Mountain Man, Darren Keen, #BFF tonight; Those Far Out Arrows Saturday, Conor Oberst Sunday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:49 pm November 2, 2018

Fisherman’s Blues, Chad Leahy, 12″ x 12″ oil on board. Based on The Waterboys’ song. See all 12 song interpretations tonight at The Little Gallery. #BFF

by Tim McMahan,

Pre-election weekend. We’re all tense. Let’s relax with some music and art before we head to the polls.

Tonight at The Waiting Room it’s Mountain Man, a project I hadn’t heard of until I saw the listing on the One Percent website. It’s a trio of women who sing a cappella or with acoustic guitar, lots of harmonies and a hint of Appalachia. Among the trio is Sylvan Esso’s Amelia Meath. Their latest album, Magic Ship, was released on Nonesuch in September and garnered a 7.6 in Pitchfork. Durham, NC act The Dead Tongues opens at 9 p.m. $22.

In case you’ve forgotten, it’s Benson First Friday (#BFF).

As always, I implore you to drop by our gallery, The Little Gallery, located in the east bay of the Masonic Lodge Building at 5901 Maple St. This month’s featured artists are Chad Leahy and Jennifer Solberg.

Solberg has created amazing homemade books you have to see to believe. Leahy has created 12 oil paintings inspired by 12 songs that have impacted his life. It’s kind of like one of those Facebook list posts, where you have to name 12 songs you can’t live without, but done up in oil paints. Here’s his visual playlist:

Down in a Hole – Ryan Adams & The Cardinals
Square Room – Cowboy Junkies
Comfortably Numb – Pink Floyd
Cynthia Mask – Robyn Hitchcock
Fisherman’s Blues – The Waterboys
Lips Like Sugar – Echo and the Bunnymen
Etcetera Whatever – Over the Rhine
River on Fire – Adam Again
End of the Maze – CLOSENESS
Lullaby – The Cure
Cuts You Up – Peter Murphy
Nothing Compares 2 U – Chris Cornell

See how Chad interpreted each song on canvas, from 6 to 9 p.m. tonight. It’s free and we’ll have Pacifico and treats on hand. See you there.

As per usual, The Sydney is in BFF mode with a show featuring Black Jonny Quest, Hussies, Sweats and Dorsia. $5, 10 p.m.

Also tonight, Darren Keen (The Show Is the Rainbow) returns to fabulous O’Leaver’s opening for DAD. Articulate also is on the bill. $7, 10 p.m.

The weekend’s big show is Those Far Out Arrows’ album release show at The Brothers Saturday night, which you read about here. Opening is Tyrone Storm and Rusty Lord. $5, 9 p.m.

Good ol’ O’Leaver’s has CatBeret Saturday (Caturday?) night. The Morbs and Heather Horst open. $5, 10 p.m.

Then comes Sunday’s big Get Out the Vote gig with Conor Oberst at The B Bar, the club located under Barrett’s Castle at 4330 Leavenworth. Kara Eastman for Congress is putting on this show, which also features MiWi La Lupa and Edem Soul Music. The rally runs from 6 to 9 p.m. and suggested donation is $20.

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

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Darren Keen has the soundtrack to your next video game; June indie bookings looking up…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 1:42 pm February 12, 2018

Iceage at Slowdown Jr., Oct. 24, 2014. The band plays at The Waiting Room June 18.

by Tim McMahan,

Yesterday Darren Keen, who you might remember from The Show Is the Rainbow, shared links to a couple new albums he just dropped. They’re instrumental albums called Let Me Score Your Video Game and Let Me Score Your Video Game #2.

As the names imply, these albums contain 8-bit- and 16-bit-style music that would be appropriate as soundtracks to your run-of-the-mill ’80s- or ’90s-era video game. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you will right after clicking the links below.

I asked Keen if he was a big gamer.

I’m not a ‘gamer’ because I don’t play lots of games, but the games I do play, I play obsessively,” he said. “I grew up playing Final Fantasy games for NES – SNES – Playstation. I used to hit ‘save points’ at certain parts of the game where I liked the music a lot. The music was so so so important to me. It wasn’t til I started doing my ‘Darren Keen’ music that I realized what a huge influence Nobuo Uematsu (the dude who scored the Final Fantasy games) was on me.”

