by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com
Another “sit-down” show at Slowdown? This is becoming a habit. A couple weeks ago it was Cowboy Junkies in the big room. Friday night it was Lambchop in the front room for a crowd that looked to be around 100, maybe more, half of whom were seated on folding chairs set up in a space between the stage and pushed-back tables. Obviously it has something to do with either the laid-back music or the mature age of the crowd, or both. And in both cases, the chairs were oddly appropriate, especially since the people fronting both bands also spent the the evening seated.
For opening band So-So Sailors Friday night, it was seated frontman Chris Machmuller behind a keyboard, though Mach also stood with a guitar slung over his shoulder. Maybe it was the room’s dark ambiance but this was the most relaxed, most un-rushed set I’ve heard the Sailors play, and also the finest. No one was trying to blow the roof off of anything, instead Mach and his band of merry men provided subtle, complete interpretations of songs off their recently released EP along with a few new songs that will fill out an LP one of these days.
Next was Lambchop, and as expected, seated directly in the center of the stage was Omaha guitarist/musician Alex McManus, a Lambchop veteran back in the fold if only for one night. Judging by the smile on frontman Kurt Wagner’s face, he couldn’t have been more proud. Wagner lead the band seated with an acoustic guitar and his dry, folky mumble, backed by two keyboardists (one occasionally switching to guitar), bass and drums, and McManus adding tasty fills and leads on electric guitar.
Their sound was warm and subtle like sipping a glass of fine old scotch. There was no resemblance to “alt country” at all. In fact, their music has more in common with intimate club jazz, with Wagner’s mid-range voice bordering on rhythmic spoken word, though he showed his range at times. Some really beautiful stuff.
The band played for well over an hour and not only came back for the usual three-song encore but also for a couple more after that. Wagner said they were doing something out of the usual because he loves playing with McManus, who he called “his secret weapon.” A modest McManus merely smiled and waved without looking up at the crowd.
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It’s a sort of busy week for shows. Tomorrow night is The Drums at The Waiting Room; Dim Light and Snake Island at TWR Wednesday; and then The Pines Thursday night at Slowdown Jr. and Love Drunk’s tour fund raiser also Thursday night at The Sydney with Honeybee & Hers and Bazooka Shootout, and then Icky Blossoms returns to Slowdown Jr. on Friday (speaking of Icky, they just dropped their video for “Babes” this morning. Check it here). Get your shows in during the week, because the weekend ain’t looking good (so far).
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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.