New release Friday; Conor plays for free; Big Wheel, Nathan Ma tonight; Ceremony, InDreama, Gramps, Omaha Girls Rock! Saturday; Ataris, Little Brazil Sunday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:52 pm July 10, 2015

by Tim McMahan,

NPR had a solid feature this morning on New Music Fridays — the shift of release schedules for new albums from the traditional Tuesday to Friday. It began today. I think it’s probably a mistake, but what do I know? Record stores “owned” Tuesdays because there was nothing else going on that day. Fridays are crowded with film releases and the general hub-bub that surrounds the weekend…

But in this new streaming age, does the release date matter to anyone except brick-and-mortar stores?

Are we headed toward an age when music is released digitally whenever? Probably not, at least not while record labels continue to exist because they depend on that bulge of sales/stream traffic that comes with release dates, and market for it.

* * *

Yesterday right after lunch the PR folks at Omaha Performing Arts announced that Conor Oberst will be the headliner for the first-ever Holland Stages Festival on Saturday, Oct. 17.

Sez the press release: “The free all-day performing arts event is a celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Holland Performing Arts Center. The festival will be held on five stages inside and outside the building at 1200 Douglas St., with family-friendly performances, followed by a variety of jazz, roots, world and blues artists until 5 p.m., and ending with the Holland Stages ‘After Dark,’ which will include Oberst’s performance at 8 p.m. and a House of Loom dance party afterward.”

It’s free, but you’ll still need a ticket to get in. How they’re going to pull that one off without pissing off a lot of people is anyone’s guess, but we’ll find out how they’ll do it “at a later date.” And if they need an opener, I can think of a certain band from the North Carolina region

* * *

Tonight’s really big shoe is the Big Wheel CD release show at Reverb Lounge. Big Wheel was born of the musical collaboration of songwriters Jason Churchill and Kevin Hiddleston, who just happen to be sound engineers. Believe me, if you go to shows, you’ve seen these dudes running around making sure everything sounds good. Anyway, they added Bill Nanson on drums and Mike Matsui on bass. “We don’t play emo, we don’t play metal; we play guitar-oriented rock songs with hooks.” That it is. We’re talking traditional rock ‘n’ roll here, and considering the personnel involved, you can imagine how well recorded it is. Opening is The Sons of Reverb Lounge and The Rex Granite Band featuring Sarah Benck. $7, 8 p.m.

Also tonight, Nathan Ma and the Rosettes headlines at fabulous O’Leaver’s with Madison band The Minotaurs and Navy Gang. $5, 9:30 p.m.

And if you’re hanging around downtown early in the evening, check out Matt Whipkey playing at the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge. Lee Bowes also is on the bill, which begins at 6 p.m.

BTW, the Down Under has moved to where the Side Door Lounge used to be at 3530 Leavenworth. Check out their new stage at a free show tonight featuring Aly Peeler and a bunch of other performers. Starts at 8 p.m.

I realize it’s probably going to be a late night for all of us, but you’ve got to get up early Saturday morning and run in The Indie 5K / 10K race. I’ll be there sweating up a storm. More info here.

Tomorrow night it’s Matador band Ceremony at The Sweatshop Gallery. Read an interview with the band at Hear Nebraska. The band’s new album, The L-Shaped Man,  is indeed a departure from their past metal sound. Now they sound like Interpol. Opening is Tony Molina, Creative Adult and FLAK. This will be a packed show. $10, 9 p.m.

Under the Radar Festival is going on all weekend. You can check the schedule at their website, but Saturday night there’s a special performance by Nik Fackler and InDreama at Sokol Auditorium. The entire show starts at 7:30. Check out the line-up and ticket info here.

Also Saturday night, it’s time for another Omaha Girls Rock! concert, this time at The Waiting Room. The non-profit puts on a special concert with all their summer camp participants annually, and it’s always a hoot. Support this great cause and see tomorrow’s stars today. $5, 5:30 p.m.

Also Saturday night, Gramps (featuring Love Drunk director Django Greenblatt-Seay) opens for Thinkin’ Machines and Beth Bombara at The Barley Street Tavern. $5, 9:30 p.m.

While over at O’Leaver’s Saturday night All Young Girls Are Machine Guns headline with High Up (featuring the Fink sisters, Christine and Orenda, and a host of heroes) and Manic Pixie Dream Girls. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Finally, Sunday night at The Lookout Lounge (formerly The Hideout) pop-punk band The Ataris headlines. The band will be playing Blue Skies, Broken Hearts…Next 12 Exists (1999, Kung Fu Records) in its entirety. Also on the bill, local heroes Little Brazil and Low Long Signal and touring act Arliss Nancy. $10, 8 p.m. Never a better time t check out the club under new management?

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 © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


#TBT: Sorry About Dresden from 2003; Dark Seas, Pony Farm tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:58 pm July 9, 2015

by Tim McMahan,

What ever happened to Sorry About Dresden?

