Live Review: Criteria; Mere Shadows, Stigmata Martyr; the week ahead…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 2:29 pm November 29, 2021
Criteria at The Waiting Room, Nov. 27, 2021.

by Tim McMahan,

It was a comfortable crowd at Saturday night’s Criteria “holiday” show. I was expecting a sell out crush when I arrived at 10 right in time for their set, but was surprised at the draw, which was probably around 200, maybe half-full. 

On stage, the ageless Stephen Pedersen and his crew belted through the usual set of favorites from the band’s Saddle Creek years and beyond, with the same vigor as when I saw them two years ago at the same club — or for that matter, 10 years ago at that same club. Pedersen, a consummate showman, continues to hit those epic high notes, but will only find them harder to climb as time marches on, unless he’s afflicted with the same age-defying genetics as world’s sexiest man Paul Rudd… a possibility, though I’m no scientist. 

It is these show that keep our scene alive, like a continuous thread that runs through the years. For the most part, the faces in the crowd remain the same, though they’re a bit more haggard. A few new, younger ones were also mixed in, no doubt the progeny of those who came before. I almost missed this show myself, having received a Moderna booster earlier in the day and only just beginning to feel its effects that night. I’m happy I made it.

Mere Shadows at Reverb Lounge, Nov. 24, 2021.

It was a long holiday weekend that began with seeing Mere Shadows and Stigmata Martyr at Reverb Lounge Wednesday night. Mere Shadows provided surprisingly awesome grinding punk rock played with a speed and intensity perfect for breakneck, angry late-night driving on Dodge Street. Big quick riffs and tight rhythms were the fuel. My only critique involves the lack of variety — either change it up or keep the sets short.

Stigmata Martyr was a four-piece Bauhaus tribute band anchored by Randy Cotton and Mike Saklar, former members of ’90s legendary Omaha punk bands Ravine and Ritual Device, and always a pleasure to see and hear live. In the Peter Murphy role was Benn Sieff of Bennie and the Gents fame sounding spot on — you could do no better. But in truth I was there to see the Cotton/Saklar combo, as I’ve never been a big Bauhaus fan. I stuck around for the obvious climax, which was, of course, their rendition of “Bela Lugosi’s Dead.” Very nice.

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So, if you didn’t get out this weekend to see some live stuff, you may be out of luck. A quick glance at the 1% and Slowdown calendars shows the weeks ahead are rather lacking. In fact, I don’t see anything of interest indie-wise until See Through Dresses returns to Reverb Dec. 19.

Ah, but little bird tells me December could see the return of something we’ve all been waiting for. Stay tuned…

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — 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 © 2021 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Live Review: Matt Whipkey at The Jewell; the week ahead…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , — @ 7:56 am November 15, 2021
Matt Whipkey and his band at The Jewell, Nov. 12, 2021.

by Tim McMahan,

You could tell Matt Whipkey was proud of the band he assembled for last Friday night’s album release show at The Jewell, and he should be.

Standing beside him on the crooked stage were two of the city’s best guitarists — Korey Anderson and Corey Weber — his longtime sideman/keyboardist Scott Gaeta, percussionist/vibrophone player Scott “Zip” Zimmerman, who for decades sat behind the kit but for Friday was replaced by whizkid drummer Nate Van Fleet (who’s on a personal farewell tour before he moves to Los Angeles early next year), and flying in all the way from Denver was none other than Bobby Carrig, who also played alongside Whipkey for decades.

Whipkey never had it so good, and I think he knew it, because also supplying sonic mojo was the room itself. The Jewell has a reputation for being one of the better sounding rooms in Omaha, designed for live jazz shows. And sound good it did. This was the first time I’ve seen Whipkey live where I didn’t have to wear earplugs, the sound was so balanced and clean.

Matt brought his A game, performing all the songs off his new album, Hard (2021, Unusual) to a seated crowd who gnawed on $28 plates of rubber chicken from their candle-lit tables. Sort of like seeing a band at a Holiday Inn lounge, but with perfect acoustics. Not exactly a rock club vibe, but Whipkey knew that going in.

