Live Review: Digital Leather, Son, Ambulance; Nap Eyes review; The Bronx tonight…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:50 pm April 9, 2018

Digital Leather at The Sydney, April 6, 2018.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

For Friday night’s show at The Sydney, Digital Leather was configured as a trio with Shawn Foree in front playing synth and bass, Greg Elsasser on synths and long-time DL drummer Jeff Lambelet. If the plan was to get the crowd dancing, it was a winning combination, maybe the most danceable version of DL I’ve seen live.

Lambelet, one my favorite drummers, is a massive upgrade to the synth beats heard on Headache Heaven, DL’s latest, which sounds like a collection of bedroom-recorded demoes. With Lambelet, and Foree adding bass, along with Elsasser, the songs were fully-realized New Wave-esque dance tracks. Their set was helped along with a dense layer of smoke-machine haze cut through by lazer lights — I haven’t seen this much smoke and lazers since that last Talking Mountain concert.

It’s also worth noting that Friday night’s crowd was one of the largest I’ve seen at The Sydney for a rock show. The audience built up throughout the evening, starting with a gorgeous set by Son, Ambulance.

Son, Ambulance at The Sydney, April 6, 2018.

I’ve always thought Joe Knapp had an interesting voice, a sort of indie version of Elvis Costello, but as he gets older his voice only gets better and more in control. Good thing, too, because he’s fronting one of the best line-ups I’ve heard from Son, Ambulance over the years, including a sweet three-piece horn section and a rock-solid rhythm section swinging on a set of new material that’s begging to be recorded.

Her Flyaway Manner at The Sydney, April 6, 2018.

Lincoln’s Her Flyaway Manner owned the center slot Friday night. The trio headed by vocalist/guitarist Brendan McGinn crushed a set of angular post-punk rock that reminded me of Fugazi and an earlier age of Nebraska punk rock. All said, a terrific night of music brought together by between-set sets from DJ Tyrone Storm that had me tapping my Shazam app.

It’s been awhile since I’ve been in The Sydney, and was surprised to discover they’ve taken out all the back booths, effectively clearing out that music room giving it more space for rock shows and dance nights. Even the high-top tables were gone on Friday…

* * *

Q1 2018 CD reviews continue. Read them all here at The Reader website.

Nap Eyes, I’m Bad Now (2018, Jagjaguwar)

Nap Eyes, I’m Bad Now (Jagjaguwar) — This warm, melodic indie rock comes from an act out of Nova Scotia who played in Omaha last year opening for Fleet Foxes (a show I missed). They remind me of The Feelies, especially because lead vocalist Nigel Chapman’s drab, nasal delivery matches Feelies’ Glenn Mercer, though Nap Eyes lacks Feelies’ driving, relentless rhythms that rise and rise and explode. This just sort of lays there from song to song.

* * *

Tonight at The Waiting Room it’s The Bronx. The band is out supporting their new one, V, out last year on ATO. The record was produced by Rob Schnapf (Beck, FIDLAR, Elliott Smith) and has a very pro sheen to it. Still rocks hard. No Parents and No Thanks open. 8 p.m. $17.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Ten Questions with Mega Bog (opening for Destroyer Saturday); Son Ambulance tonight…

Category: Interviews — Tags: , , , — @ 1:38 pm January 31, 2018

Mega Bog opens for Destroyer this Saturday at The Waiting Room. Photo by Vanessa Haddad.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Mega Bog is the project of Seattle native now Brookynite Erin Birgy, who has been making her unique potion of jazz-infused art rock for eight years. Her latest album, Happy Together (2017, Nicey), runs and wobbles between free-form loveliness and dizzy indie rock, giddily capturing an artist in motion with a breathy voice that evokes memories of Nico. Her band has included members of iji, Hand Habits and Big Thief’s James Krivchenia (who also mixed and mastered her new record).

We caught up with Birgy and asked her to take the Ten Questions plunge. Here’s her answers:

1. What is your favorite album?

Mega Bog’s Erin Birgy: Definitely don’t have a favorite, but Diamond Dogs is almost always on standby. It’s what I use to practice vocals. Deeply inspiring.

2. What is your least favorite song?

(Bandmate) Zach (Burba) and I are trying to pick a least favorite song, but it’s hard! We thought of a time our friend, Joel, who helps with all the album art, was playing something by a Magnetic Zero band.

