Live Review: Son, Ambulance, InDreama; Pro-Magnum, Dumb Beach tonight; Hear Nebraska Take Cover, Lou Reed Tribute Saturday…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 1:46 pm January 17, 2014
Son, Ambulance at The Waiting Room, Jan. 16, 2014.

Son, Ambulance at The Waiting Room, Jan. 16, 2014.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Saddle Creek tweeted last night that Son, Ambulance hasn’t performed in five years and “sounds like they’ve been practicing the whole time.” The sentiment was spot on. Joe Knapp stood proudly center stage backed by a four-piece band that included his brother on keyboards. He sounded like he never went on hiatus, his voice a Midwestern cross between Art Garfunkel and Elvis Costello, confidently pounding an electric guitar, shaking blood back into his hands between songs.

They opened with “Paper Snowflakes” off Key, and played a handful of favorites including “Juliet’s Son” off Someone Else’s Deju Vu and oldie “Katie Come True” off the Oh Holy Fools split. Hearing those tunes again was like slipping on a pair of well-worn shoes, comfortable and familiar, then looking at them in a mirror and marveling at how good they still look. Son, Ambulance music has indeed aged well and would fit in with the current mode o’ day of indie music.

The band’s overall sound seemed more straight-forward and less… ghostly than I remember from the old days. Listening to Deju Vu again after the show, I was surprised how much echo and delay they used in the studio on songs like the title track. Last night when Joe and Co. ripped into one of their more upbeat numbers they sounded like early, no-nonsense Marshall Crenshall; the sonic weight of the band felt stripped down and obvious. Nice.

While there might have been more than one new one (certainly there was more than one I was unfamiliar with) Joe introduced the set closer as a new song dedicated to last night’s birthday boy and his mother, the tune a gritty rocker about being a bad seed, a bad boy, a bad man. Sorry ma. Fantastic stuff. Hopefully Joe and Co. have more where that came from and we’ll be seeing a new Son, Ambulance record out on the Creek in the near future.

InDreama at The Waiting Room, Jan 16, 2014.

InDreama at The Waiting Room, Jan 16, 2014.

Prior to Son, Ambulance, InDreama lit the stage on fire with a ferocious performance that saw frontman Nik Fackler crush through the songs off the band’s debut LP. InDreama music dances between personal, quiet love songs and strange other-worldly bombastic head trips, a welcome extreme in contrasts few other bands local or otherwise seem to grasp. Ain’t nothing wrong with dynamics, folks.

I recognized one new song — or at least I haven’t heard it before — it came right after crowd-raver “Reprogram” and was straight-up big-rhythm rock. At their most enjoyable, InDreama strives for pop; at their most ambitious, they reach for epic. Great songs and great performances transport you. Set-closer “Exodus” conjured memories of standing along the Rio Grande River on the Laredo side and looking over at twilight, watching the neon and digital signage in the distance glow through the dust haze like staring at a futuristic third world, new and dangerous. With it’s huge, ominous duo synth tones growling like fog horns and Fackler’s feral yelps “Exodus” sounded like something off the Bladerunner soundtrack, like Vangelis on acid. Epic indeed.

* * *

Onto the weekend.

Tonight’s feature show is at fabulous O’Leaver’s where Pro-Magnum headlines a bill that includes Dumb Beach, Fire Retarded and Coaxed. What’s better than a night of garage punk and mai thia’s? $5, 9:30 p.m.

Tomorrow night (Saturday) it’s the Battle of the Cover shows as two Benson venues host dueling covers nights.

At The Waiting Room, Hear Nebraska presents Take Cover Omaha, their annual fund raiser where a dozen or so Nebraska musicians cover a song by another Nebraska musician of their choice plus perform one of their own. The lineup includes Ted Stevens, Simon Joyner, Landon Hedges, Matt Whipkey, Darren Keen, Dan McCarthy, Sara Bertuldo, Ian Aeillo, Becky Lowry, Vic Padios, John Klemmensen, Rachel Tomlinson, Max Holmquist, Dan Scheuerman and John Larsen. I wonder how many will be doing Bright Eyes covers? $7, 9 p.m.

Meanwhile, down the street at The Barley Street Tavern, it’s Lou Reed Tribute night where (you guessed it) local musicians cover a Reed classic. Performers include Mitch Gettman, John Klemmenson, Ben Sieff and Scott Severin. $5, 8 p.m. Wonder how many are covering “Sweet Jane”?

Also Saturday night, Rainy Road Records is hosting a label showcase at O’Leaver’s with performances by Touch People, Worried Mothers, and Cooper Lakota Moon. $5, 9:30 p.m.

That’s what I know. If I missed anything, put it in the comments section. Have a great weekend….

* * *

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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Lazy-i Interview: Nik Fackler’s delicate/hectic balance between film and music; Sun Airway, Filter Kings, Wallflowers tonight…

Category: Blog,Interviews — Tags: , , , , , — @ 12:49 pm October 25, 2012
Nik Fackler

Nik Fackler

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

As mentioned before, I typically point you to my weekly column in The Reader on Thursdays because the topics generally aren’t music related, but when I do write music-related column, like this week’s interview with Nik Fackler, I’ll go ahead and include it here (as well as point you to The Reader‘s website). So here you go:

Over the Edge: The Life and Times of Nik Fackler

The filmmaker and musician is about to take another turn.

by Tim McMahan

Who exactly is Nik Fackler?