Highlights for me were when he let the band lean back and do their thing, like at the end of Hard standout number “Big Noise” that saw Whipkey trading solos with the KCoreys. The other golden moments came during the “greatest hits” part of the set, where he rolled out tasty versions of 2008 Whipkey Three track “Separation” and the acoustic guitar-fueled title track from his 2015 album Underwater.

This was my first time at The Jewell, and for the most part, it was a positive experience, though I recommend eating at one of the many Capital District restaurants before arriving, as the overpriced food was pretty awful. But who eats at a jazz club, anyway? The room would be a great place to host small, intimate singer/songwriter shows as well as jazz. Rock shows aren’t out of the question, though you’re pretty much confined to your table, and that ain’t very rock ‘n’ roll, is it?

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Busy week for shows.

Tomorrow night ‘80s alternative band The Fixx plays at The Waiting Room. These guys have been touring for decades on the strength of two albums from the early ‘80s whose hits still get airplay on classic rock stations. They haven’t put out an album since a 2014 live album. Joining them is ‘90s alt rockers Fastball. $35, 8 p.m.

Tuesday night, Flaccid Mojo (consisting of two members of DFA Records artist Black Dice (the two that don’t sing)) swing by Reverb Lounge for a set of experimental beat-heavy distortion synth noise. Opening is Problems a.k.a. Darren Keen. $12, 8 p.m.

Tennis return to The Slowdown Wednesday night. Molly Burch opens. This is a main room show and it’s No Vax No Entry, so bring your stuff. $20, 8 p.m.

And then along comes the weekend…

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — 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 © 2021 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Live Review: Soccer Mommy, Alexalone; Post Animal tonight; the week ahead…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 1:54 pm November 8, 2021
Soccer Mommy at The Waiting Room, Nov. 6, 2021.

by Tim McMahan,

First time back to The Waiting Room since the Before Times and not much has changed. I had no idea Soccer Mommy was as popular as she apparently is, based on the size of the crowd Saturday night, which looked like a sell-out. TWR doesn’t appear to be metering crowd size due to COVID-19, and they’re not obligated to.

And while we were all warned they would be checking COVID-19 vax status, no one checked mine on the way in. That said, everyone in the crowd was wearing a mask except when they were drinking, at the request of the artist. It seemed oddly comforting to be masked in the middle of the crush-sized crowd.

Alexalone at The Waiting Room, Nov. 6, 2021.

We dropped in while Alexalone was in the middle of his set. He — Alex Peterson — was anything but alone surrounded by a sizable band who navigated through his murky, plodding shoegaze rock that at times sort of reminded me of Bedhead, especially in his dry vocals. The contrast between the quiet numbers and when he punched it up with his band was severe in a good way. An interesting choice for an opener.

Soccer Mommy falls into the club of women singer/songwriters who are tearing up indie these days, falling nicely somewhere between Phoebe Bridgers and Snail Mail, though front woman Sophie Allison has more in common with Liz Phair than either of those two, balancing a sound that hints at Phair’s early sonic choices. Songs like “Royal Screw Up,” and “Circle the Drain” from her latest album recall Exile in all their alienated glory.

The band sounded great; almost too much so as Allison was consistently buried in the mix, but maybe that was the plan or maybe I just lost track as the band played one mid-temp song after another after another…

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On Mondays I’m going to try to take a look at what’s coming up the rest of the week, just to set a course, so to speak. We’re finally getting to a point post-COVID where shows are again being booked during the week, at least at the 1% and Slowdown venues.

For example, that rescheduled Post Animal show is tonight at Slowdown Jr. This is the band with the Stranger Things connection I wrote about here. Garst opens. $20, 8 p.m.

This Thursday Big Thief member Buck Meek headlines at The Waiting Room with Kidi Band. $12, 8 p.m. Surprised to see this booked at TWR, but they’ve already got Dustin Bushon a.k.a. FXTHR booked at Reverb on Thursday night, preforming as Historical Romance. That one’s $10, 8 p.m.

