#TBT: When are you too old to rock? (Lazy-i: Feb. 5, 2009)…

Category: Column — Tags: , , — @ 1:42 pm February 14, 2019

And then there’s Keith…

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Ten years later this message still applies. And while I’m no less enamored with music — old or new — I’ve slowed down when it comes to going to shows, both because of work-related reasons and the fact that there simply are fewer indie shows these days (though things are looking up).

One other side note: A local musician recently asked me to help promote an upcoming show in Lazy-i and asked if I knew other channels that might be appropriate. I mentioned a couple folks with strong social media presences and strong connections to the scene. It dawned on me afterward both people I mentioned were in their 60s, and I’m in my 50s. Where are all the young champions for local music and shows?

Column 208: Greasy Kid’s Stuff
Age and music.
Lazy-i, Feb. 5, 2009

I was feeling just fine about everything until Barack decided to join in with his “Let us set aside childish things” rant during the inauguration. What exactly was he saying? Who was he talking to?

After awhile, it does begin to pile up. The whole age thing never occurs to me unless someone else mentions it — directly or indirectly.

Last week a friend who works at The City Weekly pointed out that Mike Fratt “went after me” in his column. Really? By name? No, he never used your name, my friend said. He merely referenced “Omaha’s own aging indie-hipster blogger street weekly writer…” I was flattered that Mike would think anyone would even know who he was talking about (and without that knowledge, a reader would think Fratt was being self-deprecating instead of just snarky — he is, after all, considerably older than I am).

A week before that, I was at a local watering hole listening to a band when one of the city’s better musicians said, not off-handedly, “Why would a 20-year-old want to know what a 40-year-old guy thinks about new music?” He was making a point about himself, of course; about how he thinks no one cares what his favorite music was from 2008 (but we do). I’m sure the fact that I’m in my 40s and still write about indie music never crossed his mind. Did it?

And then there was the time I was speaking in front of a class alongside a former mover-and-shaker in local music retail. I asked him what he thought of Saddle Creek Records. He said he only listens to blues these days. “I outgrew that stuff a long time ago.”

It comes down to the notion that rock music — specifically new rock music — should only be enjoyed by young people. That people beyond their 20s (some say beyond their teens) should have moved on from listening to rock or any music for that matter.

I remember as a teen-ager listening to albums with my headphones on, wondering how much I’d miss it when I got older because, well, “old people” don’t listen to music. Certainly my dad didn’t.

That same backward thinking applies to rock shows — when are you too old to go see a band (other than a dinosaur act at the Qwest Center)? Is it when your friends quit going to shows? Or when you have kids and reprioritize your life so that music no longer plays a role? I can’t speak to the issue of getting married and having a family. I can say that a lot of people I know put music away when their children arrived, and use their family life as an excuse for not going out any more (or doing anything creative, for that matter). And that’s fine. Chances are even if they didn’t have kids they would have quit going to shows anyway. Rare is the person who can continue to “get into” new music after they reach their 30s. That’s just the way it is.

I made that point on my blog, and one reader took offense. He said he used to go to shows at The Cog Factory and Kilgore’s before moving to Chicago and getting involved in the music business himself. He ended up in California “…and then, I had kids. Now you can chalk it up as an ‘excuse’ to ‘quit’ the pursuit of music-passion (or other cultural endeavors), but I actually blame it as much on not only a re-prioritizing of priorities as I do finances,” he said in an email. “When you’ve got a young mouth (or in my case two young mouths) to feed, given the choice between buying groceries or going out to a club to see a band play and then proceed to spend $25 on drinks….well, the choice should be pretty clear.”

I guess it’s like those commercials say: “Having a baby changes everything.” I don’t doubt that. Still, this guy said he continues to subscribe to Magnet and The Big Takeover, and makes notes about bands that might interest him. That alone makes him a rarity. Because most people I know who have kids go home after work and sit in front of the TV for five hours and then go to sleep. Every night. They feel entitled. They’ve worked hard all day, they want to come home and “unwind.” These are people in their late 20s and 30s (and 40s). And before they know it, they’re in their 50s and 60s and then they’re dead. But, dammit, they accomplished something. They raised those kids. And that’s more than I can say for myself.

Would I still be going to shows if I had kids? Well, not 80 to 100 shows a year, but yeah, I’d like to think that I’d definitely make it out at least a couple times a month. But we’ll never know.

Age isn’t so much a state of mind as it is surrendering to a state of mind. I don’t think my personal writing guru, former Village Voice columnist and now Rolling Stone critic Robert Christgau, who’ll turn 67 in April, thought for a second about what was appropriate for someone his age to listen to when he was reviewing the latest albums by Glasvegas (which he gave in A) or Jay Reatard (which he gave an A-). Is he worried that a 20-year-old might scoff at his opinion? I don’t think it crossed his mind. It certainly doesn’t cross mine when I’m writing about the new Animal Collective or Ladyfinger CDs or watching Stolen Kisses or Perry H. Matthews.

Nor should it. Rock was never meant to be only a young man’s game. Just ask this aging indie-hipster blogger street weekly writer. — Lazy-i Feb. 5, 2009, this also was published in The City Weekly at around the same time.

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By the way, Robert Christgau has a new book out called Is It Still Good to Ya?: Fifty Years of Rock Criticism, 1967-2017, which is definitely worth your time, not to mention his XGau Sez entries, which are somewhat awesome. He’s not slowing down at all.

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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 © 2019 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

#TBT: The Wrens, The Meadowlands (2003, Absolutely Kosher)…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 2:20 pm February 7, 2019

The Wrens, The Meadowlands (2003, Absolutely Kosher)

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

With no news, on Throwback Thursday I thought I’d advocate for you to rediscover The Wrens 2003 magnum opus The Meadowlands.

