Live Review: PUP, Screaming Females at The Waiting Room…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , — @ 1:36 pm March 5, 2020

PUP at The Waiting Room, March 4, 2020.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

My friend Paul emailed to say I needed to show up early at The Waiting Room last night for Screaming Females, which he’d seen a number of times, including a show a few years back at the Sweatshop Gallery.

If you haven’t caught them yet, they are a force — Marissa Paternoster made SPIN’s list of top 100 guitarists a few years back.  I thought she would have caught on as a gunslinger for a major touring band by now, but Sam told me she’s loyal to her bandmates.

“Sam” is Sam Parker, once of Omaha now of Nashville who booked the band here once upon a time. Well, Paul wasn’t exaggerating. Paternaster was a force of nature on the guitar, a true throwback rock virtuoso.

How to describe her? She looked like a mop-headed 15-year-old Gilda Radner, no more than 5 feet tall. She never smiled, or at least not on stage. And when she played, she looked like a person possessed — amazing rock arpeggios that Jimmy Page or Jack White would most certainly bow down to.

Screaming Females at The Waiting Room, March 4, 2020.

A New Jersey power trio, their style was reminiscent of Seattle grunge with a hint of metal (by way of that guitar). The songs were powered by Mike Abbate’s base lines that laid the groundwork for Paternaster’s fretboard gymnastics.

When she wasn’t playing (or when she was) she sang with an affected style that sounded like Grace Slick channeling Eddie Vedder on melodies that weren’t terribly memorable. It’s her guitar work that I’ll remember. Why isn’t this band headlining yet?

PUP came on right at 10 p.m. to a near sold-out crowd, about as packed as I’ve seen The Waiting Room. From the opening chords the audience erupted in a group sing-along, which I sort of expected. PUP’s anthemic music lends itself to crowd participation, and the band certainly got it all night long. But unlike say, a Dashboard Confessional concert where the crowd singing shtick is constant and annoying, last night’s audience was a nice accent to the overall power of the performance.

Frontman Stefan Babcock said because the band hadn’t been through Omaha in a number of years they were going to play songs from all their albums, and in fact reached way back to their 2014 debut with “Dark Days” and set highlight “Reservoir” (though they didn’t get to my personal fave, “Guilt Trip”). There also were a lot of songs off their last album, Morbid Stuff, including perfect set-closer “Scorpion Hill.”

Halfway through the hour-long performance Babcock remarked that the set was a disaster but it sure sounded great from where I stood, and certainly the fist-pump-fueled crowd was loving it, including the requisite crowd surfers. Babcock’s between-song repartee included calling Oklahoma City (the town they played previously) the City of Enemies. Not sure what that was all about. He also said he was having more fun last night than he expected to — take that for what it’s worth.

There was no encore, and no band has ever made such a big deal about it. Babcock not only warned the crowd they weren’t playing one “because they’re stupid” (and, he said, merely an excuse for bands to go backstage and do coke (which they don’t do)), but also encouraged the crowd to chant “No More Songs!” after the set closer, which is exactly what they did, though they had to know we would have loved a couple more…

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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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Saddle Creek goes to SXSW; the Good Life hits the road; PUP, Screaming Females tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 1:50 pm March 4, 2020

Saddle Creek Records returns to South By Southwest.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Man, I miss going to South by Southwest in Austin. I attended the music festival for four or five years in a row back in the last decade. I haven’t been to SXSW since 2015. Look, if you can hit only one music festival, this is the one (CMJ was the other one, but that went belly up years ago).

SXSW is a great place to hear new bands, and Saddle Creek Records has always taken advantage of that fact, having seen a number of acts there over the years that would eventually join their roster. This year Saddle Creek is hosting a showcase at SXSW in partnership with Polyvinyl Records and Double Double Whammy.

Performing Saddle Creek bands are Frances Quinlan (of Hop Along fame), Tomberlin, Land of Talk (new album on the way), Disq (new album out this Friday) and Ada Lea. Joining them at Cheer Up Charlie’s for this official SXSW showcase March 18 are Yumi Zouma, Great Grandpa, Anna Burch, Long Beard, Squirrel Flower, Sean Henry and McKinley Dixon.

