Running with the Devil: The Indie/HN Playlist; Canada Day, vinyl night tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 12:55 pm July 1, 2014

HN_Indieby Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

If you don’t know what The Indie is, well then shame on you. That means you haven’t read my column in The Reader. So take a moment, go here, and read all about the event, which takes place this Saturday morning in the heart of Benson.

As I say in the column, based on the route it’s one of the most challenging urban 10K foot races in America, a course so hard it makes the Corporate Cup look like a leisurely stroll in the park. And the 5K run looks almost as challenging…almost. Details about signing up are here at theindieomaha.org. Proceeds go to support Benson and Fontenelle Parks.

In commemoration of the event, Hear Nebraska has put together a little ol’ playlist. “It’s an eclectic collection featuring about 43 minutes of Nebraska music — all bands who play in Benson frequently. Genres range from hip-hop to Americana to indie rock to punk to garage to electronic. It’s a free download for ‘The Indie’ racers (and anyone else who needs some sonic inspiration).

Check it out below or go here to download the whole dang thing. Artists include  Yuppies, The Lupines, Digital Leather, The Big Deep, Derby Birds, M34n Str33t, John Klemmensen & the Party, Eli Mardock and more. Makes me want to go running right now.

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The Waiting Room is hosting its annual Canada Day concert tonight featuring local bands doing short sets of Canadian songs (Expect some Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and, of course, BTO). Performers include Vago, Matt Whipkey + Band, All Young Girls are Machine Guns, Southpaw Bluegrass Band, The Filter Kings, Tara Vaughan, Michael Campbell, The Electro-Rangers, Castor Impetus and Virginia Tanous. The show is a benefit for Heartland Family Services. $8, 7 p.m.

Also tonight is the bi-weekly Viva La Vinyl night at The Barley Street Tavern hosted by Brad Hoshaw. Bring down one of your own records and put your name on the list to spin a side of an LP on the Barley’s house turntable. Sign-up begins at 7.

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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.

Lazy-i

Live Review: Criteria rocks the CWS; Hear Nebraska launches new website and HN Radio…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:51 pm June 23, 2014
Criteria at The Slowdown, June 21, 2014.

Criteria at The Slowdown, June 21, 2014.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Well, Jason Kulbel was right. I had no problem finding on-street parking when I drove downtown Saturday night to catch Criteria at Slowdown. I spent the evening closely monitoring the College World Series game on TV (which went into extra innings), worrying it might push into the Criteria set time. I didn’t want to get caught in a post-game traffic quagmire. With the last out I headed downtown, avoiding Cuming Street, taking Dodge, and eventually running into crowds and cops navigating 14th St. I found a spot about three blocks away near the UP daycare center. So much for all the whining.

If the chaos that was taking place in Slowdown’s tented parking lot is any indication, we’ll soon be seeing Mr. Kulbel and Mr. Nansel driving ’round in brand new Bentleys. It looked like spring break in Bro-land, a sea of backwards baseball caps carrying Silver Bullets looking for someone to high five. Needless to say, I didn’t spend much time outside.

Inside the climate-controlled trappings of The Slowdown it felt like any other show except for the TV screens showing highlights from the game that just ended and the Slowdown staff decked out in matching “staff” baseball shirts. CWS refugees mixed with the regular crowd, I doubt they knew what they were in for when Criteria rolled on stage launching into a set of indie-rock anthems with their usual panache. Those looking for dance beats and/or “hot action” exited through the back door.

“Sounds like there’s some fat beats going on out there,” said dashing frontman Stephen Pedersen between songs, as you could hear the dull thump through Slowdown’s cinderblock. “We’re more of a treble band.”  Those who hung around — my guestimate: 100-150 — got exactly what they came for.

I’ve been watching Criteria perform live for well over a decade. I’ve never seen a crowd respond to them the way last Saturday night’s crowd did. The floor in front of the stage became an ad hoc mosh pit with rabid fans pounding each other and/or doing some sort of improvised hoe-down dance. Fans leapt onto the stage, but finding the crowd too sparse to jump on top of instead jumped back down to the floor and were carried overhead in a weird ritual that looked more like piggyback riding than crowd-surfing. Needless to say, these fans knew the words to all the hits, which they screamed back at the stage. No doubt Criteria still has a rabid base dying for their return.

And return they shall, with a new album Pedersen said was “almost done” and ready for shopping to a label willing to back an act that hasn’t put out new material in nine years and/or doesn’t do extensive touring. Something tells me they’ll find a taker right here in Omaha (if they want it).