I had the good fortune of interviewing The Wrens’ guitarist/vocalist Charles Bissell a.k.a. Charles Mexico and writing a story about the making of that album in support of a Sokol Underground gig they played with Criteria back in the day. Turned out, there was an Omaha connection to the record’s origins. From the story:

By the summer of ’99, The Wrens were close to calling it quits. The album that they had expected to take four weeks to record had lingered for six months. That’s when Bissell received a call from someone he’d met at the band’s first-ever show — an August 10, 1994, gig with Babe the Blue Ox and Big Drill Car at the Capitol Bar & Grill in downtown Omaha. It was Todd Baechle of the then little-known band The Faint.

“Robb Nansel (who runs Saddle Creek Records) and Todd wanted to set up a show with us in New Jersey,” Bissell said. “We kept putting them off, trying to tell them we weren’t playing anymore, which sounded preposterous since we were six months into making the record. So we had a nifty loft party for them in Hoboken and played drunk, which is very rare for us. They had just defined their new sound and played this great set. We didn’t play again for four years. They went on to become virtual powerhouses.”

It would be four years after that loft party before The Meadowlands was released and became an instant classic. It still holds up today, almost 16 years later.

As for “where are they now”: According to their last news update on wrens.com the band just finished mastering a batch of new songs. Unfortunately, that last news update was dated January 5, 2017…

Check out the album on Spotify:

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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 © 2019 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

#TBT: Jan. 29, 2009: Discovering Twitter and Mama, I’m Swollen; Jocelyn tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 2:03 pm January 31, 2019

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Reaching back into the archive on this Throwback Thursday, to a time when Twitter was just getting going. Who’da thunk back than that Twitter would become the main tool for the country’s Biggest Tool? And yet, here we are. This column was a sort of introduction to Twitter, and the first time I used the tool for doing live concert reviews. It was also the last time. There’s no point in “real time” reporting a live concert in Twitter. It’s about as interesting as seeing pictures from people’s vacation while they’re still on vacation. Actually, isn’t that what Facebook is based on?

The concert I was tweeting from was a preview show by Cursive of material that would appear on Mama, I’m Swollen, which was released March 10, 2009, and is still one of my favorite Cursive albums.

From Lazy-i, Jan. 29, 2009…

Column 207: In a Twitter
The end of conversation.

Back in the old days — a few short years ago — just blogging was enough. People had a way of electronically publishing their ideas — no matter how mundane — in a format that was accessible to the entire world via the Internet. Bored college students in Toledo could now share their insights with bored college students in Gdansk about such nail-biting topics as: what they had for dinner, why they’re pissed at their boyfriend/girlfriend, and what’s on TV.

Now along comes Twitter. Well, not just now. Twitter’s been around since 2006 (according to Wikipedia, which itself has been around since 2001), but it seems like no one started using it until last year. Oh sure, there were a couple Twitter pioneers (drones who will proudly boast that they’ve been Tweeting (the verb form) for years), but the technology — and the term itself — only just entered our vernacular in the past year or so (or mine, at least).

Brief tech discussion: Twitter is a browser-based “social networking” environment that limits its users to 140 characters per post. The limit is there, in part, to facilitate the use of cell phones as input devices, along with the web. It also forces people to strenuously self-edit themselves, to carefully hone their ideas to only the most critical few words. Each comment answers the universal question: What are you doing? The result: Briefer discussions about what’s for dinner, boyfriends/girlfriends, and what’s on TV.

Unlike blogs (but like Facebook, which is another slice of entropy altogether) people search Twitter for their friends, and then “follow” them. Twitter aggregates everyone you’re “following” into one inane conversation, each comment conveniently time-stamped, something like:

Husker_power: Hungry. Taco Johns tonight fur shure. about 3 hours ago from TwitterBerry
Santinofan: Watching Top Chef. Ariane got screwed. Padme where are you? about 5 hours ago from web

And so on. Twitter appears to be a natural de-evolution of human interaction. Soon all discussions will be limited to Tarzan-like grunts, culminating in: “Poop. Pee. Eat. Poop. Screw. Eat. Simpsons. Poop.”

So why all this discussion about Twitter? About six months ago, I logged onto Twitter for the first time. You can “follow” my tweeting online at: twitter.com/tim_mcmahan. I quickly discovered that “micro-blogging” has its advantages. Take CD reviews, for instance. Instead of spending hours writing gripping, nuanced examinations of an album’s true meaning, I only have room for:

tim_mcmahan: Listening to the new Ladyfinger album. Brutal fun.

or

tim_mcmahan: Listening to new Springsteen. Nothing new here *yawn*.

Conversely, Twitter allows bands, record labels and assorted famous folk to keep in touch with their fans. I now know what The Willowz (thewillowz), Saddle Creek Records (saddlecreek) and Lance Armstrong (lancearmstrong) are having for lunch. For better or worse.

One perceived value of Twitter is the real-time nature of the medium. Instead of text messaging to one person, you’re text messaging to all of your “followers” at once. To test Twitters’ capabilities and limitations, I took my iPhone to Slowdown last Saturday night for the Cursive concert and annoyed everyone within a few feet of me by tapping in the following comments throughout the evening. Here’s the transcript/review:

tim_mcmahan: Full house. I’m buying Rolling Rocks two at a time. 10:34 PM Jan 24th from mobile web

tim_mcmahan: House music is Michael Jackson, or at least it sounds like Jacko. 10:37 PM

tim_mcmahan: Nice. Kasher’s voice sounds husky. 10:57 PM

tim_mcmahan: Classic Kasher rant. “Bark bark bark.” 11:11 PM

tim_mcmahan: Seems like they’re working trumpet into every song these days. For better or worse. 11:14 PM

tim_mcmahan: Some of this new stuff sounds like The Good Life. The convergence keeps getting closer. 11:31 PM

tim_mcmahan: Halfway through the set. Ted Stevens finally switches from the 12-string to his LP. 11:34 PM

tim_mcmahan: Kasher says he’s got a sore throat and is drinking hot tea. He sounds fine. 11:41 PM

