More Live at O’Leaver’s (Cursive, Big Harp, Dumb Beach, more); new Mitch Gettman; HBD Dereck Higgins; Blitzen Trapper, Cancer Bats tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:56 pm July 7, 2015

by Tim McMahan,

How Live at O'Leaver's looks on your iPhone.

How Live at O’Leaver’s looks on your iPhone.

The next batch of 30 sessions has been released at the Live at O’Leaver’s website. We’re talking live performances recorded at the bar located at the direct center of the universe.

So far I’ve listened to the Cursive tracks (sublime), Big Harp (cool, different, surprising) and Swamp Walk (Stoner rock extraordinaire — where did these guys come from?). The Swamp Walk recordings are a prime example of why this effort is so important. I probably wouldn’t have heard these guys without this website (What can I say, the band’s name isn’t exactly enticing).

I’m trying to talk mastermind Ian Aeillo into creating some sort of Live at O’Leaver’s Radio button that would randomly play tracks from the entire archive — now there’s an internet radio channel I could get behind. Quick tip for you iPhone users: Go to and create a home screen button so the site is always just a tap away.

Here’s the list of new artist sessions available at the site:

Frontier Ruckus
Planes Mistaken for Stars
Roman Polanski’s Baby
Brad Hoshaw
See Through Dresses
She Keeps Bees
Last Good Tooth
Dirty Talker
Dumb Beach
Goon Saloon
All Eyes West
Empty Moon
Manic Pixie Dream Girls
Bob Log III
Kill County
Boneheart Flanagan
Dan Mariska
Big Harp
Uh Oh
Worried Mothers
J Fernandez
Anna McClellan
Universe Contest
Swamp Walk
New Lungs
Small Houses

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Singer/songwriter Mitch Gettmann has some new tracks online. You can check them out below. Apparently Mitch ain’t moving to Chicago after all. And he’s got a Kickstarter campaign on deck ready to launch next week. More info soon.

* * *

Dereck Higgins turns 60 today. If you’re involved in Nebraska’s music scene you already know who he is, what he’s done and what he’s still doing. He’s a local legend. If you don’t know, read this profile that barely scrapes the surface of his art and music.

At my 50th birthday rock show/benefit for Hear Nebraska (where Dereck performed as part of Son, Ambulance) he gave me copies of two of his releases on vinyl — a remastered reissue of Nice and a colored-vinyl copy of Flyover. Both albums are now part of my warm-up and stretch routine prior to a long run. Order yours here.

I remember thinking at my birthday party that I would be lucky to be half as vital a part of the local music as Dereck is when I turn 60. We should all be so lucky.

Happy Birthday, Dereck.

* * *

Portland folk rock band Blitzen Trapper (Sub Pop) takes the stage tonight at The Waiting Room. We Are the Willows opens. $15, 9 p.m.

Also tonight at Slowdown Jr. it’s the hard stuff from Cancer Bats (Metal Blade Records). Opening is Megaton and Varmint. $10, 8 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.


Live Review: Mitch Gettman; Future Islands at TWR Aug. 28; O’Leaver’s celebrates the Cinco…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , — @ 12:48 pm May 5, 2014
Mitch Gettman at The Waiting Room, May 2, 2014.

Mitch Gettman at The Waiting Room, May 2, 2014.

by Tim McMahan,

After hearing Mitch Gettman and his band Friday night at The Waiting Room I have even more respect for his new release.

Often a live performance blows away the recorded version of the music, but not this time. While Gettman’s band did an OK job, the performance lacked the energy and depth of the new record. Credit engineer Jeremy Garrett, who piloted Gettman through the recording process (and was working the soundboard Saturday night). Garrett credits Gettman, as Mitch played nearly all the parts on the new record. That’s probably why the recording sounded so much more cohesive than what we got live.

Or blame the fact that (as far as I can tell) this is the first time Gettman’s band has played on an Omaha stage in a long time. Gettman moved back from Chicago in 2012, and I don’t recall seeing his band scheduled anywhere since.

Some background on Gettman: Apparently as a youngster (15?), Gettman’s fans touted him as the next Conor Oberst — a declaration that would make anyone nervous. Gettman exited to Chicago, some say to get out from under that shadow. According to this Hear Nebraska interview from Sept. 2012, he came back because of the cost of living in the Windy City, and the fact that there just weren’t many advantages to being in Chicago vs. Omaha.

Needless to say, now at age 20, Gettman has shaken off the Oberst comparisons (He never sounded like him in the first place) as well as the Jeff Buckley tag (There’s still some of that in his voice and songwriting, but can you blame him for loving (and emulating) a legend like Buckley?).

Fact is, Gettman’s voice sounds like whatever you think it sounds like. At times I was reminded of Thom Yorke, Eric Carmen and Donovan. Read into his voice whatever you wish. Musically, he sounds like someone raised on a wide variety of music from the past 40 years, all of it steeped in song craft. Imagine where he’ll be when he’s 26…

The crowd of around 100 was an interesting mix, few of whom I’ve seen at the usual indie shows. Gettman seems to fly outside those indie circles; maybe because he doesn’t pal around with the indie bands. I don’t know. I don’t think of him the same way I think of the usual suspects who play with Saddle Creek or Team Love or Slumber Party bands, though his music is as interesting in its own way…

It’s funny how we segregate music in this town. And unfortunate.