Criteria played at least four songs from that yet-to-be-released album, including a couple they’ve never performed live. One, played toward the very end of the set, was classic Criteria, as good as anything they’ve done in the past. The band continues to age well. Pedersen can still strike hot with his vocal contortions, glancing off the high notes as if he were still in his 20s (though he had to be grateful he doesn’t have to do it every night).

With the last song, the fans began chanting for an encore. They got two more songs for their efforts, including a transcendent version of “Prevent the World” that left them satisfied.

This show plus The Faint last week are evidence that Slowdown is proud of the music that helped put Omaha on the indie music map and wants to share it with the great unwashed masses that attend the CWS. Here’s hoping they continue the tradition at next year’s CWS.

* * *

Drumroll please….

The redesigned hearnebraska.org website finally went live this morning. Go take a look. The cleaner, easier-to-navigate design is fully responsive — that means it looks and behaves as well on your smart phone or tablet as it does on your desktop browser.

But maybe the most important new feature of hearnebraska.org is the launch of HN Radio — that’s the music player located at the top of the homepage. The goal is to provide an online channel that makes available music from local bands. The current playlist includes songs by Once a Pawn, Digital Leather, Dumb Beach and Anna McClellan.

HN Radio also ia premiering Live at O’Leaver’s. For the past few months (year?) O’Leaver’s has been recording live performances at the club, the quality of which is amazing. The current HN Radio playlist includes tracks by Deleted Scenes and Eli Mardock recorded as part of the O’Leaver’s series. My only gripe about HN radio is that the playlist is too short, but methinks this is merely V 1.0. Expect a lot more music — and content — at HN Radio in the very near future.

Congratulations to Andy Norman and the entire Hear Nebraska staff for getting the new design and HN Radio afloat. Check out the site and give them your feedback.

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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.

Lazy-i

Background on The Lazy-i Interview with Conor Oberst (in The Reader), Lincoln’s turn to give to Hear Nebraska…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:55 pm May 29, 2014
A screen capture from Conor Oberst's new video for "Zigzagging Toward the Light."

A screen capture from Conor Oberst’s new video for “Zigzagging Toward the Light.”

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Some background on the cover story / interview with Conor Oberst in this week’s issue of The Reader

It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to ask Oberst any questions. The last interview was way back in 2007 in support of Cassadaga. Oberst — or more accurately, his presss agent, Press Here — has turned down requests for interviews by small press such as The Reader ever since.

I hadn’t even bothered to ask when it came time to do media for the release of Upside Down Mountain, figuring the request would simply be rejected again. Then Marc Leibowitz of One Percent Productions emailed saying Oberst was indeed doing interviews for this release and in support of his June 4 show at Sokol Auditorium. I emailed Press Here and was told that Conor would do the interview, but because he was so busy, he could only do it via e-mail.

E-mail interviews are difficult — you never know how the artist will reply. The answers could literally be one or two words, as were the replies from Bill Callahan from Smog when I conducted an e-mail interview with him years ago. Plus, e-mail doesn’t provide an avenue for follow-up questions. You get what you get. It was a shame because whether face-to-face or over the phone, Oberst is among the best at doing one-on-one interviews.

A couple days went by and the questions were due. So I tapped out what was on my mind, figuring because of the personal nature of the questions, he may not respond.

Among those personal questions: Way back in 2010, I received a tip from a very reliable source that Oberst had run off and got married in New York City the prior weekend. Knowing the source, I knew it was true, but didn’t want to get him in trouble. Instead, I rattled off a letter to Saddle Creek Records, recapping what I’d been told. The reply: “Conor has a new album coming out ….” it was the classic non-denial denial. I guess I could have figured out a way to look up his marriage license in NYC, but I didn’t have the resources or, frankly, the interest. Without confirmation, reporting that Oberst got married would be no more than gossip. Why was it a secret?

This was just a few months after the Concert for Equality in Benson. Oberst had emerged as a celebrity leader and voice against U.S. anti-immigrant laws in the summer of 2010. Conor was doing interviews in support of the concert, but questions would be limited to politics, so I decided to pass even though there was one burning question I was dying to ask: What was really driving the protest? Was there a personal relationship behind his political passion? In the end, no one ever bothered to ask.

I got some of my questions answered in this Reader interview. In fact, Conor answered every questions I sent him. Read the full Q&A transcript in this week’s issue of The Reader, or online right here.

* * *

Speaking of Conor, here’s his new video for “Zigzagging Toward the Light.” It’s pretty trippy.

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Today is Give to Lincoln Day, the sister effort to last week’s Omaha Gives! day. That means if you live in Lincoln (or even if you don’t) it’s time to donate $10 to Hear Nebraska through the Give to Lincoln website. By giving through the site, a portion of your donation will be eligible for a match via the Lincoln Community Foundation.

