TBT: Live Review Criteria, Tilly and the Wall, Statistics June 15, 2003; Conor Oberst (SOLD OUT), Deerpeople tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — @ 1:02 pm June 18, 2015

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

On this Throwback Thursday, here’s another tumble into the past via a live review of three brand new bands on the scene… in 2003. BTW, is this the first documented use of the term “kill” in a live music review?

Live review: Criteria, Statistics, Tilly and the Wall — a night of pop – June 15, 2003

This was probably my favorite overall show of the year thus far, because each band complimented the other with its unique take on pop. For one night, melody reigned at the Sokol Underground with three unabashed lovers of pure rock smiling from the stage.

Tilly and the Wall at Sokol Underground June 14, 2003.

Tilly and the Wall at Sokol Underground June 14, 2003.

The show started later than normal at around 10:15, I’m told because they expected the sets to be short — these are three brand new bands here with a limited repertoire. Tilly and the Wall took the stage like a team of waiters at Grisanti’s making their way to a table to do a “happy birthday” chant — clapping and stomping their feet as they hopped into position.

Tilly is three girls (two of whom were in Magic Kiss) and two guys on guitar and keyboard. The drums were replaced with Jamie Williams’ tap shoes and plenty of hand claps, absolutely appropriate for these happy, peppy, fun-loving acoustic songs sung mainly by the women, with the guitarist adding some vocals here and there. Imagine Park Ave. mixed with an upbeat Azure Ray and you begin to get the picture. It was fun, and cute… maybe a bit too cute toward the end, but hey, everyone was having a good time.

I made this statement last night and I stand by it this morning with the fog of alcohol firmly lifted from my judgment: Tap-dancing will sweep the nation and UK as the primary form of rock percussion by this time next year. Who can deny its infectious nature and pure staging value? Williams’ feet cut through the noise crisply, thanks to what appeared to be a microphoned plywood amplification box. The downside (for Williams) is that there’s no way she’ll be able to do that on any sort of sizable tour, especially if their set ever grows beyond its current 20 minutes. She looked bushed by the end of the second song, and who can blame her?

Statistics at Sokol Underground, June 14, 2003.

Statistics at Sokol Underground, June 14, 2003.

Statistics, headed by Denver Dalley of Desaparecidos (I didn’t recognize the rest of the trio on drums and bass). The band played songs off their soon-to-be-released Jade Tree EP and they sounded pretty good, though Denver’s vocals were a wee bit off. Part of it was that his mic wasn’t turned up enough. But most of it was his uncertainty on stage. Watching from the side, Dalley seem a bit hesitant to belt out the vocals and as a result, they were thin and slightly off pitch. Chock it up to stage rust — his tour only just began a few days ago. I suspect as he gets more comfortable on stage and listens to the playback he’ll either get more confident. Musically, the compositions are as first-rate as they are on the CD, but more guitar- than electronically-driven. I liked the tone, and the girls seemed to like looking at Denver. Someone yelled “Take off your clothes!” from the audience. Denver shielded his eyes, gazing out through the crowd, and said, “Mom? Are you out there?” Funny.

Then Criteria came on and killed everyone.

Criteria at Sokol Underground, June 14, 2003.

Criteria at Sokol Underground, June 14, 2003.

With this performance, they immediately put themselves on top of the list as one of the best Omaha/Lincoln bands for pure-energy post-punk. Stephen Pedersen has surrounded himself with some amazing musicians, not the least of which is AJ Mogis on bass and backing vocals. Mogis, with his receding hairline, glasses and beard looked like a radio DJ or a ’70s-era Walter Becker standing next to the suave Pedersen all covered with sweat like a young Rock Hudson. Pedersen is a phenomenal guitarist, but second guitarist Aaron Druery is just as remarkable. Drummer Mike Sweeney topped it off with pounding precision — he would give even Clint Schnase a run for his money. The comparison is apt when you consider that Criteria’s music is clearly an off-shoot of early Cursive, right down to Pedersen’s Kasher-like vocals.

With such a prof line-up, the band is amazingly tight, and lord knows they have to be considering the intricacy of their music — time changes, syncopation and massive breaks abound. Beneath it all are some of the most hummable post-punk melodies you will hear from anyone in the business these days. Pedersen looked elated to be on stage again, and the whole band glowed with an energy akin to pride. They performed every song off their Initial Records’ debut, En garde, and what I believe was an early Cursive song — I’m bad with song titles. It was introduced by Pedersen saying, “This next one will show our age.”

The irony of Criteria is that there are no plans for them to play again in the near future. Pedersen told me during our interview that only this Sokol date had been set up — they hadn’t even lined up a Lincoln gig yet (though he acknowledged he’d like to do a show there, but didn’t know where or how). There are no plans to tour, though he’ll continue to play local shows. He said the band hopes to hit the road sometime this summer, when Pedersen can take some vacation time from his attorney gig. It’s a shame because this band is ready right now and would conquer any tour they could line up. They would be a sure crowd-pleaser on a Cursive tour — something that probably won’t be happening too soon as I’ve heard Cursive will take some time off when they finish this tour so Kasher can get to work writing the next Good Life CD. It could be a long time until out-of-towners get a glimpse of Criteria.

