Live Review: The psychedelic buzz and howl of Calm Fur, Slushy, the electric blue Lupines…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , , — @ 1:49 pm December 8, 2014
Calm Fur at the Barley Street Tavern, Dec. 5, 2014.

Calm Fur at the Barley Street Tavern, Dec. 5, 2014.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

I found the buzz and howl of Calm Fur to be rather sublime — a psychedelic cascade of noise and color and sound that blended every ’60s arena rock acid trip with the post-modern noise of, say, Sonic Youth to create a wholly new and cumbersome thing.

It didn’t come easy; it took awhile for the band to get into a groove.  Wearing a white-fur jacket (epitomizing the band’s name) frontman Jason Meyer has emerged as Omaha’s version of Wayne Coyne, a colorful, arty dude who isn’t happy with just playing shows. Instead, his gigs are audio-visual-powered “happenings.” Think back to one of those notable Talking Mountain shows (one of Meyre’s other bands) where smoke broiled out the club’s doors and audience members wore sun glasses to protect their eyes from blazing LED light rigs.

Meyer shows always involve special effects panache, even if it’s just a couple guys wearing furry Muppet-style masks. For Calm Fur, the enhanced experience involved two overhead projectors set up on either side of the Barley Street stage, along with an assortment of markers, glitter and confetti. Audience members were invited to come up during the set and let their creative spirit run wild, but no one did, at least not until about halfway through their set when a young women began scribbling with a marker which washed out over the band. Psychedelic, man.

Give credit to Meyer. Nothing is more boring than watching a bunch of guys slumped over their instrument, hardly moving. Meyer doesn’t want to fall into that sanguine trap, though no special effects were necessary to make Friday night’s set interesting… or at least different.

Like I said, it took awhile for the band to get things going. When they started out, I wondered why Meyer wanted that keyboard to fuss up the sound. By the third song I was thinking ‘That keyboard really makes this work.” I don’t know who keyboardist “Jesy” is, but her simple tones and style (and voice) were the perfect complements to Garrett Schmelzel from Snake Island’s acidic 12-string electric guitar and Meyer’s ever-droning bass. By the fourth or fifth song, the band hit its stride and even had me buzzing. They followed it with a couple shaky covers that featured the next performer, Slushy.

Slushy is former Omahan (and Talking Mountains guy) Chris Kramer doing his rendition of Nuggets-era pop songs sung alone over pre-recorded tracks, karaoke style. Kramer’s choice of music and his aerobic-styles performance made for a fun set, at least for the first 15 minutes. I’m told that Kramer has a working band he plays with in Chicago. Someone needs to get those folks out here.

Lupines at The Barley Street Tavern Dec. 5, 2014.

Lupines at The Barley Street Tavern Dec. 5, 2014.

Finally sometime after midnight The Lupines took the stage, basking in the full intensity of Barley Street’s fancy new digital lighting system, which cast them in eerie electric blue. What more to say about Lupines that I haven’t already said, other than you need to check them out if your thing is blistering garage rock. It was a great way to cap off what turned out to be a looong night.

* * *

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.

Lazy-i

Live Review: Twin Peaks and Midtown Art Supply; Twinsmith, Darren Keen goodbye party tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , , — @ 1:57 pm November 26, 2014
Twin Peaks at Midtown Art Supply, Nov. 25, 2014.

Twin Peaks at Midtown Art Supply, Nov. 25, 2014.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Midtown Art Supply doesn’t look like much from the street. In fact, it’s hard as hell to find. I drove past the storefront three times in the dark looking for it, trying to find some sort of indication that a show was going on. I should have just looked for the smokers, who huddled on the sidewalk outside the concrete building on Farnam Street, just a stone’s throw from what we used to refer to as the “loony bin.”

The interior is urban rustic bordering on squatters’ flat, or so it seemed. Playing hidden behind the crowd of about 100 was Twin Peaks crashing through a set of stripped down pop that was too well-written to be mistaken for garage. Since the band was playing at floor level, you could only see the tops of their shaggy heads in the near dark of the barren, cold art space.

