Live Review: Low; Stardeath & White Dwarfs, State Disco tonight; HN legal workshop, Christopher the Conquered Saturday; Mason Jennings Sunday…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 2:21 pm November 13, 2015

Low111215
by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Walking into Reverb at just after 9:30 the show still wasn’t sold out, but it was close. Only a few tickets remained, and they likely got sold before Low took the stage at 10 p.m. So yes, it was a sold-out show (probably). And easily the most crowded show I’ve attended at Reverb.

Once through the sound-room door I was met by a dense crowd watching as opening singer/songwriter Andy Shauf was seated performing his set with an acoustic guitar. His singing style was a cross between Elliott Smith and a hearing-impaired Russian sailor. At first I thought Shauf was singing in a different language, until I listened more closely and picked out a few familiar words in English, words like “love” and “death.”

Still, I figured Shauf must be a visitor in our country, until he spoke between songs with a clear North American accent, which quickly disappeared as he began his next song, returning again to his affected, foreign, nasal croon. His songs were pretty, and I’ll be checking out Shauf’s recordings later (hopefully they’re in English).

Low came on right at 10 — Alan Sparhawk standing with guitar stage right, bassist Steve Garrington stage left seated behind a keyboard, and Mimi Parker seated behind a trap set. Sparhawk and Parker have aged only a little since the last time I saw them play, about 10 years ago at Sokol Underground. Their pitch-perfect intertwining vocals still carry the same amount of heart-break and dread as they ever did.

The set-list was identical to what they played at First Ave. the night before (where they kicked off this leg of their current tour). “Monkey” from The Great Destroyer was an early set highlight, only surpassed by a dark, ominous version of “Pissing” (also off Great Destroyer) that built from Low’s usual quiet stance to a crashing sonic nightmare that ended with Sparhawk screaming into his guitar pushed overhead against his face. Intense.

The majority of the set consisted of songs from new album Ones and Sixes (Sub Pop, 2015), including a rich take on album favorite “Lies.” The new stuff sits seamlessly with the old stuff. Over the course of two decades Low has added more noise, more guitar, even pop-fueled moments (How else to describe the uptempo rock of “Part of Me,” also off the new album?), but ultimately retained their patented “slowcore” style — stripped down, simple, stark and at times beautifully dreadful.

The only deviation from the First Ave. set was the encore. After a crashing version of “Landslide” (also from the new album), the band left the stage and came back for a two-song encore (instead of four the night prior) that included a gorgeous take on “Sunflower” (from Things We Lost in the Fire) and favorite “When I Go Deaf.”

Startling stuff, enhanced by the fact that it was performed in such a small space. Maybe too small, as I spent the evening crushed against one of Reverb’s new drink rails that are mounted along the stage-left wall, forced to shift from one foot to the other to see around a fat-headed dude standing in front me. Whattaya gonna do? Last night also was the first time that I noticed noise bleed coming from The Waiting Room, where Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers were playing — a steady thump-thump-thump that cut into the silent moments of Low’s set. Sparhawk and Co. struck back as only they could — with the full force of their instruments during the encore, leaving me wondering if the poor saps at the Clyne show were getting a taste of what we were hearing…

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After a couple solid shows this week, we’re left with a pretty quiet weekend.

Tonight Stardeath and White Dwarfs headlines at The Sydney. The four-piece psych-rock band from Norman, Oklahoma, includes none other than Wayne Coyne’s nephew Dennis Coyne on lead vox. Surf-rockers Sub-Vectors open. $10, 9 p.m.

Also tonight State Disco headlines at Reverb Lounge with AZP and Rothsteen. $10, 9 p.m. BTW, Reverb now hosts all-ages shows, if you didn’t know (I didn’t until last night).

Meanwhile, at fabulous O’Leaver’s, it’s Fitness 000010, featuring Bus Gas, Big Slur and Ridgelines. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Tomorrow night (Saturday) it’s back to O’Leaver’s for Christopher the Conquered, with Bazile Mills and Tenenbaums. $7, 9:30 p.m.

