Review: Spielbergs, This Is Not the End; Trump re-election (in the column)…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , — @ 1:37 pm February 5, 2019

Spielbergs, This Is Not the End (2019, By the Time It Gets Dark)

by Tim McMahan,

Just a quick note to pass along a recommendation, in fact the first recommendation of 2019.

Spielbergs are a Norwegian trio that formed in Oslo back in 2016. Their name is (you guessed it) a sort of tribute to Steven Spielberg, apparently after seeing Close Encounters for the first time.

This Is Not the End is their full-length debut, which came out last Friday on tiny indie label By the Time It Gets Dark Records. No doubt these kids grew up listening to ’90s-era indie as the record combines all the best qualities from the best bands of that time period. They’ve been compared to Japandroids, Titus Andronicus and No Age, but to me they’ve got more in common with the grinding indie rock of Superchuck and the massive hooks on early Teenage Fanclub albums.

A little past halfway through the album is a 7-plus minute epic tonal composition that sounds like Yo La Tengo combined with a modern-day Trent Reznor soundtrack. Titled “McDonald’s (Please Don’t Fuck Up My Order)” it underscores the understated humor that runs throughout this album. And it’s gorgeous. It’s followed by “Sleeper,” an acoustic number with the same simply beauty as “A Pillow of Winds” from Pink Floyd’s Meddle.

Those two quiet songs are the exception to the rule on an album that consists mostly of bombastic, feedback-fueled anthem rockers that are going to sound even better this summer. A great way to start off 2019…

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This month’s Over the Edge column for The Reader went online this morning, just in time for the State of the Union address. It’s a cautionary tale about what Trump would have to do to win a second term, and how easy it would be (if Trump wasn’t Trump). You can read it online here or in the February issue of The Reader, on newsstands somewhere…

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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 © 2019 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Live Review: David Nance Group, Clarence Tilton, Stephen Sheehan…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 1:27 pm December 26, 2018

David Nance Group at The Waiting Room, Dec. 23, 2018.

by Tim McMahan,

Quite a good turn-out for last Sunday’s coat drive concert at The Waiting Room… eventually. There were around 40 folks in the crowd when I arrived around 8 p.m. By the time Clarence Tilton’s set ended, there was probably four times that number crowded around the stage.

That audience ebbed slightly after the Tiltons ended and David Nance Group took the stage, which I think wasn’t so much a comment on Nance as much as how many friends the Tilton dudes have. Nance and his band were in their usual fine form. One of the things I love about this band is that, while they always manage to play songs off their latest album (Peaced and Slightly Pulverized), no two sets are the same.

They opened with a couple corkers that I didn’t recognize — one with the line “Ain’t no cure,” the other about Nance’s “credit line.” New songs? Hopefully. They absolutely cooked.

No Nance set is complete without a couple covers. This time Nance and the band covered “All My Life (I Love You)” by Skip Spence (co-founder of Moby Grape), and “Little Bit of Rain” by ’60s folk artist Fred Neil (He wrote “Everybody’s Talking'” which was famously covered by Harry Nilsson). It’s as if Nance is giving his audience a music history lesson. I had to run home and look up both of these guys, and have been listening to Neil on Spotify ever since.

Mixed in were two highlights from the new album, “Poison” and “Amethyst,” which soared in all their feedback-tinged glory. Nance is poised to break out on a national level. His new album was mentioned three times on this year’s Matador Records’ “best of” lists, including by label co-creator Gerard Cosloy, all of which means nothing other than people are discovering just how great this band is.

Clarence Tilton at The Waiting Room, Dec. 23, 2018.

As I said, the crowd peaked during Clarence Tilton’s set; there were even a few folks two-steppin’ to their twang-ified folk rock. There’s no doubt an alt-country theme that runs through their music, though if you took out that pedal-steel on some songs they’d more closely resemble traditional college/jangle rock. But you’d also have to straighten out that colorful Weber Bros’ twang.

Set highlight was a song sung by a non-Weber (Paul Novak?) with the line “Look out for the pretty thing,” which has my vote for best Clarence Tilton song I’ve never heard before. And not to be outdone in the covers category, the band ended with their own unique rendition of the Stones’ “Mother’s Little Helper” that sounded more psych-rock than C&W. You can’t pigeonhole these dudes…

Stephen Sheehan at The Waiting Room, Dec. 23, 2018.