He used to be known as a filmmaker who wrote and directed Lovely, Still, the independent feature film starring none other than Martin Landau, Ellen Burstyn and Elizabeth Banks. If you haven’t seen it, you’re not alone.

But after the film failed to garner national distribution, Fackler changed careers. These days, he’s a rock star (whatever that means in the post-music industry era). In fact, this column was targeted to support the debut vinyl release by his band InDreama, which takes place this Saturday at The Slowdown in what surely will be an orgy of weirdness and delight performed (and viewed) through sweaty Halloween masks. Fackler would have it no other way.

But InDreama is just one slice of this musician’s life. Our interview for this column took place less than 24 hours after Fackler returned from a two-week tour playing bass with nationally known indie pop band Tilly and the Wall. Fackler talked via cell phone while driving from band practice with InDreama and heading to another band practice for dance/grind/vibe rock band Icky Blossoms, where he plays guitar. For those of you keeping count, that’s three bands, simultaneously.

So I guess Fackler is committed to being a musician, right?

Well, no. While all this was going on, Fackler completed his second feature film, the documentary Sick Birds Die Easy, and submitted it for consideration to the Sundance Film Festival. He’s keeping his fingers crossed that the movie will have its world premier there in January.

And then… what?

“Right now I feel overwhelmed,” Fackler said. “I would hope that I can do music for awhile, and if none of it succeeds, I’ll always have filmmaking waiting for me. It’s mostly filmmaking and storytelling that’s calling me, but music is a much easier way to express yourself. It’s more fun and it’s cooler than filmmaking, even though I think I’m better at filmmaking…”

Such is his conundrum. It’s not that Fackler is confused as much as exasperated. He says making films is really more about the business of selling a project. “You have to make the most beautiful package possible — here’s a great script, great actors, great music — it has to be something they can’t say ‘no’ to.”

“They” are the money people who will finance it all. The plan was to ride the success of Lovely, Still to his next film project. “I didn’t touch a guitar for two and a half years during Lovely, Still,” he said. “I was ready to be a filmmaker. And then Lovely, Still wasn’t successful. I’m proud of it and hope over time more people get to see it, but it didn’t go anywhere. It came out in 2007 when every (film) distribution company was closing its doors. The film sat there and waited for the economy to pick up and was forgotten.”

Meanwhile, Fackler’s disillusionment about the filmmaking process only grew. “I got to the point where it was time to write a new script, and that time passed me by,” he said. “I felt constricted. I hoped Lovely, Still would blow up and I could make another film right away. When it didn’t, I had to start over. I knew it would take years to make another film, so I picked my guitar back up because I needed an immediate release of creativity. If I don’t have that, I feel like I’m being choked.”

InDreama, self-titled (Team Love, 2012)

InDreama, self-titled (Team Love, 2012)

Fackler became a wanderer. He didn’t have a job, he slept on couches, he traveled. “I fell off the grid,” he said. And all the while, he wrote songs and recorded them on his MacBook using GarageBand. After a year, he had completed 15 songs, which he played for Ashley Miler, a Kansas City music producer with a “far out psychedelic mind” who helped pull it all together into a cohesive package.

The final product is a very strange, very personal musical document of Fackler’s lost year that listeners will either “get” or won’t. He hopes it’s the former but is okay if it’s the latter. “If people like the music, that’s awesome. If not, I’m not paying attention.”

While all that was going on, Fackler finished his next script, tentatively titled We the Living, which he said combines mythology and religion with a science fiction aspect. But before he figures out how he’s going to make it, he has to go on tour with both InDreama and Icky Blossoms before (hopefully) heading to Sundance to screen and promote Sick Birds...

So who exactly is Nik Fackler?

To me, he’s the same 19-year-old mop of hair that I remember meeting at his parents’ diner back in 2005. Goofy, smiling, bleary eyed and happy. Now 28, he never seems to age, but he’ll tell you he has.

“It gets harder as you get older,” he said. “No one is expecting anything from me, but I’m expecting more from myself. As I get older, it gets weirder. I own a house and am in debt to banks and don’t have health insurance (and probably should). Should I be worried about this? I’ve got all sorts of lives to live beyond this one.

“I would love to say I have a direct vision to my path, but I don’t,” he said. “I’ve really let go as an artist. I jumped off the path and don’t see it anymore, and something inside me tells me that’s okay.”

* * *

Join Fackler on his pathless journey this Saturday at The Slowdown for the Freaks of the Night: Halloween Costume and Dance Party a.k.a. the InDreama record release show. Also on the bill is Icky Blossoms, Lincoln freak show performer Plack Blague and Places We Slept. Tickets for the 9 p.m. performance are $6.66 in advance or $8 day of show.

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

* * *

I’ve been listening to Philly dreampop band Sun Airway most of the morning. The publicist describes their music as “Touches of ELO and New Order brush up against hints of modern sounds like M83 and Radio Dept., carried by the subtle breeze of Bjork’s Homogenic,” which  pretty much sums it up. There’s definitely a heavy M83 dreamgaze thing going on. Pitchfork gave their last record, Soft Fall (Deep Ocean), a dazzling 7.3 rating. Check out their video for “Close,” below. Opening is Kite Pilot, who is on a bit of a local tour with four show slated in as many weeks. $12, 9 p.m.

 

Meanwhile, over at O’Leaver’s, those boot-scootin’ sumbitches The Filter Kings are headlining a show with Reno Divorce and Ground Tyrants. $5, 9:30 p.m. Don’t forget your cowboy hat!

