Icky Blossoms (and Reptar) Vs. Pile (and Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship) tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:47 pm April 14, 2015
Icky Blossoms at Stay Gold, March 19, 2015. They band opens for Reptar tonight at Slowdown.

Icky Blossoms at Stay Gold, March 19, 2015. They band opens for Reptar tonight at Slowdown.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

A pair of hot shows go head-to-head tonight.

At Sweatshop Gallery it’s the abrasive, angular punk of Pile. The Boston band recorded its most recent full length, You’re Better Than This (2015, Exploding in Sound Records) at ARC Studios right here in Omaha with producer Ben Brodin. There are moments on the record, like the triumphant “Mr. Fish,” that dip and dive like a drunken barn swallow. Striking stuff. Opening is a rare performance by Omaha band Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship and the sloshy slacker grind of Stomach (Check out their bitchin’ DEMOS — after hearing these, I was intrigued…). $8, 9 p.m.

Meanwhile, cross town at The Slowdown, it’s the return of Icky Blossoms. Last time they played they sold out Slowdown Jr., which is why (I guess) this time they’re playing in the big room. Either that or the fact that Reptar is headlining this show. Coaxed opens. $12, 9 p.m.

Speaking of Icky Blossoms, here’s their latest from their upcoming Saddle Creek release Mask:

And here’s the latest from the Reptar, off their new album Lurid Glow (Joyful Noise, 2015):

It’s nice outside. Get out there and enjoy some live music!

* * *

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.

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SXSW recap Pt. 2 (Icky Blossoms, Viet Cong, Natalie Prass, PUJOL, Mynabirds, Krill); Born Cages tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , , , , — @ 12:42 pm March 25, 2015
Icky Blossoms devising their set list prior to their SXSW performance at Stay Gold March 19.

Icky Blossoms devising their set list moments before their SXSW 2015 performance at Stay Gold March 19.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

More SXSW 2015 recap-ilation.

The weather was still pretty awesome on Day 2 of SXSW (last Thursday), so why not take a walk to the Saddle Creek / Nicodemus Showcase at Stay Gold? I mean, hey, it’s just on the other side of the freeway in east Austin, right?

Well, two miles by foot later we finally came upon Stay Gold, a new venue with a great outdoor beer garden and a sweet indoor stage where Josh Berwanger Band already was playing (Alas, we were too late for Twinsmith and Orenda Fink).

Berwanger, a former member of Lawrence band The Anniversary, is repped by Nicodemus Agency. No idea what label he’s on, but the band was pretty good in a straight-forward indie rock sort of way. Very clean, very tight and a good preview to PUJOL, who took the stage next.

I’ve never seen Daniel Pujol and his band play live. I think they’ve only played in Omaha once, despite being signed to Saddle Creek Records. I’ve had discussions with local garage-rock aficionados who say Pujol (who apparently counts Jack White among his fans) was Creek’s stab at releasing a garage rock band. I don’t believe that was their motivation at all. Pujol’s sound is too controlled, to pro to be mistaken for garage, reminding me more of Marshall Crenshaw or Graham Parker but with a bit more dirt behind the ears. My quibble: Too many of his songs sound the same, but you could make that same argument about Crenshaw and Parker’s music…

Laura Burhenn of the Mynabirds followed with a solo keyboard set that included a number of old favorites and a few from her upcoming Saddle Creek album, Lovers Know, played in a down-key style that accentuated her rather luscious voice. How will the new material sound with a full band?

Last up at Stay Gold (for me, anyway) was Icky Blossoms playing in front of a max crowd of maybe 50 people – no doubt a sharp contrast to their sold-out send-off show a few weeks earlier at Slowdown Jr. The band kicked right into some tunes off their last album before rolling out a couple new ones from Mask, including “In Folds,” which translated just OK in the live setting.

They could have beefed up the energy level, but what do you expect playing to a half-empty club on a Thursday afternoon? Icky is playing as a five-piece — didn’t recognize the drummer or bass player, but it was indeed a good rhythm section. This was easily the best vocal outing for Sarah Bohling, who continues to grow into her frontwoman role alongside Derek Pressnall, the consummate professional, while Nik Fackler is the band’s wild-card wild man.