And then it’s the weekend, but I’ll get to that later…

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — 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 © 2021 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


The Brothers swan song (SERIAL tonight, No Thanks Saturday); live review: Tokyo Police Club; Xiu Xiu at Low End tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 9:36 am October 29, 2021
Say goodbye to The Brothers Lounge this weekend…

by Tim McMahan,

This weekend is the end of the line for The Brothers Lounge. Omaha’s legendary punk bar closes its doors for good at the end of the month and is going out with a bang with two sold-out shows.

Tonight (Friday) is a big one — SERIAL headlines — a supergroup that includes Tim Moss (Porn music, Ritual Device), John Wolf (Cellophane Ceiling, Bad Luck Charm, Porn music), Lee Meyerpeter (Cactus Never Thang, Bad Luck Charm, Filter Kings) and Jerry Hug (Ritual Device, Porn music). Their annual holiday shows at The Brothers are a thing of legend. Joining them are Pagan Athletes (new album out Nov. 5!) and Those Far Out Arrows. Doors at 8; music at 9:30. This one has been sold out for weeks. Something tells me it’ll be a madhouse.

Then tomorrow night (Saturday) Omaha punk newcomers No Thanks headlines with 138 (a Misfits tribute band) and Nowhere. Just like tonight, this one’s been sold out for awhile. Doors at 8, music at 9:30 p.m.

I would not want to be the doorman at The Brothers this weekend. As a member of the press who covers the Omaha music scene, I’ll attempt to document these final days… I’m sure I won’t be the only one.

. ) ) ) .

Before I get to the rest of the weekend, it looked close to capacity last night at Slowdown Jr. for Tokyo Police Club.

And How at Slowdown Jr., Oct. 28, 2021.

I only caught the last song from opening band And How, which had the crowd in the palm of their hands. With eight members, it was a crowded stage. The band is becoming Omaha’s version of late-era Talking Heads, and people are noticing.

The best thing you can say about a tour like the one Tokyo Police Club is currently on in support of the 10 year anniversary of the release of their sophomore album, Champ, is that it made you reconsider the release. Fact is, I never really gave Champ much of a listen when it came out. The band had left Saddle Creek after their debut album, Elephant Shell, for label Mom + Pop Music. And thus, when I heard the album upon its release I thought it was more of the same — i.e., a sort of Vampire Weekend-meets-Strokes indie-rock band.

Tokyo Police Club at Slowdown Jr., Oct. 28, 2021.

Last night, the songs from that album took on a different life, as I suppose any album would performed live 10 years after its release. The music was more dynamic and I caught myself raising an eyebrow throughout the set, especially with the neat, clean guitar lines guitarist Josh Hooks was laying down. Frontman/bassist Dave Monks, wearing a T-shirt that said, “I May Grow Older but I Refuse to Grow Up,” was in ageless form and perfect voice.

Leaning against the stage-right door I watched members in the front row sang along to every tune, including the Monks’ acoustic encore and the band follow-up. It was great to see a show in Slowdown Jr. again after a couple years – the space continues to be one of the best small rooms in Omaha.

. ) ) ) .

So, it’s a Brothers weekend for the lucky few who can get in, but what about everyone else?

Well, tonight art-house indie band Xiu Xiu plays at Low End in the basement of the Bemis. This is a sort of after-party show for those who attend the annual Bemis art auction, but a number of free tickets also were available… for awhile. This one is also “sold out.” If you’re going, this is a No Vax / No Entry show, and face masks are encouraged when not eating /drinking. Music starts at 9:30.

That’s all I got. If I missed your show put it in the comments section. If you can’t go to The Brothers this weekend, go to your record player, slap on your favorite punk record and slam a beer for Trey and Lallaya, Omaha legends whose contribution to our music scene cannot be underestimated. You and your bar will be missed.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — 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 © 2021 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Live Review: Indigo De Souza, The Slaps at Slowdown…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , — @ 7:16 am October 4, 2021

by Tim McMahan,

Indigo De Souza at The Slowdown Oct. 2, 2021.

A highlight of Indigo De Souza’s latest album, Any Shape You Take (2021, Saddle Creek) is the remarkable band who backs her, whose members are something of a mystery as they weren’t credited (online anyway). I don’t know if the folks that played with De Souza Saturday night at Slowdown were the ones on the album or not, but they sure were good.

