Maha announces it will announce line-up; Good Living Tour 2016 dates/cities; Foxtails Brigade tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:51 pm April 4, 2016

by Tim McMahan,

Tickets for this year's Maha Festival go on sale Friday.

Tickets for this year’s Maha Festival go on sale Friday.

The folks behind the Maha Music Festival announced that tickets go on sale for this year’s festival (to be held  Aug. 20 once again at Stinson Park in Aksarben Village) this Friday. Prices are $55 general admission $185 VIP — that’s mere $5 increase in GA tickets — talk about holding the line on prices, but at that price point, don’t expect a mega-band like Arcade Fire or Beck to be on this year’s  line-up.

Speaking of which, Maha will announce this year’s festival lineup April 21 at a big shindig at Reverb Lounge. The announcement party, which starts at 6 p.m., is free and open to the public. Of course if you can’t make it to the party, you’ll hear the line-up via all the usual social media channels (and I’ll make my comments about it on Lazy-i the next day).

Who do you think Maha will get this year? Wish I could give you a hint, but I’m completely out of the Maha loop these days. But if I were to venture a guess, I’d first look at who was hot in 2015: Father John Misty, Courtney Barnett, Grimes, Joanna Newsom, Kamasi Washington, Deerhunter, Alabama Shakes, Beach House, Chvches, and yeah, Wilco, are all on my “guess list,” along with at least one big name Saddle Creek or local artist, such as Conor Oberst (or one of his projects), Mynabirds, Matthew Sweet or Hop Along. God, I just hope it isn’t Black Keys…

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Good Living Tour 2016

Good Living Tour 2016

Hear Nebraska today announces its 2016 Good Living Tour, which has been expanded to 12 cities throughout our great state. Each town will enjoy a free, all-ages concert featuring a diverse mix of all-original Nebraska bands. The 2016 tour stops are:

Thursday, July 21: Ord
Friday, July 22: Kearney
Saturday, July 23: Grand Island
Sunday, July 24: Red Cloud
Thursday, July 28: Hastings
Friday, July 29: Norfolk
Saturday, July 30: Lyons
Sunday, July 31: O’Neill
Thursday, Aug. 4: Grant
Friday, Aug. 5: Sidney
Saturday, Aug. 6: Imperial
Sunday, Aug. 7: McCook

That’s a grueling schedule. So which Nebraska bands are playing where? You’ll have to wait a couple weeks to find out…

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Tonight at fabulous O’Leaver’s San Francisco indie band Foxtails Brigade has the center slot. The band, fronted by Laura Weinbach, includes musicians who have played with Bright Eyes, Pinback and Van Dyke Parks. Omaha-based free improvisation/noise quartet Misers is the headliner.  Chemicals opens. $5, 9 p.m.

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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.


Lazy-i Podcast: Saturday is Record Store Day! Homer’s GM Mike Fratt on the promotion’s impact; risks…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — @ 12:40 pm April 15, 2015

by Tim McMahan,

Check out a brand new episode of the Lazy-i Podcast (above)! In this week’s episode:

— Saturday is Record Store Day! Homer’s GM Mike Fratt talks about what his store has to offer, the promotion’s impact on smaller labels and risks involved with stores going “all in” with RSD merch.
— Live Reviews of BUHU and Peach Kelli Pop.
-– Modest Mouse headlines a strong Maha Music Festival line-up. Will this the best Maha ever?
— The list of the hottest shows happening this weekend in Omaha.
— Music from Modest Mouse, Alvvays, Wagon Blasters, BUDU, Peach Kelli Pop, Oquoa, John Klemmensen and the Party, and Clarence Tilton.

It’s 21 wasted minutes of your life you’ll never get back, but who cares, it’s free. Check it out.

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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.


Live Review: J Fernandez, Shy Boys; No Coast Music Festival announced (vs. Maha?); Retox tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , , — @ 1:51 pm March 2, 2015
Shy Boys at Almost Music, March 1, 2015.

Shy Boys at Almost Music, March 1, 2015.

by Tim McMahan,

My only show this weekend wasn’t a show at all. It was a pre-show. Yesterday afternoon, J Fernandez and Shy Boys did an in-store at Almost Music in Benson prior to their gig last night at O’Leaver’s.

Set up in the Solid Jackson Bookstore area, each band played a half-hour set to a handful of people. I didn’t know about the in-store until yesterday morning via an IM on Facebook. Needless to say, it could have been better promoted, but it was a last-minute thing.

Both bands played low-key sets. Since I didn’t go to O’Leaver’s last night, I don’t know if these were typical, but I can say they were rather awesome. Fernandez style is a mix of garage and art rock, think early Talking Heads soaked in swirls of reverb guitar with a less-severe vocal that was warmer and more inviting than Byrne’s bark. They were jazzier more than they were arty.

