Live Review: Icky Blossoms, RSD 2017; New Umm; High Up, McCarthy Trenching do 1200 Club Live…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , , , — @ 12:39 pm April 24, 2017

Icky Blossoms at Earth Day in Elmwood Park, April 22, 2017.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Another Record Store Day in the books. I only had time to visit one store, Almost Music in Blackstone, where I caught a few minutes of Montee Men playing in the bookstore — brutality among the children’s titles, big crowd, lots of smiling faces (RSD brings out the kid in all of us).

Montee Men at Almost Music, RSD2017, April 22, 2017.

I only picked up three things, though: The new O+S, a promo pressing of U2’s War and a T-shirt. That Spoon vinyl had already sold. Oh well. RSD is one of the smartest retail promotions — designating one day as a tribute to consumerism, collecting and music. Well, two days if you count RSD Black Friday, and I’m sure the independent record stores do.

After Almost Music I headed to Elmwood Park for Earth Day festivities. The good weather brought out every stoner, hippie and yuppie parent in Omaha. It was a day shot in Technicolor and sunshine.

Icky Blossoms had the legendary Dereck Higgins playing bass for this show (temporary or permanent member?), which was performed with its usual dance-vibe bombast but suffered from poor PA/audio. Everything sounded a but fuzzy and blown out, but what are ya gonna do? It’s an Earth Day concert. And the lousy sound didn’t stop the the gaggle of freaks from dancing in front of the stage. Gotta love it.

Last I heard Icky Blossoms was working on new material, though I didn’t hear any Saturday afternoon. Where will they go next? We’re all waiting for the next record…

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Umm, the duo of Stef Drootin and Chris Senseney (a.k.a. Big Harp), released their first new music online last week. Check out the Majestic Litter Soundcloud files below…

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Finally, the folks at the Holland Performing Arts Center announced last week another show at their 1200 Club. This time it’s High Up and McCarthy Trenching as the featured acts May 6 (tornado day). Tix are $15 Adv./$20 DOS.

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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 © 2017 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Live Review: Whipkey, Wild Powwers, Bien Fang; Basia Bulat tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , , — @ 1:43 pm March 7, 2016
Wild Powwers at O'Leaver's, March 4, 2016.

Wild Powwers at O’Leaver’s, March 4, 2016.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

A look back at the weekend, or Friday night to be more precise.

Matt Whipkey performed in one of his most high-profile gigs in Omaha at 1200 Club Friday night. Backed by guitar, drums, bass and keyboards, Whipkey was center stage under the white-hot lights giving his all to a mostly full house. Ironically, even though there were a few hundred people collected around tables in the crowded room, it was likely one of the smaller crowds he’s played to recently, thanks to becoming one of Dwight Yoakam’s standard opening acts.

Matt Whipkey at 1200 Club, March 4, 2016.

Matt Whipkey at 1200 Club, March 4, 2016.

That road work has left Whipkey and his band water-tight as they played his double-LP Penny Park in sequence (even announcing the end of each side throughout the set). You might think it was strange he was playing an album that came out in 2013 rather than his most recent material except that Whipkey undoubtedly looked at this performance as a career high water mark and wanted to make it something special. Penny Park is probably his most thought-out release to date, something he may never duplicate. Might as well give it the staging it deserves.

I stuck around for two sides of Penny Park before heading cross town to O’Leaver’s. On stage when I arrived was Low Long Signal, a proggy, mathy four-piece instrumental rock band that ripped though a set of high-energy compositions rife with intricate rhythms. Just when you got inside one of their fast, tight grooves they’d throw a heavy riff into the mix. Very interesting and worth further investigation.

Wild Powwers were harder and faster than they sound on their most recent album — they sounded more like a punk band than a self-proclaimed grunge act. I point to the density of production on that new record for the Pacific Northwest narrative, vs. the straight-up, stripped down sound we got Friday night.

While Lara Hilgeman’s vocals and guitarwork were spot on, it was the rhythm section of while-knuckle drummer Lupe Flores and bassist Jordan (JoJo) Gomes (his bass acting more like a second guitar on most of the songs) that “powwered” the evening.

Bien Fang at O'Leaver's March 4, 2016.

Bien Fang at O’Leaver’s March 4, 2016.

Finally locals Bien Fang closed out the night. I didn’t know going in that BF is a Rachel Tomlinson Dick project (or I’d forgotten) and was pleasantly surprised to see her on stage fronting the band on heavy rock songs that bordered on punk. Two ’90s bands — Live Skull and Come — came to mind. A comrade who watched the night’s festivities said Wild Powwers had a riot grrrl flair to their set; I’d say that tag more appropriately belonged to Bien Fang.

