Another lost weekend; Jessica Lea Mayfield tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , — @ 1:52 pm September 15, 2014
Jessica Lea Mayfield at SXSW, March 12, 2014.

Jessica Lea Mayfield at SXSW, March 12, 2014.

by Tim McMahan,

Sick as a dog all weekend with whatever roto-virus is going around or that I brought back with me from NYC. I sound like Tom Waits this morning. In fact, I intend to record my own, unique rendition of “Chocolate Jesus” in Garageband this afternoon.

It is this illness that kept me from The Slowdown last night for PUJOL and likely will keep me from The Slowdown tonight, when the lovely Jessica Lea Mayfield takes the Jr. stage. I first ran into Mayfield at this year’s SXSW. Everything I’d read had indicated she was a twangy bluegrass crooner. So imagine my surprise when she performed a set of slow, spacey grunge numbers at Cheer Up Charlies.

Mayfield has worked with Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys up until her most recent album, Make My Head Sing, whose tuneage has been compared to Dinosaur Jr., Explosions in the Sky and Nirvana. This one definitely is worth checking out (unless you’re hacking up green eggs and ham). Opening is Cozad, Nebraska singer/songwriter Kait Berreckman. $12, 8 p.m.

Who knows, I may make it down there anyway. You may want to keep your distance…

* * *

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 © 2014 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Scientific research uncovers old U2 slightly better than new U2; Eef Barzelay (Clem Snide), Brother Ali, Skypiper Saturday; PUJOL Sunday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 1:11 pm September 12, 2014
Back when U2 were at their best...

When U2 were at their best…

by Tim McMahan,

A follow-up to a post from Tuesday, where I wrote about U2 giving away copies of their new album, Songs of Innocence, via iTunes. An online tussle broke out afterward as to whether the album is any good. I suggested that it sounds like Coldplay. Others disagreed (even though it, indeed, sounds just like Coldplay).

But furthermore, a discussion arose as to whether veteran artists can capture the excitement heard on recordings from the early days of their careers. Some adamantly said “no,” others (such as myself) said that some artists can create relevant, important music at any age.

John Mürren II, he of the umlaut, decided that it was a question for science. His comment:

“Beyond the fact that ‘good’ is subjective, it’s hardly surprising that music we are hearing as 30/40/50 year olds from a band that’s been around for 40 years doesn’t hit us the same as the stuff we heard in our teens and twenties. If you went to some teenager who has never heard U2 and had them choose between (U2’s new album) and ‘War,’ I’ll bet they’d chose the new album. (It’s) every bit as good a U2 album as ‘Hot Sauce Committee’ was a good Beasties album.”

Were that it possible to prove, I said. “My kids couldn’t care less about U2,” Mürren II said. “I’ll try it on them.”

And that’s exactly what he did. The next day, Mürren II posted his findings.

So in a totally non-scientific test, I used my kids (6 and 12) as test subjects to see if old U2 is really ‘better’ than new U2, or do we old people just think so due to our attachment to the old stuff. I figured they are good subjects, being too young to really know much about U2 and having no emotional attachment or memories tied in to any of their work. I played 3 groups of 2 songs, each group having one song from the new album and one from an old one. I didn’t tell them why I was having them chose or which songs was older/newer.”

Group One: “New Year’s Day” (from 1983’s War) and (new song) “The Miracle (of Joey Ramone).” Results: Jack: “Both are really good!” Dakota chose “The Miracle.” Notes: Dakota thought “New Year’s Day” sounded like The Police.

Group Two: (new song) “Raised By Wolves” and “I Will Follow” (from their 1980 debut Boy). Results: Both preferred “I Will Follow.” Notes: Dakota thought both songs sounded really similar; “These guys don’t have a lot of melodic ideas.” Mürren II gushed with pride: “Yes, I am *VERY* proud that my 12 year old busts out those kinds of sentences.”

Group Three: “Cedarwood Road” and “Bullet The Blue Sky” from 1987’s The Joshua Tree. Results: Jack: “Cedarwood Road.” Dakota: “Bullet The Blue Sky.” Notes: “Dakota didn’t really like either, but disliked ‘Bullet the Blue Sky’ less because it ‘wasn’t as annoying,’ a statement which was followed by him imitating Bono warbling in a high voice. So there you have it.”

