Have we taken live music for granted (in the column); it’s time to write your representative (again)…

Category: Blog,Column — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:14 pm November 16, 2020
Skeleton Crew: Conor Oberst joined Phoebe Bridgers on stage at The Troubadour in West Hollywood during the live-streamed Save Our Stages Festival Oct. 21, 2020.

The National Independent Venues Association (NIVA) is making another push for you and me to write our representatives in Washington to get the Save Our Stages Act included in the next COVID-19 relief package, which is apparently being negotiated now.

All you have to do is go to this web page and fill out the form. You can use their sample letter or write one of your own. Once you hit the submit button, it’ll go to the right offices of your Congressional representatives. It really does only take 30 seconds and it could make all the difference.

Click this, go there, and do it now.

Along those lines, the November issue of The Reader is out now with my column that focuses on the Save Our Stages efforts while asking if we’ve taken live music for granted. It’s online at The Reader website, here and I’ve also included it below. Please to enjoy:

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Have We Taken Live Music for Granted?

#SaveOurStages is a lifeline for the live music industry

As I type this I’m watching the Save Our Stages Fest (#SOSFest) on Oct. 21, a few weeks before the election. Indie phenom Phoebe Bridgers and her band are dressed in skeleton costumes played alone in the West Hollywood bar where Elton John, Joni Mitchell and Linda Ronstadt paid their dues.

Singer/songwriter pals Conor Oberst and Christian Lee Hutson joined in the streamed event. A little over halfway through the set between songs about death and loneliness Phoebe turned to the camera and said, “Click the donate button because….” After a long pause Conor chimed in: “Because we need a place to play.

That was the reason for SOS Fest. The three-day virtual festival featured 35 artists performing at 25 venues beamed directly to your computer or phone screen, with proceeds benefiting independent music venues impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

As you read this, the election is (hopefully) over. No matter who won, there’s still a shit-ton of problems to solve thanks to COVID-19. Somewhere on that long list after “figure out a way to keep people from dying (or at the very least from catching the disease)” is “figure out a way to reopen the rest of the country for business.”

While 90 percent of U.S. businesses have reopened, the first businesses to shut down — the bars and music venues — are still closed. And many could stay that way for a very long time.

Beginning in April, the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) — a group of more than 2,900 independent music venues and promoters — has lobbied Congress to pass legislation that provides recovery funds and tax credits to help venues survive during the pandemic. First it was the Save Our Stages Act, which passed in the House; and now the HEROES Small Business Lifeline Act is being considered in the Senate as part of the CARES Act.

NIVA asked music fans to write their lawmakers urging them to support the bills, and they have to the tune of nearly 2 million emails. (And more letters are needed. You can write your representative from this handy page on the NIVA website. It only takes 30 seconds!).

But here we are on Oct. 21 and Congress has yet to pass anything, while the future of the live music industry grows bleaker and bleaker. According to a survey of NIVA members, 90 percent of independent venues will close permanently without federal aid in the coming months.

We’re already seeing it here. The Lookout Lounge on 72nd Street closed permanently earlier this summer, and The Barley Street Tavern in Benson gave up the ghost in September. What role COVID-19 played in those closings is uncertain, though it no doubt helped rush some decisions. Now I’m told a third well known club is on the verge of shutting down.

And while two of the best stages in Omaha — The Waiting Room and Reverb Lounge — have reopened, they’re only booking comedy acts and cover bands at very limited capacity shows. Downtown showcase The Slowdown held an outdoor festival in its parking lot featuring local acts just to remind people it was still there, though its doors remain locked.

With stages dark, musicians also toil in darkness. According to Business Insider, with the decline in album sales, live events provide 75 percent of all artists’ income. Strangely, thankfully, a ton of new music has been released during the lock down (including albums by Bright Eyes and Phoebe Bridgers) despite the fact that no one is touring.