As for the crowd, it was a regular Who’s Who of the Omaha indie scene. Among the 300 on hand were most of the members of Bright Eyes (including Oberst), most of the members of The Faint, Azure Ray, half the Saddle Creek office staff, members of The Carsinogents, Little Brazil, Fizzle Like a Flood, The Movies, Bliss Repair, The Mariannes, Oil, and maybe most astounding of all, local legend Dave Sink, operator of The Antiquarium record store, who rarely attends shows these days. The last time was a Monroes show a month ago, before that, maybe two years since I’d seen him in a club.–June 15, 2003

Dave, we all miss you.

* * *

Welp, good ol’ Conor Oberst returns to The Waiting Room tonight. Conor’s out supporting his most recent solo album, Upside Down Mountain (2014, Nonesuch). Alas, the show is sold out. And if you didn’t get tickets in time, you’re not alone. I also didn’t get tix in time. We snooze, we lose. Opening is The Felice Brothers. Starts at 9 p.m.

Also tonight, Oklahoma indie band Deerpeople plays at fabulous O’Leaver’s along with Lincoln’s Universe Contest and headliner Lightning Bug. $5, 9:30 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 © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Digital Leather in Noisey (full album stream) and in The Reader; David Dondero, Electric Six tonight…

Category: Blog,Interviews — Tags: , , , — @ 1:01 pm June 17, 2015
Digital Leather's Shawn Foree, left and Ben VanHoolandt.

Digital Leather’s Shawn Foree, left, and Ben VanHoolandt relax in The Nifty’s beer garden.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

A rather lengthy feature/interview with Digital Leather came out a couple weeks ago in the June issue of The Reader. I’ve been sitting on it because the band’s new album, All Faded (FDH Records) won’t be released until next Tuesday, June 23. But since Noisey today began streaming the entire album I figured now is as good a time as any to point you to this rather controversial Reader article (It’s already receiving hate mail), online here.

The genesis of the story was an interview conducted in late May with Digital Leather frontman Shawn Foree, bassist Johnny Vredenburg and synth/keyboard player Ben VanHoolandt at classic midtown dive bar The Nifty. What ensued was two hours of interview, every second of it digitally recorded. The transcribed recording weighed in at just under 100 pages of single-spaced type, and reads like a twisted off-Broadway play. In fact, it dawned on me that it would be fun to recreate the interview verbatim on the Bluebarn stage, with the names changed to protect the innocent (of course).

Needless to say, I got to ask all the questions I’ve been dying to ask Foree and Co. since I began listening to Digital Leather shortly after Foree’s arrival in Omaha sometime around 2009, including why they don’t play songs off Warm Brother, the meaning behind their seminal anthem “Studs in Love,” and how Jay Reatard influenced Foree’s songwriting. The story also covers how the band first got together, the making of the new album, Foree’s pursuit of a Pitchfork review and future pursuits. It clocked in at just under 2,000 words and is a double-page spread in the current issue of The Reader. But, as I said, you can read it online here. Check it out, listen to the Noisey album stream, and buy a copy when the record hits shops next week. And get ready for DL’s performance at Dog Fest at O’Leaver’s June 27.

* * *

Speaking of fabulous O’Leaver’s, the club is in the midst of a rather busy week with shows nearly every night, including tonight when Dave Dondero headlines. I’m not sure what Dave’s been up to lately because his website hasn’t been updated since 2013, but it’s still worth a visit just to check out the sweet photo of a Union Pacific train rolling through dusty bluffs outside of Salt Lake City. Also on tonight’s bill is roots/punk rocker Al Scorch (Orange Twin Records). $5, 9:30 p.m.

Also tonight, Detroit funk/garage/novelty band Electric Six (XL, Metropolis) headlines at The Waiting Room with White Reaper. $13, 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 © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Love Drunk Studio turns 5 (w/John Klemmensen & the Party); Dead Meadow tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 1:02 pm June 16, 2015
Love Drunk Studio turns 5 today.

Love Drunk Studio turns 5 today.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Today marks the 5-year anniversary of the launch of Love Drunk Studio, the live, one-take music video website created by Django Greenblatt-Seay that has featured just about every decent band in Nebraska plus a ton of decent bands from outside of Nebraska.

I first wrote about Love Drunk way back in 2011 for The Reader (here). Here’s an excerpt:

The idea of creating one-take performance music videos started almost by accident. “I was experimenting with my home audio recording studio, trying to get a better understanding of how to use the equipment,” said Greenblatt-Seay, who also plays in bands Down with the Ship and Midwest Dilemma. “I asked my good friends in the band Flashbulb Fires to record a song in one take. They had a friend filming it with a flipcam and I had a crappy point-and-shoot. Afterward, I thought maybe we could edit it all together into a one-take live music video.”