Kansas City’s Shy Boys’s garage rock was sweet, sweet, sweet; with sweet, sad-eyed vocals atop great kick-back rhythms. Gorgeous stuff. Listen for snippets of both performances in this week’s podcast Wednesday (if I can get it done).

* * *

Speaking of Almost Music, the store took part in Saturday afternoon’s Bar Stool Record Swap at The Brother’s lounge along with four or five other vendors including Homer’s and Drastic Plastic. Music fans flipped through boxes of vinyl with one hand while drinking booze with the other — the perfect combination. I scored a sealed copy of Ritual Device’s Henge album on orange vinyl — something I thought I’d never see.

* * *

The River, 89.7 FM, and One Percent Productions this morning announced the No Coast Festival, June 2 at Westfare Amphitheater. The line-up includes major-label pop bands Cage The Elephant, Bleachers, Joywave, Saint Motel, In The Valley Below along with Saddle Creek band Icky Blossoms, and more.

Though a “festival,” No Coast can’t be compared to the other big local rock “festival” — the Maha Music Festival. No Coast is a full two months before Maha (which takes place Aug. 15) and targets a younger alt-radio audience vs. Maha’s college-age-plus indie crowd.

But when talking about these two festivals, there is a a subtle irony that can’t be ignored. Indie bands by their very nature appeal to a smaller audience. That’s the way it’s always been. Major label acts like Cage the Elephant, Bleachers (both on RCA) and Saint Motel (Elektra), which enjoy more radio support, draw a much larger audience. As a result, you’d naturally assume No Coast — with its more popular bands — would have the higher ticket price, but in fact No Coast’s $10 ticket (which is what you’d typically pay for a mid-level show at The Waiting Room) will likely be about a quarter of the price of Maha Festival tickets.

Factor in that non-profit public radio station The River may be underwriting a lot of the No Coast Festival’s costs (which they can “write off” as a promotional expense) and that No Coast could draw substantially more people than Maha (high volume brings down prices), and you begin to understand the $10 ticket versus a $40+ ticket.

No doubt if No Coast draws an exponentially larger crowd than Maha there will be those who argue the reason is either better bands or a lower ticket price or both. But one can’t ignore the sheeple factor. There is only one radio station in the Omaha/Council Bluffs market that plays modern music, albeit shitty modern music. A lot of people grudgingly listen to The River because it’s the only alternative to the oldies/freedom rock stations that litter the FM dial. Those River listeners can expect to hear a constant barrage of advertising for No Coast Festival between now and June 2. Strike that. Public radio stations aren’t allowed to air advertising, right? So if they’re not ads, I guess you’d have to call them, what, “targeted announcements”?

Poor Maha. A true non-profit organization, can it afford the level of radio advertising that No Coast undoubtedly will get? Add to that the fact that most of Maha’s bands historically don’t get airplay in the Omaha market and it’s an uphill climb. This is what happens when you don’t have a radio station that plays College Music Journal (CMJ)-style indie music in a market the size of Omaha.

One Percent also announced this morning the Gentlemen of the Road Stopover, a 2-day festival in Waverly, Iowa, June 19 and 20 headlined by the dreadful Mumford and Sons but that also includes Jenny Lewis, My Morning Jacket, Flaming Lips and Jeff the Brotherhood among others. Still, Waverly is about 260 miles (more than 4 hours) from Omaha…

One other 1% show — Built to Spill returns to The Slowdown May 23. (I thought this one was going to be the big 10 a.m. announcement).

* * *

Tonight at Slowdown Jr., it’s a punk featuring San Diego hardcore act Retox (Epitaph Records). The four-piece was founded by Justin Pearson and Gabe Serbian,whose tour of duties include stints in The Locust, Head Wound City, and Holy Molar. Joining them is Atlanta noise rock band Whores and Lincoln black noise band Vickers. $10, 9 p.m.

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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.


Maha Festival adds Icky Blossoms, Domestica; Laura Burhenn returns for Omaha Gives!; NPR streams Conor; Envy Corps tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 1:00 pm May 12, 2014
Icky Blossoms playing a rainsoaked Maha Music Festival in 2012.

Icky Blossoms playing a rain-soaked Maha Music Festival in 2012.

by Tim McMahan,

Yesterday between tornadoes the fine folks at the Maha Music Festival announced the last two acts for their Aug. 26 concert:  Icky Blossoms and Domestica.

It’s a return engagement for Icky, who played the rain-laden Maha Music Festival in 2012. I think this will represent the first time an act has played the festival twice (Wrong. Turns out It’s True! and Mynabirds both have played Maha twice, and this will be the second year also for Envy Corp.).