Turns out Let It Rest, which brought them to Omaha in 2003, would be the band’s swan song, though according to Wiki they released a 7-inch split with The Jaguar Drop in 2006 and contributed to a Guided by Voices tribute album in 2011. They also contributed to a 2004 Will Oldham tribute album. The last update at their official website is dated Feb. 19, 2008. And then there’s this YouTube video, also from 2008. The only member who appears to have remained active musically is James Hepler, who joined I Was Totally Destroying It. That band’s most recent EP, Blood on the Beach, came out in 2013 on Greyday Records.

Dresden’s more tuneful emo-indie style never caught on in a big way, though they’re among my favorites from the early Saddle Creek Records days. So on this Throwback Thursday, from July 9, 2003…

Sorry About Dresden takes flight circa 2003.

Sorry About Dresden takes flight circa 2003.

Sorry About Dresden: Rooting for the Home Team

July 9, 2003 –

“I don’t think you can ever really escape Omaha, and I mean that both in a good way and a bad way,” says Sorry About Dresden guitarist / vocalist Matt Oberst.

Somehow, the Omaha native has managed to escape the confines of the city itself, relocating to North Carolina seven years ago, along with former SAD bassist Matt Tomich (we’ll explain the “former” comment in a minute) to become a teacher as well as part of the then-burgeoning N.C. music scene.

Oberst says his Omaha roots influence his approach to music and the business. “People who leave Omaha still have this home-team ethic going for them, which is stronger than in any other community,” he said. “When they find out that a band has connections to Omaha, they just want to help them out.”

It was an Omaha connection that helped draw Tomich and Oberst together. The two first talked about forming Sorry About Dresden at a January 1997 Commander Venus concert (a band in which Oberst’s brother, Conor, sang lead) in Chapel Hill. Tomich introduced Oberst to drummer James Hepler and guitarist/vocalist Eric Roehrig, both North Carolina natives. Six months later, the four played their first gig at a local club.

So is Tomich’s recent decision to leave the band a shock? Not really, Oberst said. “Matt turned 30 and decided he’d rather do other things than drive around in a van and be in the same bar in a different city every night,” he said. “I’m telling people he’s pursuing a solo acting career.”

Oberst said Tomich felt that the timing was right for his departure. With the tour that brings SAD to Sokol Underground July 15, the band will have finished crossing the country supporting their most recent release, Let It Rest. “That means we’ll be taking a little time off to work on new songs,” Oberst said. “I don’t think we’ll be touring in earnest again until next spring.”

Stepping in at bass is Finn Cohen, an old friend of the band and former guitarist for The White Octave. “Hopefully he’ll want to become a full-fledged member,” Oberst said. “With his songwriting skills, he would bring a whole lot to the band.”

But can anyone ever really replace Tomich? Oberst says the band lost more than a bass player, they lost a figurehead. “He’s one of those people who knows someone in every city,” Oberst said. “We’d be in a subway in New York City and someone would walk up to him and say, ‘Matt, is that you?’ He’s the figurehead that everyone knows, and in that sense, it’s sad that he’s leaving.”

With Let It Rest, Tomich goes out on a high note. Released earlier this year as the follow-up to their Saddle Creek Records debut, the CD perfectly melds bone-jarring, over-the-top indie rock with the band’s fist-pumping anthem style. The sound is more-varied than earlier releases, constantly straddling that fine line between punk and pop.

“We do ‘abrasive’ very well, but we can’t do the Sonic Youth ‘interesting noise’ thing for very long. That’s not our strength as a band.” Oberst said. “You can sit and strum most Sorry About Dresden songs on acoustic guitar. They have that singer/songwriter structure. We take those pretty pop songs and, at times, tear them up. We destroy what we build. I like the freedom of having those sing-along anthems right along with the quiet songs.”

SAD also has the distinction of being one of the more uplifting acts on a label that has its share of stark, angry bands. Oberst says he and Roehrig approach songwriting like putting together a collection of short stories rather than the more thematic approach taken by bands such as Cursive.

“My perspective is very skewed,” he said. “The first band I was in was with Tim Kasher and Matt Maginn. I grew up with Conor and listening to Norman Bailer which became The Faint. I’ve watched as all the bands on the label have sort of grown into their voice. They are coming into their own to do what they do very well.”

He said being lumped in with such a group of high-quality song writers is a distinct advantage. “Being on Saddle Creek, you can call up a club and they will book you immediately. It’s great,” he said. “To some degree, we’ll always be the new band on Saddle Creek because we’re not part of that core Holy Trinity. In that sense, people’s opinions of us are stronger one way or another than they would be if we were on a different label. There’s a set of preconceptions people have about you due to the label and who you are. You’re constantly asked if you’ve lived up to your potential.”

But maybe the biggest advantage to being on Saddle Creek, Oberst said, is working with people you know and trust. “We have a record label we can call up and deal with as friends, not some monolithic organization,” he said. “It’s nice to be part of that family.”

–Lazy-i, July 9, 2003

* * *

A few shows happening tonight.

SLC drug/surf-rock band Dark Seas headlines at Midtown Art Supply, 2578 Harney St. Joining them are local bands Black Finger Cult (Brian Tait among them) and Calm Fur.  This is listed as a 7 p.m. show, $5.