Keen would love to add “video game music composer” to his already large music resume. Maybe these albums will be the tokens that get him into that very special music industry arcade.

BTW, Keen will be celebrating the release of his new The Show Is the Rainbow LP in Lincoln this Friday and on March 3 in Benson at The Sydney.

* * *

One Percent was busy announcing Junes shows this morning. Among them:

— Okkervil River June 9 at The Waiting Room.

— First Aid Kit June 13 at Sokol Auditorium

— Iceage June 18 at The Waiting Room

The additions are a welcome relief after a pretty quiet winter show-wise. What else does 1% have up its sleeve? And will there be any Stir Cove announcements that rival last year’s Beck concert?

Summer can’t come fast enough…

* * *

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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Live Review: Godspeed You! Black Emperor; New Icky video; new Darren Keen track; Once a Pawn tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 1:37 pm February 11, 2016
Godspeed You! Black Emperor at The Slowdown Feb. 10, 2016.

Godspeed You! Black Emperor at The Slowdown Feb. 10, 2016.

by Tim McMahan,

Even if you’ve never seen Godspeed You! Black Emperor before but are familiar with the band’s music you pretty much knew what you were in for last night at The Slowdown.

Five minutes before the band walked onto the darkened stage a low-end rumble quietly roared like distant thunder. One at a time the eight members found their places among a stage cluttered with equipment and pedals and cables, looking for a place to set down their drinks, and quietly picked up their instruments, each adding to the building din. This went on for another five minutes or so as scratchy abstract marks began being projected on the screen behind the stage.

Eventually, the noise took form. Two percussionists began rattling things as the violin and cello added something akin to a melody that ultimately was overtaken by the three guitars and bass, and 15 minutes later you realized the concert had indeed begun.

Most compositions (songs?) were deep, repetitive ambient tonal melodies that evolved into haunting and/or majestic sweeps of sound. Sludgy, slow, deep ponderous movements were played in dim, deep-red sepia lighting, perfect for setting a mood or developing film. Overhead, the projections became less abstract — images of burning fields, film sprocket holes, a deer standing in a field, a sunset shot from inside a moving car — all in black-and-white (of course).

There wasn’t much to see on stage except lots of people leaning over things, huddled over guitars or effects pedals. Sometimes the compositions transformed into big rock numbers that reminded me of Meddle-era Pink Floyd or Mogwai, but most of the set was a pulsing dirge set to a 6/8 beat. Throughout the set, none of the performers talked to the audience. There were no microphones on stage if they’d wanted to.

It was beautiful and awful and exhausting. The set began at a quarter after 9. When I left at 11 and it was still going strong, the sold-out crowd standing in front of the stage was transfixed, mesmerized.

* * *

A day or so after this interview from Nik Fackler hits the internet, Nik’s band Icky Blossoms released a new video for “Living in Fiction,” directed by Aaron Gum. Omahans, see how many people you recognize on the dance floor. Hey Ickys, I’m still waiting for a video for my favorite track on the album, “Away from You”…

* * *

Everyone’s favorite Nebraska ex-patriot Darren Keen just released a new track called “10,000 Dollar Pyramid Scheme” that is twisted remix of the $10,000 Pyramid game show theme.  It’s included in Channel Flippin’ 2, a comp of TV theme song remixes. Enjoy, and as we like to say, “Big money, no whammy.”

* * *

They’re calling it Bands for Bernie. It’s a rally for Bernie Sanders at Reverb tonight. Bands playing include CJ Mills and Lincoln punk band Once a Pawn. The free show begins at 7 p.m.

Also tonight, Fizzle Like a Flood’s Doug Kabourek does a rare set at The Barley Street Tavern. It’s part of a free six-band show that starts at 7 p.m.

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2016 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Big Harp drops new cassette (yes, cassette); Darren Keen in Rolling Stone; Simon Joyner, Danny Pound tonight…

Category: Blog,Interviews — Tags: , , , , — @ 1:10 pm August 12, 2015
Big Harp have a new cassette out.

Big Harp have a new cassette out.

by Tim McMahan,

During a recent interview with Ryan Fox and Stef Drootin-Senseney for this story on The Good Life, guitarist Fox talked about his tape-only label Majestic Litter.

