Live review: Deerhoof at Low End, Unexplained Death at The Brothers…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:42 pm October 28, 2019

Deerhoof performs at the grand opening of Low End, Oct. 25, 2019.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Lots of well-dressed, smiling, laughing people, some with pieces of art wrapped in brown paper tucked under their arms, were leaving the Bemis Friday night as we arrived for the Deerhoof show down in the once-known-as Bemis Underground now-known-as Low End. I felt invisible in my hoodie and jeans, and probably was to all the local art/business types leaving the night’s charity auction. These are the folks who keep things like Bemis afloat. We have a lot of them in this town, thankfully, and we always need more (and they’re out there, in those West Omaha mansions, we just need to get them downtown).

Low End is actually in the space next to Visions custom frame shop. What was once a cavernous empty room has been transformed into something, well, Warholian. By that I mean the underground space has an artsy, cool vibe. The walls are scalloped and covered in floral wall paper and aglow in digital stage lighting, all synced to change color — orange, purple, green, blue, it feels like the walls are moving, sort of. In the center, a support structure has been turned into a sculpture covered in spray-gunk that drips like synthetic stalactites.

Inside the catacombs of Low End…

Despite (or because of) its subterranean essence Low End feels intimate, with built-in cushioned benches throughout its many nooks, like hiding places left in plain sight. Anyone would feel cool hanging out down there, ablaze in the digital glow.

Off along one side, not quite in a corner (though I guess it is a corner) is the Low End performance space/stage, which is a small platform (a few inches in height? Whaddya gonna do with that low ceiling?) and a wood-plank background that no doubt also acts as a sound buffer, designed by acclaimed architect Jeff Day and his FACT Team. It’s amazing looking, yet functional, like everything Day designs, like the entire room.

The PA speakers hang from the low rafters along the stage perimeter. I noticed a couple people running sound from off to the left, one using an iPad, the wiring all well hidden. Deerhoof’s amps sat on the stage and the band played essentially in a circle with front woman Satomi Matsuzaki facing the band, who were tucked in the corner. With those low ceilings I was expecting a painfully loud experience but was pleasantly surprised at the acoustics, which were clean and not overpowering, not boomy at all.

Obviously, with a crowd of any size, sight lines down there are going to be a problem. Keep in mind Low End wasn’t designed to be a rock club, but rather a space for experimental sound/music experiences — we’re talking art projects like two people scraping tin cans together or someone playing a lone cello on songs with names like “Abstract Staircase No. 1” “Abstract Staircase No. 2,” and so on. Not a rock band, and certainly not one as explosive as Deerhoof.

Deerhoof performing at Low End, Oct. 25, 2019.

Though known as an experimental band — and yes, they play proggy, angular music that can turn and twist and change key on a dime — we’re still talking electric guitar, bass and drums, and more often than not, songs you can pogo to (as many standing along the stage did, minding not to jump too high). Deerhoof was the perfect rock band to kick off Low End, though it’ll likely be the last rock band, or maybe not. Time will tell.

My hope is that, along with experimental noise/art sound collage projects that Bemis at least tries to book an artist or two that could be deemed “pop.” I mean, even Warhol had Velvet Underground for The Factory.

Anyway, Low End is a very cool space. Check it out for yourself when Laura Ortman performs there on Nov. 14 at 7 p.m. It, like all future shows, is absolutely free (and yes, they serve booze).

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Unexplained Death at The Brothers Lounge, Oct. 25, 2019.

After Deerhoof we drove uptown to The Brothers for the debut of Unexplained Death, the new punk project by Matt Whipkey and his band.

Whipkey dressed black on black tore into songs off his debut cassette, which was celebrating its release that night. No matter the style, Whipkey and his band always give an intense performance, but with the new rock material, they add an edge to angry songs about troubled times.

I wouldn’t call this punk rock as much as heavy, fast rock with a nod toward punk-ish bands like The Replacements or maybe mid-era, dirty Stones, which has always been a sweet spot for Whipkey’s music (along with Springsteen — anyone can tell Whipkey is a devotee). Call it protest rock or poli-rock, more observation than protest, actually, with Whipkey’s journalism degree taking center stage. The lyrics aren’t so much nuanced messages of rage as angry observations driven by recent headlines, and as such are more literal than punk’s usual anthem-threat-bombast. Here, listeners tend to nod in agreement rather than raise their fist in solidarity.