Also tonight Brooklyn’s Pony Farm opens for White Wolf T-Shirt and Buffalo Sex Change at The Barley Street Tavern. $5, 9 p.m.

And the Under the Radar Festival continues. Tonight it’s at The Joslyn, Bancroft Street Market and House of Loom. Details and schedule here.

* * *

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 © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


What’s so important about The Good Living Tour? (in The Reader); Endor the movie; Sam Martin tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:52 pm July 8, 2015

goodlivingtourby Tim McMahan,

Somewhere on newsstands is the July issue of The Reader, and within its pages is a feature story about Hear Nebraska’s Good Living Tour . Waitaminit! Looks like you can also read the story online here.

The story gives you the usual who, what, when, where and how of the tour, and most importantly, the “why,” plus some technicolor from a Scottsbluff resident on how hard it is to see new bands when you live in the far reaches of western Nebraska. A full tour schedule is also provided to help you plan your summer vacation.

I won’t recast the story here, other than to say the tour is ambitious, it’s one-of-a-kind, and it could be an important moment in the history of local music. Its success depends on getting people to the shows, people who very likely have never heard of any of the bands involved. No doubt the Hear Nebraska forces have been hard at work doing their part to get the word out. But will it be enough? We’ll find out in a couple weeks.

Anyway, check out the story and pass it along to folks you know who live in these communities. Sharing is caring. Hear Nebraska thanks you.

* * *

Local boy wonder Aaron Gum (who you remember from InDreama (which, btw, I wish would get back on stage)) is co-directing a feature-length horror film with screenwriter Faustus McGreeves called Endor. Or at least he’s trying to. The crew is looking for money, and that’s where you come in.

According to Mr. Gum, filming is scheduled to begin this summer. Eli Mardock (of Eagle*Seagull) is composing an original motion picture soundtrack, and the final film will be color corrected by Jaimie O’Bradovich (Who remembers Shinyville?). Country musician Jeremy Starkel will be seen on screen as himself performing a new song written and being recorded for the movie, and rapper/actor Keives Mcgaugh will act in the film. On top of that, the campaign/teaser video features guest appearances by Orenda & Todd Fink and Nebraska state senator Colby Coash.

You can view that teaser here. and while you’re there…

The production is hoping to raise $7,000 via an IndieGoGo campaign that expires in 14 days. They’ve already raised $4,290. Among the premiums are tix to the premiere showings, posters, signed stuff, cameos, even props. Check out the campaign here and throw some money into the hat.

* * *

Pageturners’ Summer Concert Series continues tonight with singer/songwriter Sam Martin (Capgun Coup) along with Nathan Ma. The free concert gets rolling at 9 p.m.

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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 © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


More Live at O’Leaver’s (Cursive, Big Harp, Dumb Beach, more); new Mitch Gettman; HBD Dereck Higgins; Blitzen Trapper, Cancer Bats tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:56 pm July 7, 2015

by Tim McMahan,

How Live at O'Leaver's looks on your iPhone.

How Live at O’Leaver’s looks on your iPhone.

The next batch of 30 sessions has been released at the Live at O’Leaver’s website. We’re talking live performances recorded at the bar located at the direct center of the universe.

So far I’ve listened to the Cursive tracks (sublime), Big Harp (cool, different, surprising) and Swamp Walk (Stoner rock extraordinaire — where did these guys come from?). The Swamp Walk recordings are a prime example of why this effort is so important. I probably wouldn’t have heard these guys without this website (What can I say, the band’s name isn’t exactly enticing).

I’m trying to talk mastermind Ian Aeillo into creating some sort of Live at O’Leaver’s Radio button that would randomly play tracks from the entire archive — now there’s an internet radio channel I could get behind. Quick tip for you iPhone users: Go to and create a home screen button so the site is always just a tap away.

Here’s the list of new artist sessions available at the site:

Frontier Ruckus
Planes Mistaken for Stars
Roman Polanski’s Baby
Brad Hoshaw
See Through Dresses
She Keeps Bees
Last Good Tooth
Dirty Talker
Dumb Beach
Goon Saloon
All Eyes West
Empty Moon
Manic Pixie Dream Girls
Bob Log III
Kill County
Boneheart Flanagan
Dan Mariska
Big Harp
Uh Oh
Worried Mothers
J Fernandez
Anna McClellan
Universe Contest
Swamp Walk
New Lungs
Small Houses

* * *

Singer/songwriter Mitch Gettmann has some new tracks online. You can check them out below. Apparently Mitch ain’t moving to Chicago after all. And he’s got a Kickstarter campaign on deck ready to launch next week. More info soon.

* * *

Dereck Higgins turns 60 today. If you’re involved in Nebraska’s music scene you already know who he is, what he’s done and what he’s still doing. He’s a local legend. If you don’t know, read this profile that barely scrapes the surface of his art and music.

At my 50th birthday rock show/benefit for Hear Nebraska (where Dereck performed as part of Son, Ambulance) he gave me copies of two of his releases on vinyl — a remastered reissue of Nice and a colored-vinyl copy of Flyover. Both albums are now part of my warm-up and stretch routine prior to a long run. Order yours here.

