Slowdown’s upcoming indie schedule; Woods, Simon Joyner and the Ghosts, The Tallest Man on Earth tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:47 pm July 18, 2016
Simon Joyner and The Ghosts at Slowdown Jr., April 4, 2015. The band plays tonight at Slowdown Jr.

Simon Joyner and The Ghosts at Slowdown Jr., April 4, 2015. The band plays tonight at Slowdown Jr.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

The most distinctive aspect of Brooklyn indie band Woods (besides their songs, which are sublime) is singer-guitarist Jeremy Earl’s high, almost feminine voice. For sheer uniqueness, it’s right up there with Yes’ Jon Anderson and is eerily similar at times on the band’s new album, City Sun Eater in the River of Light, released this year on Earl’s own Woodsist Records.

You have to wonder how Earl even has time to tour considering the size of Woodsist Records’ roster, which includes Wooden Wand, Sic Alps, The Fresh & Onlys, Crystal Stilts, The Pocahunted, as well as releases from standout acts like Wavves, Thee Oh Sees, Kurt Vile and our very own Simon Joyner, whose last album, Grass, Branch & Bone, was released late last year on Woodsist.

I bring all of this up because Woods performs tonight at Slowdown Jr., and Simon Joyner and The Ghosts opens. It’s an earl(ier) show, starting at 8 p.m., $15.

Tonight’s show is a good reason to return to Slowdown after the CWS. Fact is, Slowdown is sporting an impressive calendar of upcoming indie rock events. All of the following Slowdown shows are on my radar:

July 21 — Atlas Genius, Bear Hands
July 31 — The Jayhawks
Aug. 5 — Conny Franko (a.k.a. Conchance) CD release
Aug. 12 — Protomartyr
Sept. 8 — Frightened Rabbit
Sept. 9 — Bob Mould
Sept. 24 — Junior Boys
Nov. 20 — El Ten Eleven

Not bad. The schedule for upcoming Waiting Room and Reverb shows is nothing to sniff at, either. In fact, tonight The Waiting Room has a heavy-weight show of its own: The Tallest Man on Earth. Swedish folkie Kristian Matsson has put out one hit album after another since 2008’s Shallow Grave (Dead Oceans). He’s on the road touring Dark Bird is Home (2015, Dead Ocean). Opening is Lady Lamb (formerly known as Lady Lamb The Beekeeper) whose last album, After, was released on Mom & Pop Music (Courtney Barnett’s label). $25, 8 p.m.

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2016 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Share | Email | Bookmark

Lazy-i

CWS rising; new Slowdown big room ‘seating’ prices; weak year for music (so far)…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 12:37 pm June 15, 2016
The Great Wad at CWS 2012. Here it comes again...

The Great Wad at CWS 2012. Here it comes again…

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Quiet week show-wise, which gives me an opportunity to catch up on things that have been falling through the cracks.

Such as reminding you (if it hasn’t already been drilled into your head) that the College World Series kicks off this weekend. I’m reminded of this every time I look out my office window and see the white tents slowly rising like mushrooms throughout the parking lots around TD Ameritrade Park.

For The Slowdown, Friday marks the beginning of the annual harvest, when Jason Kulbel and his team scour their local hardware stores for 55-gallon trashcans, which will be used to stuff the enormous wads of cash that the out-of-towners will be dousing them with throughout the next two weeks. I envision a “counting room,” like the ones you see in those casino movies, and Jason (wearing a green, translucent visor) diligently creating stack-towers of bills in various denominations, surrounded by tired grunts humping enormous canvas bags overloaded with coinage to smoking-hot change-counting machines.

I mention all this only to give you a head’s up that live music at The Slowdown is going to be limited for the next two weeks. Sure, Slowdown is changing things up this year for the CWS with an outdoor stage in their parking lot, but the talent booked consists almost entirely of cover bands. I can’t say’s I blame them: Slowdown is catering to the gee-whiz sports audience that doesn’t give two shits about your favorite indie band (or, probably, music in general). Though, wouldn’t it be great if Slowdown booked a couple decent indie bands for just one night, sort of like throwing a bone to the rest of us? I would go.

Anyway, you can always see Slowdown’s CWS schedule online at theslowdown.com. The venue goes back to regular programming after June 25, and has among its upcoming offerings Femi Kuti & the Positive Force July 14, The Jayhawks July 31 and Bob Mould Sept. 9.

