#TBT: Jan. 31, 2007: The Wait Is Over; Turnpike Troubadours tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 3:02 pm January 26, 2017

In beautiful Downtown Benson..

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

This truly is a landmark year for Omaha’s music scene as two of its prominent music venues are celebrating 10-year anniversaries.

When The Waiting Room was announced a decade ago this month it was a surprise to many. We knew the dudes at One Percent Productions were looking for a place to call their own rather than to continue renting Sokol Underground; but few people knew where they were looking. There had been rumors that the Sokol facility was in their cross hairs along with the Saddle Creek Bar (can you believe at one time both The Slowdown and One Percent were looking at the Metcalf Park area for their locations?).

I wonder how The Waiting Room and The Slowdown will celebrate their anniversaries… We’ll just have to wait and see. For now, step back into the Lazy-i vaults and relieve this announcement all over again…

Column 112: The Wait Is Over
One Percent to Open Music Venue
Lazy-i, Jan. 31, 2007

For the guys at One Percent Productions, a long-held dream is about to become a reality.

That dream is called The Waiting Room, a new venue slated for an early March launch at 6212 Maple St., the location of the now-defunct Marnie’s Place. The impending opening is bound to send shockwaves throughout the Omaha music scene, sending askew the delicate balance that exists among a handful of clubs that also host indie rock shows.

Why all the hoo-ha? Because The Waiting Room is owned and operated by Jim Johnson and Marc Leibowitz, the dynamic duo behind what is arguably the city’s most important promotion company, One Percent Productions — the folks who, along with Saddle Creek Records, helped forge this city’s reputation as a national indie music Mecca.

Anyone who’s known Johnson and Leibowitz over the past decade knows that they’ve spent almost as much time looking for a suitable location to open their own club as they have booking shows. Now they’ve found it in the heart of Benson.

Though it’s been talked about in hushed voices for weeks, Johnson officially confirmed the rumor a few days ago after negotiations with the landlord were signed, sealed and delivered. Details are still sketchy since he and Leibowitz only received the keys on Monday, but here’s what Johnson knows for sure:

The estimated 250-capacity club will book a wide range of music in a variety of genres, not just the indie fare that One Percent is known for. Johnson said in addition to local and national indie bands, look for more adult-oriented music, including rockabilly, country, folk, reggae, blues, and yes, even cover bands. Plans call for live music five days a week, with Leibowitz doing the lion’s share of booking.

Facility-wise, look for the usual bar accoutrements, including pool tables, pinball machines, a good jukebox, even those stupid bar-top videogames. The establishment will have a full liquor license, but no food will be served, which means — you guessed it — smoking will be permitted.

That’s all fine and dandy, but what about parking? Johnson said there’s plenty of street parking and also some parking to the south of the building, behind the hardware store.

He said the venue’s premium sound system will set it apart from all the other clubs in Omaha. “We’re spending a lot of money on the sound system,” Johnson said. “Jason Churchill, who does sound for us at Sokol Underground, is designing the system, and it will be among the best.”

But Johnson said The Waiting Room’s edge over the other guys comes from the duo’s decade of experience successfully booking bands in rooms all over town. One Percent Productions’ rep is renowned among national agents who handle the highest quality touring bands. “We’ve shown what we can do at the clubs we’ve worked with over the years,” Johnson said. “That’s really our advantage.”

So what about that name, The Waiting Room? Johnson said it’s derived from the opening track off Fugazi’s classic 1989 album, 13 Songs. The throbbing post-punk anthem sports the line: “I won’t make the same mistakes / Because I know how much time that wastes / Function is the key / In the waiting room.” It’s kind of like how the promotion company’s name came from a Jane’s Addiction song, “1%,” which has the inspiring lyric, “I’m tired of living the bosses’ dream.” The duo was toying with the idea of renaming the club The Liftticket Lounge since it’s the site of the fabled venue that hosted, among others, Nirvana and Soundgarden.

“The room has a legacy,” Johnson said. “It’s kind of cool.” In the end, they preferred to leave that legacy as part of Benson’s history.

The other burning question is how the club will impact One Percent’s ongoing promotion operations. Over the past decade, One Percent has booked nearly 1,000 shows primarily at Sokol Underground and Sokol Auditorium, but also at O’Leaver’s, The Saddle Creek Bar, The 49’r and nearby Mick’s.