Domestica is a Nebraska original, and a Nebraska legend. Two core members, Heidi Ore and Jon Taylor (wife and husband) were the duo behind one of the best bands to ever come out of Lincoln — Mercy Rule — more than two decades ago.

With yesterday’s announcement, Maha’s 2014 line-up is now complete: Death Cab for Cutie, The Head and the Heart, Local Natives, The Both (featuring Aimee Mann and Ted Leo), Doomtree, The Envy Corps, Radkey, Twinsmith, Matt Whipkey, M34n Str33t, Icky Blossoms and Domestica. That’s 12 bands for $50. Such a deal…

* * *

Speaking of Maha, the non-profit joins a handful of other non-profits including Hear Nebraska, Opera Omaha and Omaha Girls Rock! for a special fund-raising concert at The Slowdown May 21 held in conjunction with Omaha Gives! Featured acts include Saddle Creek band Twinsmith and Mynabirds’ frontwoman Laura Burhenn, in town from her new home in Los Angeles. It should be a crazy way to close out what is sure to be a crazy day… of fundrasing. Details here.

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NPR First Listen is streaming Conor Oberst’s new album, Upside Down Mountain, it its entirety. The record comes out May 19 on Nonesuch. You can listen right here.

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Maha and 850/35 Festival band Envy Corp is headlining a show tonight at The Waiting Room. The full lineup includes Moon Honey, Soft Touches, and what I’m told is the final performance of Masses. It’ll be historic. $8, 9 p.m.

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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 © 2014 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Photos from Maha Music Festival; Live Review: Mousetrap, Ron Wax…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , , , , — @ 12:58 pm August 19, 2013
Mousetrap at The Waiting Room, Aug. 16, 2013.

Mousetrap at The Waiting Room, Aug. 16, 2013.

by Tim McMahan,

Coverage/review of Saturday’s Maha Music Festival will appear in my column in the upcoming issue of The Reader. For the record, it was a heckuva show. Check out the action photos below the Mousetrap review.

Mousetrap was a blast Friday night at The Waiting Room. As was the case last time they played here, the band sounds tighter than back in its ’90s hey-day. No doubt there are some obvious differences that come with 20-odd years of life experiences.

Their sound, while as bracing as ever, at times was cast in more subdued tones. The trio played a couple dark-throb numbers that ebbed and flowed like a tide coming in at midnight carrying a body floating face-down in the bay. Black and grisly and a bit creepy. But then again, there always has been something disturbing about frontman Patrick Buchanan. On stage he comes off like a punk version of a Brett Easton Ellis psychopath. Don’t look directly into his eyes.

Bassist Craig Crawford acts as sort of a buffer/cipher that keeps Buchanan from spinning out of control, though you know if things ever got heavy Craig would say, “Sorry, pal, you’re on your own.”

You can tell they’ve only just begun with drummer Colby Starck. A seasoned veteran, he still needs push it a couple notches to match former drummer Mike Mazolla’s ferocity. That’ll come with time.

My only gripe about Friday night was the set’s length — little more than 20 minutes with a three-song encore (that included a cover of Dead Boys’ “All This and More”). Buchanan promised more new material when Mousetrap returns, probably sometime during the holidays. There’s nothing quite like Christmas with Mousetrap…

Ron Wax was up before Mousetrap and judging by the comments made outside the venue you’d have thought it was the end world. I’ve known Ron Albertson for years both as the drummer of Mercy Rule and as a fine artist (I proudly have three Ron screenprints-on-canvas hanging on my walls). I caught the last two brutal songs of their set. It was loud, raucous, noisy, ham-fisted caterwaul rock, more than a little bit weird. Gritty and unbridled, but what did you expect? My reply to the guy who said he was going to gut-punch me if I called it genius: It ain’t genius, and it ain’t supposed to be.

* * *

Now onto some pictures from the Maha Music Festival this past Saturday…

The Thermals at the Maha Music Festival, Aug. 17, 2013.

The Thermals sort of got the crowd going. Theirs is a one-note punk style, but people love it. Those who expected moshing forgot where they were.

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Criteria at The Maha Music Festival, Aug. 17, 2013.

Criteria sounded louder (and better) on Maha’s “second stage” than the Thermals did on the main stage. Might have something to do with dynamics…?

* * *

Bob Mould at The Maha Music Festival, Aug. 17, 2013.

Bob Mould for me and a lot of people was the cornerstone of this year’s festival. Lots of Sugar and new stuff and even “I Apologize.” What more do you want?

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Digital Leather at the Maha Music Festival, Aug. 17, 2013

For the uninitiated, Digital Leather brought a modern garage aesthetic, along with lots of cool noise. 

