Live Review: Little Brazil, Pro-Magnum; Little Dragon tonight…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , , , — @ 1:03 pm June 4, 2018

Little Brazil at The Waiting Room, June 1, 2018.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

What’s the old saying — the biggest crowds come for album releases and farewell shows… and reunions, of course. Because Little Brazil plays so scarcely these days, Friday night’s show at The Waiting Room notched two of those three. It felt sort of like a reunion while at the same time they were celebrating the release of their new record, Send the Wolves (2018, Max Trax). As a result, the crowd was more than respectable: my guestimate 150+.

I got there in time to see the tail end of Pro-Magnum’s arena rock set. At least it felt like an arena rock show. I’ve seen these guys a ton of times at O’Leaver’s, but to really feel the power and majesty of these metal animals you need a stage as big at TWR’s, and a sound system to match.

Pro-Magnum at The Waiting Room, June 1, 2018.

Fronted by bassist Johnny Vredenburg with guitarists John Laughlin and Alex Kinner and legendary drummer Pat Oakes (congrats, Pat, you made “legendary” status) the band played what we used to call in the business “heavy metal,” with Vredenburg screaming/croaking out the lead vocals in Midwest-satanic fashion. The guitar interplay was most impressive, and Oakes’ throaty drumming,  a keynote back in his days with Ladyfinger, is always a wonder to behold.

This really is a different band on a large stage, visually and sonically. I assume this crew was influenced by the great arena metal acts of yesteryear (Scorpions, Slayer, Iron Maiden, etc.) who never played anything but arenas. If Pro-Magnum sounds like this at TWR, how would they sound playing Baxter Arena?

Little Brazil hit the stage at around 11 with a massive storm about to bear down on the city. I watched the radar tentatively from my phone as Landon, DMax and crew tore into a set that included all my favorites from Send the Wolves — “You,” “Making a Mess” and “Motorbike,” which featured a guest vocal by Ladyfinger’s Chris Machmuller, who also sang on the album track.

It was the usual great performance — these guys never fail to deliver. After the first few songs they played two yet-to-be-recorded songs, presumably off the next album, which will give the crowd something to look forward to, though there’s a lot of meat to Send the Wolves, even a track that features Conor Oberst on vocals (DMax stood in for Conor on Friday night). It’s Little Brazil’s best effort to date and as good as anything Desparecidos put out in its waning years (though in no way political).

In their current roles as family-men, it’s hard to imagine the band hitting the road touring the record, and as far as I know, there’s no plans to do so. So the goal I guess is to sell out the short run of vinyl, move some digital downloads and get spins on Spotify (where it’s also available). And then get back in the studio and do it all again. It’s just like the old days when it was every band’s goal to make enough money to write and record the next album. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

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Tonight, Swedish electronic band Little Dragon plays at The Slowdown. The quartet has collaborated with the likes of Gorillaz, TV on the Radio’s Dave Sitek and SBTRKT. Kethro opens at 8 p.m. GA tix are $28.

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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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Live Review: Stef Chura; 15 Passenger signs Campdogzz…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:35 pm May 31, 2018

Stef Chura at O’Leaver’s, May 30, 2018.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

It was a small but lively crowd for last night’s Stef Chura concert at O’Leaver’s. Chura wisely played third among the four slated performers, possibly to prevent getting Omaha’d. Her act was a trio with bass and drums and Chura handling electric guitar and vocals.

I assume the first couple songs were new ones off the upcoming record produced by Will Toledo as they were heavier than stuff on her debut album and featured “trick endings” or at least they tricked the audience, who weren’t sure if the song was over or… oh, I guess there’s another verse. Super cool and catchy.

She brought it down in the middle of the set for a few songs off Messes, including a stirring version of personal favorite “Human Being,” where she sounded like a nerdy Stevie Nicks. Chura has a sweet croon that easily slips into a high, country-esque warble that could become her trademark if she’s not careful. On the whole, her vocals were under-powered last night and hard to hear except for those quiet moments.

Other highlights included the new singles, which also were produced by Toledo and are  catchy. Who knows how much influence Toledo will have on her sound. I guess we’ll have to wait unto the new album. Regardless, I think she’s going to be another strong addition to the “New Era” stable of Saddle Creek artists forging the label’s future.