Especially lead guitarist Dexter Webb, who played with a style reminiscent of Lindsey Buckingham, all quick-fills and amazing fingered adagios. I shot a photo of his guitar and texted it to the one of the city’s resident guitar experts and asked what kind of guitar it was. Mr. Whipkey’s response: “Vintage 12-string Ovation Breadwinner electric, maybe. That’s a rare-ass guitar if so.”

Webb, who must stand over six foot, towered over the rest of the band as he leaned into the fills and gaps (there were no solos, per se), a fluid, tonal counter-balance to De Souza’s more freeform vocals that were unashamedly honest and personal – which is a sloppy way of saying she was more concerned with emoting that staying on pitch.

The only other name I caught was drummer Avery Sullivan – I missed the bass player’s name, but he, too, was a virtuoso, his fingers flying across the frets, as De Souza crushed through a 75-minute set of songs from her last two albums in front of a decent-sized (150?) crowd of fans that filled the bowl in front of the stage.

You guys are so chill, you’re spooking me,” De Souza said halfway through the set. “It’s like playing in someone’s living room. Talk amongst yourselves.” This isn’t the first time I’ve heard Omaha crowds described this way, but you’ll have to go through the archives and find that review. I’m not sure what De Souza is used to, but she said the night before at Minneapolis’ First Avenue was “crazy.” I guess she’s never heard of “Nebraska Nice.”

The Slaps at The Slowdown, Oct. 2, 2021.

Opening act, Chicago’s The Slaps, played a tight set of indie rock that showcased their chops on songs whose style leaned close to early Vampire Weekend, though maybe not so clingy. If there’s a quibble to the night, it was that The Slaps precise mix was a ton better than De Souza’s, whose mix sounded crowded, dense, bordering on blown-out, but maybe that’s what she was going for.

A note about The Slowdown: This was my first show there since the pandemic. There are a few changes that may/may not have been in place before. The low tables have been replaced with high-tops, the booths replaced with low-tops — is a big improvement. The door guys were thorough with the vax requirement checking (show card and ID to match, which is the only way to go), and it only took a moment. Easy peasy. This should be a requirement at all clubs until we get past the Covid.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — 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 © 2021 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Live Review: No Thanks, Red Kate at Brothers Lounge…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 12:46 pm September 20, 2021

by Tim McMahan,

No Thanks at Brothers Lounge Sept. 17, 2021.

I’m forever wondering if punk — or post-punk — or let’s face it, rock — will soon die of old age.

Most people my age already have thrown dirt over the grave, saying punk lived and died in the ‘70s, post-punk lived and died in the ‘80s, and alternative took over in the ‘90s, followed by indie, which most oldsters don’t consider rock music.

Of course none of it is true. Every time I start to get jaded listening to, say, Sirius XM and the endless list of “vibe” music on my Spotify new music list, something catches my ear and my hope is renewed. The same thing goes for live music. Friday night at Brothers Lounge I caught a set by a couple bands on the Black Site label out of KC, Red Kate and our very own No Thanks, and was, again, given hope for the future.

Red Kate at Brothers Lounge, Sept. 17, 2021.

Red Kate wasn’t doing anything new. The post-punk four piece played straight-ahead post-rock with yell vocals, solid rhythms and the prerequisite catchy riffs. Fast and hard, they were tight out of the gate. If you love this style of music, you would have loved this set.

This is the third or fourth time I’ve seen No Thanks live, and I’ve notice a common denominator to their sets — they always start off tenuous, as if frontman Brendan Leahy is unsure he really wants to go through with whatever he’s about to do, or simply isn’t in the proper headspace. Let me clarify — the rest of the band does sounds ready to go from the outset. Guitarist Mike Huber is one of the best things to come out of Omaha in years, and the rhythm section of Cam Stout and Gabe Cohen are first rate.

Musically, I was reminded of old school golden age Omaha post-punk band Ritual Device. To be clear, Leahy doesn’t in any way resemble a ‘90s-era circus-geek-loving Tim Moss. And while Moss had a guttural Nick Cage vocal swagger, Leahy has a high, kind of Jerry Lewis-style speaking voice. But when he gets warmed up, he can be equally sinister and disturbing as Moss.