Finally, down at The Slowdown, it’s the return of Jakob Dylan and The Wallflowers, with Trapper Schoepp and the Shades. $30, 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 © 2012 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Fackler & Higgins on InDreama; a look back at Fashion Week (in the column); The Lupines, Baby Tears, Jake Bellows tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 12:08 pm August 30, 2012

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

It’s been somewhat quiet news-wise the past few days, which has given me a chance to catch up on some new releases. Look for a slew of reviews online in the coming weeks, including a summary of the best stuff from the first three quarters of 2012. The year indeed started out slow, but there have been a few interesting releases this summer.

What else…?

Omaha singer/songwriter/musician/filmmaker/golden boy Nik Fackler and bass playing legend Dereck Higgins talk about the upcoming InDreama debut right here at Hear Nebraska. The article is an intriguing combination of text and audio files from the interview. Look for the new InDreama to hit store shelves Oct. 23 on Team Love Records.

* * *

In this week’s column, a look back at last Saturday night’s Fashion Week finale, a review that’s bound to get me in trouble… You can read it in this week’s issue of The Reader or online right here.

* * *

Tonight at fabulous O’Leaver’s The Barley Street Tavern, it’s the return of The Lupines with Baby Tears and St. Louis band Hope and Therapy. The usual $5, the usual 9:30 start time.

Also tonight, traveling troubadour Jake Bellows (ex-Neva Dinova) is playing a set at The New BLK, 1213 Jones St., as part of the Top Coat and Tails II closing party. Jake goes on at 10. According to The NBLK: “No cover. Free drink (until it’s gone, feel free to byob also). We’ll be taking donations to help Jake put a new clutch in the ’71 Datsun for it’s journey back to LA. Come down.” OK, now you have to go…

* * *

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 © 2012 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Icky at No. 10; InDreama signs to Team Love; Desa tour continues…

Category: Blog — Tags: , — @ 12:52 pm August 27, 2012

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

The highlight of my weekend was attending the closing night of Omaha Fashion Week, which I’ll be writing about in detail in this week’s column. One piece of music trivia from that event: Organizers played Icky Blossoms’ chick-mantra “Babes” during one of the walks proving (if there was any doubt) that it’s perfect runway music. Take note organizers of New York’s Fashion Week.

BTW, Icky Blossoms’ debut was sitting at No. 10 on last week’s College Music Journal top-20 radio chart. Check it out.

InDreama, self-titled (Team Love, 2012)

InDreama, self-titled (Team Love, 2012)

And speaking of bands that Nik Fackler is in, last Friday the folks at Team Love announced that they’ll be releasing the debut album by Nik’s other band, InDreama. You can pre-order the purple vinyl today for $16. Street date is Oct. 23. The entire album is currently being streamed at SoundCloud here or at the Team Love website.

Congrats to Nik, Dereck Higgins and the rest of the band, and to Team Love for putting this out…

Check out the album’s first “single,” Exodus,” below:

InDreama, “Exodus”

* * *

Sounds like Desaparecidos blew up Seattle last Saturday night, at least according to this review in the Seattle Weekly. Quotes of note: “So when a band incorporates politics into their songs, we may find ourselves driven to further reading or action–as Oberst directed show-goers to a table for more information about immigration rights–but we ought to still evaluate those songs as stand-alone works of art. And Desaparecidos’ songs fucking rock.” And, “Overall, though, it was a raggedly exhilarating show, with a set list covering all of sole album Read Music/Speak Spanish as well as new material. It should have been a sold-out crowd.”

Indeed. And it looks like (according to their website) that there’s still tickets available to tomorrow night’s Desa show at SF’s Bottom of the Hill.

* * *

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 © 2012 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Live Review: R.Ring, InDreama; UUVVWWZ, Dim Light, Solid Goldberg tonight; Digital Leather Saturday; Liars Sunday…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 12:58 pm July 13, 2012
R.Ring at The Waiting Room, July 12, 2012.

R.Ring at The Waiting Room, July 12, 2012.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Most of the 50 (maybe) who were on hand for last night’s R.Ring show at The Waiting Room stood right next to the stage throughout a performance that felt as intimate as a house show. It helped that Kelley Deal, half of R.Ring with guitarist/vocalist Mike Montgomery of Ampline, was as unpretentious and approachable as any other member of the local music scene. In fact, she spent most of time playing pool while the opening bands burned up the stage.

Deal looked and sounded no different than the last time I saw her perform in Omaha more than a decade ago as a member of The Breeders, opening for Nirvana at Aksarben Coliseum. Her new band carries on the sonic themes that The Breeders were known for back in the day, albeit as a two-piece with no rhythm section. And for the most part, I didn’t miss it, though I wondered what some of the songs would sound like built on top of a solid rock foundation. Deal did a good job filling in the spaces with her frenetic guitar drenched in effects and delay, along with her voice, which shimmered between straightforward beauty to shrill energy to whispered ghostly hush.

Opener InDreama launched their set with a shotgun-blast rock song before shifting into full acid-trip mode. This band is starkly different than frontman Nik Fackler’s other project, the dance-synth-freakout known as Icky Blossoms, but is just as good in its own way. They were at their best in full trance mode, with bassist/keyboardist/vocalist Dereck Higgins channeling whatever mystic spirit guides him and this band to their sonic netherworld. They ended with “Reprogram,” the song that appears on the Icky/Touch People/Conduits/InDreama split from last year. Every time I hear it live, Fackler and Co. take the song to different places, creating ambient landscapes that are easy to get lost in. I found myself tapping out a beat toward the end of the song before I noticed that drummer Craig D had already quit playing — the rhythm deeply locked into my head. Hypnotic and Floydian. If there’s a gripe, it’s that their set was too short. InDreama needs more material, and then needs to head back into the studio.

