Live Review: Kite Pilot; MAHA to announce initial lineup; Black Lips tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , — @ 12:45 pm April 25, 2011
Kite Pilot at Stir Lounge, Council Bluffs, April 23, 2011.

Kite Pilot at Stir Lounge, Council Bluffs, April 23, 2011.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

I don’t know the backstory behind last Saturday night’s Kite Pilot gig at Harrah’s Stir Lounge in Council Bluffs other than it wasn’t some sort of one-off reunion. In fact, if you were among the 30 or so in the bar hoping to hear “Tree Caught the Kite” or “On My Lips” from their amazing debut EP or maybe “Lucid Lights” from their debut LP Mercy Will Close Its Doors, you would have been sorely disappointed. Instead, the four-piece that features husband-and-wife team of Todd and Erica Hanton, guitarist/vocalist Austin Britton and drummer Jeremy Stanoschek played songs from their never-distributed 8-song EP (“released” just prior to their breakup in May 2007) as well as a couple new tunes presented rather matter-of-factly. In other words, Kite Pilot has picked up right where it left off without blinking. As you might guess (or hope), their sound is “the same as it ever was” — and yes, that’s a veiled reference to early Talking Heads. KP continues to proudly hoist a New Wave/Post Punk banner in style and songcraft. Their new songs have the same angular-pop sound that defined them back in the mid-aught years. The only downer other than not hearing those classic songs off the EP is that Todd played trumpet on only one song. Like a superhero “reboot,” Kite Pilot seems determined to look forward with only a moment’s glance toward its past. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

* * *

Today at 10 p.m., the fine folks behind The MAHA Music Festival will be releasing the initial line-up for this year’s event, which is slated for Aug. 13 at Lewis and Clark Landing. Yes, I know the names of the three bands that will be announced. No, I’m not going to let that information slip. You’ll know soon enough, especially if you follow MAHA on Facebook or Twitter. And even if you don’t, you’re bound to see it somewhere. I will say this: They’ve done a masterful job in the face of some staunch competition for touring bands this summer.

* * *

Tonight at The Waiting Room, it’s the return of The Black Lips with Vivian Girls and Solid Goldberg. Chris Aponick has an interview with Lips’ guitarist/vocalist Cole Alexander in the current issue of The Reader, where he talks about working with Amy Winehouse / Duran Duran producer Mark Ronson on their upcoming album (Check it out here). $13, 9 p.m.

* * *

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 © 2011 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Column 301: The Return of Omahaype; MECA announces Red Sky Festival (and MAHA has nothing to worry about)…

Category: Blog,Column,Interviews — Tags: , , , , , , , — @ 6:01 pm December 16, 2010

Column 301: Omahype Returns

The notorious music blog takes on a new life…

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Sometime in March 2009, a quiet sadness swept over the Internet when Andrew Bowen and Ian Atwood grasped firmly and pulled the plug on one of Omaha’s more original websites: omahype.com.

Omahype enthusiastically chronicled the local music scene through Bowen and Atwood’s acerbic music news bits, live reviews and leaked mp3 files that one assumes had to be illegal. The website had a wonderfully subversive streak running through it, and carried on an outsider’s tradition, giving voice to Hotel Frank, Slumber Party Records artists and the Antiquarium record store, powered by the duo’s uncanny good taste in music. Over the course of a couple years, Bowen and Atwood managed to make a small but significant mark, providing a fresh, young perspective that this scene was — and is — sorely in need of.

Now, almost two years later, omahype.com returns, but without Bowen and Atwood at the helm. Instead, the Internet domain has been acquired by two other local music insiders — Will Simons and Laura Burhenn. Simons, who sings and plays guitar in local indie band Thunder Power, has been in the music news business for years as a writer for the now-defunct Omaha City Weekly. Washington, D.C., transplant Burhenn is the singer/songwriter behind Saddle Creek Records band The Mynabirds.

The duo acquired Omahype.com through local “youth branding agency” Secret Penguin, who count among its clients skateboarders, The Faint and Jim Suttle. “(Bowen) gave those guys the domain name,” Simons said. “It was Laura’s idea to get the whole thing rolling. She asked me earlier in the spring if I wanted to help with it, while Secret Penguin built the site.”

