James Scurlock rock ballad and who is Koso?; Maha/Slowdown concert series; Bacon supports #SaveOurStages; new Anna McClellan…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , , — @ 12:44 pm September 11, 2020
Omaha singer/songwriter Anna McClellan has a new album coming out Nov. 20 on Father/Daughter Records.

Here’s just a big ol’ stew of music news to chew on over your live-music-less weekend…

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Call it a protest song or simply the voicing of pure rage, but yesterday the track “The Potential of Getting Violent,” popped up on Bandcamp by a band named Koso. The brooding, dark rocker is a white-knuckle indictment of those involved in the James Scurlock homicide, name-checking everyone from Jacob Gardner to Don Kleine to Jean Stothert by someone who sounds very familiar with the matter. Among the song’s most barbed lines:

So we can’t defund police
Cause murderers will run free
I know one that you missed
He murdered a man in the streets

The only information listed about Koso is that the band is from Omaha. All proceeds from purchases of the track “will be donated to the family of James Scurlock.” Check it out below.

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Yesterday Maha and Slowdown announced a partnership for a series of outdoor concerts to be held in the Slowdown parking lot in the coming weeks.

Running every Friday and Saturday from Sept. 18 to Oct. 3, the events feature a range of locals acts, and marks a reopening of sorts for The Slowdown, which has been closed since March due to the pandemic.

From the press release:

We have this large lot, the weather is still in our favor, bands are available to play, and there’s a way to do this safely,” said Slowdown owner Jason Kulbel.

We’re beyond thrilled to have the chance to help put on something fun while it’s still 2020,” added Maha Executive Director Lauren Martin. “Plus, Omaha’s live music venues are hurting badly, and supporting events like these is one way to help.” 

The set up will be a bit awkward, as is necessary with COVID-19 still blazing through our community. “The lot will be divided into individual sections, or ‘pods,’ each with a maximum capacity of 10 people,” says the press release. “Attendees are encouraged to bring a lawn chair, and face masks must be worn at all times when outside of your pod.” It’s not clear as to whether you share the pod with people you came with or with strangers. For example, if I buy one ticket, do I get my own pod or do I have to get in a pod with a bunch of strangers to fill it to the 10-person capacity? I’m sure we’ll find out before the first concert, which is next Friday, Sept. 18, with Clarence Tilton and Pony Creek.

Here’s the full schedule:

Sept. 18: Clarence Tilton/Pony Creek; $15, 6:30 p.m. start time
Sept. 19: Rhythm Collective, Ro Hempel Band, Dereck Higgins; $15, 3:30 p.m.
Sept. 25: Kolby Cooper, Pecos & the Rooftops; $15, 6:30 p.m.
Sept. 26: Andrea von Kampen, Matt Cox; $15, 4 p.m.
Oct. 2: PetRock; $25, 6:30 p.m.
Oct. 3: Mesonjoxx, And How, Cameron Logsdon, Anginas Sada, Those Far Out Arrows, Kethro; $15, 3 p.m.

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The folks at the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) Tuesday sent out yet another letter asking folks to please, please, please write your congressmen and tell them to support the Save Our Stages Act, a bi-partisan relief bill to assist independent venues as they try to survive through the COVID-19 pandemic. So far, nearly 2 million letters of support have been sent by fans urging passage of the bill.

The NIVA letter said the bill now has 144 co-sponsors. And while no Nebraska senators are among them, Nebraska District 2 Congressman Don Bacon was listed as having signed on as a co-sponsor. This, of course, comes as something as a shock, as I assumed no Republican from Nebraska gave a shit about live music, but here you go. Give credit where credit is due.

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Finally, yesterday Anna McClellan, one of my favorite Omaha musicians, announced her new album, I Saw First Light, is coming out Nov. 20 on cool indie label Father/Daughter Records (Diet Cig, Pure Bathing Culture, Bent Shapes).

From the press release: “The album was recorded over two weeks with a multitude of local cohorts, and it documents Anna’s journey from the Midwest to the east coast and back again, probing both the roots of her creative impetus and her ongoing commitment to social issues.”

Preorder here, and check out the first two tracks, “Pace of the Universe,” and “Desperate,” below:

That’s all I got. Have a great weekend!

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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.

Lazy-i

The Slowdown gets in the livestream concert game; Ramon Speed tonight, Matt Cox Saturday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — @ 11:45 am May 8, 2020

Ramon Speed at Junkstock #20 at Sweatshop Gallery, Nov. 8, 2014. The band has a livestream tonight at 6 p.m.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

The Slowdown announced two upcoming concerts featuring full bands. No, you can’t attend. Both are livestream events.

The first is Omaha punk newcomer No Thanks and hip-hop royalty Marcey Yates (a.k.a. Op2mus), Thursday, May 21 at 8 p.m. (RSVP/tickets here).

The second features two of Omaha’s most beloved punk/indie bands — Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship and Little Brazil Saturday, May 23 at 8 p.m. (RSVP tickets/here).

