Live Review: Sebadoh and the debut of Reverb’s concert space…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:54 pm September 29, 2014
Sebadoh at Reverb Lounge, Sept. 28, 2014.

Sebadoh at Reverb Lounge, Sept. 28, 2014.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

First off, there will be a full write-up about Reverb in this week’s column, a detailed look at the place and what it means in the larger picture of the Omaha music scene. That’s out Thursday. This is a review of last night’s kick-off show, and man, it was a bumpy ride.

The problems with the vocal PA seemed obvious during See Through Dresses’ opening set. Instrumentally, the band sounded great, you just couldn’t hear the vocals, they were dead or gone from the first note. Who to blame — was it something the band was doing wrong on stage or was it the sound guy? The vocals were simply buried in the mix and stayed that way.

Then came Sebadoh. Let’s not make more out of the incident than it was. By the second song, Lou Barlow was clearly irritated. “Can you hear me?” About a dozen hands went up with thumbs pointed at the ceiling, indicating more vocals. Barlow apologized, saying it was the first show for the club, that it “sounded like shit,” and mentioned something about giving the crowd its money back.

Then he left took off his guitar and left the stage. Jason Loewenstein, sporting a bass at this point in the set, looked up and said, “What did you guys say?” A few moments later, Barlow returned to a smattering of applause before kicking into their next song, which had virtually non-existent vocals. Then they went right into “On Fire” and things got noticeably better as two sound guys poured over the digital sound board trying to figure out what was wrong.

Next, Barlow’s amp broke. “I guess this room doesn’t like guitars.” Loewenstein came to the rescue with a spare guitar pedal and the show went on, and by the next song or two, the vocals gradually got better. By the end of the first Barlow-sung portion of the set, Lou could be heard fairly clearly, but the PA never had the necessary heft to really cut through the rest of the band’s equipment.

After Loewenstein’s set, Barlow apologized again. “Sorry I was so pouty earlier. I ran off stage to drink some wine and when I got back the sound was better.

I assume the band did a sound check earlier in the afternoon. If they had, they would have noticed the problem (It wasn’t one of those deals where “the crowd muffled the mix” — Reverb is way too small for that). Did something happen between sound check and the first set? Who knows.

A look at the crowd from the edge of the stage during See Through Dresses' set.

A look at the crowd from the edge of the stage during See Through Dresses’ set.

It was an inauspicious start for a new club with lots of promise. Located through the main lounge, entering the performance room is like walking into a sound stage, albeit a tiny sound stage. I couldn’t believe how small the room looked. It is, in essence, a gray box with a stage raised about four feet off the ground built into the wall. Maybe it was the high ceilings or the lack of tables and chairs, but the room seemed downright microscopic. The performance space is definitely bigger than The Barley Street’s or Sweatshop’s, but is it bigger than O’Leaver’s? I don’t know.

With its poured concrete floors, gray paint, no windows and exposed ceiling, the room is austere. The only decoration is a series of black-and-white concert photos that line the room at eye level, further accentuating the high ceiling. Then there’s the stage itself. Small, back-curtained with LED spotlight racks mounted on the ceiling in front of and behind the band. The only outcrop in the room is the sound board in the back directly facing the stage.

With all that concrete, featureless walls and high ceiling, I expected the sound to be brash and bouncy and was pleasantly surprised at how well directed it sounded. No doubt it was loud — bands aren’t going to need much to fill the space, which will help keep the sound down in the main lounge (where, no surprise, you could clearly hear the band during the set).

I’m no audio engineer, but the flaw seems to be the vocal PA. (From what I could see) the system has two smallish overhead arrays and a couple subs built under the stage. I didn’t have a chance to check out the stage monitors. As Barlow said himself a couple times from stage, hey, this is the first show. Give it time and this is going to be a great room.

The performance itself was solid. Barlow’s getting shaggy in his old age, with a big head of hair and a massive beard. His voice was as good as ever (when I could hear it). Loewenstein also was in fine form (especial on his personal anthem, “My Drugs”), despite suffering from a tooth ache (They’ll be looking for an oral surgeon today). Ouch.

One Percent said they sold 115 tickets and purposely kept the number at that level to make for a comfortable show, and comfortable it was. Moving around the room was easy, with plenty of space against the back wall and good sight lines throughout. I guess the room is bigger than I thought.

Having a second exit along the opposite side of the soundboard makes exiting easy. I’d like to see the room “warmed up” a bit aesthetically – it’s rather sterile and barren now. That said, it is indeed an intimate experience. It definitely felt like a private show. Someone said “I’d pay $200 to see Sonic Youth in this room.” Now wouldn’t that be killer?

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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 © 2014 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

It’s True, Eros and the Eschaton tonight; Sebadoh, Literature, Dandy Warhols Sunday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 12:51 pm September 26, 2014
Sebadoh plays at Reverb Sunday night.

