Is Lincoln Calling the next SXSW? (preview/interview with organizer Spencer Munson)…

Category: Interviews — Tags: , — @ 12:46 pm September 11, 2018

Is Lincoln Calling the next SXSW?

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Here’s the nut graph to my Lincoln Calling preview article in the current issue of The Reader:

With more than 70 national, regional and local acts, Lincoln Calling has the makings of the first Nebraska-based festival with a vibe that could be compared to the early days of Austin’s South By Southwest Festival.

Yeah I know, a bold statement, but when you look at the line-up of up-and-comers, there’s no question that Lincoln Calling is the most cutting-edge of local music festivals.

Lincoln Calling organizer Spencer Munson talks about how he and his team booked the bands, the schedules and the non-music activities, as well as how he’s made this year’s event as relevant as last year’s while having access to a much smaller overall budget.

You can read the article online right here at The Reader website or in the September issue, which is on newsstands now.

The full Lincoln Calling venue schedules finally have been uploaded to the Lincoln Calling website. Here’s each day:

If you’re only driving down for one day, Friday is likely the sweet spot, with Parquet Courts, Criteria, Ron Gallo, Nude Party, Fantastic Negrito and Stephen Sheehan among the choices. That said, Thursday’s and Saturday’s lineups are nothing to sneeze at. Full ticket/schedule info at www.lincolncalling.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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

New Kurt Vile (coming to Slowdown); Thick Paint, Loud Sun tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 12:29 pm September 10, 2018

Thick Paint at Slowdown Jr., March 30, 2018. The band plays tonight Pageturners Lounge.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Not much to talk about regarding this past weekend (since I didn’t see any music; the weekend itself was great).

There’s a shit-ton of new music I’m wading through. On top of the list are records by Oh Pep!, Future Generations, Pile, Tragic Jack, Sextile, Ron Gallo, Mirah and Cut Worms, plus a lot of Spotify stuff. I’ll start dribbling out reviews over the coming days.

For now, how about a nearly 10-minute song, “Bassackwards,” from Kurt Vile’s upcoming new album, Bottle It In (2018, Matador), out Oct. 12? Vile and his band, The Violators, today announced a Slowdown date for his 2019 tour. Feb. 26, to be exact. By then we’ll all be recovering from winter (hopefully). BTW, The Sadies open. And tix go on sale Friday.

Pageturners continues its summer concert series tonight with Thick Paint (When are we going to get news of a new record from these fine folks?) and Minneapolis’ Loud Sun a.k.a. Andrew Jansen. This free show starts at 9 p.m.

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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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Domestica, Uh Oh (Femme Fest), BFF tonight; Leafblower, Buck Bowen Saturday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:53 pm September 7, 2018

Leafblower at O’Leaver’s, July 30, 2017. They’re playing there again Saturday night.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

I’m back from New York.

Actually, I’ve been back since Wednesday. It was the usual fun of US Open (Federer won!), Yankees (They lost!) and Broadway (Dear Evan Hansen!). As with every trip to NYC there were celebrity sightings. The first was Saturday Night Live “featured player” Mikey Day (the guy who plays Donald Jr.), who we spied sitting under a tree with a young lad (his son?) outside Yankee’s stadium prior to the game. The second was an almost unrecognizable Sandra Bernhard sitting across from me on the No. 1 train headed downtown. She got off a couple stops before 28th St. Celebrities, going about their lives like the rest of us.

Anyway… looks like I got back just in time for the weekend.

Tonight marks the return of Femme Fest, the annual celebration of women in rock, Omaha edition. This year’s festivities seem to have been limited to one Benson venue, the Waiting Room. The line-up: SAS, Domestica, Uh Oh, La Guerre, Jocelyn, Histrionic and Queerniverse Burlesque. The show starts at 6 p.m. and costs $10.

It’s also Benson First Friday (#BFF). So if you’re in the neighborhood come on by the Little Gallery, 5901 Maple St. (bottom fo the Masonic Lodge building) and check out this month’s show: Ricky Powell Jr.’s portraits of Wonder Women of Omaha. We’re there from 6 to 9 p.m. Booze and food. Yum.