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Flaming Lips at The Maha Music Festival, Aug. 17, 2013.

Our lord and savior Wayne Coyne doing his thing atop a mountain of chrome embryos, fetus doll in hand. Great lights, droll music.

More on Maha Wednesday, I promise.

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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 © 2013 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.



Where to now, Maha? (in the column) and one guy’s view of where it should go…

Category: Blog,Column — Tags: , — @ 12:42 pm August 16, 2012

by Tim McMahan,

The Maha Blackbird

The Maha Blackbird

In this week’s column, sizing up Maha and getting a bead on its future from Maha organizer Tre Brashear. With this year’s record crowd, does the festival have room to grow or will it be content being a one-day concert event? Read it in this week’s issue of The Reader or online right here.

Some other thoughts about Maha…

One of the most successful things about this year’s festival had nothing to do with the performances. Two years ago, no one knew what Maha looked like. This year with the help of Oxide Design, Maha became a recognizable brand that resonates with its audience. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like that blackbird emblem. You don’t get 40 people tattooing that symbol on their bodies unless they think it’s cool. It looks good on posters on T-shirts on everything and I have a feeling we’re going to see it all over town all year ’round. I don’t know what it cost the Maha folks, but it was worth every penny. Maha now has a graphic identity, and I can’t even begin to tell you how important that is.

In its fourth year, Maha took its first real step in defining itself. As successful as it was, Maha can’t be satisfied with merely repeating what it accomplished this year. If year five is just another one-afternoon/evening concert event it’ll be wasting any momentum gained last weekend. They’ve got to do something different and better in 2013.  So what would I do if I was running Maha and didn’t have to concern myself with such things as budgets and schedules and sponsors and vendors and the legacy the festival has built?

Raise the ticket price. If what they’re saying is true, Maha is henpecked by its thirty-something-dollar ticket price when it comes to being able to draw larger-name band(s). Price the festival in conjunction with what your biggest name’s tickets would sell for. Jane’s Addiction is $45-$65. Morrissey is $55+. We gladly pay for these shows that feature really only one band (We don’t even think about who’s opening). With Maha, you could pay for the headliner and get the rest of the festival for free. That’s a good deal, especially if you’ve got a couple additional kick-ass bands on the docket.

Ease into expansion. When they talk about goals, the Maha folks rarely mention attendance numbers; instead they talk about wanting to expand the festival to a full weekend. What’s the easiest way to expand Maha to two days? Start it the night before. Book the park for two (or three) days. Set up the stages on Day One and work the bugs out of the system by hosting an evening of bands the night before the main day. Maybe only use the small stage. Bring in the vendors; open the beer garden. Make it a pre-show party from 7 to 11. Get people psyched about tomorrow. You might even sell some more tickets to the big show. (And yes, get a headliner for the preview night, and charge for it. Sell a package that gets you into both.)

Decide on a theme. The Maha folks seem to have more luck booking legacy indie acts than current indie high fliers. Look at the past four years of headliners; Garbage (’90s band), GBV (’90s band), Superchunk/Spoon (’90s bands) Dashboard Confessional (dreadful ’90s band). I see a theme here, and it ain’t necessarily a bad one. To my knowledge, there’s no festival that’s declared itself as “thee” national classic indie rock festival. Maha could be that festival. We’re talking booking ’90s legends like The Pixies, Pavement, Cat Power, Sonic Youth, Dead Can Dance, Ride, Daft Punk, Pulp, Jesus Lizard, Stereolab, Weezer, Portishead, GYBE, Aphex Twin Cocteau Twins, Sugar/Bob Mould, Magnetic Fields, Built to Spill, Chavez, Jeff Mangum/NMH, The Lips, friggin’ Fugazi, heck just about anyone on Matador / Touch and Go / Sub Pop / Merge / Mute / Thrill Jockey / 4AD / Drag City from the ’90s (or before), The trick, of course, is getting more than one, and market them as if they were gods.

And no, I’m not suggesting this because I’m an old guy who likes “his music.” If given a choice between listening to a new album recommended by Chris Aponick or Jeff Runnings or that scores high on Album of the Year versus listening to a ’90s album I’ll pick the new album every time. The fact is that  Lolla, ATP, Pitchforkfest, Coachella and SXSW have cornered the market on attracting the hottest new indie acts (not to mention all the UK festivals). There’s only so many weekends per summer and you’re never going to be able to compete with those huge festivals for those weekends. But as Maha has proven, they can get the ’90s bands. And believe me, folks in their 30s and 40s will take time off work and travel if they think they’re getting something that can’t get anywhere else.

