Benson First Friday Femme Fest, Gramps, American Cream tonight; Closeness, NE Hardcore Saturday; Nance, Joyner Sunday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 8:52 am September 2, 2016
The second annual Benson First Friday Femme Fest is tonight...

The second annual Benson First Friday Femme Fest is tonight…

by Tim McMahan,

Some call Labor Day weekend the last weekend of summer. But the last time I checked, summer doesn’t end officially until Sept. 21. And I plan on soaking in every last day of it. Anyway, a new tradition (at least for the last year or so) is Benson First Friday Femme Fest, or #BFFFF. I’ve never been to one before and likely won’t again since I have my own Labor Day weekend tradition that involves New York City. This year is the exception. I’m here. I’m going.

What exactly is the point of Femme Fest other than to gather bands together that include women in them to play together on one night? I’m not entirely sure. There used to be a time when rock ‘n’ roll was exclusively a boys’ club. Take a look at the pop charts (or any chart) and you’ll see that’s no longer the case. In fact, women performers, singer-songwriters and rockers dominate just about every genre, if not in sheer numbers, in overall quality (sorry guys, but times have changed).

That doesn’t mean there still aren’t problems when it comes to women in rock, or that gigs like these aren’t appropriate (or necessary). In the press releases I’ve received for this event from #BFFFF organizers, a clear mission for Femme Fest is never spelled out. The closest I’ve seen was the following written by organizer Rebecca Lowry for the pages of BFFFF sponsor Hear Nebraska:

Over my years watching the form of the music community shift and change, I am amazed at how quickly this has become a community consumed by women in music. The sheer number of us has drastically increased, and continues to do so, shaping some of the best music to come from our state.

The specifics: 56 bands at eight venues for $10. Here’s the sched. See you there:

The Waiting Room Lounge
6:30 – 7:20 :: OPENING CEREMONY :: All Young Girls Are Machine Guns/Omaha Girls Rock
7:30 – 8:05 :: KMK
8:15 – 8:50 :: Mary Ruth McLeay
9:00 – 9:35 :: The Hottman Sisters
9:45 – 10:20 :: Dani Cleveland
10:30 – 11:05 :: Lexi Robles
11:15 – 11:50 :: La Guerre (Lawrence, KS)
12:00 – 12:35 :: High Up
12:45 – 1:30 :: HEADLINER :: CJ Mills

Reverb Lounge
7:30 – 8:05 :: Blue Bird
8:15 – 8:50 :: Field Club
9:00 – 9:35 :: Edem Soul Music
9:45 – 10:20 :: Keiria Marsha’
10:30 – 11:05 :: Lady Scientist
11:15 – 11:50 :: DJ P2K
12:00 – 12:35 :: SharkWeek

The Barley Street Tavern
7:30 – 8:05 :: The Shineys
8:15 – 8:50 :: Badland Girls
9:00 – 9:35 :: Annie Dilocker
9:45 – 10:20 :: White Bee (Detroit, MI)
10:30 – 11:05 :: Tara Vaughan
11:15 – 11:50 :: Briner
12:00 – 12:35 :: Kait Berreckman Music

9:00 – 9:35 :: PYRATE
9:45 – 10:20 :: The Clocks
10:30 – 11:05 :: The Morbs
11:15 – 11:50 :: Muscle Cousins
12:00 – 12:35 :: Universe Contest

SoundCheck Rehearsal Studio
7:30 – 8:05 :: Soul Tree
8:15 – 8:50 :: The Ronnys
9:00 – 9:35 :: Calling Cody
9:45 – 10:20 :: Molly Gaughan & The Dustbunnies
10:30 – 11:05 :: Tiny Monsters
11:15 – 11:50 :: Edge Of Arbor
12:00 – 12:35 :: Pleiades & the Bear