Finally, Stephen Sheehan has assembled one of the best straight-out rock bands I’ve heard in a while, strong in every position. The rhythm section of Randy Cotton and Dan Crowell is sonic bedrock. Crowell absolutely crushes on drums, while Cotton’s bass lines at times compete with the lead guitar as the music’s centerpiece. Guitarist Mike Saklar is something of an Omaha legend and a recognized master of all things rock who was showcased throughout last Sunday’s set. Then there’s Donovan Johnson on keyboards whose style shifts with whatever is needed without losing any of his personal style — you just know he’s one of those folks who can play anything off the top of his head.

Taken together, the band truly is a sonic force that’s re-imagining Sheehan’s music, because while fans of Digital Sex or The World may recognize these songs, they live in their own space with these guys. The most notable diff is Saklar, whose sizzling tone couldn’t be more different than that of original Digital Sex guitarist John Tingle. Tingle, for me, had a much lighter, more buoyant sound than Saklar’s dark, bluesy, guttural grind.

No doubt fans of Sheehan’s former bands got what they came for with vital renditions of songs like “Theory of Games,” “In Her Smile” and “Whisper Words.” Sheehan was in good voice (and good melodica) as he breathed new life into songs that are more than 20 years old.

The exception was the night’s highlight, a new song called “Less and Less” that opened with a Donovan Johnson piano line that recalled Carol King on a mid-tempo bop, wherein Sheehan sings about falling out of love. This one was a perfect fit; and I’m told could be coming your way via a recording next year. Hopefully that’s a sign that this isn’t just a one-off performance and we’ll be hearing more new music from this band in the near future.

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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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Live Review: Middle Kids at The Sydney, Protomartyr, Preoccupations at The Waiting Room…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 2:21 pm December 10, 2018

Middle Kids at The Sydney, Dec. 8, 2018.

by Tim McMahan,

Great weekend of shows. Let’s start with Middle Kids at The Sydney Saturday night and go from there…

The show was a curiosity in itself in that The Sydney isn’t your usual venue for rising, nationally touring indie rock bands. Instead, the club has a reputation for being a Benson neighborhood bar that occasionally hosts local bands (specifically on First Fridays).

But this past summer One Percent Productions, the fine folks who own and book The Waiting Room and Reverb Lounge as well as book the bands at the annual Maha Music festival, bought The Sydney. They had no initial intention of making it another One Percent venue, rather they left the booking in the able hands of Zach Schmieder, who has been booking the club for quite awhile.

However, I have to assume that when One Percent was offered Middle Kids, a band whose music is a staple on Sirius XMU and has been a regular on college music charts, they took it even though their other venues already had been booked that night for the annual Pine Ridge Toy Drive concert. Why not move Middle Kids to The Sydney, after all, the band is from Sydney Australia — makes perfect sense.

Well, within the months that One Percent purchased The Sydney and this concert, the venue has seen a number of adjustments to its sound system. Even the sound board had been replaced (at least for Saturday night) with something more high-tech and ready to handle what ended up being a sold out show.

Since The Sydney isn’t exactly a huge club, I expected the room to be crushed, but instead, the audience was simply cozy. I was told by the woman at the door that “sold out” meant 150 tickets were sold. There was plenty of room to move around, in fact you could walk pretty close to the stage. I took my position off stage left against the wall next to a massive subwoofer on the floor that acted as a perfect barrier to keep the crowd at bay.

But while the sight lines were good where I stood, the sound was bass-heavy and muffled because I was situated behind the overhead amps. Halfway through the set I moved back by the bar, where the sound was primo but the sight lines were for shit because The Sydney only has a short platform a few inches high for a stage, keeping the band essentially at crowd level (though my 6-foot-2 frame still gave me a view of most of the band). With that the sound system vastly improved, one hopes they install if not a proper stage, at least something that lifts the band a foot or more above the crowd.

One last technical note: The Sydney still uses old-fashioned — as in not digital — spotlights, which provide warm, gorgeous tones on stage. Here’s hoping they don’t swap them out for a digital lighting system, which is cold, harsh and photographs poorly (yeah, I know those digital light rigs are cheaper, so I’m not holding my breath here…).

OK, so what about the band? Middle Kids played as a four-piece with an added guitarist (“Kyle”) that gave their sound a much-needed boost. Front woman Hannah Joy was in great voice, standing on point belting out every song the band knows — literally (at the end of the encore she said they had virtually no other material to perform).