Tomorrow night (Saturday) it’s back to fabulous O’Leaver’s for Leafblower with In the Whale and DROSS. 10 p.m., $5.

Also Saturday, Omaha hip-hop artist Buck Bowen celebrates the release of his new book(!) at Reverb Lounge with a handful of artists including Microphone Elements, Ryan Lucas and The Wolfman. $8, 9 p.m

That is 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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Jake’s Block Party (Little Brazil, Leafblower) tonight; Paw, Twin Peaks Saturday; Concert for Change (Dolores Diaz) Sunday…

Dolores Diaz & The Standby Club at The Waiting Room, May 21, 2016. The club reunites Sunday for the Concert for Change.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Every year around this time I head to NYC, and this year is no exception. Which means I’m going to miss some very cool events this weekend (but you’re not).

The first one is tonight along Military Ave. in Benson where Jake’s Just Because We Can Block Party will rise again. The mini-fest features booze and food outdoors for an entrance fee of a mere $5. This year’s lineup:

— Gerardo Meza and the Dead of Night
— Leafblower
— I Forgot to Love My Father
— Little Brazil
— Cult Play

The fun starts at 5 p.m. and runs until midnight.

Saturday former actor Alejandro Rose-Garcia (Friday Night Lights, Spy Kids) turned Americana performer Shakey Graves headlines at Sokol Auditorium. But more interesting is the opening act: Twin Peaks. Why these two are paired together I cannot say. Tix are $27 Adv./$30 DOS. 8 p.m.

The weekend’s oddest show is the return of Lawrence, Kansas, grunge rock band Paw at The Waiting Room Saturday. I interviewed these guys way back in 1998 (You can read the story here). Paw will celebrate the 25-year anniversary of their album, Dragline, by playing the whole damn thing. It’s all part of the Corn King Music and Arts Fest, which features five additional bands I’ve never heard of. 5 p.m. $12 Adv/$15 DOS.

Then Sunday it’s the Black Votes Matter Concert for Change. The location is 2205 No. 24th St. in the heart of North Omaha. The event, which runs from 2 to 9 p.m., will include Get Out the Vote speakers, workshops, vendor boots, and, of course, live music.

The line-up includes The Dilla Kids, Dana Murray, BXTH, Mesonjixx and Dolores Diaz & The Standby Club — the nine-piece project that includes indie vets Mike Mogis, Matt Maginn, Roger Lewis, Conor Oberst and Dolores Diaz a.k.a. Corina Figueroa. We’re talking Country & Western covers of songs by the likes of Jerry Reed, Skeeter Davis, Randy Newman and more.

This looks to be a free event, or at least no price is listed. More info at the event’s Facebook listing. Good fun and a good cause.

And that about does it. If I missed your show, put it in the comments section. Have a great weekend and I’ll see you sometime after Labor Day!

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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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Review: The Sun-Less Trio ‘The Willow Tree,’ release show tonight; Saddle Creek’s latest ‘Document’ (featuring Hovvdy)…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:37 pm August 29, 2018

The Sun-Less Trio at Reverb Aug. 18, 2017. The band celebrates the release of a new EP tonight at Pageturners Lounge.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Tonight The Sun-Less Trio celebrates the release of a 5-song EP called The Willow Tree at Pageturners Lounge. S-L T is a project helmed by singer/songwriter Mike Saklar, who us old-timers remember for his guitar work in a number of bands including late-’90s post-punk projects Ritual Device and Ravine.

S-LT is geared differently than those metal-tinged efforts, leaning more toward minor-key slow-burners a la Disintegration-era Cure (but with more emphasis on guitars than keyboards). Dim-lit, tonal, emotional and ultimately atmospheric, The Willow Tree turns and sways on a dark edge. Saklar chose to open the collection with “Branches Sway,” the most somber song on the EP, desribed as “A hypnotic monotone rhythm captures the minory chords in a classic manner, only to be destroyed by an unforeseeable middle 8.”

A pity he didn’t come out of the gate with the title track, a rocker centered around a guitar riff and Marc Phillips’ pounding drums (of the dry-echo recording, Saklar does a particularly awesome job with Phillips’ booming stickwork). Drums are right in the middle of “The Station,” a slow-swing dirge that closes out the EP. “Exposure” is another echoing ghost track.

