by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com
I’ve criticized Hear Nebraska in the past for the format behind its Take Cover events, or as I jokingly used to describe them: “Bands you don’t know covering songs by bands you don’t know.”
Well, if Saturday night’s crowd is any indication, Andy Norman (HN’s executive director) and team should keep things just the way they are. By the time I left the festivities a little after 10 p.m., The Waiting Room was comfortably packed with the biggest crowd I’ve seen at one of these events.
I caught only the first 90 minutes or so of Take Cover performers. Two acts stood out:
Song Syndrome used to be a band called Anthems (thanks for the data, Mr. Manner). It’s a red-hot rock outfit with Social Distortion overtones and an in-your-face frontman who looks like someone you wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley. They bit off a little more than they could chew when the tried covering an Elliott Smith song, and inasmuch admitted it from stage. Still, their own material was head on, brutal. Why they would change their name from Anthems to Song Syndrome is a mystery, but I suggest they either change it back or come up with a better name, because unfortunately, in this age when there are a zillion new bands starting up every day, your band name actually matters.
The other standout was local phenom Jocelyn, who has been tearing up the stages like the Side Door Lounge for awhile now, developing a rather sizable following for her brand of acoustic pop. Her style and energy are undeniably infectious, and her voice could make her a finalist on The Voice. Jocelyn covered an Ally Peeler song and one other, and then did an original that got the crowd to explode.
What stood out as much as her voice and energy was her youth. Jocelyn looked like a teenager but performed like a seasoned veteran. I was reminded of one of my all-time favorites, Tracy Chapman, except for the fact that Chapman’s music (specifically her debut album) is layered with deep, painful emotions on songs about survival and redemption. Jocelyn’s songs, on the other hand, are as shiny and upbeat as you might expect from someone her age. In her defense, Chapman was 23 when she recorded her Grammy-winning debut. Jocelyn still has some living to do, but maybe she’s better off never going to those dark places…
Mr. Norman tells me this was the most successful Take Cover weekend in the organization’s history, pulling in thousands in donations from the 300 or so on hand at The Waiting Room and the nearly as many who went to the Bourbon edition Friday night in Lincoln.
For years I’ve always tried to convince Andy to focus on only one artist for the covers portion of the show; host something like “Take Cover: Elliott Smith” or “Take Cover: Tim Kasher,” wherein all the participants select one song to cover by the featured Nebraska artist. But why fiddle with an already winning formula?
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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.