I remember thinking at my birthday party that I would be lucky to be half as vital a part of the local music as Dereck is when I turn 60. We should all be so lucky.

Happy Birthday, Dereck.

* * *

Portland folk rock band Blitzen Trapper (Sub Pop) takes the stage tonight at The Waiting Room. We Are the Willows opens. $15, 9 p.m.

Also tonight at Slowdown Jr. it’s the hard stuff from Cancer Bats (Metal Blade Records). Opening is Megaton and Varmint. $10, 8 p.m.

* * *

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 © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Live Review: Icky Blossoms; first half 2015 album reviews (in the column)…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 12:46 pm July 6, 2015
Icky Blossoms at The Slowdown, July 3, 2015.

Icky Blossoms at The Slowdown, July 3, 2015.

by Tim McMahan,

Maybe it’s the new record or maybe it’s the time they spent on the road with Of Montreal, but Icky Blossoms is blossoming into a full-on arena-rock band.

Whereas no past performance has been less than fun, there has been a tentativeness to their stage shows, an unsureness that bordered on amateur. All that was gone Friday night on The Slowdown’s big stage in front of what looked to be 300 or so fans eager to cut loose.

Adding to their usual energy was new lighting and stage designs — three giant, gaping, bleeding “flowers” that resembled either poppies or a certain portion of the female anatomy were painted on backdrops hung from the rafters.

Icky Blossoms at The Slowdown, July 3, 2015.

Icky Blossoms at The Slowdown, July 3, 2015.

Icky’s music is beginning to fall into three categories — seething acidic rock propelled by Nik Fackler’s screeching guitar (“Silver Tongue,” “Phantasmagoria”), ethereal driftwood stoner shoe-gaze where Derek Pressnall and Sarah Bohling share the vox (“Want You So Bad,” set highlight “Away From You,” which screams to be released as a single) and pure, unadulterated dance tracks (“Living in Fiction,” “In Folds”) that get the crowd moving.

A smart set list that ebbs and flows between those three styles makes the show dynamic and keeps the band from being pigeon-holed as just another dance band. Now blend in the best songs from their debut (“Babes,” crowd-chant-exorcism-humpfest “Sex to the Devil”) and let the party begin.

In fact, Icky Blossoms could become the ultimate party band, taking the helm from The Faint, but to get to that next level they’ve got to reach even further into the crowd to turn their shows into unforgettable, sweat-soaked spectacles. They’re on their way.

One other show note: I was told to pay close attention to opening hip-hop act Both. I saw what was billed as “Both” at the Hear Nebraska Vol. 3 album release show and was less than impressed. That show featured only one member of the duo, who spent that set playing bomb-explosion samples. Well, Friday night I got the full Both treatment and was impressed with their sound, their beats and how they worked the crowd. I’ll wait until I hear their new EP and can check out their lyrics (undecipherable from stage) before I say more…

* * *

The first-half CD/album reviews round-up went online at The Reader this morning, here. I used to do these round-ups quarterly, but now that The Reader is monthly, I’ve pulled back to bi-annual, which is tough in years like this one where there’s so many good new releases. Check it out and see if your favorites made the list.

* * *

Interesting read here in that two of the five are attributed to past Lazy-i interviews: Five Noteworthy Facts You May Not Know About Conor Oberst

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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 © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Live Review: Mates of State/Hey Marseilles/Good Graeff; Icky Blossoms, The Weirdos, BFF tonight; Pro-Magnum, Dumb Beach, New Lungs salute the 4th…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:21 pm July 3, 2015
Mates of State at Reverb Lounge, July 2, 2015.

Mates of State at Reverb Lounge, July 2, 2015.

by Tim McMahan,

I had no intention of staying at Reverb last night, certainly not long enough to see Mates of State. But the opening bands pulled me through almost to the end.

How to describe the twin sisters that make up opening band Good Graeff — guitarist vocalist Brooke and cellist Brit Graeff?

Bubbly? Playful? Fun-loving? Giddy? How about precocious? Or fetching? Let’s just settle for “darling,” and “talented.” The duo, along with a bass player and drummer who were mainly in the background, played a set of up-tempo love songs (introduced by Brooke as love songs, though she said she’s never been in love. Pshaw!) that were catchy and cute and hard not to like.

Good Graeff at Reverb Lounge, July 2, 2015.

Good Graeff at Reverb Lounge, July 2, 2015.

They count The Pixies and Tegan and Sara among their influences and are at their best when channeling those bands’ more percussive/less linear moments. When they try their hand at modern, streamlined pop they sound like watered-down Sheryl Crow. Fortunately, those moments were few and far between.

As entertaining as their music was their between-song patter. Led mostly by Brooke who, if this music thing doesn’t work out, she could pursue a career in topical stand-up comedy. When Brit joined in the pair sounded like the Sweeney Sisters. Or maybe the Pigeon Sisters. Now I’m reaching. Watch for their new EP, Good Job Go, out July 10.

Hey Marseilles at Reverb Lounge, July 2, 2015.

Hey Marseilles at Reverb Lounge, July 2, 2015.