I point out these three big-room shows because all feature Slowdown’s new tiered ticket pricing. For example, the Femi show is $25 for general admission or $45 for reserved “pitside” seats. Jayhawks is $25 GA, or $40 for the balcony. Bob Mould was $22.50 GA or $35 for pitside or balcony seats. Those higher-priced Mould tickets are already gone, btw.

I’ve heard some whining from a few people about this new pricing scheme. But I have to hand it to Slowdown for finally taking full advantage of their facility. Targeted seating prices are nothing new in other cities; plenty of people are willing to pay a premium for prime seating — or just the opportunity to sit down. My wife, who is abundantly smarter than me, has no appetite for standing up for three hours straight at a rock show. So yeah, I’d have plunked down an extra $10 for those Mould pitside seats (too bad they’re gone).

I was originally concerned that this new ticket scheme was going to screw me — I like to stand on that pitside edge, along the wall, stage left, near the exit door. That’s my spot. I was afraid that spot no longer would be available without shelling out for a seat. But Jason tells me, no, I’m going to be okay. In fact, if you like to stand in the bowl in front of the Slowdown stage, your GA tickets have you covered. I guess it’s only lazy old people who will be impacted by this new ticket scheme, and most of them have the extra cash to shell out, anyway…

But is there really that much demand for balcony and pitside seating? Jason says balcony tickets for Mould sold out in a few hours, and I notice the 24 pitside seats for Jayhawks are gone, too.

* * *

I know my postings here at Lazy-i central have been somewhat erratic lately. I blame a new fitness schedule that has me up at 5 a.m. every other day. By the time I finish my morning jog, I don’t have time to write. I’ll figure it out. Also, there hasn’t been a whole helluva lot of indie news lately.

Now that we’ve hit June, I’m going to begin posting reviews of albums released in the first half of the year. And man, it’s been a shitty year for music. We lost two giants — Prince and Bowie — we’ve had to endure this unending hate-a-thon election, and to top it off there hasn’t been many stand-out releases so far in ’16. I’ll try to find the handful that demand your attention. Watch these pages.

* * *

I can’t find a single show going on tonight..

* * *

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 © 2016 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Dance Me Pregnant ain’t over; Slowdown goes (mostly) covers for CWS; Son Volt tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:48 pm May 24, 2012

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Somehow this one fell through the cracks. Received April 26 from one John Vredenburg with the subject line: “Dance Me Pregnant Over?”

I think not. We’re finishing our record in May and will be out playing shows ASAP. We’ve just been on a delayed holiday, with all of us in our current projects….Chris Machmuller in the So-So Sailors and Ladyfinger, Mark McGowan in Ketchup & Mustard Gas, Corey Broman in New Lungs, and me in Digital Leather and Saudi Arabia. Busy dudes finally wanting to get this project back up and full steam ahead. Matt Balis is going to be the  fellow that’s mixing our first LP, and we couldn’t be more excited. Just figured I’d plant the seed in the scene.

I think when he says “Matt Balis” that Johnny means Matt Bayles, whose productions credits include the latest Cursive album, The Sword, Mastodon, Minus the Bear and a shitload more. This is indeed welcome news. In a related story, Ladyfinger just announced that it’s doing a free gig with Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship June 22 at Slowdown as part of the club’s College World Series events.

NCAA

Alas, the Ladyfinger/Noah’s gig is the only one of consequence for the June 15-26 tent-city CWS madness at Slowdown. The rest of the schedule, announced earlier this week, includes such cutting edge bands as The Mother Dudes, The Lizard Kings, Hi-Fi Hangover, The Fishheads and Lemon Fresh Day. I realize that Slowdown feels that they should cater to the great unwashed masses (i.e., the non-300) for CWS, a crowd that one presumes doesn’t give two shits about indie rock. Still, I’ve been told that Slowdown’s tents weren’t exactly at capacity at last year’s CWS event with basically the same lame-o coverband lineup. For what it’s worth, it has been suggested that Slowdown build on its strengths as an indie/quality rock music centerpiece to Omaha’s music scene by booking some of the best local indie bands for the CWS weeks, which at the very least would expand some culture into a rather culture-starved CWS fanbase. Deaf ears…

* * *

Tonight at The Waiting Room, it’s classic ’90s band Son Volt (Jay Farrar ex-Uncle Tupelo) with Matt Cox. And yes, I prefer these guys to Wilco (but as you might guess, I’m in the extreme minority). $15, 9 p.m.