My reaction:

1. Ages 6 and 12 are pretty young to be doing this study. I was in high school when I first heard War, which, in my mind, was ground breaking. That said, you could argue Mürren II’s children have the advantage of being subjected to sophisticated 21st Century music. Their experience has probably included sizable helpings of Shania Twain, Katy Perry and Bieber, while in 1983, most people were rocking to “Mr. Roboto,” Flashdance, Duran Duran and Prince. I was living on a steady diet of Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, as were most teen-aged nerds and dirt heads who lived in the outer banks we call Ft. Calhoun.

Furthermore, I experienced the genius of U2’s Under a Blood Red Sky while driving around in my 1978 Ford Fiesta with my first real girlfriend, who eventually stole my Under a Blood Red Sky T-shirt and never gave it back. What I’m saying here is that I wasn’t just experiencing the music, I was experiencing LIFE. Who knows what music will be held close to Jack’s and Dakota’s hearts when they reach those crazy high school years.

2. If I were doing the experiment, I wouldn’t have included anything released after 1983. I consider Joshua Tree to be a completely different U2 than the band we heard on that famous Red Rocks recording (when, in my opinion, they were at their peak).

3. The entire question as to whether a veteran artist can today produce music as vital as when s/he first had his/her mark dismisses the basic premiss that “new” will almost always trump “familiar.” And that’s become a problem, especially in the “Free Music Era” when kids can get their hands on anything they want in seconds, and are more apt to be attracted to a shiny new object rather than the dull second or third release by the band that was hot two years ago. I have no doubt a lot of great music has been dismissed without ever being heard because the performers are “yesterday’s news.” You’re lucky if you get one hit record these days (especially if you’re an indie band). Follow-ups can be a bitch. “New Arcade Fire? No thanks, I already own Funeral.”

4. I’d like to have our test subjects listen to an entire early U2 album followed by Songs of Innocence in its entirety. But do kids even listen to entire albums anymore? Smart ones do.

5. A more accurate experiment: Go back in time and play Songs of Innocence and War for a teen-aged Tim McMahan and see which he likes better. I think I know the answer.

Hats off to JMII and his brood for the science!

* * *

Alright, onto the weekend…

Tonight, my nephew’s death metal band Blessed Are the Merciless plays at The Waiting Room with a bevy of growl-y death metal bands. Earplugs, earplugs, earplugs. 8 p.m., $8.

Also tonight Matt Whipkey plays at 311 tribute bar The Hive, 1207 Harney St. No cover listed, but their website says Friday and Saturday night cover is $5 to $10 for men, and “ladies are free.” Welcome to 1985. Starts at 8.

Saturday night, Eef Barzelay of Clem Snide is doing a house show in a living room somewhere in Midtown Omaha. Find out where by buying a ticket from the Undertow website. $20, 8 p.m.

Also Saturday night, Rhymesayers Entertainment artist Brother Ali plays at The Waiting Room with Bambu and DJ Last Word. Indie hip-hop at its best. $15, 8 p.m.

Skypiper plays at fabulous O’Leaver’s Saturday night with Nashville folkwave band Field Division and Lincoln’s Blét. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Finally, Sunday night Saddle Creek Records band PUJOL plays at the club The Washington Post said saved North Downtown Omaha, The Slowdown (Jr.). Opening is Oketo and our very own DJ Dave Goldberg. Tix are $8 today and $10 DOS. 9 p.m.

Did I miss 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 © 2014 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


#TBT: The 49’r keeps the music coming (from 2005); Zammuto, Dosh, Caravat tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — @ 1:05 pm September 11, 2014

by Tim McMahan,

With nothing newsworthy happening — and this being “Throwback Thursday” — let’s dip back into the Lazy-i wayback machine to Sept. 1, 2005, and an interview with The 49’r’s Mark Samuelson shortly after word leaked that his bar would be cutting back on live music. Mark tells us why and gives us a brief Omaha music history listen at the same time…

The 49’r Takes Five — Sept. 1, 2005
You can’t stop the music at the midtown tavern.

The 49'r

The iconic sign for The 49’r…

Within the past few years, The 49’r has established itself as one of the city’s more important music venues, hosting a few national acts but mostly concentrating on providing a stage for up-and-coming local bands. It’s arguably the best place to see snarling, hard-ass rock and punk from bands like The Monroes, Anonymous American and Race for Titles.

So when word leaked out a few weeks ago that The Niner was cutting back on live music, it came as a disappointment both to the bands and the fans of those white-knuckle acts.

