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 — 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.


Live Review: Closeness, Thick Paint, BAMF, Relax It’s Science; 10 Questions with The Besnard Lakes…

Closeness at O'Leaver's April 30, 2016.

Closeness at O’Leaver’s April 30, 2016.

by Tim McMahan,

Closeness is a new project by Orenda and Todd Fink. We all know who they are, and if you don’t, how’s life been in that cave the past 20 years? A better question: Why have they waited so long before collaborating on music? Maybe they’ve always been collaborating and we just didn’t know it. Regardless, now we get to hear the product of these two musical masterminds, and it’s been worth the wait.

Their kit is an assembly of synths, keyboards and other sound robots placed on tables surrounded by lights, cables and other gizmos. Their equipment looked like an operating theater where the couple was about to perform surgery, but with Orenda donning an electric guitar over her scrubs.

They performed face-to-face, though from my vantage point, Todd mainly looked down or over or into his microphone. Orenda, her microphone echoing with delay, provided most of the vocals, with Todd adding his distorted, vocoder-like harmonies deep or high or robotic. Musically, Closeness goes way beyond what you’d expect. Sure, there were the familiar hypnotic beats, of which Todd always has been a master, but it was the melodies and the counter melodies and the layers upon layers of textured sound that set it apart.

Most songs were thick, mid-tempo grooves reminiscent of Orenda’s O+S material, but there were moments of lilting Caribbean-style tempos and traditional electro-rock you’d expect from The Faint. Their short set was only five songs long. Among my faves was a mid-set corker that featured the couple harmonizing on a slow melody that recalled Low’s Sparhawk and Parker.

No surprise that the crazy-packed crowd loved it and wanted more, but there wasn’t any. So has any of this music been recorded, and who will have the honor of releasing it? Or maybe they’ll release it themselves and then hit the road. Ah, what a life.

Thick Paint at O'Leaver's, April 30, 2016.

Thick Paint at O’Leaver’s, April 30, 2016.

Garnering just as much enthusiasm from the crush mob was Thick Paint, the one-man show featuring Reptar’s Graham Patrick Ulicny. With just a small synth, his voice and his guitar he enraptured the audience with his beautiful songs that, at times, reminded me of early Cat Stevens played to a beat box. Really gorgeous stuff.

I realize I’m going backward through my Saturday night, which actually ended at O’Leaver’s. It began at The Lookout Lounge and the Big Al Music Festival (BAMF) First, a word about The Lookout. No other club in town has managed to capture the glorious, run-down ambiance of ’90s-era Omaha rock venues quite like this place. It was like walking into the past, right down to the smell.

Wagon Blasters at Lookout Lounge April 30, 2016.

Wagon Blasters at Lookout Lounge April 30, 2016.

Like the old Knickerbockers or Capitol Bar, the venue is split in two, with a bar in one room and a decent sized music room adjacent with an impressive elevated stage. Imagine the old Sokol Underground shrunk down to half its size and you get the gist. The walls and ceiling tiles were painted black, and air vents over the stage were appropriately covered in fuzzy grime, no doubt a reminder of decades of cigarette smoke, now long gone. Lookout isn’t fancy, but the best rock clubs rarely are.

Big Al, who has been doing his free festival for nine years. kept things on schedule. I walked in at 8:45 and Wagon Blasters were just getting started — right on time. Gary Dean Davis and  crew looked right at home bouncing on the Lookout stage, belting out their usual high-quality tractor punk. Someone in the crowd of around 30 yelled out “Fishin’ Hole”! Hey, you can’t blame anyone for mistaking these folks for that classic ’90s punk band.

Mike Saklar at Lookout Lounge, April 30, 2016.

Mike Saklar at Lookout Lounge, April 30, 2016.

Mike Saklar took the stage next playing solo electric renditions of songs from his former band, Ravine. Ravine (who you can read about here) was Saklar’s post-Ritual Device band that played very heavy-bordering-on-metal rock music way back in the ’90s. Deconstructed as solo material, the songs sounded more tuneful than I remember them, though Saklar is no less a master on guitar. What are the odds that he could resurrect a few of these songs with a full band?