Burhenn had been rolling the idea of a local arts and music website around in her head for well over a year. “I got the idea from a friend in D.C. who runs a website called brightestyoungthings.com,” Burhenn said. “It’s a curated events calendar where you can find anything you might want to know about what’s going on in D.C.” Omaha, she said, had nothing like it.

Like brightestyoungthings.com, Omahype.com will cover more than just local music. “It’ll include everything from lectures to art shows to indie films,” Burhenn said, “any event that would be interesting to the youth culture.”

But what exactly is “youth culture”? Burhenn said it’s anything that’s inspiring about living where you live. “‘Youth’ is anybody from a teenager to who knows how old,” she said. “It’s not an age thing at all. It’s the creative, adventurous minds in Omaha.”

Simons and Burhenn said they’ll begin by scouring other online calendars for events to include in Omahype, along with (they hope) reader submissions. “We’ll start with events and editor’s picks, and it’ll grow,” Burhenn said. “We also want to be a blog aggregator, a jumping-off point for people to find out who’s doing things around town.”

Their site will be joining an already crowded webspace for local online event calendars that includes the new, improved Reader website at thereader.com; the music-focused hearnebraska.org, which launches Jan. 24; towncommons.com, which provides a “personalized guide to events in Omaha;” the lilting underground-omaha.com; the Omaha World-Herald‘s Omaha.com; the bar-focused omahanightlife.com; local news/events website omaha.net, and, of course, good ol’ slamomaha.com, which has been in the art/music events calendar business for more than a decade. And don’t forget the ubiquitous role of Facebook in keeping people up to speed with what’s happening around town.

Simons knows they’re entering a crowded room. “We don’t want to compete with other websites, we want to collaborate with them,” he said. “We all have the same goals in mind.” It’s a noble thought, but seems to ignore the fact that those other websites also have the goal of being Omaha’s “one-stop shop” — at least that’s what they’re telling potential advertisers and donors. Simons said somewhere down the road Omahype also will sell advertising space, but “our intention isn’t to make money; it’s to support the community.”

Burhenn said that partnering with artists, musicians and “progressive thinkers” to “put a new spin on an old story” is what will differentiate Omahype from the rest of the online herd. That new spin might include an artist creating a photo essay that explores the city from a different angle. “We want to be irreverent in nature,” Burhenn said. “We want people to join in the conversation and be honest with how they feel, but we want them to be positive. At the end of the day, I just want everyone to be nice.”

They both acknowledged the legacy of the original Omahype.com. “Omahype was great for what it was, a music blog,” Simons said. “We’re taking its spirit and expanding it to all the arts and creative communities. We’re not taking a hard-nosed journalistic approach. We want to have a fresh, youthful take on things.”

And while they will curate the site’s content, “I don’t want to be the person who says ‘This is what’s cool and this is what’s not,'” Burhenn said. “I’m interested in hearing from other people what they think is cool, and sharing it.”

Omahype.com’s launch is being celebrated as part of the “Holiday Throwdown” at Slowdown Friday Dec. 17. The free event, which starts at 9 p.m., will feature performances by members of Bear Country, Conduits, Flowers Forever, Honeybee, Talking Mountain, UUVVWWZ and, of course, The Mynabirds, who also will be celebrating the release of their new 7-inch single. Local artists and designers also will have their wares for sale, just in time for Christmas.

* * *

Yesterday, MECA, the people who run the Qwest Center and the new downtown TDAmeritrade ballpark, announced that it’s hosting the Red Sky Music Festival July 19-24. MECA is working with Live Nation to book 50 bands that will perform in and around the ballpark. Kevin Coffey at the OWH has the entire scoop right here.

So the first question that comes to mind: How does Red Sky impact the MAHA Music Festival? In theory, it shouldn’t. Based on what Kevin reported and what I saw this morning on KETV Channel 7, MECA isn’t interested in booking indie-style bands for their All-American family-friendly ballpark. MECA guy said something along the lines of “We’ll be booking the same kind of entertainment that we book at the Qwest Center.”

