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.

* * *

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….

* * *

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.

Lazy-i

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.

* * *

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.

* * *

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

Discount tix available for Friday’s Hear Nebraska LIVE show at The Holland (Digital Leather, Big Harp); They Might Be Giants, Peter Case tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 12:40 pm June 5, 2013

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

You going to Friday night’s 1200 Club show at The Holland Performing Arts Center? Well, you should.

It’s a joint production by Omaha Performing Arts, NET Television and Hear Nebraska (an auspicious organization to which I’m a board member). The show’s called Hear Nebraska LIVE and features three bands we’re all very familiar with: Digital Leather, Big Harp and Kill County. NET is recording the entire show, creating TV shows from the material which will be sort of inspired by Austin City Limits. The shows will be broadcast within Nebraska, and could possibly have national distribution through PBS. Imagine that?

Anyway, you can be a part of this historical program and broadcast (as an audience member) for a mere $25.

Or — better yet — enter promo code HEARNE13 when buying here from Ticket Omaha and get $2 off (that’s $23 for you math-impared). What a friggin’ steal!

I’ve never been to 1200 Club. I don’t even know where it is in conjunction with the rest of The Holland, but I’m sure there will be signs pointing the way. I’m trying to imagine what Digital Leather has up its sleeve. I know they’re planning something special. BTW, it’s an early show (7:30 p.m. start).

* * *

Two noteworthy shows are happening tonight, both with early start times.

At The Slowdown, it’s the return of They Might Be Giants. Seems like they were just here a year ago. The band just got back from “down under” touring in support of their new studio album, Nanobots (Idlewild Records). Brooklyn horn ensemble Moon Hooch opens. $23, 8 p.m.

Also tonight, Peter Case (The Plimsouls (“A Million Miles Away”), The Nerves) performs “an evening with…” at The Waiting Room as part of the Sunday Roadhouse series. $20, 7:30 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 © 2013 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Omaha Gives is today (as if you didn’t know): Hear Nebraska, Maha, Omaha Girls Rock; Unread Records now on Bandcamp; Mousetrap returns 8/16; Gordon tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — @ 12:46 pm May 22, 2013
Unread Records homepage

Unread Records homepage

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

If you’re on Facebook and you live in Omaha than you’re already tired of being inundated with people asking you to give money today as part of the Omaha Gives event. I will not pile on, other than to point you to what I said last week during Lincoln’s version of this same fund drive, i.e, give some cash to Hear Nebraska (by clicking here), and here’s why. Other charities to consider: Omaha Girls Rock, the Maha Music Festival (which you may not know is a non-profit) and FilmStreams. The rest is up to you. Do your duty. Give. And then do what I plan to do: Turn off Facebook for the rest of the day. Here are the give links:

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Max Larson, drummer of rock group The Dad (formerly know as Dads), emailed a head’s up about the band’s 7-inch release show (and tour kick off) this Friday night at Sweatshop Gallery in Benson.

We will be playing with Fletch (aka Mike Schlesinger of the late Gus & Call), Pro-Magnum (hippie-hating members of Digital Leather & The Fucking Party) and Sister-Kisser (female-fronted anger),” said Larson. “The record is $5, admission is $5, and I believe that all-you-can-drink keg beer will be available for $5 (This might have been a cruel joke, though).” This should be massive fun.

Larson also added this very useful PS: “P.S. I’m not sure if you’re a follower of Unread Records, but a week or two ago Chris put a large handful of his releases up for stream on Bandcamp. It is my understanding that, until now, a number of these recordings have suffered from limited digital representation. Most of these bands/singers are from Omaha (including Simon Joyner of course), so if you want to listen you should. The link is http://unreadrecords.bandcamp.com/

“Chris” is Chris Fischer, who I spoke with way back in 2000 for an article in the Omaha Weekly. I was going to post a link to that story (which still exists on Lazy-i), but you’d have to scroll around to find it and I figured what the heck, I’ll just post it below. Unread Records started out as a tape label and still is, though they also sell other media, including vinyl, as evidenced by The Dad 7-inch that Unread is releasing. According to the Unread Records website, the label’s world headquarters is now located in Pittsburgh. Check out the Bandcamp page for some very rare recordings, go to Unread to order / buy some awesome stuff, and keep up with the label on their Facebook page.