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The Good Life announced today that they’re launching a summer tour in honor of the 16th’s anniversary of the release of Album of the Year. The band will hit the road in June, and the tour includes a stop at The Waiting Room July 3!

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That big PUP show I told you about is tonight at The Waiting Room. Joining the band is Screaming Females and The Drew Thomson Foundation. $23, 8 p.m. Should be a corker.

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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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Ten Questions with PUP (March 4 at The Waiting Room)…

Category: Interviews — Tags: , , — @ 1:30 pm March 2, 2020

PUP plays at The Waiting Room March 4. Photo by Vanessa Heins.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

There is a long-form version of this story at thereader.com wherein I talk about the Over the Edge column and how I’m shifting its direction to become more interview-based. You can read that version right here.

Ten Questions with PUP

Toronto-based punk band PUP — the name an acronym created by frontman Stefan Babcock’s mother, who said playing in a rock band was a “Pathetic Use of Potential” — has been around since 2010, when they were called Topanga. They changed their name to PUP in 2013 with the release of their self-titled debut on Royal Mountain Records. They switched up to respected punk insignia Side One Dummy for their 2016 follow-up, The Dream Is Over. Much touring followed.

The four-piece quickly created a following for their explosive live performances and melodic (dare I say pop) punk equal parts scratchy confessional and fist-pump anthem that’s a call to arms for your typical suburban Canadian (and/or American) underdog. They’ve never been more powerful than on their latest, 2019’s Morbid Stuff (Rise Records), a collection of shout-along emo-punk nuggets.

With a gig slated for The Waiting Room March 4, I caught up with PUP guitarist Steve Sladkowski and gave him the Ten Questions treatment:

1. What is your favorite album?

Steve Sladkowski: It’s hard to pick one, but currently I’m enjoying just about anything that’s being released on the Sahel Sounds label based in Portland, Oregon, especially the album No. 1 by Etran de L’Aïr.

2. What is your least favorite song?

“Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey

3. What do you enjoy most about being in a band?

I’ve been able to see the world and make friends in a way that seemed completely impossible prior to my life in PUP.  To be able to do that with three of my closest and best friends on the planet still feels a bit like a surreal dream.

4. What do you hate about being in a band?

As someone who is in their early 30s, it can get a bit tiresome to answer people’s (sometimes unintentionally) condescending questions about what I have devoted my life to; but otherwise, it’s tough to be away from our partners, loved ones and friends while we’re on the road. Like any job, there are tough days, but it’s something that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world.

5. What is your favorite substance (legal or illegal)?

Coffee first with bourbon a very, very close second.

6. In what city or town do you love to perform?

It’s always fun to play at home in Toronto, but I love to explore new places, so really anywhere they’ll have us is a nice place to play.

7. In what city or town did you have your worst gig (and why)?

Probably when I was in a jazz band in my early 20s, playing stuff like “Someday My Prince Will Come” to utterly disinterested audiences at weird suburban Southern Ontario wedding halls.

8. Are you able to support yourself through your music? If so, how long did it take to get there; if not, how do you pay your bills?

We are!  It took… a long time, probably the entire course of two albums’ worth of writing, recording, rehearsing and touring ad nauseam. This is basically the case for every person I know who is able to eke out a living while playing music in a streaming world.

9. What one profession other than music would you like to attempt; what one profession would you absolutely hate to do?

I’ve been very singularly minded toward music for basically the past 20 years, However, I’ve always found urban planning and public transportation fascinating.  We’ve been lucky to see a lot of cities and ride a lot of public transit, and it’s something I find myself reading more and more about both online and in books. I would absolutely hate to be a banker or any other profession that revels in bald-faced capitalism.

10. What are the stories you’ve heard about Omaha, Nebraska?

I heard the guitar player in PUP was suffering from the worst food poisoning of his life while onstage in Omaha in 2015.  He’s probably looking forward to having a nicer time exploring the city in 2020 when they visit!