By contrast is the EP’s other highlight, “X-Y-Z,” a self-proclaimed drug song that features Saklar’s best guitar work.

This is one of those recordings that takes multiple plays to absorb. Saklar makes the most of his vocals, using them as a secondary tonal instrument that bends with the chords (lyrics, thankfully, were included in the liner notes I received).

The EP will be available as a 7-inch vinyl. The album’s Bandcamp page includes 14 additional tracks (including different mixes of the EP’s songs). Also on tonight’s bill at Pageturners are Styrofoamy (Jim Schroeder/Colin Duckworth) and Stephen Bartolomei. The free show has an 8:30 start time.

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Saddle Creek Records’s 7-inch “Document Series” continues with a new release by Austin band Hovvdy.

Hovvdy (pronounced “howdy”) is the writing and recording project of a couple drummers, Charlie Martin and Will Taylor. Their debut album, Taster, originally released on Sports Day Records was reissued in 2017 by Double Double Whammy. The follow-up, Cranberry, came out this past February.

“Easy” b/w “Turns Blue” 7-inch drops Oct. 5. Pre-order here.

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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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Live Review: Miwi La Lupa, Tom Bartolomei at Dario (Dundee) Days…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:53 pm August 27, 2018

MiWi La Lupa at Dundee Days at Dario’s, Aug. 25, 2018.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Dario Days — or Dundee Days at Dario’s, which is how it’s referred to now — was the usual good time. Dario’s set up a stage in the parking lot just west of Blue Line along with tables and benches and poured delicious beer while bands played.

MiWi La Lupa was on stage when we arrived at around 6 p.m. For whatever reason I’ve never caught his set despite the fact that he’s played around town numerous times. His is singer/songwriter style that compares to Simon/Garfunkel / Windham Folk / Harry Nilsson / Cat Stevens, upbeat and personal and in no way old sad bastard music.

I dug it, and for the rest of the weekend conducted additional research via Spotify, where I discovered his most recent album, Beginner’s Guide (2016, Tigershrimp Records), which I’ll file under “better late than never.” in terms of my discovery. Miwi has a great voice, which was showcased during this solo acoustic set that took place before Dundee Day’s main stage fired up.

Tom Bartolomei, left, accompanied by Stephen Bartolomei at Dario Days, Aug. 25, 2018.

Instead, Tom Bartolomei, joined with his cousin, Stephen Bartolomei, got the brunt of the “overblow” from Dundee’s main stage, at one time asking the Dario’s audience, “Is that Bon Jovi?” Yes, Tom, it is, but it also isn’t. Tom played a set of low-key, quiet singer/songwriter folk on his acoustic, with Steve adding some fine touches via his electric.

Many of you probably remember Stephen as one of the central players in Mal Madrigal (along with Ben Brodin, Ryan Fox, Dan McCarthy, John Kotchian and Mike Saklar). Steve moved to NYC years ago, lived in Queens, but now he’s back to Omaha for good (They all come back, don’t they?).

BTW, Stephen Bartolomei will be playing Wednesday night at Pageturners, opening for Sun-Less Trio’s record release show. More on that later.

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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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Wagon Blasters, Filter Kings, Ebony Tusks, Bodeans tonight; Dario Days (Miwi La Lupa, Satchel Grande), Ben Eisenberger Saturday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:38 pm August 24, 2018

Wagon Blasters at Lookout Lounge April 30, 2016. The band plays tonight at The Down Under.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

There are a couple neighborhood festival-type thingees happening this weekend. Dundee Days is Saturday (but all the good music will be at Dario Days), and Hutchfest is going on in the so-called “new north makerhood” at 11th and Nicholas. There’s a live music component to Hutchfest, but the bands are still not listed on their website, so…

Anyway, let’s get on with it…

Tonight at The Down Under our ol’ pals The Wagon Blasters headline. The band is out supporting its sublime new four-song single, Pandamonium Paradise (which I assume was meant to be an ode to pandas, based on that unique spelling). Gary Dean Davis and his tractor-punk brigade will be blowing the doors off this little venue, along with openers 24 Hour Cardlock and Michael Campbell. This eclectic bill starts at 8:30; no price listed.

