A comment, a couple reviews (CLOSENESS, jtvrdik) and DJ Dave (Goldberg) at Scriptown tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:48 pm May 25, 2017
Solid Goldberg at The Barley Street May 13. See him tonight at O'Leaver's.

Solid Goldberg at The Barley Street May 13, 2011. DJ Dave a.k.a. Dave Goldberg spins tonight at Scriptown Brewery.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

I was going to post this yesterday but decided against it because I thought the Facebook scrap was dying down. These things have a way of exploding and disappearing in a matter of days. Then it flared up again yesterday afternoon.

I have no point of view on all of it. For whatever reason, I never saw Harouki Zombi when it was staged five or six years ago.

So instead of tracking on the back-and-forth in Facebook, I’ve been busy listening to recordings by O+S, High Up and CLOSENESS. Orenda Fink is one of the most talented people who has ever graced an Omaha stage, and I would be saddened if this controversy did anything to sway her from taking a stage here again, though I wouldn’t blame her if she didn’t. We may quickly forget about all this; I doubt she will…

* * *

Speaking of CLOSENESS, here are a couple of those Q1 2017 album reviews that never got published in The Reader:

CLOSENESS, Personality Therapy (Graveface) — Whereas Faint songs (especially the early ones) have a sinister, pleatherish quality, Orenda’s sound always has been ethereal (by nature of her sterling voice). This electronic hybrid doesn’t so much combine the best of both worlds as create something new and glisteningly futuristic. The final product is more computeristic than organic. Todd is never satisfied with letting his voice stand on its own without a Mr. Roboto filter. Fine. Orenda, on the other hand, is merely enhanced by shoe-gazy delay. Whether you believe either effect is necessary is a matter of taste, though too often the tech gets in the way of the words. But do words matter when you’re reaching for such sonic drama? The lasting impression is that of the duo climbing a chrome mountain, surrounded by lasers and kliegs, never out-stepping their songs’ monolithic, mid-tempo beats. And while I like the vibe, I’d like it more if I knew what they were singing about.

jtvrdik, IRONS — Though the one-sheet suggests you’ll be reminded of the glory days of Factory Records, I more often recalled early Interpol or The Faint (thanks to Clark Baechle’s touch on these recordings) though this is synthier and even more blank wave than those. It’s also dancier in a dirty, strobe-lit, Meatpacking District sort of way. The times Tvrdik lets his voice stand in contrast to the tech (like on centerpiece “A Funeral in Moscow”), the human irony shines through the shimmer and the dense, layered  beats. Black-lit, stylish, oddly gothic, oddly futuristic, ultimately cinematic.

* * *

I typically don’t post about DJ sets, but when it comes to Dave Goldberg…

Dave is spinning tracks tonight at Scriptown in the Blackstone. If you haven’t been there, here’s a great time to check out their outstanding beers and catch a local legend’s vinyl interpretations. 8 to 10 p.m. and free.

One other DJ note… Teresa and I had a blast Friday night at Benson Soul Society at Reverb Lounge watching/listening to DJ Tyrone Storm do his thing. We left shortly after his set (around 10), and I’m told these things don’t really heat up until midnight. We will return…

* * *

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 © 2017 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Chris Cornell epitomized Seattle grunge; reviews: The Sun-Less Trio,Thigh Master…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:46 pm May 18, 2017

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Chris Cornell

The death of Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell is definitely on my mind.

Moreso than Cobain or Vedder, Cornell to me epitomized the Seattle grunge movement. While you could argue Kurt’s and Eddie’s voices were just as distinctive, Cornell’s was iconic, a strange, beautiful trapeze act of a voice that seemed to be daring himself and the audience to take an extra step… higher. Nirvana and Pearl Jam may have grabbed more headlines and more airplay; but Soundgarden was that flannel in the closet that you haven’t worn in too long.

At age 52, he was too young to die, but I have a feeling I’ll be saying that a lot over the coming years…

Of note, I asked a couple people in my office who are in their 20s if they knew who Cornell was. They’d never heard of him — a testimony to my years… or their lack of years, I suppose. It’s odd to talk to interns and discover they’ve never heard of Tom Jones or bands like Boston or ELO — acts that you just assume have permeated every facet of modern culture. One intern had never heard of U2. How is that possible?