Johnson said their promotion efforts won’t be affected at all, and in fact “it should allow us to do more shows at other places in town,” he said. “By offering another room, we’ll hopefully be able to get bigger and better shows. We still need Sokol and Slowdown and The Mid America Center and The Orpheum and The Rococo in Lincoln.”

In fact, tucked away in the back of the new venue will be the first official offices of One Percent Productions. “It’s going to be nice for Marc and I to be able to sit in an office together,” Johnson said. “Maybe it’ll give me the opportunity to be more involved with the live booking than I’ve been in the past. We already discuss every show over the phone, but now we’ll be able to do it face to face.” — Lazy-i, Jan. 31, 2007

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So what’s going on at The Waiting Room tonight? So-called “dirt country” band Turnpike Troubadours plays TWR tonight with Dalton Domino. $30, 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.



#TBT: Jan. 24, 2007: Dev Hynes (Blood Orange) drinks tea at Target and strolls the dying halls of Crossroads…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — @ 1:58 pm January 19, 2017

Dev Hynes circa 2007, then a member of Lightspeed Champion, stands next to a giant Buster Sword at Ala-Ka-Zam in the Crossroads. Blood Orange was still years away…

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

The future of Devonte Hynes was a bit murky 10 years ago when the following story was published in Lazy-i and The Reader. I’d never heard of the singer/songwriter and was simply looking for a way inside Mike Mogis’ at-the-time brand-spanking-new ARC Studios. Little did I know after working with the likes of Sky Ferreira, Carly Rae Jepson, Britney Spears even Kilie Minogue that Hynes would emerge years later as the break-out act Blood Orange, with the infectious dance hit “Best to You” off last year’s Freetown Sound.

On this Throwback Thursday, let’s step into the Wayback Machine and set the dials to 2007 and revisit Dev Hynes before he became Blood Orange…

Column 111: Englishmen in Omaha — Lazy-i, Jan. 24, 2007

Of Target, Chili’s and large knives

So I get this e-mail from UK label Domino Records telling me that one of their bands, Lightspeed Champion, was in Omaha recording with superstar producer Mike Mogis at ARC Studios — the new mansion studio that replaced Lincoln’s Presto! studios. Having seen the bands I’ve covered in the past, would I like to do an interview for Lazy-i?

Devonte Hynes, the mad genius behind Lightspeed, used to be the vocalist in Test Icicles, a band that only a couple years ago was on the verge of exploding across the London musical landscape, thanks to a rowdy style that combined noise with hardcore dance beats. After only a few club gigs around London in ’05, Test Icicles became the subject of a fierce label bidding war. Domino won, but a year after the release of their debut, For Screening Purposes Only, Test Icicles broke up. Here was a chance to find out why, while also getting a glance inside what I’ve been told is the sweetest recording studio in the region.

Domino set up the interview for last Monday. I was to meet Dev at the studio at 7 p.m. It was colder than hell the night I drove up to the large, ’60s-style house right on Dodge St. Sure didn’t look like a studio. I walked up to the door and knocked, certain that I had the wrong address. But no. Answering the door was Mike Mogis, spoon in hand. He was in the throes of making dinner for his family — a smiling wife appeared at the stairs, an adorable child skipped across the floor, and even Mike’s Brother, AJ, was there, standing next to the kitchen island by a large bowl of salad-looking food. I felt like an ass.

Dev? Oh, he’s over in the guest house. Mike pointed out his back window to another house across the compound. He kindly let me cut through his kitchen and out the back door. As I made my way across the frozen tundra, off to the right was the recording studio building, glowing in the night. That was the closest I got to it.

Instead, I made my way to the guesthouse where I was met by Tom Clarke, a cello player and part of Lightspeed. Inside, Dev sat behind a Powerbook near a kitchen table overflowing with sugary Halloween candies. Tiny empty boxes of Nerds littered the table. From upstairs came Ian Aeillo, an engineer who works with Mogis and is working on the Lightspeed project.

“They want to go to Target,” Ian said. “I’m sorry about all this.” There’s nothing like Target in London — at least not in the part of London where Dev and Tom are from — and the duo had become obsessed with it, having walked to Crossroads a number of times since arriving a week earlier to begin recording. So we all piled into my dirty Sidekick and headed to the mall.