Sebadoh plays at Reverb Sunday night.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Expect a mob scene tonight at The Barley Street Tavern for the Eros and the Eschaton show, which also features a solo version of It’s True — Adam Hawkins singing some of your favorites from year’s past. The Barley Street music room can get crowded simply when all the performing bands are in there at once, so yeah, it could get crowded. Best bet is to get there early for Gramps — the new-ish combo by Django Greenblatt-Seay of Love Drunk fame. Also on the bill is Charioteer. Four bands, $5, 9 p.m.

Also tonight, Buckhunter and M34n Str33t headline a night of electronic music at The Waiting Room that includes BOTH, Sharkweek, DFM, & Kethro. $8, 9 p.m.

Mitch Gettman and his band plays tonight at the Harney Street Tavern with Custom Catacombs. 9 p.m. and free.

Meanwhile, at fabulous O’Leaver’s, The Electroliners will headline a show tonight with Boone, NC band Hedleg Husky and Kate Berreckman. $5, 9 p.m.

BTW, tonight also is the grand opening of Reverb, the new club owned and operated by One Percent Productions located just north of Jake’s in balmy downtown Benson. No music is scheduled, but the bar will be open starting at 4 so you can get a look-see.

Tomorrow night Aaron Freeman, former lead singer of Ween, headlines at The Waiting Room with Arc Iris. $15, 9 p.m.

Over at the Barley Street Saturday night Travelling Mercies headlines with 24 Hour Cardlock, The Tinder Box and The Willards Band. $5, 9 p.m.

It all leads to Sunday night and the kick-off show at Reverb (TWR Jr.?) featuring Sebadoh. Opening is See Through Dresses. Tickets are still available for $20, 9 p.m.

Also Sunday night, Slumberland Records artist Literature headlines at Sweatshop Gallery with White Fang, Nathan Ma & the Rosettes and Eric In Outerspace. $7, 9 p.m.

Finally, our old friends The Dandy Warhols are headlining at The Waiting Room (TWR Sr.?) Sunday night with Bonfire Beach. $20, 9 p.m.

Did I forget your show? Put it in the comments section. Have a good 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 © 2014 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Reverb books Sebadoh for September show; Lloyd Cole on the future of ‘niche’ music; Bloodcow tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:45 pm July 23, 2014

reverblogoby Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

A few weeks ago, the Omaha World-Herald reported that Reverb’s debut concert would be Noah Gundersen Oct. 21, but a few of us knew that wasn’t the real debut for the game-changing music venue being opened by the guys behind One Percent Productions and The Waiting Room in the old Micek building right behind TWR at 6121 Military Ave. (Wow, so that’s what a run-on sentence looks like).

Yesterday One Percent announced Sebadoh will play at Reverb Sept. 28. Tickets go on sale this Friday at 10 a.m. While there may be some test shows or locals before this one, Sebadoh would appear to be the venue’s launch from a notable national act standpoint.

Kevin Coffey of OWH had the scoop on Reverb (here) three months ago. Reverb will be a 100-capacity music venue that not only will focus on naturally smaller-drawing shows (from local bands, for example) but also “intimate” shows by notable national acts. Reverb could charge fans “$100 a ticket to see a band that would normally play for 500 people,” said the article.

That’s the exciting part of Reverb (along with the fact that the venue also will be a first-class bar that serves a variety of beers on tap). Imagine, for example, a band like Rocket From the Crypt, which may be hard-pressed to sell out The Waiting Room, instead playing a $50 show at Reverb. Sweet. But it’s not just those high-dollar shows. Consider Pitchfork-loved bands like Parquet Courts, Perfect Pussy and Titus Andronicus who all played at Sweatshop Gallery — all of those (I think) were all-ages gigs (Sweatshop doesn’t have a liquor license). In the future, these bands could play an all-ages show at Sweatshop and then do a second show at Reverb for us poor drinking sots.

Of course, there’s a chance that those bands may overlook Sweatshop altogether to play at Reverb. Time will tell how Reverb impacts other similar-sized venues such as O’Leaver’s and The Barley Street Tavern, but according to the OWH article, “(Reverb’s) sound system will be top-notch and even nicer than what’s in The Waiting Room” — that’s a feature that may be hard for touring bands to turn down.

Needless to say, if you’re interested in that Sebadoh show, you better get your $20 tickets Friday morning (watch here). This one will sell out. Keep up with Reverb’s construction progress (including some revealing photos of the club’s interior) by following their Facebook page.

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After yesterday’s Matthew Sweet-related mention, here’s more from Lloyd Cole, this time in the form of an hour-long Australian program where Cole and a Hawke Research Institute moderator recap his career in “Inside the Actors Studio” fashion. It’s interesting stuff for Lloyd Cole fans, all four of us here in Nebraska.

But beyond his career, Cole, whose career spans more than 20 years, talks about the age of Spotify and what it means to mid-level under-the-radar “niche” acts.

“...a lot of media have been confusing the record industry with the music industry. It’s not the same thing,” Cole said. “The record industry is part of the music industry and it used to have the lion’s share of income, but live performance now has the lion’s share of income. And if you’re a band starting out and you’re not stupid and you get yourself a following, there’s money to be made, even if you decide you want Spotify to be one of the ways to distribute your music. If that becomes the sole way, than bands just have to tour more. If you don’t want to tour, you’ll have to find alternatives.