tim_mcmahan: “What Have I Done.” Kasher’s back to the self-referential lyrics. Songs about writing songs. 11:44 PM

tim_mcmahan: His most soulful song since Domestica. 11:46 PM

tim_mcmahan: Cornbread on drums changes the entire complexion of Cursive. They swing now, moreso than the old frontal assault of Schnase. 11:54 PM

tim_mcmahan: Off stage now. Encore’s next. This is a longer set than Union Hall. 11:55 PM

tim_mcmahan: Back. With “Art is Hard.” Crowd loves it. Kasher’s right. Mostly kids huddled along the stage. 11:59 PM

tim_mcmahan: Never get tired of hearing “The Martyr.” 12:04 AM

tim_mcmahan: Okay, now his voice is giving out. 12:06 AM

tim_mcmahan: Struggling through “Sierra.” The last song of the night. 12:11 AM

tim_mcmahan: Kasher takes over the drum kit. 12:13 AM

tim_mcmahan: That’s it. Kasher won’t be talking for a week. 12:14 AM

Just like being there? Not really. Looking over the comments the following morning, I wondered if they needed to be augmented with explanations, but realized that anyone who knows me and what I write about understands the shorthand. They know who Kasher and Cursive is. They know the song titles and the terminology. And if they don’t, they can always find out. On Myspace or Facebook. On YouTube. On Wikipedia. Or on Twitter, which is effectively shoe-horning the world into a conversation that’s only 140 characters wide. For better or worse.

* * *

Tonight, BMG Recording artist Jocelyn releases the first single from her upcoming album, a song titled “Speak Up,” at Slowdown Jr. I’ve heard it and it’s pop-candy fun. Aly Peeler opens the show at 7 p.m. $10.

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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 © 2019 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

 

Lazy-i

New J Mascis album is sublime; Disq gets Saddle Creek Document treatment; #TBT: Top 20/Next 15 from 2008…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 1:47 pm November 15, 2018

A screencap from the new video by Disq, “Communication,” soon to be released by Saddle Creek Records.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

The new J Mascis album Elastic Days (2018, Sub Pop) has been on repeat all morning. I’ve always been a Dinosaur Jr. fan but never rabid. Mascis’ voice sounded overtly scruffy and rabid on a lot of those records (which, for me, showcased riffs rather than voice).

Mascis’ vox are in control on this new, mostly acoustic collection of afternoon-lit folk rock songs that soar to next-level heights when he rips into one of his trademark cosmic guitar solos. Gorgeous stuff that sits right on top of the tunefulness scale with anything by Lou Barlow. I’d love to see him perform it live here in Omaha.

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Disq is a couple Wisconsin folks, Isaac deBroux-Slone and Raina Bock, who count Todd Rundgren, Weezer, Big Star and The Beatles among the musicians whose records helped inform their own creative process. As part of its Document Series, Saddle Creek Records is releasing their single, “Communication” b/w “Parallel,” on Jan. 25, but you can check out one of the tracks below and pre-order the single now from the Saddle Creek Store.

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On this Throwback Thursday, here’s the list of the Top 20 and Next 15 bands from Lazy-i for the year 2008. This was created for The Reader’s annual Music Issue, which was published this week in November 2008.

Interesting how many bands are still active today, and how many disappeared or became something else…

The Top 20

Brad Hoshaw
Brimstone Howl
Conor Oberst
Eagle*Seagull
The Faint
Filter Kings
For Against
Flowers Forever
The Good Life
Malpais
McCarthy Trenching
Midwest Dilemma
The Monroes
Neva Dinova
The Show Is the Rainbow
Son Ambulance
Thunder Power
Tilly and the Wall
UUVVWWZ
The Whipkey Three

The Next 15

Black Squirrels
Box Elders
Domestica
Fromanhole
Little Brazil
Mal Madrigal
Outlaw Con Bandana
Perry H. Matthews
Sarah Benck and the Robbers
Satchel Grande
The Shanks
Shiver, Shiver
Simon Joyner
The Stay Awake
Talkin’ Mountain

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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

#TBT Aug. 13, 2008: Oberst debut solo, Faint’s Fasciinatiion storm Billboard charts; Witch Mountain, Ocean Black tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — @ 12:57 pm August 9, 2018

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

On this Throwback Thursday (#TBT), from the blog 10 years ago:

Conor Oberst charts at No. 15, The Faint at No. 45… – Aug. 13, 2008 –

So how did Conor Oberst and The Faint do in their first week’s sales of their new albums? Here’s the skinny by way of Homer’s General Manager Mike Fratt:

Conor Oberst’s self-titled album sold 28,546 copies last week, plus 354 copies prior to street date for a total of 28,918 copies. That’s good enough for the album to chart at No. 15 on Billboard. Conor Oberst also was the No. 3 best-selling download on iTunes, moving 9,941 digital units.

The Faint’s Fasciinatiion sold 11,333 last week, plus 222 copies before street date for a total of 11,584 copies — good enough to claim the No. 45 position on the Billboard charts. Fasciinatiion also was the No. 15 best-selling download on iTunes, moving 3,250 digital units.

FYI, digital downloads are included in the overall total sales number. Thanks again to Mr. Fratt for the data. Overall, an impressive first week by both artists. I think you could see both albums continue to climb the charts, but especially Fasciinatiion, which has had less pre-release media attention, and is only now getting the notice it deserves.

And the original reviews from the Lazy-i posted a week later:

Conor Oberst, self-titled (2008, Merge)

Conor Oberst, Conor Oberst (2008, Merge) — It differs from Bright Eyes in its more minimal production, though it’s far from stripped down (just Mogis-less). Song wise, it’s not a stretch at all, though Oberst does seem more relaxed, even resolved to his stricken condition of being ordained the rambling “voice of his generation.” Call him that if you want to; he’s not listening. Unlike Lifted or Wide Awake, there’s no need to block off your afternoon or give it your undivided attention to enjoy it. Like he says on album opener “Cape Canaveral”: “There’s no worries, who’s got time?” No one, Conor, no one. And while there’s nothing as striking as, say, “Lua” or “Waste of Paint” or “I Must Belong Somewhere,” it has its moments of absolute clarity, including country stomper “I Don’t Want to Die (in the Hospital)” and rock anthem “Souled Out!!!” Oberst is too smart to do either. Rating: 4 stars.