Burke’s Pub
7:30 – 8:05 :: Ragged Company
8:15 – 8:50 :: The Toppings
9:00 – 9:35 :: The Ragabonds
9:45 – 10:20 :: 24 Hour Cardlock
10:30 – 11:05
:: Dammit Daniel
11:15 – 11:50 :: Wagon Blasters
12:00 – 12:35 :: The Electroliners

Pizza Shoppe Collective
7:30 – 8:05 :: Aly Peeler
8:15 – 8:50 :: Emily Ward
9:00 – 9:35 :: Cat Deluca
9:45 – 10:20 :: Wendy & The Lost Boys
10:30 – 11:05 :: Virginia Tanous
11:15 – 11:50 :: Belles & Whistles

The Sydney
7:30 – 8:05 :: DOOM BLADE
8:15 – 8:50 :: Shen Teh Music (La Crosse, WI)
9:00 – 9:35 :: No Thanks
9:45 – 10:20 :: Better Friend
10:30 – 11:05 :: Screaming Plastic
11:15 – 11:50 :: Domestica
12:00 – 12:35 :: The Clincher

* * *

#BFFFF isn’t the only thing going on tonight.

Over at fabulous O’Leaver’s it’s the return of Gramps (Django Greenblatt-Seay’s joint) with openers The Edge Of and the stage debut of Win/Win. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Meanwhile Milk Run is hosting American Cream (Nate from STNNNG) along with Robust Worlds (Chris from Vampire Hands) and Alcools (Mike from Almost Music). $5, 9 p.m.

Closeness at O'Leaver's April 30, 2016. The band returns Saturday, Sept. 3.

Closeness at O’Leaver’s April 30, 2016. The band returns Saturday, Sept. 3.

Tomorrow night (Saturday) it’s back to O’Leaver’s for Closeness (The Finks’ sublime new jam (review)). Joining them are Silversphere (the band formerly known as The Lepers) and Little Ripple. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Speaking of festivals, Saturday is the Nebraska Hardcore Showcase at the Lookout Lounge. Acts include Bad Blood, Bib, CBN, Circle VII, Crease, Culture War, Dilute, Downtrod, DWNR, Feral Hands, Flak, Hercules, Jocko, Lost Boys, No Thanks, Pisswalker, Relentless Approach and Sister Kisser. All for just $5. Runs from 2 to 11 p.m. Yes! BTW, Bib is listed as kicking the showcase off at 2 p.m. And Bib might be the hottest new noise/punk band in the area. See what the hype’s all about.

Finally on Sunday, Reverb Lounge is hosting a special show featuring Simon Joyner, David Nance and headliner Neil Michael Hagerty & The Howling Hex (Drag City Records). $8, 8 p.m. Hey, we all have Monday off, right? Might as well get blasted Sunday night…

That’s all I got. If I missed your show, put it in the comments section. Have a great third-to-last weekend of summer.

* * *

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.

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Live Review: Gramps, Karen Meat, Sam Martin, Take Cover Five; Kayla sets her sights on Omaha…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 1:36 pm February 1, 2016
Karen Meat and the Computer at O'Leaver's Jan. 30, 2016.

Karen Meat and the Computer at O’Leaver’s Jan. 30, 2016.

by Tim McMahan,

It was a great weekend of live music, something I haven’t been able to say for a number of weeks. It started Friday night at O’Leaver’s with a triple bill kicked off by Django Greenblatt-Seay’s band Gramps.

Third time’s a charm for these boys, as the set was their best yet. I’ve described them in the past as a sort of slacker-rock cross between Little Brazil and Criteria, which leaves out the lyrical uniqueness that G-S brings to the table. His songs are field observations about a guy doing his own thing whilst living in the shadow of a corporate-fueled existence — which has a familiar resonance to Criteria’s anthems, though G-S’s life is quite different than Steve Pedersen’s.

I watched the set seated at a table filled with co-workers who also are G-S’s co-workers. Imagine playing your music in front of the same folks you see every day down at the office. I’d be nervous. For G-S, it was just another day at the office, albeit a much different office than the cubicles we all share downtown.