Tonight also sees the return of The Filter Kings. It’s been a long while since Omaha’s favorite outlaw country band took the stage. They’re opening for a Johnny Cash tribute band at The Waiting Room. 8 p.m. start time, $12.

Right around the corner at Reverb… Who remembers Cowboy Indian Bear? Well that band’s frontman, Marty Hillard, is now fronting a hip-hop outfit called Ebony Tusks, which is opening tonight for Yuno. $12, 8 p.m.

And we can’t forget that Bodeans are back in town, this time at The Slowdown for a benefit for NorthStar Foundation. Mike Glabicki of Rusted Root opens. $50, 8 p.m.

Then comes Saturday and Dario Days, a mini music festival located in the parking lot of Dario’s in Dundee that competes head-to-head with Dundee Days. The line-up, starting at 4 p.m.: Cubby Phillips & John Evans, Dirt House, Miwi La Lupa, Tom Bartolomei and Satchel Grande. Watch out for those Belgian beers, they sneak up on ya. $6.

Saturday night Ben Eisenberger (guitarist for Screaming Plastic, FiFi NoNo, Hussies) headlines a night of music at Almost Music in the Blackstone that also includes Dan McCarthy and Noah Sterba. 9 p.m., $5.

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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Women in Omaha’s indie music scene subject of ‘Invisible Histories’; Cucumber and the Suntans, Those Far Out Arrows tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , — @ 12:54 pm August 23, 2018

A screen cap of Domestica’s Heidi Ore from the documentary Making Invisible Histories Visible.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Here’s a project you have to check out:

Making Invisible Histories Visible is a summer history program run by Omaha Public Schools. According to the website it “gives students and teachers the chance to explore Omaha’s hidden history.

Or, as Emily Brush who runs the program, put it: “Ninth grade students explore underrepresented history in Omaha and create short documentaries based on what they found.

Well, what they found this summer was the role of women in Omaha’s indie music scene. “The project chose to highlight five core values that were present throughout the process; mentoring, representation, do-it-yourself (DIY) attitude, individuality and freedom,” says the project website. “The music industry, its past and present, is full of examples of sexual objectification, gender stereotypes and norms. This story serves to break that imagery and offer an alternative route to success that many women, particularly in Omaha, have chosen to take.”

Among those interviewed for the project were a handful of Nebraska music pioneers: Cami Rawlings Cavanaugh (Lavender Couch), Heidi Ore (Domestica, Mercy Rule), Jamie Pressnall (Park Ave., Tilly and the Wall), Jenn Bernard (Park Ave., Fortnight) and Jessica Mogis (ARC Studio).

In addition to discussing the struggles women faced as they made a mark in local music, the video also highlights Omaha’s indie and DIY scenes, including lots of discussion (and photos) of the ol’ Cog Factory and other venues.

The final documentary captures an important slice of Nebraska music history. Check out the video and supporting documents here.

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Tonight at Brothers Lounge Tulsa bands Cucumber and the Sun Tans and The Earslips are joined with Those Far Out Arrows and Jason Steady. No price listed (but it’s probably $5), start time is 9 p.m.

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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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Maha official attendance numbers; new music Tuesday (Black Belt Eagle Scout, Mitch Gettman, Oberst); Pedro the Lion, H.C. McEntire tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:55 pm August 21, 2018

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

A few more notes on last weekend’s Maha Music Festival, but first…

I apologize for yesterday’s review, which was rife with tacos — whoops, I meant TYPOS. No excuse except that the 2,700 words were written in one long jag Sunday night, and I don’t have an editor. I fixed what I found. Reread at your leisure. Also check out The Reader‘s coverage of the big show…

Onward…

Rachel Grace, who is handling Maha’s publicity, reported the following attendance numbers:

Friday: 6,500
Saturday: 7,800

“That makes Saturday among the most well-attended single days to date,” she said. But is it biggest one-day in Maha history? Apparently, no.

