Silversphere (ex-Lepers), Sam Vicari tonight; High Up, Yes You Are, Domestica, Sucettes Saturday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 1:39 pm January 22, 2016
High Up at Reverb Lounge July 25, 2015. The band plays tonight at The Slowdown.

High Up at Reverb Lounge July 25, 2015. The band plays Saturday night at The Slowdown.

by Tim McMahan,

Here’s the rundown for the weekend, none of which is brought to you by The Knitting Factory…

Tonight at fabulous O’Leaver’s Silversphere headlines. Never heard of them? Neither have I, though the listing indicates that Silversphere includes members of legendary local duo The Lepers. Also on the bill are Ruby Block and DWNR. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Also tonight, Milk Run has Chicago power-pop dude Sam Vicari, whose most recent LP came out on Sip City Records. Opening are The Fat Timmys (hey now) and Briner. $7, 8 p.m.

That wraps it up for Friday night.

Saturday night 2015 break-out band High Up headlines at The Slowdown. This is the blue-eyed soul band you’ve been dreaming about. Also on the bill is KC band Yes You Are, the project headlined by Kianna Alarid, who you might remember from a little ol’ band called Tilly and the Wall. Kianna talks about those Tilly days and her new band in this lengthy Kansas City Star article. Carl Miller & The Thrillers kick things off at 9 p.m. $5

Meanwhile, back at O’Leaver’s Saturday night Lincoln rockers Red Cities headlines a bill that includes the always-mesmerizing Domestica. Bullet Proof Hearts open at 9:30. $5.

If that weren’t enough, everyone’s favorite garage band Sucettes (featuring Dave Goldberg and Jeremiah McIntyre, among others) headlines at The Brothers Lounge Saturday night. Warming up the corner for them is Lineman’s Rodeo and David Nance Band. No price shown for this one, but I suspect it’ll be around $5. Starts at 9:30.

Finally, back at Milk Run, Omaha emo heroes Super Ghost headlines another emo bill that includes a bunch of emo bands that are new to me: Mighty Ships, Secret Stuff and The Foxery. It’s another show where the promoter forgot to list the price, so I’m guessing around $5. Starts at 9 p.m.

That’s all I got. If I missed your show, put it in the comments section. Have a great weekend.

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2016 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Have a High Up / Digital Leather New Year’s; Over the Edge Year in Review…

Category: Blog,Column — Tags: , , , , — @ 2:08 pm December 31, 2015

HighUp112815by Tim McMahan,

Like all other holidays, New Year’s Eve is a night of DJs and cover bands. Let’s face it, if you’re still going out to the clubs on NYE you’re probably doing it to find some companionship (or to cement an existing companion, if you know what I mean).

I say this, and then there’s fabulous O’Leaver’s. If you go to O’Leaver’s for NYE you’ve grown past the hoopla, you’ve found your companion-zone years ago, you’re looking for a place to simply hang with friends and enjoy some exceptionally good live music. Tonight is no exception.

O’Leaver’s has two of Omaha’s best ringing in the New Year, along with one of the city’s best DJs. First there’s High Up. The band that made the biggest splash in 2015 takes a victory lap. I see big things in ’16 for the Fink sisters and their merry band of soul rockers. Then there’s Digital Leather, a band that’s been on the verge of something bigger since frontman Shawn Foree rolled into town back in 2009. Foree and the boys should be in rare form tonight, rare form. Holding it together is DJ Tyrone Storm a.k.a. Roger Lewis who is part of the team that made Benson Soul Society a huge hit. All of that and complimentary champagne at midnight? What more could you want for a mere $10. Music starts at 8.

As for the rest of the clubs, well, like I said, it’s mostly cover bands and DJs. Party at your own discretion. I’ll be ringing in the New Year with my wife coaxing my dogs out from beneath the couch as the world around them explodes in fireworks. Why Omaha allows fireworks in the city is anyone’s guess. City officials must have felt there was no way to enforce a law banning fireworks, so might as well let someone (i.e., campaign contributors) make some money off the holiday. Meanwhile, people are getting their hands and eyes blown to bits, my dogs are shaking in fear and I (and a lot of other dog owners) are staying home to make sure our furry friends are OK. Thanks, Omaha, for another backfired political decision.