Cole said he’s scheming to figure out his “alternatives” that will allow him to make a living playing music. Making traditional records may not be in the cards, even though his latest album, the sublime Standards, is doing fairly well in Europe and still has yet to be released in the U.S.

If (Standards) does well world-wide, it won’t reach 100,000 records,” he said. “Back in the days of Mainstream (his 1987 album released on Polydor) that was abject failure. But if it did reach 100,000 it would be a profitable enterprise. If it sells less than 50,000 world-wide, it’s a loss, and basically me having records in the shop next to Nick Cave and David Bowie is a vanity project and I should look into direct distribution myself.

Cole said since he has a relatively large niche following, he has the option to move to a direct distribution model — i.e., sell his records at lloydcole.com — where he’ll no doubt sell fewer copies but make more money per album sale. New bands may not have that option “If you’re a band just starting out, it looks a little grim.”

If Cole’s comments about performance income becoming the be-all-end-all for musicians, it puts organizations like One Percent Productions, with its tie to an array of quality venues, in a similar position that record labels used to be in a decade or so ago, before the Internet and Spotify began eating their lunch.

The Spotify discussion starts at the 45:35 mark.

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A couple shows on this Wednesday night:

At the Hideout on 72nd St. Bloodcow returns. The band is finishing up a new album, of which you’ll likely get a taste. Opening is Wicked Imposition, Megaton and Adam Peterson. 8 p.m., $5 ($7 for minors with permission note).

Also tonight at fabulous O’Leaver’s it’s Relax, It’s Science with Brooklyn duo Jerkagram and Nanahara. $5, 9:30 p.m.

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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 © 2014 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Spotify enters year 2; new Sebadoh; the nature of evil (in the column); The Eightysevens, Thunder Power tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , — @ 12:55 pm July 26, 2012

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Spotify logo

Spotify

Well, Spotify has been available in the U.S. for over a year now. The Phoenix New Times has put together this “status report” on how well — or not so well — the streaming service is doing. Among those interviewed is Saddle Creek Records exec Robb Nansel, who doesn’t really have anything new to add that he didn’t say in this 2011 Lazy-i interview, other than he doesn’t think Spotify is cannibalizing iTunes sales.

Overall, the concensus remains the same: It’s too early to say if Spotify and other streaming services will be music industry game changers. For the service to become a real revenue generator for lables and artists, it’ll have to scale up to about seven time its current base of 3 million U.S. subscribers (of which I am one).

But even at that size, I’m uncertain how Spotify could become a relevant revenue source for indie bands. I guess I just don’t understand the math. It would have to be the ultimate “long tail” effect, allowing artists to somehow reach a much larger audience than they would on their own. Could Spotify provide the same amount of revenue that an artist could generate selling CDs, vinyl or downloads on their own or through a small indie label? Even with the lack of overhead (other than recording costs) I’m skeptical. But it’s too late to turn back now (right?).

As for the consumer side of things, I continue to use Spotify to “preview” new music that I wouldn’t otherwise listen to. I realize a lot of bands are putting their stuff out on Bandcamp and Soundcloud, but those services simply aren’t that convenient (especially from an iPhone). With Spotify, I can do a search on, say, the new Passion Pit or overly hyped Frank Ocean album — albums that I wouldn’t simply run out and buy — and listen to them on my iPhone either online or offline. There was no way to do that before these streaming services came around. If I dig the music, the assumption is that I’ll buy the CD, download or vinyl. At least that’s (part of) the business model.

But be honest — I’ve buying a whole lot less music than I did before Spotify. The last record I purchased was actually a cassette tape (the new Digital Leather), and the music wasn’t available on Spotify. Bottom line: If I really want something, I’m going to buy it. I won’t wait to preview it on Spotify. If I’m waiting to preview it on Spotify first, it has to be something outrageously good for me to drop down cash and get a hard copy. Was that how it was supposed to work?

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Sebadoh, Secret EP (2012, self release)

Sebadoh, Secret EP (2012, self release)

Actually, I have made one other recent purchase: Sebadoh put out its first new recorded material in 14 years earlier this week. Called Secret EP, the 5-song collection is available as a $5 digital download from here, where you can also preview the tracks. Check out personal fave and future best of 2012 mix CD selection “I dont mind.” Sebadoh says they’re working on a new LP, and none of these five songs will be on it, so it’s definitely worth the price. It’ll be good to see these guys back on the road.

* * *

This week’s column reflects on the horrifying events that have taken place over the past couple of weeks and why there’s no room for the concept of “evil” in the discussion. You can read it in the new issue of The Reader, or online right here.

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A couple shows are going on tonight.

Over at fabulous O’Leaver’s it’s The Eightysevens with Hay Perro and Wet Radio. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Meanwhile over at The Sydney, Thunder Power headlines a show with Underwater Dream Machine. Starts at 9:30 and is absolutely free.

While over at The Barley Street Tavern its Oakland band Swanifant with So. Cal. band Robert Jon and the Wreck and Nebraska’s own Field Club. $5, 9 p.m.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2012 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i