Sandwiched between R.Ring and InDreama was Atlanta (by way of Omaha) band Hollow Stars and a sort of homecoming performance for Coyote Bones’ David Matysiak. Maybe it was all their green floor lights or just the vibe following InDreama, but something about Hollow Stars reminded me of Bauhaus — their minor-key rock grooves also had something to do with it. Their sound felt distinctively gothy, enhanced by frontman Colin Mee’s mono-tonal vocals. They closed with a song fueled by a staccato guitar riff that absolutely blazed.

All in all, a terrific night of music.

* * *

There’s a full docket of shows slated for this weekend:

Tonight at the Waiting Room it’s the Lynden Lyme Benefit. Lynden’s got Lyme Disease and money generated from this benefit show will help cover some of the expenses associated with its treatment. I have no idea who Lynden is, but I do know she has some super-talented friends, all of whom are performing tonight: UUVVWWZ, Dim Light, Solid Goldberg and Dads. $7, early 7 p.m. start time.

NE Pop Fest continues tonight at The Barley Street with Thunder Power (Omaha), Saara Norris (Germany/Finland), Well Aimed Arrows (Omaha), Claire and the Crowded Stage (Kansas City), Appropriate Grammar (Kansas City) and Field Club (Omaha). $7, 7:30 p.m.

Saturday night, Digital Leather returns to fabulous O’Leavers with Worried Mothers and an act with one of the best band names I’ve heard in recent memory: Serenghetto. $5, 9:30 p.m.

All Young Girls Are Machine Guns headlines a show at Slowdown Jr. Saturday night with Edge of Arbor, Sarah Donner and Tara Vaughan. $7, 9 p.m.

And the NE Pop Festival continues Saturday and ends Sunday at The Barley Street Tavern. See full schedule here.

Finally Sunday night Liars plays at The Waiting Room with Cadence Weapon. $13 adv/$15 DOS. 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 © 2012 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Lupines go in studio and online; Icky Blossoms/Capgun Coup go video; The Newsroom V. Stewart/Colbert (in the column); InDreama, R.Ring (Kelley Deal of The Breeders) tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:59 pm July 12, 2012
A still from the new Icky Blossoms' video.

A still from the new Icky Blossoms' video.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

The Lupines (or, as I like to call them, The O’Leaver’s All-Stars) have three songs on Soundcloud for your review and reflection. “They’re fully tracked studio songs that the great Mark Wohlberg recorded at Plan C in Lincoln about 18 months ago,” said Lupines’ guitarist/vocalist John Ziegler. “I did all the tracks myself when it became more clear that Brimstone Howl was on its last legs. That’s why the drumming is very basic and sometimes slightly off, the former of which I really like.”

The rest of the Lupines are guitarist Mike Friedman (ex-Movies, member of Simon Joyner and the Fallen Men), bass player Mike Tulis (Monroes, Fullblown, Sons of ___, and the Third Men), and drummer Javid Dabestani (Ghost Runners, among others). “We’re working on proper, full-band recordings, some of which are the same songs and will sound pretty different, and will definitely have more ‘kinetic’ bounce than what I was able to make on my own,” Ziegler said. “Nonetheless, the songs on soundcloud right now are not basement tapes or demos, and I think they represent the sound of the band’s music well enough, as well as being a really good example of Mark Wohlberg’s analog perspicacity. They’re part of a nine-song session.”

Ziegler said release of the nine-song session is pending, and the band has a show Aug. 30 at the Barley Street Tavern. Until then, enjoy:

The Luplines, “I Blame Creation”

The Lupines “Everlasting Man”

The Lupines, “Ohio”

* * *

Icky Blossoms’ latest video is an epic love story realized to the song “Perfect Vision,” off their new album, which hits store shelves next Tuesday. You can check it out on Vimeo here. Wonder whose house got the demolished in the making of this modern masterpiece?

Also premiered this week was the new video by Capgun Coup for “Laugh Cry,” off their latest album Contextual Doom released on the ORG Music label.  Check it out here. Sweet!

* * *

This week’s Over the Edge column takes a look at the new HBO series The Newsroom — is it a drama or satire, and is wordy scripter Aaron Sorkin trying to influence the electorate a la Colbert/Stewart? You can read it in this week’s issue of The Reader, or online right here.

* * *

Tonight’s show at The Waiting Room is one of the best $8 shows I’ve seen scheduled in a long time. Opening is InDreams, the psychedelic/dance/rock project of Icky Blossoms’ guitarist Nik Fackler, along with local legend Dereck Higgins, Ashley Miller, Sam Martin (Capgun Coup), Aaron Gum, Craig D (Tilly & the Wall), Kevin Donahue, and Mason Brown. With Icky blowing up all over the place, it’s good to see Nik keep his foot firmly planted in this project. Also opening is Atlanta’s Hollow Stars fronted by former Deerhunter guitarist Colin Mee and featuring David Matysiak (Coyote Bones), Devin Brown and Mason Brown. Finally, the headliners: R.Ring is Mike Montgomery of Ampline and Kelley Deal of The Breeders. After listening to one of their songs online, it’s safe to say this may be the closest we’ll ever get to seeing The Breeders live. $8, 9 p.m.