Reunited (and it feels so good). To coincide with that ’90s theme, host at least one, if not two, classic Omaha or Lincoln band reunions. Think about the possibilities: Mousetrap, Sideshow, Ritual Device, Secret Skin, Cellophane Ceiling, Digital Sex, Grasshopper Takeover/The Kind, Secret Skin, Cactus Nerve Thang, Culture Fire, Commander Venus, Fullblown. A one-time reunion of one of these bands would actually sell tickets versus Maha’s current model, which places bands that play regularly around town on the second stage. Icky Blossoms was awesome and one of my favorite performances from this year’s festival. They’re also playing Sunday night at Slowdown.

Get them there early. I know I know I know I know — no “headliner”-quality band wants to play at 2 p.m. You’ve got all this money riding on a band, you can’t afford to waste it by putting them on stage to play for crickets. I’m just saying, for one year, try it. Maybe you can get a band headed to Lawrence or KC willing to play an early afternoon show on their way to Missouri. Imagine how much your vendors would appreciate have a few thousand people in the park at 2 p.m.

What else?

I realize this was their fourth year, but in a lot of ways, this was Year 1 for Maha. It’s emerged with a new identity and is riding a wave of success. The organizers are going to face some big decisions in the coming months that will determine if Maha will become the festival that they want it to be, or will remain just another concert in the park…

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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 © 2012 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Live Review: Maha Music Festival rocks in the rain (and some sh**y photos)…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 1:02 pm August 13, 2012

by Tim McMahan,

There will be more details on Maha and its future in this week’s column. That said, here are some of my initial thoughts:

— Set up in Stinson Park involved construction of a massive second stage next to the Stinson’s permanent stage structure. I was told this was needed because of Garbage’s staging requirements. Though I’m sure it cost a fortune to erect this second “main” stage, the effect was to give the local bands a terrific second stage to play on. The set-up was hands down an improvement over last year’s second stage sitch (and much better than the Lewis & Clark Landing rinky-dink second stage from years 1 & 2). It just elevated the local bands to another more-professional level for folks who have no idea who they are. The only downside: It sounded like one of the amps/speakers was blown in the second stage’s left stack, causing some annoying crackling.

— Food options were adequate, though they could have used a second pizza vendor judging by the snaking line outside the pizza table throughout the day. Bottom line: Given a choice, most people will pick pizza every time.

— I didn’t show up until Josh Rouse. I would have liked to have seen Conduits and Eli Mardock but they were too early in the day, and I didn’t care about Frontier Ruckus or the other early-day bands. I continue to have zero interest in rural-flavored Americana/roots music. That applies to Delta Spirit, though I see them more as a throwback to leather pants ’70s freedom rock. Not my cup of tea, but I have to hand it to them for playing a good set.

— Favorite performances: Dum Dum Girls and Icky Blossoms. Lining up DDG was a coup for Maha — a fantastic band that plays modern rock music; a band that any festival would be lucky to have. Icky Blossoms will be remembered as having one of the most talked about performances of the festival — a full-on frontal dance attack played to a crowd itching to groove. Let’s see if they can make it translate outside of Omaha.

— A solid band with a national rep, Garbage still seems like an odd choice for this festival, though they were probably responsible for selling most of the tickets. In a bill that consisted mostly of indie bands, Garbage has been on Warners or Geffen up ’til their latest (and weakest) release, which came out this year on V2 (owned by Universal). Garbage is more of an alternative rock act than an indie band, and in some ways, a departure for Maha. Did it pay off? We’ll have to wait and see what the numbers say. In some ways, it only confused matters regarding what Maha is supposed to be about. Is it an indie music festival? An alternative rock festival? That said, they played a solid set that laid heavily on their radio-friendly, formulaic back catalog.

— The rain sucked. It’s hard to complain about it since we haven’t had much rain over the past summer. Throughout the last half of the day it rained just enough to annoy, eventually driving people to nearby tents only to stop after a few minutes before starting up again. But whaddyagonna do?

— I would say about a quarter or more of the crowd left before Desaparecidos began playing. Conor and Co. never sounded better as they pushed the festival’s midnight deadline. I could hear the roar of their guitars as I took off early, hightailing it back home on my bike while there was a break in the rain on the radar.

Now here’re some shitty photos taken with my iPhone. Looks like I’ll be getting that iPhone 5 when it comes along because these days my camera makes everything look like it’s covered in a London fog.

UUVVWWZ moments before they started their set.

UUVVWWZ moments before they started their set. The Lincoln band was the quirkiest, arty-est band of the day. Either you were into it or you weren’t. I for one can’t wait to hear their new album.

Dum Dum Girls at the Maha Music Festival 2012.