3. What do you enjoy most about being in a band?

I enjoy the responsibility of learning how to take care of others, my family, and act as an ambassador for this weird music world.

4. What do you hate about being in a band?

Peanut butter in the car. Having to compromise with other peoples cleanliness standards, or lack of.

5. What is your favorite substance (legal or illegal)?

Water and cedar oil.

6. In what city or town do you love to perform?

“Every place is home” by Vollmar

7. What city or town did you have your worst gig (and why)?

A show at Bard College eight years ago. It was a terrible tour, with an abusive guy in the band we were touring with, and I was at the end of my rope dealing with their creepiness and anger. It was freezing, everyone in the band was fighting, and I cut my hand on a borrowed guitar after mine broke, and just laid my head down on the concrete floor and started crying. I took it all out on Zach while we played, which made it doubly worse. He left the “stage” early and people were backed up against the garage door, just scared and annoyed.

8. Are you able to support yourself through your music? If so, how long did it take to get there; if not, how do you pay your bills?

In some moments, it seems like it. I do a lot of strange gigs, but kind of a $200 an hour minimum, if it’s not music.

9. What one profession other than music would you like to attempt; what one profession would you absolutely hate to do?

I don’t see myself as a professional. Or a musician. I do see myself as a citizen scientist. I could take that more seriously.

10. What are the stories you’ve heard about Omaha, Nebraska?

I’ve never heard a story about Omaha, Nebraska.

Mega Bog plays with Destroyer Saturday, Feb. 3, at The Waiting Room, 6212 Maple St. Showtime is 9 p.m.; tickets are $20. For more information, go to onepercentproductions.com

* * *

Tonight Son, Ambulance returns to the stage, this time as part of Pageturners’ Winter Concert Series. The band just played a few weeks ago at O’Leaver’s, but no two Son, Ambulance sets are ever alike nor is the line-up from show to show. Expect some surprises, and a large crowd. Sean Pratt & the Sweats open at 9 p.m. Admission is, as always, free.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Live Review: Son, Ambulance, Lodgings, Dirt House at O’Leavers…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 1:46 pm December 4, 2017

Son, Ambulance at O’Leaver’s, Dec. 2, 2017.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Oh. My. God. I finally made it to a show.

Saturday night’s show at O’Leaver’s is the first rock show I’ve gone to since Zola Jesus way back on Oct. 11 — easily the longest stretch I’ve had between shows since sometime in the ’90s probably.

I actually intended to go to two shows this past weekend. I walked down to The Waiting Room Friday night to see Whitney/NE-HI after our art show ended at The Little Gallery (and after checking out the new B-Side, which is very nice indeed) only to find that it was sold out. I was disappointed yet happy for the the sell out — people really do still love going to indie rock shows.

Saturday night was the return of Son, Ambulance to O’Leaver’s. The band seems to re-emerge on a stage somewhere every six months or so with a slightly different line-up. Backing frontman singer/songwriter Joe Knapp this time were a couple horns, pedal steel, drums, Dereck Higgins on bass and instead of a second guitar someone playing sitar.

I was stationed at my usual spot, peeking through the glassless window panes by the bathrooms, which placed me right next to the aforementioned sitar. It sounded not so much like the traditional instrument we all know from Ravi Shankar, but more like a plucked-out high-end bass line. At times, distracting, but didn’t cover up the rest of the band, which was, for the most part, pretty solid.

Son, Ambulance played three old ones (including set staple “Paper Snowflakes”) and three new ones, the best of which was set-closer “Fuck Trump,” a rocker that wasn’t so much a call-and-response anthem as much as a song about living in the here and now, punctuated by the title lyrics.

Knapp says expect to hear a lot more from Son, Ambulance in 2018. With such a huge back catalog of songs, they’re among the few local bands I’d go see once a month.

Lodgings at O’Leaver’s, Dec. 2, 2017.

Lodgings is an act I’ve somehow managed to miss over the years, which turns out to be a huge bummer because they play a style of music I love — a laid-back, slacker rock that’s part Pavement part Pixies part Grifters, essential ’90s indie, often slow, sometimes quiet but also bold and loud.