Also tonight, the Nebraska Pop Festival continues at The Barley Street Tavern with Union Specific (Austin), Orion Walsh (Lincoln), Chasing Shade (Iowa City), Seedlings (Des Moines), In Love (Omaha), and Elijah Jett (Michael Todd, the managing editor of Hear Nebraska). $7, 7:30 p.m. Check out the full schedule here.

* * *

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 © 2012 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Live Review: InDreama, Gus & Call; Lash LaRue X-mas, Dirty Flourescents tonight, Hear Nebraska showcase (Digital Leather, Wagon Blasters) Saturday…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , — @ 1:24 pm December 2, 2011
Gus & Call at Slowdown Jr., Dec. 1, 2011.

Gus & Call at Slowdown Jr., Dec. 1, 2011.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Last night. Slowdown. First of the series of Gus & Call “residency” shows. But last night’s show also was the band’s CD release show for Will Wait ‘Til the Weather Breaks. And as everyone knows, the two best crowds most bands ever see are their debut CD release show and their “farewell” show. Scratch that. Make it three. The third is the inevitable “reunion” show.

Nik Fackler of InDreama at Slowdown Jr. 12/1/11.

Nik Fackler of InDreama at Slowdown Jr. 12/1/11.

So the crowd was pretty good last night at Slowdown, with everyone in place around the stage for opening band InDreama, a band that has grown to six players, all centered around frontman wunderkind Nik Fackler. InDreama is Fackler’s vision, a vision that’s constantly evolving, if last night is any indication. His set’s initial few songs were very quiet, very withdrawn and very trippy, with Fackler practically whispering into the microphone repeated lines like (and I’m paraphrasing here), “I think I’ve fallen in love again” while his band made droning psychedelic sounds. Included in that band is Omaha legend Dereck Higgins on keyboards and bass, human wildcard Sam Martin on guitar and a guy that played what I guess was a synthesizer in the form of a knock-off iPad, with a cord running from it — there is no “cool” way to play something like that, instead it looked like he was checking his email or Facebook news feed.

Their set’s centerpiece is (surprise!) “Reprogram,” the proggy, thick-beated head trip that was released as part of a 4-song split 7-inch earlier this year. Judging by the crowd response from the song’s opening synth drones, people are beginning to recognize it. It’s a good song.

But the best moment was the set closer, a new tune that Fackler said was the first that represented a collaborative effort by everyone in the band — a band effort — and as such was the most complicated, surreal performance of the evening. Fackler and Co. seemed to be channeling Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd psych rock combined with ‘60s and ‘70s prog from the likes of King Crimson, ELP, Yes, Genesis, Colosseum and Tomorrow, strange and wonderful with odd breaks and time shifts and pointed guitar lines. Where is this all coming from?

One final note: There were no video or lighting effects like in past InDreama shows. I guess Fackler and the band are finally getting comfortable with letting the music speak for itself.

They were followed by Gus & Call, and here I’m going to make what could be an unpopular comment. Their new album — as good a collection of wintry, reflective mood-folk and slide-guitar-fueled southern rock as you’ll fund anywhere — misses in terms of capturing the band’s live energy. I know, that’s not an uncommon problem. And it’s not as noticeable on golden-light autumnal tracks like “Grey Blues” or the delicious harmonies on “52nd,” in fact, you can hear their pretty words better on the record than you could in last night’s mix.

But when it came to the heavier stuff, specifically their showcase number, “To the Other Side of Jordan,” the recording can’t match the live version. I’ve seen these guys perform that song four or five times now, each performance was unique, all had an unbridled exuberance that flat-out can’t be heard on the record (and wouldn’t it be great if someone secretly recorded one of those live performances and released it as a 45?). Doesn’t mean the recorded version is bad, but when you hear them play it on stage it’s the second coming of the Allman Brothers Band.

Anyway, great set and great night of music. How will G&C change it up next Thursday when the theme is “Surf and Sand” and their special guests are Capgun Coup and Sun Settings? We’ll just have to wait and see.

* *

Onward to tonight and the weekend…

One of the evening’s highlights is the 9th Annual Lash Larue Toy Drive at The Waiting Room. According to the 1% website, “Since 2003, Omaha musician Larry Dunn has organized a toy drive for the children of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Pine Ridge’s Lakota Sioux community is one of the most poverty stricken communities in the United States. The children of the reservation are desperately in need of some sunshine and cheer, especially during a time of cold, harsh winds and immense desolation like winters on the reservation can be.

Featured performers include The Filter Kings, The Mercurys and Black Top Ramblers. That’s a lot of boot-scootin’ fun for just $10 or a new, unwrapped toy of equal value. Show starts at 9 p.m. Open up your heart, fercrissakes, it’s Christmas.

Also tonight is the Dirty Flourescents CD release show at O’Leaver’s for their debut album, Cut the Line. The band — Shawn Cox (guitar, vocals), Cricket Kirk (bass) and Dave Hynek (drums) — calls their sound power trio guitar-driven ‘90s rock, and that’s a pretty apt description. Also on the bill are The Butchers, Comme Reel, Ben Brodin (who recorded DF’s album) and Melissa Dundis. 9:30 p.m., $5.

Meanwhile, down at Slowdown Jr., it’s Dangerbird recording artist The Fling with Yukon Blonde. $10, 9 p.m.

Tomorrow night’s big event is the CD release show at The Sydney for Hear Nebraska Vol. 1, of which you can read all about here. The line-up: Digital Leather, The Wagon Blasters, Domestica, Dim Light and Masses. Huge. Show is $5, starts at 10 p.m., and is the place where you can pick up copies of the limited-edition comp for just $15, all proceeds of which will benefit hearnebraska.org.