Three things:

One: Legislation will pass. It has to. It may not be ’til after a new Congress is in place (or heck, it may happen before this column sees print), but it will happen. Too many people have been without for too long. The assistance needed for bars and venues to survive that’s outlined in SOS and HEROES acts will be among the law’s provisions. But it won’t be near enough.

Two: We will climb this mountain of a pandemic and come out on the other side. But it’ll take more than a vaccine. It’ll take a concerted effort by everyone, regardless of political leaning, to do what scientists say we need to do.

And three: Venues will reopen at full capacity, and bands will begin playing and touring again. But, god help us, it may not be until this time next year, or even later. And when the smoke clears, the venue landscape will look very different.

Once people feel safe again, fans will flock to clubs like they never have before thanks to a hunger for live entertainment. But you’ll be surprised how quickly people forget what they’ve been through.

The sad fact is we’ve always taken live music for granted. While ticket prices for arena shows have gone up around 30 percent over the past five years, according to Fast Company those increases haven’t kept up with prices for other forms of entertainment.

It’s the same story for small touring bands that, prior to the pandemic, were lucky to get home from tours with anything in their pockets. Ticket prices for touring indie shows have risen only gradually over the past five years, always being outpaced by the costs required to tour.

And then there are local shows.

I’ve covered live music for more than 30 years. When I started, the cover charge to see live, original bands was $5. Thirty years later, the cover at small clubs is still $5 for local shows, while some larger venues have pumped it up to a whopping $7 or $8. Try splitting that between three bands and a sound guy.

Why are we willing to spend up to $15 to see a movie, but won’t spend $15 to see a live local band, to hear music performed in front of our eyes by living, breathing musicians who put themselves out there for our amusement and/or enlightenment? At the end of a typical night at a rock club, too many local bands go home with nothing except an empty wallet and a hangover.

And yet, I’ve never talked to a band that didn’t want to keep doing it. For them, it’s all about the music. It’s certainly not about the money. Why can’t they have both?

Over The Edge is a monthly column by Reader senior contributing writer Tim McMahan focused on culture, society, music, the media and the arts. Email Tim at tim.mcmahan@gmail.com.

Originally published in The Reader, November 2020. Copyright © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily (if there’s news) 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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Glow in the Dark goes virtual at Low End tonight; new Phoebe Bridgers (sort of)…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 3:12 pm November 12, 2020
Glow in the Dark go back in time…

Electro-rock kingpins Glow in the Dark were originally scheduled to play at Low End at The Bemis last summer but, lo and behold, vocalist Lawrence Deal tested positive for COVID-19, which took them out of the running. Well, everyone’s healthy once again and Glow in the Dark are performance live tonight at Low End via Facebook Live and Twitch.

We will be debuting a new song and I’m dragging out a few synthesizers that would normally stay in the studio,” said the other half of Glow in the Dark, Aaron Gum, who added that they’re slowly getting back to work finishing their album. We’re all waiting, people…

The virtual performance begins at 8 and is free. Go to http://www.twitch.tv/bemiscenter or the Bemis Facebook page to have your mind blown.

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The other day Phoebe Bridgers announced that she’s releasing a 4-song EP Nov. 20 called Copycat Killer on Dead Oceans wherein she’s taken four songs off her last album — “Kyoto,” “Savior Complex,” “Chinese Satellite” and “Punisher” — and rerecorded them with arranger/string player Rob Moose, who’s worked in the past with the likes of Bon Over, Paul Simon, Alabama Shakes, John Legend, Tayler Swift, Haim and more.

It’s almost as if Bridgers was sitting around (conceivably with Conor) and wondered, “How can I make these already depressing songs even more depressing?” The answer, sing them only accompanied by sad strings. They are, indeed, pretty and sad, but I still prefer the original recordings. No doubt the the fans will be eager to buy this (on vinyl via Rough Trade).

