Surprised by the Maha Festival schedule? Single-day tix on sale; volunteers charged $35 deposit…

Category: Blog — Tags: , — @ 12:40 pm May 14, 2018

by Tim McMahan,

Was anyone surprised by the Maha Music Festival lineup announcement last week? Pairing Weezer and Father John Misty makes perfect sense considering Maha is charging $70 for Saturday and $35 for Friday. In some ways, the line-up announcement changed the complexion of the festival, for me anyway. Saturday looks very solid:

Father John Misty
The Kills
Rayvn Lanae
Hop Along
U.S. Girls
David Nance
The Dilla Kids

They’ve grouped everyone I wanted to see on Saturday; and while I’m not a big Weezer fan (especially of their output the past decade) I generally skip the headliner anyway. For a few people I’ve spoken to, FJM is their headliner, and they were hoping he was playing Friday night (so they could save some cash, I suppose). But it would make no sense to put two headliners on the Friday half-day show. FJM makes Saturday more than just a Weezer concert with a string of opening bands (though for some Weezer fans, that’s all it is).

As it stands, unless you’re a TV on the Radio fan (and I’m not), Friday night’s line-up, which starts at 5:30, is a bit of a snooze:

TV on the Radio
ZZ Ward
Benjamin Booker
Hurray for the Riff Raff
State Disco
Clarence Tilton

If you buy the two-day pass, you’re getting Friday for just $25 more ($95) — worth it for TVotR fans (and for Hurray for the Riff Raff, whose 2017 concept album The Passenger (ATO Records) was a critical smash in a bluesy Big Thief sort of way). TVotR currently is only scheduled to play three other dates this year, including a Red Rocks show Aug. 15 with Father John Misty (which is why some thought FJM would be playing with them Friday night).

Something else new this year: Maha volunteers are being asked to submit their credit card info and will be charged a $35 deposit “which helps make sure everyone comes to their shift and your fellow volunteers aren’t left hanging.” I’ve already heard a complaint about this from a long-time Maha volunteer who says she’s never screwed Maha so why are she being charged? What about loyalty? Etc.

And this new policy would seem to exclude anyone who doesn’t have a credit card, but how many 19-year-olds (the minimum age for most volunteer slots) don’t have a credit card these days?

By the way, Des Moines’ 80/35 Festival requires volunteers to authorize an $85 charge on their credit cards.

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Did anyone else notice that The Decemberists have been booked to play The Holland Oct. 1?

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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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Beth Israel, Decemberists, Radkey tonight; Mini-Maha (Kweller, Dodos) Saturday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , — @ 12:51 pm May 29, 2015
The Decemberists at The Holland Performing Arts Center, April 17, 2011.

The Decemberists at The Holland Performing Arts Center, April 17, 2011. The band plays tonight at Sumtur Amphitheater.

by Tim McMahan,

It’s a busy weekend for shows.

Tonight is the long-awaited Decemberists concert at Sumtur Amphitheater. The band puts on a fantastic show (Their 2011 concert at The Holland was one of my faves). Opening is Sirius XM’s 2015 Artist of the Year Dan Mangan + Blacksmith. Based on what I’ve seen posted in Facebook, ticket sales have been brisk; this show should be huge. 8 p.m., $35. BTW, this is a rain-or-shine event.

Also tonight, Austin indie/garage band Beth Israel plays at The Sweatshop Gallery. Also on the bill are Telepathy Problems (last show for now); Working Man (new trio featuring Dereck Higgins); and Chalant. $7, 9 p.m.

Meanwhile, over at Reverb, St. Louis punk band Radkey headlines with local boys Low Long Signal. $10, 9 p.m.

And over at fabulous O’Leaver’s Comme Reel (Mike Saklar and Co.) headlines a show that also includes Relax, It’s Science, and Laika the Space Bitch. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Tomorrow night (Saturday) is the big Mini-Maha Festival at Loess Fest at River’s Edge Park (That park on the other side of the Bob Kerrey Bridge). The free concert features Ben Kweller, The Dodos and Oketa. 7 p.m., rain or shine.

Also Saturday night Copeland (Tooth & Nail) headlines at The Waiting Room with Anniversaire. $20 today/ $22 DOS. 8 p.m.

And it’s Ukulele night at Reverb Lounge Saturday with Danielle Ate the Sandwich along with All Young Girls Are Machine Guns. Also on the bill (though probably not playing a uke) is Aly Peeler. $7, 9 p.m.

And finally, Glass Animals plays at The Waiting Room Lounge Sunday night with Gilligan Moss. 8 p.m. and SOLD OUT.

That’s all I got for this weekend. If I missed your show, put in the comments section. Have a great weekend and don’t forget about this BIG show going on next Wednesday at Reverb Loung…

The 50th Birthday Concert at Reverb, June 3, 2015. A benefit for Hear Nebraska.