Last year’s one-day event came in at just over 8,500 in attendance. I don’t have the numbers, but 2016 (Passion Pit) was a down year. On the other hand 2015 (Modest Was) was officially a “sell out” year, but that only means 6,000 tickets were sold; which doesn’t equate to overall attendance.

I’ve asked Rachel for more data.

That said, 2018 will go down as the most attended Maha Festival ever with 14,300 total attendees over both days. Did their Friday night experiment work? Will it be repeated? We’ll have to wait and see.

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New music Tuesday…

Mitch Gettman, Some Purgatory (2018, bandcamp)

Mitch Gettman has a new album coming out Sept. 15 titled Some Purgatory. The LP is available for pre-order now via Bandcamp and iTunes. The first single, “No One on Your Side,” dropped last week.

I have to assume the album artwork (a shot looking toward downtown Omaha along Dodge St.), combined with the album title, is a comment on our fair city?

BTW, Gettman tells me he moved to Denver a couple months ago with his girlfriend, but he’ll be back for Farnam Fest Sept. 15.

The new track by Conor Oberst, written (or released) in conjunction with the new movie Juliet, Naked, already is in the top-10 of Sirius XMU’s Download 15.

The song, an unreleased demo called “LAX,” is covered by Ethan Hawke in the film (btw, the book, by Nick Hornby, is pretty good; the film looks iffy…).

Of the two version, the Oberst demo blows away Hawke’s rock version, which actually, just blows. You be the judge.

Finally, Black Belt Eagle Scout, the latest signing to Saddle Creek Records, is dropping singles from their upcoming Creek debut, Mother of My Children (which is actually a re-release from tiny Good Cheer Records). The album drops Sept. 14. Black Belt Eagle Scout is the moniker of Portland-based songwriter Katherine Paul.

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Seminal ’00s indie band Pedro the Lion plays tonight at The Waiting Room. It’s been years since the band, headed by singer/songwriter David Bazan, has played together. Expect a more ferocious sound than what you usually get from a Bazan solo set. To get an idea what they’ll be playing, here’s the setlist from Pedro’s Aug. 18 show in Newport, KY. And before you go, read the July 2000 Lazy-i interview with Bazan, just for fun. Merge Records artist H.C. McEntire (front woman of band Mount Moriah) opens at 8 p.m. $20

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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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Live Review: Maha Music Festival year 10: Is bigger better?; Cults, Metric tonight…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , , , , , , — @ 12:45 pm August 20, 2018

ZZ Ward performs during day 1 of the the 2018 Maha Music Festival, Aug. 17, 2018.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

A few things before we get started.

First, the line-up. It was controversial the day it was announced if only because this was the 10-year anniversary of the Maha Music Festival. There’s only a few of us who have been to all 10, who know the dips and turns that this festival has gone through over the past decade. And every one of us has a favorite year. Mine just happens to have been last year when Maha coaxed Belle & Sebastian to their festival stage along with Downtown Boys, New Pornographers and the Faint. Run the Jewels was the usual meh headliner, but at least made a statement that Maha wasn’t going to be be mistaken for a dad rock festival.

The speculation for year 10 ranged from LCD Soundsystem to Courtney Barnett to Arcade Fire to Wilco. Three of those four names had released a relevant new album in the past year. When Weezer was announced as the headliner, an enormous group yawn came over Omaha’s tiny audience of indie music followers. Weezer was never an indie band, doesn’t play indie rock, could even be mistaken as an MTV band thanks to it’s classic “Happy Days” video for “Buddy Holly.”

What indie fans failed to realize is that if Maha is going to pay a quarter-million dollars (or whatever they paid for Weezer) the band better be able to sell a shit-ton of tickets — or at least draw a massive crowd. And Weezer did just that. I don’t know the numbers, but Stinson Park was overflowing last night when Rivers kicked off their set with the “You Wanted to See It” bite from Happy Days.

On the other hand, the crowd was less than massive the prior evening for TV on the Radio, but I’ll get to that.

The second thing to mention before digging into the performances is how well this festival operates — and has operated from day 1. No event has better trained, better prepared volunteers than Maha — all 700 of them. I was greeted with a smile every where I turned, from check-in to buying drink tickets to the eager young lady who explained which container to dump my trash/recyclables. That doesn’t just happen, believe me. Working with an army of volunteers is a difficult, thankless job that’s ignored when it’s done right.