Check out the new version of “Kyoto”…

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily (if there’s news) 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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Phoebe/Conor perform for NIVA; Mal Blum gets the Saddle Creek Document treatment; new Beauty Pill…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — @ 12:49 pm October 20, 2020
Mal Blum gets the Saddle Creek Document treatment…

Did you tune in last week for SOSFest? I didn’t, either. But most of the performances are now online if you still want to watch. Among them is Phoebe Bridgers at the Troubadour in Hollywood, with special guests Conor Oberst and Christian Lee Hutson. It’s pretty good, but dang, her music is some serious bummage. See below.

Make sure you make a donation toward NIVA’s Emergency Relief Fund, which benefits “independent venues in peril.”

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Mal Blum was among the acts scheduled to play at The Reverb Lounge before COVID-19 blew everything up. It was through researching that show that I discovered Pity Boy, the band’s 2019 Don Giovanni release, which I fell in love with. It’s punk but it’s poppy enough to sing along to, clever, smart with great guitars. It would have been on my 2019 list if I’d known about it in 2019.

Today Saddle Creek Records announced that Mal Blum will be featured as the 14th installment of their Document Series. The 7-inch “Nobody Waits” b/w “San Cristóbal,” will be released Nov. 20 and you can preorder it (and hear the A-side) today.

The tracks were the last thing the band recorded before the COVID-19 lock down. Check it below and keep your fingers crossed that One Percent reschedules Mal Blum at Reverb when the pandemic is finally under control…

BTW, Mal Blum is doing a Crowdcast tonight at 7 p.m. CT. Register here.

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D.C. punk band Beauty Pill dropped a video for new song “Instant Night” today, a song “released out of urgency to inspire people to vote in the November election.”

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily (if there’s news) 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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Bright Eyes on Colbert; new album drops Aug. 21…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 2:17 pm June 23, 2020
A screen cap from last night’s Bright Eyes performance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

It was a busy day for Bright Eyes yesterday. The outfit led by Conor Oberst announced a new single, “Mariana Trench” and the name and tracklist for their new album, Down in the Weeds Where the World Once Was, out Aug. 21 on Dead Oceans.

And the band performed sort of live on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert, which you can watch below. See Conor sporting what looks like strangler gloves, Mike Mogis in a seed cap and Nate Walcott splitting time between keyboards and trumpet. It’s the band’s first performance in 10 years. Like I told you, they never broke up.

From the press release: “As a title, as a thesis, Down In The Weeds Where the World Once Was functions on a global, apocalyptic level of anxiety that looms throughout the record. But on a personal level, it speaks to rooting around in the dirt of one’s memories, trying to find the preciousness that’s overgrown and unrecognizable.”

After hearing the first four tracks, it sounds like this is going to be another doomsday album from Bright Eyes, which will make a nice bookend with the new one by Conor’s partner in crime, Phoebe Bridgers, which came out last Thursday: Punisher, also on Dead Oceans (poor Saddle Creek).

This new Bright Eyes track is the best one so far, certainly the most upbeat, and along with “Forced Convalescence” sounds like a natural progression post-Cassadaga had the band not gone wandering for a decade, certainly more so than the wooden, folky stuff Conor released on Ruminations/Salutations

No word on a tour yet. Imagine a Bright Eyes / Phoebe Bridgers / Better Oblivion Community Center joint tour. I think my head just exploded…

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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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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New Supermoon LP (Jake & Morgan), hanging out with Rollins; Mars House debut tonight; new Lewsberg…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:46 pm April 10, 2020

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Ugh, there’s not a lot of music news to pass along, and the few things I do have you probably already know or heard, but this being Friday and the space where I usually recommend live shows for the weekend, I feel obligated to pass along something.

Despite the lockdown I continue to get 30 to 40 emails a day from promoters and labels about new music. It continues to keep coming, god bless it, even though there’s nowhere for these bands to play these days. If I were a band I’d probably postpone my release, however the other argument is that you’ll never have such a captive audience as the ones stranded in their homes for the next month or so (that’s right, I have doomed us all to quarantine until at least May 10 (if we’re lucky)).

