Live Review: the remodeled Reverb Lounge, Dead Letters, Las Cruxes…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 1:30 pm September 21, 2020
Dead Letters at Reverb Lounge Sept. 19, 2020.

As we all know, when the pandemic first emerged this past spring bars and music venues were forced to shut down. Many of them are still closed. Reverb Lounge in Benson took the downtime as an opportunity to remodel their club, and the changes they’ve made are pretty awesome.

The walls have been torn down that separated the performance space from the rest of the bar, turning the venue into one large open facility. Once you see it you’ll wonder why they didn’t do it in the first place. Reverb is now a single room with a bar on one end and a stage on the other. The sound and lighting (as before) are among the best in town, but now you can watch and hear while seated at the bar.

The view of the remodeled Reverb Lounge from the back of the room behind the bar near the restrooms. Sight lines are on point throughout the club.

This change would appear to broaden the options for the kind of performers One Percent books at Reverb. With the old, isolated performance room, they were limited because the capacity was only a little more than 100. Now the performance capacity is probably twice that (or more if they take out the tables), with great sight lines from anywhere in the bar. The possibilities are exciting… once we get past the pandemic.

Saturday night’s show required all patrons be seated. Three low-top tables were placed right below the stage while four high-top tables were placed further back. Were the tables six foot apart? Maybe, but the person sitting at the table behind us was definitely closer than six feet away. Everyone not on stage wore a mask when they weren’t seated. Once seated, the masks could come down, just like in restaurants. This was the first time I’ve felt a tad bit squeamish at a public space. You’d have to be pretty trusting to sit at one of those low-tops right below where the vocalist was belting out his songs without wearing a mask. The club was limited to 25 percent, so if you felt uncomfortable you could always move back to one of the booths or by the bar and see just fine.

First up was the debut of Dead Letters. The trio, consisting of two former members of Well-Aimed Arrows — drummer/vocalist Koly Walter and bassist Brian Byrd — along with guitarist/vocalist Mark Johnson (Places We Slept), is clearly influenced by the early R.E.M., if you didn’t catch that by their name. Byrd drives everything from his base, forming the backbone of the melodies while Walter and Johnson take turns on lead vocals. There’s some Well-Aimed overhang on a couple songs, but overall this is more tuneful than that band, less brittle and a lot more fun. They only played for about 20 minutes and left me wanting more. Watch for them.

Las Cruxes at Reverb Lounge, Sept. 19, 2020.

Las Cruxes was next. The last time I saw them play they crowded the stage with two drummers and two or three guitarists, but Saturday night they performed as a trio (a keyboard was set up but was left untouched all night). Having seen them in both big and small formats, my suggestion is to keep it as a trio. While frontman Ed Trujillo is the centerpoint with his great guitar work, the rhythm section keeps things rolling (no matter who’s playing drums). I may not understand a word he’s singing but punk is a universal language and Las Cruxes speaks it very well.

I was told the new business plan for Reverb is that it’ll only be open if it’s hosting live shows. That being the case, it’ll be awhile until you’re able to check it out. The next show is Oct. 3 featuring Norfolk band The Begats.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily (if there’s news) 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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Clarence Tilton, Pony Creek outdoors tonight; Mere Shadows, Las Cruxes, Dead Letters (ex-Protoculture) at Reverb Saturday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — @ 1:00 pm September 18, 2020
Mere Shadows plays Saturday night at Reverb Lounge.

It’s been about six months since I wrote a weekend shows preview; it seems like six years. There are two actual live indie shows happening — one tonight and another tomorrow, each showcasing a venue that’s making its way through COVID-19.

Tonight is the premiere of The Slowdown’s outdoor concert series I mentioned in yesterday’s blog. It’s a joint effort with the folks from the Maha Festival and is being held in the parking lot behind the Slowdown. Indie country rock/alt-country band Clarence Tilton headlines. Pony Creek opens the hootenanny with an early start time of 6:30. $15. Don’t forget your mask. Read all the COVID rules for entry right here at the Slowdown website.