But, just like those other times, it took Leahy three or four songs before he began to lose whatever inhibitions he may have had and started to let it all hang out. About four or five songs in, the shirt came off and he turned into a totally different dude — posing, crawling, preening, performing — he could give Future Islands’ Sam Herring a run for his money.

Halfway into the set I noticed the entire front of the stage was surrounded by young women dancing — or dare I say, moshing. I’m not sure exactly what it was they were doing except having a good time. It was the youngest crowd I’ve seen at a Brothers show — both young dudes and women — and it gave me hope that there is a new generation out there who still gets into this style of grinding, static, feedback-driven post-punk.

Another great night at Brothers Lounge. The club has been putting on a lot of shows lately and have more on the way. Catch them if you can.

A quick note about their vax card policy — the guy at the door was not playing around. You better have had both a vax card (or a photo of your vax card) and a second photo ID or you weren’t getting in. The process was quick and easy, and there’s no reason all the venues aren’t laying down similar policies.

If you don’t want to get vaxed, stay home and save us all a lot of grief.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — 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 © 2021 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Live Review: Elvis Costello in the park …

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , — @ 6:44 am August 30, 2021

by Tim McMahan,

Elvis Costello at Memorial Park, Aug. 28, 2021.

Oh, what a lovely evening Saturday night for the Elvis Costello concert at Memorial Park, apparently brought to us by Susie Buffett as the “anonymous donor” who bankrolled the whole shebang.

While I didn’t arrive until 8:45 (and after Elvis began), I heard more than enough of the concert from my back yard just four or five blocks from the park — a cover band playing “I Had Too Much to Dream Last Night,” the boom-boom-boom of Wyclef Jean’s rhythm section, fading in and out with the southeast wind.

When I walked over the rise to the park’s bowl and the glowing stage along Dodge St., I was pleasantly surprised at how un-packed it was. Those who stayed away for fear of The Delta Variant needn’t worried. The breeze was so stiff and the people so spread out there was little chance of this becoming a super spreader event (sad how that the term has become part of our vocabulary).

As had been previously announced, The Attractions’ synth/keyboard player, Steve Nieve, was unable to get in-country for whatever reason and was replaced by Charlie Sexton on guitar. This personnel change would have an obvious effect on the evening’s performance, as much of Costello’s best songs are keyboard-dense (to say the least). So what we got instead was Elvis Costello and the Layabouts, a guitar-driven combo, and it wasn’t so bad.

Few artists depend more on their voice and their lyrics to carry their songs as EC. And for me, few things stand out as much on his recordings as Elvis’ crooning. And you had plenty of that Saturday night, for better or worse.

Look, it would be easy to complain about every little element of the concert without remembering that: 1) it was free, 2) it was held in an municipal park not designed for concerts, 3) most people were there to see the fireworks and had no idea who EC is and could care less that: 1) Elvis was off pitch on about half the songs, 2) the mix was less than stellar, 3) the set list contained a too many wonky country songs.

I’ve never seen Costello live, though I’ve seen a couple of his live performances on TV and didn’t expect much. All I wanted was the hits, which we got, plus some personal favorites — he did “Uncomplicated” off Blood and Chocolate, for example, which is one of my all-timers.

I also wanted some storytelling — having seen Elvis on the chat shows, I knew he could spin quite a yarn. And we got a few of those, though they sounded a bit tread-worn and forced. But what did you expect? Heartfelt confessions while children were running around swinging plastic light sabers and endless groups of pre-teen girls trotted up and down the grass alleyways giggling? Elvis did just enough to get by.

Halfway into the set I walked down to the bottom of the bowl to see how close I could get to the stage and was surprised at the access — unlike any past Memorial Park concert I can remember. I was close enough that I could have hit Sexton with a bottle had I wanted to. The folks surrounding me down there couldn’t have been more chill and into the concert.

The show ended with an extended version of “What’s So Funny…” an appropriate finale considering everything going on in Afghanistan. And then Mayor Stothert did the countdown and we all craned our heads back for 20 minutes and watched the fireworks.