I’ve compared these folks to a number of acts, but the one they really reminded me of most was 10,000 Maniacs; Joy’s voice having a similar Natalie Merchant tone and quiver. The mostly younger crowd (lots of big X’s on the back of hands) stood close and sang to the hits, especially on “Edge of Town,” which became a room-filled sing-along.

Protomartyr at The Waiting Room, Dec. 7, 2018.

Backing up a night to Friday at The Waiting Room…

This was sort of a shared headliner affair, with Protomartyr sandwiched into the second slot. I’ve seen Joe Casey and company three or four times. There he was up front again, dressed like an insurance salesman or someone’s dad, barking out lines like a snapping turtle taking bites out of a dead body, while the rest of the band did their usual crushing performance.

I went to the show with a pal who hadn’t seen either band before and only became familiar with their music a few days prior (thanks to my prodding). Music-wise, he said he preferred Preoccupations more than Protomartry, but after the show, he changed his tune, saying he much preferred Protomartyr live if only for Casey’s brackish charisma. He couldn’t take his eyes off him.

I’d already seen his act, which is maybe why I was so enamored with the band, specifically guitarist Greg Ahee who absolutely ripped. If there’s a minus to Protomartyr it’s that their songs sound the same — Casey doesn’t so much sing as yell words into the microphone. So it’s up to the rest of the band to provide the depth, variety and dynamics to the music, which we got in spades.

Preoccupations at The Waiting Room, Dec. 7, 2018.

As good as Protomartyr was, Preoccupations was next level. Playing mostly songs off New Material (2018, Jagjaguwar) as well as a few older tracks, the band came out with guitars blazing before working in synths three songs into the set.

Compared to Casey, frontman/bassist Matt Flegel is a virtual opera singer, channeling Ceremony’s Ross Farrar on post-punk New Wave-esque songs that would fit in rotation on Sirius’ First Wave station. While Scott Munro shined on guitar, it was the duo synths working along with drummer Mike Wallace that raised the bar on New Material tracks like “Disarray” and “Espionage.” It was dance music… for people who don’t dance.

It was a great weekend of shows  and a great way to send off 2018, as I don’t see any other national touring indie bands coming through for the balance of the year…

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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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Live Review: Cloud Nothings, Nap Eyes, David Nance Group…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 1:49 pm November 14, 2018

Cloud Nothings at The Waiting Room, Nov. 13, 2018.

by Tim McMahan,

Solid crowd for a Tuesday night at The Waiting Room last night.

Cloud Nothings won me over with a set that intensely focused on their new album, Last Building Burning. While the album is white-hot fractured punk rock bordering on emo, there’s not a lot of melody in the songwriting to tie yourself to. It’s more about bright buzzsaw riffs and frontman Dylan Baldi screaming/croaking out the vocals that sounded like a cross between Cobain and the old punk version of Rzeznik.

No, what mesmerized me about their performance was their drummer, Jayson Gerycz. With merely a snare, tom, kick drum and a couple cymbals Gerycz blew me away with what was nothing less than a virtuoso performance, a rapid-fire machine-gun that dominated every song. I could not stop watching every clever, intricate, amazing roll, fill and crash, song after song. Blazing, exhausting; like watching the film Whiplash atop a mountain of coke.

The set’s high point was a lengthy feedback interlude during epic song “Dissolution”; all guitarists had their backs to the audience, their guitars jammed into amps, bending the necks, torturing the frets, while Gerycz slowly walked a beat back in, pulling it forward then giving a clinic as to what a human can do with a drum set as the band crashed back in like a 50-foot wave. Mind blown.

David Nance Group at The Waiting Room, Nov. 13, 2018.

Almost as mind blowing was opener David Nance Group. I’ve seen Nance at least a half dozen times and this was another memorable set highlighted by a cover of Richard & Linda Thompson’s “Down Where the Drunkards Roll” completely Nance-ified by his and sideman Jim Schroeder’s feedback-fueled guitar work. The rest of the set focused on the best off the band’s latest album, Peaced and Slightly Pulverized, with raging versions of “In Her Kingdom,” “When I Saw You Last Night,” “Amethyst” and “Poison.”

In a change from the usual set style, Nance and his band seamlessly transitioned from one song to the next by Nance pulling off one feedback wave and blending in a riff that crossed over into whatever was next. Transcendent.