A great night of music.

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Very quickly: Tonight at The Waiting Room it’s the Omaha return of Basia Bulat. From the press release: “Her new album Good Advice is out now to rave reviews—the LA Times callis it ‘an irresistible blend of lush pop and effervescent R&B…undeniable’ while Paste says it’s ‘playful to the point of pure effusiveness, each [song] swathed with catchy choruses and brisk, bubbly refrains.'” I haven’t heard it yet. No doubt you will tonight. The Weather Station opens. $13, 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 © 2016 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Live Review: Matthew Sweet, So-So Sailors, Little Brazil, Juan Wauters; Delicate Steve tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , , , — @ 12:38 pm March 30, 2015
So-So Sailors at 1200 Club as part of the Hear Nebraska Fundraiser March 28, 2015.

So-So Sailors at 1200 Club as part of the Hear Nebraska Fundraiser March 28, 2015.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

A recap of a busy weekend of shows…

It was noted by a fellow audience member at The Waiting Room Friday night that Little Brazil might be the band I’ve seen play live more than any other band. They’ve been doing it since the early ’00s, and over the years their line-up has subtly changed, specifically on drums and guitar (Frontman Landon Hedges and bass player Danny Maxwell always have been the centerpiece). This current line-up, with Matt Bowen on drums and Mike Friedman on lead guitar, is the heaviest, the loudest, thanks in a big part to Bowen’s muscular, heavy-sticked drumming (Maybe we should start calling him Matt Bonham?).

Little Brazil at The Waiting Room, March 27, 2015.

Little Brazil at The Waiting Room, March 27, 2015.

I recorded the first half of their set for the upcoming podcast, and realized afterward that I recorded the wrong half. In addition to having a better mix later in the set, I missed a couple new standout songs presumably from an upcoming album. One featured a swirling two-guitar interlude that was pure Thin Lizzy, the other (the closing number) was an epic masterwork. Little Brazil is back and better than ever.

Juan Wauters at the Saddle Creek Record Shop, March 27, 2015.

Juan Wauters at the Saddle Creek Record Shop, March 27, 2015.

Saturday night started early with the Juan Wauters in-store at the Saddle Creek Record Shop in the Slowdown complex. The little store was mostly filled as Wauters took the stage behind an electric keyboard and performed a handful of sweet, loopy pop songs that were light-hearted and playful. He switched over to guitar for the last few numbers (again, I recorded the wrong half of the set). Curious to hear how Wauters did opening for Tweedy last night.

So-So Sailors' Chris Machmuller at 1200 Club March 28, 2015.

So-So Sailors’ Chris Machmuller at 1200 Club March 28, 2015.

Afterward, it was over to the 1200 Club at the Holland Performing Arts Center for the Matthew Sweet Hear Nebraska Benefit. There was some concern going in that ticket sales were light, but the club-inside-a-music-hall was well-populated. Most of the tables were filled when So-So Sailors came on at 8 p.m. for an insanely good set of witty, intelligent, urbane songs about love and life from the heart of Nebraska . Frontman Chris Machmuller is the city’s best frontman, keeping the audience mesmerized both while he sang in front of his rather large band and with his between-song patter (He’s a regular comedian, that guy).

We can speculate why the Sailors have been inactive the past few years. Life can get in the way of music, and everyone in that band is busy with jobs and family. Still, for purely selfish reasons, I covet a copy of the recording that Mach said (from stage) is basically in the can, and has been for a couple years. Maybe they’re thinking “What’s the point?” — there’s no money in releasing music anymore. Maybe they think they’ve moved past that sort of thing. Let’s hope not.

Matthew Sweet center stage at the 1200 Club March 28, 2015.

Matthew Sweet center stage at the 1200 Club March 28, 2015.

Finally, Matthew Sweet and his band (consisting of Paul Chastain and Ric Menck of Velvet Crush, and guitar-slinger Dennis Taylor) took the stage and ripped through a set very similar to what we got when they played O’Leaver’s and Vega last year. Chock full o’ the “hits.”

From my vantage point in the very center of the room the sound mix was, well, pretty bad. The bass drum was over driven, swallowing up Chastain’s bass rig — couldn’t hear a note he was playing. Sweet’s voice, however, managed to cut through the thump, as did the lead guitar’s high-flying solos. Someone afterward told me “the 1200 Club isn’t suited for this kind of heavy music,” which is like saying that any room with good acoustics shouldn’t host rock shows. Balderdash. All they needed to do was pull back on the kick drum.