The Faint, Fasciinatiion (2008, blank.wav)

The Faint, Faciinatiion (2008, blank .wav) — It’s no wonder that the album’s best song, “The Geeks Were Right,” also is the most straightforward and least dependent on technology to “make it sound different.” You see, I like frontman Todd Fink’s voice just the way it is. And with all of the electronic bleep-blooping going on elsewhere, Dapose’s opening guitar riff feels downright organic. But a straight-up rock band is not what the throngs of stylish, sweaty youth are looking for. Give them the robot-voiced dance machine with its dense bass and thump-thump-thump rhythms. They want to bounce, not think. What are they singing about? Who cares as long as there’s a thick-ass beat and plenty of strobes. Which makes me wonder what would happen if these guys stepped away from the synths, vocoders and effects pedals and picked up traditional instruments once again. They could be that great rock band we’ve all been waiting for, if they wanted to be. But they never will, not now, not when they don’t have to. With a slew of classics already in their quiver, it makes you wonder why they even bother making new CDs in the first place. Rating: 3 stars.

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Tonight at Lookout Lounge Portland doom-metal band Witch Mountain headlines. When it comes to the grind, they’ll have stiff competition from opener Ocean Black, Omaha’s stoner-rock satans. Super Moon is also on the bill. $12, 7 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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Priests (not Priest) tonight at TWR; #TBT: 10-year-old album reviews (which held up?)…

Category: Blog — Tags: , — @ 12:40 pm May 3, 2018

Priests play tonight at Reverb Lounge.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

About a month ago I received a promo EP from an artist called Priest. For whatever reason (Maybe because the tracks got indexed on my iPhone with the wrong name) I assumed this was a new EP by Priests, with an “ess” on the end. And I was thinking, “Holy shit, they’ve really changed their sound.” The EP is called Lost Lions and was released on Nordic Records last month.

So when I saw that Priests was heading to Omaha I thought, “Man, that’s awesome that they’re touring a 4-song EP, but I guess when you change your sound like this, why not?” Then I went looking for the EP in Spotify. Nothing.

Turns out I had the wrong priest. Priest is actually Camille Priest. She’s from Orlando. She creates electronic dance music that is crazy catchy in the Charlie XCX vein — actually it kind of reminds me of early Ladytron — about as far away from Priests’ X-inflected post-punk as you’re likely to find. You’ve never heard of her, until now.

Anyway, that’s a long way of saying Priests — the band that played at Maha last year and did this groovy Ten Questions interview — is playing tonight at Reverb Lounge, not Priest (who isn’t playing anywhere tonight). Mellow Diamond and Boner Killerz open. $12, 8 p.m.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for some fun electronic indie-dance pop, check out Priest.

* * *

For Throwback Thursday, a look back at the 2008 Q1 Report, which came out in Lazy-i this week way back then.

It’s interesting to see which of these albums held up a decade later. The releases from Aimee Mann, She & Him and Teenagers still resonate. That Breeders album was a dud (they have a new one out); that Whipkey album was on top of the list until Driver this year; Neil Diamond couldn’t pull off a Johnny Cash; Brian Poloncic is focused on his amazing art these days; and the rest are in the “where are they now” category…

Lazy-i May 8, 2008: Column 172: First Quarter Report
A glance at some recent releases from 2008

Whenever people start asking me what I’m listening to, I figure it’s time for another CD reviews round-up. These are not full, detailed reviews, rather they’re impressions after listening to these albums on and off on my stereo and iPhone over the past few weeks/months. All get the Lazy-i seal of approval.

Aimee Mann, @#&*! Smilers (SuperEgo) — Faithful Aimee Mann fans stood beside this So Cal (by way of Boston) girl back in her ‘Til Tuesday days, did an I-told-you-so when her genius was revealed on the Magnolia soundtrack, and held her hand during all the follow-ups when no one else was around. Here’s their reward: Her best album since Bachelor No. 2.

Black Kids, Wizard of Ahhhs (self released) — Available for free (the trend continues) from their website late last year, the sound is pure ’80s new romantic, and at its finest moments emulates The Cure’s Kiss Me album right down to the Robert Smith groan vocals. Columbia figured it out and gobbled them up for a formal debut slated for July. Black Kids are on the precipice, staring over the edge where bands like Arcade Fire and Modest Mouse stood a few years ago.

The Breeders, Mountain Battles (4AD) — Remember when Kim and Kelley were considered edgy and subversive (and The Pixies were still debonair)? The band never recovered after the burnout suffered at the hands of “Cannonball” way back in ’93, back when MTV still played videos, especially that one, over and over again. There are no Cannonballs hidden here, nor anything as shocking (and grand) as their cover of “Happiness Is a Warm Gun” (from Pod). Still, serviceable; but just barely.

Joan of Arc, Boo! Human (Polyvinyl) — Too often, Tim Kinsella tries to sound weird and unapproachable, so imagine my surprise at the simple acoustic pop of opening track “Shown and Told,” as well as the tumbling “A Tell-Tale Penis” and the back-beat rocker (yes, rocker) “The Surrender #2.” There are still plenty of atonal nightmares, like screamer “9/11 2” and startle-noised “Everywhere I Go.” Download discriminately.

The Long Blondes, Couples (Rough Trade) — Their thump-thump-thump New Wave dance rave-ups, like disco opener “Century” and porn-guitar fueled “Guilt,” remind me of another band named after its frontwoman’s hair color. All right, you youngsters, I’m talking about Blondie. And though vocalist Kate Jackson is no Debra Harry, her music and her band have the same upbeat, heart-of-glass style.