“The nice thing about the label, the point of it is to make music immediate and direct,” Fox said. “There isn’t long lead times that you have with vinyl, or ad budgets or lawyers. You have the songs, you record them, you make tapes right away.”

Fox said he uses high-quality chrome cassettes, but why even bother with what is considered an outdated medium instead of just releasing digital files? “It’s something that exists in space,” Fox said. “It has artwork, and I feel like we all grew up collecting records and tapes and CDs. I’m not a format snob. They all have their merits. They’re functional but not just a ‘remember these’ sort of thing. I think they’re cool and sound good.”

Big Harp, Waveless (Majestic Litter, 2015)

Big Harp, Waveless (Majestic Litter, 2015)

Drootin-Senseney and her husband, Chris, who play in the band Big Harp, couldn’t agree more. So much, in fact, that their brand new album, Waveless, is being released on Fox’s Majestic Litter imprint.

“Chris and I write so fast,” Stef said, “by the time a release comes out we’ve already written another record. With labels, you have to wait such a long time. With this tape we just wanted to get the music out there.”

The 12-song cassette became available for pre-order from Fox’s label website yesterday. All those buying pre-orders immediately receive a download of the album. Pure Volume premiered the first track, “Golden Age,” yesterday as well (which you can listen to below). Listen and order your copy of Waveless for $7, plus postage. The release comes just in time for Big Harp’s next tour, supporting The Good Life throughout the next couple months.

* * *

Former Nebraska resident now New Yorker Darren Keen has been burning up the media lately.

Fact Music News yesterday published an interview with the “Omaha-bred, New York-based producer” in support of Keen’s latest project, the LP He’s Not Real, out Aug. 28 on Orange Milk Records. Check out a track below.

In addition, Keen was interviewed for a Rolling Stone article about “footwork,” a style of music that Stone writer Andy Battaglia described as “marked by dizzying loops, staccato synth stabs, antic polyrhythms and blasts of repetition, repetition, repetition — seemed designed to go everywhere and nowhere at once.” See what Keen has to say about the genre in the story, online here.

Keen is conquering the Big Apple. “Brooklyn rules,” he said. “I’m always busy and I work full-time as a DJ in the East Village.”

He’ll be hitting the road touring with Giant Claw starting Sept. 8 in Cleveland, making his way back to Nebraska for gigs at the Bourbon Theater in Lincoln Sept. 10 and fabulous O’Leaver’s Sept. 13 (for a show that also features Channel Pressure — an electronic collaboration between Todd Fink of The Faint with Graham Patrick Ulicny of Reptar).

* * *

A quick heads up that today the folks from the Maha Music Festival issued a “low ticket warning” for this year’s festival. If you want to go to the day-long fest this Saturday at Stinson Park, you better get your tickets soon.

* * *

Pageturners’ summer concert series continues tonight with Simon Joyner and Danny Pound (ex-Vitreous Humor). The free show starts at 9 p.m.

* * *

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



Nightbird joins Ritual Device/Cellophane Ceiling bill; Denver Dalley’s Broken Bats; Darren Keen mixes…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 2:00 pm December 16, 2014

by Tim McMahan,

There was no update yesterday as I was buried writing a cover story for Thursday’s issue of The Reader about Cellophane Ceiling and Ritual Device, who are playing Dec. 26 at The Waiting Room. It’s a Main Vein Production (which is also discussed in the article). Huge show, huge reunion.

If you didn’t already know, Nightbird has been added to this line-up, and I’m told Lee Meyerpeter and his crew will be playing some Cactus Nerve Thang covers (Lee, as you know, was in Cactus) just to make this post-Christmas trip inside the Wayback Machine that much more authentic.

It’s great that we have all these reunion shows happening next week (Neva Dinova is next Tuesday at The Slowdown, for example) because there’s virtually nothing else happening around here (at least until Friday). I mean, holy shit, has there ever been a bigger drought in local news?

The hottest buzz is that Icky Blossoms has finished recording their new record, which is headed for a release on Saddle Creek next year. And Matt Whipkey informs me his new record is in the can, ready for a 2015 release.