Rumor and conjecture did abound. Had The 49’r reached the end of the live music business cycle? A cycle that goes something like this: A bar suffers from a lull in business. A few bands that hang around the place ask if they can play some gigs there, and the owner figures why not, it could help drum up some business. More bands are booked and crowds grow like kudzu. Before long, folks start coming out just because they dig the bar, the staff and its jukebox, and before you know it, the live music becomes a nuisance for the regulars who just want to drink in peace. Seeing an opportunity to cut costs, the venue puts an end to the stage show.

That theory, in this case, is only partially correct, says Mark Samuelson, owner of The 49’r. During the height of his nightclub business, Samuelson ran four successful Omaha bars simultaneously: The Partners on 42nd and F, the legendary Howard St. Tavern in the Old Market, its “upstairs bar” called The White Rabbit, and the good ol’ 49’r at 49th & Dodge.

Today only The Niner remains, which Samuelson still operates along with his other businesses, Aksarben Fixture and Supply, an ATM business, and some real estate ventures. The degree in which he operates The Niner, however, has changed. Samuelson says he’s somewhat removed from the bar’s day-to-day operations.

“I listen to my help,” he said when asked about the shift in the venue’s live music policy. “I think we got over-saturated, and every band wanted to play here. The staff was hearing that we were doing a little too much music. Now we’re only choosing the best bands that really draw people.”

He pointed out that The Niner’s live music policy differs from the way the Howard St. was run. Back then, Samuelson said he started booking new music acts because blues was such a tough sell. And it didn’t take long for the club to become a national tour stop for tomorrow’s superstars.

“We had the Smashing Pumpkins come in for a $140 guarantee and two vegetarian pizzas,” he said. “It’s crazy to think about that today.”

Unlike the Howard St, The 49’r doesn’t offer guarantees. Instead, bands take home whatever cover charge they can generate. “So if you’re just playing for the door, it doesn’t make sense for the big bands to come here,” he said.

There are exceptions, however, such as when the staff wanted to bring in New York Dolls guitarist Sylvain Sylvain. “If they have a good idea, I just stay out of the way,” Samuelson said. So far, it’s worked well.

But if anything, The 49r’s biggest draw is its location in the heart of Dundee, or as their matchbooks used to say: “In the middle of everything and no place to park.”

“We’re not in the middle anymore. We’re downtown,” Samuelson said, laughing. “We’re so busy because we have so many people who live close to here. The .08 (drinking) law is really hurting a lot of clubs. No one wants to risk it.”

Better to tie one on at The Niner and safely stumble home then to get behind the wheel of a car.

So does the bar’s already-packed weekends without bands spell the end for The Niner’s live music? Hardly. In fact, Samuelson said the venue will get back into the swing of things later this fall. “It’s gonna pick back up,” he said. “I anticipate doing more than just a couple of shows a month like we’re doing now.”

And really, how could he ever stop? For it was at The 49’r back in the early ’70s that a 15-year-old Samuelson’s own band, Hat Trick, had its first gig. Ironically, the band’s second gig would be at The Howard St. Tavern. — Sept. 1, 2005.

* * *

Well, we all know what happened next. The 49’r would get sold to CVS in 2010, but the actual deal would get tied up by Ben Gray in the Omaha City Council. Then, for reasons that are still unclear, Gray would change his vote and the walls came tumbling down. Hard to believe it’s been five years. I think about The Niner every time I drive past that CVS on Dodge Street, or see Ben Gray at some public function or on TV….

* * *

OK, a couple shows worth mentioning tonight.

Over at The Waiting Room it’s Zammuto, featuring Nick Zammuto, a co-founder of classic indie band Books. Zammuto has a new album, Anchor, on Temporary Residence. Opening is Dosh (Anticon, Graveface Records). $12 9 p.m.

Also tonight, Caravat, featuring David Ozinga and Teal Gardner of UUVVWWZ, headlines a show at fabulous O’Leaver’s with Laughing Eye Weeping Eye and L. Eugene Methe. $5, 9 p.m.

* * *

In this week’s column, Pt. 2 on my Lumo Lift experiment. You can read it in this week’s issue of The Reader or online right 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 © 2014 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


U2 didn’t just give away their CD; Lincoln Calling (initial) line-up announced; Noah’s Ark in the park, Lars & Mal, Derby Birds tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , , — @ 1:02 pm September 10, 2014
The slugline over the Apple photo read "A big moment in music history. And you're part of it." Did they mean the end of recorded music history?

The slugline over the Apple photo read “A big moment in music history. And you’re part of it.” Did they mean the end of recorded music history?

by Tim McMahan,

Did you follow the Apple announcement yesterday?