A Lazy-i reader spotted me and pointed to a hole-walkway covered by a stapled-to-the-wall vinyl shower curtain that flapped in the cold darkness. “Go through there to get to the back stage and the bathroom,” he yelled.

We crossed into a blackness, a room with echoing high ceilings strewn with guitar cases and pieces of drum kit presumably from one of the opening bands, and walked to another hole in the wall where a half dozen people crowded to watch the band from behind. I leaned through and grabbed some photos of the mop-tops serenading a sea of bobbing heads while people pushed pass me to get to the bathroom.

Twin Peaks’ music is rowdy up-beat rock that borders on garage surf, but as I said before, there is a precision to it that puts it on another level. If you haven’t checked out Wild Onion, you should. Clearly the record has a lot of young fans, in fact judging by the number of eager, shining faces I got a feeling Twin Peaks’ might be drawing a younger crowd than the mob that was currently watching Desaparecidos over at TWR.

Standing toward the back drinking a beer out of a red cup, I suggested to the promoter that in the future he add a riser or something so the band could be seen above the crowd, and he told me there was an elevated stage hidden behind the large projector screen hanging behind the band, but for whatever reason it wasn’t being used for this show. He said with the stage in play, the room could comfortably hold a few hundred people, and has for past shows.

When the lights came up, I saw just how amazing — and monolithic — the space is. While the performance space isn’t much to look at, the interior of this building is cavernous and covered with eye-popping graffiti — huge spray-painted murals, which might explain the headache-inducing acrylic smell that hung over the back rooms. The building continues down into a basement where a skateboard ramp leaned against a wall. Down it went to another huge space broken up by support poles where I was told massive thousand-person raves had been held in years past. Another opening led to a blackened room filled with hundreds of doors leaning in stacks against each other. I was told there were more passages somewhere through the darkness that led who knows where. Anyway, an inspiring space which is now home to a talented local artist…

* * *

Night two of holiday week takes place tonight. Saddle Creek Records band Twinsmith headlines a show at Slowdown Jr. Opening is Lincoln band Oketo and Stephen Nichols. With turkey day tomorrow, this could be a big show. $7, 9 p.m.

Also tonight is the going-away party for local legend Darren Keen at House of Loom. Keen is high-tailing it to Brooklyn in the coming days, and we’re all going to miss him dearly (just wait and see). Tonight’s performance will feature Darren covering Daft Punk live. According to the invite: “He’s rebuilt & restructured some the songs from the ground up. Along with Mark Hinrichs on a trap drum set, Keen has sampled the source material and built up a wall of electronics that really nail the things that are special & amazing about the music of Daft Punk.” Show starts at 9, and the price: “$5 until we fill up / $8 after.” More info here.

* * *

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.

Lazy-i

Live Review: Sucettes, Simon Joyner & the Ghosts, Skeleton Man; let the holiday week begin…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 1:49 pm November 24, 2014
The Sucettes at Reverb Lounge Nov. 22, 2014.

The Sucettes at Reverb Lounge Nov. 22, 2014.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Someone asked me if Saturday night’s Simon Joyner and the Ghosts show at Reverb was a “top-5 Joyner set.” I’m not sure what that’s supposed to mean. Every Joyner set is different and interesting in its own way. How you compare them, I don’t know.

Over the years I’ve gotten as much out of Joyner’s various solo acoustic sets as I have his wonky-bordering-on-experimental band sets performed at Sokol Underground and O’Leaver’s as I did his more “polished” sets, like when he opened for Bright Eyes at The Rose Theater way back when. The beauty and wonder of Joyner performances is that you never know what you’re going to get, though over the past few years, Simon and the Ghosts have become more predictable, more musically confident and (perhaps) less experimental. His music also feels more upbeat, more rocking, especially the handful of new songs from his forthcoming record, Grass, Branch, and Bone, out on Woodsist next year. I’m looking forward that album as much or more than any of his past efforts.