Five years later, Django is still at it. In fact, to mark the occasion, Love Drunk Studio released Session #131, which features John Klemmensen and the Party performing their song “Ghosts” recorded live inside Urban Outfitters in the Slowdown complex.  Check it out below, and celebrate the entire Love Drunk Catalog. And if you see Django, wish him a happy 5th birthday…

* * *

Tonight D.C. stoner rock band Dead Meadow graces the stage at fabulous O’Leaver’s. The band has released albums since 2000 primarily on Matador Records. Opening is Super Moon and Sun-Less Trio. $8, 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 © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Live at O’Leaver’s goes live (finally); Jon Spencer Blues Explosion tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 12:59 pm June 15, 2015
Live at O'Leaver's went live this morning.

Live at O’Leaver’s went live this morning.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

This has been a long time coming.

This morning the music team at fabulous O’Leaver’s headed by Ian Aeillo announced the long-awaited launch of the Live at O’Leaver’s website, located (of course) at liveatoleavers.com

This initial roll-out of this vast new music library, designed to house selected recordings of bands who performed on O’Leaver’s stage, includes 30 session recordings. Among them Matthew Sweet recorded July 30, 2014; Orenda Fink recorded March 24, 2015, and Digital Leather recorded May 30, 2014, and tons more, such as Domestica, Deleted Scenes, Twinsmith, Little Brazil, Gordon and must-check-out obscurities such as Iska Dhaaf that’ll blow your mind. All streaming, all sharable, all somewhat incredible.

It’s like being at these shows without having to smell like you’ve actually been there.

There’s a whole story behind this project that I was going to write about for a column… last summer. But the project was delayed while Ian perfected the tracks and the website. I’m not going into the weeds about how it works other than to say the bands are recorded live via a super-secret recording suite hidden in the basement catacombs of the club. We’re talking super-high-fi studio-quality recordings.

Actually, I don’t know how Aeillo does it, how he makes the recordings sound this good. I’ve been to a lot of the shows that are featured on the website, and though O’Leaver’s has a first-rate PA/sound system in the room, let’s face it, it’s still O’Leaver’s, where the in-person audio experience is honed and filtered through countless bottles of Rolling Rock. In person it never sounds like what you’re hearing on liveatoleavers.com.

I’m sure an astute publication (such as hearnebraska.org) will go into the technical nitty-gritty of what’s behind the recording. Needless to say, the quality is so good that O’Leaver’s has set themselves up to be a sort-of live-stage version of Daytrotter, where touring bands can perform and get release-quality recordings of their live sets. All for free. That’s right, they can release the tracks themselves if they want. There’s some fees associated with getting an entire set mixed (discuss it with Ian), but for two or three songs, it’s completely free.

BTW, not all bands playing at O’Leaver’s are recorded. The decision to record is based on a pseudo-scientific formula that involves personnel availability and/or lucidity. We’re talking O’Leaver’s here, where anything can happen and usually does. Also, performances aren’t recorded unless bands give Ian or his staff permission.

Today’s launch is only the first wave of recordings. There will be 30 more bands released sometime in the coming weeks, followed by another 30 bands and another until the entire library is available online. Aeillo said he’s recorded 157 live sets, and has mixed more than 110 of those. This website will be the most complete archive of live recordings performed in the Omaha area available anywhere.

Check it out here, and spread the word via the website’s share tools. Here are a few of my favorite sessions:

* * *

All right, show of hands: Who remembers when Jon Spencer Blues Explosion released the seminal album Orange? It was a huge album, way back in 1994, some might say groundbreaking. With the release of this record, JSBE became one of the coolest bands on the planet. Now 21 years later, JSBE comes to Omaha for one night at The Waiting Room. I’m kind of surprised this show hasn’t sold out. Opening is fellow blues/roots/punk band Daddy Long Legs (Norton Records). $15, 9 p.m. Don’t miss this chance to see legends in action…

* * *

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 © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Josh Berwanger Band tonight, Junkstock, CWS; Lupines, Dirty Talker, UTW, Stacey Barelos Saturday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:57 pm June 12, 2015
Josh Berwenger Band at Stay Gold, March 19, 2015.

Josh Berwanger Band at Stay Gold in Austin during SXSW, March 19, 2015. His band plays tonight at fabulous O’Leaver’s.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

From my window in the crow’s nest on the 15th floor I can see the tents rise….

It’s College World Series time again, and all of us who work in downtown Omaha will have to suffer through it together. The traffic. The idiots. The traffic. Ah, but it’s a small price to pay to support this national event that for two weeks turns Omaha into ground zero for a college sport no one cares about.

For The Slowdown, CWS is the harvest season, the time of year when their Green Room is converted into a “count room,” and when Wells Fargo armored trucks circle the facility like elephants in a Shriner parade picking up bushel-baskets filled with wrinkled currency. Needless to say, the indie music comes to a halt at Slowdown for the next two weeks. In fact, unless you’re into beer tents and college baseball, your best bet is to stay clear of downtown Omaha altogether until they fold up their tents and go home.