I had a good time, anyway.

Elvis Costello performing at Memorial Park, Aug. 28, 2021.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — 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 © 2021 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Review: Indigo De Souza, Any Shape You Take (Saddle Creek Records)…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:33 pm August 25, 2021

by Tim McMahan,

Indigo De Souza, Any Shape You Take (2021, Saddle Creek)

I gave up a long time ago trying to understand the strategy behind Saddle Creek Records’ roster decisions. Mad genius? Shot in the dark? Take your pick. Let’s look at the breakdown:

Many are those of the art/noise set who applauded the release of Spirit of the Beehive’s Entertainment.Death — a recording I equate to watching a fine arthouse film that you can admire while seated in the dark but will likely never see again, unless you’re stoned (which I’ve never been). Young Jesus, another recent addition, falls along the same category. Both acts are hugely popular with critics, but I wonder how well they sell (or get played on streaming services, which these days is the mark of success).

Then there’s the cadre of forlorn singer/songwriter projects like Tomberlin, Black Belt Eagle Scout and Hand Habits. Meg Duffy of HH is a major talent and I love her work. But, man, you have to be in the right mood for it. 

Then there’s the more accessible indie-rock staples on the roster — Hop Along, Stef Chura, Disq. These are the most predictable and the most enjoyable. Hop Along and Francis Quinland get their share of Sirius XMU plays; and Disq was my choice for a Saddle Creek breakout band. While I love Disq’s latest album, it’s hardly broken through in a way that, say, Big Thief has (and who is now long gone from Saddle Creek).

This is a long pre-amble to say that Indigo De Souza doesn’t fall into any of these categories, and yet, her new album, Any Shape You Take, is my favorite Saddle Creek release in the past few years. Ten songs, 38 minutes, not a dud in the bunch. Built on a framework of traditional modern indie pop, De Souza in some ways is old school in that she knows how to write a great hook, how to drop in a tasty power chord, where to bring in the rest of the band in a way that makes you look up from whatever you’re doing and PAY ATTENTION. 

The one-sheet that came with the record describes the daughter of musicians and her constant struggle to find her voice as she goes through painful relationships, and so on. These are songs about misplaced devotion and insecurity taken to a familiar level. You may be finding your own way, Indigo, but we’ve all been there. We’ve heard it before, but rarely as honestly or brutally straight-forward. 

Favorite tracks include “Darker than Death” “Die/Cry” and “Pretty Pictures” — pop nuggets that come in at 3 minutes or less. In fact, no song exceeds five minutes, including the closing masterpiece, “Kill Me,” that should have been the first track (instead of the auto-tune-heavy “17,” my least favorite of the bunch). Despite the heavy themes, this is a pop album and it, indeed, rocks, setting it apart from the cadre of depressing women singer/songwriters dominating indie these days like Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus. 

De Souza is backed by a great band with a great rhythm section, though the materials presented with the one-sheet don’t list the personnel and only says “While her backing band has undergone shifts between releases, her sound has stayed tethered to her vision.” So, who knows who will be backing her when she plays at Slowdown in October?

It does say Indigo produced the album herself, teaming up with executive producer Brad Cook (Bon Iver, Waxahatchee, The War on Drugs) and engineers/producers Alex Farrar and Adam McDaniel. The production is quite stellar. Rating: Yes.

Indigo De Souza, Any Shape You Take, comes out Aug. 27 on Saddle Creek Records. Pre-order the album here.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — 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 © 2021 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Live Review: Grocer at Reverb Lounge…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 12:27 pm August 18, 2021

by Tim McMahan,

Philadelphia indie band Grocer at Reverb Lounge, Aug. 17, 2021.

I dropped in for last night’s set by Philly band Grocer at Reverb Lounge, where I also conducted a quick interview with the band about proof-of-vaccine mandates, comments from which will appear in the September issue of The Reader. Needless to say, they support them, but what reasonable band wouldn’t?

Anyway, the four-piece came on at around 8:45 to a good-sized crowd for a Tuesday night (around 40?). Many in the young audience wore masks while they bounced around to Grocer’s thick-beat post-punk. That beat was created by bassist Danielle Lovier, who shared the lead vocals with drummer Cody Nelson and guitarist Nick Ryan.

