Live Review: Kero Kero Bonito; Will Johnson tonight…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , — @ 12:40 pm April 8, 2019

Kero Kero Bonito at The Waiting Room, April 5, 2019

by Tim McMahan,

I went into Friday night’s Kero Kero Bonito show at The Waiting Room knowing nothing about the band other than they are on Polyvinyl Records, home to some of the cooler indie bands in the last 20 years (Rainer Maria, Pedro the Lion, Alvvays). Someone outside the club told me they were a K-Pop group. Nothing could have been further from the truth.

In fact KKB was a five-piece British indie pop act with a Japanese front woman who sang, rapped, played keyboards and balanced stuffed animals on her head throughout the set. The music had a break-beat pop flash, driven by an amazing rhythm section with fantastic drumming provided by tour drummer Jennifer Walton (most of the night).  Vocalist Sarah Bonito had a playful, child-like rap/sing style that worked well for songs about stuff like swimming and playing on trampolines. 

Early in the set, it kind of felt like Saturday morning kid’s stuff, but as the set progressed, compositions became more sophisticated and stylish in a yacht-rock sort of way. Guitarist James Rowland proved he could shred when needed, but the band’s mix downplayed his guitar. In fact, the mix felt purposely flat and two-dimensional, with nothing standing out other than front-woman Bonito’s sing-song rap. 

This was another example of a band with a mysterious huge following (tables and chairs were taken out for this show to make room for the massive crowd) that knew the words to what was clearly the band’s “hits,” which have never been heard on any local airwaves. It must be a YouTube thing. The whole crowd joined in on single “Flamingo” (a video with more than 38 million YouTube plays), and I haven’t seen a room bounce like as it did for encore “Trampoline” since the last Faint concert. 

The oddest moment of the evening came after the show ended. The band’s outro music was a synth version of John Denver’s “Country Roads” that had the entire room singing along as they headed for the doors. 

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Tonight at an unspecified location (though I promise it’s some place you’ll like) Will Johnson of Centro-Matic, South San Gabriel and Monsters of Folk fame plays an intimate living room concert. A limited number of $20 tickets are still available for this 8 p.m. performance. For more information, go here.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2019 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Ten Questions with Savak (at O’Leaver’s Saturday); Kero Kero Bonito, #BFF tonight; Twinsmith, Red Ribbon Saturday; Mdou Moctar, David Nance, Ocean Black, Gymshorts Sunday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:36 pm April 5, 2019

Savak plays at O’Leaver’s Saturday, April 6.

by Tim McMahan,

Mike Jaworski is an Omaha music godfather, even though he hasn’t lived here in years. The guitarist/vocalist for Brooklyn band Savak, who plays at O’Leaver’s Saturday night, cut his teeth in a little local act called Hong Jyn Corp. Since then, he’s played in a number of bands including Virgin Islands and The Cops, and ran Mt. Fuji Records, whose roster included Little Brazil.

Now with Savak, Jaworski continues his life goal of crushing people with rock ‘n’ roll. The trio, which formed in 2015 in Brooklyn, includes guitarist Sohrab Habibion (Obits, Edsel) and drummer Matt Schulz (Holy Fuck). Their latest, Beg Your Pardon, released last year on Ernest Jenning Records, has a controlled urgency that combines aggressive post-punk beats with a strangely sinister psych-rock groove. 

I caught up with Savak and gave them the Ten Questions treatment. Here’s what the whole band had to say: 

1. What is your favorite album?

Mike Jaworski: Signs of the Zodiac, Scorpio

Matt Schulz: Bad Brains, s/t

Sohrab Habibion: Don’t have a favorite, but recently I’ve been somewhat obsessed with “Blood on the Wall” by Some Chicken:

2. What is your least favorite song?

MJ: I’d be perfectly fine if I never heard “Hunger Strike” by Temple of The Dog ever again.

MS: I fuckin hate that Toto song by Africa.

SH: Bizarrely, he’s super into the Weezer cover of it. Go figure.

3. What do you enjoy most about being in a band?

MJ: Playing music and hang time with my pals. Getting to travel and see friends in other cities. Eating and drinking the local culinary delights and beverages.

MS: The glory and the riches.

SH: Getting to hang out with friends and clamor about.

4. What do you hate about being in a band?

MJ: Nothing to hate for me. I don’t enjoy being away from my family for extended periods, but our tours are typically short guys.

MS: Nothing.

SH: There’s plenty of goofy stuff, mostly “business”-related or the occasional personality management issue, but nothing so far has been awful enough to stop doing it.

5. What is your favorite substance (legal or illegal)?

MJ: Toss up between coffee, wine and unleavened bread for me. 

MS: Gage.

SH: Probably the 7″ version of Everything’s Gone Green. That bass line is undeniable. I’d dance to it, for sure:

6. In what city or town do you love to perform?

MJ: Omaha! It’s my home town, duh. This is where I learned how to put on my rock ‘n’ roll boots and pants and hats and socks and belts and mesh tank top t-shirts.