Also Saturday night, Pony Wars and Minneapolis band Idle Hands are playing at The Brothers Lounge. 10 p.m. and probably $5.

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2011 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Live Review: Conduits, Icky Blossoms, InDreama, Touch People; Nik Freitas tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 1:02 pm April 18, 2011
Conduits at The Slowdown, April 15, 2011.

Conduits at The Slowdown, April 15, 2011.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

When it comes to the four-band record release show at Slowdown Friday night, instead of dwelling on the one unfortunate negative, let’s instead dwell on the positives. Positives like the big crowd (+200?), the impeccable sound quality and, most of all, the performances.

Touch People at Slowdown 4/15/11.

Touch People at Slowdown 4/15/11.

Touch People started off the evening at the stroke of 9, playing to an empty floor in Slowdown’s big room. On stage, a costumed Darren Keen played a small stack of technology veiled two ways — one, behind a curtain that hid him from view, and two, behind a mask and hood, though everyone knew that only one person in the Nebraska music scene bears his stature. Just as unmistakable is Keen’s sound. Even though this project stands at a distance from his main gig — The Show Is the Rainbow — there were distinctive Keen-isms that dotted a sonic landscape littered with enormously loud bass lines, jittering break beats and trippy synth tones. Touch People is the most experimental of Keen’s projects, and as a result, the most challenging to the listener. The music isn’t so much an attempt to get people dancing as to get them to step into whatever dimension Keen is occupying over the course of the 40-minute set. The music was as entrancing as it was disjointed and, at times, disturbing, which I have believe is just the way Keen wanted it.

InDreama at Slowdown, 4/15/11.

InDreama at Slowdown, 4/15/11.

It only got trippier with InDreama, In this, their third live performance and perhaps their most ambitious, frontman Nik Fackler and company navigated through a mine field of technical problems to take yet another step forward in crafting their sound and vision. And what a weird vision it’s turning out to be. Fackler is at his best when he’s crafting songs with specific melodies and ideas, such as the track from the single, “Reprogram,” (which he opened with) and the set’s closing two numbers. In between were shades of Jim Morrison and Jim Carroll. Fackler has said that his goal is to create a new persona on stage. At this point, that persona is still only half realized, though no less entertaining.

Icky Blossoms at Slowdown 4/15/11.

Icky Blossoms at Slowdown 4/15/11.

By the time Icky Blossoms hit the stage at around 11, the crowd had arrived. The floor in front was mostly filled and jumping. Of all of Derek Pressnall’s projects including Tilly and the Wall, this one is the most satisfying and the one with the most promise. I got the feeling that there was nothing stopping the band from hitting the road tomorrow and getting any out-of-town crowd to become fans. Yes, the music is that good — a modern take on straight-up dance rock with an ’80s flair. Of the four bands, Icky Blossoms is easily the most commercially embraceable of the bunch. They’re also the most fun.

Conduits closed the night with grand aplomb — just an absolute wall of sound — thick slabs of droning feedback, subtle synth tones, and throbbing, tribal rhythms a la Slowdive, MBV and all the other shoe-gaze masters that obviously influenced their style and that we all know and love. The beauty of Conduits is its sonic dynamics. The Achilles heel may be its lack of rhythmic variety — one mid-tempo song after another. Frontwoman Jenna Morrison couldn’t be more statuesque in beauty and style. She has amazing tone that cuts through the dense layers of sound. But somewhere in the morass she’s become merely another instrument. I could not understand a word she was singing (how much is the soundman’s fault, I do not know). It’s an advantage Icky Bossoms had over all four bands — you could understand just about every word Pressnall was singing, and that made his songs that much more interesting (and easy to sing along to). With Conduits, all you get is beautiful, beautiful drone. When you think of a band like Low, you can hear every heart-breaking word that comes out of Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker’s mouths. Those words are what help make their music that much more memorable. I know there are words underneath Conduits’ music as well, I just need to find out what they are.

And now that one negative I mentioned earlier — one thing was missing that is crucial to the success of any record release show — the records themselves. I don’t know if there was some sort of production problem that kept the delivery from happening, but there was no product on hand to sell. Instead, the band was selling “pre-orders” of the single, with a promise that a member of the band would hand deliver the record when it arrived (you also received a free download). How many people took them up on the offer, I do not know. I do know that they had 200 or so people on hand that wanted to buy a copy and who went home empty handed, myself included. Maybe they should have another record release show, but this time in Lincoln (and with records to sell).

* * *

Things are running a bit long here today. I can’t expect y’all to sit through 3,000 words of copy. So come back tomorrow for my take on Record Store Day and my first “DJ” gig, as well as a look at last night’s Decemberists’ show, which was “all that” and more.

* * *

Nik Freitas is kind of a big thing around these parts. But despite that, he’s the opening act tonight at The Waiting Room for a band that I’ve never heard of — The Submarines. The $12 show starts at 9, so you better get there early.

Also tonight, Dim Light plays with Slow Skate at O’Leaver’s. $5, 9:30 p.m. And Pharmacy Spirits makes a trip from Lincoln to play at Slowdown Jr. tonight with Cat Island, Dangerous Ponies and Shipbuilding Co. $5, 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 © 2011 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Column 318: The Fantastic Four (Conduits, InDreama, Icky Blossoms, Touch People); Dark Dark Dark, Omaha Invasion tonight…

Category: Blog,Column,Interviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:56 pm April 14, 2011

Conduits

Conduits

Column 318: Four bands, two slices of vinyl, one distinctive sound.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

The dim, squalid confines of The Underwood Bar are a fine place to drink yourself into oblivion while playing a game of pool or pinball. They’re not such a fine place to conduct an interview, especially with four bands simultaneously. But that’s where Conduits drummer Roger Lewis decided would be the best place for what would turn into chaos.