PUP plays with Screaming Females and The Drew Thomson Foundation March 4 at The Waiting Room. Tickets are $20 Adv./$23 DOS. Showtime is 8 p.m. For more information, go to onepercentproductions.com.

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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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Bob Nastanovich (Pavement), Minne Lussa tonight; Unexplained Death, Safari Room Saturday; Young Guv, David Nance Sunday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — @ 1:25 pm February 28, 2020

Young Guv plays Sunday night at Slowdown Jr.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Busy weekend, especially Saturday night, with a fantastic show Sunday. Here we go:

Tonight at The Sydney in Benson, Bob Nastanovich of Pavement fame is doing a DJ set. Joining him are Mike Schlesinger and Minne Lussa. Good times for just $5. Starts at 10 p.m.

Also tonight (Friday) Satchel Grande headlines at The Waiting Room with The Kevin Lloyd Experience. $9, 9 p.m.

Saturday night Matt Whipkey’s poli-punk project Unexplained Death headlines at fabulous O’Leaver’s. Also on the bill are Farewell Transmission and Soul Ghost. $7, 9:30 p.m.

Meanwhile, over at Reverb Lounge, Safari Room headlines. The Nashville band’s frontman, Alex Koukal, is a Bellevue West grad. Joining them are Omaha up-and-comers Garst. $10, 9 p.m.

Also Saturday night, Chicago R&B/blues singer/songwriter Neal Francis headlines at The Waiting Room. Joining him is Omaha’s Virginia Kathryn. $15, 9 p.m.

And then comes Sunday and the main event.

Toronto’s Young Guv is a project of Fucked Up guitarist Ben Cook, who plays power-pop summer-of-love psych rock, gorgeous and catchy. His albums, Guv I and Guv II are summertime staples. The band is playing Slowdown Jr. Sunday night on a loaded bill that includes Jocko and our very own David Nance, all for a mere $10. 8 p.m. start time.

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 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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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New Land of Talk LP to drop on Saddle Creek; Conor’s acting chops; Trevor Sensor tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 1:40 pm February 27, 2020
Land of Talk at Slowdown Jr., Sept. 23, 2010.

Land of Talk at Slowdown Jr., Sept. 23, 2010. Saddle Creek Records will be releasing their next album in May.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Hometown label Saddle Creek Records yesterday announced it’s releasing the new album by Montreal band Land of Talk, Indistinct Conversations, on May 15. This is the fourth Creek release by the band, which is led by singer/songwriter Elizabeth Powell. Check out the first single and order online via Bandcamp below.

By now you’ve seen Conor Oberst’s and Phoebe Bridger’s acting debut as production assistants on the Meet the Conan Staff. If you haven’t, the clip’s below. A lot of people are wondering if that’s Conor’s real hair or a wig. I think it’s real, based on the Bright Eyes marketing footage Dead Oceans has been posting for the new BE album.

Meet the Conan Staff is the first scripted original series from Team Coco. The episodes launch weekly on YouTube; it premiered on Feb. 18.

Also yesterday, Bridgers released a dope-fueled video for her first single in three years, “Garden Song.”

Tonight at Reverb Lounge, Jagjaguwar artist Trevor Sensor headlines. According to Paste Magazine, Sensor was discovered by Killers’ guitarist Dave Keuning while playing a gig in Pella, Iowa. His last album, Andy Warhol’s Dream, was produced by Jonathon Rado of Foxygen and the late, great Richard Swift, and includes contributions from members of Whitney. Halfloves open at 8 p.m. $10.

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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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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New Joan App (as in Joe Knapp) track; Win/Win drops new EP…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 1:36 pm February 26, 2020

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Joe Knapp is the mastermind behind Saddle Creek Records act Son, Ambulance. And while Son, Ambulance has continued to play a show or two every year, the band hasn’t produced any new recorded music for quite some time.

Well, out of nowhere last week, a new track dropped by an outfit calling itself Joan App, a very tasty track called “Beautiful Machines.” The song was written by Joe Knapp and sung by Sarah Bohling of Thick Paint and Icky Blossoms, and you can listen to it below via Soundcloud (though it’s also up on Spotify).