Ghosts bassist Alec Erickson was AWOL Saturday night. Megan Siebe, who usually handles organ and violin, filled in, though pedal-steel/keyboardist Mike Friedman also handled bass chores on a few numbers.  I won’t say it was a top-5 show, but it was in the upper third of the 50 or so Joyner shows I’ve witnessed over the years.

Simon Joyner and the Ghosts at Reverb, Nov. 22, 2014.

Simon Joyner and the Ghosts at Reverb, Nov. 22, 2014.

The Sucettes, who opened Saturday night, is the most “realized” Dave Goldberg-fueled band since his Carsinogents days. The lineup is Goldberg switching between keyboards and drums, Jeremiah McIntyre on bass and vocals, Genie Molkentine on vocals, drums and keyboards, Todd VonStup on guitar and CJ Olson on guitar. The band’s music sounds like an extension of what Goldberg and McIntyre were doing in Box Elders, though the arrangements are more filled out. This is a fun band to watch, centered on Goldberg, who is the preeminent stage performer — you can’t keep your eyes off him. Joyner joined Sucettes for their set closer, a scorching cover of the Minutemen’s “Jesus and Tequila.”

In the center slot was Skeleton Man, a droning psychedelic band fronted by Kevin Donahue (Ghosts drummer) on guitar/vocals that also featured fellow Ghost Megan Siebe, who might be the hardest working musician in Omaha these days. Now when someone asks me what “drug music” sounds like, I can point to this band, whose trippy drone felt like Pink Floyd on acid (Is there any other kind of Pink Floyd?). They only played four songs, but their set closer rolled on for 20 minutes of rhythmic noise, capped by Donahue’s undecipherable vocals/wailing.

This was the largest crowd I’ve seen at Reverb, and with the collection of local musicians in the audience, it felt like a coming out party for the club. The room’s sound gets better with every visit. It’s only been open for a few months and it already is getting a rep for being one of the city’s best music venues.

* * *

No shows tonight, but it’s going to be a busy week. It always is during the holidays. You may want to get tickets to tomorrow night’s Desa show in advance…

* * *

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.

Lazy-i

Live Review: Down Under with The Gotobeds, New Lungs…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 1:48 pm November 19, 2014
The Gotobeds at The Down Under Lounge, Nov. 18, 2014.

The Gotobeds at The Down Under Lounge, Nov. 18, 2014.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Sometimes bars start booking live music as a way to get people in the door to check out the place. That’s what I have to believe is happening at The Down Under Lounge. The bar, located off 38th and Leavenworth, is not in any way designed for live music. You could say the same thing about O’Leaver’s, but through persistence, technology, investment, know-how and years of booking shows, O’Leaver’s has become recognized not only as a viable alternative for touring bands, but as one of the better sounding rooms in Omaha.

The Down Under has a long way to go before it gets to that level, if it every does. But if the goal was to get people to discover the place, job well done. With its nautical theme, low ceilings and round windows, the bar (which I’ve driven by for decades without stopping in) felt like being down in the hull of a boat… almost. Actually, it felt more like being in someone’s basement that’s been made to feel like being in the hull of a boat. The room is cozy, even though it has its share of neon signs, flat panel TV and Husker shit nailed to the wall.

What it doesn’t have is any sort of stage. The Gotobeds set up in a corner opposite the door and did their thing surrounded by a few dozen guys holding tallboys. The band’s music clearly was influenced by early Pavement but has an additional layer of abrasion supplied by duel guitars that trade riffs and other distorted noises. No idea where the bar got that PA, but it was as rustic as I’ve heard in any public gathering. The vocals sounded like they were being blown from a bullhorn, which in the case of this music, was oddly appropriate.

I got to the bar at the top of Gotobeds’ short set, apparently after some unintentional pyrotechnics involving that PA (I was told the speaker only smoked, no actual flames were emitted). The band played about a half-dozen songs including highlight “NY’s Alright.” The set ended with both guitarists on their backs, feet slid up one of the room’s support poles. Very rock and roll.