Speaking of backfiring politics, check out my Over the Edge Year in Review where I look in the rear-view mirror and contemplate: What’s it say about us that when asked to look back on 2015 the only things that come to mind are solemn, terrifying, critical and trivial media-driven events? You can read it in the January issue of The Reader, which hits the news stands next week, or online at right here right now.

By the way, if you’re looking for my music predictions for 2016, they’ll be online next week.

Lazy-i Best of 2015!

Lazy-i Best of 2015!

Speaking of Years in Review, check out the track list for (and enter to win a copy of) the Lazy-i Best of 2015 comp CD. All my favorite indie tunes I’ve come across throughout last year as part of my tireless work as a music critic for Among those represented: Algiers, Sam Martin, Sufjan Stevens, Clarence Tilton, Beck, The Chemical Brothers, Freedy Johnston, The Mynabirds, and the two bands mentioned earlier — Digital Leather and High Up — plus lots more. The full track listing is here. Enter your name in a drawing to win a copy. To enter, either: 1. Send an email with your mailing address to, 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. 4!

Happy New Year, y’all…

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Live Review: High Up, Big Harp, Timecat and a night at Milk Run…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 1:34 pm December 1, 2015

HighUp112815by Tim McMahan,

Welp, things got out of hand yesterday so this didn’t get posted! Here you go (better late than never?)…

It was one of those holiday crowds you expect to see during Thanksgiving weekend. Despite the fact that The Good Life was headlining at The Slowdown Saturday night — and I love The Good Life — our plan was to catch the openers and then drive across downtown to check out Milk Run and its new art gallery, which was having its grand opening.

We got in at around 8:45 and got a table in the bar nearest the stage. High Up came on right at 9, the full ensemble kicked into one of their bluesier numbers that got the attention of the smallish crowd standing in the bowl. Frontwoman Christine Fink, a fireball of manic energy, told the crowd after the first song that everyone on stage was sick, then added that she just totaled her car. And with that, they went right into the next number.

Maybe everyone was sick but you couldn’t tell from the performance. Christine directed that golden voice of hers with the usual bombastic energy, and sang with panache the band’s brand of golden blues, emoting in a way that the late Joe Cocker would admire — all jerky moves and pained expression, with a little James Brown shake thrown in to make it ultra-groovy. Fink is one of those rare performers who you can’t take your eyes off of, belting out each number as if she’s singing right to you… or at you.

About half-way through the set it was clear she wasn’t feeling the best. She pulled out a handkerchief from her back pocket and swabbed the sweat from her face, offering to dry off bassist Josh Soto’s own dew-covered melon. He passed, but she did it later in the set anyway.

The band ended in a blaze of glory playing the single “Two Weeks” — a favorite of 2015 — and left the stage in a roar, winning over yet another crowd. High Up is closing out the year on a high note as the most talked-about band to emerge from the Omaha music scene in recent years. So who’s going to release their inevitable full-length? Saddle Creek could certainly use another show pony in its stable.


Big Harp at The Slowdown, Nov. 28, 2015

Big Harp at The Slowdown, Nov. 28, 2015

If you haven’t heard by now, the once folky Big Harp has a brand new bag. The trio, which features the Chris Senseney, his wife Stefanie Drootin-Senseney and drummer extraordinaire Daniel Ocanto, went electric with their last album — the cassette-digital release Waveless (Majestic Litter, 2015) — and haven’t looked back. I overheard their new style described as psych rock, but it’s more of a garage rock / post-punk hybrid. Songs off Waveless would have fit in nicely on Frank Black’s earlier albums — a mix of solid melodies and heavy-rhythms but not afraid to take a proggy turn.

Chris’ golden bray — the chief asset on Big Harp’s earlier albums — is just as comfortable on these brittle melodies, though it’s the frenetic, propulsive rhythm section that’s driving the band these days. These songs are jitter bombs of nervous energy. How long will the trio commit to this style of rock, or will they eventually fall back into the sleepy folk style where it all began? Here’s hoping they stay their current course (but not forget their past).