Says Joe: “I wrote the song and produced it with drummer Adam (Hootie) Erickson. The idea of it started as a song for a car commercial/tech ad.” Dylan Strimple also appears on the track on guitar along with Colin Duckworth on pedal steel, Olga Smola on violin and Blake DeForest on trumpet. The track was produced by Joan App with Adam Erickson, with sound engineering and mixing by Adam Roberts at the mighty ARC Studio in Omaha.

I love this track. I hope there’s more coming.

Also, Omaha indie band Win/Win has a new four-song EP out called Home. Check it out below via Bandcamp.

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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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Live Review: SUSTO, Molly Parden at Slowdown Jr…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 2:04 pm February 25, 2020

SUSTO at Slowdown Jr., Feb. 24, 2020.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

All the chairs will filled last night down at Slowdown Jr., literally. The crowd of around 60 stayed seated throughout both Molly Parden and SUSTO’s set last night, leaving a wide open floor in front of the stage with only one guy (me) standing near it. I’m guessing both artists were wondering who that weirdo was.

Molly Parden kicked things off at 8. She’s a Nashville singer/songwriter who played a solo acoustic set of broken-hearted love songs that ached with every note. I had a feeling that each song had someone’s name attached to it, and Parden inasmuch said so, saying she took seven years off from writing music, and that it took a break-up to inspire her to write again.

Molly Parden at Slowdown Jr., Feb. 24, 2020.

While her songs would fit well alongside early Joni Mitchell, her voice comes from a different direction and is incomparable. Just gorgeous. She said she only recently has been able to support herself through her music thanks to one of her songs being included on a couple Spotify playlists, which has generated enough cash to live on. The song in question, “Weather,” is a rocker on Spotify, but came off as another somber heart breaker performed live. In fact, what I heard last night on stage blows away the recorded versions of the same songs, or maybe it was just the mood of the evening and the performance itself. Too bad no one recorded it.

I was sort of expecting SUSTO’s Justin Osborne to sound a little less like Jackson Browne vocalwise when he took the stage last night, and in fact he did, though there was still that classic Late for the Sky nasal lilt to his voice. Playing as a 4-piece, the band launched the set with “Far Out Feeling,” the lead-off track (and my favorite) from their 2017 album & I’m Fine Today. They went on to play a selection of the best songs off the last two albums, reaching back to “Acid Boys” from his 2014 debut.

Osborne switched between guitar and keyboards from song to song, sounding just as comfortable on either, backed by a solid band that included an amazing soloist and a snap-tight rhythm section. I love Osborne’s voice, and few people in recent years are as good at writing gorgeous melodies. In a way he reminds me of the late great Jim Croce, who had a similar simple, urban story-telling songwriting style.

Late in the set as a special treat, the band played their cover of Elton John’s “Daniel,” which sounded as if it was written for them to perform. A great way to spend a Monday night.

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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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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SUSTO, Molly Parden at Slowdown; Ceremony, Jocko, No Thanks at Reverb tonight …

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 1:36 pm February 24, 2020

Ceremony at The Sweatshop Gallery, July 11, 2015. The band plays at Reverb Lounge tonight.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

You’ve got a decision to make this evening between two very good shows.

Down at Slowdown Jr., Charleston, S.C. singer/songwriter SUSTO performs. The band, fronted by Justin Osborne who sings like the second coming of Jackson Browne, cancelled when last scheduled to play at Slowdown Jr. back in February 2017. Back then he was supporting his killer full-length & I’m Fine Today. His new album, Ever Since I Lost My Mind (2019, Rounder), is just as sweet. Check out the tracks below. Opening at 8 p.m. is singer/songwriter Molly Parden. $18.

Meanwhile, over at Reverb Lounge it’s the return of Ceremony. The band’s 2015 performance at Sweatshop Gallery is one of my all-time favorites. It was probably 100 degrees outside on that July evening and 120 degrees inside the packed garage performance space where Ross Farrar and company turned it up another 20 degrees with their dark, heavy post punk.