Their style very much was in the early Pixies tradition, angular and cool riding high on the bass line and backbeat drums, while guitarist Emily Daly shredded feedback-drenched leads run through a muffled effects pedal, which at times was drowned out by the rest of the band (i.e., I would have loved more of her in the mix).

I dig their new EP, Delete If Not Allowed, and we got a good helping of it last night, including a fiery version of lead track “Better Now.” Other highlights included songs from the band’s debut LP, including “The Party Song” and an acidic version of “Don’t Touch Me” (Who are you singing about, Danielle?).

Side note: Closing band Bad Self Portraits’ drummer handled the vocals last night as apparently frontwoman Ingrid Howell suffered an appendicitis prior to the gig. You know what they say: The show must go on…

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — 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 © 2021 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Live Review: Petfest (Magū, Those Far Out Arrows) and later that night (Bad Bad Men)…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:53 pm August 16, 2021
Lawn chairs and rock ‘n’ roll at Petfest 2021.

by Tim McMahan,

If there was any concern about the Delta variant, it wasn’t apparent at Petfest last Saturday. There were maybe two people in the crowd of 40 or so wearing masks. And while that may shock some, it was no concern to me. I got the feeling the people surrounding me were not of the dumb-rube-Republican-conspiracy-tin-hat-wearing-numbskull variety (Tell us, Tim, what you really think of non-vaxxers…). And we were all outside, and for the most part, “distanced” from each other.

As someone who has been to a half-dozen South by Southwest festivals, I can tell you that Saturday’s Petfest was about as close as you’re going to get to what it’s like at a SXSW “day show” without taking a trip to Austin. Two differences: 1) No one was giving out free Lone Star beers and/or breakfast burritos, and 2) the sound quality at Petfest was far superior than the usual high-school-auditorium PA sound system used at SXSW (oh what those poor musicians put up with).

Ian Aeillo, a mad-genius audio engineer with bat-like ears that can hear frontwards, backwards and sideways, had the ol’ Barley Street white-rock parking lot sounding like LA’s Walt Disney Concert Hall, pushing sound from both stages simultaneously, it was like sitting in your parents’ 1970s basement listening to a Pink Floyd quadraphonic recording, but with indie bands.

As I said last Friday, this fest brought together the finest collection of local musical talent I’ve seen assembled at one concert in Omaha since, well, last year’s Petfest. Whoever the tastemaker was that booked this gig really knows his or her stuff.

Anna McClellan at Petfest, Aug. 14, 2021.

I came in right when things kicked off at 2 p.m. with Anna McClellan and her band. McClellan is a unique artist both musically and lyrically — she’s warm and lonely and sardonic all at the same time. The slightly off-kilter wonkiness of her vocal delivery only gives her songs more authenticity (to me, anyway). Every one of her performances is memorable, and it was a great way to kick off the day.

Magū at Petfest, Aug. 14, 2021.

Following Anna in the smaller garage stage was the most surprising set of the day. I’ve written passingly about Magū before (a few years ago, regarding one of their releases), but I’ve never seen them live. What to make of a five-piece that prominently includes a tenor sax front-and-center? There’s not much info about the band online (like who’s in the band?). Stylistically they describe themselves as psych rock / shoe gaze, but I’d peg them as modern indie with touches of classic rock. I loved the sax player’s tone and style, which merely augmented the songs and didn’t get in the way.

And then there was the woman keyboard player who sang leads on one song and knocked everyone on their asses. They’re quite an ensemble, which has been sitting right under my nose for years. When are they playing next?

Lightning Stills at Petfest, Aug. 14, 2021.

Magū were followed by Omaha super group Lightning Stills and the Midtown Ramblers (the “Ramblers” part was new to me). Lightning Stills is the countrified alter ego of (former?) punker Craig Fort. He’s surrounded himself with some of the area’s finest ax men, including pedal-steel player Mike Friedman, lead guitarist Tom May, and bassist Danny Maxwell.