Neil Diamond, Home Before Dark (Columbia) — Note to Rick Rubin: Neil Diamond is famous for his bombastic, over-the-top arrangements that boast enough orchestration to launch a space shuttle. The stripped-down arrangements that worked so well for Johnny Cash may be the wrong approach here. I mean, do his fans really want an evening of intimate, acoustic folk songs? No, they want to stand up and punch the sky along with everyone else during “Sweet Caroline.” That said, there’s more to these tracks than 2005’s 12 Songs. Still, I yearn for the day when Rubin and Diamond finally break down and do an album with the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

She & Him, Volume One (Merge) — One of the best moments from the 2003 Will Ferrell break-out film “Elf” was the impromptu duet between Ferrell and a showering Zooey Deschanel. I remember thinking, “Jeeze, she sings as great as she looks.” M Ward (the Him) must have thought the same thing. Deschanel is at her best when she croons her own twangy rocking material, sounding like a cuter version of Jenny Lewis. The charm wears thin in the latter half of the album, thanks to Patsy-styled torch ballads (“Take It Back), cheesy doo-wop (“I Was Made for You”) and too many uninspired covers (Smokey’s “You Really Got Me,” a flawed take on The Beatles’ “I Should Have Known Better”). Now if we can only coax her back into that shower.

The Teenagers, Reality Check (XL) — Sorta funny French synthpop is funnier because of the odd, spoken-word vocal approach, which combines Pepé Le Pew with a Valley Girl. It’s so well-recorded, however, that you can’t help but get into the clean Weezer-meets-The Cars synthpop. Irony was never so catchy.

Tokyo Police Club, Elephant Shell (Saddle Creek) — I’ve been told that a local music mogul predicted this will be the biggest selling Creek release ever, bigger even than Bright Eyes. Early criticism, however, complained that it pales compared to the band’s noisy debut EP. I say it’s far more listenable, like an upbeat Death Cab (a band terminally lost in ennui). They’re young and hip and will look good on TV. Maybe that mogul is right.

A Tomato a Day (helps keep the tornado away), The Moon Is Green (Public Eyesore) — There’s something lost and lonely about Brian Poloncic’s acoustic folk confessions, which plow the same stark territory as, say, Husker Du’s Candy Apple Grey or sad Replacements or Todd Grant’s yearning solo album. Three years in the making, it’s time that they’re finally heard. Check them out at the CD release show Friday night at Benson Grind.

The Whipkey Three, 26 (self release) — It’s the best recording Matt Whipkey ever produced with any band. As one person put it who hasn’t cared for any of Whipkey’s past projects: “I guess persistence pays off. I actually like this.” I like it, too. And it’s about as DIY as you’re going to get — Whipkey burned the CDRs and hand rubber-stamped the discs and sleeves. Pick one up at the CD-release show Saturday night at Mick’s. — First published in Lazy-i, May 8, 2008

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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

#TBT Stars at Slowdown Nov. 2007; Crushed Out, Hussies, Idlefox tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 12:46 pm September 21, 2017

#TBT: Stars play The Slowdown Nov. 5, 2007.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

I posted the above photo as a Throwback Thursday thing because I tripped into it while going through some old photos and was mesmerized by the sculpture that used to be wound among the rafters of The Slowdown. That sculpture was made out of buckets, if I remember correctly, and stayed up in the ceiling for a few months. They should have just kept it up there.

As for Stars, as I said in the review: “Nearly 400 diehard Stars fans got more than their money’s worth last night at Slowdown — a set that lasted nearly two hours. The whole time, you could tell that Torquil Campbell and the rest of the band were thrilled to be there. In fact, they told the crowd so, over and over throughout their set, saying such glowing things like Slowdown was a gem ‘built on music.’ All night, band members would make their way to the microphones and say how proud they were to be there. It was kind of sweet and charming.”

Whatever happened to Stars? They’re still going strong

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Tonight The Brothers Lounge, Brooklyn NY duo Crushed Out rolls into town. “The husband-wife duo of Moselle Spiller and Frankie Sunswept (born and raised in Los Angeles) draw deep from their shared love of ‘atomic’ 50’s rock ‘n’ roll, slide guitar blues, and SoCal surf creating a sound that delivers on all those things rock ‘n’ roll promised us so long ago.” Hussies are the actual headliners. Idlefox opens. $5, 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 © 2017 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

#TBT March 23, 2007: Little Brazil release show for Tighten the Noose; The English Beat tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:46 pm March 23, 2017

Little Brazil circa 2007. The band hosted the album release show for sophomore album Tighten the Noose 10 years ago today.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Another highlight of ’07 along with the opening of The Slowdown and The Waiting Room was the release of Little Brazil’s sophomore album Tighten the Noose.

The album’s official release date according to AllMusic.com was Feb. 6, 2007. That website gave the recording a 3-1/2 star rating, but was less than complimentary in its review, saying, “…while these are perfectly admirable sonic references, they point up Tighten the Noose’s primary flaw: Hedges’ songs are solid, and he’s a perfectly decent singer and guitarist, but there’s a faintly anonymous quality to Tighten the Noose that keeps the album from sounding like more than the sum of (Landon) Hedges’ influences…

I remember when I first read that review thinking it was pretty lazy, especially considering the comparisons the writer threw out (Dream Syndicate? Apples in Stereo? Huh?). To me, Tighten the Noose would become Little Brazil’s “rock album,” comprised of the catchiest tracks they’ve recorded in their career. Tunes like “Last Night,” “Shades” and “Never Leave You” became staples of their set over the years and epitomized their sound. These are the tunes the band will be remembered for, along with the more epic, story-telling songs on the follow-up, 2009’s Son.

At this point in the band’s career, Little Brazil was still trying to pull itself away from Landon’s association with a couple of his former bands — Desaparecidos and The Good Life.