Needless to say, I’ll be replacing my broken-screened iPhone 5 with an ultra-slim 6 sometime in the next two weeks. And how about the Apple Watch! Gotta have one of those, right? Starting at $349, maybe not. I’m waiting to hear the first Apple Watch joke, something along the lines of “It works like the iPhone; if you’re on AT&T it drops a few minutes out of every hour…” *rimshot!*

But maybe the most interesting announcement was when Tim Cook trotted out U2 and then proceeded to give away the band’s new album, Songs of Innocence, to anyone with an iTunes account. I figured something like this would happen eventually, albeit with indie labels like Saddle Creek and Sub Pop. And I said that when it happened…its success will breath new life into an already-established (though waning) act, who will see its biggest crowds ever on tour, generating merch and back-catalog sales for the label and causing the music industry to rethink (again) how it does business.

Who would have thought that U2 would become the poster child for this model? But the fact is, U2 didn’t give away its new album. The Wall Street Journal had the skinny behind yesterday’s give-away. From the article:

We’re not going in for the free music around here,” Bono joked on stage.  Apple didn’t pay a traditional wholesale price for each of the 500 million albums. Instead the company paid Universal and U2 an undisclosed lump sum for the exclusive window to distribute the album. Universal plans to piggyback on the big push for Songs of Innocence to promote the band’s 12 older albums, a critical factor for a veteran rock band.”

The article went on to say the album’s first single would be used “as a central element of a global, 30-day television advertising campaign for its new iPhones and Apple Watch. The campaign is believed to be worth around $100 million, according to a person familiar with the talks.”

Of course most people who download the CD from iTunes for free won’t know the financial backstory, and will assume U2 just gave it away, further enforcing the idea that recorded music has become (or is) essentially worthless. Especially when it just “shows up in your iTunes library” like magic.

I think we’re only a year or so away from an era when all the monster pop acts — Shania, Katy Perry, Gaga, Jay Z, (i.e., the VMA acts) — will give away downloads of their new albums as a matter of course, just to get the music out there before they go on tour, just like U2 has done. I’m not sure where that leaves the little guys (and labels) who still count on revenue from album sales.

And at what point does the RIAA quit going after people who illegally download music, figuring what’s the point when some bands are giving it away and it’s all available online via Spotify anyway….?


As for the quality of the new U2 record, someone online equated U2 to Coldplay yesterday when all this was going down, and goddamn if that comparison isn’t apt. The new U2 album indeed sounds like a Coldplay record. You have to wonder if Bono and Co. ever listen to their older stuff and ask themselves when the spark went out? Can you believe there was a time when U2 was considered subversive? I still remember the first time I heard tracks off War on Z-92, spun by none other that Slats Gannon, who knew he was playing something new and different. What pups we wall were back then…

* * *

Catching up on some news that went down while I was out… Jeremy Buckley announced that there will, indeed, be an 11th Annual Lincoln Calling Festival this year. With Buckley’s role in Vega, I thought perhaps last year’s fest might have been his swan song.

Buckley’s current status with Vega I cannot say here, other than it has indeed changed since last year. None of the parties involved are willing to go on the record as to who is running Vega these days, though it’s common knowledge that Eli and Carrie Mardock are still involved in the day-to-day operations.

The dates for Lincoln Calling are Oct. 7-12. Venues include The Bourbon, Duffy’s, Zoo Bar, Yia Yia’s Mix, Fat Toad Pub, The Cask, Tower Square and Vega. And the bands announced so far:

A Ferocious Jungle Cat
Ages and Ages
All Young Girls are Machine Guns
The Baberaham
Bonehart Flannigan
The Bottle Tops
Bud Heavy and the High Lifes
Christopher the Conquered
Evan Bartels Band
The Fabtones
Flannel Channel
Found Footage Festival
Gerardo Meza
Gloom Balloon
Hank & Cupcakes
Homegrown Film Festival
Joshua Powell and the Great Train Robbery
The Kickback
Lars and Mal
Manic Pixie Dream Girls
Matt Cox Band
The Melon Company
The River Monks
The Ro Hempel Band
Root Marm Chicken Farm Jug Band
Sidewalk Chalk
Sol Seed
Thirst Things First
Universe Contest
White Mystery
Zoolarious Comedy Showcase

I’m glad to see that DEERPEOPLE is on the bill. I was introduced to this band via Lincoln Calling years ago, and caught their set this year at SXSW. Definitely worth seeking out when you’re wandering O Street that week.