* * *

I put together a 1Q 2017 CD reviews collection for this month’s issue of The Reader, but it got pre-empted by my feature/interview with Tim Kasher. The reviews still exist in one form or another, so I thought I’d sprinkle them in blog posts (and occasionally at TheReader.com).

The Sun-Less Trio, Spirit Jar/Spirit Glass (ANT Records) — Released on cassette and Bandcamp and destined to be overlooked, which is a shame because mastermind Mike Saklar and his supporting team has never sounded better, especially on the 8+minute Zeppelin-esque burner “Spirit Glass,” at the centerpiece of which is Saklar’s blistering electric guitar work. While his voice too often still sounds tentative, his guitar never does.

Thigh Master, “BBW” b/w “Park Road Clinical” (12XU) — Brisbane, Australia, jangle-indie sounds like early Pavement sung by, well, Aussies — drunk (and or drugged) Aussies at that, judging by the line: “It was just the drugs, slipping right through me.” Can’t wait for the long-player…

* * *

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 © 2017 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Live Review: Tim Kasher, Allison Weiss; Xetas, Digital Leather, FIFI NoNo tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:50 pm May 15, 2017

Tim Kasher and his glo-in-the-dark band at The Waiting Room May 12, 2017. Of note is the ghost of Dylan Ryan on drums…

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

I don’t have much of a review of last Friday night’s Tim Kasher show at The Waiting Room, as five songs into the set I started feeling sick, which stuck with me the rest of the weekend. What I did see of Tim and his crew was the usual awesomeness we’ve come to expect with everything Kasher is associated with. I got to hear in a couple new songs from No Resolution, which seamlessly slipped in with the rest of his oeuvre, and which the crowd, which I’d guestimate at around 150, loved.

Allison Weiss at The Waiting Room, May 12, 2017.

I did get to see Allison Weiss’ entire set. Despite being your typical solo-with-guitar performance, Weiss managed to grapple the crowd’s attention to her sweet, sad, personal folk songs about relationships gone wrong. Weiss had no issues with letting her emotional baggage hang out, and while that could have been a real drag, she punctuated her songs and her set with wry humor and witty observations and a relaxed manner that said everything’s going to be all right. Among the highlights was a fetching cover of Robyn’s “Call Your Girlfriend” that turned the techno ballad into a personal statement. Watch out for this one.

* * *

That’s not all I saw this weekend. I was surprised to find two punk acts performing at Brothers Lounge Saturday night. One was a dude doing a solo performance with electric guitar that kind of reminded me of a young version of David Byrne. The other was a keyboard/synth duo that played pounding new wave. I don’t know who either of these acts were, but I dug it while I sat in the corner catching up with an old high school pal.

Speaking of The Brothers, the club has a huge show tonight. Austin punk band Xetas is on the bill. They’ve got a new album out on 12XU Records called The Tower that is absolutely relentless. Check it out via Bandcamp below.

Joining Xetas is the return of Digital Leather. These guys don’t play out much anymore, it’s got to be something special to get them plugged in. Don’t miss this chance. Also on the bill is FIFI NoNo, who is celebrating the release of a new 4-song cassette called Songs for the Anxious. Heavy, brutal hardcore noise. You get all three bands for a mere $5. Starts at 9 tonight…

* * *

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 © 2017 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

 

Lazy-i

Wilder Maker is Saddle Creek’s second ‘Document’; Lincoln Calling announces 2017 line-up today…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:41 pm May 4, 2017

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Wilder Maker, “New Streets” b/w “Only Child” (2017, Saddle Creek)

First of all, I’m a sucker for record clubs. I belonged to the Sub Pop Singles club for years; I joined Matador’s record club for a short while, and now Saddle Creek is doing its version of a record club with its Document series, and so far, they’re two for two.

Says Saddle Creek: “The Document Series is comprised of an exclusive record featuring unreleased music from artists outside of Saddle Creek’s roster, along with a specially curated zine highlighting the artist’s hometown / music scene.

