Maybe it’s because Maha is Saturday, but it’s a dead week show-wise. I mean nothing’s going on (unless there’s a show under the radar I don’t know about (which is very possible)).
That lack of shows allows you to scratch together $50 for your Maha ticket. I’ve had three people in the past three days contact me via the internet asking what the Maha set schedule is — three people who apparently don’t know how to use the internet, because the Maha set schedule has been at mahamusicfestival.com for weeks now.
So for those lazy few unwilling to click the above link and scroll down, here’s this year’s Maha Music Festival set schedule:
Noon Gates Open
1:15 Ex Hex
2:55 The Jayhawks
4:00 All Young Girls Are Machine Guns
4:35 Vintage Paisley (Omaha Girls Rock)
5:55 Speedy Ortiz
8:00 The Good Life
9:00 Purity Ring
10:20 Modest Mouse
Midnight Show Over – See you in 2016!
I’m told there may be a secret “special guest” joining The Jayhawks, whose set is pretty early in the day. In fact, my favorite band of the festival — Alvvays — plays right before The Jayhawks at 2:05 p.m., and indie darling Ex-Hex is right before that. At first blush you might say, “I would have scheduled both those bands later in the day,” but perhaps Maha has finally taken my advice and scheduled a couple quality national bands early in an effort to get people to Stinson Park earlier in the day. Now let’s hope the heat index is somewhere below 100 degrees.
Maha today sent out a press release that lists this year’s food and booze vendors. Not a bad selection (though I would have loved to see LaCasa on the list):
To Eat: Big Daddy’s Donuts, Country Sno, Hy-Vee, Jones Bros, Kebobs Gyros and Brats, Mangia Italiana, and Voodoo Taco. For VIP only: Kitchen Table and Dante Pizzeria.
To Drink: Boulevard Brewing Company (hopefully the beer backpack dudes will be back), Pabst Blue Ribbon, Mike’s Hard Lemonade, Mike’s Palm Breeze Ruby Red, Angry Orchard, Red Bull, Coors Light, Pepsi Products (boo! Where’s my Dr. Pepper?) and that old favorite Mixed Cocktail.
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The Good Life have a prime slot at Maha, going on at 8 p.m. The band’s new album, Everybody’s Coming Down, is being streamed in its entirety at Stereogum (but actually on YouTube, below). Listen to the whole damn thing prior to its Aug. 14 drop date and read about the album in my interview with the band.
The Maha Music Festival is this coming Saturday, and chatter continues that this could be the first year it actually sells out. I don’t know what “sells out” equates to — 10,000 tickets? If it happens it would create a new benchmark and would likely signal a change in how the festival is run in the future. Expansion to a 2-day event? Partnering with other local entities? A move of venue?
Those options are covered in this month’s Over the Edge column in The Reader. Maha Vice President Lauren Schomburg talks about the current state of the festival and possible future scenarios. The jury is definitely split as to whether Maha should remain a quaint 10,000-sized one-day indie music festival or take steps to grow into something bigger at the risk of losing some of its charm. Read the column (online here) and then let me know where you weigh in. And purchase your $50 tickets before it sells out.
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Tonight at Pageturners Lounge Oquoa plays a free set as part of the bar’s summer concert series. The show starts at 9 p.m. More info here.
Also tonight, singer/songwriter Rocky Votolato (Barsuk Records) headlines at Slowdown Jr. with Dave Hause and Chris Farren. $12, 8 p.m.
Top of the list is Son, Ambulance at fabulous O’Leaver’s tonight. The band is reaching new levels of amazing at their live shows lately. So where are those new recordings, Joe? Also on tonight’s bill are Agronomo and Javid and the Qualified Suspects. $5, 9:30 p.m.
Also tonight, the amazing Dinosaur Jr. is opening for Primus at Sumtur Amphitheater. Beyond “Jerry Was a Racecar Driver,” I’ve never had much use for Primus, but Dinosaur Jr. and J Mascis are truly indie rock royalty. $40, 7 p.m.
One more show: The Nadas headline at Reverb Lounge with Two Drag Club. $15, 9 p.m.