Fact is 1200 Club is a pretty luscious space. Whether it’s better suited for quieter bands like So-So Sailors (which sounded exquisite) I cannot say, though I’d love to see more indie rock shows in that space, and would be willing to fork out top dollar to do so. Great room, great service, great night of music.

Look for music clips from the above performances in this week’s podcast, which will likely hit the web on Wednesday.

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Tonight at The Reverb Lounge its the return of Delicate Steve (Luaka Bop, Barsuk). $10, 9 p.m. No opener listed.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Live Review: Digital Leather, Big Harp, Kill County at Holland Center’s 1200 Club…

Digital Leather at the 1200 Club, June 7, 2013.

Digital Leather at the 1200 Club, June 7, 2013.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Here’s a late review of last Friday’s Holland Center/1200 Club show. In fact, Lazy-i reception will be a bit spotty this week as I’ll be headed out of town for a few days. I’ll try to update when/if I can.

On the surface, the line-up for the inaugural Hear Nebraska Live program sponsored by Omaha Performing Arts at the Holland last Friday night was edgy, if not just plain risky. Kill County isn’t exactly a well-known commodity in Omaha. Saddle Creek’s Big Harp was the closest thing to a sure bet, while Digital Leather appeared to be an obvious miss-step — a synth-fueled punk band that you’d think was way too loud for the Holland’s delicate acoustics.

In fact, the program, which was filmed in its entirety by Nebraska Educational Television (NET) was supposed to emulate Austin City Limits, a PBS program whose staple is acoustic, alt-country balladeers that are more storytellers than rock stars. Rarely has ACL featured full on rock bands, probably because its reserved setting seems an ill fit for anarchy.

Kill County at the 1200 Club in The Holland Center, June 7, 2013.

Kill County at the 1200 Club in The Holland Center, June 7, 2013.

Needless to say, of the three bands Kill County was the best suited for the show’s relaxed environment. 1200 Club, located on the second level of the Holland, is a gorgeous sit-down space — round tables and candles on polished oak floors. You know when you walk in that it’s going to be a nice evening as a member of the crack Holland staff points you to your table where moments later one of the black-clad waiters comes and takes your drink (or food) order with a whisper. Very classy.

On Friday night, the corners of the room were filled with NET’s professional television production equipment, including a huge boom-control camera, a stationary camera and a guy walking around with a shoulder-mount camera followed behind by a cable lackey. We arrived during the second half of KC’s reserved alt-country set. Pretty stuff, crowd pleasing, well played, and exactly the kind of music that you’d expect to see on Austin City Limits, which is a nice way of saying their music isn’t anything you haven’t heard before. There is an obvious familiarity with everything they play, and people love listening to music they recognize.

Big Harp at the 1200 Club, The Holland Center, June 7, 2013.

Big Harp at the 1200 Club, The Holland Center, June 7, 2013.

Chris and Stef — i.e. Big Harp — came on stage alone for the first part of their set for a few gorgeous ballads before guest players keyboardist Dan McCarthy and drummer Dan Ocanto joined in and ratcheted up the sound. This band continues to vex me by never hovering for long over any specific genre. Their first album, White Hat, was filled with acoustic ballads while last year’s Chain Letters had a rock sound that seemed to reach for a Black Keys audience. Friday night the band was all over the map, each song carrying a different sonic reference point, a different style, with Chris Senseney’s croaking baritone and agile guitar work providing the common denominator. While rougher (and noisier) than Kill County, Big Harp’s set was still a fine fit for both the broadcast and the venue.

Then came Digital Leather, sounding exactly as I expected. If anyone involved in organizing this program was surprised at what they heard, they didn’t do their homework. In retrospect, it was probably why the band was scheduled last because the organizers knew they’d lose some of their audience in DL’s sound and fury… just like they did.

There were two surprises from DL. First was the addition of new keyboard player Ben VanHoolandt, who plays bass in Pleasure Adapter and is part of the duo known as Dirt. This was BVH’s first show with DL, joining Todd Fink, who remains on keyboards, though the speculation after the show was that BVH is being groomed as a road replacement for Fink. Only frontman Shawn Foree knows for sure. Just a year ago, Foree had turned his back on live synths; now he has two synth players.

The other surprise was hearing Digital Leather play “Modern Castles” off Warm Brother, something I never thought I’d ever hear. Needless to say, the return of keyboards opens horizons for some of Foree’s more tuneful – less punk songs. Now if they could work up a version of “Gold Hearts” I could die a happy man.