So as not to be “Omaha’d,” Gotobeds played second, making New Lungs the headliner. DMax and company riffed though a fun, heavy set. Moving Cory Broman over to a Korg keyboard was a good idea — the sounds he was making added a cool element, especially on a couple new songs (or at least ones I hadn’t heard before). Again, vocals were fuzz/mud/squelch quality.

Like I said, this isn’t the best place to see a show, at least not the way it was set up last night. But the Down Under definitely feels like a cool place to have a beer or 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 © 2014 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Live Review: Junkfest, Ramon Speed, Josh Hoyer; Desa adds show, Whipkey Kickstarter; Sour Boy, Bitter Girl, High Ends tonight…

Ramon Speed at Junkstock #20 at Sweatshop Gallery, Nov. 8, 2014.

Ramon Speed at Junkstock #20 at Sweatshop Gallery, Nov. 8, 2014.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

It was a night of contrasts Saturday. The evening started out in Benson at Junkstock #20, the gala event hosted by Unread Records’ Chris Fischer featuring a number of artists from the exec’s famous tape label. I got there just in time to catch an amazing set by South Carolina songwriter Brantley Fletcher who goes by the name Plundershop. His story-telling style of acoustic balladry had a personal quality reminiscent of Mountain Goats’ John Darnielle, and equally as stark. The guy had a great voice that sounded sterling on the Sweatshop’s tiny PA.

This was my first show at Sweatshop, which is basically the garage in the back of the Sweatshop Gallery, located just south of The Barley Street Tavern in Benson. Entrance is in the back through a smokers-picnic area where people hung out on lawn chairs and drank from BYOB tall boys. Had I known it was a BYOB thing I would have picked up a can of Rolling Rock before I arrived.

The performance space is small; it looks like it could hold 50 or so comfortably in front of the “band space.” It’s a stand-around experience, though a couple people were seated here and there including near the doorway that led downstairs to the art gallery. It had the feel of a house show (or garage show).

Plundershop was followed by a guy who goes by the name Mean Spirited Robots, another acoustic songwriter who played his personal stories seated to a crowd of around 20.

Josh Hoyer and the Shadowboxers at The Slowdown, Nov. 8, 2014.

Josh Hoyer and the Shadowboxers at The Slowdown, Nov. 8, 2014.

After his set it was time for something completely different. I skedaddled down to The Slowdown for Josh Hoyer and the Shadowboxers’ CD release show. Hoyer filled the big stage with a pro team that included sax, trombone, guitar, bass, drums, keyboard and three backup singers, all necessary to fill out the funk/blues sound heard on his new album. Hoyer said he’d spent the time before his set resting his voice which “felt funny,” but you couldn’t hear a bit of hoarseness when he launched into his CD’s title track, “Living by the Minute.”

This is traditional blues/funk that borders on Steely Dan yacht rock played precisely by a team of instrumental craftsmen, but it’s Hoyer at the center — pounding out the keys and singing — that makes it all work. It was nice not being the oldest guy in the crowd of around 200, a crowd that looked a lot different than the usual indie audience I’ve seen at past Slowdown shows.

plundeshop110814

Plundershop at The Sweatshop Gallery, Nov. 8, 2014.

Thirty or so minutes into the set and I headed back uptown to the Sweatshop, arriving just in time to see the last band of the evening, Ramon Speed. By then, the garage was jam packed and I began to understand why they call it the Sweatshop as I was sweating my ass off in my pea coat.

Ramon Speed has been around in one form or another since the ’90s, having released music on Sing! Eunuchs label, among others. The band’s personnel is George Peek on guitar and vocals, Brad Smith (of Almost Music) on bass, Mike Marasco on guitar, and Miah Sommer on drums.

This was my first time ’round with these guys and it was amazing — a hard, guttural punk rock sound, a throwback to the early Antiquarium days of the ’90s of bands like Solid Jackson and Culture Fire. The closest modern comparison would be one of Steve Micek’s bands (The Stay Awake) though RS’s sound is not nearly as technical. Great stuff. Too bad it was a one-off, as Peek doesn’t live around here, and the rest of the band is involved in other projects.