But who cares about what’s NOT happening this weekend? Here’s what IS happening. And it’s mostly at fabulous O’Leaver’s, where tonight the Josh Berwanger Band is playing. Berwanger is a former member of Lawrence band The Anniversary. I caught his band’s set at SXSW this year when they played the Saddle Creek/Nicodemus showcase and was duly impressed by their very clean, very tight take on indie rock. You’ll like it. Also on the bill are Saturn Moth and Anonymous Henchman. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Also going on all weekend is Junkstock, waaaay out at 315 So. 192nd St. Vendors, plus live music. $6 per day admission. It already started today and runs until 7 p.m. Music is primarily local folk bands. Check out the schedule here.

Moving on to Saturday, it’s back to O’Leaver’s for Lupines (coming off a red hot set at my birthday bash last week), Laughing Falcon and Lincoln’s Dirty Talker, who’s celebrating an album release. Dirty Talker is Brendan McGinn (drums) and Adam 2000 (guitar) of Her Flyaway Manner. Justin Kohlmetscher rounds out the trio on bass and vox. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Also Saturday evening, toy piano player Stacey Barelos is playing a set at Almost Music in Benson. Joining her is Jared Brown on percussion. 8 p.m., $5.

Bazile Mills headlines at Reverb Lounge with Kait Berreckman Saturday night. $7, 9 p.m.

Finally, UTW Day is being celebrated at Jerry’s Bar in Benson. The all-day art, food and music event runs from noon to midnight Saturday and closes out with performances by John Klemmensen and the Party and Hand Painted Police Car (starting at 8). Admission is by donation. More info here.

That’s what 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 © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


TBT: Spoon/The Good Life, April 19, 2001 – Sokol Underground, Omaha

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 1:41 pm June 11, 2015
TBT: Spoon's Britt Daniel at Sokol Underground, April 19, 2001.

TBT: Spoon’s Britt Daniel at Sokol Underground, April 19, 2001.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

With nothing else happening today (or tonight), here’s a little Throwback Thursday action, from the Lazy-i Wayback Machine, April 19, 2001. Looking forward to seeing The Good Life folks return to stage…

Live Review: Spoon/The Good Life

April 19, 2001

Sokol Underground, Omaha

There were two notable distractions the night of Spoon/The Good Life at Sokol.

Distraction No. 1 — Someone had “remodeled” the Underground since the last show I attended (only a few weeks earlier). Gone were all the rock posters from shows over the past 10 years or so. Gone were the band stickers and the markered graffiti. Gone was the flat-black paint job. All had been covered by cheesy faux-pine paneling, washed-out brown and grooved, hardly rock. I asked the promoter about the decor change, and he said it had been like that for a long time. It hadn’t, but he’s not one to notice the details.

Distraction No. 2 — the promoter decided to try a different sound system for tonight’s show. More streamlined and not as loud, I could actually listen in comfort with my earplugs kept cozy in my pocket. The promoter thought it actually sounded louder than the usual system (but he’s not one to notice details). Of the 200 who showed up, the ones I asked either gave the PA a thumbs-up or complained because they thought the drums sounded bad. You can’t please everyone. I thought it was the best sound the venue’s ever had.

Especially on The Good Life’s set. Tim Kasher’s Robert Smith-like vocals never sounded better, or maybe he’s been working on his annunciation, because I could understand every word he sang. They played a number of songs off their current Better Looking Records release (the dreamy Novena for a Nocturn), as well as a few what I assume were new songs that pretty much fit into TGL’s regular canon of moody, poppy indie songs of love and loss. The sound was remarkably full, thanks to a couple extra accompanists including a guy on accordion and woman (from Bright Eyes?) on keyboard. Vivid memory from the set: drummer Roger Lewis, sitting off the side of the drum riser, smoking a cigarette and looking almost forlorn while the drum machine provided the tick-tock accompaniment for one of the tracks.

The house lights were still up, the between-set music still on and people still getting beers, talking and generally mulling around when Spoon began playing their set. “Is he actually starting?” the guy next to me asked. We thought they were still tuning. But no, Britt Daniel had started playing what would be a string of intense rock songs, one after the other, with only the briefest of pauses between them.

Before the set, a guy I was talking with while standing by the entrance, trying to look inconspicuous amid the youngsters (I wasn’t alone — Spoon’s Daniel had also been skulking around during TGL’s set, sitting on the soundboard stage or leaning against a wall, chatting up the girls at the merch table, etc.), had said he came to see The Good Life and only knew about Spoon from what a friend had told him: That they sounded like The Pixies. I told him that their new CD Girls Can Tell, was actually much poppier, more Beatle-esque. As the set ran on, the guy must have thought I was an idiot or didn’t know who the Pixies were, because live, even those pop ditties from the new CD sounded Pixie-ish, certainly harder, faster and, well, modder than recorded. This four-piece version of Spoon were well-oiled and road hardened, tight as a unopened pickle-jar lid. Daniel and company sweated out almost the entire new album plus about a dozen “greatest hits” before leaving the stage, only to come back and do a 3-song encore — a rarity for any band at Sokol Underground.–April 19, 2001

* * *

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 © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Live Review: Bully, Best Coast; Metric, Street Eaters tonight; Orenda Fink @ Hear Omaha tomorrow…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:47 pm June 10, 2015
Best Coast at The Waiting Room, June 9, 2015.