Someone recently asked me what Omaha bands are most likely to break into the next level of national notoriety. David Nance Group was my first response, followed by Thick Paint. Interestingly, bassist Sarah Bohling has now played in both projects.

Nap Eyes at The Waiting Room, Nov. 13, 2018.

Between bands Nova Scotia act Nap Eyes played a set that reminded me of a cross between Kurt Vile, The Feelies and Velvet Underground, with frontman Nigel Chapman giving us his best Lou Reed vocals. I halfway expected to hear a cover of “Sunday Morning,” one of VU’s sleepier numbers that would have fit right in with the rest of their set.

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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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Live Review: Well Aimed Arrows; Cloud Nothings, Nap Eyes, David Nance tonight…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 1:40 pm November 13, 2018

Well Aimed Arrows at O’Leaver’s Nov. 10, 2018.

by Tim McMahan,

Catching up on this past weekend…

Saturday night I swung by O’Leaver’s to see the return of Well Aimed Arrows. The band hasn’t played on stage in a couple years, and life being what it is, experienced a line-up change — to a trio, consisting of frontman/drummer Koly Walters, guitarist Clayton Petersen and bassist Brian Byrd.

The new stripped down version didn’t sound a whole heckuva lot different than the old version, with Walters’ flat basso vox providing the perfect counter to the band’s simple, jangular post-rock arrangements. I’ve said before they remind me of ’80s-era indie bands like Pylon, Wire and early R.E.M., if not in sound than in spirit.

Rumor has it they’re working on their next record, we’ll (likely) be seeing more of these guys in the near future. If you get a chance, do yourself a favor…

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Tonight’s Cloud Nothings show at The Waiting Room is as stacked a line-up as you’re going to find on a Tuesday night.

You read about Cloud Nothings yesterday here. Based on this Daily Trojan review, expect tonight’s performance to be heavy and loud, focused on songs off the new album augmented by a few oldies.

You might remember that opening band Nap Eyes played with Fleet Foxes last year at an outdoor Benson show. Their latest, I’m Bad Now (2018, Jagjaguwar), reminded me of The Feelies, thanks in part to lead vocalist Nigel Chapman’s drab, nasal delivery that matches Feelies’ Glenn Mercer; though energy-wise Nap Eyes is much more laid-back.

Opening the show at 8 p.m. is our very own David Nance Group who is smack dab in the middle of a tour. You’ll want to get to The Waiting Room early to catch these guys. This show has a “nice price” of just $15. See you there.

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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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Live Review: Young Jesus, Thick Paint, Ian Sweet, Jason Steady…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:49 pm October 29, 2018

Young Jesus at O’Leaver’s, Oct. 28, 2018.

by Tim McMahan,

On the surface, Saddle Creek Records’ addition of Young Jesus to its roster would appear to be a real thinking-outside-the-box moment for a label that’s prided itself on releasing some of the best singer/songwriter indie rock over the past 20 years.

Young Jesus’ new album, The Whole Thing Is Just There, has the auspicious honor of including the longest track ever released by a Saddle Creek band, “Gulf,” a tune that clocks in at just over 20 minutes. On first blush the entire record seems experimental bordering on art project. That said, The Whole Thing… also has the honor of being the highest-rated Saddle Creek release reviewed by Pitchfork, coming in at a staggering 8.1 rating. In Pitchfork terms, that’s genius level.

The Whole Thing… is about as far away from being a pop album as anything Saddle Creek has released since Beep Beep back in the ’00s. And on first listen, it can be a challenge, but I have to admit the record goes down better after seeing these guys live last night at O’Leaver’s. Following what sounded like an improvised jazz-rock instrumental, they launched into “Green,” the opening track off their Saddle Creek rerelease S/T, which, yes, sounds like an indie rock song.

The rest of the set included songs off the new album, including standout track “Deterritory” and set closer, “Gulf,” whose center section consisted of a free jazz improvisational noise collage that bent back into the opening chords and took all of its 20-plus minutes.

After the set. the house music was tracks off the Cap’n Jazz anthology Analphabetapolothology (Jade Tree, 1998) that someone aptly pointed out was appropriate considering the similarity between the bands’ sounds. While possible free-form at its core, there’s obvious structure to Young Jesus’ songs, a method to the madness that made me rethink the album (which I listened to again on the drive home). I don’t know if it will be a big seller for Saddle Creek, but it adds credibility to their vision of releasing music not necessarily for commercial sake, but because they love it.