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I’m a few days behind in mentioning that the Cursive guys’ new record label, 15 Passenger, just signed its first act – Chicago band Campdogzz.

According to their bio, the band has been kicking around for years, self-releasing their debut, Riders in the Hills of Dying Heaven, back in 2015. The new one, In Rounds, which comes out Aug. 3 on 15 Passenger, was written over a couple years and recorded in 2017 in Chicago. They’ve played around a lot, opening for Saddle Creek acts Big Thief and Sam Evian, among others.

The new record is solid and sounds like something that would fit into Saddle Creek recent catalog. Check out the first single below and pre-order here.

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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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Live Review: La Luz, The Whiffs; American Aquarium, The New Trust tonight…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 12:45 pm May 29, 2018

The Whiffs at O’Leaver’s, May 28, 2018.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

As much as I love O’Leaver’s, it does have its limits. Last night’s super-packed La Luz show is one example. When you have that many people crammed up by the band, with people literally sitting on top of the railing, anyone behind that mass of humanity isn’t going to see anything except people’s backs because O’Leaver’s doesn’t have a raised stage (or a stage of any kind).

I made the mistake of hanging outside in the beer garden too long between sets, so when I came back inside, my favorite “spot” (which is along the side, peeking through the “windows”) was already taken, leaving me to hang out by the sound board for most of the La Luz set. They sounded great, playing a modernized version of mid-tempo doo-wop/surf rock.

La Luz from in back of the room at O’Leaver’s, May 28, 2018.

What can I say? The show would have been a blast held outside or in a larger venue (like The Winchester, but I’m told live shows there is a year away). It was still fun. I ended up listening to the last half of the set outside on the old front patio, where I watched one of the band members crowd surf to the bar, take a shot and disappear back over the crowd to the stage — been a long time since I’ve seen crowd surfing at O’Leaver’s.

Luckily there were fewer people in the club when The Whiffs were on stage. The KC four-piece plays power-pop rock reminiscent of bands on the old Titan Records label of the ’70s — acts like The Boys and Gems — bands that would go on to influence national acts like The Knack. Check out the collection: Titan, It’s All Pop on Numero (and on Spotify).

The Whiffs have that same energy, though their sound is slightly harder, rougher but no less fun, rife with three-part harmonies and some killer guitar solos. Check out their album on Bandcamp for some summer fun.

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It’s a busy week for shows…

Tonight New West band American Aquarium plays at The Waiting Room. The North Carolina act’s sound is a twangy Americana which has been compared to Lucero, Jason Isbell and Jeff Tweedy. Cory Branan opens at 8 p.m. $20.

Meanwhile, back at O’Leaver’s it’s The New Trust (ex-The Velvet Teen) with The Long Awaited and Cuddlebone. No price listed, but probably $5. 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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Live Review: Closeness, InDreama, Tbd. dance collective…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 12:40 pm May 21, 2018

InDreama at O’Leaver’s May 18, 2018.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Friday night felt like a “happening” at O’Leaver’s — a live show on stage and DJs on the patio. It was a wild, fun night.

The music kicked off with a set from InDreama, Nik Fackler’s psych-rock project which hasn’t played live in a couple years. Something indeed has changed over that time as the band never sounded so ferocious. So intense was the set that the music from the band’s debut album felt re-imagined, with Fackler slaying on lead guitar and vocals. Why they’ve been hiding all this time is a mystery.

A big part of the groovy vibe was supplied by the crowd, which was hyped and eager and very responsive. This would prove out next when .tbd dance collective took the stage.

.Tbd Dance Collective at O’Leaver’s May 18, 2018.

I wasn’t expecting much, considering the rather small and grungy confines of O’Leaver’s. The collective would have to come up with something creative to make this space come alive, and they did.

A trio of dancers, which included Fackler’s wife, Kat, walked out in formation dressed in shiny silver skin-tight jumpsuits and grabbed the audience with an interpretation of David Bowie’s “Girl Loves Me” off Blackstar that concluded with them ripping off their suits.

They were joined by the rest of the collective for a couple more routines that fell together seamlessly from song to song, concluding with a frenetic interpretation of Todrick Hall’s track “Dem Beats” where the crowd was invited to join in a communal dance that became a celebration. It was a high point of the evening.