Best Coast at The Waiting Room, June 9, 2015.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

If this review seems light on the bands that played later in the evening it’s because I only went to The Waiting Room last night to see the opener, Bully — a band that’s getting a bit of a buzz  lately — and not co-headliners Unknown Mortal Orchestra and Best Coast.

I knew virtually nothing about UMO; never listened to a single track from the band prior to last night. And yet for a few people I’d talked to, they were the main attraction on the bill. When you go into a show knowing nothing you expect even less, which is what I got from UMO. Though they’re compared to Tame Impala and MGMT, they sounded like a noodling jam band to me with a tip o’ the hat to beachy Jack Johnson. Not my bag, but unless my eyes deceived me, the crowd peaked during their set so they must be doing something right.

After three or four songs I found myself paying more attention to the score of the Cavs/Warriors game on my iPhone than the stage, so I hightailed it down to St. Andrew’s to catch the last five minutes of the 4th quarter (which stretched out to 15 in real time), where I saw a few more show ex-patriots waiting out the UMO set. BTW, who knew that Lebron James and the Cavs were so loathed?

Made it back to The Waiting Room in time for the start of Best Coast. I don’t know if it’s an endorsement of the band or an indictment of SXSW, but Bethany Cosentino and Co. were on point last night, playing way better than when I saw them in Austin in March, where they looked bored as if fulfilling a commitment (which they were). Last night they were into it, ripping through one song after another, Cosentino’s long hair (along with sideman Bobb Bruno’s) floated ethereally alongside her head, blown skyward by electric fans Cosentino said they were trying out for the first time on tour. Whereas I liked Best Coast’s energy, the band did little more than play through their set list, which isn’t enough to keep me engaged, especially since I don’t own any of their albums.

Bully at The Waiting Room, June 9, 2015.

Bully at The Waiting Room, June 9, 2015.

On the other hand, I knew nothing about Bully prior to last night and left a fan (or at least entertained). The band is centered on frontwoman Alicia Bognanno, whose high, sometimes-scratchy vocals border on novelty. In fact, Bognanno’s voice would be perfect for the role of a cute woodland creature in an animated TV show; something tells me she does a spot-on impression of Bart Simpson.

More often when she’s singing, however, Bognanno channels Kurt Cobain on music that is straight out of 1992. Is there a grunge resurgence going on (already)? Bully’s songs, especially during the first half of the set, sounded like they could have been written by Cobain (or Courtney), thanks to their bass/rhythm lines, the loud-quiet-loud dynamics and Bognanno’s howl/screech that was pure Teen Spirit.

Bognanno was at her best when she throttled down the howl and simply sang. Toward the end of the set she introduced a song saying she was “slowing it down” and getting all “romantically.” The tune was pulled back, controlled, but took flight toward the end, and was the best song of the night (by any band). Bully’s debut LP comes out June 23 (a crowded date for releases). Where will they go next?

* * *

Seems like a decade ago that I interviewed Metric, because it was. The band has done nothing but grow since then, winning a handful of Juno Awards, which is sort of the Canadian version of the Grammy’s. Thanks to this success, Metric is now placed as an opener for arena shows, like the Imagine Dragons show tonight at the CenturyLink Center. Needless to say I won’t be attending, but felt compelled to mention it as Metric played at Sokol Underground once upon a time.

A show I’m more apt to attend is Street Eaters tonight at Sweatshop Gallery. Chris Aponick of Perpetual Nerves, the company promoting the show, described them as “a two piece that plays noisy stripped down rock that steers clear of garage rock’s worn out tropes.” Also on the bill are Navy Gangs, CJ Mills and Our Lady of Perpetual Help. $7, 9 p.m.

By the way, they don’t call it “Sweatshop Gallery” for nothing. It will be hotter than hell in there tonight. You may want to show up in your skivvies.

Also, here’s an early head’s up about tomorrow’s Hear Omaha event, which takes place over the lunch hour (noon) at the public space at 13th & Howard streets in the Old Market. This week’s featured artist is Orenda Fink. Come down and check it out. It’s free and there (probably) will be food trucks. Of course it’s brought to you by the fine folks at Hear Nebraska

* * *

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 © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Desaparecidos drops another one; Best Coast, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Bully tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 1:01 pm June 9, 2015
Best Coast at the SXSW Convention Center, March 20, 2015. The band plays tonight at The Waiting Room.

Best Coast at the SXSW Convention Center, March 20, 2015. The band plays tonight at The Waiting Room.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Desaparecidos dropped yet another track yesterday and today from their upcoming album, Payola, which comes out June 23 on Epitaph. In fact, according to Diffuser, there’s more to come. Says Diffuser:

“The Underground Man” — which dates back to 2013 when it was distributed as a 7-inch  — is the second Payola cut to emerge this week, following the upcoming album’s opening track, “The Left Is Right.” Epitaph has plans to drop a new song from the album every day this week ahead of Payola’s release to those who have pre-ordered the LP.