Gramps was followed by Des Moines’ Karen Meat and the Computer. With two guitarists and a bass player, they’re not your run-of-the-mill power trio. Drums came by way of prerecorded tracks, and for the most part I didn’t miss them (though the “stage” looked a bit empty).

I take that back— while the rhythm lines were predictably tight, the energy level was a tad lacking.  Front woman Karen Meat a.k.a. Arin Eaton, filled the void with her girlish growl on golden garage-rock tunes that got me singing along by the third time through the chorus. Check out the recordings. They had a cassette for sale at the show but didn’t get a chance to pick one up. Man, a lot of bands are putting out cassettes these days. I guess they provide the same nostalgia for half the price of vinyl.

Sam Martin at O'Leaver's Jan. 29, 2016.

Sam Martin at O’Leaver’s Jan. 29, 2016.

Finally, the all-new all-digital version of Sam Martin closed out the night with a set of throbbing electronic rock songs that are his catchiest tunes ever. The set-up was Sam behind a synth rack, guitar slung over his shoulders, and a pair of strobing flood lights at his feet that bounced along with the digital pulse.

Maybe it was the fact that he was singing to layers of prerecorded tracks but Martin’s voice was at its most controlled, least caterwauling. Sonically, music ranged from deep-blue house beats to acidic front-loaded rhythms, each song glowing with its own energy. I look forward to hearing Sam’s next record.

So is Martin’s one-man show the future of indie rock? Sure, there have been a lot of one-person projects over the years (Darren Keen was among the first to do it locally), but I keep seeing more and more popping up. Is it the product of technology or the reality of today’s music economics? Regardless, the trick to making it work is finding a way to make the performance lively despite the isolation. Martin pulled it off with the combination of lights, beats, guitar, voice and a giant helping of Martin charisma.

High Up at Take Cover Five at O'Leaver's Jan. 30, 2016.

High Up at Take Cover Five at O’Leaver’s Jan. 30, 2016.

Onto Saturday night and Hear Nebraska’s fifth annual Take Cover show at O’Leaver’s. As expected, it was a crushed room cast in constant motion — 12 bands, each performing one cover and one original. The cover had to be a song by a fellow Nebraska band.

I’ve been to most of the past Take Cover nights and usually left wondering what was the point, as they featured unknown bands playing covers of unknown songs by fellow unknown bands (that would have been the case had I gone to the Lincoln version of Take Cover last week). Saturday night’s show was the best Take Cover yet because it featured full bands (Take Cover used to be a solo acoustic deal) covering familiar songs, or at least I knew most of the bands and songs they were covering.

A standout was old school punk band Hand Painted Police Car covering The Faint’s “Agenda Suicide,” giving the classic electro-clash rocker a new metal life. The guitars and bass ripped into the main melodies, while guest synth player Dereck Higgins provided the familiar digital icing on the cake. Then the band flew into one of their own numbers without letting off the gas and voila, you’ve just discovered a new band that you hadn’t heard before.

And that’s the point of Take Cover — it’s an annual tribute to past conquests by the next wave of conquerors. You (hopefully) leave the club with some new bands to follow. Among the new blood that caught my ear was Marcey Yates. I’m not a hip-hop guy but I can spot the real deal when I hear it and this guy is about as legit as it gets. And he did it live.

Then there’s Vegetable Deluxe, a garage band fronted by former Brimstone Howl member Nick Waggoner, the guy who used to look like he was 14 years old and now looks exactly like Beck. Forget how he looks. The band captures that ’60s East Coast psychedelic sound circa Lou Reed / Velvet Underground about as well you’re going to find ’round these parts. Someone should have slotted them to open that Brian Jonestown Massacre show in May.

I’ve been trying to catch a set by Eric In Outerspace for a long time and now I’m kicking myself for having waited so long. They do a sort of psychedelic garage rock thing as well, though it’s marked with a ’90s post-punk Sonic Youth flair. Which made them perfect for covering Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship.