And then yesterday Hear Nebraska reported (right here) that Denver Dalley of Desaparecidos, Statistics, Intramural and Two of Cups fame (as well as Har Mar Superstar’s sideman) has formed a new band with Pink Spiders frontman Matt Friction called Broken Bats. What that will sound like is anyone’s guess.

And finally, Darren Keen has chimed in from his new home in Brooklyn, New York, to say that he’s posted a couple new DJ mixes:

This is a worldy / tropical bass / club oriented type mix: . This is a retro / synth / vocoder funk mix as my loose “DJ Tango Cash” pseudonym:

The DJ Tango Cash mix got me through my morning. I’m still trying to catch up with Darren to see what his plan is for conquering The Big Apple…

In case you were wondering, there are no shows going on tonight. Head over to The Barley Street Tavern for the Viva La Vinyl Christmas Party and buy DJ Brad Hoshaw a tall boy…

* * *

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: Twin Peaks and Midtown Art Supply; Twinsmith, Darren Keen goodbye party tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , , — @ 1:57 pm November 26, 2014
Twin Peaks at Midtown Art Supply, Nov. 25, 2014.

Twin Peaks at Midtown Art Supply, Nov. 25, 2014.

by Tim McMahan,

Midtown Art Supply doesn’t look like much from the street. In fact, it’s hard as hell to find. I drove past the storefront three times in the dark looking for it, trying to find some sort of indication that a show was going on. I should have just looked for the smokers, who huddled on the sidewalk outside the concrete building on Farnam Street, just a stone’s throw from what we used to refer to as the “loony bin.”

The interior is urban rustic bordering on squatters’ flat, or so it seemed. Playing hidden behind the crowd of about 100 was Twin Peaks crashing through a set of stripped down pop that was too well-written to be mistaken for garage. Since the band was playing at floor level, you could only see the tops of their shaggy heads in the near dark of the barren, cold art space.

A Lazy-i reader spotted me and pointed to a hole-walkway covered by a stapled-to-the-wall vinyl shower curtain that flapped in the cold darkness. “Go through there to get to the back stage and the bathroom,” he yelled.

We crossed into a blackness, a room with echoing high ceilings strewn with guitar cases and pieces of drum kit presumably from one of the opening bands, and walked to another hole in the wall where a half dozen people crowded to watch the band from behind. I leaned through and grabbed some photos of the mop-tops serenading a sea of bobbing heads while people pushed pass me to get to the bathroom.

Twin Peaks’ music is rowdy up-beat rock that borders on garage surf, but as I said before, there is a precision to it that puts it on another level. If you haven’t checked out Wild Onion, you should. Clearly the record has a lot of young fans, in fact judging by the number of eager, shining faces I got a feeling Twin Peaks’ might be drawing a younger crowd than the mob that was currently watching Desaparecidos over at TWR.

Standing toward the back drinking a beer out of a red cup, I suggested to the promoter that in the future he add a riser or something so the band could be seen above the crowd, and he told me there was an elevated stage hidden behind the large projector screen hanging behind the band, but for whatever reason it wasn’t being used for this show. He said with the stage in play, the room could comfortably hold a few hundred people, and has for past shows.

When the lights came up, I saw just how amazing — and monolithic — the space is. While the performance space isn’t much to look at, the interior of this building is cavernous and covered with eye-popping graffiti — huge spray-painted murals, which might explain the headache-inducing acrylic smell that hung over the back rooms. The building continues down into a basement where a skateboard ramp leaned against a wall. Down it went to another huge space broken up by support poles where I was told massive thousand-person raves had been held in years past. Another opening led to a blackened room filled with hundreds of doors leaning in stacks against each other. I was told there were more passages somewhere through the darkness that led who knows where. Anyway, an inspiring space which is now home to a talented local artist…

* * *

Night two of holiday week takes place tonight. Saddle Creek Records band Twinsmith headlines a show at Slowdown Jr. Opening is Lincoln band Oketo and Stephen Nichols. With turkey day tomorrow, this could be a big show. $7, 9 p.m.

Also tonight is the going-away party for local legend Darren Keen at House of Loom. Keen is high-tailing it to Brooklyn in the coming days, and we’re all going to miss him dearly (just wait and see). Tonight’s performance will feature Darren covering Daft Punk live. According to the invite: “He’s rebuilt & restructured some the songs from the ground up. Along with Mark Hinrichs on a trap drum set, Keen has sampled the source material and built up a wall of electronics that really nail the things that are special & amazing about the music of Daft Punk.” Show starts at 9, and the price: “$5 until we fill up / $8 after.” More info 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.


