Deleted Scenes at Slowdown Jr., May 1, 2014.
by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com
The smoke billowing out vents on the outside of The Slowdown last night was a good indication that Talking Mountain had already taken the stage. Sure enough, upon walking into the club you’d think the place was on fire, except the smoke didn’t smell like smoke, it smelled like something strangely chemical-y.
Talking Mountain indeed likes its smoke machine. The nozzle belched out the manicured soot like a volcano throughout their set. They also like their lights and lasers. Their latest production involves a 3D laser projected on a scrim that hangs from the front of the stage like a mosquito net. In addition to a cascade of colorful laser-pointer style effects similar to what I remember seeing at a Kansas concert circa 1977 a second projector beamed very cool moving images onto the scrim — skulls, hands, other stuff. Top it off with high-density smoke and you’ve got a multi-media spectacle concocted by equipment that would fit in your trunk.
Here’s the thing — while the images were neat and all, Talking Mountain never sounded better. Performing as a duo, the electronic-fueled music is as gorgeous and dense as the visual effects and could easily stand on its own (and I could do without the stinky smoke (I don’t care if it’s FDA approved, it can’t be healthy breathing that stuff in such mass quantities)).
The only special effects Deleted Scenes brought with them was frontman Dan Scheuerman, who practically made out with former Hear Nebraska Managing Editor Michael Todd during the last song of their set.
While their new album is solid by itself, the music takes on new life performed live. Scheuerman’s vocals are rougher and more organic than on the rather smoothed-over, lush recordings. The band made those edges even sharper, dancing along the edge of every syncopated peak and valley. Favorite moment was the performance of my favorite track off the new record, “House of Dust,” a song that staggers atop a brutal guitar riff that chops like the finest lumberjack.
The other highlight, of course, was that closing number, “You Get to Say Whatever You Want,” when Scheuerman walked into the crowd and touched foreheads with a couple innocent bystanders, performing a mortifying rock ‘n’ roll mind meld. Ah, Michael, you’re a good sport. I don’t know what I would have done…
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Looking at the calendar, only one show stands out for the entire weekend — the Mitch Gettman CD release show tonight at The Waiting Room.
Gettman’s new album, Stop Living Like It’s the End of the World, is a real surprise. I’ll be brutally honest and tell you I haven’t liked anything Gettman’s done in the past — it all sounded too by-the-numbers and homogenized. Not this time.
After a pretty acoustic intro, the album launches with “Stay a Little Longer,” where Gettman channels bands like Toad the Wet Sprocket, Soul Asylum and Gin Blossoms, creating a style of indie/alt singer-songwriter acoustic rock that we all remember from the ’90s. “Best Years of My Life” follows suit. Janglepop? Yeah.
On the other hand, “Pressure from the Public” feels like modernized ’70s rock a la Matthew Sweet. At times Gettman has a vocal affectation that recalls British psych-rock balladeer Donovan. That lilt is especially pronounced on the slower chamber-pop numbers like “She Wants to Break Your Heart” and “In the Shower.” The strings on “Ant Farm” are pure FM Gold. In fact the whole record lies beneath a layer of stereophonic nostalgia that, while dated, is never less than listenable (and well done).
As a whole, on this new record Gettman does little more than turn already well-toiled soil, but he does it with an exquisite plow. Worth checking out.
Opening Gettman’s CD release show is Müshmouth & Anne Frankenstein. $8, 9 p.m.
And… that’s it for shows. Remember, tonight is Benson First Friday, so you might be hard-pressed to find parking in Omaha’s hottest booze district.
Did I miss anything? Put it in the comments section. Have a good 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 © 2014 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.