I outlined the reasons last week why every musician, venue, promoter and local music fan should support Hear Nebraska (right here) so I won’t tell you again (though you can always go back and reread it). Come on. Give. It’s only $10.

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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.

Lazy-i

Hear Nebraska raises +$13k; Conor on Fallon; one final Morrissey twist; Nebraska Nice? (in the column); Orgone tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:52 pm May 22, 2014

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

The preliminary numbers from yesterday’s Omaha Gives effort are in, and according to the website, 508 unique donors gave Hear Nebraska $13,333.60. That’s an impressive amount, especially that 508, which validates the organization’s reach and value among its fans.

Hear Nebraska had the most donors of any charity in the “small organizations” category, which means it will receive an additional $10,000 bonus from the Omaha Community Foundation. Thanks to all who gave.

Other notable returns: Omaha Girls Rock pulled in $3,874 from 177 donors; Maha Music Festival raised $26,779 from 272 donors, and Omaha by Design drew $6,601 from 82 donors.

* * *

I got home five minutes too late from Morrissey Monday night to catch Conor Oberst on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Conor was backed by Dawes for a performance of “Zigzagging Toward the Light,” from his new album, Upside Down Mountain (Nonesuch, 2014). In case you’re wondering, that ball cap he’s wearing says Byron Bay Ballooning, an Australian company.

Remember when it was a big deal when Conor got a slot on late-night chat shows? He’s done it so often that now it seems commonplace. I’m still waiting for that Saturday Night Live performance.

* * *

Speaking of the now infamous Morrissey concert in Lincoln, here’s one last twist of the knife gleaned from the Morrissey Solo web board. Apparently Moz played “One Day Goodbye Will Be Farewell” — which he’s been saving for encores on this tour and would have been the encore in Omaha — as the first song in Lawrence the following night. The webboard has other interesting details and comments about the Lincoln show, along with a lot of whining. Check it.

By the way, today is Moz’s birthday. Be Nebraska Nice and wish him a happy 55th…

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Speaking of Nebraska Nice, in this week’s column, reflections on the state’s new marketing catch phrase and a suggestion for something different. You can read it in this week’s issue of The Reader or online right here.

* * *

Tonight at The Waiting Room afro-funk ensemble Orgone returns. Dopapod opens. $10, 9 p.m.

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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.

Lazy-i

Live Review: Hear Nebraska’s Take Cover Omaha…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 1:42 pm January 20, 2014
Ian Aello at Hear Nebraska's Take Cover at The Waiting Room, Jan. 18, 2014.

Ian Aeillo at Hear Nebraska’s Take Cover at The Waiting Room, Jan. 18, 2014.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

I dropped in on the Hear Nebraska’s “Take Cover Omaha” benefit Saturday night at The Waiting Room and caught a full hour of covers and originals from a handful of Omaha’s finest songwriters.

The rules were the same as last time they did this — the artist comes on stage, usually alone but sometimes with one other person (no bands allowed, as it would take too much time to switch out between performances), where they play one cover and one original.

Performers get to pick their own covers, which makes sense since they’re donating their time — the last thing any musician wants to do is play a cover they don’t like. So as a result, performers tend to pick obscure songs by their friend’s bands, which means there’s a good chance audience members are listening to someone who they don’t know cover a song they’ve never heard before.

And thus was the case when Rachel Tomlinson Dick took the stage. If Rachel announced what she was playing, I missed it. She launched right into her cover followed by one of her songs. Both were lovely and unfamiliar.

Matt Whipkey followed suit, playing a song by his pal, Mike Friedman (The Lupines, Little Brazil), a song very few if any have heard before. That was followed by a song off Whipkey’s Penny Park album. Whip was joined by Korey Anderson on both.

Simon Joyner got help from Megan Siebe of Anniversaire. His cover was a song by Noah Sterba (Yuppies), followed by a Joyner original I didn’t recognize.

Dan McCarthy (of McCarthy Trenching, of course) sat behind a keyboard and played a cover, followed by one of his own.

Landon Hedges at The Waiting Room, Jan. 18, 2014.

Landon Hedges at The Waiting Room, Jan. 18, 2014.

My yearning to hear something familiar was finally quenched by Landon Hedges of Little Brazil. With an electric guitar slung across his massive shoulders, Hedges barreled into a tune I assume was his own (turns out it was a Mousetrap cover), but was followed by a fractured take on Bright Eyes’ “Lua” — complete with mid-song apologies that provided a level of vulnerability oddly fitting for a song about someone struggling to get by. Landon stumbled through both songs, accusing himself of “ruining them,” not realizing he was providing one of the most colorful moments of the evening.