So far, the English duo’s Omaha experience had been like Bowie’s in The Man Who Fell to Earth, aliens discovering mysteries in the most mundane things that we take for granted. Tom and Dev’s other memorable shopping experience: USA Baby, which they had mistakenly pronounced USA, Baby! and hence, expected a mod fashion boutique instead of a store filled with baby goods. “We have nothing like that in London,” Tom said. Nor do they have stores dedicated to cowboy gear, like Wolf Brothers next door — a store they were too intimidated to enter. “But we’re going back,” Tom said. “I want hats and spurs.”

“I could happily stay here for awhile,” Dev said, sipping his tea. “I’m quite content. I don’t need much.”

Omaha couldn’t be more different than the poverty-laden area where Dev lives, an East London borough called Hackney. “It’s one of the worst places in the UK,” he said. In fact, a few days before leaving for Omaha Dev was jumped by a gang brandishing guns and knives. He recounts the story nonchalantly. “The guy said, ‘You want your life to end right now?’ and I said, ‘I don’t fucking care.’ My friends had to pull me away, and pull me into my place so I didn’t get shot in the face.”

“We live there because our friends live there,” said Tom, who lives a few blocks from Dev in the nearby borough Towers Hamlets. “London isn’t like here. It’s so big. Here, it’s so small. Literally everyone is in this small place. It’s surprising, this Saddle Creek thing. There are a lot of bands in East London, but it’s not a connected scene, just a lot of people in bands. Here, it’s all local and integrated, it’s so awesome.”

Becoming part of that scene was the last thing on Dev’s mind when he made the demo that ended up with Mogis, who agreed to produce their debut album. “I was quite shocked,” Dev said. “He’s done some pretty awesome stuff, like Cursive’s The Ugly Organ.”

So far, Clark Baechle, Nate Wolcott and Mogis all have contributed to the Lightspeed recording. “The Tilly girls might do some percussion,” Dev said. “The music scene here is a bunch of friends. That doesn’t happen anywhere else. Ian and Mike don’t think twice about it. The other day they were talking about asking Tim to come over to watch football. I turned to Tom and said, ‘Is he talking about Cursive?’ It’s the way everyone wants their music scene to be.”

For the next hour over peppermint tea at Target, Dev and Tom talked about the recording and explained what happened to Test Icicles.

“We’d been saying we would split up for ages,” Dev said of his former band. “We didn’t like the music, we didn’t want the money, we didn’t want to be famous, why were we doing it? So we just split up. Everyone was saying, ‘Man, you could have played Brixton Academy.’ Well, wouldn’t you rather make music you like? People around London didn’t understand. Now they do.”

Dev said Lightspeed Champion gives him a chance to do what he wants. “The music shifts between country, folk and grunge, with a running story line,” he said. “And we’re doing this comic book with it. It’s all completely selfish. Being here now, recording it, it blows my mind.

“It’s going to be the best album in the world,” he added, half-joking. “Sometimes I’m recording and I hear a whisper in the distance, and that whisper is saying ‘Grammy, Grammy, Grammy…‘ I’m aiming for the shelves of Target, the ones with the picture above it.”

Certainly the indie scene could use a savior to lift it from its current doldrums. Dev and Tom seemed skeptical that a savior is coming from London or anywhere else any time soon.

“Nothing’s happened on a world-scale since The Strokes, and before that, Nirvana,” Dev said. What about Arcade Fire? Dev and Tom both lit up with the mention of the Canadian band, having loved Funeral, but said a lot is riding on the band’s follow-up, the forthcoming Neon Bible. “I like to think that no one cares about this sort of thing, but if Neon Bible doesn’t sell as much as Funeral, it’s instantly going to be deemed a failure. You see it all the time. People are now talking about the downfall of The Arctic Monkeys. How can that band fall from grace without even having released a second album or touring?

“Shit like that is why (Test Icicles) broke up,” Dev said. “Things got to a really weird point. I’m sure there are a million bands doing what Test Icicles was doing. It wasn’t groundbreaking.”

Still, songs like the brazen “Circle. Square. Triangle.” were pure dance-floor candy. “I was listening to Dance Macabre at the time that came out,” Dev said. “We were listening to Ex Models a lot, and the first Rapture stuff. When we wrote it, we said, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if this gets played and the club reopened? — The song is an ode to the club we played in, kind of like a joke.”

Did Dev outgrow his former band’s clubby sound? “We didn’t grow out of it, we weren’t into it as much,” Dev said. “You kind of change between 17 and 20. At the time, we all were making new bands every week out of complete enjoyment. We’d play a gig and break up. We did it repeatedly, constantly.”