The Slowdown fall outdoor concert series continues Saturday afternoon with Rhythm Collective, Ro Hempel Band and Dereck Higgins. $15.

Tomorrow night (Saturday) I’m planning my return to Reverb Lounge for the first time since COVID to see the new, improved bar/venue. They’ve blown out the walls of the old music performance space to make Reverb one large open music venue/bar.

The remodeled club has been operating since the end of last month, but tonight is the first indie show they’ve booked since their return. Headlining is Mere Shadows, a post-punk 4-piece framed by the twin guitar attack of John Kestner and guitarist/vocalist Michael Johnson.

In the center slot tomorrow night at Reverb is Las Cruxes, the Spanish-language punk outfit that’s releasing a new full-length on cassette tape from CINTAS in Mexico and digitally from Afonico/Sony U.S. Latin in the states.

Get to Reverb early Saturday night (show starts at 9) for the stage debut of Dead Letters, a new project from Koly Walter (Well-Aimed Arrows, The Protoculture) with Brian Byrd (Well-Aimed Arrows) and Mark Johnson (Places We Slept). Koly is always entertaining and full of surprises.

You get all three bands for $7. Due to COVID, all shows at Reverb are seated and the club will only be at 25% normal capacity, which means you may want to get your ticket in advance. Of course masks are required everywhere except when seated at your table.

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 (if there’s news) 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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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New Las Cruxes; Lookout Lounge closes; Deb Fischer responds again to RESTART; Schumer supports Save Our Stages…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 1:03 pm August 26, 2020
Wagon Blasters at Lookout Lounge April 30, 2016. The punk venue/bar reportedly has closed down for good.

Omaha Spanish-language punk band Las Cruxes has dropped a couple new singles in Spotify — “Solo Tu” and “Para Mi.” Both are part of a new full-length coming out next month on cassette tape from CINTAS in Mexico and digitally from Afonico/Sony U.S. Latin right here in the the states. Check the single below via Spotify.

The band is having a release show Sept. 12 outside at Dr. Jacks Drinkery with The Hussies, Mere Shadow and Killer Moon from Chicago. Why aren’t more clubs doing socially-distanced outdoor gigs on weekends?

.

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Well, as you may or may not know, efforts by the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) to get legislation passed that would help the live music industry have so far failed. They wanted something done prior to Congress leaving on its summer break, but weren’t successful; and now the Senate is gone for the balance of the month.

I did get another response to the email I sent through the Save Our Stages / NIVA website. This time Sen. Deb Fischer did acknowledge the RESTART Act, but said it, “has been referred to the Senate Finance Committee, of which I am not a member.” She then went on to laud the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which doesn’t help most venues.

Please know I am committed to supporting Nebraska’s businesses during this stressful time and targeting aid to areas where it is needed most, and I will keep your thoughts in mind regarding the RESTART Act and the live entertainment industry,” the form letter concluded.

I haven’t heard from anyone else in Washington regarding NIVA efforts. Is Ben Sasse getting my letters? I’d love to hear his swinging repartee on why he doesn’t support this legislation.

Meanwhile, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles “Chuck” Schumer last week announced he’s co-sponsoring the Save Our Stages Act. The legislation provides support for independent live music venues that have lost nearly 100 percent of their revenue since the pandemic began in March.  The companion bill in the House is H.R. 7806.

Said Schumer: “I’m proud to co-sponsor the Save Our Stages Act, and I’ll fight to include federal funding for independent venues in any coronavirus relief legislation.”  

Too bad he’s the minority leader in the senate, because it really comes down to what Moscow Mitch wants to do, and he ain’t doing nothing.

But like I always say, that shouldn’t stop you from going to the NIVA website and sending and email in support of both RESTART and Save Our Stages legislation. It takes less than a minute, and you may even get your own fancy (canned) response from Deb Fischer. Click this link and do your thing.

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If you’re a music fan and you think the above isn’t important, you’re going to be in for a shock over the coming months when venues begin shutting down for good. It’s already happening.