Finally, one of the smartest/best things to happen to Maha was selecting Stinson Park at Aksarben Village as its location. No matter what happens in the future, no matter how big or small the festival becomes, Stinson should remain ground zero for this annual event. Nothing could be more convenient.

Time for a Format Change

All that said, there was one thing that became glaringly obvious after this year’s two-day festival — there’s no reason to start bands before 6 p.m.

Yes, there was only a few hundred on hand to hear Clarence Tilton kick things off at 6 p.m. Friday night, but the crowd just seemed to grow faster by the moment. Whereas Saturday festivities were lightly attended all the way up until Hop Along took the stage. As a result, few saw some of the festival’s best performances — specifically David Nance and U.S. Girls.

Organizers, ask yourselves: If you know no one’s going to be at the park at noon to see these artists, why bother booking them so early? I would have loved to see a 6 p.m. crowd eat up Nance’s set, or for that matter, if an early-evening audience would have tried to dance to U.S. Girls.

I’m sure there’s a good reason for starting at noon. I don’t know what it is.

The perfect Maha Festival would run three days — Thursday, Friday, Saturday — each day starting at 6 p.m. Six bands each on Thursday and Friday, five bands on Saturday. That’s 17 high-quality bands, each getting a decent shot at playing in front of a sizable crowd instead of the usual handful there at noon for reasons we’ll never know. This is the only option if Maha is never going to take the plunge and book one of its headliners very early in the day in an attempt to get the crowd out early.

The later start times also allow festival-goers to avoid most of August’s oppressively hot/humid weather. Why haven’t they done it this way in the past? Does it have to do with better-utilizing vendors and facilities? I would be surprised if they’re covering labor costs before 5 p.m. As for the bands that “get their break” playing the early stage, that’s been a running joke since the festival started — “We played Maha… in front of 18 people at noon.”

Yeah, you might have a smaller crowd at 6 p.m. than at 9 p.m., but it’s going to be bigger than what was there Saturday for The Dilla Kids.

Day 1

Caveat: I wasn’t even planning on attending Friday night’s festival, but when Maha offered me a press pass, I had to go if only to see Clarence Tilton on that ginormous stage. The Omaha-based alt-country five-piece belted out its usual great set of rural-tinged rock that would make Uncle Tupelo proud.

Clarence Tilton performs at the 2018 Maha Music Festival, Aug. 17, 2018.

I’ve seen these guys play the best stages in town all the way down to a neighborhood street party and they never disappoint. The big stage only magnified their talent, though as mentioned, only a hundred or so were there to hear it. No matter. They kicked it up as if the Stinson bowl was filled.

State Disco performs at the 2018 Maha Music Festival, Aug. 17, 2018.

State Disco followed from the smaller “Omne Partners Stage,” but I’ll be damned if that stage didn’t sound louder than the main “Decades Stage.” Unlike what the name implies, State Disco don’t play no disco. Their style sounds derived from 2000s-era Vegas alternative band The Killers with some Muse and Strokes thrown in for good measure.

I walked up to the stage to get the photos and turned around to see about a dozen girls standing in a line, grooving. Cute. In the words of a seasoned musician who I bumped into: these dudes are professional, and you can tell they’re dying to get heard on the radio.

Hurrah for the Riff Raff performs at the 2018 Maha Music Festival, Aug. 17, 2018.

Half of the multitude of people I spoke to Friday night were there to see Hurray for the Riff Raff, hence (I assume) the reason they were on the big stage. Front woman Alynda Segarra is hard to take your eyes off of. She certainly commands the stage, though the band’s brand of rootsy rock failed to capture my attention, and after a few songs I was off to check out the Rabble Mill mini-ramp on the other end of the park.

Benjamin Booker performs at the 2018 Maha Music Festival, Aug. 17, 2018.