So packed was O’Leaver’s that I ended up standing behind the amps so I couldn’t hear frontman Bryce Hotz terribly well, though the rest of the band came in loud and clear, including cellist/keyboardist Megan Siebe and guitarist Jim Schroeder (bassist Michael Laughlin and drummer Eric Ernst round out the combo).

The set drove me to seek out the band’s recordings on Spotify; and as a result, I spent a good part of the balance of the weekend listening to last year’s eponymous release and their more recent 6-song EP Daisies, which, had I found it earlier, would have been included in my local faves for 2017.

Dirt House at O’Leaver’s Dec. 2, 2017.

Last up was Dirt House, the new band from Annie Dilocker, who has surrounded herself with some of the best musicians in Omaha. Joining Amy Carey on violin is a rhythm section consisting of drummer Roger Lewis and bass player Miwi La Lupa. It doesn’t get more solid than that.

Dilocker is a long-time music scene veteran who’s been involved in a number of projects including Sweet Pea, Hubble, and for a brief time, Digital Leather. Her piano-driven songs are reminiscent of Regina Spektor or Sarah Bareilles though her melodies aren’t as varied. Dilocker’s vocals at times got lost in the mix. I wanted her to really belt it out — a necessity when backed by such a strong band. Considering her piano skills and her melodies, I wonder how her songs would fare without a backing band.

No doubt Dirt House is beginning to capture a fan base (the audience for Dirt House looked different than the one for Son, Ambulance) and the band’s Facebook page says they’ll be recording by the end of the year. More to come.

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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 © 2017 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Whitney, NE-HI, SIRES, #BFF tonight; Son, Ambulance, Lodgings Saturday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 1:45 pm December 1, 2017

Ne-Hi at The Waiting Room, June 29, 2016. The band returns tonight with Whitney.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Is this the last “warm” weekend of the year? Maybe, probably. I’m getting my crappy winter beater car out this weekend — a sure sign winter’s here.

Anyway, take advantage of the last warm weekend of the year and see some shows…

The best of the bunch this weekend is tonight at The Waiting Room where indie hot stuff Whitney headlines with NE-HI. From Chicago, Whitney consists of members of the late, great Smith Westerns. The band’s break-out album, Light Upon the Lake, came out in 2016 on Secretly Canadian. One presumes they’re working on new material, though recent shows merely featured the old stuff along with a handful of covers (including Neil Young’s “On the Way Home,” Dolly Parton’s “Gonna Hurry (As Slow As I Can),” Dylan’s “Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here with You,” NRBQ’s “Magnet,” etc.). Opener NE-HI just played Reverb this past March (read their Ten Questions interview here). $15, 9 p.m., expect a packed room.

Also tonight, Ryan Menchaca & The Invisible Horses headlines at fabulous O’Leaver’s. Opening is Carl Miller of The Thrillers’ fame and Des Moines act SIRES. 10 p.m., $5.

And its the first Friday in December which means it’s Benson First Friday. As part of the fun The Little Gallery, 5901 Maple St., is hosting its annual “little show” where all works in the main gallery are 12” x 12” or smaller and $100 or less — perfect for holiday gift giving! Among the more than 20 artists showing works are Jason Steady, Jadon Ulrich, Mike Loftus, Brad Thiel and Nebraska Dept. of Motor Vehicles. Plus there will be beer, wine and some food. Drop by and say hello. The gallery is the east storefront of the Masonic Lodge Building on south side of Maple Street at 5901. See you there.

Tomorrow night is the return of Son, Ambulance at O’Leaver’s. Who will be in this incarnation of the band, fronted by singer/songwriter Joe Knapp? Opening is Lodgings while Annie Dilocker’s latest project, Dirt House, headlines. $7, 9 p.m.

Finally Mark Olson of The Jayhawks plays at The Waiting Sunday night. $15, 7 p.m.  And Matisyahu plays at The Slowdown with Common Kings and Orphans. 7:30 p.m. start time; tix are $25 Adv./$28 DOS.

And that’s all I got. If I missed your show put it in the comments section. Have a great weekend.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2017 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

 

 

Lazy-i

Cultural Attraction (Mike Tulis birthday), Little Brazil Saturday; Chris Cohen, Son Ambulance Sunday; Ten Questions with Nothing…

O'Leaver's for Mike Tulis' celebration of silver & gold...