Tomorrow night Routine Escorts headlines at Slowdown Jr. (remember that place?) with Sam Martin and Chalant. $5, 9 p.m.
Also tomorrow night, it’s back to the club (O’Leaver’s) for the return of Cloven Path (yep, they’re back). Also on the bill are Australia blackmetal/prog band Dreadnaught and HAG. $5, 9:30 p.m.
That’s all I got. If I missed your show, put it in the comments section. Have a great weekend.
You’ve probably heard by now: Eagle*Seagull is getting back together, at least for one night.
Sayeth Ian Aeillo yesterday via FB: “Eli and I are getting back together to perform as Eagle Seagull again; October 9th at the club (which is fabulous O’Leaver’s, of course). Ten year anniversary of our album. So So Sailors headlining.” Little Brazil also is on the bill.
Aeillo said the lineup for Eagle*Seagull would be him, Eli and his brother Luther Mardock, Eli’s wife Carrie Mardock and Eric Nyffeler.
So just one show? “One show only,” Aeillo said. “And no plans for any new record because Eli and I might kill each other if we were to make another ES album.” Fair enough.
In recognition of this announcement and for Throwback Thursday, here’s an interview with Eagle*Seagull from nearly 10 years ago, written in conjunction with the release of that debut album.
Eagle*Seagull circa 2005.
Eagle*Seagull: Flippin’ the Bird
Lazy-i, Nov. 17, 2005
Indie band Eagle*Seagull doesn’t take kindly to being called “Lincoln’s version of The Arcade Fire,” even if it’s meant as a compliment.
“Comparisons like that make you sound less original, like you’re trying to catch a wave or something,” said the band’s guitarist Austin Skiles while two brethren band members — frontman Eli Mardock and drummer Britt Hayes — sipped tasty beverages next to him at Caffeine Dreams.
Skiles is right, of course. No band wants to be compared to another band, especially if that band is the hottest thing currently happening in the indie world. It’s sort of like being called “This year’s Interpol,” another band, incidentally, that Eagle*Seagull also resembles, along with classic acts Talking Heads and David Bowie.
Originally called The Good Looks when first formed in October 2004, the band changed its name to Eagle*Seagull in January while recording their debut CD at producer Ian Aeillo’s bedroom studio. “Ian made these noises that sounded like an evil seagull,” Mardock said. Too much alcohol transformed that description into Eagle*Seagull (The asterisk, apparently, is meaningless).
“We’ve been told that eagles and seagulls also are natural enemies,” Mardock added for irony’s sake or to give the name a little more weight than merely being a drunken misunderstanding.
Before the band completed its nine months (off and on) in Aeillo’s bedroom, they already found a label — Nashville’s Paper Garden Records. Never heard of it? Probably because Eagle*Seagull’s debut is catalog number 001. Upon seeing the band perform in Lincoln, former Nebraskan Bryan Vaughan made up his mind to launch the label with their debut. Vaughan, a former intern at both Sub Pop and Saddle Creek Records, now lives in Nashville where he attends Belmont University.
He made a smart choice. Eagle*Seagull’s debut, released Oct. 11, is one of the year’s best locally produced CDs, capturing the band’s sweeping, urgent, yet jittery energy. The ensemble is rounded out by Eli’s brother, Luther Mardock, on guitar and vocals, J.J. Idt on guitar and banjo, Mike Overfield on bass, and newcomer Carrie Butler on violin and keyboards.
So far, Skiles said, the CD has received good notices. “It’s done well for an album recorded for as little money as possible,” he said. “We’ve had a pretty good reception for a bunch of dorks writing songs.” — Lazy-i, Nov. 17, 20015.
By the way, Aeillo confirmed that Mike Overfield, J.J. Idt and Austin Skiles won’t be participating in this reunion.
My feature story/interview with members of The Good Life for The Reader is on newsstands now and online right here. The band talks about their return, their new record (and what it means) and where the band fits in today’s music.