Brooklyn five-piece Wilder Maker has been around since 2012. Led by Gabriel Birnbaum, this is solid, tuneful songwriting (as you’ll hear when you listen to the  track, below). Call it pop indie, it has more in common with ’70s FM rock than anything on Sirius XMU, where it’s bound to get some airplay.

They’re apparently pals with Sam Evian, who recorded the tracks at his Figure 8 studio, which might explain the Saddle Creek connection, as Evian released his last album on Saddle Creek last year.

As is probably the intent, after buying the preorder, I checked out Wilder Maker’s last release, 2015’s Everyday Crimes Against Objects of Desire, Vol. III on Bandcamp, a sleepy six-song EP which bears little resemblance to the Saddle Creek single but is interesting in its own (perhaps too) laid-back way.

In addition to being more upbeat than the EP, the single features Katie Von Schleicher on lead vocals rather than Birnmaum’s growl-y voice. And so, Saddle Creek can add another to their list of strong female-fronted releases that includes Hop Along and break-out act Big Thief.

I’m kind of liking this one-at-a time (actually two-at-a-time) approach to physical releases. Would I like a full-length by Wilder Maker? Sure, if all the tracks were this good. I’m not sure if singles make economic sense for the label or the band (these singles clubs have a way of evaporating over time) but for me, good things come in small packages, sometimes.

* * *

I have seen the initial line-up announcement for this year’s Lincoln Calling festival, which is slated for Sept. 28-30. You will be seeing it, too, sometime today, whenever Hear Nebraska decides to release it (probably any moment now). It is impressive. There are at least four Maha-quality headliners and a plethora of second-tier indie stars. Keep your eyes peeled to lincolncalling.com. Or just watch your social media feeds…

* * *

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 © 2017 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Live Review: The Omaha Lounge; Charly Bliss, See Through Dresses, Eklund/Higgins tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:43 pm May 1, 2017

Soulful Live Trio at Omaha Lounge, April 29, 2017.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

The plan was to go see The Lupines Saturday night at Brothers Lounge. But instead, on a lark, Teresa and I decided to drop in at The Omaha Lounge for a drink.

For the last couple weeks I’d been bombarded with ads in Facebook from this place, which is located right next to Pickleman’s downtown at 1505 Farnam. Their website boasted live jazz and blues in an historic building, and a drink menu that included something called an “Uncle Pete,” which is a sly marketing homage to Union Pacific, along with other drinks named after old Omaha businesses.

The place was as described — an old storefront on the ground level of the Baxter Building, with all the original woodwork, ceiling tile, art deco lighting fixtures and a vintage bar that stretched along most of the length of the room.

Very tasteful. However, whoever took over the place decided to replace the furniture with giant, boxy, clumsy, pleather-covered chairs  so wide they bump into each other and crowd into the aisles — just awful furniture that probably cost the new owners a ton and, unfortunately, should be dumped immediately and replaced with standard club chairs and tables.

The lounge doesn’t have a stage. Instead, performers play near the entrance where a PA has been placed next to a grand piano. Saturday night’s entertainment was provided by The Soulful Live Trio, a combo that included a piano player, saxophonist and vocalist who performed covers ranging from “Just the Way You Are” to “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay,” accompanied by pre-recorded rhythm tracks. The singer was first class, and quite a lounge lizard on the microphone.

As good as his vocals were, the most intense moments came when the sax and pianist went full-on jazz and ripped through a few standards, showcasing their talent. I’m not a jazz guy, but anyone would enjoy these guys, especially after a couple drinks. I ordered the aforementioned Uncle Pete, which was the lounge’s version of a Mai Tai — delicious… and potent. Teresa ordered something called The Paper, which was a classic chocolate martini. Lounge drinks at lounge prices — two rounds put me back $40.

Table service was excellent, though I felt sorry for the waiter who struggled to get around those giant pleather chairs. By the time we left shortly after 10 the bar was mostly filled with a crowd there to hear the music and take in the vibe (including actor John Beasley, who sat up by the band). Needless to say, by the time I got back home those Mai Tai’s took their toll. Next time, Lupines…

* * *

It’s a busy Monday night.