MECA will likely be looking for the biggest drawing bands they can find to fill their stadium — and other than, say, Arcade Fire (and even that’s a stretch), those aren’t indie bands. I suspect you’ll see a strong top-40 and country line-up, sprinkled with touring pop acts. Think Lady Gaga, Garth Brooks, the American Idol contingent, and legacy stars like Kenny Rogers and REO Speedwagon, just some of the folks you’ll find on the Live Nation website. You’ll also find Broken Social Scene, Killing Joke, Bear Hands, and Wu-Tang Clan. So the opportunity will be there if MECA wants to try to deep-six MAHA by booking a day or two of top-flight indie bands during its 5-day bacchanal, but something tells me that’s not going to happen. At this point, it’s all speculation.

Red Sky does force MAHA to dig deep and define itself in a way that’s thoroughly unique in the festival world. Right now, MAHA is kind of/sort of a one-day outdoor rock concert that features at least one upper-tier indie act along with a sprinkling of up-and-comers and locals. It’s just a big ol’ one-day concert. If it wants to be branded as a truly unique destination concert/festival series, it has to be more than that. But even if it remains on its current path, MAHA will survive and only get bigger, especially after it decides to leave Lewis & Clark Landing behind.

Here’s an idea: What if MAHA became a 3-day festival that was also held in and around a ball park — but this time the ball park is located in Sarpy County? Werner Park’s cozy 6,500 fixed seats and 9,000 total capacity is perfect for upper-tier indie bands like LCD Soundsystem, The National, Sufjan Stevens, Wilco, Ryan Adams, Yo La Tengo and Interpol — i.e., the good bands. Just a thought…

* * *

Yesterday I asked who else other than Laura Burhenn was headed out with Bright Eyes on the tour supporting The People’s Key. Billboard published the answer today, right here — Clark Baechle and Andy LeMaster join Burhenn, Oberst, Mogis and Nate Walcott. Also included in the story is some insight by The Conor himself on the new record. I suspect we’ll be hearing a leaked track any day now…

* * *

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 © 2010 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Landing on the Moon takes one small step onto the MAHA stage; Deerhoof, Mates of State tonight; Back When Sunday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 1:00 pm June 25, 2010
Midwest Dilemma

Midwest Dilemma at The Waiting Room, 6/24/10.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

The wagering was hot and heavy at last night’s MAHA showcase at The Waiting Room – a winner-take-all battle-of-the-bands cage match to determine who will play the MAHA Festival’s second stage. With his ongoing support from a certain Omaha World-Herald music writer, I put all my money down on Tim Wildsmith to get the most “votes.” But after I got to the show at around 10, I began to have second thoughts. Midwest Dilemma had a nice-sized crowd listening to their set, and I remembered hearing somewhere that it was Justin Lamoureux’s birthday that night. Add to that the fact that there must have been nine musicians on stage with Justin — if each one brought nine friends, that would equate to, well… a lot of votes, from a crowd of around 225. Others I talked to thought that the close-out band, Matt Cox, would draw all the last-minute voters. My personal faves — Landing on the Moon and Honey & Darling — went on at 8 and 9 p.m. — way too early to make a dent in the voting bloc.

So imagine my surprise when they announced that Landing on the Moon — the band I reviewed in my column a week ago — got the most votes. They’ll be joining Round One winner, Betsy Wells, on the second stage, along with whomever gets the most votes at the upcoming OEAA showcase July 16 and 17 in Benson.

Speaking of the OEAA Summer Showcase, guess how many Saddle Creek, Speed! Nebraska, Slumber Party, Bocca Lupo, and Doom Town acts are playing the two-day event. Go on, guess. How about 0, as in none. Does anyone need more evidence that the OEAA program has eroded into a Benson-only event?