Uh Oh at Take Cover Five at O'Leaver's Jan. 30, 2016.

Uh Oh at Take Cover Five at O’Leaver’s Jan. 30, 2016.

Earlier in the evening Uh Oh, another band I’ve been trying to catch for a long while, crushed an Eric in Outspace cover before ripping into their own song.

Look at all these new bands taking over the scene.

Maybe the most compelling covers of the night were of Digital Leather songs. Mint Wad Willy did a straight up rock rendition of DL’s “Young Doctors in Love” that added heavy guitars on an already heavy song, and Omaha’s hottest new band High Up tackled DL’s perennial set closer “Studs in Love” warping the original intent. Or did it? Suddenly, I’m confused.

Well Aimed Arrows closed out Take Cover Five at O'Leaver's Jan. 30, 2016.

Well Aimed Arrows closed out Take Cover Five at O’Leaver’s Jan. 30, 2016.

The night ended with Well Aimed Arrows covering Millions of Boys to an exhausted crowd.

What should have been utter chaos — switching out a dozen bands over the course of four hours — came off swimmingly, and no doubt was another Hear Nebraska success.

Rumor has it that many of the performances were recorded for Live At O’Leaver’s… Stay tuned.

* * *

Apparently it’s going to snow tomorrow.

This blizzard, which The Weather Channel has christened Kayla, could make attending tomorrow night’s gigantic ska show at Lookout Lounge challenging. But, hey, anything good is worth the fight, right?

The lineup for that show includes The Toasters, Jimmy Skaffa celebrating 20 years, and The Bishops. Lookout posted that “As of Mon, Feb 1st at 10:58am this show is still on. The Toasters are planning on driving up from Wichita early tomorrow.”

Your best bet is to follow The Lookout Lounge’s website and/or this Facebook invitation for the latest updates on the show.

Batten down the hatches.

* * *

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.


Sam Martin, Gramps tonight; Take Cover 5, BUHU Saturday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 1:43 pm January 29, 2016
Sam Martin in the Sweatshop Gallery at Sweatfest, July 15, 2015. He's playing tonight at O'Leaver's.

Sam Martin in the Sweatshop Gallery at Sweatfest, July 15, 2015. He’s playing tonight at O’Leaver’s.

by Tim McMahan,

Believe it or not, it’s been more than a month since I last went to a rock show. Last show attended: Christopher the Conquered at Slowdown, Jr., Dec. 16. I think this is the longest I’ve ever gone without seeing a show.

Hey, don’t look at me. The only shows booked have been the same local combos that play all the same clubs all the time. Is the lack of shows due to a lack of touring indie bands coming through town or unwillingness of local bookers to book them? Who knows.

What I do know is that I’ll be back in circulation this weekend thanks to a couple “can’t miss” local shows going on, both of them at fabulous O’Leaver’s.

The first is tonight when Gramps (that’s the band headed by Django Greenblatt-Seay of Love Drunk Studio) opens for Sam Adams Martin and Karen Meat & the Computer at the aforementioned O’Leaver’s. Gramps is always a good time, and Sam Martin is something of a genius songwriter. I don’t know anything about Ms. Meat other than she’s from Des Moines and, based on the following track, has a knack for Phil Spector-ish garage rock a la early Camera Obscura. Check for yourself. Show starts at 9:30 and will run you five clams.

Also tonight, Those Far Out Arrows headlines at Slowdown Jr. with surf dudes The Sub-Vectors and Big Slur, the electronic project by Dan Scheuerman, formerly of Deleted Scenes. $7, 9 p.m.

And Milk Run is hosting a show tonight featuring Bed Rest, Minneapolis band The Crash Bandits and No•Getter. $5, 9 p.m.

Then tomorrow is the 5th Annual Take Cover benefit for Hear Nebraska at O’Leavers, the show I wrote about yesterday. Lots o’ local bands covering lots of other local bands (plus playing a song of their own). They’ll be asking for a $10 donation at the door, which goes to feed those hungry Hear Nebraska kids. Come on, open up your heart. Show starts at 9.