One of the highlight performance at this year’s festival was the Dum Dum Girls. Red hot!

Maha Festival 2012 crowd mid festival.

Maha Festival 2012 crowd mid-festival, taken from on top of the northwest hill with cars zooming by on Center Street behind me.

Myanbirds at Maha Festival 2012

Mynabirds at Maha Festival 2012.

Icky Blossoms at Maha Music Festival 2012

Icky Blossoms bask in a dance glow emitted from the Maha crowd.

Garbage at Maha Music Festival 2012

Garbage at Maha Music Festival 2012. Smudge on the far right is Shirley Manson. Honest.

No shots of Desaparecidos as everything looked like a blur in the night stage lighting. For whatever reason, no direct spotlights were used on either stage.

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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 © 2012 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Live Review: POS; Digital Leather tonight; Maha Saturday; Capgun Coup Sunday…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , — @ 1:04 pm August 10, 2012

by Tim McMahan,

Oh my achin’ head… It’s going to be one of THOSE weekends — a show every night… and day.

Before we get to that, even without a bass player Peace of Shit lived up to its name last night in front of a pizza-farting crowd at O’Leaver’s. The free grub was both a play on words (Pizza Shit… get it!) and a donation from a band member who works at Godfathers. All night I watched the lettuce slowly wilt on a half-eaten taco pizza that sat with its grease melting in a half-open pizza box, the cardboard slowly turning brown to black like an old diaper. Pizza shit indeed. Next time bring some friggin’ Cinnamon Monkey Bread, pizza boy.

I missed opener Watching the Train Wreck as I was home watching the train wreck that is the U.S. Olympic diving team. Traveling band Oakland’s Bonnie & the BANG BANG (an ill fit on a bill of garage music) played a set of adult contemporary indie that would have been right at home at P.S. Collective rather than O’Leaver’s, where it went mostly unnoticed by a crowd that sat outside smoking in the beer garden waiting for them to get done. POS came on at around midnight as a trio without a bass player, which was missed but not a deal breaker as the rest of the band stepped up and nailed the landing with little or no splash (That’s a diving reference for you unpatriotic sports haters, btw). I like this band and stand by yesterday’s statement that they would have made a fine addition to the Maha Festival though that will never happen as their trashy looks resemble a group police mug shot featuring Randy Travis, Nick Nolte and Mr. Peabody. I spent the morning listening to their new cassette Business as Usual (Rainy Road, 2012) at work and getting the usual squinty, annoyed looks by people passing my veal fattening pen, a sure sign that you should seek out this tape and purchase it immediate and then play it as loudly as possible in your ’98 Trans Am (That’s a Randy Travis reference for all you unpatriotic sports haters, btw).

Tonight we do it all over again, but this time at The Barley Street Tavern where a cast of O’Leaver’s All Stars takes Barley’s hippie-fied stage. Headlining the sleazy brigade is Digital Leather who are about to embark on a mini tour of the Pacific Northwest. I don’t know if they’re the best band in Omaha but they’re my favorite. Not that it matters. Opening is New Lungs (DMax, straight from last night’s Little Brazil 400 Bar gig w/Desa) and The Fucking Party. Expect a higher-than-normal number of cop cars cruising the streets of Benson triggered by the influx of the degenerate O’Leaver’s crowd. $5, 9 p.m.

Also tonight, The Casualties play at The Sandbox with a handful of punk bands including the always dashing Cordial Spew. $15, 8 p.m., more details here.

Then comes Maha.

The full lineup and all the particulars about this 4th annual event are available at

If you’re still looking to buy tickets, a friend of mine forwarded me this offer from Daily Mav that takes $10 off per ticket. It expires at midnight tonight. Keep your eyes peeled for other offers, or quit being a cheap-ass and just buy your tix at the Maha website (Tix will be $40 each at the gate, so better get them now).

So when you going to get there? Here’s the stage schedule:

12:10 — The Seen
12:45 — Conduits
1:30 — Eli Mardock
2:05 — Frontier Ruckus
2:55 — Universe Contest
3:30 — Josh Rouse
4:35 — UUVVWWZ
5:10 — Dum Dum Girls
6:15 — The Mynabirds
7:00 — Delta Spirit
8:10 — Icky Blossoms
9:10 — Garbage
10:40 — Desparecidos
Show ends at Midnight

Maha keeps boasting that there will be lots of parking, and I’m sure they’re right. Regardless, if you live within biking distance (as I do) I recommend pedaling it over there. Omaha Bikes is suppose to have a bike corral set up over by the Aspen Athletic Club. Check out the map at the Maha website. This should be a blast.

