Matthew Sweet talks about moving home, Kickstarter, O’Leavers & Girlfriend; Oketo tonight…

Category: Blog,Interviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:55 pm March 12, 2015
Matt Sweet and his glasses.

Matt Sweet and his glasses.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

This week’s podcast, below. Give it a listen…

That Q&A I did with Matthew Sweet for The Reader went online this morning. Sweet talks about moving back to Nebraska, why he did a Kickstarter campaign for his upcoming album, playing at O’Leaver’s and the legacy that is Girlfriend. You can read the Q&A online right here.

Sweet is playing at the 1200 Club in the Holland Performing Arts Center March 28. It’s a cool place to see a show. Even has a bar, with drinks and everything, nice tables. Definitely a good evening out. Tickets are $45 (all general admission, just grab a table) and $100 for VIP that let’s you meet Sweet and give him a big ol’ bear hug and get a selfie with him. Get tix here.

Proceeds from the Sweet concert go to Hear Nebraska, so you’re getting a great night out while helping out a worthy cause. DO IT.

* * *

Tonight at Slowdown Jr. it’s Lincoln band Oketo. The band is closing out a spring midwest tour, so they should be honed and ready to rock. Opening the show is Chicago band The Boxers and CB’s Pancho & The Contraband. $6, 9 p.m.

* * *

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 © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Go to Whole Foods for Hear Nebraska’s sake; Oberst opens up to Marc Maron; Talking Mountain dies tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 1:46 pm February 17, 2015

wholefoodsby Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

The main reason for this update is to hype the Whole Foods / Hear Nebraska promotion. It’s this: Whole Foods in both Lincoln and Omaha is donating 5 percent of every purchase made at their stores to Hear Nebraska all day and all night. That’s not all: Lucky Bucket Brewery and Zipline Brewery are providing tastings from 5 to 7 p.m., and, yes, there will be music. Here in Omaha Jessica Errett and Kait Berreckman are playing from 6 to 7 p.m., while in Lincoln, Hear Nebraska managing editor Chance Solem-Pfeifer and Evan Bartels are playing from 5 to 7 p.m.

I can’t remember the last time I stepped foot in Whole Foods, but I’m planning on making a trip just for this special occasion. You should, too.

* * *

What else… I haven’t listened to it yet but I’m told the Conor Oberst interview with Marc Maron is pretty right on. Kevin Coffey at the Omaha World-Herald has some excepts and a link to the interview/podcast right here.

* * *

Tonight at fabulous O’Leaver’s it’s Talking Mountain Is Dead — presumably the last time you’ll hear Jason Meyer play Talking Mountain songs. I don’t believe it (and it doesn’t matter if I did). Helping “bury the mountain” will be Michael Parallax and METH DAD. This “very special episode of Talking Mountain” starts at 9:30 and costs $5.

* * *

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 © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

TBT: Lazy-i Feb. 5, 2003: Dealing with ‘A Situation’…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 1:54 pm February 5, 2015

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Since there’s nothing to report, how about a little “Throw Back Thursday” action? With Lincoln Exposed going strong tonight and for the next couple of nights, here’s a chestnut from 2003 about “A Situation,” the Lincoln-based indie-music co-op that spawned five year’s worth of compilation CDs, and some might say inspired today’s local music festivals (like Lincoln Exposed) and Hear Nebraska.

Dealing with ‘A Situation’
Lazy-i – Feb. 5, 2003

A few of the bands involved in A Situation in 2002.

A few of the bands involved in A Situation in 2002.

A handful of Lincoln bands are joining forces to raise the profile of local music, share resources and work together to make a name for themselves.

Called “A Situation,” the idea was born out of frustration from bands that had hit the same glass ceiling, not knowing what to do next. They’d done their local gigs; a few had recorded their own CDs, but a future of continually playing the same clubs over and over while hocking CDRs seemed pointless.

Pulling together was a logical next step, said Malcom Miles, bassists for the Post-Trendies, one of five bands involved in the project.

“This is about efficiency and resources,” Miles said. “We are trying to be more effective at doing the things musicians want to do, which is record and release music, play live shows and tour, and have fun doing it. Having the support of a larger group makes some of these things easier to do.”