Buckley tells me more details are forthcoming, more bands are being confirmed. Stay tuned, and follow along at the LC2014 Facebook page.

* * *

After two cancellations, Hear Nebraska is finally going to host their finale showcase for this year’s Live at Turner Park Series tonight, and it’s a doozy: Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship and Snake Island are the featured acts. Get some food and booze and head on down. The music starts at 6 p.m. and it’s free.

Another free show going on tonight is at Slowdown Jr. where locals Lars and Mal and The Derby Birds will be performing. This one starts at 9.

* * *

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 © 2014 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Back from NYC (and a night with Hedwig); The Slowdown in The Washington Post…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 1:42 pm September 8, 2014
The set for Hedwig and the Angry Inch at the Belasco on Broadway. Getting a shot during the performance was impossible as vultures were circling, warning people that photos were not allowed...

The set for Hedwig and the Angry Inch at the Belasco on Broadway. Getting a shot during the performance was impossible as vultures were circling, warning people that photos were not allowed. I still managed to sneak this one.

by Tim McMahan,

I have nothing of a music-related nature to report from Manhattan, as I spent the long weekend going to the US Open, The Yankees and seeing the revival of Hedwig and the Angry Inch on Broadway, which I guess could count.

(Hedwig, btw, was pretty awesome. Former Omahan and Creighton Prep grad Andrew Rannells starred. Rannells made his name in the original version of Book of Mormon on Broadway (in which he won a Grammy) and is sometimes featured as the character Elijah on the HBO series Girls. He took over the lead from Neil Patrick Harris a few weeks ago. We had amazing second-row aisle seats and I came this close to being the subject of the lap dance during the infamous “Sugar Daddy” number.)

* * *

Sounds like I missed one heckuva an Afghan Whigs show while I was gone. I guess you can’t have everything.

* * *

Interesting piece in today’s The Washington Post about The Slowdown and urban renewal. Read it here. The story relies heavily on the work of Michael Seman of Shiny Around the Edges, who wrote an academic paper about the same subject published in 2010 (which you can read here).

The Post doesn’t add much new to the discussion, other than centering the story on local band Lot Walks, who I’ve never heard of prior to the booking mentioned in the story. Needless to say, the Post article should bring some attention to this rather new band. Wonder how they got picked to be the centerpiece?

The story seems to imply that The Slowdown complex saved the NoDo area from decay, and mentions almost as an aside the $131 million ballpark that now overshadows everything down there, and, one could argue, was the real reason, along with the CenturyLink Arena (which isn’t mentioned in the article at all) for the majority of the development in that area, specifically all the freakin’ hotels.

From the article:

In 2006, the city partnered with the Chamber of Commerce to draft a full-scale redevelopment plan: “North Downtown should evolve into Omaha’s newest and most exciting neighborhood…”

The anchor, all parties agreed, should be the greatest music venue in Nebraska. The young and hip would ideally flock there, dine at nearby restaurants and rent loft spaces in old factories.

What the writer left out (or didn’t know) was that The Slowdown’s eventual location was the second choice. The original choice was just a few blocks from Sgt. Peffer’s, at 1528 N. Saddle Creek Rd., but that Robb Nansel and Jason Kulbel were driven away by the Metcalfe Park Neighborhood Association and a couple local businesses who didn’t want the noise and traffic and congestion. You can read about that bit of forgotten history (including thumbnails of the original blueprints) here. That area is now a blight of rental storage units, run-down car washes and hole-in-the-wall auto garages, while NoDo has become the subject of national articles in The Washington Post. In the end, everyone got what they wanted.

Speaking of The Slowdown, it’s been a looooong time since I’ve seen a show down there. My next stop might be PUJOL Sept. 14 or the amazing Jessica Lea Mayfield Sept. 15.

* * *

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 © 2014 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Slouching toward Lumo (In the column) and Jake’s Block Party (Icky Blossoms) tonight…

Category: Blog,Column — Tags: , , , — @ 8:23 am September 5, 2014
Some poor lady doing a stand-up outside Lincoln Center during New York Fashion Week.. Hope I'm photo bombing her. More at

Some poor lady doing a stand-up outside Lincoln Center during New York Fashion Week. Hope I’m photo bombing her. More at

by Tim McMahan,

Quick check-in. Still in Gotham City. Off to the US Open today. If you want to keep up with my travels, follow me on Instagram at

Anyway, in this week’s column, what it means to slouch your way through life, and the promise surrounding the Lumo Lift. You can read it in this week’s issue of The Reader or online right here.