They need to get more new songs polished and stage-ready before hitting the road. As much as I like the Creek debut, I’m crazy curious about this new record. Maybe we’ll hear more new stuff when Icky Blossoms returns to Slowdown (in the big room this time) April 14 with Reptar.

It was back to the Courtyard for evening festivities, specifically the controversially named Viet Cong. The place was even more packed than the night before — I could barely move. On stage Viet Cong’s drummer was playing hurt with a cast on his left hand. Somehow he managed to soldier through the set Rick Allen-style. The band’s sound is abrasively indie with some prog flourishes here and there. I’m not sure why they’re so hot these days, unless it’s all about the name.

Afterward I high-tailed back to Red River and the 720 Club, a tiny bar with a small indoor stage area all but vacant on this Thursday night. Under the lights warming up, Krill, a band that colleague Chris Aponick has suggested I check out. The Chicago trio also has caught the attention of such taste makers as Stereogum and Pitchfork, though you wouldn’t know it by the eight people standing in the club. I guess it was everyone else’s loss, as Krill brought their A-game to a post-punk set that recalled Protomartyr but with (much) better vocals. These are the kinds of sets I go to SXSW for — intimate, special, the feeling that you’re seeing something you’ll never see in Omaha.

Finally it was time to pluck one of the artists off my must-see list — Natalie Prass. I’ve been enjoying her debut self-titled album (on Spacebomb) for a few months — rich singer/songwriter stuff, like Jenny Lewis singing Joni Mitchell. The venue listed was Maggie Mae’s. I figured she’d probably be playing at the venue’s rather large rooftop stage.

My SXSW badge got me past the line and right up the stairs, but I didn’t recognize the band performing. Did I get the date wrong? I asked the door person, who had no idea who was playing that night. There actually are three performance spaces in Maggie Mae’s — the rooftop, the Gibson Room and the standard downstairs stage. Turned out Prass was slated downstairs.

Once again, there was no problem getting in and plenty of space right up next to the stage. By the time her set began, the floor was filled, but not uncomfortably so. There was Prass seated behind a piano, her face hidden behind her dark brown curls. Backed by a solid band, Prass performed a half-hour of the best songs from her album. It was the closest thing to a “perfect moment” I experienced at SXSW this year. Check out part of the performance (along with snippets from everyone else mentioned above) in the podcast below.

Vega just announced this morning that Prass will be playing there July 22. I might have to make a pilgrimage to Lincoln….

The final chapter of my SXSW 2015 journey tomorrow…

* * *

Tonight, alt-rock band Born Cages (Razor & Tie) plays at Slowdown Jr.. The band apparently opened for Guns & Roses a couple times, though they sound more like an indie version of Simple Minds. Opening for them tonight is fellow New York band Dreamers and Omaha favorite The Kickback (from Chicago) and Low Long Signal. $10, 8 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

Back from Austin, a recap of SXSW in podcast and photo form; Darren Keen, Calm Fur tonight…

Looking down on Sixth Street from Maggie Mays at South By Southwest 2015.

Looking down on Sixth Street from Maggie Mays at South By Southwest 2015.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

This will go down as the least impressive, least satisfying year I’ve attended South By Southwest. Sure there were a lot of bands, but not nearly as many as year’s past and even fewer legends. Still, I had fun and didn’t get beat up, and that’s always a good thing.

This year I tried to podcast from Austin. The results are below. I’ll probably never try it again, based solely on the number of hits each stream has gotten. That said, there’s probably no where else online that has snippets of this many performances. Each podcast is only about 10 minutes long and includes bits from every band I saw. Check them out:

Day 1: Performances by White Mystery, Twin Shadow, Dotan and Speedy Ortiz.

Day 2: Performances by PUJOL, Laura Burhenn (Mynabirds), Icky Blossoms, Viet Cong, Krill and Natalie Prass.