Relax, It's Science at Lookout Lounge, April 30, 2016.

Relax, It’s Science at Lookout Lounge, April 30, 2016.

Then came Relax, It’s Science, the latest project from drummer Jeremy Stanosheck (ex-Kite Pilot, among others). The trio consisted of Stanosheck and two bass players cranking out huge, anthemic, proggy instrumentals with intricate, powerful rhythms. Each bass took turns providing a semblance of a melody countered by the other’s pounding rhythm lines. It was appropriate that the only spot highlighted on Lookout’s stage was where Stanosheck had his drum kit, because he was center of the attention putting on a clinic with his throaty stick work. It’s time Stanosheck got the respect he deserves.

Hat’s off to Big Al for such a strong line-up. This was the first time I’ve attended one of his festivals, and I was impressed by how it was run. On a table in the back of the room was a large pile of canned and packaged foods destined for the food bank. As Gary Dean Davis said at the end of this set, “Keep feeding the world, Big Al.” Here’s to Year 10.

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Tonight Canada’s Besnard Lakes returns to Omaha, this time at Reverb Lounge. You really should go to this one. Look, it’s a 9 p.m. show but with only one opener (Sub Pop and Burger Records band Jaill, which could be a headliner by themselves).

The Besnard Lakes play tonight at Reverb Lounge.

The Besnard Lakes play tonight at Reverb Lounge.

Ten Questions with The Besnark Lakes.

The Besnard Lakes’ music is so massive, so mammoth, it’s the sound you hear while teetering on the edge of a cliff with the gorge spread out in front of you, the river below a mere silver sliver among the rocks.  The Montreal-based six-piece is centered on the husband-wife core of Jace Lasek and Olga Goreas, who released their first studio album, Volume 1, in 2003 (but which was rereleased by their label, Jagjagwar, in 2007).

While the band is undoubtedly indie — Lasek’s and Goreas’ harmonies are reminiscent of Low — their gorgeously dense music has touch points in ’70s arena rock recalling bands like Yes and Boston, acts that knew how to make their anthems sound majestic. And most of Besnard Lakes’ new album, A Coliseum Complex Museum (2016, Jagjaguwar) is, indeed, majestic — a swirling miasma of beautiful multi-tracked sounds cut to the core by Robbie MacArthur’s sparkling guitar solos. It’s a sound so large one can only wonder how it’ll fit inside tiny Reverb Lounge Monday night.

We asked The Besnard Lakes to take our Ten Questions survey. Here’s what Olga had to say:

1. What is your favorite album?

The Besnard Lakes’ Olga Goreas: Side two of The Beatles’ Abbey Road.

2. What is your least favorite song?

Anything that doesn’t come from a sincere heart.

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

Playing bass. I love that thing so much!

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

I really can’t complain about any aspect of being in a band. It’s pretty much the best job in the world. I don’t know, long rides in the van can get tedious I suppose.  I’ve got restless legs too, but I don’t think I can blame it on being in a band! Just gotta get up and stretch once in a while.

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

I do enjoy a well-made double espresso.  Caffeine is the one drug I could never give up.

6. What city or town do you love performing at?

Chicago has been a special city for us.  The audience is always super appreciative, and the city too is quite lovely.  The old architecture melds with the new really well.  I almost get a Canadian vibe from it too, more than any other American city except maybe Minneapolis. Also love playing Glasgow, London and just the UK in general.  Audiences seem to understand us best in the UK.

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

That honor belongs to Victoria, BC.  It had actually started quite well – we took a ferry from Tsawassen to Victoria and two of our bandmates at the time ran into the drummer from Def Leppard, who happened to be playing the same night in the big arena.  We actually went to see them and then went to play our show.  I don’t know if it was something weird in the air but it was a very strange crowd and we tried to be loud enough to be heard over the rowdies.  Jace was trying to sing a song and just got fed up and told someone in the audience who was basically yelling the whole time to shut the fuck up.  This person replies “get over yourself” to which another person in the audience gets into some altercation and the night basically ended with bar fights and the cops being called. The end!