Thick Paint at O’Leaver’s, Oct. 28, 2018.

I caught the last half of Thick Paint’s opening set and it was the usual amazing, intricate, tuneful rock that they’ve become known for. A different player on bass (usual bassist Sarah Bohling is on the road with David Nance, I believe) didn’t throw off their game a bit. Call it indie prog. The mystery continues as to who is going to put out this band’s next album.

Ian Sweet at O’Leaver’s, Oct. 28, 2018.

Last night’s show, which was originally scheduled to start at 6, didn’t get rolling until after 7 because the bands were late getting to town. As a result, headliner Ian Sweet didn’t go on until after 10. Playing as a three-piece, the set was harder and more abrasive than what I was expecting having heard her new album — i.e., it rocked, at least for the four songs I caught before I headed home.

Hey O’Leaver’s, I love these early Sunday shows. Keep them coming!

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Jason Steady and the Soft Ponies at Burrito Envy, Oct. 26, 2018.

I think I might be the only person I know that likes the food at Burrito Envy. I had three tacos, chips and salsa and a couple fine margaritas there Friday night before I caught a set by Jason Steady and the Soft Ponies.

All the way back to the Talking Mountain days, Steady’s style has been funny, friendly, good-time jangle rock with a slightly disconcerting message just below the surface, a message that’s hard to decipher when he and his ponies — a guy on a stripped-down drum kit and a backing vocalist/percussionist — are making you bounce in your seat to their sunny, good-time music, that included a couple country-esque indie pop ditties. Fun.

Steady is a natural showman, punctuating his set with between-song banter that makes you think he’d be the perfect host for a Pee-Wee’s Playhouse-style children’s program on Nick or PBS Kids. All he needs is some puppets, and anyone who knows Steady knows that’s well within his reach. Nothing would make my Saturday mornings better…

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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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Cursive’s ‘Vitriola’ drops tomorrow (and what people are saying about it)…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 12:41 pm October 4, 2018

Cursive’s next album, Vitriola, comes out tomorrow on 15 Passenger.

by Tim McMahan,

Early press for the new Cursive album, Vitriola, appears to be rather strong. The record drops tomorrow on the band’s label, 15 Passenger.

Having listened to the album a few times I can add to the choir that this record is reminiscent of early Cursive. The songs certainly sound more cohesive and structured than, say, what we got with I Am Gemini, which is a complicated way of saying they have great guitar riffs, hooks and massive, percussive rhythms that consistently head in one direction, versus Gemini‘s proggy where-is-this-going approach.

OK, let’s just get it out there — Gemini is my least favorite Cursive record. It’s difficult to get through. And I’m a sucker for big riffs and repeat choruses — i.e., straight-forward indie rock songs, like on this record. There’s a familiarity to this music that is oddly comforting.

Both Noisey and Stereogum posted interviews with Cursive leader Tim Kasher that try to dissect the record’s meaning — true navel-gazing exercises that could be valuable to a Cursive superfan.

My simplistic (and there’s no one more simplistic than I) take is that Kasher’s getting older and these songs reflect his anxiety about aging and/or the struggle and futility of life (versus say, songs about his struggles with relationships (Domestica) or religion (Happy Hollow)). There’s also a  political theme that runs through a few songs that’s hard to miss, though I wouldn’t consider this a protest album. The Noisey article makes it sound like there’s a glimmer of hope underlying the collection. Maybe, but I don’t hear it. To me, it’s a collection of true bummers connected by massive riffs. But what else is new?

All I can think of is how well these songs will sound live. For example, can Kasher get the crowd to scream along to the “Ouroboros” chorus: “I am a parasite / I am a shill / I am that lowly snake / Chasing its tail.” By god, I think he can. Which is good, because I have a feeling Tim and the crew are going to be touring this one for a long time.

If you haven’t already, pre-order it 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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Live Review: Gary Numan; Tragic Jack, Brad Hoshaw tonight; Lodgings, Sun-Less Trio, Wagon Blasters Saturday; House Vacations, Tom Bartolomei Sunday…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 11:57 am September 28, 2018

Gary Numan at The Slowdown, Sept. 27, 2018.

by Tim McMahan,

Recent Gary Numan recordings, specifically Savage (Songs from a Broken World) (2017, BMG), have been compared to recordings by Nine Inch Nails, a band who has cited Numan as an influence. While there’s no mistaking the similarity in the preponderance of deep beats, synths and power chords, recent NIN albums rarely have contained songs as tuneful as Numan’s recent stuff, and certainly Trent Reznor doesn’t hold a candle vocally to Numan, who, on these recordings (made when he was in his late 50s), sounds as good or better than he did in Tubeway Army.