* * *

There are two great national shows fighting for your music-going dollar tonight. At The Waiting Room, Deerhoof will take the stage along with Southeast Engine and Broken Spindles (Joel Petersen of The Faint). 9 p.m., $12. Meanwhile at Slowdown tonight it’s Mates of State with Thunder Power and the X-Medic. Mates of State is on the road promoting a CD of cover songs titled Crushes (The Covers Mixtape) that features songs by Deathcab for Cutie, Fleetwood Mac, Nick Cave, The Mars Volta and Belle and Sebastian, among others. $15, 9 p.m. And if that weren’t enough, Bloodcow is playing at O’Leaver’s with Kentucky Beltfight and The Yuppies. $5, 9:30 p.m.

O’Leaver’s also is doing a show Saturday night, with Traveling Mercies, Cat Island, The Low End and Adam Robert Haug. $5, 9:30 p.m. Also tomorrow night, Henry Rollins does his stand-up shtick at Sokol Auditorium. $25, 8 p.m.

Sunday night is the big Back When reunion show at The Waiting Room with Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship and Lightning Bug.  This one will be loud. $7, 9 p.m.

* * *

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 © 2010 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

A quiet weekend, looking ahead; Depressed Buttons online; Lala no more; Pizza night at TWR…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 1:42 pm June 1, 2010

I saw a grand total of zero bands this weekend. Zero, as in none. I wanted to see music, but there just wasn’t anything going on except karaoke and tribute acts. Hopefully that’ll change in the coming weeks, though the list of just-announced shows in the One Percent monthly e-mail seems to indicate that we’re only going to get about one “important” out-of-town show per week moving forward. Sure, there’s always the usual CD release parties and the plethora of local-band showcases around Benson, but only a few nationals stood out on the list of just-scheduled gigs, including One EskimO (June 21), Maps & Atlases (July 7), Rogue Wave (July 18), and Tokyo Police Club (Aug. 1). In the “already announced” category is Blitzen Trapper next Monday, The Mountain Goats July 13, Deerhoof and (in a separate show) Mates of State June 25, The Hold Steady July 6, MAHA Festival July 24, Miniature Tigers Aug. 5, and The Black Keys Aug. 9. Missing from the list is that DEVO show that was rumored all over town and even posted on the Anchor Inn website (but never announced on the One Percent site) — that show is in limbo as far as anyone knows.

One other show 1% announced today:  The next MAHA festival play-in round June 24 at The Waiting Room. Those competing for a spot on the festival’s small stage are The Matt Cox Band, Midwest Dilemma, Honey & Darling, Tim Wildsmith and Landing On The Moon. Seeing as I’m 0 for 1 in the predictions department (I predicted Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship would win the last battle of the bands at Slowdown, while generic rockers Betsy Wells took the prize), let me add to my abysmal average by saying that had I a vote to  cast, it would go to either Honey & Darling or Landing on the Moon, but that Tim Wildsmith will win the contest. Place your bets…

Speaking of MAHA, the organization posted a comment on Facebook the other day implying that The Faint’s performance at their festival would be the band’s last: “Given the most recent post on their Facebook page, fans of The Faint had better savor the performance at MAHA,” it said. The comment is in reference to Depressed Buttons, who I talked about in this blog back in April (here, to be exact). The new “band” (their terminology) features Clark Baechle, Todd Fink and Jacob Thiele, and has been busy building a blog — located at depressedbuttons.com — and putting tracks online at a soundcloud page, located here (They’ve also got a Twitter page, here). It’s electronic, it’s DJ, it’s remixing, it’s a party. I’m not sure that it’ll be anything beyond their version of Daft Punk (Will there be helmets?). Does Depressed Buttons spell the end of The Faint? I’m doubtful, even though Dapose is working on projects of his own and Joel Petersen is busy at Enamel Studios. Time will tell.

* * *

Just as it was announced, lala.com closed its online doors for good yesterday, offering credit for iTunes to those with a balance on their lala account. All those awesome lala imbeds on reviews sites like Pitchfork have disappeared. Now we wait to see what Apple decides to do with the service. There was a rumor that they intended to use lala as a base for offering iTunes “in the cloud,” but now I’m hearing that might not happen due to ongoing contract/rights negotiations/disputes with various record labels. It would be a drag if Apple bought the service only to shut it down.