From Lazy-i March 21, 2007:

(Bass player Danny) Maxwell is skeptical that Hedges’ history has had an impact on drawing people to Little Brazil shows. “They don’t say, ‘Holy shit, it’s the guy from Desa.'”

Still, Maxwell said fans are aware of the band’s history and its connection to the Omaha music scene. “They ask us what Conor is doing right now,” Maxwell said. “I usually respond with, ‘I don’t know. We’re here with you tonight.'”

“There are fans out there that love that style of music and ask us what it’s like to be part of it,” (guitarist Greg) Edds explained. “I don’t mind when they’re being sincere. On the other hand, there are the ones who hand us gifts to bring back to Conor and Tim (Kasher).'”

“It’s annoying at this point in our careers,” Hedges said.

“But it’s getting to be less and less of a problem,” (drummer Oliver) Morgan added. “We’re starting to make our own mark.” — Lazy-i March 21, 2007

Read the whole story here.

According to my review in Lazy-i the next day, about 250 people showed up for the album release show at Sokol Underground March 23, 2007. The Photo Atlas was the opener. There was even a balloon drop halfway through Little Brazil’s first song, and Landon almost passed out from the heat/humidity.

From the 2007 review:

“Landon… is a pure crooner, an Omaha-style indie singer cut from the same bolt of cloth as Tim Kasher (a la The Good Life, not Cursive). Every time I see him with his just-woke-up hair and cheap wireframe glasses I think of Corey Haim as Lucas or a bespeckled Bobby Brady, age 13. His voice kinda/sorta matches his appearance — an unpretentious caterwaul that has no problem reaching for the high notes at the peak of a heart-wailing phrase. Little Brazil’s music isn’t exactly a bold, new direction in the world of indie rock. You got your cool guitar riffs, your lean bass lines, your thunderous drums (Oliver Morgan is always at his best every time I see him on stage — he has no second gear), coming together to form a verse-verse-verse song (why are there never any choruses these days?) that typically builds to a predictable — if satisfying — “big ending.” The differentiator — Landon’s Bobby-at-13 voice, that is both honest and simple and, well, good enough to cut through the din. It’s kind if quirky, but perfectly on pitch. And it follows a melody that rises and falls…” — Lazy-i, March 24, 2007

The next day the band drove to Denver to open for The Photo Atlas at their album release show…

Anyway, if you haven’t already, check out Tighten the Noose at Bandcamp. I listened to it again this morning on my way into work and it holds up exceptionally well. Wouldn’t it be a kick in the head if Landon and Co. got together for a 10-year anniversary performance of Tighten the Noose? Think about it, Maha…

* * *

One of those bands that never seems to forget Omaha when it tours, Dave Wakeling and The English Beat, return to The Waiting Room tonight. Local ska band The Bishops opens. 8 p.m., $25.

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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

#TBT: The Waiting Room: Book It and They Will Come; Conor Oberst (SOLD OUT), Har Mar Superstar headline anniversary show…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 11:35 am March 9, 2017

Marc Leibowitz, left, and Jim Johnson a few days before the March 9, 2007, grand opening of The Waiting Room Lounge.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Has it really been 10 years? Guess it has, though it doesn’t seem like it.

When the venue opened March 9, 2007, there was never any doubt in my mind that The Waiting Room would still be in operation a decade later. And sure enough, here we are. The club is bigger and better than ever, and arguably was the keystone on which the Benson revitalization was built upon.

I’m not going to get all maudlin and nostalgic about the club or the people behind it (I’ll save that for The Reader article, which I’m hoping to write for the June issue). Instead, here’s the original interview with Waiting Room founders Marc Leibowitz and Jim Johnson from the March 8 2007 issue of The Reader (and entry on Lazy-i.com) where the dynamic duo explain why they built the club and their plans for the future.

Actually, before we get to that, tonight is the official 10th Anniversary show featuring Conor Oberst and The Felice Brothers. This one has been sold out for a long time. The club is having an invitation only celebration prior to that show, though everyone is invited to the 10th Anniversary After Party featuring Har Mar Superstar at Reverb Lounge. Tickets are still available for that one for $10, but I suggest you buy them before it, too, is sold out. Har Mar starts at 11 p.m.

Now let’s step into the Wayback machine to March 8, 2007…

The Waiting Room: Book It and They Will Come
from Lazy-i.com, March 8, 2007

A mere month after taking possession of the building that used to house Marnie’s Place, D Dubs and the legendary Lifticket Lounge, The Waiting Room in the heart of Benson is ready for business.

Its owners — Jim Johnson and Marc Leibowitz — are ready for business as well.

Since getting the keys from the landlord, a visibly worn but excited Johnson has spent 12 hours a day every day cleaning, painting and repairing the facility, from building a gorgeous new bar to upgrading the stage to remodeling the bathrooms, and he’s not through yet. One week prior to its grand opening more work still needed to be done. The Pepsi guy was scheduled to show up the next morning, more tables and chairs were on the way, a collection of posters from past One Percent Productions shows (what the duo is known for) had yet to be hung and the booze hadn’t arrived yet (nor had their liquor license).

But the most important element — the venue’s monster stage, sound and lighting system — was in place and ready for lift-off. Using an iPod plugged into the soundboard, Johnson and Leibowitz ran a brief test of the system, playing tracks by Red House Painters, The Replacements and Frontier Trust, finally settling on Beck’s Sea Change. Even with one of the large stage speakers still yet to be hooked up, the sound was pristine — huge and full-bodied — and very loud.

“It’ll be even louder when the bands are playing,” Leibowitz said. “It’s basically a supped-up version of Sokol Underground’s PA in a room half the size. It has the same speakers, but the amps are better. The monitors are the same, the board is a lot better and there are twice as many stage lights.”