Crammed between the pool table and glowing digital jukebox in the back of the bar sat Lewis and Conduits band mate Jenna Morrison; InDreama frontman Nik Fackler with his bandmate — legendary bass player Dereck Higgins; Icky Blossoms mastermind Derek Pressnall, and the hardest working guy in local music, Darren Keen, the genius behind Touch People. If you go to The Slowdown this Friday night you will hear all of these musicians and their band mates perform together on one bill, maybe for the one and only time (though there’s talk of repeating the line-up sometime in Lincoln).

Darren Keen a.k.a. Touch People

Darren Keen a.k.a. Touch People

The occasion for this grand collective is the release of a duo 7-inch split — one song from each band on two vinyl records. Morrison said J.J. Idt, who plays in both Conduits and Icky Blossoms, came up with the idea, and then “one link led to another.”

It sounded like a great story, but somewhere before Lewis bought me a second Rolling Rock and after one of the fat, bearded locals plugged the jukebox and began belting out lines to Vanilla Fudge’s “You Keep Me Hanging On,” I realized that it was all going to get lost in the noise and confusion of trying to reign in six people talking from six different angles.

And that the project’s real story centered around the music, anyway. The recordings break down like this:

“Misery Train” by Conduits is a perfect slice of the band’s trademark dream-pop sound, dim and faraway, with Morrison’s angelic voice burning through the mist like a distant beacon, safe and familiar and strangely comforting in its ghostly beauty.

Icky Blossoms’ “Perfect Vision” is a pop gem, a mid-tempo hand-clapping slacker anthem that’s a combination of Jesus and Mary Chain and Love & Rockets, with Pressnall standing right in the middle of it all, singing presumably with eyes half closed lines like “Nothing to do but get high in the afternoon.”

InDreama

InDreama

Opening with icy synth tones, InDreama’s “Reprogram” evolves into proggy electronic drunk-funk. As much an art piece as a rock song, the track defines Fackler as a Midwestern version of Beck, unafraid to reach out and try something different for difference’s sake, but never losing sight of the melody.

Finally, there’s Touch People’s “Sound Expression,” a cacophony of electronic noises and break beats tethered to an uneven foundation of shifting chords and tones, with Keen’s voice emerging strangely through the floor boards with lines like “Sometimes a sound is just a sound.”

Side-by-side, each song is starkly different, and yet somehow there’s a sonic thread — a dreamy vibe — that binds all four together into a cohesive whole. These four bands stand at the vanguard of a new direction of Nebraska music, a clear departure from the singer-songwriter fare that so brazenly defined the scene over the past decade.

In fact, all the bands are second-generation outgrowths of former projects. Icky Blossoms was born out of Pressnall’s Flowers Forever (which was a side project of Tilly and the Wall); InDreama is a bastard child of Fackler’s The Family Radio; Conduits includes veterans of Eagle Seagull and Son Ambulance, while Touch People is a third concurrently functioning incarnation of Darren Keen, who’s better known for his persona as The Show Is the Rainbow.

Derek Pressnall

Derek Pressnall of Icky Blossoms

The duo splits are an introduction to all four bands, which despite their obvious differences make sense collectively. Consider these singles as a crossroads where all four meet before spinning off once again in their own directions. We can expect to hear full lengths or other recordings by all four at some point later this year. But for now, they’re all together, at least for one night.

“This scene is more accepting of general weirdness,” said Keen, who despite frequently playing in both Lincoln and Omaha has always been viewed by some as an outsider. “Omaha and Nebraska music has evolved from its labels. Now it’s like any other cool city. Seattle, for example, is more than just grunge.”

“We’re in a period in Omaha music where there are so many kick-ass bands out there,” Lewis said. “It’s a kick-ass-band overload!”

Fackler, who is more well known as the writer and director of indie film Lovely, Still, said seeing Conduits perform “genuinely inspired me. I got that feeling again to put a band together.”

“We all are just friends,” Pressnall added, “and while this hasn’t exactly been thought out, we’ve all been very inspired by each other. When I see these bands, I just want to go home and push myself creatively.”

From there, the conversations rose to a fever pitch and I started to lose my balance. Like a wise Jedi master or an all-knowing Buddha or what he really is — the veteran of some of the area’s most important legacy bands —  Dereck Higgins simply looked at me, smiled and summed it all up perfectly. “Can you feel it?” he asked quietly between three conversations. “Can you see how all of us are connected? There’s something going on here.”

Conduits, Icky Blossoms, InDreama and Touch People play Friday, April 15, at The Slowdown. Tickets are $7, show starts at 9 p.m.

* * *

Minneapolis chamber-folk band Dark Dark Dark is at Slowdown Jr., tonight with Honey & Darling. Check out Chris Aponick’s interview with the band if The Reader (here). $8, 9 p.m.