* * *

A few newsy notes…

This morning One Percent Productions announced that Desaparecidos will be playing at The Waiting Room Nov. 25 with Digital Leather and BOTH. Not sure why this one popped up now, other than the band might be getting in some stage time while everyone’s in town for Thanksgiving (and they’re prepping to support an upcoming release on Epitaph?). $20 tix are on sale now.

Also, Matt Whipkey’s Kickstarter campaign is winding down and Matt’s still got a ways to go. He’s just under $3,000 with a goal of $5,250 and just three days left. So if you’re gonna help him out, better do it now.

There is a raft of shows going on tonight…

Over at the Down Under Lounge, 3802 Leavenworth, Ft. Collins band Sour Boy, Bitter Girl headlines with Micha Schnabel (Two Cow Garage), Anthems and Cooper Lakota Moon. 7 p.m., $5.

Indie hip-hop star Murs headlines at The Waiting Room tonight with Ces Cru. $20, 9 p.m.

The sneaky-good show of the night is High Ends at Reverb. Fronted by Jeff Innes of Yukon Blonde, the Vancouver band’s music has been compared to Destroyer and Jim James. Opening is One Eye White. $10, 9 p.m.

* * *

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.

Lazy-i

Live Review: Tennis, Pure Bathing Culture; 3Q’14 Reviews (in the column); Oquoa, Dylan Ryan/Sand tonight…

Category: Column,Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 1:54 pm November 6, 2014
Tennis at The Waiting Room, Nov. 5, 2014.

Tennis at The Waiting Room, Nov. 5, 2014.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Tennis continues to grow. Every time the Denver band comes to Omaha the crowd gets bigger. No doubt the crowds will continue to grow as more people discover their new album, Ritual in Repeat (Communion), which hits a sweet spot between their usual airy indie songs and new rhythm-centered tracks.

In fact, the best songs of the night came from that new album. Three songs in, tiny frontwoman Alaina Moore coaxed the crowd to come closer to the stage before introducing the new material, highlighted by jump-beat track “Never Work for Free.” Moore’s voice is a cross between Harriet Wheeler of The Sundays and Olivia Newton John. Tennis’ lighter moments resemble The Sundays mellow rapture or Camera Obscura, while the upbeat numbers, like the disco-thump “I’m Callin'” are pure Xanadu, thanks in part to the subtle guitar funk of bandmate Patrick Riley, who if he wore a white V-neck T-shirt, could pass as Denver Dalley’s older brother.

These days it’s rare for bands to evolve past their first album, but Tennis has only improved with age. Their music certainly has gotten more interesting, and if Moore and Co. ever commit to a full-out dance party who knows how far they’d go. They’ve already come pretty far.

Pure Bathing Culture sans drummer at The Waiting Room Nov. 5, 2014.

Pure Bathing Culture sans drummer at The Waiting Room Nov. 5, 2014.

I’m not sure what was going on during Pure Bathing Culture’s set. The Portland band was without their drummer for reasons unknown. When the band acknowledged his absence, someone in the smallish crowd asked if he got fired. “No, but if he misses more shows…”

The trio sounded off-kilter, as if something was wrong with their tuning, and the whole performance listed under water, leaving me a tad bit seasick. The fill-in pre-programmed beats didn’t help matters, nor did the mud-quality mix which masked frontwoman Sarah Versprille’s vocals, making them undecipherable. Or maybe it was just me. I talked to one guy afterward who said he loved their short 20-minute set.

* * *

In this week’s column, the 3rd Quarter 2014 Album Reviews Round-up, with reviews of new ones by The Gotobeds, The Heart Wants, Ty Segall, Josh Hoyer and the Shadowboxers, Twin Peaks and more. You can read it in the new issue of The Reader or online right here.

* * *

Tonight at fabulous O’Leaver’s it’s the return of local indie super-group Oquoa, along with LA instrumental band Dylan Ryan / Sand and Hotlines. $5, 9:30 p.m.

* * *

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.