Finally, in Wednesday’s rundown of the weekend’s shows I forgot to mention the biggest show of all — Jake’s Block Party, right on Military Ave. in the heart of Benson (where Benson First Friday also is going on). The line-up: Superbytes, Snake Island, Purveyors of the Conscious Sound and headliner Icky Blossoms. Music starts at 7, cover is $7. More info here. Should be a blast.

Have a good 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 © 2014 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


How to Dress Well tonight; The Afghan Whigs tomorrow, and I’m missing both of them…

Category: Blog — @ 4:54 pm September 2, 2014

by Tim McMahan,

A short week for me this week, as I’m heading out for my annual foray to NYC. I’ll be missing a number of what are likely to be exceptional shows, not the least of which includes tonight’s How to Dress Well show at The Waiting Room. The indie/ambient singer/songwriter has been a Pitchfork darling for years and is just now emerging with his latest on Domino “What Is the Heart?” Opening are locals Routine Escorts. $15, 9 p.m.

Then tomorrow night The Afghan Whigs take The Waiting Room stage for a show that, shockingly, is not sold out… yet. The band is on the road supporting Do the Beast (Sub Pop, 2014), their first new record in 14 years. Opening is Little Brazil’s Landon Hedges. This is an early 8 p.m. show and tix are $25 today and $30 tomorrow. If Greg Dulli puts on a show half as good as his past Twilight Singers gigs, this is bound to be on the short list of “shows of the year.”

What else this week…?

Well, Timecat returns to fabulous O’Leaver’s Friday with Eric in Outerspace and Nate Ma and the Rosettes. $5, 9 p.m.

Orenda Fink is doing an in-store at the Saddle Creek Shop Friday at 7 p.m. That should be amazing.

The STNNNG return to The Brothers Lounge Friday night with openers Dead Riders and American Cream. $5, 9 p.m.

The Kopecky Family Band is at Slowdown Jr. Friday night. $10 adv./$12 DOS, 9 p.m.

Conchance returns to The Waiting Room Saturday night with Ebony Tusks and Static Soul. $7, 9 p.m.

Feel Tight also is at O’Leaver’s Saturday night with Genders and The Sun-Less Trio. $5, 9 p.m.

Sunday night, Fargo band Worn Out plays at O’Leaver’s with Animal Lover and Foul Tip. $5, 9 p.m.

I’ll be checking in from time to time this week, posting photos from the streets of Gotham as well as a link to this week’s Reader column. And I might chime in on this or that, live from New York.

Have a great week.

* * *

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 © 2014 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.






Live Review: Future Islands, Operators; Bob Log III, Millions of Boys tonight, Saturn Moth Saturday; Digital Leather, Little Brazil Sunday…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:55 pm August 29, 2014
The many faces of Samuel T. Herring of Future Islands, The Waiting Room, Aug. 28, 2014.

The many faces of Samuel T. Herring of Future Islands, The Waiting Room, Aug. 28, 2014.

by Tim McMahan,

Samuel T. Herring paced the stage like a sweaty caged bear. By now, thanks to David Letterman, any fan of Future Islands is familiar with his groovy dance routine, but they probably weren’t so familiar with his other rather unique performance gestures displayed on stage last night, such as:

— Picking the imaginary berry and eating it (along with his hand)
— Pounding his chest, hard, like a gorilla
— Reaching into his chest and pulling out his heart, and eating it (along with his hand)
— Swinging his fist round-house style, hard and wide, just like Elvis
— And “Hello God, it’s me, Samuel” (softly, Waterfront Bando-style, while looking up at the moon).

These gestures and many more were woven into his usual battery of low-dips, twists, high kicks and vogue-like head turns during last night’s Future Islands’ set at The Waiting Room.

The first time I saw him — back in 2011, cold-called, never even having seen a picture of the band before — I was startled and enamored. Last night, having seen the shtick a few times since, I was merely amused and entertained. So was the sold-out audience, who jerked and dived right along with Herring throughout an hour-plus-long set that left him looking as if he’d just undergone the ice bucket challenge, his red collared dress shirt sweat-soaked and clinging to his ape-like physique.

Now you know. Herring doesn’t hold back. He leaves it allllll on stage, every performance, presumably every night. And that kind of kinetic self-brutality has to take a toll on something. Last night it was his voice.