8. How do you pay your bills?

Online baby!

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

I went to university and studied Psychology.  I’d like to be a researcher or a clinical psychologist.  The mind is a fascinating creature to me.

I wouldn’t be able to work at a collection agency or anything that involves taking money from people who don’t have it.

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

We played once in Omaha many years ago. There was a college football game and nobody came to our show.  It’s totally fine, that sort of thing happens here for hockey so I get it. I also remember going to a laundromat and seeing bullet holes in the window. I started calling Omaha “Omaharsh” after that.

The Besnard Lakes plays with Jaill Monday, May 2, at Reverb Lounge, 6121 Military Ave. Showtime is 9 p.m. Admission is $12. For more information, go to

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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 © 2016 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Twinsmith, The Rentals tonight; R.Ring (Kelley Deal); The Travel Guild, Noah’s Ark Saturday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 12:42 pm May 15, 2015

Twinsmith rocks the crowd at Bar 512 in Austin March 12, 2014. The band celebrates the release of its new full length, Alligator Years, at The Slowdown tonight.

Twinsmith rocks the crowd at Bar 512 in Austin March 12, 2014. The band celebrates the release of its new full length, Alligator Years, at The Slowdown tonight.

by Tim McMahan,

It’s looking extremely busy this weekend, and right in the middle of it we have all these frickin’ storms. Batten down the hatches and get yourself to a club…

The hottest show of the evening is the Twinsmith record release show at The Slowdown for their Saddle Creek Records’ debut Alligator Years. Opening the show is the debut of new local “supergroup” Healer, which consists of Dan Brennan (Ladyfinger), Andrew Gustafson and John Svatos of Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship on guitar and bass respectively; and David Ozinga and Jim Schroeder of UUVVWWZ on drums and bass VI/Rhoads, respectively. Whew! Opening the festivities on Slowdown’s big stage is State Disco $10, 9 p.m.

Meanwhile at The Waiting Room it’s the return of The Rentals. You read all about them in this interview with Rentals’ frontman Matt Sharp in the most recent issue of The Reader and online right here. Now see them live and on stage. Opening the show are tour mates Rey Pila and Radiation City (members of which will be backing Sharp as The Rentals on this tour). $18, 9 p.m.

Also tonight, Fore1gn Body is hosting its EP release show at Reverb Lounge with Lightning Bug. $7, 9 p.m.

And over at fabulous O’Leaver’s Joe Jack Talcum of Dead Milkmen headlines with Samuel Locke Ward and Well Aimed Arrows. $7, 9:30 p.m.

But wait, there’s more!

Omaha’s favorite stoner/sludgerock band Nightbird headlines at The Lookout Lounge (the bar formerly known as The Hideout on south 72nd Street). Joining them are a zillion bands including Hand Painted Police Car, Rift, TenDead and I, Titan. $5, 9 p.m. Get there early and have a drink made by “Celebrity Bartender” Jimmy Winter (5 to 8 p.m., despite being a digital entrepreneur phenom, Jimmy (probably) doesn’t know what he’s doing when it comes to booze. Tip at your own discretion).

The list just gets longer Saturday night. On the top of it is R.Ring at O’Leaver’s. The band features Kelley Deal of The Breeders. Yes, this is really happening at O’Leaver’s. Also on the bill is Miniature Horse and Gothko. $7, 9:30 p.m.

Meanwhile, Almost Music in Benson is hosting an in-store Saturday night featuring The Travel Guide and Twin Cities, two of Wichita’s finest. Opening is Omaha band Stomach. $5, 9 p.m. BYOB.

The Slowdown is hosting a sold-out Atmosphere concert Saturday night.

The surprise show (at least it snuck up on me) is Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship at Reverb Lounge. Also on the bill are The Seen and Post Verse. $7, 9 p.m.

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

A reminder:

The 50th Birthday Concert at Reverb, June 3, 2015. A benefit for Hear Nebraska.

The 50th Birthday Concert at Reverb, June 3, 2015. A benefit for Hear Nebraska.

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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 © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.