* * *

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

Lazy-i

Are The Replacements too old school for new school punks? Mates of State tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 1:43 pm November 16, 2011

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Well, well, well… Looks like Matt Whipkey’s old band, Anonymous American, has taken the Slowdown / Replacements challenge and will be among those performing after the screening of Color Me Obsessed… at The Slowdown Nov. 30 (See yesterday’s blog entry for band search details). Whipkey, Wayne Brekke and the rest of the band are a perfect fit for this showcase.

There’s room for more.

I was thinking it would be cool to see one of the young, dirty O’Leaver’s punk bands also play this gig, say, a Rainy Road, Doom Town or Grotto Records band. After all, their take-it-to-the-edge no-bullshit garage aesthetic is in synch with The Replacements’ early days of punk excess.

But then it dawned on me that those guys may not have even heard of The Replacements. The band’s heyday was between ’81 and ’84 — that’s 30 years ago, folks — and they technically broke up in ’91. So while songs like “Fuck School” and “Dope Smokin’ Moron” off Stink or “Hangin’ Downtown” and “More Cigarettes” off Sorry Ma, I Forgot to Take Out the Trash would fit nicely in the current-day garage punk milieu, they could also be viewed as “old people’s music.” Let’s hope not. For those of you who were around in the ’80s, what did you think of music from 30 years prior to that time, music from the ’50s? Say no more…

* * *

Mates of State have a new album out called Mountaintops (Barsuk) that is a right turn from the calliope keyboard sound that I remember from their Polyvinyl days. When I interviewed the band in 2002 (the story is still online here), their two-piece keyboards-and-drums approach was rather innovative, if not grating taken in large doses — you could only stand so much of that whirling organ. These days their sound, especially on this new record, is more fleshed out and approachable. When they played on Letterman in early October (watch it here), the duo was backed by a couple more musicians. Who will they have in tow tonight when they play The Waiting Room with The Generationals? Find out. $13, 9 p.m.

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2011 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Column 339: Dancing in the Street – Live Review: Slowdown Block Party, Dundee Day; Ties, The F-ing Party tonight…

Category: Blog,Column,Reviews — Tags: , , , , — @ 1:09 pm August 31, 2011
The Show Is the Rainbow at Dundee Day, Aug. 27, 2011.

The Show Is the Rainbow's Darren Keen at Dundee Day, Aug. 27, 2011.

Column 339: Dancing in the Street

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

I doubt the crowd at this year’s Dundee Day rock show was expecting what it got when a sweaty, shirtless Darren Keen, a.k.a. The Show Is the Rainbow, jumped from the stage into the audience like a 250-pound Tolkien (or maybe, more suitably, toke-in’) battle dwarf, his shaggy red beard blowin’ in the wind as he performed his unique style of electronic funk-rock to a sheepish, half-drunk white-bread crowd, most of whom had stood at that same spot 12 hours earlier scooping plates of flapjacks into their gaping maws (served up by that Midwestern culinary hero, The Pancake Man), completely oblivious to the fact that 12 hours later they’d be subjected to glistening flopsweat, in-yer-face obscenities, hash-talk and an avalanche of hyperactive beats.

But I’ll get to that later.

First, there was the annual Slowdown Block Party, held Friday night in the parking lot of America’s (or at least Nebraska’s) favorite indie music club. Now in its third year, Slowdown’s free outdoor concert continues to draw larger crowds (estimated head count: 2,400, the biggest yet), thanks to booking bigger acts. Year One featured Azure Ray and Cursive (and was brought to you by Mutual of Omaha). Year Two was The Mynabirds, Rural Alberta Advantage and Built to Spill (brought to you by Toyota Antics).