Supermoon, Half Country (2020, Bandcamp)

Among the music to cross my screen is the new lyric video for Supermoon’s “Come to Learn,” which dropped last Tuesday. Supermoon is a project featuring Jake Bellows, who you remember not only as a one-man songwriting phenomenon but also frontman to Saddle Creek Records act Neva Dinova. Singing alongside Jake and making up the better half of the duo is Morgan Nagler of Whispertown. This campfire lullaby begs you to sing along, too.

And thus, the entire album was released: “The debut album ‘Half Country’ was recorded to half-inch tape and produced by Nik Freitas, who also contributed on drums, bass, and keys. In the surreal soup of the Covid-19 Pandemic wild west, the band has decided to release the album April 7, 2020’s biggest Supermoon, (the Pink Supermoon) in the hopes of shining a little light in the dark.”

Here it is, via Bandcamp.

It would be great to get these two and Mr. Freitas came to Omaha after the cloud of contaminants has lifted.

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I’ve been consuming in 30- to 40-minute chunks the 4-hour Henry Rollins podcast via KCRW called Cool Quarantine. It’s Henry playing records (lots of hardcore punk but also rock and other stuff) and telling stories and I love the format, but it’s hard to have on while you’re trying to do something (other than drive or run or work out) because it’s so distracting. Check it out below.

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Speaking of online content, Phoebe Bridgers is doing some sort of livestream via Pitchfork’s Instagram today (Friday) at 3 p.m. CT. She dropped a new video last and has a new record coming out soon.

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As you may or may not know, the Mars Bar located way out in West Omaha closed its doors for good weeks before COVID struck and shut down everyone else. Despite the setback, proprietor Brent Malnack hasn’t lost his love for live music, and thus created Live from Mars House, a new live stream performance program that debuts tonight at 7 p.m. via Twitch.

Brent is promising a three-camera shoot with a 24-track live mix. The first guests are N8 M Sic and Sarah Brandt, two musicians I’m not familiar with. That said, Malnack said future guests will include a lot of past performers at Mars Bar. Here’s the link. https://www.twitch.tv/livefrommarshouse

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Let me leave you with something I’ve been listening to for the past few weeks. It’s the new album by Lewsberg called In This House (12XU Records). Think Lou Reed meets Silver Jews meets your favorite Rotterdam deli. As good a soundtrack as any for these times we live in.

That’s all I got. If you hear anything worth passing along, send it my way. 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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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New Land of Talk LP to drop on Saddle Creek; Conor’s acting chops; Trevor Sensor tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 1:40 pm February 27, 2020

Land of Talk at Slowdown Jr., Sept. 23, 2010.

Land of Talk at Slowdown Jr., Sept. 23, 2010. Saddle Creek Records will be releasing their next album in May.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Hometown label Saddle Creek Records yesterday announced it’s releasing the new album by Montreal band Land of Talk, Indistinct Conversations, on May 15. This is the fourth Creek release by the band, which is led by singer/songwriter Elizabeth Powell. Check out the first single and order online via Bandcamp below.

By now you’ve seen Conor Oberst’s and Phoebe Bridger’s acting debut as production assistants on the Meet the Conan Staff. If you haven’t, the clip’s below. A lot of people are wondering if that’s Conor’s real hair or a wig. I think it’s real, based on the Bright Eyes marketing footage Dead Oceans has been posting for the new BE album.

Meet the Conan Staff is the first scripted original series from Team Coco. The episodes launch weekly on YouTube; it premiered on Feb. 18.

Also yesterday, Bridgers released a dope-fueled video for her first single in three years, “Garden Song.”