You did not hear Samuel T. at his best. His vocals were ragged from the very start, often breaking down to choked whispers. As one guy put it, “He started his growl pretty early in the set tonight.” He sure did. At past performances, that monster growl had been tossed out sparingly, for effect. Last night his guttural Cookie Monster roar appeared early and often, most likely to compensate for a lack of high end.

The limitation was most noticeable on their most known song, “Seasons (Waiting on You),” made famous on Letterman. The song’s soaring moments were cut off, growled or strangled. Strangely, as the night wore on, Herring’s voice got better. In fact, he sang best during the three-song encore.

Not that it mattered. People who didn’t know better surely thought it was all part of the show, a show that hasn’t changed much since the last time I saw it on TWR stage; and it’s still just as entertaining.

Operators at The Waiting Room, Aug. 28, 2014.

Operators at The Waiting Room, Aug. 28, 2014.

The real surprise last night (for me, anyway) was opening band Operators. The band consists of frontman Dan Boeckner (Wolf Parade) and drummer Sam Brown (New Bomb Turks), who worked together with Britt Daniel in the one-off Devine Fits project. Rounding out the trio is fetching keyboard player Dvojka. Their sound was a fine combination of ’80s synthrock and post-wave Eno-era Talking Heads sung with indie-rock gusto by Boeckner, who resembled a young (though shirted) Iggy Pop.

Operators new EP, EP 1, captures their synth-rock-dance energy (check out “Ancient”), but doesn’t capture their live dynamic, which was more free-form and fun, a good opening match for Future Islands…

* * *

So what’s going on this long, three-day weekend? Plenty.

Tonight creepy helmeted slide-guitar freakshow Bob Log III graces the stage at fabulous O’Leaver’s. Log III has mainly performed in larger clubs around town, like The Waiting Room. I can only imagine what’ll happen in The Club’s intimate confines. Will Mach be stirring up a Boob Scotch?  Find out at tonight’s massive showbill, which also includes Dumb Beach, Sean Pratt and the Sweats and DJ Dave Goldberg. Note this is a $7 show, starts at 9.

Also tonight, Millions of Boys plays at The Sydney with Kansas-based indie rockers Schwervon! and The Love Technicians. $5, 9 p.m.

Meanwhile, down at The Slowdown, Satchel Grande returns with Funk Trek. $8, 9 p.m.

Saturday night local indie rockers Saturn Moth celebrate their CD release at The Waiting Room with The Sub-Vectors, Manic Pixie Dream Girls and Lot Walks. $5, 9 p.m.

Then it’s back to O’Leaver’s on Sunday for a very special O’Leaver’s Sunday Social featuring three things none of us can live without: Digital Leather, Little Brazil and food. The music starts at 5 p.m. and it costs the usual $5. Look, we all have Monday off anyway. Might as well spend Sunday afternoon getting wasted at The House That Mello Built.

That’s what I got. If I’m missing your gig, 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 © 2014 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Paying to play… at the Superbowl (in the column); Future Islands (SOLD OUT), David Kenneth Nance tonight…

Category: Blog,Column — Tags: , — @ 12:49 pm August 28, 2014
Future Islands at The Waiting Room, Nov. 2, 2011. Future Islands at The Waiting Room, Nov. 2, 2011. The band returns to The Waiting Room tonight for a sold-out show.

by Tim McMahan,

In this week’s column, the NFL’s plan to charge bands to perform at the next Superbowl half-time, and what it means to the ongoing erosion of the value of music. You can read it in this week’s issue of The Reader or online right here.

People are underestimating how much Spotify and similar streaming services are undermining the market for music sales. We’re quickly heading to a future of 1) music superstars — i.e., the folks that performed on the VMAs — and 2) no one else, at least when it comes to making a living from music. Indie performers are going to be left in the dust, with income only from touring and tour merch sales to scrape by on. Maybe we’re already there.

* * *

Tonight’s big show is Future Islands at The Waiting Room, a show that sold out earlier this week. Here’s how their show went the last time they came through town in 2011. It was among my top-3 favorite shows that year. I expect more of the same tonight. Opening is Operators (Dan Boeckner of Wolf Parade and Divine Fits). This one starts at 8 p.m.

Also tonight, David Kenneth Nance, whose album Actor’s Diary (on Simon Joyner’s Grapefruit Records label) blew me away last year, headlines a show at the Almost Music record store in Benson with Staffers and Sean Pratt and the Sweats. 8 p.m., $5.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2014 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Darren Keen gets remixed; Desa on Epitaph cassette; See Through Dresses goes Duitsland; HN Live is cancelled; See Through Dresses, songwriters showcase tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , , — @ 12:40 pm August 27, 2014
Minnesota's Kitten Forever plays at O'Leaver's tonight...