Lazy-i

Live Review: Iceage; Rocco DeLuca tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 12:56 pm October 27, 2014
Iceage at Slowdown Jr., Oct. 24, 2014.

Iceage at Slowdown Jr., Oct. 24, 2014.

By Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Iceage came onto Slowdown Jr.’s stage Friday night with angry/pouty frontman Elias Bender Rønnenfelt looking pissed off, but purely in a theatrical sense. As the band corked into their first song, Rønnenfelt hopped off the stage and snatched a poor young lady’s cellphone right out of her hand. She stood startled, her mouth open as wide as her eyes, as he tossed the phone next to the bass drum, where it would sit for the duration of the set. Needless to say, folks kept their phones in their pockets… at least until halfway though the set.

By then, Rønnenfelt was so engaged with the audience, leaning atop a monitor and traipsing into the crowd, that he didn’t notice phoners, or didn’t care. Iceage music is rough, a dry-heave style of punk with shadows of early monsters like Gang of Four and The Fall lying hidden beneath the waves. The rhythm section always is front and center providing a solid bedrock for Rønnenfelt’s low, breathy brays and yells. Always the center of attention, his demeanor swayed between flirty come-hither stares and lean-forward spit-in-your-face attacks, both delivered with the intensity of a petulant school girl.

By song three moshing did ensue, as a crowd of a dozen ground against each other and the stage with Rønnenfelt looking onward from his perch atop the stage monitor. The set lasted only 30 minutes. The crowd of less than 100 waited for an encore until the house music and lights came up. That was it. A glance at their tour on setlist.fm shows they always keep it at nine songs or less, and never play an encore. And to be honest, that was all I wanted. Any more would have been overkill. What’s that they say, “Leave them wanting more…”?

The performance seemed like a captured moment in time, and I felt lucky to be there. Iceage is a band burning brightly. But like all bright flames, how long will it last?

BTW, that young lady got her cellphone back, and I saw her chatting with Rønnenfelt outside afterward, smiling.

* * *

Fans of Daniel Lanois may want to check out tonight’s Rocco DeLuca show at Slowdown Jr. Lanois played on and is executive producer of DeLuca’s new self-titled album, and also produced his 2009 record, Mercy. No doubt you’ll spot the influence. LA band Old Man opens. $8, 9 p.m.

* * *

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.

Lazy-i

Live Review: Lars & Mal; Iceage, Oquoa, Eli Mardock, Bloodcow tonight; Nightbird, Plack Blague Saturday…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 12:26 pm October 24, 2014
Lars & Mal at Reverb, Oct. 23, 2014.

Lars & Mal at Reverb, Oct. 23, 2014.

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).

* * *

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.

* * *

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.

Lazy-i

Live Review: Delta Spirit, Simon Joyner & the Ghosts; Dum Dum Girls, Burkum Boys tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , — @ 12:57 pm October 20, 2014
The Delta Spirit at The Waiting Room, Oct. 17, 2014.

The Delta Spirit at The Waiting Room, Oct. 17, 2014.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Bar hopping was in order last Friday night.

First stop was The Waiting Room where The Delta Spirit was set to play. The band seems to have changed its direction from its early Americana days. When people hear the name Delta Spirit they expect the usual hayseed folk-rock stuff but in fact DS has changed its style, reaching for a more commercial base, as evidenced by its new album, Into the Wide, which has similarities to the last couple U2 albums — huge chiming guitars and full blown anthems sung by a frontman who resembles actor Shia Labeouf but with an arena-quality voice that rings out over everything behind it. In this case, “everything” includes two drummers (one who doubles on keyboards) and the usual bass, drums, guitar combination. It was one of the louder recent shows I’ve seen at TWR.

Surprisingly, it wasn’t a a sell out, even though Delta Spirit has done a good job creating a fan base in Omaha, where they’ve played at least three times including at a past Maha Music Festival, a performance that I either missed or forgot. Still, the fans that showed up (apparently some traveling long distances) pumped their fists in front of the stage where the band glowed from a projected light show beamed on vertical white strips that hung down like prison bars. The video was mostly static splatters, odd psychedelic patterns, nothing that distracted too much from frontman Matthew Vasquez.