I had time for two more performances before we had to head out. Sara Bertuldo of Millions of Boys and See Through Dresses ripped through a Criteria cover on her blazing electric guitar, followed by a song off the recently released STD album. And Ian Aeillo, who plays in Eli Mardock’s band, crushed a cover of Bright Eyes’ “The Calendar Hung Itself” powered by a cool-weird-funky guitar riff played with white-knuckle intensity. It was followed by a song he said he’d written only a few days prior to the show. Aeillo, who I’ve never heard sing before (at least not as a frontman) had a groovy Frank-Black-ian bark on a bitter love song that was nothing less than anthemic. It was a great way to end the evening.

All in all a good night for Hear Nebraska. The Lincoln version of Take Cover is slated for this coming Saturday at Vega, with performances by Eli Mardock, Liz Hitt (The Terminals), Jon Taylor & Heidi Ore (Domestica), Aaron Parker (Gordon), Jon Dell (Universe Contest) and a tons more.

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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.

Lazy-i

Live Review: Simon Joyner and the Ghosts, Universe Contest…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 2:42 pm December 30, 2013
Simon Joyner and The Ghosts at the Hear Nebraska album release show, The Waiting Room, Dec, 27, 2013.

Simon Joyner and The Ghosts at the Hear Nebraska album release show, The Waiting Room, Dec, 27, 2013.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

I’m trying to remember if I’ve ever seen a better Simon Joyner performance than what we got at last Friday’s Hear Nebraska album release show at The Waiting Room. I’d have to go back and back, maybe to some of the Fallen Men shows when Skeleton Blues was released in aught six, or further and further still, to the Howard Street Tavern days when Simon was first joined by Chris and Alex and Lonnie.

Sitting on a bar stool center-stage surrounded by no fewer than six musicians (The Ghosts), Joyner played a loud, droning, wonderful set of seasick hangover blues folk ballads heavy on feedback and pure on vocals. I knew a few of the folks up there with him — brilliant pedal-steel man Mike Friedman, violinist Megan Siebe (of Anniversaire and more recently cellist with Cursive – Megan is becoming Omaha famous, before you know it she’ll be touring Japan with Bright Eyes), and (who I think was) dashing singer/songwriter Noah Sterba.

The rest I did not know, including the shaggy gentleman ripping apart an electric guitar, spraying shards of love and anger and pain throughout the crowd. I was told the next day (by the proprietor of Almost Music, Brad Smith) that it was likely David Kenneth Nance. Brad than played a track off Nance’s 2013 Grapefruit Records release Actor’s Diary, which I should have purchased on the spot (but instead ordered online the next day). On Friday night, Nance provided the Sturm to Joyner’s drang, pitching one bright sustained note after another alongside Joyner and the rest of the band, who were lost in their own howling storm.

Among the set list was a new one about a drinking buddy, and a lot of old, familiar ones including “The Only Living Boy in Omaha” and Joyner classic “Double Joe” and Ghosts highlight “Vertigo,” which closed out the set with Joyner leaning back and (almost) falling off his bar stool. As his trademark straw cowboy hat fell from his head a bevvy of photographers rushed the stage to try to capture the moment. It was a glorious spectacle indeed.

Universe Contest at the Hear Nebraska album release show, The Waiting Room, Dec, 27, 2013.

Universe Contest at the Hear Nebraska album release show, The Waiting Room, Dec, 27, 2013.

Joyner made way for the night’s headliner — Lincoln band Universe Contest who brought a lighting rig the size of which I’ve not seen with any other local indie band since, well, The Faint. The Faint’s first foray in lighting entertainment — multi-colored floor floods controlled via foot pedals operated on stage by Joel Petersen during the performance — was quaint and crude, but effective.

Universe Contest’s light rig was a series of blinding LED light panels attached to a massive metal framework — it must be a bitch to haul around and set up. A lighting guy controlled the synchronization from a controller behind the sound board. Sometimes the effects were dramatic and impressive, other times they were distracting. At their best they provided a contrast, dimming to nearly nothing during quiet moments, blazing white hot during peaks. The investment is proof these guys have their sights squarely set on getting to the next level.

Countering the hard work that went into lighting was all the flying debris. Universe Contest is apparently the band you throw shit at. I counted no less than seven empty beer cans hurled at the stage throughout their set, as well as an assortment of other trash. One beer can bounced off the guitarist’s fretboard; he reacted without a flinch. I waited for someone in the band to pick up a can and say, “The next person who throws shit at us gets this shoved right up his ass,” but it never happened. Instead, the garbage continued to rain down on them. Maybe it’s a Lincoln thing because I’ve never seen anyone throw anything at any other band on The Waiting Room’s stage. (Imagine what would happen if someone threw something at Joyner).