Tonight at Reverb Lounge, Jagjaguwar artist Trevor Sensor headlines. According to Paste Magazine, Sensor was discovered by Killers’ guitarist Dave Keuning while playing a gig in Pella, Iowa. His last album, Andy Warhol’s Dream, was produced by Jonathon Rado of Foxygen and the late, great Richard Swift, and includes contributions from members of Whitney. Halfloves open at 8 p.m. $10.

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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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Live Review: Oberst/Bridgers’ Better Oblivion Community Center; Black Moth Super Rainbow, Brazen Throats tonight; Liz Cooper Sunday…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 12:37 pm March 22, 2019

Better Oblivion Community Center at The Slowdown, March 21, 2019.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Last night’s Conor Oberst/Phoebe Bridgers Better Oblivion Community Center (BOCC) gig at The Slowdown was a packed affair; a crowd that in many ways resembled your typical album release show where fans mix with proud parents and family members. The difference being that BOCC is probably the most successful project Conor Oberst has launched since Bright Eyes. Whereas Desaparecidos, Monsters of Folk and Mystic Valley Band all produced some good tunes, they always felt like bro-fueled good-time side projects, creative diversions between Bright Eyes and/or Conor Oberst solo projects.

BOCC holds a bit of that essence as well. You can’t help but think Oberst and Bridgers just like hanging around each other and said, “Let’s do a band, that way we can tour together,” then set out to combine their varied styles of songwriting. Sharp-eared fans will recognize the Bridgers’ portions — all her music has a similar cascading harmonic style, like watching snow fall — and Oberst’s sing-song folk harmonies, which have become less varied musically over the past few years.

Most of the time they mesh well and take advantage of their contrasting vocal styles. Bridgers’ voice couldn’t be more light-as-air angelic; Oberst couldn’t sound more guttural and down-to-earth. It can be a brittle mixture, especially live when Bridgers is trying to harmonize with a guy whose voice sounds two octaves lower than hers. At times, its very charming; at other times, you just want one or the other to shut-up and let the other handle it.

An example is BOCC’s cover of Bright Eyes’ “Lua.” Bridgers led off the song alone, her high, thin voice added a new layer of loneliness to an already forlorn song. When Oberst came in on the second verse it felt like putting on an old pair of well-worn shoes, and I just wanted him to carry on the rest of the way (which he mainly did).

“Lua” was never written to be a duet. The songs on the BOCC album presumably were, or at least were written together.  The rough edges become less abrasive after multiple album listenings, but are still very obvious live on stage, for better or worse.

The set covered most, if not all, of the new album as well as renditions of a number of Bridgers and Oberst solo songs, and a cover of The Replacements’ “Can’t Hardly Wait,” with Oberst rippingly handling the leads and our own Patrick Newberry handling the trumpet. It was a highlight, along with a fantastic version of Bridgers’ “Would You Rather,” which is a perfect melding of their styles.

Oberst and Bridgers played guitars all night, with Christian Lee Hutson adding some tasty leads and keyboards. Missing was the soaring Nick Zinner guitar lines (Zinner of Yeah Yeah Yeahs fame, is one of the best axe-bearers in the business), but the combo still was plenty ferocious.

The between-song patter brought up only one controversy, at least for Omahans. I don’t know anything about Phoebe Bridgers except her music. And though I’ve been writing and interviewing Oberst for more than two decades, I don’t really know anything about him, either, except his music.

So when the two of them combined to make comments like “This one’s written about our home town, Los Angeles,” I don’t know if they’re speaking proudly of good ol’ El Lay or are taking a jab at 311, which Bridgers seemed to do when she sarcastically said her favorite Omaha band is 311. Nor do I care, because Oberst has lived all over the country for the past two decades, and as far as I know, still owns a mansion in Fairacreas, whether he actually sleeps there or not. Still, Nebraskans are proud of his heritage (We have so little else to point to on a national level). A few in the crowd booed the first time Oberst/Bridgers mentioned LA as their hometown. The second time, they cheered.