Closeness at O’Leaver’s, May 18, 2018.

Finally Closeness — Todd and Orenda Fink — closed out the night with a set of their usual driving electronic rock. The music was as dense and ponderous as the heavy clouds of smoke that billowed from the floor between songs. I was thinking while listening that Closeness is a natural extension to what Todd did in The Faint married with Orenda’s unique style. Friday night’s show seemed to rely more on Todd than Orenda at least vocally, though both were in fine voice.

Now that summer is on its way O’Leaver’s is reaching some sort of party-scene apex, and I’m told there are more improvements to the club on the horizon…

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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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Live Review: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club; Closeness, InDreama, Leafblower tonight; Velveteers, Ocean Black, U2 Saturday; Wye Oak Sunday…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , , , , , — @ 12:23 pm May 18, 2018

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club at The Slowdown, May 17, 2018.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

I’m told they did not roll in on motorcycles, but they looked like they could have. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club took the stage in Slowdown’s main room last night to a large, older, darkly clad crowd come to see these ’90s alt rock giants.

Starting out as a trio, they ripped through new stuff and old, including a tasty version of “Beat the Devil’s Tattoo” that had the crowd doing some overhead clapping. Listening to the band what came to mind was how many other acts (including a lot of grungy outlaw-country bands) have stolen their twangy blues-rock style. I could see how people initially compared them to early Led Zeppelin (in their blues-rock song structure) but also heard a Skynyrd and swamp-rock influence.

Guitarist Peter Hayes (who also played a small drum set) and bassist Robert Levon Been (who also played acoustic guitar) shared the mumbled vocals from song to song. A keyboardist joined them about 20 minutes into the set, filling out the sound especially on newer songs. Drummer Leah Shapiro kept the throaty, mid-tempo beat going all night. Fun set, and what little variety came from Hayes and Been switching off instruments or Hayes’ strange vocal microphone used for a few numbers I guess to give him an even grittier growl.

* * *

Lots o’ shows happening this weekend…

Tonight Closeness — Todd and Orenda Fink’s dreamy electronic rock project — headlines at fabulous O’Leaver’s for what could be a spectacle as the Tbd. Dance Collective will perform in the center slot. What that entails within the basement-like confines of The Club is anyone’s guess. Opening is Nik Fackler’s prog-psych-rock project InDreama, who hasn’t gigged in many a moon. $7, 10 p.m.

Meanwhile, over at The Brothers Lounge, Max Trax Recording artist Leafblower headlines. Universe Contest opens at 10 p.m. This one’s $5.

Tomorrow night it’s back to O’Leaver’s for Velveteers — Demi and John Demitro out of Boulder playing a style that would have fit right in opening for BRMC. This is a loaded bill with the local stoner-rockers Ocean Black and Bad Bad Men (Hug, Wolf, Siebkin, say no more) . $8, 9 p.m.

What else… oh yeah, there’s a little band called U2 playing at CenturyLink Center tomorrow night (Saturday). I’m seeing tickets as low as $9 for this (behind the stage in nosebleed-land). Still, it’s U2. 8 p.m. start time.

Finally, Wye Oak plays at The Waiting Room Sunday night. Their new album, The Faster I Call, the Faster It Runs (2018, Merge) is a departure from their past stuff in that it actually kind of rocks in an electronic sort of way. Their best record yet? You be the judge. Palm (Carpark Records) opens a 8 p.m. $15.

That’s all I got. If I missed your show, put it in the comments section. Have a great weekend.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Live Review: Bob’s Daisy Glaze (Bob Garfield and Co.) at The Brothers Lounge…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , — @ 12:39 pm May 7, 2018

Bob’s Daisy Glaze at The Brothers May 4, 2018. Bob Garfield is seated right.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

There’s a problem with one-off performances like the Bob’s Daisy Glaze gig at The Brothers last Friday night: Even if the gig kicks ass, you’re likely never to see or hear it again. And man, I’d love to hear the band again.

This was a special performance held in conjunction with Bob Malave-Garfield’s 50th birthday. Bob is a veteran of Omaha’s ’90s Golden Age, having played bass in Frontier Trust, Acorns and Dude Wyoming, among others. He’s something of a local treasure, and when you’re a local treasure, you can surround yourself with talent.