O’Leaver’s for Mike Tulis’ celebration of silver & gold…

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Busy weekend for shows. Very busy. But the big stuff doesn’t start until tomorrow.

First, a mention of the OEAA showcases going on in Benson this weekend. I admit to knowing almost none of the bands performing this year. The few stand-out bands I recognize include John Klemmensen, Mitch Gettman, Latin Threat and Ragged Company. The full schedule is online right here. Cost is $10 one night, $15 for both nights. This is the only OEAA event that I participate in; it’s always fun to walk around Benson and check out new bands.

Onto Saturday night…

The marquee show is, of course, the Silver & Gold Celebration for Mike Tulis at fabulous O’Leaver’s. For his 50th, Tulis is getting the band back together — in this case, Cultural Attraction. Read all about the band’s history right here. Opening is Little Brazil and The Sons of O’Leaver’s. This can’t-miss show starts at 9:30. See you there.

Also celebrating a birthday Saturday night is The Brothers Lounge — opened apparently in conjunction with Tulis’ birth (both are 50 years old). Playing the party are Minnesota band Jaw Knee Vee, Lincoln madman Plack Blague and surprise guests You’ll Love These Rockets. $5, 9 p.m.

Also Saturday, Jerry’s Bar in Benson is hosting a festival all afternoon and evening. Among the performers are Matt Whipkey and Clarence Tilton. More info and the day’s schedule here.

Sunday it’s back to fabulous O’Leaver’s for their Sunday Social and one of the best line-ups of the weekend: Chris Cohen (Ex Deerhoof, Ariel Pink’s Huanted Graffiti), Son, Ambulance, Kansas City’s Shy Boys and Thick Paint. All for $8 plus FREE FOOD (no idea what kind of food, but it’s free). This starts early — 4 p.m.

* * *

Nothing plays Slowdown Jr. Sunday night.

Nothing plays Slowdown Jr. Sunday night.

Sunday night Nothing plays with Culture Abuse, Wrong and Bib at Slowdown Jr. Here’s Ten Questions with Nothing…

Ten Questions with Nothing

Philly band Nothing may be known as much for its frontman’s brutal history as its music. As the story goes, Domenic Palermo spent a couple years in the slammer after stabbing someone in a fight back in 2002 when he was a member of hardcore punk act Horror Show, according to NPR. As you would expect, the experience changed him and his musical direction. With Nothing, Palermo returned to his first love: shoegaze. The music on the band’s latest album, Tired of Tomorrow (2016, Relapse) sounds like a reinvention of (or at least heavily influenced by) bands like My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive combined with early Smashing Pumpkins. The product is dense, bleak and oftentimes brooding.

We asked Nothing to take our 10 Questions survey. Palermo took the plunge:

1. What is your favorite album?

Nothing: Sun City Girls, You’re Never Alone with a Cigarette

2. What is your least favorite song?

Theme song to “Frasier”

3. What do you enjoy most about being in a band?

Not having to be at home.

4. What do you hate about being in a band?

Having to be on the road.

5. What is your favorite substance (legal or illegal)?

Semen

6. In what city or town do you love top perform?

Chicago

7. What city or town did you have your worst gig (and why)?

Chicago. I fell asleep standing up, while we were playing.

8. How do you pay your bills?

Relapse Records allowance money.

9. What one profession other than music would you like to attempt; what one profession would you absolutely hate to do?

Writing questions for newspaper; prostitution

10. What are the stories you’ve heard about Omaha, Nebraska?

One about these two brothers. One’s a cop and one’s a bad ass. The bad ass brother gets in a fight and kills a man in a bar fight. The cop brother chases him down through the back roads all the way to Canada, but decides to let him go, because a man that turns his back on his family, just ain’t no good.

Nothing plays with Culture Abuse, Wrong and Bib Sunday, June 12, at Slowdown Jr., 729 No. 14th St. Tickets are $13 Adv./$15 DOS. Showtime is 7 p.m. For more information, go to theslowdown.com.

That’s all I got. If I missed your show, put it in the comments section. Have a great (red hot) 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 © 2016 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Live at O’Leaver’s: Son, Ambulance, Deleted Scenes, more; Gloom Balloon, Christopher the Conquered tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 1:18 pm August 20, 2015
Deleted Scenes are among the artists newly featured at Live at O'Leaver's.