Just how big will this album be? Time will tell…

* * *

Tonight at The Waiting Room it’s the return of Best Coast. I saw the band play a half-hearted set at SXSW this year. Let’s see if they can top it tonight. Opening is Unknown Mortal Orchestra (they have a new album out on Jagjaguwar), and I actually know more people excited to see them then Best Coast. I’ll be there to see Bully, a Nashville four-piece whose debut album, Feels Like,  comes out June 23 on StarTime International/Columbia. Also on the bill is J. Fernandez, who played a great, if not short, set at Almost Music this past March as a warm-up to a gig at O’Leaver’s later that night. That’s four bands for $20. The fun starts at 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 © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Tait at Polecat; Brian Wilson biopic; Omaha makes NPR (again); The Life & Times, Little Brazil, John Klemmensen/Party, Derby Birds tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , , , , — @ 12:51 pm June 8, 2015
Brian Tait with spray can in hand during Friday night's opening at The Polecat Little Gallery in Benson.

Brian Tait with spray can in hand during Friday night’s opening at The Polecat Little Gallery in Benson.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

The weekend was spent recovering from the week — the birthday show and the opening of the Polecat Little Gallery Friday night. If you missed the gallery opening, you can still check out the show, which features local artist/musician/entrepreneur Brian Tait of Midtown Art Supply. Tait spent Friday evening creating a two-story-tall portrait of State Senator Ernie Chambers on a discarded Spearmint Rhino billboard hung from the outside wall of the gallery. While painting with with spray cans, Tait also performed with turntable, electric guitar, microphone and mixer. It was a surreal experience to say the least. It was fun. Thanks to everyone who stopped by.

Anyway, after multiple nights out we decided to take it easy on Saturday night and catch a movie, Love & Mercy, the Brian Wilson biopic showing at the AMC 24 way out west. It was a solid movie, this from a guy who isn’t the biggest Beach Boys fan in the world. Paul Dano will be mentioned when Oscar time comes rolling ’round, and possibly Paul Giamatti, who plays another in a series of slime balls. John Cusack in the role of Wilson in the ’80s seemed to be channeling Daniel Johnston rather than Wilson.

The best moments of the film were Dano playing Wilson during the making of Pet Sounds in the studio — in control, creative, working with a bunch of unheralded studio musicians as they made what arguably is one of the best albums ever released. I could have watched those sequences all night. The film is definitely worth the drive out west to catch while you can.

* * *

Clay Masters of Iowa Public Radio strikes again with a strong story on the current state of the Omaha music scene that features Conchance, Laura Burhenn and Simon Joyner, who had the best line in the story: “The train stopped here for a minute and moved on…” Indeed it has. We hear why Conchance and Simon still live in Omaha; missing from the story is why Laura moved to Los Angeles over a year ago… I have to believe our brutal winters had something to do with it. The story aired on NPR. Listen below:

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There’s lots going on for a Monday night…

Kansas City indie act The Life & Times headlines at Reverb Lounge. It’s been awhile since these guys came through town. Opening is Little Brazil and nanaHara. $10, 9 p.m.

On the other side of the One Percent Complex (at least that’s what I’m calling it) Canadian indie band Mother Mother (Last Gang Records) headlines at The Waiting Room. Opening is the always entertaining John Klemmensen & the Party.  $15, 9 p.m.

* * *

Finally, Pageturners in Dundee is hosting The Derby Birds and All Young Girls Are Machine Guns for a free gig that starts at 9 p.m. It’s part of Pageturners’ summer concert series — which boasts an impressive line-up. The rest of PTL’s summer schedule looks like this:

June 15 – The Felice Brothers
June 17 – Matt Amandus Jazz trio
June 22 – Rig 1
June 29 – The Burkum Boys

July 1 – Mitch Gettman & Pleiades and the Bear
July 6 – Cubby Philips / Michael Frederickson Quartert
July 7 – Carl Miller and the Trillers
July 8 – Sam Martin
July 13 – The Sun-less Trio
July 15 – Sean Pratt & David Kenneth Nance
July 20 – Super Ghost and Tie These Hands
July 22 – Kill County
July 27 – The Burkum Boys
July 29 – The Sunks and Mark Johnson

Aug. 3 – One Eye White
Aug. 4 – Carl Miller and the Trillers
Aug. 5 – Agronomo and the Ascenders
Aug. 10 – Oquoa
Aug. 12 – Simon Joyner and Danny Pound
Aug 17 – Omaha Guitar Trio
Aug. 19 – Luke Polipnick
Aug. 24 – Linemans Rodeo
Aug. 31 – The Burkum Boys

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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 © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Live Review: Hop Along; Ernie Chambers at BFF (sort of); the OEAA showcase weekend; Calm Fur tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 11:40 am June 5, 2015
Hop Along at Slowdown Jr., June 4, 2015.