The live performance also is cleaner, more professional than the noise-static-low-fi feedback-drenched intentionally distorted takes heard on their tape, and as a result, sound like hard rock songs well-played by a band of rock veterans, better suited for the radio than the moshpit. As such, these protest songs are ready-made for any stage and not just punk clubs, and something tells me that’s what Whipkey had in mind.

Find out for yourself when the band plays at fabulous O’Leaver’s Saturday, Nov. 9, with the world-famous Lupines and those French-singing troubadours in Minne Lussa.

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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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Deerhoof (sold out), Unexplained Death (debut), Those Far Out Arrows, No Thanks tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — @ 12:48 pm October 25, 2019
Deerhoof at The Waiting Room, June 25, 2010.

Deerhoof at The Waiting Room, June 25, 2010. The band plays a sold out show tonight at the grand opening of Low End at the Bemis.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Tonight is the debut of Low End, the new venue that is opening in the space that used to be Bemis Underground.

And the band chosen to kick things off is none other than Deerhoof. The concert is a joint production between Bemis and the Maha organization and has been sold out for quite some time, so unless you have tickets you’ll have to wait until one of the Low End’s future free concerts to check out the new digs. The concert starts at 9:30.

Also tonight, the long-awaited debut of Unexplained Death, the poli-punk rock project by Matt Whipkey. I’ve been told that Matt will be spending the afternoon ironing his mohawk for this special occasion. Or should I say “occasions” as Matt will first be hosting a listening party for the new Unexplained Death cassette release at Hi Fi House at 5:30, with music beginning at 6:30. That one’s free.

Then later, Whipkey will be giving his band the ultimate acid test by debuting at what is arguably Omaha’s punkiest punk bar, The Brothers Lounge.  The Broke Loose opens at 10 p.m. $5.

Also tonight, Omaha garage-rock originals Those Far Out Arrows are headlining at fabulous O’Leaver’s. Joining them are Anthony Worden & the Illiterati, and Sean Pratt. $5, 10 p.m.

Meanwhile, cross town at the infamous Midtown Art Supply space at 2578 Harney St. there’s a four-band show featuring maybe the hottest Omaha punk band currently running, No Thanks, along with Jocko, Death Cow and Histrionic. $5, 8 p.m.

One other show worth mentioning happening tonight is The Travelling Mercies playing at The Down Under Lounge. Joining them are Project Constellation and Michael Trenhaile. This one’s free and starts at 9:30.

Than we get to Saturday. The Husker game is at 2:30, so there’s no excuse for the lack of shows. The only thing I’m aware of is the Big Al free music fest at O’Leaver’s starting at 9 (a canned-food contribution is recommended for entry).

Am I missing something? Put it in the comments section. Have a great weekend.

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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.

Lazy-i

Low End opens, Chrome Lounge closes; Lucy Dacus at The Slowdown tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:44 pm October 14, 2019

Lucy Dacus at Reverb Lounge, April 2, 2018. She plays tonight at The Slowdown.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

That Oct 25 Deerhoof show that’s a joint production between Bemis and Maha has the austere honor of being the first show hosted at the Bemis Center’s new downtown music venue, Low End.

Low End is located in Bemis Center’s 25,000 square foot basement — i.e., the former home of Bemis Underground. Jeff Day of Actual Architecture Company oversaw the design of Low End and the Sound Art + Experimental Music Program’s new rehearsal and recording spaces. Low End includes custom seating, theatrical lighting, an anamorphic perspective stage, and industrial-grade sound equipment, according to Bemis.

Beginning in November, Bemis will offer free live shows at Low End by local, national and international sound artists, composers and experimental musicians. So no, this isn’t going to be a rock club, but rather a space for performance of experimental art/sound compositions, or at least that’s the plan.

For example, the first free performance Nov. 14 with Laura Ortman, who plays violin, Apache violin, piano, electric guitar, keyboards, pedal steel guitar, and sings through a megaphone. Yes, but can you dance to it?

BTW, that Deerhoof show is long sold out.

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On the other side of the musical spectrum, West Omaha biker bar/rock venue Chrome Lounge announced yesterday that it’s closed its doors. Chrome had become the home for Omaha Blues Society shows as well as the Nov. 9 Pine Ridge Toy Drive concert, which is now looking for a new venue. Fifteen years is a long haul for any club let alone a heavy metal-flavored rock club…

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Matador Records’ singer/songwriter Lucy Dacus is headlining tonight at The Slowdown. I caught her last Omaha set at Reverb in April 2018 when she played alongside Adult Mom. pening are singer/songwriters Liza Anne and Sun June. $18, 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.

Lazy-i