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.

* * *

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.


Lizzo, Marijuana Deathsquads and Darren Keen (a.k.a. Touch People) tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 12:57 pm March 18, 2014
Lizzo plays at The Waiting Room tonight...

Lizzo plays at The Waiting Room tonight…

by Tim McMahan,

The notable news about tonight’s line-up at The Waiting Room is that the opener is named Darren Keen. Not Touch People; not The Show Is the Rainbow, just Darren Keen.

“I am just releasing all my solo music as ‘Darren Keen’ now, and have a whole new set of really future, footwork influenced dance music,” Keen wrote, adding that he also recently completed a remix for The Faint. He had other news, too, but I can’t tell you what it is, yet.

So go to The Waiting Room tonight and welcome Darren Keen to the stage. He’s opening for Minneapolis indie hip-hop artist Lizzo a.k.a. Melissa Jefferson. the founding member of hip-hop groups The Chalice, Grrrl Prty and The Clerb. Also on the bill is fellow Twin Cities band Marijuana Deathsquads, who are on the road supporting their latest, Oh My Sexy Lord, released last year by Memphis Industries. $10, 9 p.m.

* * *

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


Live Review: Baths, Houses, Last Gold Tooth, Touch People; Ed Sharpe tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , , , — @ 12:53 pm June 4, 2013
Baths at The Waiting Room, June 2, 2013.

Baths at The Waiting Room, June 2, 2013.

by Tim McMahan,

It was a three-day weekend for me, thanks to my birthday (and thanks again to all you Facebook peeps who sent good wishes). Monday off meant I was free to attend Sunday night’s shows at the good ol’ Waiting Room

We grew up thinking of a future where musicians will be able to create any sound using their computers. We landed there Sunday night — three bands whose sound was mostly driven by computers and synths, which meant lots of people on stage bouncing around, looking down at their gear and furiously twisting knobs and stabbing buttons.

Opener D33j created electronic soundscapes behind his work panels. He looked like a DJ, but I didn’t see any turntables or hear any specific samples. Instead, he created his own sounds / beats / melodies adding vocals mostly as just another layer of sound. Very trance-y.

He was followed by Houses, a more “traditional” band in that they actually had a lead guitar player who can shred with the best of them. I described Houses’ record last week as sounding like a more upbeat version of The National (thanks in part to Dexter Tortoriello’s vocals). But that comparison was lost Sunday night as Houses brought a much denser dreamscape sound augmented (in a New Order sort of way) by that amazing guitar. Despite modern beats and sounds, Houses owes a lot to late-era Cure (Disintegration, for example).

Headliner Baths gets grouped with the chillwave outfits, where it doesn’t really fit. Will Wiesenfield is the mad genius creating all the sounds from two panel racks, with the help of one other guy who “played” alongside at his own rack of electronic gear, occassionaly threatening to play guitar (but he if he did, I didn’t hear it in the din). Wisenfield’s “music” is an intricate proggy blend that reminded me of early, trippy Peter Gabriel mixed with the chaos of other electronic outfits like Grimes. When he isn’t shrieking in falsetto, Wisenfield’s voice bears an eerie resemblance to Adam Goren (Who remembers Atom and His Package?).

I wasn’t a follower of Baths (as most people who I spoke to at the show beforehand were) and found Wisenfield’s sounds take some… adjustment. In addition to having the deepest, loudest low-end I’ve heard at The Waiting Room since the last Faint show, Wisenfeild’s melodies were abrasive and tricky but worked their way into my psyche. What starts as awkward and ugly becomes big and beautiful by the end.

It was surprising how entertaining a guy standing (or sitting) behind a laptop, keyboard and pedal rack could be. I could ask you if this is the future of rock and roll, but it’s already here. And while artists like Baths and Houses and D33j can recreate almost any sound you can imagine, they can’t equal the energy of a traditional rock band, nor would they want to try. There’s an intentional soullessness to it all, a weird hollow trancelike quality, which I’m guessing is so appealing to their biggest fans.

And then there was Friday night.