Dev said that after the Lightspeed Champion sessions end — probably in the next few weeks — he’s going to disappear. “Mike will mix the record. I guess it’ll come out in the fall — it’s not up to me. After this is done I’m just going to lock myself away for awhile. I’m going to stay inside and chill until it’s time to tour.”

Before heading to Chili’s to pick up a “to go” order, the four of us strolled through the half-dark, dying mall to Ala-Ka-Zam, a store that features giant, 60-pound Final Fantasy “Buster Swords” (a best-seller, according to the store’s proprietor who was happy just to have someone to talk to), along with a collection of bizarre decorative weaponry inspired by comic books and role-playing games — the kind of stuff you see sold on cable shopping channels at 3 a.m. by guys who sound like trailer-park hillbillies.

Of course Dev and Tom had never seen anything like Ala-Ka-Zam, and took the opportunity to snap pictures holding the gigantic cheaply made metal swords. In a few weeks, they’ll be back in London, thousands of miles away from Omaha and Target and our dying mall. Ah, but they’ll always have the memories. — Lazy-i Jan. 24, 2007

BTW, the name of the Mogis-produced album Lightspeed Champion released a year later on Domino Records was Falling off the Lavender Bridge. It reached the No. 45 spot on the UK album charts. Pitchfork gave it a 6.3 rating and it pretty much has been forgotten in the annuls of time…

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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.


#TBT: 2006 Year in Review; Wrong Pets, Legal Creep (Javid/Steve Micek Explosion), La Casa Bombas, Josh Hoyer tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 1:46 pm December 29, 2016

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Before we step into the Wayback Machine, a head’s up about tonight’s musical events.

Wrong Pets returns to fabulous O’Leaver’s tonight. Wrong Pets is a new band fronted by Reagan Roeder with Landon Hedges (bass), Danny Maxwell (guitar) and Ryan Haas on drums. It’s some heavy shit. That alone is worth $5, but in addition, tonight also marks the reunion of La Casa Bombas, who haven’t played  together since Kit Carson moved to LA, and the debut of Legal Creep, the drumming duo of Javid Dabestani (Lupines, ex-Bright Calm Blue) and Steve Micek (ex-The Stay Awake, The Mariannes, Real Time Optimists). $5, 9 p.m.

Also tonight, Josh Hoyer continues his Omaha outreach. He and his band played O’Leaver’s a week or so ago. Tonight they play at Reverb Lounge with Stonebelly. $8, 9 pm.

Now, back to our Throwback Thursday special. In the coming days, The Reader will be posting my annual Year in Review and Predictions articles. Until then, let’s step into the past and read my Year in Review from a decade ago — 2006. It was a different time. Saddle Creek was flying about as high as it ever would. Slowdown and The Waiting Room were merely twinkles in their founders’ eyes. It all doesn’t seem that long ago…

From Lazy-i, Dec. 28, 2006…

Those Awkward, In-between Years
2006: The Year in Music

Lazy-i Best of 2006

Lazy-i Best of 2006

I got plenty of shit last year for saying in these pages that indie music peaked in ’05. Looking back at ’06, tell me I was wrong.

Sure, there were plenty of new indie records and rock shows down at Sokol, but did anything from this past year really stand out? Contemplating this article, I wracked my brains for a theme for ’06, but only came up with this truth: 2006 was a year that indie music — both locally and nationally — was in a holding pattern.

There were no new trends, no standout acts, and maybe no place left to go. No, I don’t think indie has run its course, but I do think that we’re all getting tired of the same old mopey jangle-rock, the wonky 10-piece chamber-pop ensembles, and the endless reinvention of Gang of Four-inspired post-punk. If there was a trend in indie, it was toward the odd. Joanna Newsom, that harpist with the voice of Lisa Simpson, was lauded by indie music scribes as the artist of the year (I’ve yet to be able to make it through her new disc, Ys, in one sitting). Then there were the gypsy folk acts like DeVotchka and Beirut, and kitschy chamber pop bands like Decemberist that seemed to make a name for themselves based on their sheer idiosyncrasy. It’s all about being peculiar these days.

It’s not like we heard anything earth-shaking on the radio, either. Look, I like that Gnarls Barkley song as much as the next guy, but “Crazy” was hardly the ground-breaking single that “Hey Ya!” was for Outkast. The rest of the Billboard charts were dominated with the usual gang of hip-hop-sters, illiterate goon-rock bands and tuneless, silicone-powered divas. Can music get any worse?