They were followed by Hey Marseilles, who, for whatever reason, I keep confusing with Hey Mercedes though the bands have nothing in common except the Hey. The six-piece, who I’d never heard before, sounded like a chamber-pop version of Guster, Death Cab or Jeremy Messersmith, featuring pure indie rock songs augmented with viola and cello.

HM frontman Matt Bishop has a crisp, non-affected vocal style that doesn’t outshine the rest of the band. You get the sense he’s just part of the band instead of an irreplaceable centerpiece. Great stuff worth checking out if you’re into indie pop that relies on strong, complex melodies (and who isn’t?). They also have a new album coming out in the near future.

I was planning on leaving halfway through HM and skipping Mates of State altogether since I had to work this morning, but HM kept my attention with the strength of their last three songs, which blended nicely and finished with a crescendo. I figured what the heck, might as well hang ’til 11.

I haven’t seen Mates of State in years. Their early songwriting relied heavily on Kori Gardner’s brash, almost calliope-style keyboards that had a way of grating. Well, that style of keyboards is gone, replaced by more traditional electric keyboard arrangements that emphasize their current straight-forward indie-pop songwriting. It’s pretty stuff that sits well with Gardner’s and husband, drummer Jason Hammel’s, intertwining vocals.

Pitchfork crushed their new Barsuk-release EP, You’re Going to Make It, with a 3.9 rating saying it “makes life sound like one big bouncy castle of fun, and that unquestioned contentment renders Mates of State musically anonymous.” Maybe so, but I doubt the duo were targeting the Pitchfork reader when they wrote the album. Instead, they were targeting people like 100 or so who crowded Reverb, 80 percent of them women. The first three rows of people standing hear the stage were mainly 20-something women pseudo-dancing (i.e., shaking their shoulders) and singing every word. These were happy people, having a happy time, which doesn’t describe the typical glum, too-serious Pitchfork reader.

* * *

The Fourth of July can really be a bust for shows, but it definitely kicks off with a bang tonight.

Have you checked out the College Music Journal “Most Added Radio 200 Top 20″ chart lately? Well if you had, you’d have noticed that Icky Blossoms’ new album, Mask, currently sits at No. 18, one position higher than the new one by Hop Along, Painted Shut, at No. 19.

Tonight Icky Blossoms belatedly celebrates the release of Mask in The Slowdown’s big room. I’ve been told to expect a “new light show, stage props, and some other fun stuff happening.” What do the Icky’s have up their sleeves? Opening is Eric In Outerspace, BOTH and Thick Paint. $10, 9 p.m.

Also tonight LA first-wave punk band The Weirdos headlines at The Lookout Lounge. The band has been blowing shit up since ’75. Opening is Bullet Proof Hearts, Hand Painted Police Car and Omaha punk legends R.A.F. $13, 9 p.m.

And it’s Benson First Friday. If you’re walking around Maple Street tonight, drop into The Little Gallery at Polecat HQ, located right across the street from The Sydney, where we’re featuring the works of Brian Tait — artist, musician, poet, madman.

Tomorrow night is the 4th of July and what better place to toast Ol’ Glory than fabulous O’Leaver’s? The Independence Day Weenie Roast features three All-America bands: the patriots of Pro-Magnum, the warriors of Dumb Beach and the heroes of New Lungs. Will there be fireworks? Oh yes, but only of the rock ‘n’ roll variety. (But yeah, some a-hole probably will shoot roman candles at people in the parking lot. You know how it goes.). Hot dogs and chips are served at 8 p.m.; the rock starts at 9. $5.

Finally on Sunday, Canadian singer/songwriter Calvin Love headlines at Slowdown Jr. Love’s sophomore album, Super Future, was released this year by Arts & Crafts and is rather sublime. Lineman’s Rodeo opens this 8 p.m. show. $8.

And that’s all I got. If I forgot your show, post it in the comments section. Have a fantastic Fourth of July.

* * *

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 © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


RadiOmaha is on the (internet) air; Mates of State, Hey Marseilles, Luke Polipnick tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:45 pm July 2, 2015
RadiOmaha is streaming from

RadiOmaha is streaming from

by Tim McMahan,

Speaking of online-only radio stations (like Beats 1), someone recently passed along a link to the new RadiOmaha website.

There’s not a lot of info about the site at the site: “We’re online. We’re worldwide. We’re from Omaha – a vibrant music community that’s home to exciting emerging artists. We play great alternative artists and classic rock hits, and we bring great Omaha artists to the world.”

According to their website, their music mix is 50 percent new alternative & Indie; 15 percent classic rock; 15 percent local Omaha artists; 10 percent new cuts from classic artists and 10 percent blues, world, reggae and specialty shows. I’ve listened off and on for a few days have heard few indie tracks, but maybe I’m just unlucky. So far I’ve heard mostly jazz, blues and oldies. Locals heard include tracks by Kris Lager and Scott Severin.