Those tiny Antics cars were back this year, parked throughout the Slowdown lot like prizes on a game-show set — shiny, multicolored spaceships dropped from a far-off Toyota mothership signaled to from below by a giant “aNTICs” sign projected on the side of The Slowdown building. Say what you will about the tackiness of Toyota’s sell job, but it was the car makers’ cash that made the event possible (and for free). These days you’d be hard pressed to find any outdoor event or “festival” that isn’t draped in a sponsor’s precious brand. Call it a sell-out if you want to, but get used to it because sponsorships ain’t going away, especially in the growing shadow of the dwindling music industry.

Omaha ambient dreamscape ensemble Conduits was on stage — statuesque frontwoman Jenna Morrison stood front and center, belting it out in her Siren tones while the band poured on thick dollops of droning, throbbing rock. The band just keeps getting better, honing its stage show, waiting for someone to pick up their recording and release it to a hungry public. What’s taking so long?

San Diego sunset rockers The Donkeys were next, then came indie “supergroup” Mister Heavenly, the Sub Pop-fueled mega-trio of Honus Honus of Man Man, Nick Thorburn of Islands and Joe Plummer of The Shins/Modest Mouse. It was Man Man’s wonky circus caterwaul, which owes a lot to early Modest Mouse, that dominated their sound.

The crowd ballooned for The Hold Steady, who seemed determined to make up for their past limp performance at The Slowdown. Frontman Craig Finn, looking like Mike Mogis’ long lost accountant brother, was a bundle of nervous ticks and awkward dance steps; impossible not to watch as he barked out lyrics in his trademark flat, nasal monotone. It was a fun night that left me wondering why Slowdown doesn’t do more outdoor parking lot shows.

Saturday afternoon was a street-dance death match between Farnam Fest and Dundee Day — two competing outdoor neighborhood shows overflowing with local talent. Proximity and variety won the day for Dundee, where I showed up in time to catch Gus & Call’s set. G&C is my favorite band on Slumber Party Records‘ roster, and deserves a deal with a mid-sized (or larger) national indie label. With two great vocalists and talented musicians, their sound blends warm, introspective folk with blistering rural rock that’s as good as anything from the alt-country heyday. Wilco could not find a better opening act.

After a strange, unexpected hour-long break, on came Digital Leather. From the outset, the band seemed an odd fit for a suburban neighborhood street dance, and apparently they agreed because the trio blasted through a set of bloody-knuckled punk songs as if they couldn’t wait to get off stage. Frontman Shawn Foree barked out the lyrics to songs like “Your Hand, My Glove” and a cover of MOTO’s “Deliver Deliver Deliver,” sounding like an auctioneer on meth.

Finally, Keen, who wore a shirt when he jumped on stage prior to his set. Among his opening verbal salvos was an attack on yours truly for having not reviewed his latest album, Tickled Pink, suggesting that I was offended by the cover art — a drawing by Lincoln artist Jimmy Lee of a woman’s shaved private parts with his band’s name spelled out in a liquid substance across her scarred flesh. Not true.

From there, he took on a couple hecklers as he cued up the first pre-recorded track on a laptop that sat on the edge of the stage, unleashing the opening beats of album highlight “Return to the Microthrone.” Then off came the shirt.

Keen and his belly bounced into the crowd, spitting out lines like, “I want to touch your macaroni,” with a tangled mic chord trailing behind him. His in-your-face performance style is old hat to any longtime The Show Is The Rainbow fan — Keen’s performed from the floor as long as I can remember. But for those uninitiated Dundee-ites, there was a sense of shock and awe as Keen invaded their personal space. Once they realized the big man wasn’t going to hurt them, the crowd got into it, embracing Keen, his music and his humor. By god, a few even danced.

It ended with Keen precariously climbing the tower of speakers that balanced on the edge of the stage, looking like a big pink bear climbing a tree in search of a bee’s nest. Once on top, he looked out over the crowd he just conquered, and saluted them with his microphone.

* * *

Addendum: As you read this, Mr. Keen is preparing to leave these United States for a self-booked European tour that kicks off in Norway Sept. 3 and ends in Kassel, Germany, Oct. 2 (so far).

* * *

Tonight at The Waiting Room it’s Omaha proto-punkers Ties with Feral Hands, Ketchup & Mustard Gas and The Fucking Party. $5, 9 p.m. Bring your ear plugs.

* * *

Transmissions from Lazy-i.com will be spotty over the next few days as I will once again be on the road to NYC. In my absence, don’t miss Bluebird at The Waiting Room tomorrow night, and Two Gallants at The Waiting Room Sunday night. Perhaps you’ll see some dispatches from the field. Or perhaps not.

