pretty much guesses that you’re not going to see pre-COVID-style rock shows until about 70 percent of the population is vaccinated.

The margins in this business are going to be the 20% of fans who won’t go back to shows until there’s a vaccine. We’re at a point where fans can really lose a lot of confidence, and it’ll take more than a vaccine to re-engage them.”

Coachella apparently is still scheduled for sometime in October, but as the article states: Even if California does what it needs to prevent new infections locally, a 125,000-capacity music festival with fans traveling from all over would be an ideal scenario for new transmissions. Every expert interviewed said large concerts and festivals would be a terrible idea for the foreseeable future.

Ugh.

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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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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