Deleted Scenes are among the artists newly featured at Live at O’Leaver’s.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Live at O’Leaver’s released its next wave of recordings of bands performing live on the grand stage at fabulous O’Leaver’s. Check them out below or at the website. I know the tapes were rolling when Speedy Ortiz played Saturday and when Criteria headlined the site’s launch party. Will we be seeing / hearing those files soon? I can’t wait.

* * *

Tonight at Slowdown Jr. it’s Gloom Balloon and Christopher the Conquered. Gloom Balloon, as you may know, is the solo project from Patrick Tape Fleming of The Poison Control Center. Christopher the Conquered just got “boosted” by Ryan Adams (as reported in Billboard). If that wasn’t enough, M34N STR33T opens the show. $10, 8 p.m.

Also tonight Max Holmquist headlines at O’Leaver’s with Extravision and Justin Ready & The Echo Prairie. $5, 9:30 p.m.

If that wasn’t enough, Timecat plays at Lookout Lounge with Kitsch, Rational Anthem and The Ridgways. $7, 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 © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Son, Ambulance, Dinosaur Jr., The Nadas tonight; Routine Escorts, Cloven Path Saturday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , — @ 1:18 pm August 7, 2015
Son, Ambulance at The Reverb June 3, 2015. The band plays at O'Leaver's tonight.

Son, Ambulance at Reverb Lounge June 3, 2015. The band plays at O’Leaver’s tonight.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

I’m now told that Eagle*Seagull is headlining that show Oct. 9 at O’Leaver’s.

Anyway… what’s going on this weekend?

Top of the list is Son, Ambulance at fabulous O’Leaver’s tonight. The band is reaching new levels of amazing at their live shows lately. So where are those new recordings, Joe? Also on tonight’s bill are Agronomo and Javid and the Qualified Suspects. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Also tonight, the amazing Dinosaur Jr. is opening for Primus at Sumtur Amphitheater. Beyond “Jerry Was a Racecar Driver,” I’ve never had much use for Primus, but Dinosaur Jr. and J Mascis are truly indie rock royalty. $40, 7 p.m.

One more show: The Nadas headline at Reverb Lounge with Two Drag Club. $15, 9 p.m.

Tomorrow night Routine Escorts headlines at Slowdown Jr. (remember that place?) with Sam Martin and Chalant. $5, 9 p.m.

Also tomorrow night, it’s back to the club (O’Leaver’s) for the return of Cloven Path  (yep, they’re back). Also on the bill are Australia blackmetal/prog band Dreadnaught and HAG. $5, 9:30 p.m.

That’s all I got. If I missed your show, put it in the comments section. Have a great weekend.

* * *

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 © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Thanks for coming to the show!; Hop Along, Old 97’s tonight; Whipkey for lunch…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , , — @ 2:16 pm June 4, 2015
Son, Ambulance at The Reverb June 3, 2015 -- the Big 50 benefit for Hear Nebraska.

Son, Ambulance at The Reverb June 3, 2015 — the Big 50 benefit for Hear Nebraska.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Whoa, what a night. Thanks to everyone for coming out to the Big 50 concert at Reverb last night. It was a great way to welcome in the next half-century — great friends, great bands, great times. Now what am I going to do for 51?

The Lupines at The Reverb June 3, 2015 -- the Big 50 benefit for Hear Nebraska.

The Lupines at The Reverb June 3, 2015 — the Big 50 benefit for Hear Nebraska.

Wagon Blasters at The Reverb June 3, 2015 -- the Big 50 benefit for Hear Nebraska.

Wagon Blasters at The Reverb June 3, 2015 — the Big 50 benefit for Hear Nebraska.

And there was some news at the show. All three bands either have recorded or are recording new music. When they will release it, none could say, but based on what we heard last night, we’ll all be adding lots of new music to our record collections very soon. Thanks again to the bands for playing the gig. It was a blast!

* * *

There’s another rather huge show tonight, this time at Slowdown Jr., where Saddle Creek’s latest and greatest signing, Hop Along, makes its Omaha stage debut. The band’s just-released album, Painted Shut (Saddle Creek, 2015) sits at No. 16 on the College Music Journal Radio 200 chart and No. 18 on the KEXP Variety Music Chart. Not to mention the record is getting air time on Sirius XMU, which is becoming sort of an ad hoc national indie radio station. This could be Saddle Creek’s biggest non-Omaha signing since Rilo Kiley. Here’s your chance to see them on a small stage. Opening are fellow Philly bands Lithuania and Field Mouse. $10, 9 p.m.