Also, tonight is the first of two nights of the Omaha Invasion Festival in Lincoln. $6 per night or $10 for a 2-day pass. Here’s tonight’s sched:

Thursday – April 14th – Duffy’s Tavern

08:40 – 09:20PM – Kyle Harvey

09:40 – 10:20PM – Lonely Estates

10:40 – 11:20PM – Down With The Ship

11:40 – 12:20AM – All Young Girls Are Machine Guns

12:40 – 01:20AM – Midwest Dilemma

Thursday – April 14th – Bourbon Theatre (Rye Room)

08:20 – 09:00PM – Underwater Dream Machine (Bret Vovk)

09:20 – 10:00PM – Vago

10:20 – 11:00PM – Dim Light

11:20 – 12:00AM – Conchance

12:20 – 01:00AM – Matt Cox

Also, according to Saddle Creek, Bright Eyes is on Leno tonight. Set the DVR for stun…

* * *

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 © 2011 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Lazy-i

Live Review: InDreama, No Joy, Flowers Forever, The Prairies; a Halloween weekend…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 2:14 pm October 29, 2010
InDreama at Slowdown Jr., Oct. 28, 2010.

InDreama at Slowdown Jr., Oct. 28, 2010.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

I have to tell you, I love going to debut performances by local bands. A few weeks ago it was Beauty in the Beast (Eli Mardock of Eagle Seagull fame’s new band). Last night it was InDreama, a new band fronted by Nik Fackler that includes an all-star cast, as described in yesterday’s blog. Fackler made it very clear before the set that this was, in fact, the first time the band had performed in front of a club audience. It showed. The set was only about 15 minutes long and focused only on four songs that shared the same psychedelic sonic palette. As you can see by the photo, Fackler was going for drama with his lighting — a projector off stage left that shot beams at a hatchet angle augmented with a couple floor strobes, all other stage lighting was turned off. Add billows of stage smoke and you’ve got a recipe for theatrics, and there were plenty.

Fackler and Co. opened with a couple acoustic songs that showed his knowledge of Bookends-era Simon and Garfunkel. Vocally, he sounded nothing like how he did in The Family Radio, instead his voice was deep and resonant and enhanced by effects and it all sounded actually very good, backed with harmonies from Sam Martin (Capgun Coup) and Dereck Higgins (Digital Sex). The lyrics were slight and simple and somewhat affected (I could imagine these songs sung in French).

The set went full-bore when Fackler switched to electric guitar and closed out the micro-set with “Exodus from Reunion, A + STORM > great = End” that turned into a psychedelic soundwash complete with dramatic deep-blue synth effects and rigid, pounding power chords that eventually pulled back with the now-ritualistic kneeling-down-and-fiddling-with-the-foot-pedals noise collage. Very dramatic, very promising, but all-in-all, very short. Missing were their poppier rock numbers that the band has on their iLike page, but then again, I’m not sure how they would have fit into the dark interlude that Fackler was trying to create. So yeah, a work in progress, a dream half-dreamed. But Fackler tells me there’s more to come when he’s back from El Lay and the InDreama CD is released in December, backed by a tour.

Next up were The Prairies, a local garage noise-band that I wasn’t in the mood for but that converted me to their punk rock sound by the end of their set. More than half of their success rides on their incredible drummer, who hits his drums harder than anyone I’ve seen on stage in a long while. Just amazing drumming that drove this hot rod right over the edge, pushed along by some tasty guitar solos.

No Joy at Slowdown Jr., Oct. 28, 2010.

No Joy at Slowdown Jr., Oct. 28, 2010.

In the third slot was Montreal band No Joy, a buzz-saw shoe-gaze band fronted by two shaggy-haired women with electric guitars and a love for righteous riffs. I was reminded of Jesus and Mary Chain, Slowdive, My Bloody Valentine, Lush, Dinosaur Jr., and a bit of Throwing Muses. Each song was a pounding fuzz factory that chugged along at a hypnotic pace that made you wish they’d go on for 20 more minutes (even though most of the songs sounded pretty much the same). As described in yesterday’s Sentimentalist write-up, they closed out their set and began packing their gear while the amps were still buzzing, without saying a word to the crowd. I don’t know if that’s cool or insolent, and I doubt they care either way.

The crowd of about 50 or stuck around for Flowers Forever, whose sound continues to evolve from its original psych-rock to something that more closely resembles Talking Heads New Wave meets The B-52s with some deep-bass synth-dance beats thrown in to liven it all up. During their pogo-party moments, frontman Derek Pressnall turned into a Midwestern version of Fred Schneider, talk-echoing with the band’s cute blonde frontwoman whose rather demure singing has a dry air of Debbie Harry. Biggest surprise (of the night) was electric guitarist Nik Fackler providing some very interesting counters and leads that made it all work.

FF has been evolving into a psych-dance band for awhile now, and it seems close to the final stage. There’s no question that Pressnall enjoys leading the crowd on dance numbers more than anything else he’s doing on stage — leading the band as it repeatedly played two party-friendly songs over and over. He knows what his crowd wants and by-damn he’s going to give it to them. Things got weird toward the end when someone (Sam Martin?) threw a gigantic bag of popcorn into the crowd, which eventually became throwing material. More hi-jinx ensued, climaxing with an abrupt confrontation over a microphone stand that had made its way into the crowd. No one got hurt (at least while I was there).

* * *

I hate Halloween. I don’t mind giving candy to kids at the door, that’s fine, that’s what it should be. I’m not into the adult side of Halloween where everything turns into a costume party. And when Halloween’s on a Sunday, that means the costumes stretch over the entire weekend. That said, it would be kind of weird to see people dressed as pirates (or zombies) at Saturday’s Joan of Arc show at Slowdown Jr. though you can pretty much count on it. Also on the bill are Bear Country and Thunder Power. $10, 9 p.m.

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2010 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i