While as loud as any Digital Leather show I’ve seen, there’s no question that the band held back for either the venue or the cameras. My wife kept asking if they’d close with “Studs in Love,” the crowd-pleasing homo-anthem off Blow Machine recently returned to their live set (usually as an encore). I just shook my head. They wouldn’t dare, and of course they didn’t (though there’s always the Maha Festival…).

I think a lot of people involved in the program saw it as an experiment. The outcome was — for the most part — a success, though I’m sure they would have liked to have sold more tickets. Still, every table was filled and everyone seemed to have a good time. I can’t wait to see how it’ll translate to the boob tube. The broadcast is slated for airing on NET sometime in the fall (and may even be picked up by PBS nationally).

But the bigger question is whether Omaha Performing Arts, NET and HN will team up (along with the 1200 Club) for another show next year. Keep your fingers crossed.

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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 © 2013 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Discount tix available for Friday’s Hear Nebraska LIVE show at The Holland (Digital Leather, Big Harp); They Might Be Giants, Peter Case tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 12:40 pm June 5, 2013

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

You going to Friday night’s 1200 Club show at The Holland Performing Arts Center? Well, you should.

It’s a joint production by Omaha Performing Arts, NET Television and Hear Nebraska (an auspicious organization to which I’m a board member). The show’s called Hear Nebraska LIVE and features three bands we’re all very familiar with: Digital Leather, Big Harp and Kill County. NET is recording the entire show, creating TV shows from the material which will be sort of inspired by Austin City Limits. The shows will be broadcast within Nebraska, and could possibly have national distribution through PBS. Imagine that?

Anyway, you can be a part of this historical program and broadcast (as an audience member) for a mere $25.

Or — better yet — enter promo code HEARNE13 when buying here from Ticket Omaha and get $2 off (that’s $23 for you math-impared). What a friggin’ steal!

I’ve never been to 1200 Club. I don’t even know where it is in conjunction with the rest of The Holland, but I’m sure there will be signs pointing the way. I’m trying to imagine what Digital Leather has up its sleeve. I know they’re planning something special. BTW, it’s an early show (7:30 p.m. start).

* * *

Two noteworthy shows are happening tonight, both with early start times.

At The Slowdown, it’s the return of They Might Be Giants. Seems like they were just here a year ago. The band just got back from “down under” touring in support of their new studio album, Nanobots (Idlewild Records). Brooklyn horn ensemble Moon Hooch opens. $23, 8 p.m.

Also tonight, Peter Case (The Plimsouls (“A Million Miles Away”), The Nerves) performs “an evening with…” at The Waiting Room as part of the Sunday Roadhouse series. $20, 7:30 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 © 2013 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Poliça, Night Moves tonight; Hear Nebraska takes over the Holland’s 1200 Club; last day to give Whipkey some love…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 6:37 pm April 23, 2013
Poliça plays tonight at The Waiting Room.

Poliça plays tonight at The Waiting Room.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Another late-in-the-day post. Hey whaddayagonnado?

Despite the late hour I’m tossing this one online to remind you that Poliça is playing at The Waiting Room tonight with Night Moves. Poliça is Channy Leaneagh and Ryan Olson, previously of the band Gayngs. Their debut album, Give You the Ghost (Totally Gross National Product) got a massive 7.6 on the Pitchfork meter (Check out four songs from the album from the SoundCloud link, below). It’s gorgeous, and seeing them on an Omaha stage is well worth your $14. Show starts at 9.

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In other (old) news, Hear Nebraska today announced that it’s teaming up with Omaha Performing Arts and NET News to produce a “Austin City Limits-style” concert June 7 at the Holland Performing Arts Center’s 1200 Club. The performers: Saddle Creek Records’ Big Harp, Lincoln’s Kill County and the red hot Digital Leather. The show will be filmed by NET for four separate TV shows to air statewide (and possibly nationwide). It’s quite a coup for Hear Nebraska and helps galvanize it’s ever-growing rep as the state’s central music hub. Tix are $25 Adv/$30 DOS (info here).

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That greedy bastard Matt Whipkey has been riding my ass for two days to remind you that there’s only 24 hours left to get in on his Penny Park Kickstarter deal. Whipkey’s already blown way past his $4k goal (He was at $5,126 as of this writing). He says that initial $4k goal was only designed to cover half his vinyl costs. Vinyl’s expensive, folks. Especially gatefold double-vinyl. He says his Kickstarter is the best way for you to reserve your copy of his loving ode to one of his favorite teenage memories (Who else got loaded on cheap champagne at the Grove on New Year’s Eve? Ah, the memories)….

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Last but not least, tonight is the kick off the Big Al’s Free Music Festival 2013 — five nights of free music at The Hideout Lounge (320 So. 72nd St.). More info 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 © 2013 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i