He said any single band can put out a CD, but doing a compilation and pulling together the recording resources is easier and cheaper. Then there’s touring. “None of us have toured extensively,” he said. “If one of the bands adopted a city and built a following there, they could take the other bands along. Sharing club contacts is just going to make it easier for each band to set up a tour.”

Bands involved in A Situation in 2002.

Bands involved in A Situation in 2002.

Miles gave a rather sophisticated take on the meaning behind the confab’s name, saying “a situation” refers to a late-’60s movement by French intellectuals and artists working around the idea of society being a spectacle that they wanted to live outside of.

But that was followed by a more reasonable explanation. “We also didn’t know what we were doing,” he said. “We’re not a label or a collective or a commune. We’re a situation of bands working together.”

Five Lincoln bands currently are caught up in this situation:

– Crush the Clown, a power trio that sports a tight, angular punk sound;
— Joe Buck — consisting of the irrepressible Dan Jenkins, the force behind the now-defunct power-alt-country outfit Drive-by Honky;
— The Honey Hush — a 5-piece that includes former members of Black Dahlias, Starboy and Bronco;
— Junior Mighty — the duo of Lori Allison (the Millions) and Brian McCue (The Black Dahlias).

And, finally, Miles’ own Post-Trendies. Called The Trendies in their first incarnation that included Matt Silcock (Head of Femur, Opium Taylor and a handful of other notable bands), when Silcock moved to Chicago in 2001, the band changed its name to the Post-Trendies and stayed a four-piece.

“We make a joke on our Web site (http://geocities.com/grothescene/) that none of the bands in ‘a situation’ sound alike,” Miles said. “This isn’t an exclusive thing. We’ve talked to other bands, including bands from Omaha. Our main goal is to raise awareness of local music, that’s the priority.”

So how is it different than starting a record label? Miles said the comparisons have been drawn, but that the ‘label’ label doesn’t really apply. “We love the fact that what we’re doing is undefined,” he said. “We looked at Saddle Creek and Sub Pop as models of similar efforts that have been successful. Both of those labels did great things to help their bands out. But our main focus is promoting the local scene. We’re not doing anything that costs a lot of money. This is something that any group of bands could pull together.”

The first project out of the gate is producing a compilation CD with contributions from all five bands, each contributing two songs. The tracks are being recorded at Crush the Clown guitarist Nick Westra’s home studio. The group’s “launch party” Saturday, Feb. 8, 2002, at Duffy’s in Lincoln, is a fund-raiser to pull together cash to cover the CD’s production costs. A similar group show is planned for Omaha some time in April.

Once completed, the bands will sell copies of the CD at their individual shows. “We hope that this starts a cycle and keeps moving forward,” Miles said. “If we play enough shows and continue to sell CDs, we would get enough back to put together a second compilation.

“Most local bands don’t have any sort of notion of becoming Britney Spears or The Backstreet Boys. Most of us would like to make music a lifetime job. You sort of make the best music you can, and just see how it goes.”

So how did it go? Malcom Miles provided an update this morning via Facebook: “We did one compilation a year for five years running (2004-2008). The short story is two things happened simultaneously – one was CD sales dropped each year we did it and so it wasn’t fiscally viable; the second thing is I ran out of steam as the coordinator of the project.”

In some ways A Situation was a precursor to things like Hear Nebraska and Lincoln Calling/Exposed. Miles says he feels a kinship to those modern-day efforts.

Absolutely – We came out of the Broadside Cassettes and Linoma CDs and passed the torch on to Hear Nebraska, and all the local music festivals,” he said. “Bands have much more ability to share their music digitally now, but I still like the historical artifact of a record or CD or cassette. I’m glad Hear Nebraska has continued to put out compilations as well as doing streaming / video.”

* * *

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 © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Live Review: Take Cover, Bahamas, Bass Drum of Death, Dumb Beach; Mark Kozelek, Mitch Gettman’s farewell show tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , , , — @ 2:01 pm January 26, 2015
Icky Blossoms at Take Cover IV, The Waiting Room, Jan. 23, 2015.

