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.

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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: 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.

* * *

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.

* * *

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.

* * *

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.

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Live Review: The War on Drugs; Mike Watt Vs. Ty Segall tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , — @ 12:55 pm September 25, 2014
The War on Drugs at The Waiting Room, Sept. 24, 2014.

The War on Drugs at The Waiting Room, Sept. 24, 2014.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

After catching the last couple songs by opener Califone (stunning) I wondered if I picked the wrong show. Surely Chvrches was going to be an audio/visual spectacle, a big-barn light show with plenty of compressed zings and a cooing frontwoman and lots and lots of young folks getting “into the groove.” Whereas The War on Drugs’ crowd was what I imaged it would be — a sausage party of music geeks like myself who know a good song when they hear it and want to see if the band can pull it off live.

That can mean a rather boring show — a handful of musicians on stage standing around playing their songs exactly as they sound on the record, with not much to see except hunched shoulders and contorted faces gripped in concentration, as opposed to Chvrches’ playground ride.

War on Drugs frontman Adam Granduciel.

War on Drugs frontman Adam Granduciel.

The band strolled on stage a little after 10, frontman Adam Granduciel looking like (as one social media comment put it), a young Ronnie James Dio with his shaggy, saggy long hair and denim jacket over T–shirt. Granduciel is the epitome of ’70s/’80s rock, from his appearance to his music, which despite modern flourishes really is a throwback to a time when people listened to songs for the melodies rather than the vibe.

TWOD’s appeal comes from its soaring guitar lines (reminiscent of ’80s New Wave pop), unobtrusive keyboard lines, Granduciel’s nasal Dylan-styled vocals and (most importantly) Charlie Hall’s straight-forward rock-n-roll drumming so rife with backbeat, so obvious that you can’t help but nod your head to it. Hall’s style is so crisp you could mistake it for a drum machine, keeping the most amorphous songs pumping away. In fact, half the tunes began with long, winding guitar drones or keyboards that laid flat until Hall kicked them into gear.

I tapped down a note during one particularly long high-throttle session, where the guitars were doing some back-and-forth after the melody was over: “Allman Brothers meets Dire Straits.” TWOD sounds like neither of course, instead capturing the spirit of both bands thanks to the guitar interplay and the rhythm section. At other times I was reminded of Jim James and My Morning Jacket. Then there’s the whole Dylan thing.

Throughout the set Granduciel teased that he was going to play his cover of “Tangled Up in Blue” at some point in the evening. “I’m going to try it without the lyric sheet tonight,” he grinned. But after an hour it was obvious he wasn’t going to play the Dylan chestnut until either very late in the set or during an encore. And believe it or not, some of us had to work the next morning.

So. On and on. You reach a point where you say to yourself, “I got it. These guys aren’t going to do anything different than what I’ve seen and heard for the past hour. I’ve heard my favorite songs. Why am I still here?

I waited through two more soaring numbers (including a chomping version of “Red Eyes”) before I gave up the ghost. About 15 minutes after I got home someone posted on Facebook “Tangled Up in Blue!” Well. It’s not as if that was the reason I bought a ticket to the show in the first place.

The War on Drugs is a band destined to do more than the tiny little indie-rock world can provide. They have a style and sound destined for arenas, if Granduciel can write a breakthrough record. No doubt Lost in the Dream was a breakthrough from an indie point of view, but he’ll need something bigger to get to the next level, something the crowd can sing along to. Or he could get caught in the endless indie morpheus loop, putting out record after record after record, each one well respected, forever nurturing a small-but-strong following. Or they could become this generation’s Counting Crows. I don’t know which fate is worse. Here’s hoping they become this generation’s Arcade Fire, growing to arena proportions, taking a different path every time out.

* * *

Ty Segall’s new record, Manipulator, is a slick garage rock album with the usual psychedelic sheen, great guitars and an abundance of simple songs. This is Segall’s most pop-friendly set to date. Could he be the next Jack White (Well, I certainly like Segall’s music more).

Live, Segall brings a wall-of-sound approach to his rock concerts and I have no doubt he’ll do it again tonight at The Waiting Room. In addition to mighty guitar licks, expect a selection from the new album along with some back catalog faves. In addition, Segall has been known to pull out a handful of covers during a set. At his Chicago show Tuesday night he tossed in three Bowie songs (including “Queen Bitch”), according to setlist.fm. $15, 9 p.m.