For this gig, Garfield, on guitar, was joined by guitarist David Nance, arguably one of the most important talents to emerge from the Omaha music scene in the past five years. Mike Tulis, who handled bass, has been a music scene fixture for more than a decade, currently riding high in Lupines. Drummer Susan Hendrick was the wildcard. Tulis tells me she used to play with Todd Grant, Matt Rutledge and Mike Fratt in Compost during the early ’90s.

Together they sounded like a tight classic rock band with indie rock flair — I was reminded of heavy Yo La Tengo or maybe Crazy Horse, though neither of those quite fit. The six-song set included five Garfield originals that throbbed with locomotive intensity. Garfield handled the vocals while seated on stage, belting out the words to songs like “She Was a Millionaire” and “Charm School.”

It all came together for the final song, a cover of T Rex’s “20th Century Boy” that took that riff-fueled tune and stretched it into a massive noise jam. Teresa and I were seated over by the bar beyond the crowd of standers and tables. About four minutes into the song the guitar solos began — both Garfield and Nance. People got out of their seats to see what was going on, it was one of these moments where you knew you were hearing and seeing something special. Keeping it rolling was Hendrick and Tulis, pounding out a solid rhythm line. Hendrick absolutely killed that drum set and I have to wonder where she’s been and why we don’t see more of her. Any band would be lucky to have her behind the kit.

After the smoke cleared, the entire club sang happy birthday to Bob and enjoyed some cake. It was just another in a long series of special evenings at The Brothers. Now if we could only get these four together again…

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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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Thick Paint, Nest Egg, David Nance, Druids tonight; Preoccupations’ New Material review…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:54 pm May 2, 2018

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

A couple of shows tonight…

Over at The Brothers Lounge Thick Paint headlines a show with David Nance. In the center spot is Asheville, NC band Nest Egg. Via the trio’s Facebook page: “Nest Egg has already made a name for themselves with their amazing fog-heavy, zoned and honed live show. Warping minds and winning fans with their heady, atmospheric take on progressive, ethereal vibed-out rock music.” Their sound is kinetic and fun. Check out the track below. $5, 9 p.m.

There’s also a heavy rock show at fabulous O’Leaver’s tonight with Des Moines psych-metal trio Druids. Locals Bonghammer and The Long Awaited open. $5, 9 p.m.

* * *

Q1 2018 record reviews continue. Read them all here at The Reader website.

Preoccupations, New Material (2018, Jagjaguwar)

Preoccupations, New Material (Jagjaguwar) — From the guys who used to be called Viet Cong. I listen to a lot of SiriusXM First Wave, which plays post-punk/New Wave music from the ‘80s and ‘90s, and some of these tracks could be dropped into rotation and no one would notice. Opener “Espionage,” for example, sounds like ‘80s Gary Numan synth rock crossed with Interpol. On the other hand, “Antidote” is Eno-esque modern and dissonant while “Solace” sounds like reimagined New Order. A favorite.

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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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Review: Eleanor Friedberger’s Rebound…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , — @ 12:45 pm May 1, 2018

Eleanor Friedberger, Rebound (2018, FrenchKiss)

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Q1 2018 record reviews continue. Read them all here at The Reader website.

Eleanor Friedberger, Rebound (FrenchKiss) — The former Fiery Furnaces’ frontwoman’s solo debut Last Summer was a fave of 2011, but the follow-ups have been mostly yawners. This synth-heavy collection is loaded with simple, sing-along pop ditties like the sun-shiny “Make Me a Song” and “The Letter.” The arrangements are so simple they sound like demos, with rhythms akin to beat box programs, but Friedberger’s sweet coo keeps you listening. Drops May 4.

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Friedberger’s on tour, but her closest pass is Kansas City’s Uptown Theater May 23.

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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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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New stuff from Jake Bellows, Jason Steady and Ben Eisenberger; High Up’s You Are Here review…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:48 pm April 30, 2018

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Catching up on some email…

The first video from the Friends and Family Volume 1 comp, out May 11 on Maria Taylor’s Flower Moon Records, dropped last week. It’s for a Jake Bellows track called “Tattoo,” and is actually a short film (more than 9 minutes long) directed by Martin Kenna. Very well shot, but missing from the frame is Jake Bellows himself (and we all know Jake can light up any room… or video).