Also worth mentioning for you musicians , Hear Nebraska is hosting a free workshop called Protect Yourself and Your Music: Legal Advice for Musicians, Saturday afternoon from 1 to 2:15 p.m at the TipTop Building. U of N Law students will talk and take questions about such things as copyright law, licensing, contracts, streaming services, performance rights, in other words, all the things you should know if you’re going to be a working musician. If friggin’ free, so go! More info here.

Finally, indie-folk singer/songwriter Mason Jennings headlines at The Slowdown Sunday night. S. Carey opens. $27 Adv/$30 DOS. Starts at 8 p.m

And O’Leaver’s ends the weekend with Fort Collins dream-pop band Sound of Ceres, along with The Sunks, Chalant and Little Ripple Sunday night at 9. $7.

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 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 © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Top 5 reasons why you shouldn’t miss Low tonight at Reverb Lounge…

Category: Blog — Tags: , — @ 1:43 pm November 12, 2015
Low, filmed last week on Later with Jools Holland.

Low, filmed last week on Later with Jools Holland.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Is it a surprise or just a sad reflection of the current state of our indie music scene that tonight’s Low concert at tiny Reverb Lounge has yet to sell out (at least not at the time of this writing)? I bought my tickets the moment the show was announced, assuming that it would sell out in, oh, a few days. But here we are on the day of the show and it’s still not sold out. How can that be possible?

Here are five good reasons why you should go to tonight’s Low show at Reverb:

1. They’re Living Legends — The Duluth trio is one of the best, most influential indie bands of all time (Sigur Ros, Pinback, Cat Power are among those whose sound can be traced back to them). They invented a style of rock that emphasizes the emptiness between notes, with slow, deliberate tempos and hushed, spare melodies. The result is intense and darkly dramatic, both chilling and heartbreaking, but yes, they also rock. Hard. Frontman/guitarist Alan Sparhawk knows how to shred a guitar like no other.

2. Their new album rocks. Ones and Sixes (Sub Pop, 2015) is another classic collection of songs that epitomizes Low’s simple, dramatic style. Pitchfork gave it a 7.8, and compared it to one of their all-time classics, The Great Destroyer (Sub Pop, 2005). It is, indeed, gorgeous. For long-time fans, the biggest difference on this new album is the addition of electronics — sometimes just static, sometimes merely tones — that add another layer to their music’s dark sheen.

The breakdown of last night's setlist performed at

The breakdown by album of last night’s setlist performed at First Ave.

3. The set list will be epic —  Check out the setlist from last night’s show at First Ave. No doubt we’ll get something similar tonight. In addition to being front-loaded with songs off Ones and Sixes, Low played songs from six of their classic albums.

4.  The Venue — This is happening within the intimate confines of Reverb Lounge, a room that holds slightly over 100 people but has one of the city’s best sound systems. You will be engulfed by this band’s amazing music and close enough to see the love sparks between Sparhawk and his wife and band co-vocalist Mimi Parker.

5. They are absolutely amazing live — I’ve seen this band three or four times, and can guarantee that those who are in attendance tonight are in for a concert they likely will remember for the rest of their lives. No doubt it will land on your list of “shows of the year’ for 2015.

I wouldn’t be surprised if this show sells out eventually. Get your tickets now before it does. $20. Andy Shauf opens at 9 p.m. Don’t miss it.

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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 © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Jeremy Messersmith house show; Sufjan Stevens, Low headed our way; Wilco giveaway; Author, Good Living North Platte tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:43 pm July 21, 2015

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

I typically don’t write about upcoming shows, but there are a few that have just been announced that are under the radar.

First among them is a house show featuring Jeremy Messersmith Tuesday, Aug. 4, at a “midtown” location (You’ll find out where presumably when you buy your ticket). Messersmith is calling this his “Supper Club Tour.” Says Messersmith: “I want you to bring the food. But not just any food! I want to try your best, most mouthwatering dishes; the kind passed down through battered cookbooks, the kind that you’ve sworn to keep secret. I want to provide a soundtrack while you sample a feast the likes of which will never be seen again.” Mmmm. You can purchase your $20 tickets right here. I gotta believe space is limited…

Also announced today:

Sufjan Stevens is returning to Omaha, this time to the Orpheum Oct. 28. The last time he came through town with his band was way back in September 2005. From the review of that show:

Sufjan Stevens at Sokol Underground, Sept. 20, 2005.