Now, into the Wayback Machine, from The Omaha Weekly, Sept. 14, 2000:

The roster of fall releases by Omaha’s Unread Records is crowded with a number of … wait-a-minute, you’ve never heard of Unread Records? That’s probably because the label is part of the underground world of cassette-tape-only record labels, a music scene so obscure that it makes an indie label like Saddle Creek Records look like DreamWorks in comparison.Operated by Chris Fischer out of his house/performance space known as Gunboat, Unread Records has produced cassette and vinyl releases from some of the underground’s most famous unknowns, including a tape by South Carolina’s “king of banjo” Charlie McAlister, as well as a 7-inch single by Shrimper and Catsup Plate recording artist Will Simmons.

Fischer says there are “zillions” of tape only labels. Some more-famous artists who have put out tape-only releases include Sebadoh’s Lou Barlow, folk-music favorites The Mountain Goats, and even undisputed funk-groove indie rocker Beck, Fischer said.

“I started my label three years ago to put out tapes for me and my friends,” said Fischer, who recently moved to Omaha from Lancaster, Penn. “I don’t have any artists signed to anything, and I don’t ever want to put out a thousand units of anything.”

That shouldn’t be a problem for the 20-year-old entrepreneur. Most his 27 releases include hand-made cassette shells or screen-printed jackets. Though promotion is usually through word of mouth or the Internet, Fischer has placed ads in fanzines and sent flyers to a handful of record labels that pass them onto their customers. His most popular release thus far is the McAlister cassette Turn of the Century Photograph of, which moved more than 300 units.

Fischer said the label will branch out to CDs this fall, with a release by Fizzle Like a Flood (Omaha singer/songwriter Doug Kabourek, who also performs as The Laces). Also look for a split 7-inch vinyl release by Park and A Boy Named Thor, a split-label CD with Twee Kitten Records, a Jarbaby one-sided LP, as well as cassettes by Church of Gravitron, Park, Caleb Fraid and others.

Just as obscure as Unread Records is Gunboat, Fischer’s performance space located in the basement of the house he rents at 301 So. 38th Ave. Past Gunboat performers include most of the Saddle Creek Records’ stable of artists, who have made house shows a staple on their recent tour schedules.

“House shows are a different kind of scene, a more personal performance that allows the fans to hang out with the people who play,” Fischer said. “There’s no stage, it’s kind of one-on-one.”

Gunboat shows attract a mostly under-21 crowd made up of house show regulars or people who have heard about the shows either by visiting the Saddle Creek Records website (www.saddle-creek.com) or by spotting a flier at The Antiquarium or Drastic Plastic. Fischer says his largest show drew about 70 people.

One recent night at Gunboat included performances by Bright Eyes, Philadelphia’s Jen Turrell (Rabbit in Red), and Pennsylvania band Chauchat. Last week, Fischer hosted Jarbaby from Normal, Ill.

Among the bands slated for Gunboat’s upcoming Sept. 20 show are The Good Life (a new project by Cursive’s Tim Kasher), Boston’s Kolya, Omaha emo-rockers Secret Behind Sunday and Lincoln’s Her Flyaway Manner (slated to release a CD on Caulfield Records) Fischer says the cover is usually two or three dollars, all of which goes to the touring band to help cover their expenses.

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Ah, those were the days…

Speaking of blasts from the pasts, I just got word that Mousetrap has been booked to play a return engagement at The Waiting Room Aug. 16 for what I’m told is being billed as a “Pre-Maha Party” (the Maha Music Festival is the following day). No idea who else will be playing this gig, but I’m told we should expect to hear some new Mousetrap material along with old favorites. Mark it down on your calendar.

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Finally, Maha Music Festival and The Slowdown are hosting an Omaha Gives Showcase tonight. Among the acts are current favorite, Gordon. Also on the program are A Wasted Effort, Rock Paper Dynamite and The Seen. It’s a free show, but you’ll be hit up to give money (and you should, you cheap-ass). Gordon I believe plays second, so get there early.

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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

Hear Nebraska Lincoln fund drive today (win a sweet-ass turntable); Millennial Fever is back (in the column); Travelling Mercies tonight…

Category: Blog,Column — Tags: , — @ 12:47 pm May 16, 2013

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Hear Nebraska's Lincoln Fund Drive is today.

Hear Nebraska’s Lincoln Fund Drive is today.

A couple things to consider as you decide whether to give to HearNebraska.org during the organization’s Lincoln pledge drive…

Yes, the Omaha fund drive isn’t until next week, but for every $10 you give to this one, your name gets dropped into a “virtual hat.” And if your name is drawn from that “virtual hat” you’ll win a custom turntable valued at $2k. For all you lame-o’s that don’t have a turntable, here’s your chance to finally get with it, and for you hipsters who already have a turntable, well, once you win this one, all you’ll need is a microphone to fulfill Beck’s “Where It’s At” dictum.