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A few interesting shows this weekend…

Tonight Black Moth Super Rainbow headlines at The Waiting Room — trippy psych/experimental synth stuff. Opening are Stever Hauschild and High Tides. $17, 9 p.m.

Also tonight, Brazen Throats opens a show at fabulous O’Leaver’s. Consisting of guitarist/vocalist Rich Higgins (Sideshow), bassist Rob Rothe (13 County) and drummer Paul Engelhard (For Against), it’s like a ’90s-’00s Lincoln supergroup. They’re up first, followed by Minne Lussa and headliner Satellite Junction. $5, 9 p.m.

Saturday night at O’Leaver’s Fort Collins art-rock band Safekeeper headlines. Bach Mai and Death Cow open at 10 p.m. $5.

Sunday night Liz Cooper and the Stampede (Sleepyhead Records) headlines at Reverb Lounge. Sean Pratt opens at 8 p.m. $14.

And 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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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#TBT: who remembers Flatlander Fest?; Oberst/Bridgers BOCC concert is sold out… sort of, with Christian Lee Hutson, Lala Lala tonight…

The laminate for 1994’s Flatlander Festival.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

I hold onto festival laminates. I don’t know why, especially since I don’t have many (Other than Maha and SXSW years ago, I avoid festivals). I found this one while digging through stuff recently, and it has a connection to The Reader‘s 25th anniversary, which is being celebrated this month in print.

If I remember correctly, John Heaston and The Reader (or what would become The Reader) was responsible for this festival, which was held at Sharky’s on around 77th and Cass St., a club that became the new Music Box and which has long been razed and replaced with a 24-Hour Fitness (or whatever they’re calling that monstrosity).

Sharky’s had a railroad business car attached to the west side of the building, and I believe that The Reader had its offices in that rail car for a brief period around when this festival took place. I can’t remember who played the fest, though I think Cactus Nerve Thang was on the bill. Was anyone else there?

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Tonight is the big Better Oblivion Community Center a.k.a. Conor Oberst/Phoebe Bridgers show at The Slowdown.

This show sold out very quickly, within a few days. It was discovered that scalpers bought a large block of tickets, which showed up on sites like stubhub.com. As days passed, those tickets dropped in price. I’ve heard they were as low as $8 at one point — quite a discount compared to the $25 face value.

No doubt ticket scalping has become a problem in some parts of the country where shows sell out and then tickets become available overnight in the after-market for twice or more the face value. That wasn’t the case here, and one wonders if the scalpers got soaked this time. This morning I saw a ticket for under $20 for tonight’s show.

There is no moral to this story. One could argue that in this case, everyone won — the venue sold out a show immediately and fans who understood the after-market situation could buy tickets for well under face value. Which begs the question: Are you better off buying tickets the day they become available or waiting a few days to see how prices shake out?

For example, folks who bought tickets to last year’s Jack White show at The Baxter on the first day paid way more than they needed to, as tickets became available for a fraction of face value due to poor demand. On the other hand, had the show sold out and if there was serious demand, those who waited would have had to pay a premium for seats.

Anyway…

If you’re going to the show tonight, get there early. Opening act Christian Lee Hutson is someone worth catching. He plays in BOCC and has written with Phoebe Bridgers in the past. His latest song, “Northsiders,” has a definite Elliott Smith vibe that leaves you wanting more. The other opener, Lala Lala, is pretty awesome as well.

Doors are 7 p.m., the show starts at 8 p.m. If you want to catch Hutson, get there early because no doubt there will be a line to get in. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the opening band from the sidewalk outside of Slowdown because of the lines (which are slow due to the whole under-age look-up scenario).