I got back in time to watch New Orleans blues-rocker Benjamin Booker on the side stage. He and his band played a blue-stomp rock in the Black Keys vein but with more variety (which isn’t saying much). Booker’s stuff comes out on ATO, the same label as Alabama Shakes, Drive-By Truckers and Hurray for the Riff Raff (I assume it was a package deal). Seems like blues-rock replaced alt-country as an indie outlier genre. We can thank Black Keys for that.

As middle-of-the-road as those two ATO acts were, they were light-years ahead of blues rock act ZZ Ward. For the half-dozen of you who asked how Dusty and Billy sounded, the “ZZ” stands for Zsuzsanna, as in Zsuzsanna Eva Ward. I would have preferred Dusty and Billy.

The music kinda sorta reminded me of Shania Twain hick-country; I halfway expected Ward to rip into “Man, I Feel Like a Woman.” It was at this point that I was thinking these last three bands would have been a great fit for the ol’ Playing with Fire concert series. Maybe that’s the crowd Maha was after.

Needless to say, Ward was an odd choice to precede early-2000s indie rock icons TV on the Radio, the band the other half of the crowd was there to see. By now Stinson was crowded, though the bowl was only half filled; the power lines leading to the side stage that cuts the park in half acted as a pseudo barrier. It was crush full on the other side of that line and pretty far back. The Maha folks had to be pleased.

TV on the Radio performs at the 2018 Maha Music Festival, Aug. 17, 2018.

What can I say about TV on the Radio’s set? I’ve never been a fan, and don’t know much beyond 2008’s Dear Science, which stands as a landmark album from that era. I recognized “Golden Age” from that album, but few others. They sounded strong and tight, as if they released that album last year. I didn’t hang around for the full set, though I’m told they played “Staring at the Sun” for an encore.

Day 2

The Dilla Kids had the inauspicious honor of opening Day 2 at 12:30 to what appeared to be about 50 people. The ensemble totaled 11 on the big stage including a graffiti artist who would hang out through a good part of the afternoon.

The Dilla Kids kicked off Day 2 of the 2018 Maha Music Festival, Aug. 18, 2018.

I’ve never seen these folks before and was very impressed with the band — every aspect but especially the rhythm section. Top-notch beats that would not stop. Fronting them were MCs Marcey Yates and Xoboi, who were all about getting the party started at lunch time, rapping about “Wings and Thighs.”

Did I mention it was humid as hell? Just as miserable as you’d expect in mid-August.

David Nance Band performs at the 2018 Maha Music Festival, Aug. 18, 2018.

David Nance Band got the day going on the side stage. Playing as a four-piece with guitarist Jim Schroeder, bassist Noah Sterba and drummer Kevin Donahue, they ripped into a guitar-fueled set of songs, many I assume from the band’s upcoming Trouble in Mind debut due Oct. 5.

Among my faves was a song presumably called “Kingdom of Shit” and the roarin’ first single, “Poison.” Nance and Schroeder played off each other throughout, challenging themselves to a feedback contest. The new stuff has a Neil Young / Crazy Horse vibe, with jams you’d love to have gone on for 20 minutes or more. He ended the set with a dirge, which is a no-no for any festival (He would have killed them if he’d closed with “Negative Boogie”).

U.S. Girls perform at the 2018 Maha Music Festival, Aug. 18, 2018.

Then came U.S. Girls. I was expecting something more electronic and dance-beat fueled like on their new album, In a Poem Unlimited. Instead, the band ripped into heavy guitar rock that morphed into dance-beat fabulousness spurred on by front woman Meghan Remy’s inviting coo.

The sound was slow, heavy and erotic, Remy out front and inviting, imploring the crowd of around 300 to dance instead of just standing there staring like lumps. The lead guitarist, dressed head-to-toe in red, looked like an extra from an episode of Starsky and Hutch but was friggin’ amazing. This was not your typical Maha moment, it was something completely different, and I don’t think the audience knew what to make of it. A highlight.

Next up was Mesonjixx at 3 p.m. In all years past, there have been some holes in my coverage of the Maha Music Festival, and this year would be no exception. One looks at the schedule and picks the spots when they’re going to go home to recover from the heat, or, in my case, go home and let the dogs out. This was my chance.

