Live Review: R.E.M.odeled, Fear of Ghosts…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , — @ 12:35 pm July 23, 2012
Fear of Ghosts at The Waiting Room, July 20, 2012.

Fear of Ghosts at The Waiting Room, July 20, 2012.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Among the discussion topics outside of The Waiting Room Friday night where R.E.M.odeled and Fear of Ghosts performed: What’s the difference between a tribute band and a cover band?

According to our old friend Wikipedia, “The main way in which a tribute band differs from a cover band that simply plays songs by other artists, is that it strives to capture every nuance of the imitated artist’s actions and appearance for a perfect imitation.” That sums it up for me as well. To me, a tribute band tries to personify the band whose music they’re playing. A cover band merely plays the bands’ songs.

The two bands that played Friday night meet in the gray area between those definitions. There was no attempt to “impersonate” the bands as much as simply relish in their respective catalogs.  So when R.E.M.odeled’s Jeff Bell, playing the role of Michael Stipe, came out with an acoustic guitar, the initial reaction was “Hmm. I don’t remember Michael Stipe playing a guitar.” That’s because he didn’t. Does it matter? I guess it would to the hardcore fan that expected “tribute” treatment, but to the rest of us, not really.

What did matter was that Bell sung like Stipe, which he did very well. As a whole, the band did a good job playing tunes off R.E.M.’s Murmur and Chronic Town albums. It was fun. As was Fear of Ghosts, who were playing songs by The Cure. Braden Rapp did a respectable Robert Smith impersonation, right down to his black fright wig. And the crowd of between 100 and 200 loved it. And that’s all that matters. I could quibble at great lengths about both performances, but what would be the point? In the end, it was a fun night of covers by two bands with great respect for the bands that they were honoring.

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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 © 2012 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Icky Blossoms Pitchfork review (6.6); Tribute bands (R.E.M., The Cure), Noah’s Ark, Snake Island tonight; SPEED! Nebraska Soapbox madness (and concert) Saturday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:42 pm July 20, 2012

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Icky Blossoms' Pitchfork rating...

Icky Blossoms' Pitchfork rating...

The Icky Blossoms Pitchfork review went online today. They gave the band’s debut a 6.6, which is a little better than OK, and in line with what they typically give Saddle Creek releases (though Mynabirds’s latest came in at 7.5). Kudos to writer Ian Cohen for using the term “Cornhusker” in his review. Whether he got the rest of it right is a matter of opinion, though this write-up was better written with more color (and more research) than the typical Pitchfork review. It concludes with:

“So while the band comprises veterans, it’s worth remembering Icky Blossoms is still a debut. That point is driven home by the appropriately-titled closer ‘Perfect Vision,’ the moment where the past and present of Icky Blossoms’ personnel dovetail towards an individual perspective. A woozy, six-minute duet cruising at a pace no quicker than a backhand moving across a sweaty brow, Pressnall and Bohling kick back as boredom sets in, bicycles spin all over town, and ‘there’s nothing to do but get high in the afternoon.’ It’s the most in-tune the two sound with each other on Icky Blossoms and the most potent unification of sound and emotion as well. It’d be too easy to posit Icky Blossoms as a mid-career diversion for Pressnall, to consider the band latecomers or hayseed interlopers to a sound NYC hasn’t had much use for in a while. And perhaps it’s unfair to hold them to the standards of their urban peers when “Perfect Vision” suggests Icky Blossoms might be more suited for wasteful afternoons than a wasted evening.”

Not bad. Read the whole thing here.

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Tribute bands are a dicey experiment for everyone involved, especially if the band being tribute-ized has an avid fan base that knows every nuance of the music. Such is the case for R.E.M. and The Cure, both of whom get the tribute treatment tonight at The Waiting Room.

REModled poster

R.E.M.odeled

Via drummer and TWR bartender Matt Bowen, R.E.M.odeled is “a chronological series of album-by-album shows paying tribute to R.E.M. (natch!) that includes myself (Matt plays in The Third Men), Chuck Davis (ex-Janglepop), Jeff Bell (ex-Janglepop), Mike Volk (Qing Jao) and Mike Hergert. For the first show we’re doing Murmur, of course, but also throwing in Chronic Town since it was actually their first release.”

R.E.M.odeled will be followed by Fear of Ghosts, which Bowen says, is a “straight-up Cure tribute, covering most of their career, up to and including Disintegration. That band is me (again!), Phil Reno, Braden Rapp, Tom Barrett and Ryan McLaughlin.

Unlike bands that play original music, tribute bands (and cover bands) are by their very nature novelty acts. Their intent isn’t to communicate personal messages or emotions of the musicians on stage. They exist purely to entertain. For many people (myself included) the music of R.E.M. and The Cure is ingrained with deep personal meaning. Their songs are not just music, they’re the soundtrack to our lives; signposts as we traveled through times both triumphant and disastrous. So when a band goes on stage and tries to recapture those intimate moments, they better know what they’re doing. The margin of error is razor thin. The audience will either smile and nod knowingly, or roll their eyes and shake their heads (or even worse, laugh).

Make no mistake, these bands will be judged from the moment they walk on stage. Yeah, I know this is “all for fun,” which is generally why I don’t go to these things. I’d like to keep my memories of this music as unmarred as possible for the same reasons that I prefer closed-casket funerals. One person’s “goofy fun” is another persons loathsome insult. That said, Bowen not only is a local legend as a musician (He’s a veteran of such Saddle Creek-related bands as Norman Bailer, The Faint, Commander Venus and Lullaby for the Working Class as well as Magic Kiss — a precursor to Tilly and the Wall), he’s also an audiophile, DJ and music aficionado whose knowledge about both bands runs deep and wide. Translated: I trust Matt to take this endeavor seriously.

So… go. The show starts at 9 and costs $7.

Also tonight, Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship headlines a show at fabulous O’Leaver’s with Buildings and Lincoln band Dirty Talker, who will be celebrating the release of a new CD. Dirty Talker features Brendan McGinn from Her Flyaway Manner. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Snake Island has a busy night in store. They’re playing an early show in Lincoln opening for A Place to Bury Strangers at The Bourbon Theater before heading back to Omaha to play a show at The Sandbox with Des Moines’ Holy White Hounds, The Dead Records and Isle Life. $8, 9 p.m.

Start your Friday night on the chill side by catching a set by DJ Andrew Norman — that’s right, thee Andy Norman of Hear Nebraska — as he mans the turntable for Loom’s Friday Afternoon Club. It’s part of HOL’s “non-DJ DJ series.” Andy (or as he’s known in the hip-hop community DJ Mad Frodo) kicks out the jams beginning at 5 p.m.. It’s fun and free.

soapbox riot 2012 poster

Tomorrow’s big event is the annual SPEED! Nebraska Soapbox Riot (Derby) at noon at Seymour Smith Park. Watch as some of your favorite musicians and O’Leaver’s regulars risk life and limb and reputation as they hurl down the ramp in their homemade racing machines. Gravity as we all know can be a cruel mistress, especially when the engineers of these fine jalopies very likely were tanked when they were put together the brake assemblies. There will be blood, indeed…along with heat exhaustion and stroke.

Later that evening — at 9 p.m. to be exact — the bandaged survivors will pick up guitar, bass and drumstick to perform live at O’Leaver’s. Among the bands: The Filter Kings, Domestica, The Wagon Blasters, The Really Rottens, Sons of Soapbox and Qing Jao. Your $5 not only will pay the bands, but will help cover any ongoing medical bills (j/k)(probably).

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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 © 2012 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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