* * *

Cass Brostad, Blue Sharks and Matt Cox are performing at tonight’s Pizza Review event at The Waiting Room. $10 gets you all the pizza you want from 20 different pizza vendors, with proceeds going to the food bank. It starts at 6 p.m.

Also tonight, Philly punk band The Menzingers play at Slowdown Jr. with Cheap Girls, La Casa Bombas and Speak Easy. 8 p.m., $10.

Lazy-i

Kweller, It’s True round out MAHA; Our Fox tonight, Criteria Saturday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — @ 12:53 pm May 21, 2010

Catching up on some “news” after being out of town all week on bizness…

The MAHA Music Festival folks announced last Tuesday that Ben Kweller and local boys It’s True will round out the “TD Ameritrade” main stage line-up, and that Saddle Creek’s newest band, The Mynabirds, have been added to the Kum & Go small stage line-up, along with Satchel Grande and the winner of this coming Monday night’s talent show at The Slowdown as well as the winner of another talent contest to be held in Benson next month.

Kweller, a 28-year-old singer/songwriter, toured with Ben Folds and Ben Lee (who remembers him other than Jim Minge?) in 1993.  His C&W-inspired 2008 album Changing Horses (ATO Records) peaked at No. 92 on the Billboard charts, which means, yes, he’s significantly under the radar for a national act and as such is a perfect fit for this festival, whose headliners also include Spoon, Old 97’s, The Faint and Superchunk. Will the addition of Kweller help sell more tickets? I would guess maybe 500, which is significant considering a successful festival is the sum of the all its parts.

It’s True, who has a new album and has played around Omaha a lot this year, was an insignificant addition from a sales perspective (but not from a fun perspective). “We decided that It’s True! was better than any other band we were looking at getting, so why not just book them,” said festival organizer Tre Brashear in an e-mail. “If our other five main stage artists (+ Satchel + Mynabirds) can’t sell enough tickets, then we’ve got problems that a sixth ‘smaller’ main stage band from somewhere else wasn’t going to solve. Plus, we think it would be cool to give them the opportunity to play in front of Mac (MacCaughan) and Laura (Ballance, both from Superchunk and the proprietors of indie powerhouse record label Merge Records). Plus, we just like them.”

You can’t argue with that logic. Now look for MAHA posters to start popping up around town.

Lets get to this weekend…

Our Fox is playing tonight at The Barley Street Tavern with McCarthy Trenching, Love of Everything and probably one other band. According to Our Fox’s Ryan Fox, “Love of Everything is Bobby Burg (who plays in a bunch of Chicago bands including Make Believe and Joan of Arc), and his wife, Elisse. They’re doing a Daytrotter session and stopping here as part of a brief midwest tour.” Their record label is cleverly (if not confusingly) called Record Label.

Fox added that “Ben Brodin (drummer in Our Fox, guitarist in The Mynabirds, drummer/guitarist/etc in McCarthy Trenching, Mal Madrigal, etc.) recorded an LP, Methods of the Mad, under the moniker Before the Toast and Tea, which was released on Bocca Lupo Recordings (which was started by Steve Bartolomei). He’ll probably have a few records on hand to sell as well.” $5, 9 p.m.

Also tonight, Landing on the Moon is opening for the Jes Winter Band at The Waiting Room, along with Lonely Estates and Rock Paper Dynamite. $7, 9 p.m.

And the band that win’s today’s award for “best name,” Peace of Shit, is playing at O’Leaver’s with Watching the Trainwreck and Forbidden Tigers. $5, 9 p.m.

Saturday night’s marquee show is Criteria at The Waiting Room with Ladyfinger and Masses. So who’s Masses? Even Criteria’s Stephen Pedersen didn’t know. Thankfully, Masses member Eric Nyffeler emailed to say that the band is from Lincoln and “this is only the second or third time we’ve played in Omaha, so not a lot of people know who we are.” The few tracks that I’ve heard from the band are instrumental and are brazenly mathy and bombastic. Masses members are Jon Augustine, Shane Brandt, Mike Vandenberg and Nyffeler. $8, 9 p.m. This one will be crowded.