Enormous subwoofers are mounted beneath the stage, surrounded by 5,000 pounds of sand used to dampen vibration. Running the board will be soundman Jason Churchill from the Satellite Blues Band, who has been working sound at One Percent shows for the past couple years. “We thought he had a good sound from the get-go,” Leibowitz said. “He’s used to working with large bands. We bought his PA, he sold his cube truck and now this is his home.”

It’s a first-class set-up that will quickly be recognized as one of the best performance rooms in the city. And unlike Sokol Underground, where large metal poles always block your view, all sight lines are unobstructed.

Beyond the stage and sound, the lounge itself sports a clean, comfortable, lived-in feel, from the booths along the south wall to the pinball-machine room in the back. The place even boasts two sets of restrooms — one by the pinball room, the other to the right of the stage. Johnson will get to know them intimately as he’ll be the guy cleaning them every morning after what he hopes will be plenty of use.

Although lifted from a Fugazi song, the club’s name — The Waiting Room — is appropriate for reasons beyond sheer tribute. Leibowitz and Johnson waited 11 years to open the club.

“We thought in 1996 that we’d find the right place within a year,” Johnson said. “We figured we could do shows as One Percent Productions for awhile and prove that we could make enough money to convince a bank to give us a loan. Eleven years later, and we realized it wasn’t that easy.”

Part of the reason for the delay was that they were too “picky.” Over the years they considered venues in the Old Market, along Farnam St., in South Omaha and even the building that currently houses Sullivan’s. Then this last December Johnson stepped into Marnie’s Place at 6212 Maple St. and talked with the building’s owner. Within weeks, he was handed the keys.

“One reason we chose this location was because it was affordable,” Leibowitz said. “Every other place we looked at cost too much money. And we like Benson. A lot of people that go to our shows live around here.”

Friday night’s opening will feature Art in Manila (a new band fronted by Orenda Fink, who has released albums on Saddle Creek Records), Lawrence band 4th of July and folk band Black Squirrels. The following night, punk bands Bombardment Society, Now Archimedes!, and The Stay Awake take the stage. Sunday night’s show is a special invitation-only affair that will feature one of the area’s biggest acts.

That’s three nights of indie and punk bands, and although One Percent built its rep on indie music, Johnson and Leibowitz know that they’ll have to reach beyond that genre to keep the bar open, especially with Saddle Creek Records’ mammoth Slowdown entertainment complex opening downtown in just a few months.

“We’re not indie music promoters; we’re independent promoters,” Leibowitz said. “Indie music got us where we are today, but we now book more metal and hardcore than anyone in town.”

“These days, I’m really getting into country music,” Johnson said, adding that had someone stepped into the building anytime over the past month, they would have heard plenty of pedal steel along with the hammers and saws.

“We want to book whatever people want to come see,” Leibowitz said. “Yes, the indie shows that can fit into this room will be here. But there also will be some bands that we would have booked at Mick’s — like Jolie Holland and Dave Dondero. We want to do the Americana stuff that the Sunday Roadhouse series is known for. We’ve been offered jazz and reggae shows in the past and had no room for them. Now we do. It’ll be all across the board.”

Which begs the question how One Percent will be able to book Sokol, Slowdown and their own club without an obvious conflict of interest. Leibowitz said The Waiting Room isn’t in those venues’ league.

“The competition will be between Sokol, Scottish Rite Hall and Slowdown. All really cater to the same size shows,” he said, adding that economics differentiate the three. Sokol is cheap to operate. “From what we’ve been told, Slowdown could be more expensive, and Scottish Rite is very expensive.”

Where an artist plays will depend on what the artist wants out of a show. “They may want to play a less expensive room that allows them to walk out with more cash,” Leibowitz said. “On the other hand, from a production standpoint, nothing will touch Slowdown. It’ll have the nicest stuff in town. It comes down to expenses, availability and capacity, and I can push artists only so far in one direction.”

For example, Leibowitz said he would prefer to have the upcoming Andrew Bird show at The Scottish Rite Hall. “It would have been amazing,” he said, “but the economics of Sokol Underground made more sense to them.”

As you can tell, despite the new bar Leibowitz’s focus will remain on growing One Percent Productions. Johnson will be dedicated to running The Waiting Room full-time. “You won’t see the two of us running around everywhere like before. We want hands-on control of this bar.”

The whole point of having their own club was to be able to do it their way. Every time they started booking shows at a new venue, they’ve brought a list of suggestions to improve its business. “We asked Sokol to repaint, put in some lighting in the room adjacent to the main room and add seating so people could sit down and drink. No one listened,” Leibowitz said. “We went into the Saddle Creek Bar and said ‘Make it sound right. Don’t add more speakers, make it better. ‘ At O’Leaver’s I walked out of one show (a performance by the band Bella Lea) embarrassed. I can’t put a delicate sounding band in there.”

“We never held any of our own cards at those other bars,” Johnson said. “Here, we have control of our own destiny. We can make it the way we want to make it. After doing 800 shows, we think we’ve determined what this town needs.”

With that level of control, a risky proposition like opening a bar is a chance they’re willing to take. “We’ve proven with Sokol that people will come if you book the right shows,” Leibowitz said. “O’Leaver’s has proven that, too. We know if we bring in bands people want to see, they’ll come. — Lazy-i.com, March 8, 2007

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More trivia: That was a busy night back in 2007 even if you weren’t at The Waiting Room. Kite Pilot, Razz the Kid and Or Does It Explode played at The Saddle Creek Bar. Or Does It Explode was a band that featured Robert Little and Matt Stamp from Mariannes, Tim from Latitude Longitude, and Pat D from RTO and Cactus Nerve Thang. $5, 9 p.m. The Terminals were playing the Black Shoe Bash and Dance Party at the Bemis Underground with Brimstone Howl and Denver’s The Machine Gun Blues, and The Take Action! Tour was happening down at Sokol Auditorium with The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Emery, Scary Kids Scaring Kids, A Static Lullaby, and Kaddisfly… Ah, those were the days…

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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

‘Bad Guitarist’ David Nance in HN: TBT: Feb. 2, 2007 — Them House Show Blues and old Commander Venus reunion rumors…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 1:44 pm February 2, 2017
Slowdown Virginia at Slowdown, Dec. 23, 2010.