These are not free streams. Tickets are $5, and ticket holders will receive a link to the event 48 hours and 10 minutes prior to start time. The shows begin at 8:15 p.m.

No doubt you’ll get your money’s worth. Expect the highest quality stream experience possible, with sound by house engineer Dan Brennan and video production by Love Drunk’s Django Greenblatt-Seay – it doesn’t get any better.

All acts will be performing on the big stage, making them safe from a social-distancing perspective.

I intend to tune in for both, and have to wonder if this livestream approach is successful if it isn’t something Slowdown will continue even after COVID has gone its merry way. Because some nights you just want to stay in, but you don’t want to miss the rock…

Speaking of livestreams… there’s a red hot one going on tonight.

Tonight at 6 p.m. via their Facebook page ( https://www.facebook.com/ramon.speed ) tune in for a performance by Ramon Speed (Unread Records).

Tomorrow night (Saturday) Matt Cox is live from Mars House starting at 7 p.m. Go to Facebook to watch the stream.

While we’re talking streams, Low End, the new performance space that used to be Bemis Underground, is hosting a livestream Thursday, May 14 , featuring FXTHR^, the sound collage art of Dustin Bushon. More info here.

I’m sure there’s more live streams going on this weekend I don’t know about. If I missed yours, 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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

What is NIVA and why (and how) is it trying to save the live music industry?

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 11:45 am April 24, 2020

The National Independent Venue Association is trying to save the future of live music as we know it.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Jason Kulbel who runs The Slowdown yesterday forwarded me a copy of the letter written by NIVA that was sent to Washington outlining how the live music industry and its participants will quickly go the way of the dinosaur unless Congress does something now to help support them during and after the COVID pandemic.

NIVA is the National Independent Venue Association, a just-formed organization that currently has more than 900 charter members in 50 states, including all the legendary clubs we know and love like 9:30 Club in D.C., First Avenue, Bowery Ballroom, Mohawk in Austin and of course our very own Slowdown, The Waiting Room/Reverb/Sydney and fabulous O’Leaver’s.

The first half of the letter, which you can read in its entirety right here, explains the role music venues, promoters and artists play in our economy, our culture, the very fabric of our country. Next it outlines the problem — how venues were the first to close and likely will be the last to reopen, and how everyone involved is being impacted, and how historic, iconic institutions could be forced into permanent closure.

Finally, the letter outlines solutions, including flexible and abundant federal loan programs, tax relief, unemployment insurance, mortgage and rent forbearance, debt deferral and recovery funds.

Those recovery funds and tax credits will help venues comply with new health guidelines when they’re allowed to reopen.

Another key provision: “Establishing national guidelines for resuming and continuing large gatherings in a safe manner to ensure uniformity throughout the industry.” This is critical because without it, there’s no way artists and promoters could schedule tours without knowing which states’ venues are able to book shows; without national guidelines each state would do its own thing and that would be a mish-mash, patchwork approach.

Unfortunately, Trump doesn’t appear to support those kinds of national guidelines, leaving it up to the states to decide. Oh what a mess he’s made.

I was skeptical when I saw this letter, figuring most members of Congress don’t know a thing about the entertainment industry. But Kulbel wisely pointed out that Congressional staffers know what’s going on; they frequent venues and understand what role they play in communities. He’s optimistic.

Kulbel continues to book shows at Slowdown despite the constant wave of cancellations so the club will have something in place when allowed to reopen, hopefully sometime this summer. Keep your fingers crossed.

In the meantime, keep an eye out for legislation that includes the above provisions. No doubt some smart congressman or senator will include them in a bill or create a bill that adopts these provisions, and when he/she/they do, it’ll be your job to reach out to your representatives and lobby for their support.

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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

#TBT: Dec. 2, 2006: Slowdown under construction; new Maria Taylor streams; American Wrestlers, Varsity, Eric in Outerspace tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — @ 1:47 pm December 1, 2016

#TBT, The Slowdown complex under construction, Dec. 2, 2006.

#TBT, The Slowdown complex under construction, Dec. 2, 2006.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

As a #TBT, this from the Lazy-i archives, Dec. 4, 2006 (though the photo was actually taken Dec. 2, 2006):

Here’s an updated pic of the Slowdown construction project. Amazing how much they’ve gotten done. This “pano” shows that they’ve apparently started on the condos on the property’s north side while they slowly begin closing in the theater on the south side. Can they get it buttoned up before the first snow?

Things did start going at a faster clip after that…

In other news, NPR is hosting a “first listen” of the new Maria Taylor album, In the Next Life, which will be out next Friday. Listen below or go to their website.

Tonight at Slowdown Jr. it’s American Wrestlers, who I wrote about yesterday. Opening is Chicago indie band Varsity, and our very own Eric in Outespace. $10, 8 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 © 2016 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

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.

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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 © 2016 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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.

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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.

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

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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 © 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…

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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.

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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

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…

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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.

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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 © 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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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 © 2010 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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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.

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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 © 2010 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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