He pointed to a number of Omaha bands influenced by ’90s rock, such as Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship and See Through Dresses. The difference between The Good Life playing “120-Minutes-style” alternative rock versus those bands, Kasher said, is “we’re actually from that era.”
Read the rest here. Everybody’s Coming Down really is a great album and a departure for the band. As described in the article, there’s virtually no acoustic instruments on this record. It rocks more than any past Good Life record and as much as any Cursive album, though it’s not nearly as abrasive. Favorite tracks are “The Troubadour’s Green Room,” “Everybody,” “Holy Shit” and closer “Midnight Is Upon Us,” but it’s all good, and in some ways, more cohesive than a typical “concept album.” Read about it.
BTW, The Good Life kicks off their international tour at this year’s Maha Music Festival Aug. 15. Tickets are still available (for now). Kasher chimes in on Maha in my Over the Edge column in this month’s Reader. Look for it on newsstands, or wait ’til the column goes on line later this week…
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Holly Miranda returns to Omaha tonight, this time to The Slowdown. I interviewed Miranda (via email) five years ago in support of a show at The Waiting Room. The inspirational line from that story:
…Miranda did say how much success in the music business depends on talent and how much depends on lucky breaks and Kanye flukes. “You’ll need a LOT of both, and a strong sense of self,” she replied. “If you don’t know who you are in this industry, someone else is going to tell you who you are and they probably won’t get it quite right.”
No kidding. Read the rest of story from March 2010 here. Toronto’s Marnie Herald opens. $10, 8 p.m.
What they say about LA is true. The weather is fantastic. The traffic is horrendous. It’s definitely the land of the rich and beautiful, but even if I was a multi-millionaire I wouldn’t want to live there. Too congested; too expensive. Or maybe I just spent too much time hanging around Beverly Hills and Malibu.
Regardless, I’m back. In fact I’ve been back since last Friday, in time to catch Saturday night’s Live at O’Leaver’s concert featuring Ladyfinger and Criteria, two bands that have been kicking it for at least a decade and have never sounded better. Neither has O’Leaver’s tiny stage, which recently saw a bump in its sound system (again), making it rival soundwise any formal venue in town.
The other notable change to O’Leaver’s is the new patio hidden behind the building that was open Saturday night thanks to the city granting a one-day permit. If you go back there tonight, that door that leads to the patio is bound to be locked shut, which is a shame because that new patio is one of the best outdoor party areas in Omaha. Clocking in at around 2,000 square feet, it feels larger than The Club itself, with multiple built-in benches, an enormous pergola and another bar just ready to be open for business. As one guy told me, the patio has a big-city feel, like something you’d find in Portland.
Ladyfinger at O’Leaver’s Aug. 1, 2015.
It was jammed with people Saturday night, so many that I wondered how they’d all fit back inside the club when the bands began playing. It was wall-to-wall humanity when Ladyfinger lit into their set. They played a handful of songs off their previous albums; no new material that I could tell. You have to wonder what the future holds for these guys. Like I said, they’ve never sounded better, but are they ever going to write and record another album?
Criteria came on at just after 12:30 and gave their usual high-flying performance. Stephen Pedersen can still hit those crazy high notes when he wants to, and the band was as tight as ever. Unlike Ladyfinger, Criteria rolled out a few new songs, including one that bordered on anthem/ballad territory (but aren’t they all anthems?). No doubt they have plans for a new record.
Life has a way of catching up with all of us, and that’s certainly the case with both these bands. Members have lives and commitments and families and jobs that make touring difficult if not impossible. But that doesn’t stop them from wanting to play or having something to say with their music. Why should they stop recording and performing (if only at local gigs), especially at a time when record sales no longer are a game-changer in the life of a band? We might be entering an era of “regional indie bands” that self-release their material and perform only within a few hundred miles of their homes. If you want to see them, you’re going to have to get in your car or hop on a bus to find them. If the music can’t come to you, you’ll have to go to the music. Which makes clubs like O’Leaver’s that much more important.