Also Saturday night Austin trio BUHU plays at Reverb Lounge. Their new album, Relationshapes, was released earlier this month by FMF Records. Lineman’s Rodeo opens. $7, 9 p.m.

And that’s all I got for this weekend. Have a great one as we all prepare to hunker down for next week’s snowmageddon.

* * *

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.


Live Review: Gramps, Millions of Boys; Serial returns (the band, not the podcast); Back When, Paria reunions…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , , , — @ 1:48 pm December 14, 2015
Gramps at O'Leaver's, Dec. 11, 2015.

Gramps at O’Leaver’s, Dec. 11, 2015.

by Tim McMahan,

Great crowd at O’Leaver’s Friday night for the Gramps EP release show. Django Greenblatt-Seay and Co. belted out songs off the online-only release (along with a few others) to a festive pre-holiday crowd packed into a very hot room — so hot, in fact, I had to step outside for air halfway through the set. The atmosphere was downright mossy.

Full disclosure: I work with Django downtown at Union Pacific, but rest assured I’m showing no bias when I say Gramps’ style of jangle (not jango)-indie rock has distinctively Nebraskan flavor, sounding like a cross between Little Brazil and Criteria (one song, about four into the set, had a riff and rhythm that directly channeled En Garde).

With all the irons Django has in the fire, Gramps shows are a rarity. If you get a chance, definitely check them out.

Millions of Boys at O'Leaver's, Dec. 11, 2015.

Millions of Boys at O’Leaver’s, Dec. 11, 2015.

As much of a draw as Gramps Friday night was the return of Millions of Boys. It’s been a long time since this trio played in Omaha, and they’ve been sorely missed. Whereas Sara Bertuldo’s other band, See Through Dresses, is more of a shoe-gaze act, Millions of Boys is in-yer-face, crunchy pop-punk reminiscent of Weezer. Fun stuff we need to hear more of.

* * *

By now you may already have seen the Facebook invitation for a special reunion show Dec. 26 at Brothers Lounge. It’s the return of Serial, a band consisting of John Wolf (Cellophane Ceiling), Lee Meyerpeter (Cactus Nerve Thang) and Tim Moss (Ritual Device).

John Wolf dropped me an email last Friday announcing the show. “Moss, Lee and I did a few gigs as Serial in ’94-’96 time frame with various bass players, including Eric Melvin from NOFX,” Wolf said. “We coaxed Jerry Hug into playing this show with us!”

Whoa! Add to that a “special guest” and you’ve got a post-Christmas show for the ages.

Speaking of reunion shows, I would be remiss in not mentioning another big reunion show taking place the same night, Dec. 26 at The Waiting Room. Reuniting for one night only, after years defunct, is powerhouse noise-metal band Back When. Joining them is the equally fierce rock of Paria.

Where will you be the day after Christmas?

* * *

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.


Gramps, Millions of Boys tonight; Channel Pressure Saturday, toy drive weekend; Car Seat Headrest Sunday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 11:02 am December 11, 2015
Gramps at Barley Street Tavern, July 11, 2015. The band celebrates its EP release tonight at O'Leaver's.

Gramps at Barley Street Tavern, July 11, 2015. The band celebrates its EP release tonight at O’Leaver’s.

by Tim McMahan,

Here’s the weekend rundown…

Tonight at fabulous O’Leaver’s Gramps celebrates the release of its debut EP. You can check out the entire 4-song collection on Soundcloud below. Crunchy, sassy, slacker indie rock from the guy behind Love Drunk Studio. Opening is Millions of Boys and Uh Oh. $5, 9:30 p.m. Get there early.

Also tonight new all-ages venue Milk Run, 1907 Leavenworth, has a night of emo headlined by Omaha’s Super Ghost with Lincoln’s blét, KC band Pamona and Justin Ready & the Echo Prairie. $5, 9 p.m.