Also Saturday night, The Beat Seekers (Keith from The Fonzarellies) are playing at Slowdown Jr. with Scott Severin and the Milton Burlesque and Whipkey/Zimmerman. $8, 9 p.m.

Lazy-i

Column 269 — Battle of the Blahs; O’Leaver’s dumps Myspace…

Category: Blog,Column — Tags: , , , , — @ 3:15 pm May 5, 2010

It would just be a shame if the best bands in Omaha never get a chance to play at the MAHA Festival simply because the Committee wasn’t willing to make the choice themselves… By the way, has anyone seen any posters around town advertising the event? Daylights a-wastin’, folks…

Column 269 — Battle of the Blahs

MAHA lets you pick the winner…

The fine folks at the MAHA Music Festival just announced two band showcases to be held this summer at Slowdown and The Waiting Room. It is through these free events that bands will be selected to play the festival’s Kum & Go local stage at the July 24 concert at Lewis & Clark Landing. The showcases are battle of the bands competitions where you — the concert goer — will choose the winner. Slowdown’s showcase is May 24, while The Waiting Room event is June 24. A third band will be chosen (again, via public vote) from those performing at an Omaha Entertainment and Arts Association summer showcase July 16-17. The fourth local band, Satchel Grande, already has been selected by the MAHA Committee.

If there’s an obvious flaw in the MAHA Festival it is this democratic approach toward selecting the local bands. Waitaminit, how could something democratic be bad? It starts with the nomination process. Only bands that are willing to play for free at the three showcases can be considered in the “election.” That immediately eliminates some of the area’s best bands, who have reached a point in their careers where they expect to get paid for their performances, and who look upon battle of the bands competitions as publicity stunts for those who haven’t paid their dues by recording, touring, doing what it takes to get their music heard.

In an effort to change my mind about their process, MAHA Organizer Tre Brashear sent me an e-mail where he argued that the showcases build community awareness, give bands a chance to promote the event (and sell tickets), and give the audience a voice in the selection process.

“We do not want MAHA to be perceived as three guys holding their own concert,” Brashear said. “Us picking all the bands would run that risk.”

Well, I hate to tell you Tre, but that boat left the dock a long time ago. The “three guys” already picked the festival’s headliners. Why not go ahead and pick the locals as well? One could argue that by surrendering the selection process to “the public” (which in the case of the OEAA showcase, is the folks who frequent Benson bars on any given weekend) you have backhandedly voiced a certain level of disdain — or your isolation from — the local music scene that you’re supposed to be supporting.

Tre goes on to say, “If we just ‘picked’ all the bands for the local stage, who’s to say that we’d pick ‘correctly’ in the eyes of the community? Some would agree with the choices, some would disagree.” That same argument obviously could be made toward their main stage selections. And in the end, it’s the concertgoers who will say if MAHA chose correctly when they decide if they’re willing to shell out $33 for a ticket.

The real problem with battle-of-the-bands situations, though, is that the best bands — the ones that truly need the exposure, the ones that are leaning out the furthest on the delicate limb of creativity — never win. What if, say, The Mynabirds were up against Paria, who do you think would get the most votes? How about Emphatic vs. It’s True? Or Digital Leather vs. any one of the area’s most popular cover bands? Who would the pubic choose? In the end, we’ll never know the answer, because none of those bands will likely be taking part in these showcases.

See, it’s not about ticket sales. No one is buying a ticket to see the Kum & Go local stage. They’re going for Spoon, Superchunk, The Faint and Old ’97s. MAHA is designed to be a sort of celebration of indie/alternative culture, not a money-grab. If it were about the money, they’d be booking Ke$ha or Justin Bieber.

Come to think of it, I wonder who would win a battle of the bands between Spoon and Justin Bieber. See my point?

* * *

O’Leaver’s is gutting its Myspace page, which was the only semi-reliable place where you could find a schedule of their upcoming shows. Instead, they’re moving their schedule to the O’Leaver’s Facebook page. Go there and click on the Events tab. Remember when Myspace was thee hot music website just a few years ago? We’ll be talking about Twitter and Facebook the same way in a few years…

Tomorrow: An interview with Matt Pond PA.

Lazy-i