No doubt these two bands’ performances Saturday night will wind up online at liveatoleavers.com. If you haven’t checked out the website, it’s high time that you do. Current featured artists (among the dozens on the site whose live gigs at O’Leaver’s you can now now enjoy) include J Fernandez, Bob Log III, The Kickback, Worried Mothers, Frontier Ruckus and Manic Pixie Dream Girls. Go, listen.
High Up at Reverb Lounge July 25, 2015.
One other show worth mentioning is High Up at Reverb July 25. I meant to post something about the show before I skipped town but never had the chance. Goddamn, Christine Fink is a major talent. I guess you’d expect nothing less coming from Orenda’s sister, but holy shit, she sings blue-eyed soul like she’s been doing it for a decade.
I tapped out on my iPhone that night at the show, “She’s an indie version of Amy Winehouse, or certainly Omaha’s version.” The attitude, the charisma, the voice, she was born for the stage. Watching her up front with only a microphone, you got a sense that High Up is her band, and what a band it is — pure pro blues/soul/rock, including a small horn section that featured sister Orenda on trumpet. The music is stylish but not too polished, an earthier version of neo-soul that strangely feels grounded in the Midwest. If you had any doubt of their origin, the band threw in a bluesy version of Bright Eyes’ “Make a Plan to Love Me” that they made their own.
So I’m watching Fink up there and wondering what would happen if she went full-on performance diva, you know, with the full costumes/dresses, a real formal approach to her performance? She already owns the stage just the way she is, but what if she kicked up the staging to sophisticated nightclub level? Would she broaden her audience well beyond the clubs she’s been playing? Would she even want that? You start messing with the presentation, you change everything. There’s a certain rebellious thing that’s up there now that I’d hate to see them lose, even if it limits the band to a smaller indie-music world…
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Before I left for LA last week I wrote two stories for The Reader, which should be online this week. One is an interview with The Good Life about their new album, Everybody’s Coming Down, which drops on Saddle Creek Records Aug. 14, just in time for their Maha Music Festival appearance Aug. 15.
The other story (not coincidentally) is an interview with Lauren Schomburg about the current state of Maha and what the board that runs the show has in mind for the festival’s future. Can it get bigger? Should it get bigger?
I’ll let you know when both stories are online, though they should be on newsstands right now.
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Speaking of festivals, I can’t figure out why anyone gives a shit about the fiasco known as the Grassroots Festival. Take a look at the line-up and who’s putting it on. What did you expect? I suppose if there was some sort of “indie” element to it, I’d be enraged, but I can’t imagine any band that I’d want to see being involved in such a snafu. It’s just another reason why you should never take One Percent Productions for granted.
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Fantastic show tonight at Sweatshop Gallery in Bension. Screaming Females headlines with Gordon, Vacation and The Ridgways. $7, 9 p.m. Be prepared to sweat!
Lydia Loveless looks like she could kick your ass. A fireplug of a woman, she stood in the digital light with her electric guitar hanging from her shoulders and belted out one song after another last night at Reverb like someone who’s been on the road for 10 years straight. She said prior to her set that last night’s show was the final night of filming for a documentary, presumably about her and/or her tour, though the only cameraman was one guy with a DSLR shooting from a corner of the stage as the the band ripped though its set.
Loveless had the C&W/alt-country tag hung on her early in her career, probably because of her slight twang that can easily slide into pseudo yodel and, in fact, does recall Loretta Lynn. And though she’s been compared to Lynn, Stevie Nicks and Patti Smith, she reminded me more of John Haitt, Tom Petty and Lucinda Williams backed by a second electric guitar, a guy who switched between pedal steel and electric 12-string, a drummer and a giant of a bass player who looked like a monster standing next to her.
Playing a number of songs off her most recent LP, Somewhere Else (Bloodshot, 2014) , this was my first real foray into Loveless. On indie label Bloodshot, there is a distinct commercial edge to her music, which I could imagine playing in the background of your favorite TV show. Listen most closely and you’ll catch elegant lyrics about love and longing that felt defiant on the upbeat rock numbers and humbling and regretful on the slower pieces. There is something about her music that makes me sad no matter how fast it’s played, sort of how I feel when I listen to Neko Case’s music. Like a soldier who’s just come home from battle, Loveless looked and sounded like a survivor telling war stories, and more often than not, it broke my heart.