I’m told this was the band’s first live gig but you wouldn’t know it by how well they played on these alcohol-drenched tales of personal excess and woe. Hard liquor and twang are a recipe as old as country music itself, and even has its own local iteration in the form of Filter Kings (Hard to beat that band’s “Hundred Proof Man” for pure booze romanticism). The Ramblers do it well, especially when they get into a groove and the players are allowed stretch out on these four-chord-powered jams.

Vocally, you can tell this was Mr. Fort’s first rodeo. Unlike punk, which thrives entirely on angst and energy, you will not get a pass on the vox — ever notice even the slightest waver and/or off-kilter moment when you listen to Waylon or Merle or Jerry Jeff? That’s just part of the deal, and it’s something that Fort will nail down over time.

Mike Schlesinger at Petfest, Aug. 14, 2021.

Speaking of vocals, there are few better voices than Mike Schlesinger — around these parts or anywhere. Mike played a short set alone with his acoustic guitar that managed to hush a parking lot full of drinking revelers who leaned in on every note. Schlesinger closed with “Coolie Trade,” one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard. Gotta wonder what would happen if the right “industry people” ever discovered this mega talent.

Those Far Out Arrows at Petfest, Aug. 14, 2021.

Next was the first of a two-set day for Those Far Out Arrows. I’ve written about these guys so many times you’re tired of hearing it — they are at the forefront of Omaha’s garage-rock scene, true disciples of that classic ‘60s psych-rock sound epitomized by bands like Them, The Animals and the Kinks.

Two moments summed up their set for me, both took place while playing their A-side single, “Snake in my Basement.” First, I noticed across the parking lot in an adjacent garage covered with No Trespassing signs this rough, older dude working on his car who looked like the dad from Orange County Choppers. He set down his wrench, leaned back in the shadow of the doorway, watched and listened, nodding his head. Second thing — a little boy no more than 5 years old sat cross-legged in the middle of the parking lot and sang along with chorus.

As a band, what more do you want?

I wanted to put earmuffs on the little dude and his sister when the band tore into “Hell Yeah (MF)” from their Part Time Lizards album, with the repeated chorus, “Hell yeah, mother f***er, hell yeah!

MiWi La Lupa (right) at Petfest, Aug. 14, 2021.

The last performer I caught at the fest was MiWi La Lupa accompanied by guitarist Cubby Phillips. The two played a solid set that underscored why MiWi is recognized as one of the area’s better singer/songwriters.

And that was the end of my Petfest experience, though there was a ton more left that afternoon and evening. The whole day felt like being at someone’s very cool block party. I foresee a day when Omaha hosts a SXSW-style festival in which it invites bands from all over the country to play in venues throughout Benson. And when that day comes, Petshop Gallery and BFF will host a day party, and it’ll be something like this.

I was back in Benson later that night for Bad Bad Men and Those Far Out Arrows at Reverb Lounge. I’ve only been to a couple of shows at the new, improved Reverb, and Saturday’s was the most populated. Again, only the bartenders wore masks despite the Delta variant growing in the community.

Bad Bad Men at Reverb Lounge Aug. 14, 2021.

The super-group power trio of Bad Bad Men is fronted by Omaha rock legend John Wolf, with drummer Chris Siebken and bass player Jerry Hug. When it comes to rock ‘n’ roll these dudes are indeed bad, bad men. Their music rides on Wolf’s heavy metal riffage and is powered by that dynamic rhythm section that recalls a filthy, grinding punk rock heard back in Omaha in the ’90s by acts like Ritual Device and Wolf’s own Cellophane Ceiling. It’s dark and fun, with Wolf growling out the lead vocals and stretching out on blistering guitar leads. Their best set yet.

Those Far Out Arrows at Reverb Lounge Aug. 14, 2021.

The night was closed out by another performance from Those Far Out Arrows. They only played something like four songs at Petfest (everyone at the festival played shortened sets). They added another four of so for this evening gig. My only additional note is a tip of the hat to the band’s bass player, Derek LeVasseur, who makes everything they do up there possible alongside drummer Brian Richardson. You can’t make these songs keep chugging along without those guys.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — 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 © 2021 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.