You have to hand it to Vasquez. In an era where pick-up truck six-pack pop country is making millions, he could step right into the cowboy-hat set with ease, but instead, he’s taken an indie/alternative route that promises nothing but club gigs unless somehow DS manages to break through to the larger audience. I see no reason why they wouldn’t, all it takes these days is getting your song played on the right TV commercial or show.

Simon Joyner and The Ghosts at O'Leaver's, Oct. 17, 2014.

Simon Joyner and The Ghosts at O’Leaver’s, Oct. 17, 2014.

After a half-hour of their set, I got a text from someone at O’Leaver’s saying that Simon Joyner was about to go on, so I hoofed it back to my car and drove down the serpentine back of Radial Highway to Saddle Creek Road to Omaha’s favorite music-powered dive bar.

Joyner and his band The Ghosts never sounded better on O’Leaver’s “stage.” More enhancement to the bar’s PA and sound system was part of the reason, but the credit really goes to the new line-up.

Joyner’s music continues to get more detailed, more complex while at the same time, more relaxed. Having a team of talented musicians, each providing their own nuance to the structure, resulted in layers upon layers of sound and melody headed in the same direction, but centered around Joyner’s personal lyrics that read like a poetic document or a painter’s road map of a world we’ve all come to recognize over the course of his 20-plus year career.

Watching them perform, each player looked lost in his or her own personal space, feverishly translating the song into their own voice. Joyner gave them the space to make their parts their own without losing sight of the color of the moment. Riveting stuff, especially when it built to a crescendo, which Joyner effortlessly brought back with a turn of his head.

O’Leaver’s appears to be going through some sort of transition since the last time I visited. New lighting fixtures hung over the booth tables. A glass door had been installed in the far wall that (I’m told) will lead to a second beer garden in the back of the building, a new deck area which could host live music (one assumes of the acoustic variety). No matter what they do to the place, though, it’ll always be the same old O’Leaver’s.

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Saturday I caught Rachel Tomlinson Dick‘s set at the Almost Music / Solid Jackson Books anniversary music festival. It was just Dick and her electric guitar, sort of like listening to a Midwestern version of PJ Harvey’s 4-Track Demos, but with more melody and a Big Star cover thrown in for good measure. Pretty awesome.

BTW, Hers (Tomlinson’s band) just got a feature at Nylon online a couple weeks ago. Check it out.

I picked up a copy of The Smith’s debut album at Almost Music, as well as Bob Mould’s biography and another Hunter S. Thompson collection. You can always find good stuff at Almost Music. If you haven’t been there — and you’re into vinyl (or cassettes) — do yourself a favor.

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The Huge Show of the Week is tonight at The Waiting Room. Dum Dum Girls take the stage. The band is out touring their most recent Sub Pop release, Too True. Opening is Ex Cops (on Manhattan record store Other Music’s label) and Kansas City’s Yes You Are, whose members include Tilly and the Wall vocalist Kianna Alarid. $15, 9 p.m.

Also tonight, the Burkum Boys (from Skypiper) headline at Reverb with The Cactus Blossoms & Mitch Gettman. $5, 9 p.m.

And John Klemmensen and the Party plays tonight at Slowdown Jr. with Phillly fuzz punk band Mumblr and Brisx. $7, 9 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 © 2014 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Live Review: Sebadoh and the debut of Reverb’s concert space…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:54 pm September 29, 2014
Sebadoh at Reverb Lounge, Sept. 28, 2014.

Sebadoh at Reverb Lounge, Sept. 28, 2014.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

First off, there will be a full write-up about Reverb in this week’s column, a detailed look at the place and what it means in the larger picture of the Omaha music scene. That’s out Thursday. This is a review of last night’s kick-off show, and man, it was a bumpy ride.

The problems with the vocal PA seemed obvious during See Through Dresses’ opening set. Instrumentally, the band sounded great, you just couldn’t hear the vocals, they were dead or gone from the first note. Who to blame — was it something the band was doing wrong on stage or was it the sound guy? The vocals were simply buried in the mix and stayed that way.