I got to Reverb just in time to catch the tail end of Kait Berreckman’s solo electric/acoustic set. Her songs are sweet and sensitive and mostly upbeat despite lyrics that lay bare some of her more private moments in a heart-on-the-sleeve sort of way that reminded me of John Klemmensen (though not nearly as angsty). All the songs I heard were uptempo and played at the same speed, which made me yearn for some pace variety (I’d love to hear her play her closing song at half the speed and turn it into a durge-like anthem). Maybe the pacing was due to the solo approach — she says she’s better when she’s playing with her band (her words, spoken on stage). I’ll have to find out for myself.
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Onward to the weekend.
There’s a good chance that I’ll finally check out the new Lookout Lounge at 320 So. 72nd (the old Hideout) tonight, as it’s hosting a free Maha Music Festival showcase. On the bill are Lineman’s Rodeo, New Lungs, Eric in Outespace, The Seen and Conchance. 9 p.m.
Also tonight psych-garage Shreveport band Ghost Foot headlines at fabulous O’Leaver’s with Pro-Magnum, A Great Disturbance and Those Far Out Arrows. $5, 9:30 p.m.
Tomorrow night (Saturday) Sucettes return to Reverb Lounge. Opening is Navy Gangs and High Up (featuring the Fink sisters). $5, 9 p.m.
Meanwhile over at The Waiting Room it’s the return of Dick Dale (he’s becoming a regular feature ’round here). The Sub-Vectors open. $28 today, $30 tomorrow. Starts at 9.
And finally, Hear Nebraska’s Good Living Tour wraps up tonight and tomorrow. Tonight the tour is in Nebraska City at Memorial Way with The So-So Sailors, Kill County and A Summer Better Than Yours. Starts at 8. Tomorrow evening the tour concludes in Grand Island with Icky Blossoms, Simon Joyner & The Ghosts and AZP. No idea on the venue, but the address is 111 E South Front St. This one’s listed with a 5 p.m. start. Both shows are free.
That’s all I got. If I missed your show, put it in the comments section. Have a great weekend.
Top of the list is Lydia Loveless at Reverb Lounge. The Columbus, Ohio, singer/songwriter has been compared to Loretta Lynn, Stevie Nicks, Patti Smith and Liz Phair, among others. She’s on the road supporting her new album, Somewhere Else (Bloodshot Records). Local hero Kait Berreckman opens. $10, 9 p.m.
Also tonight, Portland electronic act STRFKR (Polyvinyl, Badman) plays at The Waiting Room with Shy Boys & Fullbloods. $17, 9 p.m.
Over at fabulous O’Leaver’s it’s a singer/songwriter showcase featuring Anna McClellan (Howard), Mike Schlesinger (ex-Gus & Call), Phantom Canyon and Noah Sterba (Yuppies). $5, 9:30 p.m.
The Good Living Tour continues in West Point tonight at the Nielsen Community Center featuring Rock Paper Dynamite, John Klemmensen and the Party and Dustin Prinz. It’s free and starts at 8. You think Andy Norman of Hear Nebraska is getting road weary yet?
If I could, I’d go to the Natalie Prass show at Vega in Lincoln tonight. Prass’ self titled debut (on Spacebomb) is rich, acoustic-driven singer/songwriter stuff, like Jenny Lewis singing Joni Mitchell playing jazzy pop music. Really gorgeous stuff and terrific live (as witnessed at this year’s SXSW). Those of you going are in for a treat. The show is only $10 and you also get Son, Ambulance and Chicago band In Tall Buildings. 9 p.m. start time. I’d go but the drive back from Lincoln means home after 1 a.m. which doesn’t sit well with a 5 a.m. wake-up call.
Here’s a new one by Prass not on the debut:
Also tonight, The Love Technicians, who I’ve never heard before, play their farewell show at Reverb tonight. Opening is John Klemmensen and the Party and Lincoln’s Life Is Cool. $7, 9 p.m.