Sufjan Stevens at Sokol Underground, Sept. 20, 2005.

Packed it was last night at Sokol Underground. It was sold out, and we’ll leave it at that. Packed from stage to the merch table, wall to wall, a mass of humanity come to see Sufjan Stevens and his 8-person band of cheerleader musicians dressed in their Big “I” T-shirts, some holding pompoms, all playing a myriad of instruments, most singing. The pompoms weren’t mere props. Stevens and crew began four or five songs with well-choreographed cheers, complete with arm signals and spirit fingers. It was that kind of set, a goodhearted rah-rah for ol’ Illinois, all in celebration of his second “state LP,” this one dedicated to The Prairie State.

Seriously, at times it was like listening to a choir led by a little guy in a Cubs hat with a voice that was a morph of Art Garfunkel and Ben Gibbard singing lullabies to Jacksonville, Decatur and Chicago. I didn’t know what to expect from the arrangements, I knew Stevens would be hard-pressed to recreate the lushness heard on the CD. But by God, he captured the majesty thanks to the glockenspiels and brass (especially his trumpet player) and keyboards and battery of percussion and those four female cheerleaders whose angel-voices made the whole thing float. Listening to Come on Feel The Illinoise as I write this after the show, I think everything was a tad funkier live, especially “Decatur,” which sported a nice bass riff and finger snaps and probably some sort of synchronized cheer-dance. After playing high school pep-rally standard “Varsity,” the band came back and did a one-song encore that nicely rounded off the hour-long set.

It was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. Considering the overall glumness of his new record, Carrie & Lowell, I don’t expect the Orpheum show to be as light-hearted. Still, this is must-see stuff. Presale tickets available here beginning tomorrow at 10 a.m.

Another must-see show announced today, Low plays Reverb Lounge Nov. 12.

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If you haven’t seen it, the Wall Street Journal chimed in on Wilco giving away digital downloads of their latest album, Star Wars. You can download the album for free from here. Says the WSJ: “The popularity of the surprise album release—and Wilco’s decision to offer theirs for free—shows how much less album releases matter to many major artists relative to touring and other revenue streams.” and “… for acts such as Wilco, whose albums sell well but aren’t massive industry blockbusters, touring is the bigger part of the equation.”

This brought up a discussion last night at a dinner, where it was suggested that bands giving away digital versions of their music would become “the norm,” and that bands would rely on a combination of performance income, publishing rights sales (i.e. TV / commercial / movie use) and vinyl sales (and other merch) for the majority of their income. This may be work for established bands like Wilco, but it would likely mean hard times for up-and-coming acts…

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One show of note tonight: Minneapolis four-piece Author plays at Reverb Lounge. Their most recent release, Of Brighter Days, came out this past January (listen to it below). Kind of Washed Out meets Owl City, sort of.  Opening is KC’s The Author and The Illustrator and EKLECTICA. $8, 8 p.m.

Also, the Good Living Tour rolls into North Platte tonight for a show downtown on “The Bricks,” (whatever that is). On the bill: A Ferocious Jungle Cat, Brad Hoshaw and the Seven Deadlies and M34N STR33T. Oh my, what those railroaders are in for… The free show starts at 8 and is all ages.

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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 © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Morrissey now March 19; new Low single; New Desa live; Johnny Cash night at the Barley Street…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 1:55 pm February 26, 2013
Happy Birthday, Johnny!

Happy Birthday, Johnny!

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Yesterday everyone’s favorite blog about ’80s and ’90s college music culture, Slicing Up Eyeballs, reported here that Morrissey has rescheduled a leg of his U.S. Tour, including the show at the Rococo Theater in Lincoln, now slated for Tuesday, March 19. The Rococo website confirms the new schedule. Let’s see how long this one lasts until it’s rescheduled. BTW, this show has been sold out since last fall.