Timecat at Milk Run, Nov. 28, 2015.

Timecat at Milk Run, Nov. 28, 2015.

By the time we left Slowdown the club had filled nicely, but was far from a sell out. I’m told the number was around 350, which is a bit light for a Good Life show. Holidays, maybe? It was off to Milk Run next, but before we got there, a quick stop to pick up libations. Milk Run, located at 1907 Leavenworth (right next to Shuck’s seafood restaurant), is an all-ages venue that doesn’t sell booze but let’s you bring your own. We stopped at All Nations on 24th Street, an old-fashioned neighborhood liquor store, and picked up a couple quarts that had made a long trip from across the border — my Modelo Especial and Teresa’s Corona.

The 0709 Art Gallery, looking from back to front.

The 0709 Art Gallery.

We pulled into the parking lot behind the building and made our way into the fenced-in back area that connects the Milk Run venue with the 0709 Art Gallery — the name apparently a play on the addresses (Milk Run is 1907, the gallery is 1909). It is a huge space for an art gallery, and seemed even larger due to the limited number of pieces in the current show, “American Dizzy” by Collin Pietz of the band Fake Plants.

Part of the plan for the gallery space is to have showings consisting of art created by members of bands playing next door at Milk Run, highlighting the full creative spectrum of these talented musicians/artists. A noble mission indeed.

Next, we made our way through the revelers chilling outside and entered Milk Run. It’s amazing the difference a fresh coat of paint can make. The tiny venue was patterned in white and black vertical panels, sure to be a signature look in any photo taken at the club, just like those zig-zag stripes that hallmark any photo taken at the old Sweatshop Gallery. The original plan was to put the sound-mix equipment in a small room behind the stage that has a glass window, but apparently that didn’t work out since the small sound board was now located in the back near the entrance, taking even more space.

What can I say, Milk Run was designed to be a small venue for small shows, and it’s downright tiny. No idea on what the actual capacity is, but I’d say no more than 60 would fit in there comfortably, especially when bands take up as much space as those playing Saturday night. There is no stage, merely a hard-wood floored performance space, where was stacked two huge Marshall amps — way more power than was needed to fill that room — along with two stacks of PA equipment. It was like putting a 350 Hemi in a ’67 Volkswagen Beetle. Good thing I had my ear plugs.

Timecat, a local four-piece, was pretty amazing playing their style of heavy, aggressive indie rock (notice how I didn’t use the word “angular”?). Great stuff, but because of the over-powered amps, there was no way to hear the vocals through the much smaller PA — a shame. Chock it up to the new venue’s learning curve, one assumes they’re still feeling out the right combination of equipment, etc.

Chris Aponick, who owns/operates the place with Sam Parker, said in this interview they “wanted a room that makes a crowd of 30 to 50 people feel like an event instead of a bummer.” Mission accomplished. The whole vibe that night was right on. With only 30 or 40 people in the room, it felt exciting, like you were experiencing something special. But had the crowd been much bigger…

I have to believe Milk Run is going to be rather limited with the kinds of bands they can book for such a small room, a room that feels like it’s half the size of Sweatshop. That said, they have options. They could host larger shows in the art gallery; better yet, they could take out the wall where the “green room/sound room” is located behind the stage and simply make the entire room that much larger. Decisions, decisions. Regardless, I’m excited at the prospects for Milk Run…

Check out Milk Run’s Facebook page for a list of upcoming shows.

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Another Halloween weekend; Midwest Dilemma tonight; High Up, Sucettes Saturday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 12:54 pm October 30, 2015
It's Halloween weekend. You know how it goes.

It’s Halloween weekend. You know how it goes.

by Tim McMahan,

Halloween weekends music-wise are usually dedicated to cover bands, tribute shows and amateur drinking. You get plenty of all three if you go out to the venues tonight and tomorrow night. And you better be wearing a costume.

Cover bands and tribute shows are fine, but pose no interest to me. The 1% properties are doing all covers/tributes Friday/Saturday night. Enjoy.