Anyway, it was a distraction from what everyone should have been paying attention to — the music. Early in their history, Universe Contest had a Modest Mouse thing going on that was unmistakeable. They’ve moved beyond that, though there’s still touches here and there, as well as marks of other band such as MGMT and Le Savy Fav. Their sound is more electronic than I remembered and certainly more rhythm-heavy. While I could barely hear the guitars, I could feel the bass, and the drums — a standard trap set mixed with electronics.

I counted at least three vocalists sharing leads throughout the set, most were handled by the guitarist and bass player, though the keyboard player’s vocals were the most restrained (and the most sublime). There were only a few numbers where the vocals did more than add to the rhythms, which is one way of saying there were few if any central hooks in these songs, nothing you’re going to hum to yourself as you walk back to your car.

Instead, Universe Contest’s music is openly simple, with a number of songs centered around a repeated phrase that builds momentum with every turn. When the band gets in a groove it exudes a modern tribal energy that’s both neo-psychedelic and progressive.

Add it all up — the lights, the music, the flying debris — and Universe Contest is never less than entertaining. They sound like they’re halfway between being an indie pop band and being a full-on prog band; and that indecision defines them (for now).

So.

I’m told the crowd was just under 200, and Hear Nebraska sold quite a few albums. I spied a copy and they look pretty cool. I haven’t gotten mine yet since I bought a super-special signed copy and they were still getting the sigs. Where can you buy your copy? For now, they can be purchased here at hearnebraska.org. Sweet orange vinyl. Get one while you can.

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The way the holidays sit on the calendar this year has got me discombobulated. Is it Monday or is it Friday? If you’re like me, you have tomorrow and Wednesday off, which makes this a Friday. Unfortunately, the clubs didn’t get the memo and mistook this for just another Monday… Come on, people….

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TOMORROW: The blog entry you’ve all been waiting for: MUSIC PREDICTIONS FOR 2014. Be here and find out what’s going to happen to you next year…

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Lazy-i Best of 2013

Lazy-i Best of 2013

A reminder to enter to win a copy of the Lazy-i Best of 2013 compilation CD. The collection includes songs by Arcade Fire, Eli Mardock, Foxygen, Yuppies, Tim Kasher, Speedy Ortiz, Low and a ton more.  The full track listing is here. Entering has never been easier: To enter either: 1. Send an email with your mailing address to tim.mcmahan@gmail.com, or 2) Write a comment on one of my Lazy-i related posts in Facebook, or 3, retweet a Lazy-i tweet. You also can enter by sending me a direct message in Facebook or Twitter. Hurry, contest deadline is midnight Jan. 6!

* * *

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 © 2013 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Icky Blossoms next level?; Hear Nebraska album release show (Universe Contest, Simon Joyner) tonight; Mike Jaworski, Steve Bartolomei Saturday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 2:06 pm December 27, 2013

hnshowposter
by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Well, I tried to go to Icky Blossoms at The Waiting Room last night but there was a snafu with “the list.” It’s an occupational hazard — even though they told you you’re on the list, there’s always a chance someone forgot. As The New Yorker footnotes in its “Night Life” section: “Musicians and night-club proprietors live complicated lives; it’s advisable to check in advance to confirm engagements.

Usually it’s no big deal — I simply pay to get in, but not this time. The show was sold out. Yes, Icky Blossoms has broached that next level of local success — they’re too big for The Waiting Room. I have no idea how well their last CD sold, but it looks like Saddle Creek may have a new Faint on their hands (which is good because they no longer have the old Faint on their hands (except in their back catalog)). The real test will be how well Icky draws outside the holiday season. Could be they simply had a huge list last night of friends and family, albeit missing one person.

It’s possible we could have a replay tonight at The Waiting Room as Hear Nebraska celebrates the release of its Vol. 2 vinyl compilation. Tonight’s show features (in this order) Pleasure Adapter, Conchance, Simon Joyner and the Ghosts and headliner Universe Contest. $8, 9 p.m. Don’t forget to pick up a slab of vinyl while you’re there.

Also tonight, Pro-Magnum returns to fabulous O’Leaver’s with Weakwick. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Two shows Saturday night feature Nebraska ex-patriots.

Over at The Sydney, former Nebraskan now Philly guy Mike Jaworski (Virgin Islands, The Cops) returns to the stage. Sayeth Mr. Jaworski: “I’ll be playing solo with some members of the Sons Of joining me on a few songs. I’ll be playing mostly new songs I’ve been working on for a new project called Shocking Waves. I may throw in a song or two by The Cops and Virgin Islands for fun too. We’ll see…” Jaws opens and is followed by Lincoln’s Weldon Keys and then everyone’s favorite local rock stars, The Sons of The Sydney. $5, 9 p.m. Check out some Shocking Waves below:

Meanwhile former Omahan now New Yorker Steve Bartolomei (Mal Madrigal) and Co. plays down at Slowdown Jr. Saturday night. Steve talks about what he’s been up to in this exclusive Hear Nebraska interview.  Opening is Noah Sterba and Ben Brodin. $8, 9 p.m.