Though nothing has been officially announced, word on the street is Lookout Lounge on north 72nd Street has shut down forever. The club prided itself on booking some of the heaviest punk and metal shows in the area, and was probably one of the more active rooms in Omaha. The few times I went there was like stepping back into the ’90s (in a good way).

I don’t know what happened, but I can speculate that no shows and not being open meant no income which meant no money to pay the landlord and other costs. So many clubs were riding on a razor’s edge financially before the pandemic struck.

Anyway, that’s exactly what RESTART and Save Our Stages legislation is designed to prevent, if they could ever get one or both of them passed…

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog (mostly) 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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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How will COVID-19 impact rock ‘n’ roll?; Neva Dinova / Bright Eyes surprise; Las Cruxes live…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:50 pm March 11, 2020

No, it’s not the cover of the new Luna album…

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

My lack of updates has more to do with having little to write about than my general laziness. That said, with Cononavirus COVID-19 boiling on the horizon, I’m afraid I’ll have even less to write about in the very near future.

We all know SXSW has been deep-sixed and Coachella is being “postponed” until the fall. Forget about the festivals. The next obvious question is: When will COVID-19 result in cancellation of rock shows coming our way, and how squeamish will people be about being crushed hip-to-hip at any of our local venues?

There are still skeptics who say the whole thing is being overblown. COVID-19 will really hit home for skeptics 1) when someone they know gets it, 2) when they’ve been forced to work from home or are self-quarantined, or 3) when something they really like is taken away.

They’re talking about playing the NCAA basketball tournament in empty arenas. Isn’t it only a matter of time before more bands follow Pearl Jam’s lead and cancel their spring and summer tours? Even small indie acts?

In a time when artists — specifically indie artists — no longer make significant money from CD sales and depend on touring and merch sales for income, COVID-19 could be a real financial knee-capper. Or imagine being on tour only to have the venue reach out on the road to say it’s no longer hosting shows due to COVID-19. Now what?

Imagine you’re a brand new act like Disq, who just released a great record on Saddle Creek, with plans to tour the country and play festivals all summer. What happens if COVID-19 craters your tour? Touring by itself is a financially risky venture; even more so when three or four dates are cancelled.

On top of that, think about the medical risks bands take playing crushed venues in different towns every night? Forget about foregoing handshakes, what do you do about hugs at the merch table?

And how will music venues be financially impacted by COVID-19 from either a downturn in business, cancelled tours or cancelled shows? Will they be able to keep the lights on if they lose a few months’ worth of revenue?

So yeah, worst case scenario it could be a long, boring rock-show-free summer, and that would be a bummer, but also think about everyone in the rock ‘n’ roll food chain who will be impacted by COVID-19, and pray there are no serious long-term impacts.

Get out to the clubs while we’re still getting rock shows. Just make sure you wash your hands.

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Speaking of rock shows, our old friends in Neva Dinova have been added as the opening act to the sold out May 23 Bright Eyes concert at the Hollywood Palladium. Isn’t that a kick in the head. Maybe if we’re lucky, Jake Bellows and the boys will make a trip out to play at an Omaha Bright Eyes show (which, btw, is still non-existent).

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Omaha’s favorite Latin-language garage-punk rockers Las Cruxes did a live in-studio performance for latinalt.org. Check it out.

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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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

 

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January shows of note: new Digital Leather track; Las Cruxes makes NPR best of Latin list…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 1:40 pm January 6, 2020

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Looking at the calendar it’s going to be slim pickens show-wise for the month of January. Still, there are a few shows on my radar:

— Criteria has been added to that Cursive/Cloud Nothings show Jan. 15 at Winchester Bar and Grill. The only surprise here is that Criteria wasn’t on the original show line-up, as the band will be hitting the road the following day on tour with Cursive.

— Indie singer/songwriter Your Smith has a gig at The Slowdown Jan. 19. I dug her last album — very dance-y, very fun.

— Cold War Kids are coming to The Waiting Room Jan. 23 (*yawn*).