Last Good Tooth at O'Leaver's, May 31, 2013.

Last Good Tooth at O’Leaver’s, May 31, 2013.

Opening band Last Good Tooth might have the worst name in the music business but they’re still a darn good band. I said their lastest album was in the M. Ward vein, and that’s pretty much what the four -piece (including a tasty fiddle) brought to O’Leaver’s in one of the oddest, diverse line-ups I’ve seen at a show in a long time.

LGT was followed by Malaikat dan Singa, whose rhythmic, violent style bordered on confrontational performance art, except that the lead guy could play a mean bass clarinet.

Finally, it was the return of Touch People a.k.a. Darren Keen. Keen’s current sound mixes his own electronic creations (rhythms, noises, clicks, beats), with his electronically augmented voice (on helium). I’ve seen Touch People before and got lost in the noise due to sounds coming at me too fast, too disconnected, too dissonent. Keen’s finding his sweet spot with these new songs that not only have a more cohesive central rhythm/melody, but incorporate Keen’s abbrasively honest real-world views (which I just happen to agree with). Keen would have been right at home at TWR Sunday night.

* * *

Pseudo indie (but not really) popsters Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros headline at Stir Cove tonight. The show starts at 7:30 and will run you a cool $42 (with fees).

* * *

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 © 2013 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Live Review: White Lung, Digital Leather; Interview: Touch People (at TWR Saturday); PUJOL tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 1:10 pm April 5, 2013
White Lung at Slowdown Jr. April 2, 2103.

White Lung at Slowdown Jr. April 2, 2103.

by Tim McMahan,

So the move is over, my interweb is running and I’m back.

Briefly catching up on a few things: I had heard nary a note of White Lung prior to Tuesday night’s show at Slowdown Jr. The band had that very day driven from Winnipeg to make the show — a questionable tour schedule to say the least — but you wouldn’t have known it by the metal-infused punk they laid down during their relatively short set. Impressive power behind lead vocalist Mish Way — huge rhythm section, intricate layered guitar that bordered on dark metal. Nice stuff indeed.

Digital Leather at Slowdown Jr., April 2, 2013.

Digital Leather at Slowdown Jr., April 2, 2013.

Opening band Digital Leather did their usual superb set, though they sounded more restrained than when they play their home field of O’Leaver’s, which is understandable. I still don’t know the future of this line-up, which includes Todd Fink of The Faint. Will Todd record with DL? Time will tell. It’s good to hear those synth parts on these songs again, and Fink fits right in with the band’s overall style.

On hand, about 100 people. Not bad.

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Touch People a.k.a. Darren Keen celebrates the release of his new album, Brain Massage, at The Waiting Room Saturday night with openers m34n str33t, Killer Blow and the inimitable Solid Goldberg. Leading up to the show, I asked Darren a few questions about his new project (which you can check out here) and new direction. This is what he had to say:

I still don’t understand why you pulled the plug on TSITR. Is it because you no longer want to play that music or no longer have to react when people ask you to play that music? Now you can say ‘TSITR is dead. I’m Touch People’ and can shut them up, but you’re still Darren Keen and it’s still your music.

I pulled the plug on TSITR for a lot of reasons, but the easiest way to sum it up is…I had lost all of my momentum, and I was going to have to start all over making all new fans anyway, and I just wasn’t interested in doing that again with TSITR. A lot of TSITR’s energy was tied up in this false “I’m the best” pride, and having to once again go through the process of trying to appeal to a bunch of college kids makes me feel the exact opposite. I was faced with dragging a comedy hip-hop project back through the trenches, which would suck, where as, with Touch People, it’s a more real, honest, musical endeavor, so I don’t mind doing it.

It’s hard to explain. I guess I just didn’t feel like moving backwards with TSITR after 10 years of kicking ass.

Did you start Touch People to provide a clear line of demarcation in terms of your musical style? Why couldn’t you simply do this kind of music as TSITR?

I never make music to “provide” anything for the audience. I started Touch People because I was interested in studying minimalism, and I was really itching to start thinking more like a “composer” and less like a “rapper”.

What freedom does Touch People provide you as an artist?

As an artist, and as a human, I am free to do or say anything I want. The band doesn’t really provide me with any additional freedoms, except sometimes I get to shout into vocoders in front of large groups of people.