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Your weekend ends Sunday back at The Barley Street Tavern for Capgun Coup along with Candywhompus and the always entertaining Worried Mothers. $5, 9 p.m.

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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 © 2012 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Maha Fever: Catch It; So where can I find that lyin’ Jonah Lehrer? (in the column); Peace of Sh*t tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: — @ 12:56 pm August 9, 2012

by Tim McMahan,

Omaha press is going ga-ga for Maha as everyone gears up for this Saturday’s big bash in Stinson Park. Check out features in The Reader, Shout WeeklyOmaha World-Herald and Hear NebraskaThe Chicago Tribune gives a glimpse of what we’re in for with this review of Wednesday night’s sold-out Garbage concert at Metro. “Wearing tall stiletto heels, black tights, a large necklace and sleeveless top, the spindly Garbage vocalist spent the first half of the ensemble’s 90-minute set in seek-and-destroy mode.” Imagine how Garbage’s sleek, well-oiled sound will contrast with Desaparecidos’ messy, suburban punk… Better get your tix.

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In this week’s column: Turns out Jonah Lehrer made up those Bob Dylan quotes in his new book Imagine, but does that make Lehrer’s ideas any less valid (or interesting); and how his publisher wants to make sure you don’t find out. It’s in this week’s issue of The Reader, or you can read it online right here.

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I know what you’re thinking: Why isn’t a highly cultured, sophisticated band like Peace of Shit playing the Maha Music Festival?

That very question has run though my deviant mind more than a few times as well. After all, tunes like “Drink Without You,” “Panic in the Streets” and “Out of Our Heads” from the band’s debut cassette tape (on the Rainy Road label) were among the best stuff released in 2011. Conventional wisdom is that the producers who make up Garbage were afraid that they might be outclassed on the massive Maha stage. Or that the “Stupid Girl” herself, Shirley Manson, would be lured into one of Peace of Shit’s famous gimp-approved sex pits. Well, Maha’s loss is your gain, as the boys of Peace of Shit are playing tonight at everyone’s favorite mid-town drunk tank, O’Leaver’s, with Oakland band Bonnie & the BANG BANG and Watching the Train Wreck. $5, 9 p.m.

Also tonight, the slab of noise known as Back When tries to burn down the House of Loom with FVTHR^ and Zach Peterson. The bludgeoning begins at 9 p.m, $7.

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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 © 2012 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Lazy-i Interview: For Desaparecidos’ Denver Dalley everything’s the same, only different; Big Harp, Gus & Call tonight…

Category: Blog,Interviews — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:38 pm August 8, 2012
Desaparecidos, from left, are Conor Oberst, Matt Baum, Denver Dalley, Landon Hedges and Ian McElroy. Photo by Zach Hollowell

Desaparecidos, from left, are Conor Oberst, Matt Baum, Denver Dalley, Landon Hedges and Ian McElroy. Photo by Zach Hollowell.

The Politics of Thrashing

Desaparecidos is back and angrier than ever.

by Tim McMahan,

Also published in The Reader, Aug. 9, 2012.

In the on-again off-again world of indie rock band Desaparecidos, when Conor Oberst calls you drop what you’re doing and run to his side, right?

Not at all says Desaparecidos guitarist Denver Dalley. “Well, maybe to some extent, but it’s not like anyone abandoned any commitments.”

Over the phone last week, Dalley quickly ran down what the rest of the band’s been up to. Guitarist/vocalist Landon Hedges is busy with his band, indie powerhouse Little Brazil. Keyboard player Ian McElroy has been in New York working on hip-hop project Rig 1 “but I don’t know how close he is to releasing new material,” he said.

Drummer Matt Baum has been vacant from the drum kit. “Before we started back up again he said he had an itch to make music,” Dalley said. “He’s done a lot of podcasts for his comic book world (called The Two-Headed Nerd).”

As for Dalley, he’s been bouncing between homes in Omaha, Nashville and Los Angeles. When not touring as part of dance-rock project Har Mar Superstar, he’s been finishing recording his own project, Statistics, as well as a score for a feature film about the Joplin, Missouri, tornado. “I also went to massage therapy school last year,” he says, though he doesn’t know if he’ll ever actually apply those new skills.

And then there’s Conor Oberst. But we all know what the Bright Eyes frontman has been up to.

"Marikkkopa" b/w "Backsell" 7-inch, Desaparecidos (2012, self released)

“Marikkkopa” b/w “Backsell” 7-inch, Desaparecidos (2012, self released)

Just two years after the last time Desaparecidos got together for the Concert for Equality concert, all their schedules have aligned and the boys are back in town. And judging from their new single, “Marikkkopa” b/w “Backsell,” they’re better than ever.