Tonight Charly Bliss returns to Reverb Lounge. The indie act’s new album, Guppy, was just released on Barsuk. Joining them is another band about to launch a new album, our very own See Through Dresses, who began pre-sale for Horse of the Other World last week at Tiny Engines. $10, 9 p.m.

Also tonight, Eklund/Higgins 30 Days, a new project by Greg Eklund, former drummer of Everclear, and Omaha legend Dereck Higgins, debuts at fabulous O’Leaver’s. Opening is Rouge Moon, Chalant and Phil Kolbo. 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 © 2017 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Live Review: Icky Blossoms, RSD 2017; New Umm; High Up, McCarthy Trenching do 1200 Club Live…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , , , — @ 12:39 pm April 24, 2017

Icky Blossoms at Earth Day in Elmwood Park, April 22, 2017.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Another Record Store Day in the books. I only had time to visit one store, Almost Music in Blackstone, where I caught a few minutes of Montee Men playing in the bookstore — brutality among the children’s titles, big crowd, lots of smiling faces (RSD brings out the kid in all of us).

Montee Men at Almost Music, RSD2017, April 22, 2017.

I only picked up three things, though: The new O+S, a promo pressing of U2’s War and a T-shirt. That Spoon vinyl had already sold. Oh well. RSD is one of the smartest retail promotions — designating one day as a tribute to consumerism, collecting and music. Well, two days if you count RSD Black Friday, and I’m sure the independent record stores do.

After Almost Music I headed to Elmwood Park for Earth Day festivities. The good weather brought out every stoner, hippie and yuppie parent in Omaha. It was a day shot in Technicolor and sunshine.

Icky Blossoms had the legendary Dereck Higgins playing bass for this show (temporary or permanent member?), which was performed with its usual dance-vibe bombast but suffered from poor PA/audio. Everything sounded a but fuzzy and blown out, but what are ya gonna do? It’s an Earth Day concert. And the lousy sound didn’t stop the the gaggle of freaks from dancing in front of the stage. Gotta love it.

Last I heard Icky Blossoms was working on new material, though I didn’t hear any Saturday afternoon. Where will they go next? We’re all waiting for the next record…

* * *

Umm, the duo of Stef Drootin and Chris Senseney (a.k.a. Big Harp), released their first new music online last week. Check out the Majestic Litter Soundcloud files below…

* * *

Finally, the folks at the Holland Performing Arts Center announced last week another show at their 1200 Club. This time it’s High Up and McCarthy Trenching as the featured acts May 6 (tornado day). Tix are $15 Adv./$20 DOS.

* * *

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 © 2017 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Live Review: Those Far Out Arrows; new Lupines track; Redd Kross tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 12:42 pm April 17, 2017

Those Far Out Arrows at Reverb Lounge, April 14, 2017.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

The last time I saw Those Far Out Arrows they were a trio, with the brothers switching off on drums. The new four-piece version that played last Friday night at Reverb Lounge, with full-time drummer, was a different band — over-the-top energy crushing psychedelic garage rock that was dense, brutal and trippy. I heard someone in the crowd compare them to the Flaming Groovies, a more colorful comparison than the usual Brian Jonestown Massacre nod.

Though there’s a retro tinge to their music, TFOA are thoroughly modern, like the best of today’s Goner-style garage acts, though cleaner and more prof. In fact, less raw. It’s that rawness that defines Goner/In the Red, etc., brittle low-fi garage noise. This is not that. TFOA’s is more refined, which could be seen as a minus in the eyes of some purists.

For me, a lot of those low-fi garage/noise acts have substituted rawness for creativity; booming bridled fuzz for a lack of an original sound (or song). By contrast, you can enjoy the Arrows’ music without wondering if you’re missing the gimmick.

Like I said, this version sounds nothing like what you might have heard in the past or on their previous recordings, which could be rather droney/dour sailing. All the more reason why they need to get their new 7-inch pressed and out for the world to hear.