This morning before work I heard on RadiOmaha “Go To Hell” by The Clash, followed by a smooth jazz instrumental, followed by “Time Has Told Me” by Nick Drake. That was followed by an unidentified voice talking about an ancient Firehose in-store performance at Homer’s, a brief comment about lengthening the school day, and an episode of Lance Stallion Radio Detective — what used to be a staple of the Otis 12 & Diver Dan show on Z-92 20 or so years ago.

If you’re wondering how RadiOmaha can legally stream label-produced music, the website apparently has acquired a license from, which covers ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, SOCAN royalties and performance fees. That means they can live-stream just about anything.

The station is the brainchild of Rick Galusha, who has been putting it together for a few years. On-air hosts include some familiar names: Diver Dan (formerly a Z-92 host), Victor Hahn, Ariann Anderson, Mike and Tom Becka, MarQ Manner, BJ Huchtemann, David Leibowitz, Michael Murphy, along with others whose names aren’t so familiar. Check out the entire list here.

Why are online-only radio stations like RadiOmaha and HN Radio (let alone big names like Beats 1 and KEXP) relevant? Because it’s just a matter of time before someone figures out how to get Internet radio stations to play in your cars. They already do if you know how to tune them in on your smartphone (I use the TuneIn Radio app, which allows you to stream most local and  national radio stations) and your car stereo is Bluetooth enabled, like mine is.

Eventually car makers (and car stereo makers) will “get it” and you’ll be able to tune to your favorite web-only radio station as easily as you tune into a local terrestrial station.

A bigger issue for local web radio is content generation. One assumes that RadiOmaha is merely a stream of pre-recorded shows/podcasts by the aforementioned jocks strung together in a loop that plays endlessly — i.e., not real live broadcasting. There is no other way a station (or its volunteer jocks) could pull it off, at least until they become popular enough to sell advertising.

* * *

Good ol’ Mates of State (Barsuk, Polyvinyl) returns to Omaha tonight, this time at Reverb Lounge. The band has been touring though Omaha since 2002 (as evidenced by this Lazy-i interview — whoa, Neva Dinova and Race for Titles opened that show!). More amazing than the band still performing is that the husband-and-wife duo of Kori Gardner and Jason Hammel are still married. They’re on the road supporting their recently released EP, You’re Going to Make It (Barsuk/Fierce Panda). Opening is Seattle’s Hey Marseilles and Sarasota-based twin sister duo Good Graeff. $16, 9 p.m.

Also tonight, Luke Polipnick headlines at fabulous O’Leaver’s with Mitch Towne and Dana Murray. $5, 9:30 p.m.

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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 © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Apple Music launches, but is it a game changer? Canada Day at TWR…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:44 pm July 1, 2015

by Tim McMahan,

The Apple Music icon...

The Apple Music icon…

Is Apple Music a game changer?

I think it is. Not because it’s anything special. At best, it’s a knock-off of Spotify. And not because it provides a new way to listen to new music. Apple Music’s Beats 1 is a lesser version of Sirius satellite offerings (specifically XMU).

The reason Apple Music is a game changer is because it’s convenient; it’s easy. If you own an iPhone, Apple Music is a mere touch away after you update your iOS. It’s baked into iTunes, which means it’s right in front of your nose. Just tap the three-month free offer and you’ve opened your listening experience to a global collection of music.

Apple Music became available yesterday at 10 a.m. I updated my iPhone with the new OS during a staff meeting. By the time the meeting ended, the update was installed. After accepting the Apple Music offer, I could search Apple Music’s vast music library in addition to my own. My first search was for Queen’s Live at the Rainbow ’74 album, which I’d been listening to in Spotify. There it was. Tap-tap-tap and Freddie Mercury was blazing “Keep Yourself Alive” through my earbuds.

With immediate access to just about any popular recorded music, why would anyone buy another album from iTunes? There are exceptions. Prince doesn’t exist in Apple Music. Nor does The Beatles. But Taylor Swift is there. So is Metallica. And AC/DC, which Apple is making a big fuss over. Come on, doesn’t everyone already own Back in Black?

The rest of Apple Music’s offerings — the other new features —probably won’t get used. “Connect” — Apple Music’s “social platform” is a hodge-podge oddity that sort of resembles Tumblr with lots of Trent Reznor/Nine Inch Nails content. Why would anyone look there?

“For You” is a music picker that asks you what kind of music and which artists you like, and then makes recommendations based on your responses, sort of like the “recommended” tab in Netflix. It also creates playlists, such as “Morrissey: Political Songs” and “Inspired by Scott Walker” which includes tracks by Belle & Sebastian, Bowie, Pulp, Tindersticks, etc. This might be worth keeping an eye on.

Then there’s Beats 1, Apple’s so-called radio station that’s “Worldwide. Always on.” There was a bit of a buzz listening to Beats 1 right after the launch, sort of like when MTV first launched in the ’80s and you wondered if music television would really be relevant and/or would anyone listen/watch it. We did, of course. I’m not sure that’ll be the case with Beats 1.

First off, the music isn’t always live. Late last night they replayed their first hours of the broadcast from earlier that morning. It turns out that Apple streams live, though the programming is likely pre-recorded, and includes 12-by-12 reruns — 12 hours new, 12 hours rebroadcast, which sucks. The beauty of live radio was that it was live. These days, only talk radio is truly live. Most music radio stations are run by pre-recorded robots.