We’re living in a state of inertia. That certainly was the case for Saddle Creek Records. For the label at the epicenter of Omaha’s indie music scene, 2006 will be remembered as an off year. This despite having signed three new acts — local heavy-punk rockers Ladyfinger (NE), Crooked Fingers singer-songwriter Eric Bachmann, and hippy folk rockers Neva Dinova, who (probably) won’t release their Creek debut until next May.

Meanwhile, one of the label’s holy triumvirate, Cursive, made perhaps the best records of its career. Released in August, Happy Hollow also is the label’s most significant creative achievement in ’06. But despite having sold more than 27,000 copies, it wasn’t its biggest seller. That honor goes to Bright Eyes’ 2005 release I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning, which sold more than 47,000 copies, bringing its grand total to over 380,000. Is there a Gold Record in Conor Oberst’s future? Ironically, the biggest-selling Creek-related release was Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins’ Rabbit Fur Coat, which actually came out on Oberst’s Team Love label. Since its January release, Rabbit Fur Coat has sold a remarkable 97,000 copies, according to Saddle Creek executive Jason Kulbel.

Creek only had seven releases in ’06 — a quiet year by record label standards. But that didn’t mean the label was sitting on its hands. After months of waiting, the iron finally arrived at the site of Slowdown, Saddle Creek’s long-planned, multi-purpose complex just north of downtown Omaha. Construction began on the multi-million dollar office/music hall/bar/movie theater/condo project in September with plans for a grand opening in summer ’07 — a year after its original target date.

Meanwhile, Presto! Studios — where most Saddle Creek artists record — bid adieu to Lincoln last summer. The Mogis Brothers are currently building a new studio in tony Fairacres, right next to a mansion purchased by Saddle Creek superstar Conor Oberst. As a sort of homecoming celebration, Bright Eyes performed a bone-drenching concert in Memorial Park June 17 that inspired the editors of The World-Herald to declare Omaha “fun city” (the saps!).

So, yeah, 2006 probably will be remembered as a limbo year for the Omaha indie music scene. But with Slowdown opening and new releases by Bright Eyes and The Faint, ’07 could mark a turning point for Omaha and Saddle Creek Records.

But before we look into the future, let’s look back one more time. Here’s the list of my 10 favorite releases of ’06 (in alphabetical order):

Eric Bachmann,To the Races (Saddle Creek) — Bachmann’s sweet indie lullabies mask stories of death and loss, all-too-often sung in a voice that Neil Diamond would happily kill Rick Rubin for.

Beck,The Information (Interscope) — His best effort since Mellow Gold. ‘Nuff said.

Belle & Sebastian, The Life Pursuit (Matador) — The retro upbeat dance record drew heavily from Bowie and T. Rex. I hated it at first, but it grew on me (like a fungus).

Cat Power, The Greatest (Matador) — The first album from Chan Marshall that I’ve enjoyed from beginning to end — the most heartfelt and tuneful songs of her career.

Cursive, Happy Hollow (Saddle Creek) — It stands alongside Domestica as the band’s career-setting high-water mark. A pop, punk, drunk, funk achievement.

Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins, Rabbit Fur Coat (Team Love) — A twangy rock marvel, the best thing Lewis has produced since The Execution of All Things back in ’02.

Simon Joyner and the Fallen Men, Skeleton Blues (Jagjaguwar) — Standing alongside a solid band, Joyner has finally released his inner-rock star, emerging cautious and slightly broken in a cloak originally tailored for the likes of Dylan.

The Terminals, Forget About Never (Dead Beat) — With producer Andy Caffrey, the band reinvented its hep-cat-cool retro garage punk into blown-out, raw mayhem. Turn it up.

Two Gallants, What the Toll Tells (Saddle Creek) — Though a little of these hippy ship-galley sea-shanty balladeers goes a long way, I now see why they appealed to the sexy young execs at Saddle Creek.

Yo La Tengo, I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass (Matador) — The latest in a series of intimate rock head-trips, almost indefinable in its scope, which ranges from 10-minute acid-rock jams to ethereal early morning acoustic walks in a forest to cow-bell driven, falsetto-sung dance-rock rave-ups.