* * *
Speaking of new garage rock, The Lupines yesterday dropped their latest track on Bandcamp, and its ferocious as ever. Check it out below. One assumes (hopes) there’s more to come…

* * *

Classic ’90s indie band Redd Kross (who remembers the single “Annie’s Gone”?) is back and playing tonight at Slowdown Jr.. The band disappeared for a long time, then reemerged in 2006 and put out LP Researching the Blues in 2012 on Merge Records. Vegetable Deluxe opens this 8 p.m. show. $15.

* * *

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 © 2017 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved,

Lazy-i

Live Review: Umm, Oquoa; Charlie Burton, Muscle Cousins tonight; Leafblower, David Nance, Closeness, BIB Saturday…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:49 pm April 14, 2017

Umm at Reverb Lounge, April 13, 2017.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

So now I get the name change. Umm, the new project by Stef Drootin and Chris Sensensey, sounds nothing like their other band, Big Harp. There was nary a twang to be had when the duo rolled out a set of new material last night at Reverb Lounge.

In fact, everything was different — the rock style, the blistering pace, the guitar/bass tones, even Senseney’s voice — now cool and easy — was a big contrast to the grave-pit vocals heard on Big Harp albums.

Whenever I listen to female/male husband/wife duos, I subconsciously compare them to other duos where the vocals are shared or harmonized between a male and female. Top of list is usually Yo La Tengo, Low, Sonic Youth, White Stripes and, of course, Fleetwood Mac, Sonny & Cher… okay, maybe I’m going too far back into the archives. The act that came to mind last night was someone no one likes but me — a vintage husband-wife duo that recorded on I.R.S. called Timbuk3, a one-hit wonder whose fantastic catalog was virtually ignored because of that hit song — which should be a warning to any band dying for a break-through single. Sometimes a the hit can ruin your career.

Anyway, the Timbuk3 comparison is purely on the periphery of what Umm is doing, and based solely on how Stef and Chris harmonize. Stef said those harmonies are the result of an Everly Bros. fetish. Whatever the inspiration, the end result was gorgeous, and provided the perfect counter-point to the duo’s fast, heavy but tuneful indie rock.

Played over laptop beats, each instrument shared the leads throughout the set. Whereas Senseney is one of the best guitarists I’ve ever heard shred a solo, Drootin’s bass work was just as prominent and oftentimes more brutal, providing a fuzz tone that peeled paint off Reverb’s rafters. There was one tune in the middle of the set where the duo shared an intricately played musical phrase as if performing a high-stakes trapeze act without a net. It was laugh-out-loud holy-shit good.

Underscoring the entire performance was the songwriting. These are some of the best pop songs I’ve heard in awhile, songs you immediately want to listen to again. I’m told the duo already recorded an album’s worth of music at ARC. This was only their fifth live performance, and it was red hot. Do I like this better than Big Harp? Yes, because in general I’m tired of twangy, rootsy, indie folk music, something Big Harp did as well as anyone. And while you could listen to Big Harp and respect it for what it was, Umm’s music and songs are something I’d reach for again and again.

Oquoa at Reverb Lounge, April 13, 2017.

BareBear, the new Rob Walters project, opened the night, but I missed it. Oquoa followed with one of their better sets. Keyboardist Patrick Newbery now dominates the solos even more so than frontman Max Holmquist’s guitar. Newbery’s synthwork is multi-layered and varies throughout like nothing heard before. Holmquist’s vocals are at times nearly operatic in tone… and enunciation — i.e., I sometimes wondered in what language he was singing.

Oquoa’s style has morphed into a psychedelic, shoe-gaze sound reminiscent of drummer Roger Lewis’ old band, Conduits. The four-piece isn’t afraid to take their music to space, pulling off repeated riffs and soundscapes that are nothing less than trippy.

* * *

It’s a moderately busy weekend of shows coming up…

Omaha/Lincoln legend Charlie Burton is playing tonight and tomorrow night at Growler USA, 16274 Evans Plaza in West O. Burton’s latest combo is called Charlie Burton and Or What! The last time I interviewed Charlie was way back in 1998 when he called his act The Texas Twelve Steppers (read the article here). I suspect old fans will be flocking to this show. It starts at 9 p.m. and is free both nights. I recommend getting there early if you want a seat. The venue draws a crowd even without music, thanks to its massive beer selection.