Tomorrow night (Saturday) it’s back to O’Leaver’s for a night of electronic music featuring Channel Pressure, a project featuring Todd Fink (The Faint, Digital Leather) and Graham Ulicny (Reptar). Also on the bill are Rogue Moon and Monotrench. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Also happening all weekend is the annual Toy Drive for Pine Ridge. The toy drive started in 2003 with Larry Dunn — an Omaha musician also known as Lash LaRue — a friend and a small pick-up truck. Dunn became aware of the extreme need of the residents of Pine Ridge after spending time on the South Dakota reservation.

Performing the benefit Friday night at Reverb Lounge is Lash LaRue and the Hired Guns along with Matt Cox and The Prairie Gators. Saturday night Satchel Grande headlines the toy drive at The Waiting Room with Vago and Bazile Mills. Get into either show with $10 or a new unwrapped toy. Both shows start at 9 p.m.

Finally Sunday night Matador Records artist Car Seat Headrest headlines at Lookout Lounge, 320 So. 72nd Street. The band’s recent album, Teens of Style (2015, Matador) received a whopping 8.1 rating from Pitchfork. This is what you call a buzz band. Opening the show is Vegetable Deluxe and Relax, It’s Science. $8, 8 p.m.

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 © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Digital Leather drops digital album; Bloodcow’s fine art; Gramps gets the Love Drunk video treatment…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 1:53 pm December 10, 2015

by Tim McMahan,

Having just received my vinyl copy of Digital Leather’s new album, All Faded, in the mail last week, along comes word that Digital Leather has released yet another collection of songs called Whack Jam via Bandcamp. Unlike All Faded, which is an all-band recording, there’s no indication who plays on this release. Is the 11-song collection a Shawn Foree bedroom project?

A bigger question is whether Whack Jam is going to be released on any other media — cassette, vinyl, CD — or if it’s download-only. Still trying to find out myself. In the meantime, you can download it right here for $8.

BTW, you can purchase your copy of All Faded at the FDH online store.

* * *

Speaking of vinyl arriving in the mail, how many of you also got a piece of original artwork with your copy of Bloodcow’s Crystals & Lasers album? Suitable for framing.

Bloodcow's new album alongside the art it came in.

Bloodcow’s new album alongside the art it came in.

* * *

Indie band Gramps just got the Love Drunk treatment, which was probably easy to arrange since Gramps frontman Django Greenblatt-Seay runs Love Drunk. I believe this is the first time Django turned the camera on one of his own music projects. Do you think he gave himself preferential treatment? See for yourself.

Gramps celebrates its debut EP release tomorrow night at fabulous O’Leaver’s.

* * *

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.


Live Review: Ceremony, Tony Molina, Gramps, Mint Wad Willy; Sun-less Trio tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:45 pm July 13, 2015
Ceremony at The Sweatshop Gallery, July 11, 2015.

Ceremony at The Sweatshop Gallery, July 11, 2015.

by Tim McMahan,

They don’t call it The Sweatshop Gallery for nothing. Saturday night’s show in the converted garage behind Sweatshop’s art gallery in Benson was easily the most uncomfortable concert experience in memory. If you thought it was hot outside Saturday, you should have stepped foot into that concrete stink oven Saturday night. I felt like a chicken in a rotisserie or a hippie in Southwestern sweat lodge. Within minutes after stepping inside the bunker sweat dripped off my elbows and ran down my legs in salty streams. My shirt, my shorts were drenched, stuck in a layer of warm moisture against my skin, sweat broiling off my forehead and into my eyes. Stifling, suffocating. It was awful, but it was worth it.

Ceremony is a West Coast band that made their nut playing what has been described as “power violence” music, which is a form of hardcore punk. What made them stand out may have been their guitar work or frontman Ross Farrar’s vocal approach, which was a bit more “arty” than the usual hardcore screaming. Anyway, the band started as a hardcore act in ’05. Then slowly eased off and became more post-punk-ish after their album Rohnert Park came out in 2011. Then they signed with Matador and turned their back on hardcore altogether with the release of the somewhat boring Zoo in 2012.