Icky Blossoms at Take Cover IV, The Waiting Room, Jan. 23, 2015.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

The 4th Annual Take Cover benefit for Hear Nebraska at The Waiting Room Friday night appeared to be a smashing success. At least there were a ton of people there when I arrive at a quarter to 10, just in time to see members of Icky Blossoms squatting down on the stage performing a stripped down version of “Burn Rubber,” a track presumably off their upcoming Saddle Creek Records release. It was followed by a funky cover of a Capgun Coup song.

That was the recipe for the evening: One original tune, one cover by another local artist. Unlike year’s past, I actually recognize a lot of the covers, or at least some of them. As mentioned before, the Take Cover effect can be rather weak when you don’t know the person performing or the band he or she is covering. That wasn’t a problem for Matt Whipkey as he covered Simon Joyner ( “Double Joe”), See Through Dresses covering Little Brazil (“God” off 2009’s Son), Dan McCarthy covering Conor Oberst (“Common Knowledge” off Upside Down Mountain) and most successful of all, John Klemmensen and the Party covering Bright Eyes’ “Four Winds.” You could argue that JK’s version, complete with accordion, was as good as Conor’s. It was a great way to close out an evening of fun and fellowship.

Bahamas at Reverb Lounge, Jan. 24, 2015.

Bahamas at Reverb Lounge, Jan. 24, 2015.

There’s still a market for simple song craft, judging by the sold-out audience that showed up for Bahamas last Saturday night at Reverb Lounge. At the heart of the band is singer/songwriter Afie Jurvanen, an indie music veteran whose tours of duty include a stint with Feist. Standing center stage backed by a second guitarist, drummer and backing vocalist, Jurvanen played a set of simple acoustic ballads and laid-back rockers reminiscent of beachy acts like Jack Johnson.

The live setting stripped out the more intricate production heard on Bahamas’ last record, much to my chagrin, leaving little in the way of variety. No doubt he’s a talented dude with a knack for hooks, but a little goes a long way and halfway through the set (just after he began a mid-set solo-acoustic section, where he did his best story-teller riff about the last time he came to Omaha 10 years ago and got stoned on Ecstasy) I began looking for the door. I never made it to what was probably his set closer or encore — “All the Time” — the soundtrack to that James Franco Motorola commercial. I bet the crowd went wild.

Bass Drum of Death at Sweatshop Gallery, Jan. 24, 2015.

Bass Drum of Death at Sweatshop Gallery, Jan. 24, 2015.

The reason I charged out before the end was to catch a show at Sweatshop Gallery. I made my way through the maze of slouched smokers and poorly parked vehicles in the back lot to enter the jam-packed garage-turned-music-venue. I don’t know if it was a sell out, but it was crowded enough to get me wondering if that overhead door was functional in case of a fire.

The highlight of the evening (and of my weekend) was a fiery set by Dumb Beach. I’ve seen these guys a couple times at O’Leaver’s, but they’ve never sounded this good or this inspired. Their style combines modern garage (think Digital Leather without synths) with heavy metal (the most ferocious moments from Neil Young/Crazyhorse). It was a fantastic set that had the room moving.

It was followed by Bass Drum of Death, who owe a lot of their style to The Ramones, though the trio had enough versatility to change up their sound from song to song. Good stuff.

It was a real 180 going from Reverb, with its high-tech sound board and digital lighting, to Sweatshop’s four screwed-in colored light bulbs and micro mix station. The contrast was almost as stark as the one between Bahamas and Bass Drum of Death. Who says there isn’t variety in Benson?

* * *

As of this writing (noon) tickets were still available for tonight’s Mark Kozelek show at Vega in Lincoln, though the venue warns that they are in short supply. If you have a chance to go, you should. Kozelek provided my favorite moment at last years South By Southwest Festival. Benji, Sun Kil Moon’s last album, was my favorite for 2014. You cannot go wrong. $20 tickets are available here (for now). The show starts at 9.

Also tonight, at Pageturners, Omaha singer/songwriter Mitch Gettman plays his last local show before moving away, again. Gettman said he’s headed to Leavenworth, Kansas, to live with his pop in an effort to save cash for his big move to New York City this summer. Gettman says he’s doing it for the challenge. You know what they say about people who can make it there… Custom Catacombs opens. 9 p.m. and free (as far as I know).

* * *

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 © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

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.

* * *

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.

* * *

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.

* * *

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.

* * *

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.

* * *

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…

* * *

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.

* * *

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.

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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!

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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