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2010 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

The weekend in pictures (Mister Heavenly, The Hold Steady, Gus & Call, Digital Leather, The Show Is the Rainbow)…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — @ 12:33 pm August 29, 2011

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Below is a handful of images from this past weekend’s festivities. Look for a full review in this week’s column. Until then…

Mister Heavenly at The Slowdown Block Party, Aug. 26, 2011.

Mister Heavenly at The Slowdown Block Party, Aug. 26, 2011. The "indie supergroup" was more Man Man than The Shins or Modest Mouse.

The Hold Steady at The Slowdown Block Party, Aug. 26, 2011.

The Hold Steady at The Slowdown Block Party, Aug. 26, 2011.

The Hold Steady at The Slowdown Block Party, Aug. 26, 2011.

The Hold Steady's Craig Finn makes a point during The Slowdown Block Party, Aug. 26, 2011.

Gus & Call at Dundee Day, Aug. 27, 2011.

Gus & Call at Dundee Day, Aug. 27, 2011. Is this the best band on the Slumber Party Records roster? (Yes)

Digital Leather at Dundee Day, Aug. 27, 2011.

Digital Leather plays a rapid-fire set at Dundee Day, Aug. 27, 2011.

The Show Is the Rainbow at Dundee Day, Aug. 27, 2011.

The Show Is the Rainbow's Darren Keen in the crowd at Dundee Day, Aug. 27, 2011.

The Show Is the Rainbow at Dundee Day, Aug. 27, 2011.

The Show Is the Rainbow ends Dundee Day on a high note.

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2010 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

CWS madness an opportunity for local bands; Peace of Shit, Watching the Train Wreck, Benson Summerfest Saturday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 10:17 am June 18, 2011
Solid Goldberg at The Barley Street May 13. See him tonight at O'Leaver's.

Solid Goldberg at The Barley Street May 13. See him tonight at O'Leaver's.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Yes, things are slowing down for the next couple of weeks, especially for shows featuring national touring bands, but there has to be something to do for those of us avoiding the downtown clusterfuck called the College World Series.

As mentioned the other day, The Slowdown has gone “all in” with the CWS, converting itself into a virtual ESPN SportsZone over the next two weeks, and who can blame them? The CWS is a money-printing bonanza, an opportunity for them to “make their year” in two weeks, bringing in more than enough cash to justify booking your favorite money-losing underground sensation later this year that will play to fewer people than will be standing in the piss line after the Session 3 battle between Bum-fuck and Bum-fuck State. Yes, I will be frequenting The Slowdown College Beer Festival over the next two weeks, not because I have tix to a CWS match-up, but because I work downtown and will already be parked within walking distance of “The Tents” — i.e., the gold-rush-like  mini-town that’s sprung up in the concrete parking lots surrounding “New Rosenblatt, Nebraska.”

Anyway… Slowdown has no “real shows” for the next two weeks, and even if they did, no one would go because they wouldn’t have the patience to deal with the chaos. Without Slowdown, the volume of national-band shows are cut at least in a third, if not in half. A golden opportunity for The Waiting Room to fill that void? Yes, but they haven’t, I guess (wrongfully) assuming that everyone is going to be pre-occupied with CWS. A lost opportunity for them; a golden opportunity for local bands to step up and show their wares. Will they step up?

* * *

O’Leaver’s had the most talked about “show” last weekend with the stewed-in-booze meat festival known as the Mr. O’Leaver’s competition. Have there ever been more recipients of restraining orders in one place at one time? Unlikely.

O’Leaver’s will try to top the mayhem again this week with tonight’s cherry of a line-up featuring Peace of Shit and Watching the Train Wreck, two bands who are celebrating the release of a split 10-inch. But this isn’t just any split 10-inch. The record will be a one-sided lathe-cut record limited to only 30 copies on clear vinyl. The blank side features a screen-printed image that shows through and looks like a picture disk.  The first 10 copies sold at the show will feature a bonus lathe-cut 7-inch with a cover tune from both bands. Local lathe-cut label Fear of Music Records is putting it out, according to WtTW / Rainy Road Records impresario Kevin Cline.