Now comes The L-Shaped Man, which was released earlier this year on Matador and sounds like an Interpol/Joy Division tribute album. Farrar’s vocals went completely Ian Curtis/Paul Banks on top of music that feels like it was developed in a Joy Division/New Order sound incubator. Pitchfork hated it. I love it because I love that style of music, though at times the record is so derivative it’s chuckle-inducing.

How many of the 70 or so kids jammed into Sweatshop were there to see the old hardcore Ceremony vs. the new post-punk version, I do not know, though it didn’t matter when they launched into their Joy Division-fueled set opener that got the sweat-slick crowd jumping. In the heat and darkness, Farrar was in his element saying before he started that the gig already was the best show he’d played in Omaha, and telling the crowd to step right up, which they did. The band fed off the heat and energy, and the set boiled with a goth-dance-punk intensity that Bauhaus would appreciate.

While there were plenty of Factory Records moments during the set, the band — and Farrar — did something wholly unique live, pulling in abstract elements from their past to create a new sound that melded post-punk with something much darker. The crowd loved it and the room became a pit, with youth hanging from the rafters. If Ceremony could tap into this hybrid sound/energy not heard on their album, they’d be onto something that is entirely their own.

Tony Molina at Sweatshop Gallery, July 11, 2015.

Tony Molina at Sweatshop Gallery, July 11, 2015.

It was a varied night of music at ol’ Sweatshop. North Bay punk band Creative Adult was among the openers playing a heavy, rhythmic punk that was brittle and fun. Then came Tony Molina, another Bay-area guy I’d never heard of but who was nothing less than amazing playing pure power-pop influenced by ’70s icon bands like Thin Lizzy and Cheap Trick, but with more than a nod to J Mascis and Teenage Fanclub. Molina and a second guitarist weaved intricate harmonies that were Thin Lizzy taken to an extreme backed by a solid rhythm section on songs that rarely lasted more than two minutes. As badly as I wanted to get outside for some relief I couldn’t get myself to miss any of it. Utterly exhausting and exhilarating.

Yes, this will be in my top-10 (maybe top 5?) favorite shows of ’15, despite losing at least five pounds in water weight.

Gramps at Barley Street Tavern, July 11, 2015.

Gramps at Barley Street Tavern, July 11, 2015.

Between sets I slipped into the Barley Street for Rolling Rock and AC and to catch Gramps, the new-ish band fronted by Django Greenblatt-Seay of Love Drunk Studio fame. A solid four-piece, Gramps’ style of indie sounds influenced by the local scene, specifically acts like Little Brazil and Criteria, but every song has a twist, whether it’s a unique guitar solo or an unfamiliar time sequence. Django and Co. play with a no-shit attitude that says “come along for the ride if, if you want to.”

Another local act seen for the first time this weekend was Mint Wad Willy. Here’s a band I’ve never made an effort to see because of their name. Mint Wad Willy? Sounds like a cover band or a white-guy blues band. Well I wasn’t going to miss them Saturday morning because they played at The Indie 5K/10K run, which benefitted Benson/Ames, and I must say I dug what I heard. Their style wasn’t straight-up rock as much as mainstream garage a la The Black Keys, though something about their sound also reminded me of heavier Big Star or even Silkworm with some Creedance thrown in. That sounds like a mess, but I can’t put my finger on a key influence.

By the way, the band’s name is an old-school reference to a Mary Jane cigarette (a mint-wad willy). And also BTW, I won my age bracket in the 5K (which isn’t so impressive when you realize I was the only one entered).

* * *

Sun-less Trio is a new project that features Mike Saklar (No Blood Orphan, Ritual Device), Marc Phillips (Carsinogents) and Cricket Kirk (Paper Owls). They’re playing tonight at Pageturners Lounge with A Great Disturbance. 9 p.m. and FREE. Great way to start your week…

* * *

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.