by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com
Here Jeffrey Lewis was expecting no one to be at last night’s show at Reverb Lounge and there he was greeted by a nearly full room of around 35 to see the Manhattan troubadour and his uber talented band Los Bolts. And Lewis seemed quite pleased, saying it was the biggest crowd he’d every played for… in Omaha.
With guitar in hand he launched right into a set that included a lot of songs off his recent album, Manhattan, as well as a handful of chestnuts from years past. What I found most surprising was how much the set rocked. Lewis’ albums are mainly fast-paced upbeat acoustic folk fare, while last night’s show slalomed between acoustic and electric — somehow he made that acoustic guitar scream as loud as any Fender Strat, with full-blown feedback snarls. Lewis is, indeed, as good a guitarist as he is a great songwriter.
After every few songs he went to his Macbook, which fed a small projector that he used to tell stories supported by comic-book-style illustrations. One told the history of Sitting Bull; another told how he’s gone from being a hippy (clothingwise) to a regular dude. The funniest of these stories were adaptations of Nirvana songs from the album Bleach — specifically “Big Cheeze” and “Mr. Moustache” — that proved just how inane Kurt Cobain’s lyrics could be.
Lewis’ entire set had a lift of humor behind it, including his between-song patter wherein he reminded me of a young Gilbert Gottfried, complete with a Gottfried squint. Funny stuff. I ended up buying a couple issues of Lewis’ Fuff comic book and an outtakes and rarities album I hadn’t seen before. Judging from the lines, he did very well with merch sales.
There was as big a crowd for the show opener, David Nance and his band, which included Simon Joyner on bass (a first for Joyner). Nance’s music was quite a contrast to Lewis’. They played only two songs, but each lasted at least 15 minutes, and consisted of droning, building, feedback-layered head sounds. One well-schooled music fan I talked to said the set reminded him of Dream Syndicate (?) and Velvet Underground (dead on). Or imagine drawn-out, dark, slow, psychedelic tunes without keyboards and you begin to get the picture. Nance’s music is trance-like, almost hypnotic in its powerful dissonance. A great night of music.
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Let me tell you a brief record-buying story.
I recently walked into Almost Music in the Blackstone District to do some record shopping. Flipping through the stacks, I made conversation with the proprietor, a fine lad named Brad Smith. “Brad,” I said, “why don’t you pick me out an album that you think I’d like. Every good record store proprietor should be able to pick out a record that can’t miss with one of his or her patrons.”
Brad thought about this a moment, and then said something along the lines of “Everyone has his or her own specific tastes,” which is true. “But,” I said, “you still must have something I’ve never heard before that you can recommend.”
So Brad walked from behind the glass counter and began flipping through the new vinyl and said “Here” and handed me a copy of The Self-Titled Album by a group I never heard of called Tenement. I told him to put it on the stack, which included a used copy of Talking Heads 77 and Rolling Stones’ Goats Head Soup and a signed copy of James Ellroy’s Blood’s a Rover. There always lots of good stuff at Almost Music.
And I took that record home, put it on the turntable and was knocked out by it. Tenement is a trio from Appleton, Wisconsin, that has been kicking around since 2006. Their Wikipedia bio says they’re often associated with the American hardcore punk scene, though you wouldn’t know it by listening to this record. which was released this year on Deranged Records. While the first track, “Everyone to Love You,” does have a throbbing punk rock sensibility (in fact, Brad warned me about it — what’s with people thinking I don’t like punk rock no more?), the rest of the record bounced between styles as diverse as Pavement, Ted Leo/Pharmacists and ’80s-era Rolling Stones. It’s a gorgeous record and on my list of favorites for 2016, and you should definitely check it out.
Which just goes to show you that you can always trust Brad Smith to make a blind recommendation for how to spend your hard-earned dollars.
All of this is just a long-winded way of letting you know that Tenement is playing an early show tonight at Sokol Underground. I’ve been told this show originally was scheduled for a different venue, but was moved as an early show to compliment the NOFX show also taking place at Sokol Auditorium later tonight (though Tenement has nothing in common with NOFX).
Tenement, the second band for this early show, goes on at 6:15 after Meat Wave (a Chicago punk band on SideOneDummy, who starts at 5:30) and is followed by Direct Hit (Fat Wreck Chords). It’s a $10 show, but only $5 if you have a NOFX ticket.
That NOFX show at Sokol Aud includes openers PEARS and Useless ID, costs $30 and starts at 8 p.m.
Also tonight, Brothers Lounge is hosting Denver punkabilly band The Living Deads along with no-coast surf punks Huge Fucking Waves. $5, 10 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 © 2016 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.