I have heard the tracks on this split and can tell you that they are absolutely mint, must-have relics of modern-day Omaha gutter punk. And only 30 copies? Imagine what they’ll be worth on The E-bay when the law finally catches up to these two collections of degenerates and “puts them away”?

Topping it all off is the one-man psychedelic groove dance party called Solid Goldberg, a.k.a. Dave Goldberg of Box Elders fame and his battery of audio/visual special effects. Get thee to this show, tonight at O’Leaver’s. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Also going on tonight is Benson Summerfest After Dark — five Benson clubs featuring local bands all night starting at 9 p.m. Full schedule is available at SlamOmaha, here. $10 wristband gets you into all the clubs all night.

Finally, a couple more local shows on Sunday night worth mentioning:

First, there’s a welcome home bash for Cass Brostad at The Barley Street Tavern featuring Traveling Mercies, The Family Gram (reunion), The Fergesens, Tenderness Wilderness, Kyle Harvey, Brad Hoshaw, Bret Vovk, Rebecca Lowry and Dylan Davis. Show starts at 7 p.m. No idea on the cover, but it’s probably around $5.

Also Sunday night, Satchel Grande and Midwest Dilemma play in the Red Sky Battle of the Bands competition at The Waiting Room with We Be Lions and Lonely Estates. Go and root for your favorite to win the right to play on the local stage at one of the lamest festivals in the country (But hey, a good payday is a good payday, right?). $5, 7 p.m.

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2011 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Live Review: Okkervil River; Slowdown’s (brief) transformation into a sports bar; Metzingers tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:43 pm June 15, 2011
Okkervil River at The Slowdown, June 14, 2011.

Okkervil River at The Slowdown, June 14, 2011.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

I have to tell you, with all the news about the threat of ground-water flooding in downtown Omaha around the Qwest Center after heavy rains, I felt a bit of trepidation about going to last night’s show at Slowdown, what with a big-ass storm on the radar headed our way. Paranoid? Stupid? Yes and yes.

I got downtown at 10:30, just in time to see Titus Andronicus crowded up on the big stage  saying “Goodnight and thanks for coming” (which they did very well). Looking around the bar, it appeared as if Slowdown hadn’t done any cosmetic changes in preparation for the College World Series. That will come.

At the stroke of 11, out walked Okkervil River in front of a backdrop featuring two large wolf heads. Frontman Will Sheff, in a rather warm looking vest and suit jacket and disheveled hair, looked identical to the first time I saw him perform at The Junction in 2002 — a show that he acknowledged from stage, along with a past gig at California Taco. While they may look the same, the band’s sound has changed over the years, from a borderline alt-country-folk act in the Wilco vein to something more polished along the lines of Decemberists.

Maybe it seemed like the set got off to a rough start because I didn’t recognize the material, which probably came from their new album (which I haven’t heard). Unlike the more restrained, tuneful stuff they’re known for, the early portion of the set was dominated by epic anthems with rather unfocused melodies. Okkervil River is one of those bands where you’ll enjoy the music much more if you understand/know the words, which I couldn’t/didn’t.

It was shortly after performing “Red” from their 2002 album, and an awkward almost a capella number featuring just Sheff and his guitar, that things really began rolling, thanks to a thunderous version of “So Come Back, I Am Waiting,” from Black Sheep Boy. Things continued to pick up steam as Sheff and Co. pulled from the entire catalog. I’d forgotten how many good songs they’ve had over the years. While the songs sounded the same, the arrangements were different and better (driven by a terrific drummer) though at times Sheff seemed so off-kilter vocally, just swirling around the melodies, that it took awhile to recognize them. Some of his vocals sounded almost improvised, though still rooted to a central melody. But when it came to an audience favorite it didn’t matter because the crowd took over.

After about 75 minutes, Okkervil closed the set and then came back and finished strong with a two-song encore. It was a terrific show from a band that hasn’t forgotten Omaha as it has oh-so-slowly climbed the rock ‘n’ roll mountain. It was a fitting way for Slowdown to close out its last show before it turns into a virtual Nike Town over the next three weeks for CWS.

The club is closed for the next two nights to undergo its transformation. It reopens Friday with a Goo dance party after the CWS opening festivities, and through June 29 will feature mainly cover bands to support crowds of sports fans, none of whom have heard of Saddle Creek Records or listened to anything other than freedom rock.