Also tonight Dallas alt-country band Old 97’s play at The Waiting Room with Oil Boom. $25, 9 p.m.

* * *

And this just in over the lunch hour, Matt Whipkey and his band kicked off this season’s Hear Omaha concert series in the Old Market (right underneath the atrocious sculpture of the Husker kid in a baseball cap). The series, brought to you by Hear Nebraska and various sponsors including First National Bank, features a different local band performing over the lunch hour every Thursday.

Whipkey rocked a crowd of around 100 consisting of dudes and women in business suits, local hipsters who live in the surrounding lofts and other tourists/curiosity seekers wondering what all the good-time noise was about. Next week Orenda Fink plays the Hear Omaha stage. Check out the full schedule here.

Matt Whipkey at Hear Omaha in the Old Market, June 4, 2015.

Matt Whipkey at Hear Omaha in the Old Market, June 4, 2015.

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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 © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

The Big 50 concert: Son, Ambulance, The Wagon Blasters, The Lupines tonight at Reverb…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 11:36 am June 3, 2015
The 50th Birthday Concert at Reverb, June 3, 2015. A benefit for Hear Nebraska.

The 50th Birthday Concert at Reverb, June 3, 2015. A benefit for Hear Nebraska.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Tonight’s the night at Reverb Lounge, 6121 Military Ave. in Benson. It’s an early show — 8 p.m.

The amazing Lupines kick things off — one of my all-time favorite Omaha bands.

They’re followed by the tractor-punk stylings of The Wagon Blasters, a band that features the legendary Gary Dean Davis in the driver’s seat.

The evening closes with a very special set from Son, Ambulance, one of the most storied bands of the Saddle Creek era, playing music that is as vital today as it was a decade ago.

That’s three great bands for $10, and every penny goes to support Hear Nebraska, an organization near and dear to my heart. Plus, there will be cake! RSVP here.

Thanks to my wife, Teresa, for putting this together.

See you 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 © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Jake Bellows talks about the return of Neva Dinova (Tuesday night at Slowdown); Live Review: Son, Ambulance…

Category: Blog,Interviews — Tags: , , , — @ 1:49 pm December 22, 2014
Neva Dinova circa a long time ago (but not that long). The band reunites Tuesday night at The Slowdown.

Neva Dinova circa a long time ago (but not that long). The band reunites Tuesday night at The Slowdown.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Somewhere in the past few years, Christmas week became thee time for local rock band reunions. I’m not sure when this began. The concert poster on the wall in my office is for a show dated Dec. 26, 1993, featuring Ritual Device, Mercy Rule, Secret Skin, Frontier Trust, Clayface and End Crowns All (holy shit, six bands), all of which were very much active and not “reuniting” in 1993.

This week, we’re all going to see and hear Ritual Device reunite on The Waiting Room stage, exactly 21 years to the day of that amazing concert at the Capitol Bar and Grill.

But before that, tomorrow night (Tuesday) we’ll all be at a reunion of Neva Dinova at The Slowdown, which isn’t really a reunion, because I’m not sure Neva Dinova ever officially broke up. They’re still listed as “active” on the Saddle Creek website. And Neva Dinova frontman Jake Bellows confirmed the band never did really call it quits.

“Our last show was in December 2008,” said Jake just before band practice last Wednesday evening. “We never issued a press release about breaking up. Everyone had other important things going on. They were trying to sort out careers that would provide enough money to raise babies. We just couldn’t afford to be in a band anymore.”

That date on that show poster — 1993 — also was the year Neva Dinova first started playing together, but the line-up that’s performing Tuesday night first came together in 1999 at a now infamous gig at Grandmother’s Restaurant on 84th and L streets. You can read about that show (which included guest drumming by Conor Oberst, and Todd and Clark Baechle) in this 2001 Lazy-i interview with the band, written shortly after their self-titled, self-released album came out.