The single’s A side continues the band’s attacks on anti-immigration xenophobes by taking on Arizona’s Joe Arpaio, sheriff of Maricopa County, the king of racial profiling who has earned the title “America’s Worst Sheriff” by the New York Times. If you’re wondering what Arpaio is all about, just listen to the song’s lyrics, which paint the portrait of a racist rounding up illegal immigrants in a style that recalls the worst of Nazi Germany or The Klan.

Oberst has never been one to pull punches when it comes to his politics, so it’s a good thing the rest of the band shares his beliefs. “Fortunately, we all agree on these things,” Dalley said, “but we do discuss them ahead of time.”

For example, Dalley said there was some back-and-forth over the use of the word “spic” in “Marikkkopa,” in the line “These spics are brave and getting braver.

“The whole song is written from the perspective of this person who is really anti immigration,” Dalley explained, “but we didn’t want it to come across in the wrong way. We thought about it and decided there is a time and a place and a context where (that language) is appropriate. This song is supposed to be controversial and make people think. Not to compare ourselves to them, but songs like Lennon’s ‘Woman is the Nigger of the World,’ and Dylan’s ‘Hurricane’ prove that there’s a point in using that kind of language.”

Considering that most of Desaparecidos’ fans already share their politics, isn’t the band merely preaching to the choir? Dalley said songs like “Marikkkopa” stoke the flames when the fire dies down after the headlines are forgotten. “It gets the conversation going again,” he said. “After we started streaming the songs yesterday (Aug. 2), we watched the Twitter feed and some people thought it was dead on while some said we’re lumping too many things together.”

Then there’s that sizable portion of the audience who doesn’t care about the lyrics, the ones who just want to rock out. “I’m guilty of that myself at times,” Dalley said, adding that he loves it when the crowd gets revved up over the message “but there’s a line you don’t want to cross. There’s a way to bring (issues) up, and a point when someone gets carried away.”

So when Oberst spends too much time on his soapbox, whose job is it to tell him to shut up and play? Dalley laughed. “Knock on wood we haven’t had to deal with that,” he said. “Maybe one night he’ll get on a tear and we’ll have to play him off, like on The Oscars.”

Good luck with that one.

Despite the politics behind the band’s message, Dalley said Desaparecidos (for him at least) is more about having fun, just like it was when the band first started in the early part of the last decade. Though 10 years have passed since the band’s only album, Read Music/Speak Spanish, was released, little has changed.

“It’s shockingly the same in the best possible way,” he said. “I was excited about the idea of practicing and the hi-jinx and laughing with the guys, and it really has been like that.”

There is a nostalgic way in how Dalley describes not only the band’s reunion, but the entire Omaha music scene. He compares the heyday of Saddle Creek Records circa 2001 like being in high school.

“There was a point afterward where everyone went off to college and got married or whatever,” he said. “Now it’s like people are returning from college and going back to their old stomping grounds, where they find a new, younger generation. I could go to a Cursive show back in 2000 and name everyone in the crowd. Now I only know a handful, and that’s great. I still feel like part of something. It’s different, but it’s the same.”

Desaparecidos is slated to play only a half-dozen shows after this Saturday’s Maha Music Festival. Dalley is unsure what will happen after that.

“There’s no plan as of now,” he said. “I think Conor has a handful of solo dates this winter, so as of now there’s nothing scheduled, but we’re all kind of open to whatever and hoping something happens.”

But only “as long as it’s still fun,” he added. “One of the reasons we went on hiatus was because there was starting to be expectations and it was getting stressful. It got away from being dudes having fun playing the music that we love. We’re all focused on that now.”

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The more things change, the more they stay the same. Seems like only yesterday instead of 11 years ago that I was drinking coffee with Denver at the 13th St. Coffee Shop where he broke the news about his new band for this story. We all expected big things from Desaparecidos, and we got them. Desa was destined to be Saddle Creek’s counterpunch to Cursive’s uppercut — a brash, in-yer-face punk band pissed off at the suburbia that would become its fan base. Oberst was and is at his best when he’s political, and Desa provides that outlet in a time when this country desperately needs his voice. It would be a shame if he and the rest of the band put away the boxing gloves after this brief reunion tour.

Speaking of which, Desa kicks off that tour tomorrow night at the infamous 400 Bar in balmy Minneapolis before they head back to town to co-headline the Maha Music Festival at Stinson Park Saturday night. Tix are still available for $35 at, where you can also check out the full festival line-up, schedule and other pertinent info. I’m told this is the fastest selling concert in Maha’s brief history.

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Tonight at Slowdown Jr., it’s the return of Big Harp with Gus & Call and Field Club. $7, 9 p.m. Get your weekend started on Wednesday!

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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 © 2012 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.