Club owner Robb Nansel said Slowdown will boast a new projection screen on the main stage that is 133″ x 236″ so you’ll be able to enjoy all the baseball action from their air conditioned confines. There also will be more TVs throughout the club and outside in the beer garden (no idea if these are permanent or temporary additions, though I assume the latter), as well as food and vendor tents including food from Amsterdam Falafel, Worker’s Takeout, Blanc Burger, Chicago Dawg House and Tank Goodness cookies. Of course entry to Slowdown and its tent city will be free and open to the public. As I’ve said before, the only thing left for Slowdown to do is figure out where to stack all the money that’ll be flowing through their doors and tent flaps over the next few weeks. Perhaps they can build some sort of money-counting “safe room” like they have in casinos, maybe in The Slowdown’s secret basement. Actually, with all the ground water problems, that might not be the best place…

* * *

It’s punk night at The Waiting Room this evening with Kingston, PA, Sideonedummy band Title Fight headlining a bill that includes Touche Amore, Dead End Path and The Menzingers, a band that was featured in a video shot during the Love Drunk 2011 Tour (a video which you can view here). The show is $12 and starts early, at 6:30 p.m.

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2011 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Live Review: Cowboy Indian Bear; Built to Spill, Clawfoot/Ember Schrag goodbye tonight, She & Him tomorrow…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , , , — @ 12:46 pm August 27, 2010

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

I knew when I arrived at The Barley Street Tavern last night at around 10:30 that I wasn’t going to be able to hang in there long enough for Little Black Stereo’s last hurrah. The first opener, Kyle Harvey, had only just completed his set and Cowboy Indian Bear was still setting up with Landing on the Moon still to come, and some of us had to work the next morning…

Hailing from Lawrence, Kansas, Cowboy Indian Bear have played in Omaha regularly over the past couple of years, usually down at Slowdown, though they’ve done the full circuit (TWR, O’Leaver’s, etc.). You say you like four-part harmony? How about solid bass lines? What about brawny, thick-beat drums augmented by electronic beats? CIB has it all, along with gorgeous melodies that lean toward the sweeter side of indie pop — think Spoon or upbeat DCFC or Broken Social Scene. Their strength really lies in their vocals — all four members can sing well, including a new female band member whose voice falls somewhere in the Harriet Wheeler (The Sundays) wheelhouse. Their sound is cleanly, crisply captured on their new album, Each Other All the Time, which came out earlier this year and is worth seeking out if you’re looking for a cool, laid-back summer album.

After CIB came Landing on the Moon, but not until around 11:30. I made it through four songs, including what’s become their set highlight, “California,” before I gave up the ghost for the evening. Alas, I missed LBS one last time, though you can catch them tonight for what really is their final show, at The Zoo Bar in Lincoln with Cowboy Indian Bear and High Art (Darren Keen and Co.).

* * *

Reminder: You’ve only got a couple days left if you want to help finance the Seafarer film project via Kickstarter. The locally produced project will feature music from local bands (most likely including Honeybee and Capgun Coup). The project goal is $3,500, and pledges currently stand at $3,065. A pledge of $15 or more will get you some nice goodies along with the knowledge that you helped make the project a reality. Check it out.

* * *

It’s fitting that as summer winds down there are two marquee outdoor shows happening this weekend. The highlight is tonight at Slowdown’s parking lot, the site of what’s being called the “Omaha Block Party,” featuring Built To Spill, The Rural Alberta Advantage, and The Mynabirds. If it’s anything like last year’s outdoor bash at Slowdown (that featured Azure Ray and Cursive, among others) it will have a sort of festival vibe. The best part, of course, is that it’s free, but you’ve got to go to this website and print out an RSVP ticket. Door opens at 7, and the show starts at 8:30. No idea where you’re supposed to park other than on the streets around Slowdown.

Then tomorrow night, She & Him are playing at The Anchor Inn with The Chapin Sisters. I have no idea if the Inn is still suffering from flooding. Regardless, there will be a stage set up somewhere on the grounds. If you haven’t been out there for a show, you’re in for a treat. $20, 9 p.m.

That’s not all that’s happening this weekend.