That line-up is back: Bellows, bassist/vocalist Heath Koontz, guitarist Tim Haes and guitarist Mike Kratky. Drummer Bo Anderson (who was tending bar at Grandmothers that fateful night in 1999) also will play Tuesday night on a handful of songs, along with most recent drummer Roger Lewis (The Good Life, Oquoa). Both Anderson and Lewis are credited on the 2004 Neva Dinova/Bright Eyes split, One Jug of Wine, Two Vessels (originally released on Crank! but reissued years later by Saddle Creek).

“We’ve been looking for an excuse to play together again for a long time just for fun,” Bellows said. “Since everyone’s going to be in town, it seemed to make the most sense. We needed to make time to practice because we knew we were gonna need it.”

Bellows said Haes has the most rust of any of the band members… literally. “The strings on his guitar were literally rusty,” Bellows said. “I think he does all his playing in the rain.”

Bellows said for this gig the band has been thinking of itself as a Neva Dinova cover band. “The nature of this show is unusual,” he said. “Before, we just played what we wanted to play. In this case, the whole point is to get back together, and we felt like we should play songs people want to hear that we haven’t played or didn’t want to play before.”

That meant coming up with the quintessential Neva Dinova play list. “We’ve got 20 songs on the list, maybe 25,” Bellows said. “We’re kind of deciding what we think sounds cool.”

I threw out “Tryptophan” and “Supercomputer” as two possibilities; Bellows verbally nodded his head. I guess we’ll have to wait and see if they make the cut.

Those who might wonder if this is the beginning of something bigger, Bellows assured me the show is a one-time thing. He’s called Echo Park in central Los Angeles home for four years. “LA is fine,” he said. “I miss everyone back home and come back five or six times a year.”

As for his solo career, Bellows said he has a bunch of new songs that will either be on a Jake Bellows record or recorded under a different band name. “Naming a band after yourself is weird,” he said.

Tomorrow night’s show is rather big in scale. Playing with Neva Dinova is the latest addition to the Saddle Creek Records roster, Twinsmith, along with local faves Outlaw Con Bandana and hip-hop act The Both. This 8 p.m. show is happening on Slowdown’s big stage. Get your $10 tickets here.

Son, Ambulance at O'Leaver's Dec. 20, 2014.

Son, Ambulance at O’Leaver’s Dec. 20, 2014.

Saturday night’s Son, Ambulance gig at O’Leaver’s wasn’t a reunion, though it felt like one (maybe because Dereck Higgins was back on bass). The band had a new sway in its step, a pronounced swing that it lacked in its prior, more stoic form in year’s past. Their set included old and new, but all of it sounded new to me. I credit a more relaxed Joe Knapp, the band’s mastermind, songwriter and frontman. In the old days, Joe always looked nervous — or at the very least tense — on stage, as if he was expecting something to go wrong at any moment.

Saturday night Joe looked and sounded like a guy having a good time playing his music with a large group of friends, despite the technical glitches that hampered the first three songs (including a keyboard that refused to play).

Son, Ambulance's Joe Knapp, left, and James Cuato.

Son, Ambulance’s Joe Knapp, left, and James Cuato.

Knapp always has reminded me of Elvis Costello at his most playful, but even more so now. Maybe his confidence comes by way of a solid band built on the bedrock rhythm section of Higgins and drummer David Ozinga. A bongo player also was crammed into one corner, though you couldn’t hear him. Dylan Strimple handled electric guitar, but the most arresting moments were between James Cuato on sax and flute and cellist April Faith-Slaker. Their layered interplay added a whole new dimension to the band.

BTW, if you’re counting, that’s six people crammed onto O’Leaver’s tiny “stage” area, and I’m told that wasn’t even the entire band — a few were missing, including Joe’s brother Daniel.

Everything came together for funky set closer “Copper Lady” with a back beat that bordered on blues rock. So hot was this number that the band brought it back for a crowd-demanded pseudo encore.

Rather than a reunion, Saturday night sounded like a rebirth for Son, Ambulance. The band has a new energy. I’m told they’ve got at least six new songs recorded and ready to go (including a version of that aforementioned “Copper Lady”). When and where those tracks eventually show up is anyone’s guess. Saddle Creek, who put out past Son, Ambulance records, hasn’t mentioned the band in regards to future releases, though I believe they’d be wise to welcome them back to the active roster.

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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.

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