MS: Prague is usually fun but the food sucks.

SH: Prague and Brno, too. The Czech Republic is pretty wonderful in general. And, for the record, I’ve had some tasty nibbles in Prague.

7. What city or town did you have your worst gig (and why)?

MJ: I had a particularly horrible show at SXSW last year. Don’t eat the brown acid. That’s all I can say.

MS: I can’t remember, but to avoid laying any blame, I will say it was all my fault.

SH: Let’s just say it was a misunderstanding. But, if we never return to Besançon in eastern France, I doubt they would mind. I’d like to extend another sincere apology to the lovely folks at Les Passagers du Zinc and somewhat less so to the irritatingly exuberant dancers the night we played there with The Poison Arrows.

8. Are you able to support yourself through your music? If so, how long did it take to get there; if not, how do you pay your bills?

MJ: No. Nope. Never. Nein. Negatory. Bills are just a concept from the man, man.

MS: I’ve always had jobs, regardless of the money I make from music of the amount of touring I do. I’m a workaholic.

SH: Briefly in the ’90s I did not work at another job. Or maybe it’s better to say the amount of time between jobs was longer than at any other point since I was 15 years old. When we’re not doing band stuff I spend my check-scoring hours either hustling graphic design work or composing a variety of music for tv, film and commercials. Each day is a little different and that keeps it interesting.

9. What one profession other than music would you like to attempt; what one profession would you absolutely hate to do?

MJ: Would love to be a Shaman. Would not want to be Donald Trump’s hair stylist.

MS: I don’t want to do anything else. I wouldn’t want to be a dog catcher.

SH: Whatever the job is where you actually feel like you’re contributing something positive to the world. Work that I’d prefer to avoid would involve spending time with distasteful people or actively abusing other people’s health and wellbeing. You know, like those miserable turds who run insurance companies or mansplaining tech bros, etc.

10. What are the stories you’ve heard about Omaha, Nebraska?

MJ: I have lots of stories. What do you want to hear?

MS: I’ve never heard of Omaha.

SH: We’ve been told that there will be a parade to welcome the return of hometown hero Michael Jaworski. Also I’m looking forward to getting a tour of the boyhood homes of everyone from Ritual Device. Jokes aside, the band I was in back in the ’90s, Edsel, spent some quality time in Nebraska and even wrote a song called, “Omaha Intervenes.” Not sure it holds up, but our intensions were good:

Savak plays with Little Brazil Saturday, April 6 at O’Leaver’s, 1322 S. Saddle Creek Rd. Tickets are $8, showtime is 10 p.m. For more information, go to 

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So what else is happening this weekend? 

Tonight at The Waiting Room, London band Kero Kero Bonito headlines. Their latest, Time ‘n’ Place, was released last year on Polyvinyl Records. Check them out on their way to Coachella. Jaakko Eino Kaveli opens at 9 p.m. $15. 

Also tonight, it’s another Benson First Friday (#BFF). They’re celebrating at The Sydney with Laughing Falcon and Kobrakyle for a benefit show for flood victims. $5, 10 p.m. 

And since you’ll be in Benson anyway, might as well drop by The Little Gallery, our little shop at 5901 Maple in the east bay of the Masonic Lodge Building. Tonight’s show features small works by the Midwest Fiber Art Alliance (MFAA). See what cool stuff they made with fabric! We’re open from 6 to 9 p.m. Come on down!

Also tonight but not in Benson is No Win, And How and Win/Win at fabulous O’Leaver’s. 10 p.m., $5.

Tomorrow night (Saturday) it’s back to O’Leaver’s for the big Savak / Little Brazil show. This one will be massive. 10 p.m., $8. See you there.

Also Saturday night, Saddle Creek Records act Twinsmith headlines at Reverb Lounge. Jack McLaughlin opens at 9 p.m. $10.

Meanwhile, over at The Brothers Lounge Saturday night, Seattle band Red Ribbon headlines with Oquoa. $5, 10 p.m. 

Finally, Sunday is absolutely loaded with shows.

The best of the bunch is at Pageturners, and it’s free. Nigerian rock innovator Mdou Moctar headlines. This guy is considered the guitar god of the Sahara. His new album, Llana (The Creator) (2019, Sanel Sounds) just scored a massive 8.0 from Pitchfork, who said “The Tuareg musician’s first full-band studio album is an incandescent set of guitar music with a spontaneous, celebratory air—and a latent urgency reflecting the region’s very real difficulties.” It’a amazing that Omaha is even getting this must-see show. The David Nance Band opens at 9 p.m., and like I said, it’s free. 

Also Sunday evening, Omaha sludge-metal giants Ocean Black plays a special 6 p.m. matinee show at O’Leaver’s. Joining them is Austin band SkyAcre, along with Fashion Week and Montee Men. That’s some loud shit! 6 p.m., $7.

Finally, indie pop act Gymshorts headlines at Reverb Lounge Sunday night. Local rockers Garst open at 8 p.m. $7.

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

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2019 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.