Minnesota’s Kitten Forever plays at O’Leaver’s tonight…

by Tim McMahan,

Nebraska’s hardest working musician / DJ, Darren Keen,  was honored with a remix of his track “Higher” by Teklife’s DJ Earl. The details are at Fact Magazine.

Who exactly is DJ Earl?

The music I am making now is heavily influenced by a Chicago style of dance music called Footwork,” Darren said. “The biggest, most famous crew is called Teklife. The two biggest DJ / producers they have are DJ Rashad and DJ Earl. DJ Rashad died this year. So DJ Earl is literally the biggest name in the genre of music I’m doing now. He’s gonna be hella famous in a year.

Darren described “Footwork” as fast, triplet-based dance music. “Vice (the news website) described my sound as ‘B-boy footwork being played out of a 3rd world boom box.’ Sounds accurate.”

Hear for yourself by checking out the track, here. BTW, Vice debuted a Darren Keen song just a few weeks ago, right here.

* * *

Catching up on some news from yesterday….

Desaparecidos let the cat out of the bag via social media when they posted a photo of an upcoming Epitaph comp cassette that features the band along with a handful of label mates. As stated, it was apparently made for last weekend’s FYF Fest.  The track, “Anonymous,” was released as a single by Desa last year.

Conor gave a non-denial affirmation when asked about the band’s relationship with Epitaph in our recent interview, published in June in The Reader:

The Reader: What’s happening with Desaparecidos? I heard a new LP has been recorded and is coming out on Epitaph. With the demands of supporting your new solo album and tour, is that project now on hold?

Conor Oberst: We’ve been working towards a new full length. We hope to put it out next year at some point. It has been a blast playing with them again. I have to promote my new record and that takes time, but we are going to continue working on the Desa stuff as well.

Read the rest of the interview here.

* * *

Tomorrow’s Future Islands show at The Waiting Room is now sold out. See you there.

* * *

Tonight’s Hear Nebraska Live at Turner Park concert featuring Snake Island and Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship has been cancelled… again. Tonight’s show was a reschedule from a date a few weeks ago that also got rained out. HN’s Andy Norman is seeing if he can get yet another date for this bill.

* * *

See Through Dresses announced via Facebook they’ve been signed by the Germans at This Charming Man Records. “We’re looking forward to working with them and they are releasing our full-length in Europe. Expect us over the pond next year!

Just for fun, I plugged the TCM’s announcement into Google Translate, which switched it up from German to English, in the usual clumsy fashion:

I am very pleased, See Through Dresses from Omaha, Nebraska to be able to welcome in the ranks of TCM. Hannes, his character drummer of Lost Girls and touring riders of Tim Kasher, contacted me a few months ago and sent me euphoric the current LP of four. Kaspers Tim raved well during his last tour in Germany neatly from the See Through Dresses -plate (as for me later turned out, the guitarist and singer of See Through Dresses to Kasher’s “adult movie” album has appeared and participated in the complete tour ) and Hannes thought it was a nice idea if this quite excellent album would also appear in Europe. After the first run I was already hooked, excited after repeated listening.

I felt immediately added to the year 1995 – a Best Of the nineties Indies Sebadoh about Sonic Youth (eg “Pink Noise”) and My Bloody Valentine … The sound is of course no new nuclear physics, ignites at me but mega hard – super hooks, sugar-sweet melodies, sadness and pathos something … these are the ingredients for the perfect Emo WetDreaM. And alongside the influences of the old world but you will also find traces of current bands, for example, Shout Out Louds – the singing of “Get Sick Again”, Pains At Being Pure At Heart – “Glass” and the male / female vocals in General.

The self-titled and self-recorded debut album was released in an edition of 550 LPs out in the States and in the spring of 2015 with This Charming Man re-released. The band is touring Europe to match the album release in spring / summer 2015 For booking requests but please contact Hannes or write me a mail fix.

* * *

Speaking of See Through Dresses, they headline a show tonight at fabulous O’Leaver’s with Minneapolis band Kitten Forever and Lincoln punk masters Once A Pawn. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Also tonight, Part V in John Klemmensen’s ongoing Songwriter Death Battle series takes place at The Waiting Room. John hands his acoustic guitar off to a string of local singer/songwriters for one tune apiece. The action begins at 9. $7.

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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 © 2014 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.