Explain the process of making Brain Massage. How would you describe the style of music? What does it mean?

Brain Massage was awesome to make. It was literally the only album I’ve ever made, where I thought about the sound and process before hand, and everything went just as I planned from creation to studio to mastering to live show.

I would describe it as minimalist composer influenced electronic music. I tell people that it has a lot of really fast notes, and odd time signatures. I use four guitar amps, a bass amp, and two vocoders, all controlled by an Akai Apc 40 and Ableton Live.

Brain Massage is lyrically not very diverse…most of the songs are about the human brain, and about feeding your brain with knowledge. The anti-intellectualism movement in America is disgusting to me, and when I hear someone talking about “biblical truth” or “intelligent design” I just want to puke my fucking guts out and stuff their mouth full of my pubic hair. People need to wake up, we aren’t dumb, illiterate cro mags wondering around the desert anymore. Science is not a conspiracy, teachers aren’t poisoning your children’s minds. We live in a real, scientific world, and that tribal mumbo jumbo is a dead scene.

What role did/does drugs/grass play in creating your music?

I have really cut back on my drug use, and either way, I never compose while on drugs, unless you consider weed a drug. I am always stoned. I don’t think it has anything to do with my process though. My talents and creativity are my own.

Are you satisfied or bitter about your career? Has it turned out as you expected or hoped?

I’m neither. I’m not bitter, although, when I was in TSITR I sometimes was. It has more or less turned out as I expected, but I HAD hoped that I would have gone further by now. I would love to be able to quit my jobs and just focus on my craft, but that’s just not a reality for me right now. Sometimes I see some of these bands that are packing out shows locally, and I realize that I have nothing in common with them. The things they think are “cool,” I think are lame, and visa versa. It’s not a right / wrong thing, it’s just a very deep divide in how we handle our bands and our business.

Please be careful not to take me out of context here, I do not want to be thought of as “shit talking” but for example, take Icky Blossoms or Universe Contest…both bands full of my friends. They are very good at what they do, which is making very fun, wild music that makes kids want to dance and make out. Its not “selling out” when they do it, because they are honestly into that sort of art / presence and that’s why they are so successful. If I were to do what they do, it would be terrible and I would be a poseur, because to me, music ISN’T this surface level, fun party time thing. Music is the ultimate healer, music is the way that I communicate myself the most clearly, and my whole life is wrapped up in it, thus my whole life is sort of my true art. I guess it’s another reason I quit TSITR…it just didn’t go deep enough for me. Does that make sense? Again, those bands are fine, and I don’t think of them as “selling out” (although they do sell out most of their shows), I feel like I personally WOULD be selling out by doing that, and like I said the first time when you interviewed me, I want to have my own path, where my success is my own.

What are your plans for getting Brain Massage heard? What are your hopes for this recording?

I am releasing the album March 29. I am playing that night in Lincoln at the Bourbon, and playing a release show in Omaha on April 6 at The Waiting Room. It’ll be up on Bandcamp and SoundCloud. I am just going to start touring a ton like I did with TSITR, and try to get out there at a very grassroots, local level. That’s all I know how to do. I’d love to find a label that was interested in my art, but I don’t really care or need that in my life at this point.

My hopes for this recording is that people will give it a listen, and that they will be inspired by it somehow.

* * *

So that’s one hot show for the weekend.

Another is tonight at fabulous O’Leaver’s, where Saddle Creek band PUJOL will make its first-ever stage appearance in Omaha (unless one of their gigs slipped under my radar). Openers are local band The Seen. This one if just $5 and will very likely be a capacity show, so get there early. Starts at 9:30.

Benson First Friday also is happening tonight. Details here. Of note for the kinky set is this here show at Sweat Shop Gallery. Find out more.

Finally tonight is Lincoln band Kill County’s album release show at The Sydney, brought to you by Hear Nebraska. Outlaw Con Bandana opens along with Electric Chamber Music (ex-Gus & Call). $5, 9 p.m. More info here.

Tomorrow night is the aforementioned Touch People show at TWR.

Also tomorrow night (Saturday) Water Liars play at O’Leaver’s with Twinsmith and Field Club. $5, 9:30 p.m.

That’s all for now…

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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 © 2013 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.