Venues, for the most part, remained status quo last year, with a couple new players added to the mix. Sokol Underground and Auditorium continued to have a stranglehold on all things indie, as they have for the past three or four years, thanks to One Percent Productions. Little ol’ O’Leaver’s also kept its rep as the small venue that hosts some of the best shows, while Mick’s remains Omaha’s keynote location for acoustic (or electric) folk. The only venue to really fade in ’06 was The 49’r, which hosted fewer shows than ever, probably because they pack the place just fine without live music.

Two new venues for live music also made their mark last year. With shows by Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins and Gillian Welch, The Scottish Rite Hall on 202 So. 20th St. was rediscovered as a hidden gem in downtown. It could become Omaha’s version of Lawrence’s Liberty Hall. The other notable new player was The Saddle Creek Bar at 1410 No. Saddle Creek Rd. Around for literally decades only to reopen last summer, the venue’s old-home atmosphere, weird stage and exceptional location could place it on top of the list for live music venues. Its future, however, depends on solid booking.

With Slowdown opening next summer and a couple new bars in the works, Omaha could actually suffer from a glut of live venues — and not enough quality bands to fill the stages. That’s a good problem to have (as long as new talent actually emerges). So what were my favorite shows of ’06? Here’s the rundown:

Simon Joyner and the Wind-Up Birds, Jan. 27, O’Leaver’s — Joyner and his band unveiled the sound that would become Skeleton Blues and hit the proverbial sweet-spot where melody and dissonance meet to form a beautiful, soulful noise that burns going down.

Cursive, Feb. 8, O’Leaver’s — A “secret show” where Cursive unveiled the sound that would become Happy Hollow. Their big-shouldered strut felt more relaxed and, quite frankly, funner than the usual furrowed-brow Cursive stuff.

Jenny Lewis and The Watson Twins, March 11, The Scottish Rite Hall — A warm set in one of the city’s warmest venues, Lewis showed that she’s bound to become the biggest act on Oberst’s Team Love label (besides Bright Eyes, of course), and could spur a C&W revival among the indie set. God help us all.

Ladyfinger, March 18, Sokol Underground — The irony: They seem like nice guys, but their music is some dark shit, black and negative, psycho angry, rattling around loud and scary like a box of smoking chainsaws. Did I mention how loud it was?

NOMO, June 8, O’Leaver’s — To say it was celebratory would be an understatement. O’Leaver’s glowed. The seven-piece afro-beat ensemble closed the night by parading through the bar, ending in a chanting circle right in front of the bar.

Bright Eyes, June 17, Memorial Park — Oberst never sounded better performing in front of a park filled with a few thousand of his new neighbors. Halfway through the show, the sky opened and the rain came. In buckets. But throughout the maelstrom, thousands refused to leave, both young and old. Talk about your acid test in the park.

Thor, Sept. 10, The Saddle Creek Bar — Donning a huge black (plastic) chest plate and a series of gruesome rubber masks, Thor had the crowd in the palm of his mighty fist, proudly belting out one heavy metal ditty after another. It was like being back at Fat Jacks circa 1985.

Yo La Tengo, Oct. 8, Sokol Underground — Two hours, three encores, selections from throughout their catalog, their style was all over the board, from raging indie jams to urban, falsetto R&B to quiet, acoustic ballads. Show of the year.

Twilight Singers, Oct. 30, Sokol Underground — The highlight: Mark Lanegan entering from back stage looking like a cross between a straight-haired, goateed Will Ferrell and Frankenstein, striking a pose with one hand on the microphone, the other firmly grasping the mic stand, eyes clamped closed, barely moving. Scary.

The Who, Dec. 7, The Qwest Center — Memorable, despite a hoarse Roger Daltrey. After 90 minutes of music, the encore included a medley of songs from Tommy, Daltrey gasping to get through “Pinball Wizard,” while Townshend shined on a raucous version of “Underture” that was the night’s highlight. — Lazy-i, Dec. 28, 2006

Still feeling nostalgic? If you have Spotify, you can now hear the Lazy-i Best of 2006 playlist right here (minus songs by The Terminals and Prince, which ain’t in 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 © 2016 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


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

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — @ 1:47 pm December 1, 2016
#TBT, The Slowdown complex under construction, Dec. 2, 2006.

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

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

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

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

Things did start going at a faster clip after that…

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

Tonight at Slowdown Jr. it’s American Wrestlers, who I wrote about yesterday. Opening is Chicago indie band Varsity, and our very own Eric in Outespace. $10, 8 p.m.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2016 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


TBT: Sept. 25, 2006: Iron rises at Slowdown; Reader website redesigns; Chasm, Bib, The Vibrators tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:53 pm September 22, 2016
#TBT: Guess what this is...