Then came Sebadoh. Let’s not make more out of the incident than it was. By the second song, Lou Barlow was clearly irritated. “Can you hear me?” About a dozen hands went up with thumbs pointed at the ceiling, indicating more vocals. Barlow apologized, saying it was the first show for the club, that it “sounded like shit,” and mentioned something about giving the crowd its money back.

Then he left took off his guitar and left the stage. Jason Loewenstein, sporting a bass at this point in the set, looked up and said, “What did you guys say?” A few moments later, Barlow returned to a smattering of applause before kicking into their next song, which had virtually non-existent vocals. Then they went right into “On Fire” and things got noticeably better as two sound guys poured over the digital sound board trying to figure out what was wrong.

Next, Barlow’s amp broke. “I guess this room doesn’t like guitars.” Loewenstein came to the rescue with a spare guitar pedal and the show went on, and by the next song or two, the vocals gradually got better. By the end of the first Barlow-sung portion of the set, Lou could be heard fairly clearly, but the PA never had the necessary heft to really cut through the rest of the band’s equipment.

After Loewenstein’s set, Barlow apologized again. “Sorry I was so pouty earlier. I ran off stage to drink some wine and when I got back the sound was better.

I assume the band did a sound check earlier in the afternoon. If they had, they would have noticed the problem (It wasn’t one of those deals where “the crowd muffled the mix” — Reverb is way too small for that). Did something happen between sound check and the first set? Who knows.

A look at the crowd from the edge of the stage during See Through Dresses' set.

A look at the crowd from the edge of the stage during See Through Dresses’ set.

It was an inauspicious start for a new club with lots of promise. Located through the main lounge, entering the performance room is like walking into a sound stage, albeit a tiny sound stage. I couldn’t believe how small the room looked. It is, in essence, a gray box with a stage raised about four feet off the ground built into the wall. Maybe it was the high ceilings or the lack of tables and chairs, but the room seemed downright microscopic. The performance space is definitely bigger than The Barley Street’s or Sweatshop’s, but is it bigger than O’Leaver’s? I don’t know.

With its poured concrete floors, gray paint, no windows and exposed ceiling, the room is austere. The only decoration is a series of black-and-white concert photos that line the room at eye level, further accentuating the high ceiling. Then there’s the stage itself. Small, back-curtained with LED spotlight racks mounted on the ceiling in front of and behind the band. The only outcrop in the room is the sound board in the back directly facing the stage.

With all that concrete, featureless walls and high ceiling, I expected the sound to be brash and bouncy and was pleasantly surprised at how well directed it sounded. No doubt it was loud — bands aren’t going to need much to fill the space, which will help keep the sound down in the main lounge (where, no surprise, you could clearly hear the band during the set).

I’m no audio engineer, but the flaw seems to be the vocal PA. (From what I could see) the system has two smallish overhead arrays and a couple subs built under the stage. I didn’t have a chance to check out the stage monitors. As Barlow said himself a couple times from stage, hey, this is the first show. Give it time and this is going to be a great room.

The performance itself was solid. Barlow’s getting shaggy in his old age, with a big head of hair and a massive beard. His voice was as good as ever (when I could hear it). Loewenstein also was in fine form (especial on his personal anthem, “My Drugs”), despite suffering from a tooth ache (They’ll be looking for an oral surgeon today). Ouch.

One Percent said they sold 115 tickets and purposely kept the number at that level to make for a comfortable show, and comfortable it was. Moving around the room was easy, with plenty of space against the back wall and good sight lines throughout. I guess the room is bigger than I thought.

Having a second exit along the opposite side of the soundboard makes exiting easy. I’d like to see the room “warmed up” a bit aesthetically – it’s rather sterile and barren now. That said, it is indeed an intimate experience. It definitely felt like a private show. Someone said “I’d pay $200 to see Sonic Youth in this room.” Now wouldn’t that be killer?

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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.

Lazy-i