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Low has a new single available for free download from this Sub Pop Soundcloud page called “So Blue.” Listen to the stream below. The new album, The Invisible Way, produced by Jeff Tweedy, comes out March 19 on Sub Pop and is bound to be one of the year’s best.

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Speaking of free downloads, Desaparecidos’ single “Anonymous” is available for download at Mother Jones. Below is Desa covering Joyce Manor’s “Constant Headache” during their Allston, MA, show. Conor’s getting downright shaggy.

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Today is Johnny Cash’s birthday. If he was still alive he’d be 81 years old and very likely raising living hell.

To honor the Man in Black, the Barley Street Tavern is hosting a very special tribute night tonight featuring a bevy of local musicians including Josh Dunwoody (The Filter Kings); Mike Bechtel, Ira Hughey and Scott Norman (The Bishops); Stephanie Krysl and Travis Sing (The Electroliners); Jeremy Mercy and Vern Feregesen (Travelling Mercies); Matt Whipkey, Matt Cox, Scott Severin, Dane Sybrant (The Debts) and your master of ceremonies, Brad Hoshaw.

Cover is $5, but if you dress in black, you’re in for free! Show starts at 9.

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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 © 2013 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Low, Morrissey and Thalia Zedek tracks, releases, video…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 1:59 pm January 9, 2013

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Not much happening ’round these parts today. No shows to speak of (’til tomorrow). So here are a few tunes that went online this morning worth checking out.

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Low has a new album called The Invisible Way coming out March 18 on Sub Pop. The band made the first track from the album, “Just Make It Stop,” available for listening and downloading. It’s downright uptempo compared to some of their earlier stuff. And it’s desperately gorgeous. Check it out:

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Back in the ’90s Come was a hot property on the Matador label. These days Come frontwoman Thalia Zedek is out on her own. Her new album (as Thalia Zedek Band) called Via comes out on Thrill Jockey March 19. Below is a Thalia doing a song off the album, “Walk Away,” live at AMP.

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And finally, our old friend Morrissey performed a rousing version of “Action Is My Middle Name” on Letterman last night. If you missed it, here it is again via The YouTube. Who’s anxious for the big show in Lincoln Feb. 7?

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Tomorrow: A look back at 2012 music sales…

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Lazy-i Best of 2012

Lazy-i Best of 2012

Again, for those who missed it the first seven times, enter to win a copy of the Lazy-i Best of 2012 compilation CD. The collection includes songs by Paul Banks, Tame Impala, Cat Power, The Faint, Ladyfinger, Pujol and a ton more.  The full track listing is here (scroll to the bottom). To enter the drawing to win a free copy send an email with your name and mailing address to tim.mcmahan@gmail.comHurry! Deadline is Jan. 15.

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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 © 2013 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Desaparecidos headed east; someone book Low (new album announced); King Khan, Digital Leather tonight (free booze)…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 1:49 pm November 28, 2012

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Desaparecidos this morning announced a 9-date East Coast tour in February. More details here. Tour opener Joyce Manor is a “Cali punk” band that played with Cursive this past fall at an NYC concert, according to this Brooklyn Vegan review. The other tour opener, States & Kingdoms, is a new band featuring members of Rival Schools, Thursday, Retisonic, Small Brown Bike, and Atlantic/Pacific.

Speaking of Desa, where’s my friggin’ 7-inch that I ordered last spring? GET WITH IT!

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Could someone (1% Productions, maybe) please figure out a way to get Low back to Omaha? It’s been awhile since their last headline show here (I’m not counting that Death Cab opening gig), and they’ve got a new album coming out on Sub Pop March 19 called The Invisible Way. The record was produced by Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy. Check out the “trailer” (and why all the sudden records are getting trailers?) below.

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Moments after posting yesterday about tonight’s free King Khan & BBQ Show / Digital Leather concert at The Slowdown I received a message from one of the bands that there will, indeed, be free booze available. Again, you have to RSVP at the Sailor Jerry’s website, here to get in. Not sure why, but that’s the dealio. Show starts at 9 and is 21+ only. See you there.

Those of you wondering what King Khan BBQ sounds like, here’s an ancient video for “Fish Fight”:

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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 © 2012 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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