Then there’s fabulous O’Leaver’s. Tonight it’s DJ sets starting at 9. $5. For Halloween, O’Leaver’s is featuring Sucettes, Dead Flower Preservation Society and the hottest local music commodity these days, High Up. $5, 9:30 p.m. and yes, it’s a costume affair.

There is one local show that doesn’t appear to have a Halloween theme. Tonight at PS Collective it’s a meeting of Benson singer/songwriter/folk brotherhood: Korey Anderson, Midwest Dilemma, Jason Ferguson and Brad Hoshaw. Performances start early, at 7 p.m. No idea if there’s a cover, so you’re on your own.

And that’s it for the weekend. If I missed your show, put it in the comments section. Have a happy Halloween.

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Sidney Buchanan and The Sidney Art Bazaar (w/Gordon, Aeillo); High Up new recoding/Oberst dates…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 1:01 pm September 24, 2015
Artist extraordinaire Sidney "Buzz" Buchanan, left, and son Patrick Buchanan of the legendary Omaha band Mousetrap. Sidney's art show opens tomorrow at The Little Gallery.

Artist extraordinaire Sidney “Buzz” Buchanan, left, and son Patrick Buchanan of the legendary Omaha band Mousetrap. Sidney’s art show opens tomorrow at The Little Gallery.

by Tim McMahan,

The photo above is of Omaha artist/sculptor Sidney “Buzz” Buchanan with his son, Patrick Buchanan, who you might remember as the frontman of legendary indie/punk band Mousetrap. Sidney is having a one-man art show opening tomorrow, Friday, Sept. 25, at The Little Gallery in Benson, 5917 Maple St. (right across the street from The Sidney), and you are invited.

Some background on Sidney….

If you’ve lived in Omaha for any length of time, you’ve seen the work of Sidney Buchanan. The explosion of black metal tubes that towers over the west side of the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s Dodge Street campus like a giant robotic ballet dancer? That’s a Buchanan. The intersection of white steel pieces that lie on the ground like a mammoth pipe-cleaner at rest on the edge of One Pacific Place? That’s a Buchanan. The walking treehouse made of red girders that looms alongside the 10th Street Bridge in Gene Leahy Mall? That’s a Buchanan.

No other sculptor epitomizes Nebraska art like Sidney Buchanan. He just turned 83 earlier this month and has shifted his efforts from sculptures to two-dimensional art, at least for the show opening Friday night. Swing by and wish him a happy birthday and check out the work of a local master.

Afterward, swing by The Sydney for Art Bazaar, which benefits Benson First Friday. The line-up:

— 6:30 Acoustic Set by Ian Aeillo
— inter-gender arm wrestling w/ our mascot & referee Sarah Wafflez
— 8:30 p.m. — Comedy sets
— 10 p.m. — Drag performances (and we’re not talking drag racing)
— 11 p.m. — A Ferocious Jungle Cat.
— Midnight — Gordon

More info about Art Bazaar here. This isn’t tonight, it’s tomorrow night (Friday). I’m putting it out there now so it doesn’t get lost in the usual weekend stew.

* * *

There’s also more info about the above at Hear Nebraska (right here) where they’ve also reported that Christine Fink and her band High Up yesterday released their first single, “Two Weeks.” From the HN story: “High Up also announced a handful of upcoming performances that include a three-day jaunt with Conor Oberst in mid-October, sandwiched by three dates in Omaha. The band plays Slowdown Nov. 28 with fellow Omaha band The Good Life.”

Something tells me High Up is going places. Check out the track below.

* * *

Rock band Rock Paper Dynamite continues its month-long residency at fabulous O’Leaver’s tonight. Joining them are Kait Berreckman and Moses Prey. $5, 9:30 p.m.

And Satchel Grande is playing a fundraiser tonight at The Slowdown for Justice For Our Neighbors-Nebraska (JFON-NE) is a nonprofit organization welcoming immigrants into our communities by providing free, high quality immigration legal services, education and advocacy for low-income individuals and families in Nebraska and western Iowa. More info here.

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.