I typically don’t write about upcoming shows, but there are a few that have just been announced that are under the radar.
First among them is a house show featuring Jeremy Messersmith Tuesday, Aug. 4, at a “midtown” location (You’ll find out where presumably when you buy your ticket). Messersmith is calling this his “Supper Club Tour.” Says Messersmith: “I want you to bring the food. But not just any food! I want to try your best, most mouthwatering dishes; the kind passed down through battered cookbooks, the kind that you’ve sworn to keep secret. I want to provide a soundtrack while you sample a feast the likes of which will never be seen again.” Mmmm. You can purchase your $20 tickets right here. I gotta believe space is limited…
Also announced today:
Sufjan Stevens is returning to Omaha, this time to the Orpheum Oct. 28. The last time he came through town with his band was way back in September 2005. From the review of that show:
Sufjan Stevens at Sokol Underground, Sept. 20, 2005.
Packed it was last night at Sokol Underground. It was sold out, and we’ll leave it at that. Packed from stage to the merch table, wall to wall, a mass of humanity come to see Sufjan Stevens and his 8-person band of cheerleader musicians dressed in their Big “I” T-shirts, some holding pompoms, all playing a myriad of instruments, most singing. The pompoms weren’t mere props. Stevens and crew began four or five songs with well-choreographed cheers, complete with arm signals and spirit fingers. It was that kind of set, a goodhearted rah-rah for ol’ Illinois, all in celebration of his second “state LP,” this one dedicated to The Prairie State.
Seriously, at times it was like listening to a choir led by a little guy in a Cubs hat with a voice that was a morph of Art Garfunkel and Ben Gibbard singing lullabies to Jacksonville, Decatur and Chicago. I didn’t know what to expect from the arrangements, I knew Stevens would be hard-pressed to recreate the lushness heard on the CD. But by God, he captured the majesty thanks to the glockenspiels and brass (especially his trumpet player) and keyboards and battery of percussion and those four female cheerleaders whose angel-voices made the whole thing float. Listening to Come on Feel The Illinoise as I write this after the show, I think everything was a tad funkier live, especially “Decatur,” which sported a nice bass riff and finger snaps and probably some sort of synchronized cheer-dance. After playing high school pep-rally standard “Varsity,” the band came back and did a one-song encore that nicely rounded off the hour-long set.
It was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. Considering the overall glumness of his new record, Carrie & Lowell, I don’t expect the Orpheum show to be as light-hearted. Still, this is must-see stuff. Presale tickets available here beginning tomorrow at 10 a.m.
Another must-see show announced today, Low plays Reverb Lounge Nov. 12.
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If you haven’t seen it, the Wall Street Journal chimed in on Wilco giving away digital downloads of their latest album, Star Wars. You can download the album for free from here. Says the WSJ: “The popularity of the surprise album release—and Wilco’s decision to offer theirs for free—shows how much less album releases matter to many major artists relative to touring and other revenue streams.” and “… for acts such as Wilco, whose albums sell well but aren’t massive industry blockbusters, touring is the bigger part of the equation.”
This brought up a discussion last night at a dinner, where it was suggested that bands giving away digital versions of their music would become “the norm,” and that bands would rely on a combination of performance income, publishing rights sales (i.e. TV / commercial / movie use) and vinyl sales (and other merch) for the majority of their income. This may be work for established bands like Wilco, but it would likely mean hard times for up-and-coming acts…
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One show of note tonight: Minneapolis four-piece Author plays at Reverb Lounge. Their most recent release, Of Brighter Days, came out this past January (listen to it below). Kind of Washed Out meets Owl City, sort of. Opening is KC’s The Author and The Illustrator and EKLECTICA. $8, 8 p.m.
Also, the Good Living Tour rolls into North Platte tonight for a show downtown on “The Bricks,” (whatever that is). On the bill: A Ferocious Jungle Cat, Brad Hoshaw and the Seven Deadlies and M34N STR33T. Oh my, what those railroaders are in for… The free show starts at 8 and is all ages.