Day 3: Performances by Courtney Barnett, Best Coast, LITE, Drivin’ and Cryin’, The Pop Group and Will Butler.

And here are the photos. If you follow me in Instagram or on social media you’ve seen most of these, but here they are again, in living color.

White Mystery at Beerland Patio, March 18, 2015.

White Mystery at Beerland Patio, March 18, 2015.

Twin Shadow at Iron Castle, March 18, 2015.

Twin Shadow at Iron Castle, March 18, 2015.

Dotan at Cedar Street Courtyard, March 18, 2015.

Dotan at Cedar Street Courtyard, March 18, 2015.

Speedy Ortiz at Cedar Street Courtyard, March 18, 2015.

Speedy Ortiz at Cedar Street Courtyard, March 18, 2015.

Josh Berwenger Band at Stay Gold, March 19, 2015.

Josh Berwenger Band at Stay Gold, March 19, 2015.

PUJOL at Stay Gold March 19, 2015.

PUJOL at Stay Gold March 19, 2015.

Laura Burhenn (Mynabirds) at Stay Gold, March 19, 2015.

Laura Burhenn (Mynabirds) at Stay Gold, March 19, 2015.

Icky Blossoms at Stay Gold, March 19, 2015.

Icky Blossoms at Stay Gold, March 19, 2015.

Viet Cong at Cedar Street Courtyard, March 19, 2015.

Viet Cong at Cedar Street Courtyard, March 19, 2015.

Krill at the 720 Club, March 19, 2015.

Krill at the 720 Club, March 19, 2015.

Natalie Prass at Maggie Mae's, March 19, 2015.

Natalie Prass at Maggie Mae’s, March 19, 2015.

 

Best Coast at the SXSW Convention Center, March 20, 2015.

Best Coast at the SXSW Convention Center, March 20, 2015.

Courtney Barnett at the SXSW Convention Center, March 20, 2015.

Courtney Barnett at the SXSW Convention Center, March 20, 2015.

LITE at The Ginger Man, March 20, 2015.

LITE at The Ginger Man, March 20, 2015.

Drivin' and Cryin' at The Ginger Man, March 20, 2015.

Drivin’ and Cryin’ at The Ginger Man, March 20, 2015.

The Residents at The Paramount Theater, March 20, 2015.

The Residents at The Paramount Theater, March 20, 2015.

The Church at Buffalo Billiards, March 20, 2015.

The Church at Buffalo Billiards, March 20, 2015.

The Pop Group at Maggie Mae's Rooftop, March 20, 2015.

The Pop Group at Maggie Mae’s Rooftop, March 20, 2015.

Will Butler at Maggie Mae's Rooftop, March 20, 2015.

Will Butler at Maggie Mae’s Rooftop, March 20, 2015.

There may or may not be a formal review of each gig to come. Check back tomorrow. There will be a column in the April issue of The Reader about SXSW. Watch for it.

* * *

Tonight at the Sweatshop Gallery Darren Keen headlines with Calm Fur and Just Jace. $5, 9 p.m. Say goodbye to Darren before he flies back to Gotham City…

* * *

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

Icky Blossoms Vs. White Mystery/Digital Leather tonight; Criteria, Bloodcow Saturday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 12:53 pm March 13, 2015
Icky Blossoms at Lambert's BBQ, SXSW, March 16, 2012.

Icky Blossoms at Lambert’s BBQ, SXSW, March 16, 2012. The band is warming up for a return to SXSW in Austin with a show tonight at Slowdown Jr.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

We’ve got an intense list of shows happening this weekend.

It starts tonight with a death match between Icky Blossoms and White Mystery.

Icky Blossoms hosts their South By Southwest send-off show tonight at Slowdown Jr. Why is it happening in the smaller front room? The band wants to play in front of a hot, sticky crowd, which is exactly what they’ll get. I wouldn’t be surprised if this one sells out. Tonight’s show will feature at least five songs off the Ickys’ upcoming sophomore Saddle Creek release, Mask. Opening is Telepathy Problems and Rogue Moon. 9 p.m. $8.