— Lawrence, Kansas, legacy indie act The Anniversary play The Waiting Room Jan. 29. Band member Adrianne Verhoeven is no stranger to Omaha, as she’s performed as as a member of bands Art in Manila and Flowers Forever.

— And InDreama closes out the month with a show at Reverb Lounge. What has Nik Fackler and Co. been up to lately? Find out.

There are more smaller shows dotted in between those, which I’ll keep you apprised of as they come near. I’m to the point now where I’m happy if there are at least two solid touring indie shows coming through town per month. Anything more than that is frosting on the cake these days.

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Remember that Digital Leather song “Compass” I mentioned was a stand-out at the last two DL live shows? Well, a recording of the song was released via Bandcamp last week as the first single off the band’s upcoming album. Dig it:

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The last single from everyone’s favorite Omaha-based Latin-language punk band, Las Cruxes, made it onto NPR program World Cafe‘s list of the Best Latin Music for 2019. Check out the track, “1303 Mente Enferma,” on their playlist included in the article.

From the article “... it was great to hear bands like Las Cruxes, Davila 666, Mueran Humanos, Choked Up, Le Butcherettes and Mi Puga Mi Pishgo rocking out with punk, Brit-influenced rock en español and even dark wave sounds.” Lsten along here.

And look for a new Las Cruxes recordings (hopefully) by the end of the month.

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Lazy-i Best of 2019

Today is the last day to enter to win a copy of the Lazy-i Best of 2019 Comp CD!

The collection includes my favorite indie tunes I’ve come across throughout last year as part of my tireless work as a music critic for Lazy-i. Among those represented: DIIV, Hand Habits, Uh Oh, Sharon Van Etten, Orville Peck, Simon Joyner, Prettiest Eyes, Purple Mountains and lots more.

To enter, send me an email with your mailing address to tim.mcmahan@gmail.com. Hurry, contest deadline is TONIGHT, Jan. 6, at midnight.

Or listen on Spotify. Simply click this link or search “Lazy-i” in Spotify and you’ll find the 2019 playlist along with a few from past years, too!

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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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Live Review: Las Cruxes at The Brothers; Mike Watt and the Missing Men, Wagon Blasters tonight…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 12:48 pm September 30, 2019

Las Cruxes at The Brothers Lounge, Sept. 27, 2019.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Playing as a 6-piece with two of the city’s best drummers (Nate Van Fleet and Jeff Lambelet, sitting above the band like a couple rock ‘n’ roll gargoyles) a second guitarist flown in from Chicago, a second vocalist and local hero Landon Hedges doing a unibomber impression on bass, Las Cruxes was pure punk bombast.

The set got off to a rocky start Friday night at a semi-crowded Brothers Lounge as (I’m told) that second guitarist was borrowing Hedges’ guitar, and frontman Eduardo ‘Yayo’ Trujillo could be seen prior to the set showing him some chord progressions. By the third song it didn’t matter as everyone was locked in, with the Chicago guy adding a much needed layer of vocal energy above Yayo’s high voice.

The songs sounded like a cross between The Pixies and every three-chord punk band you’ve ever heard, but propelled full-throttle by the double-barrel drum attack, it was like watching a couple synchronized swimmers in a boxing ring trying to outdo each other, while down below Hedges did his usual rock pirouettes with his back to the crowd (mostly). With everything else going on, Landon was the glue holding it all together.

When music is as powerful (and loud) as this was it doesn’t matter that you can’t understand a thing the Spanish-language singer is singing, and besides, how many punk shows have you gone to where you really understand what was being shouted? The message behind the energy was enough, with Yayo falling backward into the drums at the end of the set.

I’m told Las Cruxes is heading out on tour, down south to Mexico way, and that Hedges is coming along. The band’s albums are backed by Sony distro in Mexico, and I can only imagine what their shows will be like in places like Nueva Laredo or Juarez, where no translation is needed.

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Tonight a punk legend takes over Reverb Lounge. Mike Watt, who carved his name into the Mt. Rushmore of punk rock with his work in Minutemen and fIREHOSE (among others), and his band, The Missing Men, headline.