Tonight is the last show of the summer at Lincoln’s Clawfoot House.  Ember Schrag, who runs Clawfoot with Brian Day, said they are turning over the venue to a young artist/musician couple who will be moving in and taking over as of Sept. 1, with a grand reopening Sept. 30 with Pillars and Tongues from Chicago and FATHR^.

“I had a blast starting Clawfoot House,” Schrag said. “We hosted 89 events at our apartment in a year and a half. And tons of artists from all over came through and performed in our living room and kitchen and porch. But Bryan and I are both ready to have more time to devote to our own projects.”

Those projects include a two-and-a-half month U.S. tour that starts next week, but that really kicks off at tonight’s show, which is a “casual fundraiser to help with a few tour expenses.” It’s at Clawfoot House, 1042 F St., and includes a spaghetti dinner, indoor garage sale, tarot card readings, four bands and a video/sound performance. It’s a $6 cover, $3 for the dinner. The event starts at 6 and music starts at 9 with Ron Wax (featuring Ron Albertson of Mercy Rule), Ed Gray (Iowa City), Ember Schrag and her band, and Tiny Tiny Tongues.

Meanwhile, tonight back here in Omaha, The Ground Tyrants are headlining a show at the Barley Street Tavern with All Young Girls Are Machine Guns. $5, 9 p.m.

Saturday has Lincoln band Wastoid playing at The Brothers Lounge with opener Ron Wax (featuring Ron Albertson of Mercy Rule) and The Lepers. $5, 10 p.m.

Also Saturday night, Ketchup and Mustard Gas are at O’Leaver’s with Birthday Suits. $5, 9:30 p.m.

And Simon Joyner is playing a house show at 4208 Mayberry Street with Ed Gray, The Prairies and Ember Schrag. Show starts at 9 and suggested donation is $5 to $10.

* * *
Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2010 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Lazy-i

Built to Spill to play Slowdown’s parking lot bash; Slowdown plans for CWS 2011; Machete Archive tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 12:48 pm June 29, 2010

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Subscribers to The Slowdown’s weekly e-mail blast found out yesterday that the venue is hosting another free concert in their parking lot Aug. 27, this time featuring Built to Spill, The Rural Alberta Advantage and the Mynabirds. That’s a strong line-up that would have made for a great youth concert at Memorial Park (if the City still did that sort of thing).

Last year’s Slowdown parking lot bash featured Cursive and Azure Ray, and was sponsored by Mutual of Omaha as part of its 100th birthday celebration. It was a good time. This year’s bash is sponsored by Filter Magazine and Toyota. So although the concert is free, you still need to RSVP at this website. After you do, a ticket — which is required for entrance — will be e-mailed to you.

Slowdown also announced that it is hosting a Goo-fueled Maha Festival afterparty that apparently isn’t directly affiliated with Maha, though folks who show up with ticket stubs will get in free.

* * *

As I watched (on TV) UCLA get demolished during last night’s College World Series finals, my mind wandered again to Slowdown.  Its location right next to the new stadium where the CWS will be played next year makes it the best place to booze it up during the two-week event. Still, Slowdown always has had a “no sports” mentality. There are no TVs in the bar, though they’ve been known to roll some out for “events.” Will the bar/music venue retain its music focus or turn into Nike Town next June?

Jason Kulbel, who owns the club with Robb Nansel and is an admitted Minnesota Twins fan, said they “have some rough plans” for next season. “We will cater to the series crowd, though not sure how much we will actually change up the space,” he said in an e-mail written in a style that sounds like it was translated from Morse code. “Guessing that if we do book bands, it will make sense with the crowd that will be in the neighborhood.”

Does that mean cover bands? I have a feeling you won’t be seeing any of the noisier Saddle Creek artists on their big stage those two weeks. “I think we will have a tent of some sort (outside), but bands inside since we already have the setup,” Kulbel wrote. “I am sure whatever we do in Year One will change in Year Two. Just need to figure out what works best.” Jason didn’t mention where they’ll be setting up the money-counting booths needed to process the huge inflow of cash pouring down on them for those two weeks.

* * *

Tonight at O’Leaver’s is Lincoln punk band Machete Archive with Down with the Ship and Wichita band Zsa Zsa Ketzner. $5, 9 p.m.

* * *

Tomorrow: An unquestionably unbiased review of the new album by It’s True…

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2010 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Lazy-i