I mention this because last night’s Gary Numan show at The Slowdown was heavy with the new stuff, which sounded like Middle Eastern-influenced NIN albeit with a greater reliance on Numan’s cold-steel synth sound.  Numan, looking more like a dude in his late 30s than a guy who just turned 60, performed really elegant modern dance throughout the set, interpreting every chord and drop beat like a ballet dancer in Desert Storm trooper boots, all a part of the band’s ragged matched costuming that made them resemble extras from Mad Max: Fury Road.

Right out of the gate Numan and his band sounded great, maybe a bit too great. When he started singing I immediately wondered if he was lip-syncing. The vocals simply sounded too rounded and perfect to be live, especially with the calisthenics Numan was performing. It didn’t even look like he was holding the microphone up to his mouth, though the vocals coming out of the stacks were spot-on perfect. And, strangely, he never spoke to the audience between songs (at least while I was listening).

I’m not a sound tech and I haven’t talked to the band so I have no idea what exactly was going on. I know all the band members wore in-ear monitors; and while everyone had microphones, it sure didn’t look like they were singing most of the time. In fact, the band sounded absolutely perfect throughout the set. I’m not sure this means they were performing with a backing track or what (though I’m sure the soundguy knows).

Regardless, the sound was pristine and magnificent and the crowd didn’t seem to care a whit whether the performance was being “sweetened” or not, they were too ensconced in the light, movement and sound.  The tale of the tape came 10 songs in when the band performed “Cars,” an arrangement that was mostly faithful to the original, and Numan here seemed to be singing, or at least he sounded different than earlier in the set. He also was a lot less animated, pacing between the microphone and the back of the stage.

He lit right back into the new stuff afterward (you can see the full setlist from last night here), and continued with his elegant balletic moves, amazing and inspiring from a guy his age. It was a fun show no matter what was going on.

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Looks like it’s going to be cold, rainy weekend, which means there’s no excuse for not going to some shows.

Tonight, Tragic Jack plays a down at Slowdown Jr. The band has a new album, Glasshouse Town, coming out Oct. 12 on Silver Street Records. It’s not so much indie as straight-forward, traditional FM rock. Marty Amsler, the former member of The Millions who plays bass in Tragic Jack, gave me a copy of the record and said “this probably isn’t your thing.” It’s not, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t any good. Hey man, despite my indie music leanings, I grew up on FM rock and can tell quality when I hear it. Copies of the record will be available at tonight’s show, which also features openers Brad Hoshaw and Soul Ghost. $7, 9 p.m.

Also tonight, The Hottman Sisters are celebrating the release of a new EP, Louder, at The Waiting Room. Ruby Force and Kethro open at 9 p.m. $12.

Lodgings is a pretty awesome band consisting of Bryce Hotz, vocals; Jim Schroeder, guitars; David Ozinga, bass; Eric Ernst, drums. Their 2016 debut, which also features cellist Megan Siebe and Trumpeter Sean Lomax, is one of my recent faves. The band headlines at fabulous O’Leaver’s Saturday night. Joining them in this stacked line-up are The Sun-Less Trio and The Wagon Blasters. 10 p.m., $5.

Finally, O’Leaver’s Sunday early-show series continues with House Vacations, CatBeret, the return of Omaha singer/songwriter Tom Bartolomei, and Lincoln’s Threesome Egos.

And 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 — 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.


Live Review: Black Belt Eagle Scout, Guerilla Toss; Gary Numan tonight…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 12:53 pm September 27, 2018

Black Belt Eagle Scout at Reverb Lounge Sept. 26, 2018.

by Tim McMahan,

I’m more convinced after last night’s Black Belt Eagle Scout show at Reverb Lounge that the best way to get introduced to a new album is live on stage.

Prior to this show the only BBES tune off their new album Mother of My Children I’ve heard was “Soft Stud,” which has gotten some spins on Sirius XMU. It was the first time for the rest of it, presented in a confined space like Reverb without distraction. I walked away wanting to hear most of it again.