In the #TBT Lazy-i Archive: Slowdown Virginia at Slowdown, Dec. 23, 2010.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

No shows again tonight and not much else happening, though I want to point you to a feature that just went online at Hear Nebraska — a mammoth profile of David Nance by Andrew Stellmon that’s worth your time, with a classic line:  “After once seeing The Ghosts, Conor Oberst told (Simon) Joyner that Nance was ‘the best bad guitarist’ he had ever seen.'” Joyner goes on to explain the quote, but I don’t want give away any spoilers, go read it yourself and get to know Nance, who is bubbling up in a national sort of way.

This week’s #TBT dip into the Lazy-i archives is a mixed bag, but I figured it might be fun just to see what we were all up to in a kinder, gentler time before our government was taken over by a monarchy, and so on… take a look.

Them house party blues, Ed Grey, Oxford Collapse tonight; Slowdown Virginia reunion?Lazy-i, Feb. 2, 2007

One of the biggest shows of the weekend is, in fact, a house party being held tonight at “Frank’s Hotel” across the street from The Brother’s Lounge and starring Capgun Coup, Coyote Bones, The Family Radio and Flowers Forever.

House parties continue to be a staple of indie music, they’re the most convenient outlet for bands and their underage fans to get together without the added cost of a hall rental. It also turns the tables on the whole age issue. Just like those under 21 can’t get into bars, those over 21 can become somewhat suspect at house shows. Those over 30 become oddities. And those over 40 who don’t know anyone there become the elephant in the room: “Look, someone’s dad is here.” “Sir, please, take my chair, I’m fine standing up.” “How’s it going… cop.” Or, simply, “Who’s the freak in the corner?” I joke, of course.

But I have to admit I remember a time when I was in high school and went to house parties (ones where the centers of attention were a keg and a Hal Holbrook party hat (Editor’s Note: That’s slang for beer bong.). Whenever you saw an old guy there (say, in his mid-20s) you thought, “Jeeze, I hope I don’t end up like that old guy.” Music transcends age issues (especially indie music), but that doesn’t make it any less uncomfortable for those of us with graying temples. It is, as I’ve said before, my problem and no one else’s. I know I wouldn’t be the subject of ridicule (at least not in earshot), but still…

Look, if you’re wise and mature enough to not have my hang-ups, don’t miss this show. Coyote Bones is one of those bands that obviously has “it,” and will get signed by a savvy indie label in the very near future. The Family Radio is Nik Fackler’s posse and features arguably the best bass player in Omaha in Dereck Higgins (a guy who has no qualms about his age, nor should he). Capgun Coup epitomize the Archers of Loaf/Pavement slacker esthetic with an extra scoop of Omaha tuneful(less)ness thrown in for good measure. And Flowers Forever will be celebrating their debut.

So what will I be doing this weekend (in 2007)?

There are two other good shows tonight. Sokol Underground gets back into the indie swing of things with Sub Pop recording artist Oxford Collapse, Thunderbirds Are Now! and Latitude, Longitude. 9 p.m., $8.

Meanwhile, down at O’Leaver’s it’s a folk explosion with Iowa City’s Ed Gray. Ed’s worked with John Crawford (Head of Femur, Grey Ghost), violinist Tiffany Kowalski (Lullaby for the Working Class, Mayday, Shelley Short), and producer Alex McManus (The Bruces, Bright Eyes) as well as a ton of other Omaha musicians creatively linked to Simon Joyner. Also on the bill, the rocking Miracles of God, Petit Mal and The Front. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Finally, in an interview with Conor Oberst posted on MTV.com, the boy wonder talks about a possible Slowdown Virginia or Commander Venus reunion in honor of the grand opening of the Slowdown entertainment facility this summer.

Says the article: The opening could feature a performance by erstwhile indie rockers Slowdown Virginia. And Oberst said that while nothing’s been discussed yet, he thinks reuniting his former band, Commander Venus – which disbanded in 1997 after just two years – would make the night even more interesting.

“It would be very funny if that happened,” he said. “I wouldn’t imagine there’s much of a demand for that reunion, but it’s possible. We’re all still around, but I doubt [guitarist] Robb [Nansel] would ever get onstage again.” But Oberst says that reuniting with his other former outfit, Desaparecidos, is “certainly a possibility. I could see that happening at some point down the line.” (Read the whole interview, (still online) here.)

Conor’s talked about a Desa reunion since before Wide Awake came out, and others close to the project all the way back in March 2005 told me that new Desa music had been recorded and only awaited Oberst to add the vocals — which apparently never happened. As welcome as a reunion would be, I’m not holding my breath on this one. A Commander Venus reunion would be fun, but a Slowdown Virginia reunion would be stellar, and appropriate. Why the original Slowdown CD — Dead Space — hasn’t been reissued by Creek (or someone else) is a mystery to me, since it stands up today (I just listened to “Whipping Stick” again this morning). —Lazy-i, Feb. 2, 2007

* * *

Well, that Commander Venus reunion never happened and likely never will. But the Desaparecidos reunion did happen, and we all know how that ended. And Slowdown Virginia reunited three years later in 2010 to a sold out Slowdown crowd (Here’s the review).

Frank’s Hotel (I think) is West Wing these days, but the under-21 set also has Milk Run for shows, and now we’ve got an under-age ordinance thing that allows minors into music venues with parental permission slips, which wasn’t around 10 years ago.

And though I’m 10 years older, I’m still not intimidated about going to shows at Milk Run where I’m clearly old enough to be most of the crowd’s grand-pappy. That’s one of the reasons I like indie rock — most of us who listen to it are outsiders (and misfits) and there’s always room for another misfit at an indie rock show, no matter how old he is…

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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