Had Beats 1 really been a 24/7 live broadcast, it might have become a sort of global taste-maker touch-point, like MTV was for a few years after its launch. Another problem: The station’s overbearing DJs have a nasty habit of talking during the songs — in fact, right in the middle of  songs. Is talking over songs a “DJ thing” these days? The station also barks out “worldwide, always on” during the middle of songs — i.e., commercials during the music. Consider it an audio watermark, sort of like that network logo that appears in the corner of your TV screen. Awful. Maybe it’s just a temporary thing during launch week? Something tells me it’s not.

Beats 1 played two songs by Bully during the first couple hours of broadcast, making me wonder how bands get added to this rather valuable playlist that’s “aired in 100 countries.” Like KROQ and Sirius XMU, Beats 1 has the power to turn unknowns into mega-stars by simply airing their music. Because in an era when everyone has 10 million albums available at their fingertips, music curation is the candlelight in the wilderness.

In fact, getting your music added to playlists has become the most important thing for bands and record labels. If you can get added to any of these top-100 playlists in Spotify, for example, you immediately get your music heard by millions of people who wouldn’t have heard it otherwise while at the same time scoring valuable “plays” that add to your pocketbook. Getting added  to popular playlists likely will involve spending lots of money, and hiring an agent.

I’ve been a Spotify subscriber for a few years. Will I switch to Apple Music? Probably. Though it doesn’t add any new functions, Apple Music is better integrated with iTunes, which I always have open on my desktop and iPhone. Spotify only has two features I’ll miss: a Running app that matches music to your running tempo (very cool) and a small screen on the desktop that shows what  friends who use Spotify are listening to — believe it or not, your taste matters to me.

But what about the whole “pay the artist” issue? I’ll still buy vinyl versions of music I can’t live without. And a recent discussion with two label reps and a publicist has changed my mind on the value of streaming, at least for mid-level record labels with valuable back catalogs. There’s still no answer for new bands who are getting paid in pennies for streaming. Those bands not repped by a label have a right to keep their music off streaming services. But can they afford to?

* * *

Canada Day is being celebrated tonight at The Waiting Room. The concert, which benefits the Siena/Francis House, features a cadre of local musicians covering Canadian artists. Performers include Michael Campbell, Vago, 24 Hour Cardlock, Sunless Trio, The Electroliners, Tara Vaughan, The Prairie Gators, Kait Berreckman and Castor. $8, 7 p.m., ya hoser!

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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 © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Live Review: Digital Leather, The Hussy; The Faint unveils different lineup tomorrow in Chicago; Burkum Boys tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 1:02 pm June 29, 2015
Digital Leather at O'Leaver's, June 27, 2015.

Digital Leather at O’Leaver’s, June 27, 2015.

by Tim McMahan,

O’Leaver’s updated their sound system, again. I don’t know the specifics behind the technology.  Sound engineer Ian Aeillo can tell you. What I can tell you is there are now two massive stacks of speakers on either side of O’Leaver’s “stage,” and they sound good and loud (though one stack, on stage left, now blocks my view from one of my favorite leanin’ spots. Oh well…).

This is the third or fourth time O’Leaver’s has upgraded their sound system since the boys from Cursive and Chris Machmuller took over the venue a few years ago, and it just keeps getting better. The only thing they could do to make the place even better would be to take out the ceiling, add a band riser, knock out the partial wall that divides the raised seating from the hallway that leads to the bathroom and, of course, open that second outdoor patio. Or maybe just nuke the building altogether and build a new club, but that would take away all of O’Leaver’s craptacular charm…

The festivities that brought me to The Club Saturday night was the Digital Leather album release show for their new FDH album All Faded, where we got to see DL perform as an 8-piece — that’s like an entire bucket of chicken, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

The Hussy at O'Leaver's, June 27, 2015.

The Hussy at O’Leaver’s, June 27, 2015.

First up was the The Hussy, the duo of Bobby and Heather Hussy, who were sort of celebrating the release of their own new album, Galore (Southpaw Records), their first release since 2013’s Pagan Hiss. Their one-sheet declares the new record “may be the catchiest and pop-iest record to date.” The record’s range and structure go way beyond your typical “garage rock” album but lacks none of that genre’s attitude. It’s the kind of rock record that Jack White could only dream of making. That said, the album sounds nothing like a White Stripes guitar-and-drum duo sort of record. The tracks are a full-band affair. This is the first Hussy LP with bass guitar added to the entire record, marking it as something of a turning point for the band. You need to hear it.

Anyway, The Hussy performed as a duo Saturday night, losing some of the depth heard on the new record but accentuating Bobby’s crazy-ass guitar gymnastics and Heather’s massive stick work. The duo shared vocals while Bobby bounced high kicks off the monitors and poked out the ceiling tiles with his guitar. Blistering and frantic.