Meanwhile across town at the Reverb Lounge in Benson it’s the Chicago drum-and-guitar duo of White Mystery. Opening the show, the always amazing Digital Leather and Jason Meyer’s grindingly dirty new project Calm Fur. $10, 9 p.m.

Also tonight, Blue Bird plays at fabulous O’Leaver’s with Lars and Mal. $5, 9:30 p.m.

And it’s a homecoming for Nebraska’s wayward son Darren Keen, who returns to House of Loom tonight with Kethro. $5, 9 p.m.

Saturday night it’s back to Reverb Lounge for Criteria. Will their enormous sound blow up Reverb’s tiny music room? Opening is The Brigadiers. $10, 9 p.m.

Also Saturday night Bloodcow and Bullet Proof Hearts open for The Killigans at The Slowdown. $7, 9 p.m.

Meanwhile over at O’Leaver’s Saturday night it’s Saturn Moth, Westerners with Fake Plants. $5, 9:30 p.m.

One more Saturday show that may be under your radar — Eric in Outerspace and Staffers play at Almost Music in Benson at 8 p.m. It’s a duel-cassette release show! Opening is Nathaniel Hoier. $5, and it’s BYOB.

Finally, Sunday night Philly psyche band Ecstatic Vision headlines at O’Leaver’s with Wet Radio and stoner-rock champions Nightbird. $5, 9:30 p.m.

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

And if you haven’t already, check out this week’s Lazy-i Podcast which includes an exclusive interview with Icky Blossoms where the band talks about why they’re headed back to South By Southwest next week, and what they love and don’t love about the chaotic music festival. Plus Carsinogents, Universe Contest, Bloodcow and more.

* * *

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

Icky Blossoms discuss the good, the bad and the ugly of SXSW (In the podcast); Dowsing tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:52 pm March 11, 2015

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Variant Lazy-i logo. Collect them all...

Variant Lazy-i logo. Collect them all…

The latest episode of the Lazy-i podcast is online right here at thereader.com. The installment includes a scintillating interview with Sarah, Nik and Derek of Icky Blossoms. The band talks about next week’s South By Southwest Music Festival in Austin, where they’ll be performing. I asked what they like and don’t like about SXSW, and why the festival is still important to a band that’s already signed to a record label. The discussion is unbridled!

By the way, Icky Blossoms is playing a send-off show Friday night at Slowdown Jr. and the band says it’ll be performing at least five songs from their upcoming Saddle Creek Records release, Mask. Why are they playing in Slowdown’s small room instead of the big room (like they did when they played their last SXSW send-off show)? Because they want a packed house, which no doubt they’ll get — though their show will be competing head-to-head against White Mystery/Digital Leather at Reverb Friday night.

Other stuff in this week’s podcast includes leaks from Big Harp and Hop Along, Saddle Creek reissue news, a look (or listen) back at The Carsinogents, a live review (and soundbite) from last weekend’s Boodcow/Universe Contest show at Reverb, and a rundown of what’s happening this weekend indie-musicwise. The whole thing runs just under 20 minutes…

The plan for next week’s South By Southwest coverage is podcasts — with plenty of soundbites and interviews — though I’ll post photos (here at Lazy-i) and daily summaries (over at thereader.com).

Once we get past next week I’ll probably retool these podcasts, perhaps make them shorter. Fifteen to 20 minutes per podcast feels a bit excessive. So I’ll take another look at the format and see what adjustments need to be made. Big thanks to everyone who has provided feedback. I’ll figure it out…

* * *

Tonight at Reverb it’s self-described emo/indie band Dowsing from Chicago, Illinois. Based on the track below, the description is apt — pure ’90s sound reminiscent of Sorry About Dresden. They list among their influences “feelings” — does it get anymore emo than that? Opening is Free Throw and Super Ghost. $8, 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

Clips (Azure Ray, Machete Archive, Oberst); Icky Blossoms’ presale; Nightbird tonight; Kevin Devine Saturday; Shy Boys Sunday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 1:58 pm February 27, 2015
Ah, Leonard, we hardly knew ye...