The 50th Birthday Concert at Reverb, June 3, 2015. A benefit for Hear Nebraska.

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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 © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Contemplating summer days (Stir, Decemberists, etc.); New Jake Bellows videos; Orenda Fink tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 1:49 pm February 11, 2015
Orenda Fink plays tonight at Reverb Lounge in Benson.

Orenda Fink plays tonight at Reverb Lounge in Benson.

by Tim McMahan,

The news lull continues, which explains why updates have been spotty lately. When I don’t have something to write about, I’m not going to post an update, and lately there hasn’t been much to write about regarding local indie music. At least nothing definitive.

From a national indie perspective, one of the bigger announcements was the continuation of The Replacements reunion tour, with shows now slated for Denver April 19 and Chicago April 29 and 30. Why not Maha in August? You never know, though I don’t see it happening. I suspect we’ll be getting a Maha headliner announcement in the very near future.

I was a tad bit disappointed that Replacements won’t be in Austin for South by Southwest this year, mainly because I will, once again, be attending the annual confab / endurance test. Expect the usual coverage at and (of course) right here.

And there very likely also will be a podcast from Austin, but more about podcasting later (I still have to figure out how to do it).

In other outdoor festival news, Stir Cove announced a slew of lackluster summer dates including Barenaked Ladies, Violent Femmes, Colin Hay of Men at Work, the godawful Hozier and novelty star Weird Al. Looks like my string of avoiding Stir Concert Cover shows will continue in 2015.

One outdoor concert I will be attending (in addition to Maha) is The Decemberists at Sumtur Amphitheater May 29.  Where the f*** is Sumtur? Way out in Papillion out by Walnut Creek Lake. Where’s that? It’s 20-some miles south of Dodge on 108th St. No opener named, yet. Decemberists have been touring with Alvvays, and two days before the Omaha date Decemberists are playing at Red Rocks with Courtney Barnett. Barnett alone is worth the 8-hour drive to Denver.

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Hey, here’s some news: Mouser just posted three new videos by Jake Bellows. You can see them all here or check out the YouTube embed below (which connects to the full playlist). Good ol’ Jake.

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Tonight at Reverb Lounge in Benson it’s Orenda Fink live and in concert. She is, in my opinion, the kind of artist perfectly suited for this very intimate venue. Expect a special performance. Opening is Thayer Sarrano & Mike Schlesinger. $8, 9 p.m.

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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 © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Column 312: The Quarterly Report; Bright Eyes charts at No. 40; Benningtons tonight…

Category: Blog,Column,Reviews — Tags: , , , , , , — @ 8:15 am March 3, 2011

Column 312: Quarterly Report

CD reviews for the first quarter 2011.

by Tim McMahan,

And so ends the first quarter of ’11. If there’s an early, detectable trend in the world of indie music, it’s a subtle move away from “static-y, vibe bands” (as one local genius put it) like Animal Collective and Sleigh Bells to more-classic songwriting. Music auteurs will confuse this shift with retro or rehash, and in some cases they’re dead right, but the healing has to start somewhere.

Poor But SexyLet’s Move In Together (self-released) — Self-proclaimed re-inventors of “Yacht Rock” (their first misstep), this combo of D.C. post-punk veterans (including members of Dismemberment Plan) do their darnedest to translate Steely Dan to these Modern Times, but wind up sounding more like Pablo Cruise or Leo Sayer or Gino Vannelli, which ain’t necessarily a bad thing if you’re into that sort of white-guy disco funk (attention, Satchel Grande fans). It has its moments, like the roller skate handclap groover “You’re Hotter than a Poptart,” which sums up the lyrical deftness of the entire collection. Imagine what they could have done with a horn section.

DestroyerKaputt (Merge) — The band hasn’t remade its sound (you heard this coming on Trouble in Dreams) as much as given into its influences. “Savage Night at the Opera” is the best clear-cut homage to New Order you’ll ever find, right down to the “Bizarre Love Triangle” guitar cues. Other, more disco-y moments will make you think you picked up a Pet Shop Boys album, while the dreamy stuff is pure Roxy Music. The differentiator is the gorgeous trumpet and saxophone that slides in and out at the best moments, like the title track, where frontman Dan Bejar croons “Wasting your days, chasing some girls all right / Chasing cocaine to the back rooms of the world all night” over a warm, twilight LA summer disco melody he calls his “song for America” (circa 1988).

MENTalk About Body (IAMSOUND) — Fronted by Le Tigre’s SD Samson and Johanna Fateman, this thump-thump-thump electronic dance collection with a feminist edge would have benefited from a tad more (or a lot more) variety, but who’s looking for variety on the dance floor (other than Peaches, who did this better with I Feel Cream)?