And then came Digital Leather, sporting three keyboard players. Joining Todd Fink and Ben VanHoolandt on keyboards was Greg Elsasser of Capgun Coup. As detailed in this recent Digital Leather feature in The Reader, Elsasser will be replacing Fink for DL’s upcoming tour dates with Desaparecidos. That meant six people (and three keyboard racks) crowding the tiny O’Leaver’s “stage,” made all the more crowded by the 30 or so people who stood right in front of the band.

They opened with “Styrofoam,” played a few songs off All Faded and closed with a very special rendition of “Studs in Love,” that featured Bobby and Heather Hussy, who recorded their own version of the song released on the Digital Leather/The Hussy split LP that came out last year on Southpaw. So, eight people, one massive sound. “Studs in Love” is becoming Digital Leather’s go-to anthem and regular set-closer because, well, there’s nothing quite like it. Will they pull it out when they open for Desa in front of hundreds? I’d love to see how that crowd reacts.

* * *

By the way, I have yet to see a single review of Digital Leather’s All Faded online anywhere (except Hear Nebraska)… What’s up with that?

* * *

Speaking of Todd Fink, after a lengthy hiatus The Faint are back in action again. The band is playing at The Bottom Lounge in Chicago tomorrow night and Summerfest 2015 in Milwaukee Wednesday. Tickets are available at

For these shows, The Faint will be adding new keyboard player Graham Ulicny from Reptar  (and part of the duo Channel Pressure with Todd). Ulicny replaces long-time keyboard player Jacob Thiele, but there’s no word if this is a permanent change to The Faint’s line-up, which includes Fink, drummer Clark Baechle and guitarist Dapose.

* * *

Pageturners Lounge summer series continues tonight with the Burkum Boys. Singer/songwriter Jessica Errett opens. 9 p.m., free.

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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 © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Joan Jett in the park, R.A.F. tonight; Digital Leather, The Hussy, Oquoa, Noah’s Ark Saturday; The Helio Sequence Sunday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 1:04 pm June 26, 2015
Cheap Trick at Memorial Park, July 1, 2011.

Cheap Trick at Memorial Park, July 1, 2011. Joan Jett takes the Memorial Park stage tonight.

by Tim McMahan,

I just realized it’s been a couple weeks since I’ve been to a show. Not because there haven’t been any decent shows, I’ve just been lazy. BTW, for what it’s worth, (most of) my live reviews will now appear both in and Why not? It’s easy and it expands the readership.

And if you haven’t figured it out yet, I quit doing the weekly podcast for The Reader. It was  too much work for too few listeners. Each episode took two evenings of work — one to record, another to edit. In the end, the most listened-to episode received just south of 200 clicks, and featured an interview with Simon Joyner. As a result, I may revisit the podcast format as a pure Q&A thing in the near future. We’ll see.

Anyway, tonight is Joan Jett & the Blackhearts at Memorial Park and I kind of have to go as it’s practically in my back yard. Shitty Des Moines band Bonne Finken + The Collective opens the show at 6 p.m., followed by that dinosaur Eddie Money and then Joan. I realize Jett has played an important role in the history of rock, but I’ve never been a big fan, even back in the day. Still, it’ll be interesting to see how she’ll address today’s SCOTUS ruling, and if tonight’s show will celebrate something more than Independence Day.

BTW, if you’re going, park at UNO and walk to the park. Stay away from my neighborhood to the north, and gawdamit, STAY OFF MY LAWN.

Also tonight, Neon Trees plays at Stir Concert Cove in CB. I’ve seen these folks at SXSW and they put on a helluva show for a pop band. Tix cost around $45, and it starts at 7:30.

There’s also a punk rock show happening tonight at fabulous O’Leaver’s. Seminal local ’80s punk crew R.A.F. headlines with Cordial Spew and Sioux City’s Ruralaurora. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Tomorrow night (Saturday) is the big Dog Party at O’Leaver’s. Free hot dogs served at 7 p.m., followed by karaoke at 8, and then at around 10 p.m. The Hussy takes the stage. I’ve been listening to their new album, Galore, all morning and it’s a scorcher. They’re followed by Digital Leather who will be celebrating the release of their new album, All Faded (FDH Records). Read about the record here. I guarantee this will be a strange show full of surprises. $5.

Also Saturday night, Oquoa plays at Reverb Lounge. Joining them are Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship and Geoff Dolce. $7, 9 p.m.

And Ragged Company plays at The Downunder Lounge (soon to move a few blocks down Leavenworth to where The Side Door Lounge used to be). Also on the bill is Mitch Gettman and Dr. Gnarwhal. $5, 9 p.m.

Finally, with the College World Series now in the books for another year, The Slowdown has returned once again to normal operations. To prove it, the venue is hosting The Helio Sequence Sunday night. The band’s new, self-titled album was released on Sub Pop this past May. Opening is Portland band Lost Lander and our very own John Klemmensen and the Party. $11, 8:30 p.m.

That’s all I got. If I missed your show, put it in the comments section. Have a great weekend.

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — 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.

Cheap Trick at Memorial Park, July 1, 2011. Joan Jett takes the Memorial Park stage tonight.

Cheap Trick at Memorial Park, July 1, 2011. Joan Jett takes the Memorial Park stage tonight.