On Sunday down at Slowdown Jr. James Maakestad (Electric Chamber Orchestra, ex-Gus & Call) headlines with Millions of Boys and Anna McClellan. $7, 9 p.m.

Meanwhile John Klemmensen hosts another “Songwriter Death Battle” at The Waiting Room Sunday night. The evening features a plethora of local singer/songwriters each playing one song using Klemmensen’s acoustic guitar. $7, 9 p.m.

* * *

Lazy-i Best of 2013

Lazy-i Best of 2013

A reminder to enter to win a copy of the Lazy-i Best of 2013 compilation CD. The collection includes songs by Arcade Fire, Eli Mardock, Foxygen, Yuppies, Tim Kasher, Speedy Ortiz, Low and a ton more.  The full track listing is here. Entering has never been easier: To enter either: 1. Send an email with your mailing address to tim.mcmahan@gmail.com, or 2) Write a comment on one of my Lazy-i related posts in Facebook, or 3, retweet a Lazy-i tweet. You also can enter by sending me a direct message in Facebook or Twitter. Hurry, contest deadline is midnight Jan. 6!

* * *

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 © 2013 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Looking ahead (show-wise), 311 goes indie; HN Kickstarter meets goal (but the campaign goes on…)

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 2:05 pm December 16, 2013

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

A glance at the week ahead show-wise…

Tonight at Pageturners it’s Lars + Mal and Silk Robespierre. No idea who this is, but it’s free and starts at 9:30. Why not?

Tomorrow night The Burkum Boys (Skypiper) play at O’Leaver’s with The Cactus Blossoms and Ojai.

Wednesday Slowdown Jr. has Midwest Dilemma, Brad Hoshaw and Landon Hedges (Desaparecidos, Little Brazil). Seems like forever since I’ve seen MD on stage.

Thursday is the final night of Cursive at The Waiting Room, with Ladyfinger and Ted Stevens Unknown Project. Expect the unexpected from what has become a very memorable “residency.”

Friday it’s The Seen and Texas band Crystal Wolf at O’Leaver’s; while Barley Street is hosting its annual X-mas spectacular.

Saturday is Brigadiers and Bear Antlers at O’Leavers; while Envy Corp. returns to The Waiting Room with Oquoa and Millions of Boys.

Finally Sunday Mezcal Brothers are at The Waiting Room with Matt Cox.

Not bad for the week before Christmas.

* * *

In other news…

Neutral Milk Hotel (March 29) and St. Vincent (April 1) both have been booked to play at Sokol Auditorium. Seems like only yesterday that I saw St. Vincent at Slowdown Jr., and now she’s playing that famous South Omaha barn. Tickets on sale now via One Percent Productions.

* * *

In 311 news… (yeah, you read that right)

The band that once called Omaha home confirmed via Billboard Magazine that its next album will be an independent release.  In the article, frontman Nick Hexum calls the move to indie status “one of the best moves 311 could have possibly made,” at least now that they have a distro deal with INGrooves.

But Hexum’s prime quote was this: “The label system is corrupt; they’re so incompetent with their ability to bring any value to the table. It’s just a rip-off.” I don’t think he was saying that back in the Sony/Zomba days… Things must be getting tough at the majors for 311 to turn its back on them.

Another interesting touch was Billboard referring to the band as “the Nebraska rockers.” As we all know, 311 hasn’t lived in Nebraska in over a decade. Where did that come from, and why?

* * *

Finally, Hear Nebraska met its Kickstarter goal of $4,000 today. But the campaign continues, as money raised above the $4k goal will go toward replacing a Macbook Pro used to run the website that was stolen from an HN staffer’s car parked in Benson last Thursday night during the Cursive show…

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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 © 2013 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Live Review: Cat Power’s Chan Marshall Struggles through marathon solo performance; Hear Nebraska launches Kickstarter…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 1:50 pm November 25, 2013
Cat Power at The Slowdown, Nov. 22, 2013.

Cat Power at The Slowdown, Nov. 22, 2013.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

It would be easy to make fun of last Friday night’s Cat Power show at The Slowdown except for the fact that there obviously was something wrong with Chan Marshall.

Throughout the two-and-a-half hour solo performance Marshall looked anxious and irritated, clearly struggling with either an illness or a serious case of anxiety, stage fright or just not being prepared, all the while constantly being distracted by someone in the crowd who was baiting her from the edge of the stage (whether that person realized it or not).