No doubt it’ll be much more chill (temperature and otherwise) inside Reverb Lounge for tonight’s Ceremony show, but likely no less entertaining. The under card is a humdinger: punk bands Jocko and No Thanks. This is a veritable rock festival! for a mere $15. Starts at 8 p.m.

You can’t go wrong with either show. Having seen Ceremony and No Thanks twice already, I’ll see you down at Slowdown…

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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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Anna McClellan, Staffers, MiWi La Lupa, Blanky tonight; We Were Promised Jetpacks, Motherfolk Saturday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — @ 1:51 pm February 21, 2020

Anna McClellan at O’Leaver’s, Dec. 3, 2015. She plays tonight at The Brothers Lounge.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Busy weekend.

Tonight at The Brothers Lounge it’s the tour kick off for Anna McClellan and Staffers. They’ll be selling a new split cassette, which is only available on tour. Also on the bill is the debut of Curtain, a new band featuring members from Dave Nance Band, Lazy Wranglers and Subtropics, among others. Rogue Moon opens at 10 p.m. $5. If I go out, this is where I’ll be.

Also tonight, Miwi La Lupa is playing at The Sydney in Benson. MiWi’s latest LP is Tips, which came out last year. Joining him tonight are Sean Pratt and Annie Dee. 10 p.m., $5.

Meanwhile, over at fabulous O’Leaver’s, Lawrence duo Blanky headlines. They call their style of music “folkgaze.” Also on the bill are Bokr Tov and Sgt. Leisure. $6, 10 p.m.

Tomorrow night’s big show is We Were Promised Jetpacks down at The Slowdown. This one originally was a front room show but has been moved to the big room by popular demand. Opening is Slaughter Beach, Dog. 8 p.m. start time, $20.

Meanwhile, over at Reverb Lounge Saturday night, Cincinnati indie band Motherfolk headlines with Bach Mai and Rascal Martinez. $10, 9 p.m.

Also, I never mention stand-up comedy shows because I don’t go to stand-up comedy shows, but CJ Olson from Saddle Creek Records reached out to let me know that the label’s latest signing, funnyman Adam Cayton-Holland, is having an album release show Saturday night at O’Leaver’s for the vinyl version of Adam Cayton-Holland Performs His Signature Bits. $15, 8 p.m.

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

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at 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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Random Notes: New Twinsmith single; Pitchforkfest announced; labels’ new fast release schedules; new Bright Eyes tour dates (NOmaha…)…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 7:58 am February 20, 2020

Twinsmith dropped a new single yesterday.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Some catching up on items old and new…

Omaha band Twinsmith has a new single out called “Dreamer,” released on Silver Street Records. As lead singer Jordan Smith describes it, “The song concept is about someone struggling with an addiction and realizing their struggle, but how hard it is to snap out of it. We all know someone going through that.” The track was produced by James Fleege at Silver Street studios in Ashland and mastered by the master, Doug van Sloun at Focus. This follows the release of the 2019 single “Feels,” the band’s Silver Street debut after apparently leaving Saddle Creek Records. Check it out below:

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Welp, they announced the line-up for this year’s Pitchfork Festival yesterday. The dates are July 17-19. Headliners are Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Run the Jewels and The National. Also on board are former Saddle Creek act Big Thief, current Saddle Creek act Hop Along, Phoebe Bridgers, Angel Olsen, Sharon Van Etten and the return of Fiery Furnaces. Three-day Pitchforkfest passes are $185, which is kinda/sorta a bargain in the festival game.

Why do I have a feeling one of the above-mentioned bands will also be at Maha this year?

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Saddle Creek Records A&R Director Amber Carew is among those interviewed in a Billboard article that dropped yesterday that talks about why indie artists are releasing music at a much faster pace these days.

She said in the old days when she was at ANTI- Records non-LP projects was frowned upon. From the article: “‘So let’s just keep writing until you have a full LP,’” she remembers hearing. “That was always a sentiment that was given to the artists, and that doesn’t come out of my mouth anymore.” It’s all about streaming. Read the epic-ly long article here.

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And Bright Eyes announced an expanded run of tour dates yesterday, but nothing announced in Omaha yet. I suspect there will be a Bright Eyes date here at some point…

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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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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