I say “most of” because the set started rather flat and low-tempo, highlighting the quieter moments on the album. Very pretty, reminiscent to some degree of early Azure Ray or a K Records act. It wasn’t until halfway through the gig that the trio, fronted by singer/songwriter/guitarist Katherine Paul, began to take off. Paul turned up the guitar, stabbed the pedals and roared on a number of songs that would have made Neil Young proud.

Pushing everything forward was whomever was playing bass, an amazingly deft and creative bassist who augmented Paul’s work with her own intricate counter melodies.

Great stuff, enjoyed by a smallish crowd. I figured it would be packed what with the Saddle Creek connection, but there probably was only around 35 people in the room, which made for an intimate set.

Guerilla Toss at Reverb Lounge Sept. 26, 2018.

Things didn’t get rolling ’til almost 9:30, which limited my time spent with Guerilla Toss, a six-piece ensemble that sounded like a cross between Tom Tom Club and Siouxsie and the Banshees. Very arty, very progressive, very fun bouncy rock rife with twists and turns and big moments. Frontwoman Kassie Carlson has a soaring voice that cuts through everything going on around her. The only thing missing was a dancing crowd.

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The big show tonight is Gary Numan at The Slowdown. There’s been a simmering level of excitement since this one was announced months ago, but surprisingly it’s not sold out. For those pondering whether to go, here’s the setlist from Numan’s Cleveland show Sept. 23, which indicates that he didn’t roll out mega-hit “Cars” until about halfway though the show. If you’re like me, that’s the only Numan tune you know. Still, this one could be a lot of fun. LA art rock trio Nightmare Air opens at 8 p.m. $28.

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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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Live Review: Son, Ambulance, Little Brazil; Creatures of Rabbit (Stephen Sheehan & band) tonight…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , — @ 12:36 pm September 17, 2018

Son, Ambulance at Slowdown Jr., Sept. 14, 2018.

by Tim McMahan,

Son, Ambulance gets the official #Warrior designation after their show Friday night at Slowdown Jr. Daniel Knapp was involved in a car accident a few hours before the show, which left him bandaged head-to-hand. But the show must go on, as they say on Broadway, and Daniel was behind the keyboards playing with his usual panache.

In fact, everyone played with panache, in front of about 50 people, with a set that leaned heavily on older, familiar tunes. Where did all that new material go that we heard a year or so ago? Who knows. Maybe the band will roll it (or other new stuff) out when they play at O’Leaver’s later this month.

One new one they did play, titled “Fuck Trump,” felt less like a political anthem than a reflection of our current state of affairs, punctuated toward the end with a “Fuck Trump” rallying cry. Joe Knapp’s vocals, while burning with Costello snarls, were blurred in the mix so I couldn’t make out the rest of the song’s lyrics. I’d love to see a lyric sheet — or better yet, a clean recording issued on 7-inch vinyl.

Little Brazil at O’Leaver’s, Sept. 16, 2018.

Last night was the Mike Loftus Benefit Concert at O’Leaver’s. I only had time to drop in for Little Brazil’s set. The band played most of the songs off their latest album, Send the Wolves (2018, Max Trax), with a lethal intensity that eclipsed their CD release show.

Hats off to soundguy Ben VanHoolandt, who diligently adjusted the sound throughout the set to meet the band’s peaks and valleys. A typical problem at Little Brazil shows is that Landon Hedges’ vocals sometimes get lost in the mix. That wasn’t a problem last night. It’s the first time I’ve heard Landon so clearly on stage, and it made all the difference.

The crew also pulled out a couple new ones (which I believe they also played at their CD release show); the first of which features a very cool riff by new guitarist Shawn Cox, (who slayed his solos throughout the performance). LB just released their last record in June and it sounds like they’re already ready to return to the studio. I’d love to see them tour this record before they put out the next one, but we all know how god-awfully taxing touring can be, both to the band’s wallets and families.

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Special show tonight at O’Leaver’s…

Billed as “Creatures of Rabbit,” the gig is actually a warm-up for this weekend’s Lincoln Calling Festival by Stephen Sheehan and his band, which features Dan Crowell, Randy Cotton, Donovan Johnson and Mike Saklar.

Sheehan, as we all know, was the frontman to late-’80s early-’90s post-ambient band Digital Sex. He re-emerged from a performance hiatus with this new band (but with Ben Sieff instead of Saklar on guitar) last August (you can read how and why it happened, here). Catch the set before they head to Lincoln Calling Friday night. Tonight’s show starts at 9:30 with no opener. $5.

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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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.