Marshall came on late at around 11 with an electric guitar, which she played for the first hour of the marathon performance, banging out older material along with a cover of the Stone’s “Satisfaction,” which was sublime. But it was later in that hour that the cracks began to show, as she struggled to remember the chords while marching in place to an internal beat, often leaning over and coughing off microphone.

At the end of the first hour she began talking to herself or someone off stage, trying to figure out something with her guitar before hastily putting it down and walking over to the massive upright piano that stood to her left. She sat down and played one song after another for another 90 or so minutes. I use the term “played piano” loosely, as the arrangements were sparse and somewhat cryptic. One song featured Marshall poking out a series of triplets only with her left hand while agitatedly fidgeted with her right.

About halfway through the set I recorded a song with my iPhone — “The Greatest” off the album of the same name. I watched the video just now. There sits Marshall with her back to me, agonizing over the barely recognizable chords, skittishly playing like a piano student sight-reading the music for the first time — unsure, unsteady, halting, then playing the wrong chord, stopping, quickly playing a run-though of all the chords to try to remember the progression (with the crowd yelling encouragement) before starting again. It was disturbing.

The song eventually wandered away without really ending as Marshall switched to something else entirely and the crowd half-ass clapped realizing that was the end of that one.

Moments later, Marshall became unglued. As mentioned, throughout the performance someone — likely an adoring fan — kept trying to talk to Marshall. In response, Marshall would kind of carry on a conversation with her or respond to whatever was being said, mostly off microphone. Some of the baiting remarks resulted in Marshall launching into a babbling monologue about some inanity.

Finally Marshall got exasperated and began yelled at the fan . “What you’re doing is really f—-ing annoying,” she said (I’m paraphrasing here). “It’s not funny. It’s annoying.” And so on. Marshall would later apologize for the outburst, but that didn’t stop whoever it was from talking to her from the front of the stage.

It went further downhill from there. Before one song, Marshall fiddled around trying to figure out the chords for a full 30 seconds, talking to herself the entire time but then ultimately figuring them out. She called for opener Nico Turner to come out. “Is Nico in the house?” A few minutes later Nico walked across stage, but then exited without playing. She would call for Nico later, who likely now was standing off stage, watching.

Marshall finally got tired of the piano and slung her guitar back on at around 12:30. By now she was clearly fractured, disturbed, slightly confused and excessively jittery. It probably didn’t help that she had downed two mugs of coffee that sat on her piano throughout the performance and had a stage person bring out a third.

As 1 a.m. rolled around, Marshall declared that she could keep going, though by then the once-full floor was nearly half empty, and I was sitting alone along the railing next to empty seats. She ended up playing another 20 or so minutes before exiting with a salute, a chest pound, a kiss to the audience.

Here’s the funny part: Throughout the entire monotonous ordeal, Marshall’s voice was, well, remarkable. Her amazing voice never gave up on her. I realize after reading Chris Aponick’s interview that she can’t afford to bring a band on the road any more, but it was obvious after that show that she can’t afford NOT to have a band backing her. Marshall needs to push away from the piano, set the guitar down and let someone else worry about the instruments, and simply focus on her gorgeous vocals.

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Last Friday Hear Nebraska launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund their upcoming Vol. 2 compilation album. The 10-song collection is going to be pressed on vinyl and is the perfect time capsule of Nebraska’s music scene circa 2013.

The album’s lineup:

SIDE A

1. Universe Contest | “The Day the Earth Took Pills” from the upcoming full-length, We Are the Rattlesnake
2. Pleasure Adapter | “Everything Has Been Erased” from the band’s self-titled EP
3. Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship | “Caucasian Meditation” from the LP You Need You
4. Millions of Boys | “Dudcats” from Competing for Your Love
5. Tim Kasher | “American Lit” from the Saddle Creek Records release Adult Film

SIDE B

6. Skypiper | “Even If” from the Troubledoer EP
7. Conchance | “The Dead Daylight,” previously unreleased
8. McCarthy Trenching | “29” from a Love Drunk Session
9. Lloyd McCarter | “Big Time” from Tired of Being Me
10. Simon Joyner | “Javelin,” recorded live at Hear Nebraska’s An Evening event

Hear Nebraska is positioning the campaign as an album pre-sale. $20 gets you a slab of vinyl and a download code, but there are plenty of other cool options available, including signed posters and copies of the record. Check it out. As of this morning they were nearly a quarter of the way toward their $4,000 goal.

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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 © 2013 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Live Review: Digital Leather, Big Harp, Kill County at Holland Center’s 1200 Club…

Digital Leather at the 1200 Club, June 7, 2013.