#TBT: Guess what this is…

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

On this Throwback Thursday, from Lazy-i, Sept. 25, 2006. Can you believe it’s been 10 years?

Finally, after months of sitting dormant, serious work has begun again on the Slowdown compound. I was surprised to see steel beginning to go up last week from my office window and felt compelled to take a few snappies as I drove by the property yesterday afternoon (see above photo). If the 24-Hour Fitness on 77th and Cass is any indication, once the steel arrives it’s only a matter of weeks before the whole damn thing is framed and walls become enclosed, and before you know it, they’ll be working on the interior. I’m hearing from various sources that one of the retail bays is now spoken for by a coffee shop, though the folks at Slowdown deny that any tenant has signed a lease. At first blush, a coffee shop seems like an ill fit for an indie music venue, offices and film house, until you realize that there will be a couple hotels right across the street (to the north, which I suspect at the rate they’re going up, will be open for business before the first band takes the Slowdown stage). I’ll continue to take pics as construction progresses. — Lazy-i, Sept. 25, 2006

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A quick note in case you have noticed it (and why would you?): In the last week or so, The Reader launched a new website design at thereader.com. This one actually makes sense, especially if you’re reading it on your phone. In addition to being easier to read, the site is responsive, which means it looks just as good on your phone as your tablet as your desktop. Take a look.

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A couple hot ones tonight…

At The Brothers Lounge, KC heavy stone band Chasm headlines with metal dudes Super Moon and one of the area’s most talked about noise-punk bands — Bib. Come see what all the hype is about. $5, 9 p.m.

Also tonight, UK punk legends The Vibrators headline at Lookout Lounge. The full docket includes Tiananmen Squares, Buggy Lewis and The Rabbit Grenades. $8, 8 p.m.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2016 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


#TBT: Guess the band, venue and date…

Category: Blog — Tags: , — @ 12:50 pm August 25, 2016

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

For this week’s Throwback Thursday special, guess the band in the above photo, along with the venue and approximate date. Here’s a hint: These out-of-towners have played here about a dozen times since, including at a rather majestic downtown venue… Put your guesses in the comments section.

The only show worth mentioning tonight is local surf-rock band The Sub-Vectors are playing down at Slowdown Jr. Joining them are The Regulation and The Fat Timmys. $7, 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 © 2016 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Remembering Rilo Kiley 15 years later (#TBT from the Lazy-i vault); Deerhoof tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — @ 12:46 pm August 4, 2016
Jenny Lewis with Rilo Kiley circa 2002.

Jenny Lewis with Rilo Kiley circa 2002.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Music blog UPROXX has a remembrance of sorts of Rilo Kiley on the band’s 15th anniversary. The writer goes through their catalog and has some nice comments about the sole Saddle Creek release in 2002, The Execution of All Things, which was something of a landmark for the label, its first real, non-Nebraska success. Rilo Kiley also would become the first band to to leave the label.

The details of their defection are interesting a decade later. This from Aug. 2, 2004, Lazy-i:

Rilo in the L.A. Times — Aug. 2, 2004

The LA Times published a story about Rilo Kiley yesterday with the headline “Leaving indie life behind — L.A.’s Rilo Kiley, with a new album on its own label and support from Warner Bros., believes its time has come.” Jenny Lewis lays out the logic behind jumping from Saddle Creek, saying essentially that they felt it was time for their big break, even if it costs them their creativity.

“I think we’re excited, but we’re a little nervous as well because we’ve been completely independent up until this point,” says Lewis, 28, in the LA Time article. “Once you start considering stockholders and the way these corporations are run, it isn’t necessarily in line with experimental music and continuing to do things in a totally organic way. But at the same time I feel like, you know, it’s been eight years for us, and if we’re not gonna do it now, then when? And I think we owe it to ourselves to continue to grow.”

Later, she explains that the band couldn’t get airplay on an indie label, which is absurd. “I think after making the record we started playing songs for our friends and we realized for the first time that [radio airplay] could possibly be an option, and I think that led to our decision in trying new things,” she said in the Times article. “With the shift that’s happening in music right now, where bands like Modest Mouse and Franz Ferdinand and all these rock bands are starting to get played on the radio again, it just seemed like the appropriate time.”