Also tonight Muscle Cousins headlines at Reverb Lounge. It’s a new project founded by siblings Andy, Mari and Collin Matz. The Matz kids have been playing music in Omaha for years in bands like Capgun Coup, Manic Pixie Dream Girls and Saturn Moth. Opening is the epic-ly named Boner Killerz and psych-folk-rockers Those Far Out Arrows. $7, 9 p.m.

Tomorrow night’s big gig is the Leafblower EP release show at The Brothers Lounge (which I told you about here). Check it out at Bandcamp. Opening is JAZID and folk-psych-superstar David Nance. $5, 9 p.m.

Also tomorrow night, there’s a special dance performance by the tbd. dance collective at Kaneko downtown. “As a part of KANEKO’S ‘Passion & Obsession: From the Collection’ exhibition, tbd. dance collective will create an original performance exploring the idea of movement as an intangible collection, able to be viewed, but only truly stored in the mind.” Closeness, the new project by Orenda and Todd Fink, also perform. Tickets are $10, show starts at 8 p.m.

It’s a night of hardcore at the new Milk Run, 2578 Harney St. Headlining is KC band Blindside USA. Joining them is red-hot noise rock act BIB, Jocko, Jade Lacy and Daphne Calhoun. No price listed but you know it’s got to be at least $7, right? Show starts at 9. Remember, enter through the back door.

Finally, indie band Low Long Signal is playing Saturday night at fabulous O’Leaver’s. They’re opening for headliner The Ramparts. Human Teeth Parade also is on the bill. $5, 9:30 p.m.

And that’s all 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 © 2017 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Live Review: Whipkey at Growler USA; Dude York, Paws, Uh Oh tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:49 pm April 3, 2017

Matt Whipkey and his band at Growler USA, April 1, 2017.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

First and foremost Growler USA (the joint I wrote about that’s introducing original local music to the great unwashed masses in way West Omaha) is more bar than restaurant than music venue.

Beyond the name, just take a look at the back wall and the enormous line of beer taps and it’s pretty obvious you’ve stepped into a place designed for drinking. Behind that wall is a kitchen, which serves run-of-the-mill bar food. Finally, tucked in the front corner of the room is triangle-shaped stage surrounded by curtains with a couple over-head PA speakers and digital lighting.

For some reason I thought the place would be bigger, with a real stage, but Growler USA is actually quite small, right in line with the 120 capacity reported last week, and designed like any other new-construction West Omaha building — single level open room with windows on one side, nuthin’ fancy.

The wall o’ taps at Growler USA.

One could argue the novelty of having 100 beers on tap would be enough to keep the place filled. In fact, when I arrived at 8:30, there was nary a table to be had. Owner Brent Malnack found us a spot about 10 minutes later while I enjoyed a delicious Millstream Peach Fuzz (no Rolling Rock for me). Burgers and sliders (and tots) were quickly ordered and served. The Matt Whipkey band took the corner stage right around 9 p.m. Matt told me they weren’t going to hold back, and the room held up well to their rock ‘n’ roll onslaught, though the PA sounded overblown toward the end of the set.

That said, I can now see why Malnack was discouraging metal acts last week. The room looks better suited for quieter acoustic combos. So did the crowd, which consisted mostly of gray-templed middle-aged couples out having a beer, many of whom were as focused on the North Carolina v. Oregon game as Whipkey and Co. in the corner.

I have no doubt that Growler USA will be a smashing success with or without live music. That Malnack wants to provide a stage for original bands when clearly he doesn’t need to is a credit to someone who’s been involved in local music since the ’80s with his band Modern Day Scenics. That said, West Omaha still needs a real music venue.

Back to Whipkey… I haven’t seen him and his band in a year or so. They’re still cranking out the Americana, but two songs played Saturday night were as heavy as anything heard ’round town. The rhythm section of Travis Sing on bass and Scott “Zip” Zimmerman on drums is first class (Travis was particularly tight, while Zip seemed restrained, especially compared to his Ocean Black onslaught). I could barely hear second guitarist Korey Anderson over Whipkey’s own guitar, which was guttural, especially on his grinding solos. Give me the heavy stuff, Matt.