Chikita Violenta, Tre3s (Arts & Crafts)

Chikita Violenta, Tre3s (Arts & Crafts)

Chikita ViolentaTre3s (Arts & Crafts) — From Mexico City by way of Canada’s Dave Newfeld (Broken Social Scene, Los Campesinos!) you won’t find a hint of south-of-the-border flavor. Instead, they sound like another member of the Arts & Crafts clan, hashed out and shimmering, complete with strutting vocalists that Feist and Stars’ Torquil Campbell ain’t got nothing on. Hot center track “ATPG” feels like revved up Yo La Tengo, while opener “Roni” is revved up Jesus and Mary Chain. Kick those influences to the curb and you have something that could be glorious.

The DecemberistsThe King Is Dead (Rough Trade) — They can no longer be marginalized as just another twangy indie band, now that they’ve broken through with a collection that defines modern-day, above-ground Americana. The rural stomp-rock of “Down By the Water,” with its soaring harmonica and squeeze-box solo, is better than anything John Mellencamp has produced since Pink Houses; while the fiddles, banjo and honky-tonk piano on “All Arise!” could get any boots scootin’ at your local 2-step parlor. They’d be radio stars if radio hadn’t died a decade ago. I’ll take them over Mumford and Sons any day (but that’s not saying much).

Yuck, self-titled (Fat Possum) — That the album opens with a song that could be mistaken for classic Dinosaur Jr. is no mistake at all, as these British lads are channeling the best of the ’80s/’90s college rock scene almost note for note. Is that Pavement I hear? Yes, son, it is. How about Teenage Fanclub? Right you are. Is it a sin to emulate your heroes? Take a listen and decide for yourself.

RadioheadThe King of Limbs (XL) — As Thom Yorke’s music became more and more dehumanized and faux-modern (opening tracks “Bloom” and “Morning Mr. Magpie” are prime examples), I assumed this would be just another soulless escape into sterile, forced beats and drone-tones. But Yorke pulls it off with his brilliant voice, which he layers upon the layers upon the layers, and thankfully leaves clean without electronic effects (for the most part). When he tries to make it swing (“Little by Little,” “Lotus Flower”) I wonder if he simply forgot how to rock. He still struggles to find melodies; or maybe he just isn’t looking for them any more. He comes closest when he slows it down at the end. Tracks “Codex” and “Give Up the Ghost” are the closest thing to what we loved about OK Computer (and redeem the entire collection). It’s not as good as that landmark album, but nothing he produces from now on ever will be.

Toro Y MoiUnderneath the Pine (Carpark) — They’re calling one-man band Chaz Bundick’s style “chillwave,” which I guess means that it’s music to chill to, and I can see that. Both synth-y and beat-heavy, the shimmer is dreamy, the vocals breathy and echoing, the melodies intentionally loungy (a la Stereolab); it’s all very pretty and easy to listen to, and even easier to ignore.

The DirtbombsParty Store (In the Red) — Don’t know anything about the Detroit techno scene that this album supposedly honors? Doesn’t matter. I didn’t, either, and I still don’t. Take the record for what it is — a dirty, filthy, garage-punk dance album that recreates the beats and action of electronic acid house with guitars, bass, drums and Mick Collins’ brazen yowl. As for the 21:22 rehash of “Bug in the Bassbin” that stops the album dead in its tracks at the halfway point, well, that’s what the delete key is for (but only after you’ve endured it a couple times). Coolest album so far this year.

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Homer’s head honcho Mike Fratt reports that Bright Eyes’ The People’s Key came in at No. 40 on the Billboard charts last week with sales of 11,314. Normally that would have landed Conor and Co. higher on the chart, but it was “another BIG week at soundscan,” he said, “sales are on a roll. Adele did over 350k.” Yikes. Despite the launch of the Bright Eyes global domination tour, you should see that number slowly decline until the band’s next network appearance. I’ve been told that once a band does Letterman or any other competing late-night show, that they’re blackballed form appearing on Saturday Night Live, which is a shame because BE could do real damage with an SNL appearance, and deserves the spot. But you take what you can get, I suppose, and Letterman has been a faithful supporter of Conor for years. Oberst certainly knows who has been there since the beginning. Let’s hope he remembers when it comes time to do local interviews surrounding the June Westfair date…

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The Bonacci Brothers’ new band The Benningtons plays tonight at Slowdown Jr. They recently finished recording a new CD, which I’ve listening to while on the road (more details about that later). You should go to this show tonight. With Sun Settings and Sour Babies, it’s only $7.

Also tonight, Dim Light plays at The Barley Street Tavern with Damon Moon & the Whispering Drifters and South of Lincoln. $5, 9 p.m.

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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 © 2011 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.