As a result, I missed Mesonjixx, who I’d seen just a few weeks ago at Slowdown, as well as Hop Along (who I intended to catch at O’Leaver’s Sunday night, but failed) and Ravyn Lenae.

Tune-Yards perform at the 2018 Maha Music Festival, Aug. 18, 2018.

I returned at 6:30 for Tune-Yards and am happy I did. This was my favorite set of the festival. Tune-Yards play as a trio fronted by super-talented Merrill Garbus standing on a platform with a battery of pedals at her command used to trigger a myriad of loops and samples. With bass player Nate Brenner on one side and a drummer on the other, she crushed a large-ish crowd with thick beat, high-rhythm art-rock songs as experimental and interesting as Eno-era anybody.

The band is enjoying some notoriety thanks to scoring the break-out film Sorry to Bother You, but Tune-Yards already were well-known with the indie set, having plenty of airplay on national streaming indie stations and Sirius XMU. Her song “Gangsta” somehow gets sneaked into every cable program, and single “Water Fountain” has been used in a number of commercials.

The rhythms were pounding, and god help me, some people were actually dancing.

The Kills perform at the 2018 Maha Music Festival, Aug. 18, 2018.

It was a hard act to follow but The Kills did the best they could from the side stage. A band this big, I was surprised to see them relegated to the small side, but it didn’t tamp down their energy.

As you’d expect from a festival, the fans got a greatest hits set that included “List of Demands (Reparations),” which is the only Kills song I can pick in a line-up.

(Festival sets are kind of like listening to a band’s Greatest Hits album. Everything is out of context and placed in an unfamiliar order and as a result, looses a bit of whatever it was that made the music stick in the first place.)

Father John Misty performs at the 2018 Maha Music Festival, Aug. 18, 2018.

By the time Father John Misty started at 9 the audience had arrived. The whole park was filled and the bowl was a crush mob. The Omaha World-Herald reported the attendance was “almost 8,000” (by comparison, the 2015 Maha with Modest Mouse was officially sold out, whatever that means, so which had a bigger audience?). Let me put it this way: It was a shit-ton of people.

I expected a sleepy set from FJM a.k.a. Josh Tillman and got anything but. He came out dressed to the nines and ripped though a greatest hits set of his own backed by an incredible band. I never realized how many good songs FJM has, from “Nancy From Now On” to “Real Love Baby” to the current hit, “Mr. Tillman.”

His stage shtick is looking debonair and reserving his smooth dance moves for just the right moments. He has one of those voices that is unmistakable and bound to be a touchstone to this era, at times reminding me of Elton John.

I expected some snappy patter but he only got in one zinger from stage, paraphrasing, “I want to dedicate this song to all the sad-looking Weezer fans up front. Hang in there, guys. It’s almost over.”

From there he kicked into a wicked version of “Pure Comedy,” a song whose message I’m sure went well over their heads. He closed with “I Love You, Honeybear” — the set seemed to fly by.

Weezer performs at the 2018 Maha Music Festival, Aug. 18, 2018.

Then came Weezer. I only stuck around for the first four or five songs. Weezer sounded great. Just like Weezer. And the crowd loved it.

Which brings us back to the line-up. Look, I don’t know where Maha hopes to go from here. It’s hard to imagine them bringing in a more commercial band than Weezer and still maintain some sort of indie-rock connection. You could say they stepped away from that years ago, or were never really concerned about it (Let’s face it, Garbage is hardly a cutting-edge indie band).

Maha will never have my dream line-up because my dream line-up would probably sell a total of 300 tickets. That’s not what it’s about. Maha is about bringing community together around music. You can’t do that without having a radio-friendly legacy act at the top of the bill. And if you can slip in a U.S. Girls or Tune-Yards or David Nance along the way, well then, you’ve succeeded. And they have. Here’s to the next 10 years…

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NYC band Cults headlines tonight at The Waiting Room. In addition to Columbia, the band’s music is released on Lilly Allen’s In the Name Of label. Dreamy synth rock in the vein of early M83. The Shacks (Big Crown Records) opens at 8 p.m. %15.

Also tonight Metric opens for Smashing Pumpkins at CenturyLink Center. 7 p.m.

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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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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