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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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

I’m back; The Reader at 25 (in the column); Tom Bartolomei, Ben Eisenberger tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:00 pm March 14, 2019

The beaches of San Juan…

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Well, I’m back from San Juan. And I can report that while not all things are back to where they were before Hurricane Maria, they’re pretty close… in the resort areas. We didn’t venture inland or go beyond Old San Juan (which looks virtually untouched, though I’m told it suffered greatly). I’ll talk more about what we saw in next month’s column in The Reader.

In this month’s column I reminisce about 25 years of The Reader and why alternative publications are so important, especially in a city that’s dominated by one traditional news source. The big 25th Anniversary issue of The Reader is on newsstands throughout the city right now, but you can also read the column right here.

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Those of you who yearn for another performance of the Conor and Phoebe Show on national television should tune in tonight to The Late Late Show with James Corden. BTW, the show listing in no way mentions Better Oblivion Community Center. Did they drop the awkward moniker?

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Tom Bartolomei and Ben Eisenberger are hitting the road together and tonight is their tour launch show at Pageturners. You should go. 9 p.m. and no price listed (Pageturner shows are usually free, but if I were those guys, I’d have a tip jar out in an attempt to generate some road cash.).

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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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Oberst/Bridgers’ BOCC plays Colbert show, drops debut on Dead Oceans; Noname tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — @ 12:15 pm January 24, 2019

Better Oblivion Community Center is Phoebe Bridgers and Conor Oberst, plus a host of indie rock veterans.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

In addition to rolling out Better Oblivion Community Center — the new band fronted by Conor Obert and Phoebe Bridgers — on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert last night, the band also dropped the entire debut album, released on Dead Oceans. Hey, who needs to wait ’til Friday to release an album?

Out front in the TV performance, which is embedded below, was a grizzled Oberst in Converse sneakers and the angelic Bridgers, who provided the prominent voice on song “Dylan Thomas.” Is Bridgers “Ally” to Oberst’s “Jack Maine”? We all know how that one ended. 

No, not quite; and the band also isn’t a return to the Laurel Canyon sound, as Rolling Stone seemed to imply in its 4-star review of the record. Instead, Oberst and Bridgers are building on top the current singer/songwriter movement associated with the artists like those in boygenius (Bridgers, Julien Baker, Lucy Dacus), Mitski, Big Thief, Soccer Mommy, and so on. Or maybe I’m just listening for Bridgers more than Oberst on these songs. Certainly you can’t miss Conor, who’s growly croon is an abrasive counter to Bridgers’ sweet coo. 

It’s easy to pick out who wrote what if you’ve been following along the last couple of years. The pretty, sad stuff is Bridgers; the folky slice of life stuff is Oberst. The sound isn’t so much a true duet as much as one guesting on the other’s songs. 

The only other person I recognized in the video last night was Nick Zinner of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, who’s as genius as ever on guitar.

Other BOCC participants according to the Q&A at the Secretly Store website are Carla Azar from Autolux; Wylie Gelber and Griffin Goldsmith of Dawes; songwriter Christian Lee Hutson on guitar and Anna Butterss on bass. The album was produced by Oberst and Bridgers with help from Andy LeMaster, who you might remember from Now It’s Overhead. 

Quite a splashy way to launch a project. I wonder when they’re going to drop the cheesy phone number/fake self-help program facade, which, because it wasn’t explained, came off clumsy last night on the Colbert show. My wife asked, “What’s with the graphics and the phone number on the screen?” It takes a long time to explain the joke. Hopefully they’ll leave it off when they play this weekend on CBS This Morning Saturday.

BOCC tour stops apparently will be announced next week sometime. Here’s hoping for an Omaha date. 

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Noname (a.k.a. Fatimah Warner) is a Chicago indie hip-hop artist. Her self-released debut Room 25 chronicles the two years since the release of her debut mixtape Telefone, “most notably her move from Chicago to Los Angeles and an intense, short-lived relationship that resulted in the loss of her virginity at age 25,” says the Wiki. She headlines tonight at The Waiting Room. Opener Elton kicks things off at 8 p.m $25. 

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2019 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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