Ah, Leonard, we hardly knew ye…

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

A few news clips to share that you may not have stumbled across on Facebook.

— Azure Ray’s Maria Taylor talks about Omaha and compares it to Athens in this Red & Black article that implies Maria still lives in Omaha. Does she? I thought she moved a few years ago.

— Both Beep Beep and Machete Archive get a shout out in this Fayetteville Flyer article about a band called The Inner Party. It just so happens that Ian Francis, who played in both Nebraska bands, played drums on Inner Party’s new album, The Inner Party Makes a Mess.

— The Mountain Goats’ John Darnielle joined Conor Oberst on stage for a cover of Tom Petty’s “Walls” during a concert in Sydney, as reported in this Sydney Morning Herald review. When isn’t Oberst out performing. Is he the hardest working singer-songwriter in the business?

* * *

Earlier this week Icky Blossoms announced the presale of their new Saddle Creek Records release Mask and the label already has sold out of the limited edition deluxe vinyl version (only 200 to be pressed). However, you can still order the white vinyl for $17, which comes with a digital download. There are two different release dates for this album — May 12 (CD/Digital) and May 26 (Vinyl).

According to the press release:

The band experimented with making electronics sound organic and organic instruments feel electronic. Song skeletons were embellished with tuned 808’s, hyper-effected mouth noises, screams as instruments, and guitars run through synthesizers. Their influences range from Fad Gadget to Beyonce and the subject matter varies from wrestling with the isolation of existence to the emotional spectrum of love.

Produced by Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes) at ARC Studios, contributors include assistant engineer Ben Brodin (Conor Oberst band), bassist Graham Ulicny (Reptar), drummer Daniel Ocanto (Big Harp) and Todd Fink (The Faint).

If this first track off the record is any indication, this could be a big one for the band and the label. Blondie ain’t got nothing on Sarah Bohling…

* * *

So what’s happening this weekend?

Tonight (Friday) sludge/stoner rock band Nightbird is playing at Omaha’s most beloved punk rock bar, The Brothers Lounge. Also on the bill are Members of the Press (featuring Randy Cotton) and Night Push. $5, 9 p.m.

Meanwhile, back in Benson, the country stylings of The Electroliners headline at the Barley Street Tavern tonight with 24 Hour Cardlock, The Willards Band and Michael Hinckley. $5, 9 p.m.

Speaking of The Brothers Lounge, the bar is hosting another Bar Stool Record Swap Saturday afternoon starting at 4 p.m. Local records stores such as Almost Music and Homer’s along with other traders will be on hand to sell and trade vinyl. More info here.

Saturday night Satchel Grande returns to The Waiting Room. Joining them is jazz-rock band Old Money. $7, 9 p.m.

Meanwhile, Low Long Signal headlines at Reverb Lounge with Anonymous Henchmen and Virgin Mary Pistol Grip. $5, 9 p.m.

Down in Slowdown’s big room Saturday night is Kevin Devine and the Goddamn Band. Opening is New Jersey act Dads and Brooklyn’s Field Mouse. $13, 9 p.m.

Finally Sunday night Shy Boys headlines at fabulous O’Leaver’s. Opening is our very own Miniature Horse a.k.a. Rachel Tomlinson Dick, and Chicago baroque pop experimentalist J Fernandez. $5, 9:30 p.m.

That’s all I got. If I missed your show, put it in the comments section. Have a good weekend and as my favorite Vulcan used to say: Live long and prosper.

* * *

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

UNO hosts free concert w/Icky Blossoms, M34n Str33t, Lincoln Calling continues, blue light memories (in the column)…

Category: Blog,Column — Tags: , , — @ 12:51 pm October 9, 2014
Icky Blossoms is the featured performer at tonight's free concert at UNO's Caniglia Stadium.

Icky Blossoms is the featured performer at tonight’s free concert at UNO’s Caniglia Stadium.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

I’ve got to hand it to my ol’ alma mater. They could have gotten anyone to play tonight’s Maverick Mayhem homecoming pep rally / block party at Al Caniglia Field — former home of Maverick Football, now home to Maverick Soccer. They wisely chose Icky Blossoms.