For you musicians out there who could give a shit about turntables, consider this:

Not only is Hear Nebraska’s mission entirely to support your artistic endeavors, but unlike some local charitable organizations that are always mooching you for free performances, HN does what it can to compensate bands who take part in activities like the upcoming “Hear Nebraska at the 1200 Club” concert and the “Hear Lincoln concert series.”

Look, eventually you’re going to book a show, cut a recording, start a new band, get busted for something you didn’t do, and you’ll want to get your story seen-read-heard by the music-loving world that follows Nebraska music, and it’s Hear Nebraska that’s going to help you do that. What’s it cost to hire a publicist? It’s nice to know you already have Hear Nebraska on your side.

And HN couldn’t have made it any easier. Just go to hearnebraska.org and fill out the “Donate Now” doohickey right on the homepage. Your donation TODAY will help HN get a share of the “Give to Lincoln” matching gift fund. Come on, you cheap-asses, do it.

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In this week’s column, those narcissistic Millennials. Is it me or does it seem like we see and  hear more about the young, hip people creating the companies than the companies themselves? Read it in this week’s issue of The Reader or online right here.

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Travelling Mercies, Motel (self release, 2013)

Travelling Mercies, Motel (self release, 2013)

Listening to the new Travelling Mercies album, Motel… What would you call this… Country? Country Rock? Alt Country? Outlaw Country?

Despite its inherent twang-and-drawl it leans heavier to the right on the Rock needle. Usually. On the other hand, songs like the acoustic “Holy Mary” bend toward folk. Then there’s the weird-Hawaiian-flavored lap-steel Hank Williams-derivative “Million Dollar Recipe.” But for the most part, it’s foot-on-the-floor tractor-flavored rock like the relentless “Border Run” that rattles and crashes like a waltz in a hailstorm.

Throughout the recording is an overshadowing Christian lilt that’s not so much “preachy” as an acknowledgement by songwriter/frontman Jeremy Mercy that yeah, there’s a higher power and he may or may not pull his ass out of the shit the next time it lands there. Mercy is a storyteller, and without a doubt this is a story-teller album.

I bring this up because Travelling Mercies are headlining tonight’s relief benefit at The Waiting Room for those devastated in the recent explosion in West, Texas. Also on the dance care are Belles & Whistles, 24 Hour Cardlock and Stephen Monroe. Recommended donation is $5 (but you can always give more), with all door proceeds going to the McLennan County Salvation Army.

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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

Poliça, Night Moves tonight; Hear Nebraska takes over the Holland’s 1200 Club; last day to give Whipkey some love…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 6:37 pm April 23, 2013
Poliça plays tonight at The Waiting Room.

Poliça plays tonight at The Waiting Room.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Another late-in-the-day post. Hey whaddayagonnado?

Despite the late hour I’m tossing this one online to remind you that Poliça is playing at The Waiting Room tonight with Night Moves. Poliça is Channy Leaneagh and Ryan Olson, previously of the band Gayngs. Their debut album, Give You the Ghost (Totally Gross National Product) got a massive 7.6 on the Pitchfork meter (Check out four songs from the album from the SoundCloud link, below). It’s gorgeous, and seeing them on an Omaha stage is well worth your $14. Show starts at 9.

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In other (old) news, Hear Nebraska today announced that it’s teaming up with Omaha Performing Arts and NET News to produce a “Austin City Limits-style” concert June 7 at the Holland Performing Arts Center’s 1200 Club. The performers: Saddle Creek Records’ Big Harp, Lincoln’s Kill County and the red hot Digital Leather. The show will be filmed by NET for four separate TV shows to air statewide (and possibly nationwide). It’s quite a coup for Hear Nebraska and helps galvanize it’s ever-growing rep as the state’s central music hub. Tix are $25 Adv/$30 DOS (info here).

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That greedy bastard Matt Whipkey has been riding my ass for two days to remind you that there’s only 24 hours left to get in on his Penny Park Kickstarter deal. Whipkey’s already blown way past his $4k goal (He was at $5,126 as of this writing). He says that initial $4k goal was only designed to cover half his vinyl costs. Vinyl’s expensive, folks. Especially gatefold double-vinyl. He says his Kickstarter is the best way for you to reserve your copy of his loving ode to one of his favorite teenage memories (Who else got loaded on cheap champagne at the Grove on New Year’s Eve? Ah, the memories)….

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Last but not least, tonight is the kick off the Big Al’s Free Music Festival 2013 — five nights of free music at The Hideout Lounge (320 So. 72nd St.). More info here.

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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