Hop Along at Slowdown Jr., June 4, 2015.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Hop Along is a fantastic band. Certainly one of the best bands I’ve seen this year (and I’ve seen a lot already) and definitely one of the best bands that Saddle Creek has signed in recent years. If you haven’t heard Painted Shut, their new album on Saddle Creek, do yourself a favor. There’s a link to a stream of the entire album at the bottom of yesterday’s blog entry.

I like the record; specifically I like how it sounds, I like the crunchy guitars, I like the straight-forward indie-rock rhythms, I like the chord changes, but most of all I like Frances Quinlan’s guttural, scratchy, feral-cat growl of a voice. It has become the hallmark of their sound, the one thing people point to when they talk about Hop Along’s music. The only thing I can think of comparing it to is Janis Joplin’s screechy yowl that leads up to the chorus in “Piece of My Heart.” You know, “Come on, Come on, Come on, Come on and TAKE IT…” Quinlan’s voice captures Janis’ yearning energy and somehow stretched out throughout entire songs, entire albums.

Her voice was on display last night at Slowdown Jr. in pure Janis mode throughout their entire set last night. I didn’t think it was possible; I figured no one could sing like that all night, that scratchy screech has to be turning her vocal chords to bloody ribbons. Others around me in the rather large crowd (though not a sell-out) wondered the same thing. “That’s gotta hurt,” they said. But I figure Quinlan must approach singing the same way an opera singer is able to basically scream for two hours straight (because, let’s face it, opera singing is really precisely directed yelling, is it not?). Quinlan knows what she’s doing. She’s been doing it now for years. If she didn’t, she wouldn’t have made it through her first tour.

Her voice is a thing to behold; it is indeed mesmerizing. So is the rest of Hop Along. Drummer Mark Quinlan (Frances’ brother) is hands-down one of the best drummers I’ve ever heard — huge, pounding out the backbone of every song all night, a thing to marvel at. We’re talking ’70s-era arena quality drumming, not paradiddle precision noodling; big, throaty, heavy-sticked wonder. Dare I mention the great Bonham? No, because it’s not that kind of music. But it was deep and thick and luscious.

The rest of the band was pretty good, but the highlights were the Quinlan brood; the drums, that voice, remarkable. Missing from the discussion, of course, are the songs. Hop Along is a great band to listen to live, but I couldn’t tell you what any of the songs were about. I didn’t walk away from the show with any song stuck in my head, which is odd when you consider I’ve been listening to Painted Shut for weeks.

While Quinlan puts it all out there effortlessly climbing octave after octave there rarely if ever was a central melody to hang onto and, dare I say it, sing along to. In that vein it’s kind of like scat singing, or melodies made up after the song’s chord progressions have been determined. But isn’t that a primary attribute of indie rock and what sets it apart from straight-up pop music? Probably, but the best indie rock, the stuff we remember and that resonates for years to come, has a hook. The rest of it is tonal, blues or effect, where lyrics are secondary (ferinstance, I couldn’t tell you a single My Bloody Valentine lyric).

I don’t think that’s the case with Hop Along. That band is so fucking good —she’s so fucking good — that it’s only a matter of time before they write a song that pushes past their current boundaries. That song isn’t on Painted Shut, a good album that lacks a song that strikes a universal chord with a huge audience. They will write that song, the one that gets played to death, the one that will represent a season or year in the life of its listeners, that turns into an instant time machine that will take us back to whatever was happening in our lives back when everyone was playing it. Maybe it’ll be on their next album; hopefully it’ll come out on Saddle Creek, but it hasn’t happened yet.  Until then, we’re left to marvel at the sound, if not the songs.

* * *

The rabid possum by Brian Tait that stares at me in my office.

The rabid possum by Brian Tait that stares at me in my office.

A quick non-music aside about something important to me.

Tonight is the grand opening of the Little Gallery in Benson, coinciding with Benson First Friday. The proprietor is my wife, Teresa Gleason. The gallery, located at 5917 Maple Street right across the street from The Sydney, doubles as the offices of Polecat Communications, Teresa’s PR/communications firm that specializes in supporting non-profits as well as profits. Teresa and I found the space a few months ago and began tearing it apart shortly there after, transforming it into a sublime gallery space.

The first artist to grace the gallery is none other than Brian Tait. Yes, that Brian Tait, the skateboarding rockstar graffiti-fueled sign painter who also operates Midtown Art Supply. We bought a handful of Taits recently (one of them is staring at me with its angry possum eyes as I type this) and couldn’t think of a better artist for the gallery’s debut.

Want to know more about Tait? Read the brief profile I wrote about him right here. The show’s title is “Without a Chute,” and as part of the tonight’s festivities, which begin at 6 p.m., Tait will be doing a live painting outside the building. It will be a giant portrait of State Senator Ernie Chambers. Upon its completion, the painting will be sold to the highest bidder, whether the bid is $1 or $1,000 or $10,000.

Fun starts at 6. There will be a keg on tap. And food. And maybe even leftover birthday cake from Wednesday’s Big 50 shows. Drop by and say hello.