So here’s your chance to not only see the Icky’s for free and (probably) hear some of the new material off their forthcoming sophomore effort on Saddle Creek Records, but to also check out the remodeled stadium and even grab some dinner (according to the invite, local food trucks will be on the scene).

Also on the bill is hip-hop royalty M34n Str33t and DJ Kethro. Like I said, it’s all free and starts at 6 p.m.

I don’t remember the university doing this sort of thing when I went to UNO. Sure, there was a homecoming pep rally somewhere, but cool bands never played. All we ever got was those lame UNO “parties” at the ol’ Warehouse in Council Bluffs, now long burned down…

* * *

Lincoln Calling continues tonight in… Lincoln. Check out the full lineup at lincolncalling.com (And hey, White Mystery plays at Duffy’s!).

I guess ol’ Pearl Jam is playing in Lincoln tonight. You think ol’ Eddie and the crew will hang around after the show and check out some LC action? Wouldn’t that be a kick in the head…

* * *

In this week’s column, memories of life working at Kmart as yet another local discounter goes down victim of the Walmart-ization of America. You can read it in this week’s issue of The Reader or online right here.

* * *

Over the Edge: As the blue light fades

by Tim McMahan

We headed out to Kmart Saturday after I read via The Reader‘s Facebook page that the store was closing.

First thing I noticed after bracing my way through the crowd headed the other direction with armloads of stuffed white poly bags was the gray tape stripe on the floor. It split in two directions, one toward Health & Beauty, the other toward Apparel.

Neon orange signs had been taped on shelves, on end-caps, on stacks of appliances piled on the floor. “Closing sale. 10 to 30 percent off lowest marked price!” It wasn’t much of a discount, but it was only the first week. That number would climb higher — 25 to 50 percent. 75 percent. Until nothing was left but broken toys.

I wasn’t there to pick up deals. I was there to see if I recognized anyone from the old days. Foolish. My co-workers were long gone. I worked at Kmart right out of high school. Back then, this store on 134th and Maple was located off 108th and Maple — 108th Emmett, to be precise.

Unlike today, when any tat-covered, blue-haired teenager with a pissed off look can get a job at almost any store, restaurant or fast-food joint, in the early ’80s, part-time jobs were scarce. I’d applied at all the usual places — Baker’s, Food City, even a telemarketing place on 90th Street. I never got a call back.

The only reason I got that Kmart job was because my dad, who owned a salvage store in Fremont, had done business with Mr. Speckman, the store manager. Even then, it took some convincing, but I got on, hauling manure and watering plants in the Garden Shop after being indoctrinated in the checkouts. When summer ended, I sold appliances and picked up extra hours in the warehouse.

I loved working at Kmart. And though it’s been more than 25 years, I still dream about it and remember some of the arcane numeric systems — the codes. For example, all employees were given a number used for in-store announcements. My number was 32, as in “Thirty-two to the registers please, 32.” Steve was 41. Matt was 51. Rob was 55. Janie was 2. The store manager was 300. Strangely, I don’t remember my old girlfriend’s number. There’s probably a reason for that.

Every product category also had a number. Hardware was Dept. 5. Home improvement was 61. Appliances was 6. School supplies was 25. Housewares, 41. Toys, 4. Glassware, 22. Some nights, instead of counting sheep, I run through these numbers in my head in an effort to nod off.

The work was mundane. Time was divided between the checkouts, stocking shelves, warehouse work or helping customers. If you had something to do, time went by fast. If you didn’t, it crawled. There were no smart phones to fill in the empty spaces. I don’t know how anything gets done at discount stores these days. I know if I’d had a smart phone back then, I never would have gotten anything done.

Eventually they trusted me enough to let me work overnight stocking shelves, where they literally locked you in — to protect both you and them from thieves. One night I was handed a can of lacquer thinner and a putty knife and was told to scrape the old red tape-stripe off the linoleum floor. That red stripe had to be gone by sun-up to make way for the new gray tape.