* * *

At Hoshaw's Corner, from left, Matt Whipkey, Vern Fergesen and Brad Hoshaw.

At Hoshaw’s Corner, from left, Matt Whipkey, Vern Fergesen and Brad Hoshaw.

On the way to the club Friday night I caught about 20 minutes of music at Hoshaw’s Corner — part of the Benson First Friday tradition. Joining Hoshaw were Matt Whipkey and Vern Fergesen playing a round robin of each others’ songs to a decent crowd huddled under the awning where Military meets Maple St.

* * *

One Percent just announced that Future Islands is returning to the Waiting Room Aug. 28. Something tells me there will be more at this show than the last time they came through in 2011, when only about 30 were in the crowd. Something tells me this show could sell briskly. Get your tickets when they go on sale Friday.

* * *

The only club celebrating Cinco de Mayo tonight is fabulous O’Leaver’s, where a trio of bands takes the stage: Twin Cities act Griswold and Omaha acts Let Alone and Timecat. Slap on a sombrero and head on down to the club. The music starts at 9:30 and will cost you $5.

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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.


Live Review: Deleted Scenes, Talking Mountain; Mitch Gettman CD release show tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 2:33 pm May 2, 2014
Deleted Scenes at Slowdown Jr., May 1, 2014.

Deleted Scenes at Slowdown Jr., May 1, 2014.

by Tim McMahan,

The smoke billowing out vents on the outside of The Slowdown last night was a good indication that Talking Mountain had already taken the stage. Sure enough, upon walking into the club you’d think the place was on fire, except the smoke didn’t smell like smoke, it smelled like something strangely chemical-y.

Talking Mountain indeed likes its smoke machine. The nozzle belched out the manicured soot like a volcano throughout their set. They also like their lights and lasers. Their latest production involves a 3D laser projected on a scrim that hangs from the front of the stage like a mosquito net. In addition to a cascade of colorful laser-pointer style effects similar to what I remember seeing at a Kansas concert circa 1977 a second projector beamed very cool moving images onto the scrim — skulls, hands, other stuff. Top it off with high-density smoke and you’ve got a multi-media spectacle concocted by equipment that would fit in your trunk.

Here’s the thing — while the images were neat and all, Talking Mountain never sounded better. Performing as a duo, the electronic-fueled music is as gorgeous and dense as the visual effects and could easily stand on its own (and I could do without the stinky smoke (I don’t care if it’s FDA approved, it can’t be healthy breathing that stuff in such mass quantities)).

The only special effects Deleted Scenes brought with them was frontman Dan Scheuerman, who practically made out with former Hear Nebraska Managing Editor Michael Todd during the last song of their set.

While their new album is solid by itself, the music takes on new life performed live. Scheuerman’s vocals are rougher and more organic than on the rather smoothed-over, lush recordings. The band made those edges even sharper, dancing along the edge of every syncopated peak and valley. Favorite moment was the performance of my favorite track off the new record, “House of Dust,” a song that staggers atop a brutal guitar riff that chops like the finest lumberjack.

The other highlight, of course, was that closing number, “You Get to Say Whatever You Want,” when Scheuerman walked into the crowd and touched foreheads with a couple innocent bystanders, performing a mortifying rock ‘n’ roll mind meld. Ah, Michael, you’re a good sport. I don’t know what I would have done…

* * *

Looking at the calendar, only one show stands out for the entire weekend — the Mitch Gettman CD release show tonight at The Waiting Room.

Gettman’s new album, Stop Living Like It’s the End of the World, is a real surprise. I’ll be brutally honest and tell you I haven’t liked anything Gettman’s done in the past — it all sounded too by-the-numbers and homogenized. Not this time.

After a pretty acoustic intro, the album launches with “Stay a Little Longer,” where Gettman channels bands like Toad the Wet Sprocket, Soul Asylum and Gin Blossoms, creating a style of indie/alt singer-songwriter acoustic rock that we all remember from the ’90s. “Best Years of My Life” follows suit. Janglepop? Yeah.

On the other hand, “Pressure from the Public” feels like modernized ’70s rock a la Matthew Sweet. At times Gettman has a vocal affectation that recalls British psych-rock balladeer Donovan. That lilt is especially pronounced on the slower chamber-pop numbers like “She Wants to Break Your Heart” and “In the Shower.” The strings on “Ant Farm” are pure FM Gold. In fact the whole record lies beneath a layer of stereophonic nostalgia that, while dated, is never less than listenable (and well done).

As a whole, on this new record Gettman does little more than turn already well-toiled soil, but he does it with an exquisite plow. Worth checking out.

Opening Gettman’s CD release show is Müshmouth & Anne Frankenstein. $8, 9 p.m.

And… that’s it for shows. Remember, tonight is Benson First Friday, so you might be hard-pressed to find parking in Omaha’s hottest booze district.

Did I miss anything? Put it in the comments section. Have a good weekend.

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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.