And for those who have asked, yes, the firm’s name, Polecat, was partially inspired by the classic pre-Saddle Creek band that featured Ted Stevens, Boz Hicks and Oli Blaha. We call that a tip o’ the hat to past greatness…

* * *

One other art show going on I want to mention: Mousetrap’s Patrick Buchanan emailed to tell me that his pop, Sidney Buchanan, is hosting a show at his house at 1202 So. 62nd St., that kicks off tonight at 6 p.m. Buchanan is known for his enormous sculptures (one of which is on UNO’s campus right outside the arts building). This show features new collages and assemblages and runs tonight and Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. Go!

* *

All right back to music.

Tonight and tomorrow night is  the Omaha Entertainment and Arts Award (OEAA) showcase in Benson. It’s a chance to check out a shitload of new local bands as you stumble from six venues along Maple Street. The schedule follows. Admission is $10 per night or $15 for the entire weekend.

I don’t know most of these bands, which I suppose is the point of an emerging-artist showcase. That said, there are a few that I am familiar with and can recommend which are in bold, if you’re looking for some direction.

FRIDAY, June 5

The Waiting Room – all ages
8:00-8:40 Unscene Patrol
8:55-9:35 Pleiades and the Bear
9:50-10:30 Belles & Whistles
10:45-11:25 All Young Girls Are Machine Guns  
11:40-12:20 Rothsteen
12:35-1:05 Oketo

The Sydney
8:00-8:40 24 Hour Cardlock
8:55-9:35  Bazile Mills
9:50-10:30 Michael Campbell
10:45-11:25 Loveland
11:40-12:20  GetchaSum
12:35-1:05  Like Noise But Louder

Barley Street Tavern
8:00-8:40 Polka Police
8:55-9:35  Mola-B
9:50-10:30 Aly Peeler
10:45-11:25 Hand Painted Police Car
11:40-12:20 Shivering Flowers
12:35-1:05 The Ronnys

Burke’s Pub
8:00-8:40 Jazz Brown and the Afterthought
8:55-9:35  Naked Sunday
9:50-10:30 Township & Range
10:45-11:25 Sebastian Ghostbachz
11:40-12:20 Pancho & The Contraband
12:35-1:05 Prairie Gators Band

PS Collective – all ages
8:00-8:40 Thumper & Generation One
8:55-9:35 Emily Ward
9:50-10:30 Virginia Tanous
10:45-11:25 Escape From Alcajazz

8:00-8:40 Jessica Errett
8:55-9:35 Kait Berreckman
9:50-10:30 Jus.B
10:45-11:25  Citizens Band
11:40-12:20  Marcey Yates
12:35-1:05 Latin Threat


The Waiting Room – all ages
8:00-8:40 Fallible
8:55-9:35 Coincide
9:50-10:30  A Wasted Effort
10:45-11:25 The Bishops
11:40-12:20  Low Long Signal  
12:35-1:05 Carson City Heat

The Sydney
8:00-8:40 Grumble
8:55-9:35  Exit Sanity
9:50-10:30  P-tro
10:45-11:25 Stereo Rocket
11:40-12:20 Black Velvet
12:35-1:05 The Clincher

Barley Street Tavern
8:00-8:40 Calling Cody
8:55-9:35  Battling Giants
9:50-10:30 Virgin Mary Pistol Grip
10:45-11:25  Phoenix Rising
11:40-12:20 Uh Oh
12:35-1:05  Two Shakes

Burke’s Pub
8:00-8:40 Steve Byam
8:55-9:35  The Impulsive
9:50-10:30 The Willards Band
10:45-11:25 CJ Mills
11:40-12:20  Swampboy Blues Band
12:35-1:05 ShooK on3

PS Collective – all ages
8:00-8:40 R0Y0
8:55-9:35 Clark & Company
10:45-11:25 Orion Walsh
11:40-12:20 Baker Explosion

8:00-8:40 The Midways
8:55-9:35  Mitch Gettman
9:50-10:30 Dominique Morgan
10:45-11:25  The Sub-Vectors
11:40-12:20 The Electroliners
12:35-1:05 Lucas Kellison

Schedule subject to change (and probably will).

* * *

OEA’s isn’t the only thing going on this weekend.

Des Moines band Karen Meat and the Computer is headlining tonight at fabulous O’Leaver’s. The band includes former members of Talking Mountain. Also on the bill is Calm Fur and Haunted Gauntlet (featuring members of M34N STR33T). Jason Meyer of Calm Fur forwarded me this rather disturbing promo for tonight’s show, which you should watch as risk to your fragile psyche. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Tomorrow afternoon (Saturday) is another Bar Stool Record Swap at The Brothers Lounge. Always tons of good vinyl on hand. Vendors include Almost Music, Basement Treasures, D-Tour Records, Hipstop and Homer’s. It’s a must for record collectors. 4 to 7 p.m. and free.

Saturday night at O’Leaver’s it’s Commander Kilroy with Stories of the Sun, Faded and Jake Simmons. $5, 9:30 p.m.

That’s all I got. If I missed your show, put it in the comments section (of the blog, not my Facebook post!). Have a great weekend and I’ll see you tonight at the Little Gallery.

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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 © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.