* * *

Tonight Seattle band Dude York (Hardly Art Records) headlines a show at Slowdown Jr. that includes Glasgow indie band Paws (FatCat) and our very own Uh Oh. $10, 8 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 © 2017 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Live Review: Conor Oberst; Closeness, High Up tonight; Sam Locke Ward, Simon Joyner, Growlers Saturday; Cold War Kids Sunday…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 1:50 pm March 10, 2017

Conor Oberst at The Waiting Room, March 9, 2017.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Conor Oberst was the main event of last night’s Waiting Room 10th Anniversary bash.

Oberst, with his wacky wild man, just-rolled-out-of-bed hairdo, took the stage at 9:30 and kicked through about 75 minutes of folk rock backed by The Felice Brothers. The set consisted mostly of songs off his new album Salutations, which to me, sounds like a soft-rock combination of Blood on the Tracks-era Dylan and Leonard Cohen. Conor’s lyrics have never been sharper, though his melodies have lost their edge, especially when laid beside older material like “Poison Oak” and “Cape Canaveral.”

That said, Salutations takes the stripped-down material from Ruminations and thoughtfully beefs it up to create his best album since his 2008 eponymous release. Last night’s set was heavily weighted with the new stuff — this definitely will not be a greatest hits tour.

From my vantage point, Oberst approached the performance with workmanlike precision, fueled by a well-oiled Felice machine. It left me wistfully dreaming about Bright Eyes shows gone by, where Oberst was a lit fuse ready to either explode or fizzle out on stage. Kevin Coffey of the Omaha World-Herald reported (second hand) that he did blow up on stage. I guess I missed it.

In fact, I was expecting (hoping for) some political diatribe between songs, but no. Maybe Conor let off on the anti-Trump rhetoric because it was the Waiting Room’s birthday, which he referenced numerous times throughout the night.

Oberst closed with a three-song encore that included a angst-fueled solo piano tune I didn’t recognize that was among the best songs of the night, and a scorching version of “Napalm” with the brothers Felice from the new album, a real Live Rust moment.

It was one of the most packed nights I can remember at The Waiting Room, a real crush mob, with more than a few lit patrons, one assumes from enjoying the pre-party over at Reverb before the show (which, sadly, I missed).

* * *

After the past few weekends with little to do, this weekend is chock full o’ shows.

It starts off tonight at fabulous O’Leaver’s where Closeness celebrates the release of their new EP, Personality Therapy, out today on Graveface. This is sort of a warm-up show as the duo of Orenda and Todd Fink get ready head to Austin for SXSW. Joining them tonight is the mighty High Up (Orenda’s pulling double duty!) and the provocatively named new act BareBear.  $10, 7 p.m.

Also tonight, dark wave leather-fetish dance sensation Plack Blague headlines at Reverb Lounge with Cult Play and Solid Goldberg. $6, 9 p.m.

Satchel Grande and Carson City Heat also take The Waiting Room stage tonight. 9 p.m., $8.

Saturday night Almost Music is hosting Sam Locke Ward with Simon Joyner and the return of L. Eugene (Methe) Group. $5, 9 p.m.

Meanwhile, over at O’Leaver’s, Sean Pratt headlines with Landon Hedges (of Little Brazil, Desaparecidos, Wrong Pets and Fine, Fine Automobiles). $5, 9:30 p.m.  This show has been CANCELLED.

Also Saturday night, The Growlers return to The Waiting Room. $15, 9 p.m.

El Ten Eleven returns to The Slowdown Saturday night with Mylets and Fontenelle. $12, 8 p.m.

Then Sunday night Long Beach indie rockers Cold War Kids headline at Sokol Auditorium. Middle Kids open the 8 p.m. show. $26.

Also Sunday night, Vancouver art rock band Bad Pop headlines at Reverb Lounge. Relax, It’s Science and Low Long Signal open. $7, 8 p.m.

And that’s all I got. If I missed your show, put it on 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 © 2017 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i