Digital Leather at the 1200 Club, June 7, 2013.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Here’s a late review of last Friday’s Holland Center/1200 Club show. In fact, Lazy-i reception will be a bit spotty this week as I’ll be headed out of town for a few days. I’ll try to update when/if I can.

On the surface, the line-up for the inaugural Hear Nebraska Live program sponsored by Omaha Performing Arts at the Holland last Friday night was edgy, if not just plain risky. Kill County isn’t exactly a well-known commodity in Omaha. Saddle Creek’s Big Harp was the closest thing to a sure bet, while Digital Leather appeared to be an obvious miss-step — a synth-fueled punk band that you’d think was way too loud for the Holland’s delicate acoustics.

In fact, the program, which was filmed in its entirety by Nebraska Educational Television (NET) was supposed to emulate Austin City Limits, a PBS program whose staple is acoustic, alt-country balladeers that are more storytellers than rock stars. Rarely has ACL featured full on rock bands, probably because its reserved setting seems an ill fit for anarchy.

Kill County at the 1200 Club in The Holland Center, June 7, 2013.

Kill County at the 1200 Club in The Holland Center, June 7, 2013.

Needless to say, of the three bands Kill County was the best suited for the show’s relaxed environment. 1200 Club, located on the second level of the Holland, is a gorgeous sit-down space — round tables and candles on polished oak floors. You know when you walk in that it’s going to be a nice evening as a member of the crack Holland staff points you to your table where moments later one of the black-clad waiters comes and takes your drink (or food) order with a whisper. Very classy.

On Friday night, the corners of the room were filled with NET’s professional television production equipment, including a huge boom-control camera, a stationary camera and a guy walking around with a shoulder-mount camera followed behind by a cable lackey. We arrived during the second half of KC’s reserved alt-country set. Pretty stuff, crowd pleasing, well played, and exactly the kind of music that you’d expect to see on Austin City Limits, which is a nice way of saying their music isn’t anything you haven’t heard before. There is an obvious familiarity with everything they play, and people love listening to music they recognize.

Big Harp at the 1200 Club, The Holland Center, June 7, 2013.

Big Harp at the 1200 Club, The Holland Center, June 7, 2013.

Chris and Stef — i.e. Big Harp — came on stage alone for the first part of their set for a few gorgeous ballads before guest players keyboardist Dan McCarthy and drummer Dan Ocanto joined in and ratcheted up the sound. This band continues to vex me by never hovering for long over any specific genre. Their first album, White Hat, was filled with acoustic ballads while last year’s Chain Letters had a rock sound that seemed to reach for a Black Keys audience. Friday night the band was all over the map, each song carrying a different sonic reference point, a different style, with Chris Senseney’s croaking baritone and agile guitar work providing the common denominator. While rougher (and noisier) than Kill County, Big Harp’s set was still a fine fit for both the broadcast and the venue.

Then came Digital Leather, sounding exactly as I expected. If anyone involved in organizing this program was surprised at what they heard, they didn’t do their homework. In retrospect, it was probably why the band was scheduled last because the organizers knew they’d lose some of their audience in DL’s sound and fury… just like they did.

There were two surprises from DL. First was the addition of new keyboard player Ben VanHoolandt, who plays bass in Pleasure Adapter and is part of the duo known as Dirt. This was BVH’s first show with DL, joining Todd Fink, who remains on keyboards, though the speculation after the show was that BVH is being groomed as a road replacement for Fink. Only frontman Shawn Foree knows for sure. Just a year ago, Foree had turned his back on live synths; now he has two synth players.

The other surprise was hearing Digital Leather play “Modern Castles” off Warm Brother, something I never thought I’d ever hear. Needless to say, the return of keyboards opens horizons for some of Foree’s more tuneful – less punk songs. Now if they could work up a version of “Gold Hearts” I could die a happy man.

While as loud as any Digital Leather show I’ve seen, there’s no question that the band held back for either the venue or the cameras. My wife kept asking if they’d close with “Studs in Love,” the crowd-pleasing homo-anthem off Blow Machine recently returned to their live set (usually as an encore). I just shook my head. They wouldn’t dare, and of course they didn’t (though there’s always the Maha Festival…).

I think a lot of people involved in the program saw it as an experiment. The outcome was — for the most part — a success, though I’m sure they would have liked to have sold more tickets. Still, every table was filled and everyone seemed to have a good time. I can’t wait to see how it’ll translate to the boob tube. The broadcast is slated for airing on NET sometime in the fall (and may even be picked up by PBS nationally).

But the bigger question is whether Omaha Performing Arts, NET and HN will team up (along with the 1200 Club) for another show next year. Keep your fingers crossed.

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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 © 2013 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i