About the tour that brings them to Omaha, via the hootpage:

not too long ago original missingmen drummerman Raul Morales along w/Paloma brought on board new shipmate Sofie so that means no more big tours for him but of course he will be on missingmen recordings and local gigs he can do… Raul is now a pop! not too long ago, original missingmen guitarman Tom Watson lost his pop and now he’s like me (lost mine in 1991), we’re both missing our pops. it’s for that reason I named this sally forth the ‘dick watt tour 2019’ – named after my pop which is also the name of the next missingmen album, continuing the theme. me and tom have been touring for twenty years now! crimony. standing in for raul this tour is big man Nick Aguilar who we all think is up for the job. we’ve been doing prac ‘pert-near every day a month before the tour I did bass for Flipper and the three weeks since. d boon, me and georgie went to school w/his pop rudy (san pedro high, class of 1976) so in a way it’s a total connect – ain’t life a trip?!

Local legends/tractor-punk originators Wagon Blasters opens the show at 8 p.m. $15.

Here’s a sneak peek, from their set just a couple weeks ago in Santa Monica:

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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 © 2019 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Las Cruxes features local star power (and two drummers); The Mynabirds, Now Now tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:44 pm September 25, 2019

Las Cruxes circa 2017.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

There’s a new version of an old band debuting at The Brothers Lounge Friday night that features some serious local star power.

Las Cruxes is an established rock band from Los Angeles who’s put out a full length and a number of singles. Did I mention they’re a Spanish-language punk band? Here’s their bio via Spotify, translated via Google Translate:

“Las Cruxes is a collective band of Post-Sunflower-Punk-Psychedelic pop led by Eduardo ‘Yayo’ Trujillo, who has been on the American / Mexican scene for several years after having played in bands like Pastilla (Sony / BMG) and Howler (Rough Trade). He began his independent career as a soloist in September 2016 along with Xavier Martinez (and) decided to form a band with a noisy raw sound without rules.

“In March 2017, the independent label of Miami AFONICO signed them and (released their) first EP ‘Casa’ distributed by Sony US Latin. At the same time the Monterrey label CINTAS releases the EP in cassette format. In November 2017 the two singles of the new album came out, ‘Far’ and “Bleach” by AFONICO / SONY US LATIN and the LP in cassette format  ‘ILUSIONES, DEPRESSIONS.'”

Trujillo recently moved to Omaha to be closer to his son, according to Little Brazil’s Landon Hedges. Trujillo wanted to keep his music moving forward, so he asked Hedges to help him “build a band.” So for Las Cruxes’ show Friday night, Hedges will be playing bass, and rounding out the rhythm section will be two of the best drummers in Omaha — Jeff Lambelet from Digital Leather and Nate Van Fleet from See Through Dresses — both playing at the same time. Trujillo’s guitarist also is flying in from Chicago just for Friday night’s show.

The band’s 2018 LP Ilusiones, Depressions is available via Spotify and is somewhat awesome, though I have no idea what they’re singing about. Hedges described the band’s sound as post-punk Pixies, which is accurate. Though singing in Spanish, Trujillo has the same phrasing and style as Black Francis, but Las Cruxes songs are more melodic and less experimental than typical Pixies stuff.

What will happen with this configuration of the band after this show will likely depend on its success. See you at The Brothers Friday night.

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Tonight Laura Burhenn reunites with the version of The Mynabirds that played on her 2012 album Generals (Saddle Creek), when the “We Are Family” tour rolls into Reverb Lounge. I suspect we’ll be hearing most of Generals as well as other nuggets from the past, and maybe even the band’s new cover of Portishead’s “Glory Box,” which was released Monday on Spotify. Jones Family Retro Show and Patric Demphier open at 8 p.m. $15.

Also tonight, Minnesota indie band Now, Now plays at The Waiting Room. Their latest album, 2018’s Saved, was released on Trans- Records. No opener listed. $17, 8 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 © 2019 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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