Check it below:

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A new EP by Jason Steady & the Soft Ponies also dropped last week, called This Is Where I Am.  It’s described by Mr. Steady as “Songs about adventure, girls, smoking pot, waking up in the sun, and vegetarianism, but not necessarily in that order.”

The band, which includes Knife de la Garza and Aaron Lee, is heading out on a 14-city tour in May, which doesn’t include Omaha. What are you afraid of, Jason? Come on!

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And then there’s a new cassette by Ben Eisenberger called Three Islands. Ben also plays guitar in Hussies, Screaming Plastic and FiFI NoNo. The acoustic folk on this pretty 7-song LP is quite a departure from those projects.

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Q1 2018 record reviews continue. Read them all here at The Reader website.

High Up, You Are Here (2018, Team Love)

High Up, You Are Here (Team Love) — This Omaha act has been working up to a full-length debut for a couple years, and a number of these songs have been released as different recordings on their debut EP last year. Most notable is “Two Weeks,” which gets a different arrangement that brings the horns up front and feels louder and more confident. Unlike their past EP (and live performances) the band keeps the energy pumping even on the ballad-heavy numbers like the cover of Bright Eyes’ “Make a Plan to Love Me” and the gospel-organ fueled “Blue Moon” that sounds like an FM radio single. “Domino,” another stand-out, is  a punchy sequel to “Two Weeks.” When will a bigger audience discover these guys?

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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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Live Review: Rusty Lord at RSD2018; on the road again…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 12:00 pm April 23, 2018

Rusty Lord at Almost Music during Record Store Day, April 21, 2018.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Rusty Lord continues to be one of the bad-ass-iest acts blowing up the Omaha scene these days. Brazen though not angry; aggressive, hard and noisy, they’re a rock band more than a metal act, and though they’re likely to get herded in with the rest of the O’Leaver’s garage scene, they sound nothing like a garage band.

Needless to say, they blew the roof off Almost Music during the shop’s Record Store Day festival last Saturday. And they were just one of many, and the only band I caught. And even then, I listened more than watched their set as I was digging through the bins for hidden treasures. RSD brings out the greedy in all of us.

That said, this was the least cash I spent in recent years on RSD merch. My only purchase was that Cure Torn Down remix double LP, which I feared would be tough to find but was stocked in every shop I visited. I guess I overestimated the band’s appeal.

The RSD folks need to figure out a way to prolong the consumer-fueled intensity of this money-making holiday. I’m sure I’m not the first person to tell them that. My guess is they fear if they put something together monthly instead of just twice a year it would water down the “specialness” of the promotion. Maybe, maybe… But by doing it quarterly or monthly, they could possibly alleviate the pressure put on the vinyl producers and the shops, and maybe even cut down on the flipping/eBay effect.

There’s nothing stopping the shops from putting on their own promotions, I suppose. Almost Music could do a music festival a few times a year. And Homer’s and Drastic could do more in-stores and other events. Or maybe they’re content to have only two huge harvests a year…

* * *

I’m headed out of town again this week on biz, which  means updates will be few between now and Friday.

That said, let me glance at the calendars and point you toward the hot shows going on while I’m out.

Glancing at the 1% schedule, the only show that stands out is The Nadas on Thursday night. The Des Moines band has made Omaha a regular tour stop since forming 25 years ago. Evan Bartels and the Stoney Lonesomes opens at 8 p.m. $20.

Ain’t nothing happening at O’Leaver’s or The Brothers through Thursday. The Slowdown has a country-Americana show Tuesday night with The Native Howl, Daniel and the Deliverance and Omaha’s own Ragged Company opening. $10, 8 p.m.

I’m trying to think about what else…

Oh yeah, tonight is the big Jack White concert at Baxter Arena. I can’t tell you a thing about it because I don’t know shit about Jack White or his bands. I can tell you there’s a slew of $22 tickets at Stubhub if you’re interested. I had someone offer to give me a couple tickets (thanks Paul) but like I said, I can’t make it.

If you go to Jack White, don’t forget that it’s a non-smartphone show, which means you’ll have to lock your phone away if you want in the door. If anyone goes, let me know how that went…

See you Friday.

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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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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