Mike Watt’s latest effort, Il Sogno Del Marinaio, is another in a series of experimental projects by the Minutemen bassist that leans closer to improvisational jazz and beat poetry than rock. Still, the man is legend. At Slowdown Jr., $13, 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: Future Islands, Operators; Bob Log III, Millions of Boys tonight, Saturn Moth Saturday; Digital Leather, Little Brazil Sunday…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:55 pm August 29, 2014
The many faces of Samuel T. Herring of Future Islands, The Waiting Room, Aug. 28, 2014.

The many faces of Samuel T. Herring of Future Islands, The Waiting Room, Aug. 28, 2014.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Samuel T. Herring paced the stage like a sweaty caged bear. By now, thanks to David Letterman, any fan of Future Islands is familiar with his groovy dance routine, but they probably weren’t so familiar with his other rather unique performance gestures displayed on stage last night, such as:

— Picking the imaginary berry and eating it (along with his hand)
— Pounding his chest, hard, like a gorilla
— Reaching into his chest and pulling out his heart, and eating it (along with his hand)
— Swinging his fist round-house style, hard and wide, just like Elvis
— And “Hello God, it’s me, Samuel” (softly, Waterfront Bando-style, while looking up at the moon).

These gestures and many more were woven into his usual battery of low-dips, twists, high kicks and vogue-like head turns during last night’s Future Islands’ set at The Waiting Room.

The first time I saw him — back in 2011, cold-called, never even having seen a picture of the band before — I was startled and enamored. Last night, having seen the shtick a few times since, I was merely amused and entertained. So was the sold-out audience, who jerked and dived right along with Herring throughout an hour-plus-long set that left him looking as if he’d just undergone the ice bucket challenge, his red collared dress shirt sweat-soaked and clinging to his ape-like physique.

Now you know. Herring doesn’t hold back. He leaves it allllll on stage, every performance, presumably every night. And that kind of kinetic self-brutality has to take a toll on something. Last night it was his voice.

You did not hear Samuel T. at his best. His vocals were ragged from the very start, often breaking down to choked whispers. As one guy put it, “He started his growl pretty early in the set tonight.” He sure did. At past performances, that monster growl had been tossed out sparingly, for effect. Last night his guttural Cookie Monster roar appeared early and often, most likely to compensate for a lack of high end.

The limitation was most noticeable on their most known song, “Seasons (Waiting on You),” made famous on Letterman. The song’s soaring moments were cut off, growled or strangled. Strangely, as the night wore on, Herring’s voice got better. In fact, he sang best during the three-song encore.

Not that it mattered. People who didn’t know better surely thought it was all part of the show, a show that hasn’t changed much since the last time I saw it on TWR stage; and it’s still just as entertaining.

Operators at The Waiting Room, Aug. 28, 2014.

Operators at The Waiting Room, Aug. 28, 2014.

The real surprise last night (for me, anyway) was opening band Operators. The band consists of frontman Dan Boeckner (Wolf Parade) and drummer Sam Brown (New Bomb Turks), who worked together with Britt Daniel in the one-off Devine Fits project. Rounding out the trio is fetching keyboard player Dvojka. Their sound was a fine combination of ’80s synthrock and post-wave Eno-era Talking Heads sung with indie-rock gusto by Boeckner, who resembled a young (though shirted) Iggy Pop.

Operators new EP, EP 1, captures their synth-rock-dance energy (check out “Ancient”), but doesn’t capture their live dynamic, which was more free-form and fun, a good opening match for Future Islands…

* * *

So what’s going on this long, three-day weekend? Plenty.

Tonight creepy helmeted slide-guitar freakshow Bob Log III graces the stage at fabulous O’Leaver’s. Log III has mainly performed in larger clubs around town, like The Waiting Room. I can only imagine what’ll happen in The Club’s intimate confines. Will Mach be stirring up a Boob Scotch?  Find out at tonight’s massive showbill, which also includes Dumb Beach, Sean Pratt and the Sweats and DJ Dave Goldberg. Note this is a $7 show, starts at 9.

Also tonight, Millions of Boys plays at The Sydney with Kansas-based indie rockers Schwervon! and The Love Technicians. $5, 9 p.m.

Meanwhile, down at The Slowdown, Satchel Grande returns with Funk Trek. $8, 9 p.m.

Saturday night local indie rockers Saturn Moth celebrate their CD release at The Waiting Room with The Sub-Vectors, Manic Pixie Dream Girls and Lot Walks. $5, 9 p.m.

Then it’s back to O’Leaver’s on Sunday for a very special O’Leaver’s Sunday Social featuring three things none of us can live without: Digital Leather, Little Brazil and food. The music starts at 5 p.m. and it costs the usual $5. Look, we all have Monday off anyway. Might as well spend Sunday afternoon getting wasted at The House That Mello Built.

That’s what I got. If I’m missing your gig, 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.

Lazy-i