The first thing I did after they locked me in was carry a boom box from the appliances department to the courtesy counter, where I taped down the handle on the PA microphone (used to announce Blue Light Specials). By pointing the mic at the boom box, I became the store’s resident deejay. It would be the first and last time bands like Guadalcanal Diary, The Reivers and The Replacements would ring throughout a Kmart.

The beauty of any hourly job was knowing your day started when you punched the clock and ended when you punched the clock again. Every Friday after 5 p.m., we all walked to the cash cage in the back of the store and picked up an envelope. That’s right. Kmart paid its hourly employees in cash once a week. I guess they figured we would spend some of our hard-earned money before we left the store, and most of us did.

I worked part-time at Kmart for five years, which helped pay my way through UNO. My last wage was $5.10 an hour. I quit shortly after I got an internship at Union Pacific that led to a freelance job that led to a career. I remember picking up my last envelope and saying goodbye to my comrades, like a parolee leaving prison, knowing some of them were bound to end up lifers.

I left them all behind. I couldn’t tell you where ol’ 41 or 55 or 51 or 2 are today. Some of them, like me, moved onto other jobs and other lives. Some of them are dead. And some of them still work at Kmart somewhere, but not at this store, not today.

Eventually there will be no more Kmarts. Every store will be squeezed out of the market by Wal-mart and Cosco and Sam’s Club. And when the last Kmart closes, we’ll lose a piece of merchandising history that will fade away like the dimming glow of a Blue Light Special and the echoing call in the distance of  “Attention Kmart shoppers…

Over The Edge is a weekly column by Reader senior contributing writer Tim McMahan focused on culture, society, music, the media and the arts. Email Tim at tim.mcmahan@gmail.com.

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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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Maha Festival adds Icky Blossoms, Domestica; Laura Burhenn returns for Omaha Gives!; NPR streams Conor; Envy Corps tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 1:00 pm May 12, 2014
Icky Blossoms playing a rainsoaked Maha Music Festival in 2012.

Icky Blossoms playing a rain-soaked Maha Music Festival in 2012.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Yesterday between tornadoes the fine folks at the Maha Music Festival announced the last two acts for their Aug. 26 concert:  Icky Blossoms and Domestica.

It’s a return engagement for Icky, who played the rain-laden Maha Music Festival in 2012. I think this will represent the first time an act has played the festival twice (Wrong. Turns out It’s True! and Mynabirds both have played Maha twice, and this will be the second year also for Envy Corp.).

Domestica is a Nebraska original, and a Nebraska legend. Two core members, Heidi Ore and Jon Taylor (wife and husband) were the duo behind one of the best bands to ever come out of Lincoln — Mercy Rule — more than two decades ago.

With yesterday’s announcement, Maha’s 2014 line-up is now complete: Death Cab for Cutie, The Head and the Heart, Local Natives, The Both (featuring Aimee Mann and Ted Leo), Doomtree, The Envy Corps, Radkey, Twinsmith, Matt Whipkey, M34n Str33t, Icky Blossoms and Domestica. That’s 12 bands for $50. Such a deal…

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Speaking of Maha, the non-profit joins a handful of other non-profits including Hear Nebraska, Opera Omaha and Omaha Girls Rock! for a special fund-raising concert at The Slowdown May 21 held in conjunction with Omaha Gives! Featured acts include Saddle Creek band Twinsmith and Mynabirds’ frontwoman Laura Burhenn, in town from her new home in Los Angeles. It should be a crazy way to close out what is sure to be a crazy day… of fundrasing. Details here.

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NPR First Listen is streaming Conor Oberst’s new album, Upside Down Mountain, it its entirety. The record comes out May 19 on Nonesuch. You can listen right here.

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Maha and 850/35 Festival band Envy Corp is headlining a show tonight at The Waiting Room. The full lineup includes Moon Honey, Soft Touches, and what I’m told is the final performance of Masses. It’ll be historic. $8, 9 p.m.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2014 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

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

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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.

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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