That’s kind of like saying that Creek bands are damned to only get airplay in college radio. She could have led the charge to help change that. Oh well, I’m sure there’s more to the story than this…— Aug. 2, 2004

There was.

Two years later I got a chance to ask Rilo Kiley drummer Jason Boesel about why the band strayed from Saddle Creek in this interview. Here’s an excerpt from the story from Sept. 22, 2004:

“We made this record with Saddle Creek and made it for Saddle Creek and figured it would come out on Saddle Creek,” (Boesel) said from his home in Los Angeles where the band is rehearsing for the upcoming tour. “Shortly after completing the record, we had some ideas and talked about them with Saddle Creek and discovered that we differed on a couple issues. Ultimately, we created our own record label to have total freedom over the record and the music.”

That, despite the fact that the CD was already in the can. Seems the disagreements between the band and Creek stemmed not from creative issues, but from what Boesel characterized as limitations inherent to indie record labels. Saddle Creek label manager Jason Kulbel said in last month’s issue of Alternative Press that one of the main differences was in how the two parties approached commercial radio. “Even if we had it, we are just not down with throwing hundreds of thousands of dollars at commercial radio so they will play our stuff,” Kulbel said in the AP article.

But Boesel said it was more than just the cost of doing business with commercial radio. “I don’t know if we’re throwing thousands down for commercial radio. That might be an exaggeration,” he said. “We didn’t want to put a ceiling on what we did.”…

“At some point, the hope is that this record would move to Warner Bros. proper,” Boesel said. “We wanted that to be a possibility. Even if it had been released by Saddle Creek that was a possibility, but it wasn’t something they (Saddle Creek) were comfortable with. They’re definitely crusaders with high morals and ethics, trying to do this thing for the greater good. For some, that’s the right approach. For us, it wasn’t. We’re trying to do something similar, but in a different way. We’re trying to enter into that world with full knowledge of the traps. We came in with a finished record and have not compromised it in the least.”

(Saddle Creek label executive Robb) Nansel said there were a number of reasons why Saddle Creek frowned upon a deal where Warner Bros. or any other major would simply take over the record. “They wanted us to sell ‘x’ number of records and then they would take it from us,” Nansel said. “The first few weeks are the most difficult time for any release.”

Boesel added, “It would be wrong to say we’re not taking a gamble choosing to go into this world. We’re taking a risk. These companies are set up to make money, while indies like Saddle Creek started out as a way to put out good music, which is a completely different thing.”--Lazy-i, Sept. 22, 2004

It is indeed. So did the gamble pay off? One assumes (maybe incorrectly) that Rilo Kiley made more money by moving to a major. Regardless, the band officially broke up in 2014. Jenny Lewis went onto a semi-successful solo career.

Actually, I don’t know how any musician or artist measures success these days. She had a number of quality solo releases; who knows how well they did from a money standpoint.

Lewis’ new project, Nice as Fuck, is something of a step backwards compared to her solo work. The first single, “Door,” is fun and clever but as lightweight a pop song as you’ll ever hear. And then it’s regurgitated six more times to fill out the collection (the band’s “theme song” is also included on the album). A nice little distraction for Lewis until she gets around to her next solo outing…

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Tonight at The Waiting Room is that Deerhoof show I mentioned yesterday. $15, 9 p.m. You really should go. Philly dark-punk band Blank Spell opens along with local hero Thick Paint.

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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.


Matthew Sweet wraps ‘Tomorrow Forever’; #TBT photo: Cursive from June 3, 2000; Atlas Genius, New Generation showcase tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:28 pm July 21, 2016

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

It’s been two years since Matthew Sweet launched a Kickstarter project to fund his next album, which generated more than $55k. Today Sweet reports that he’s finally wrapped up recording. “Last Friday morning I completed recording for the album. I now have final rough mixes done for all 38 songs I started,” he told Kickstarter backers.

Sweet said once he’s settled on a sequence, he’ll start final mixing, prioritizing by what goes on the album time-wise. “I’m guessing mixing will start in two or three weeks,” he said.

Sweet also reported that the album will be called Tomorrow Forever, but didn’t mention a release date. “I know It’s been painful to wait so long, but the wisdom of recording multiple batches in order to get the best stuff possible has paid off big time,” he said. “I really can’t see how it could have been as good as it is any other way.”

Perhaps we’ll get a taste of those 38 songs when he plays the Maha Music Festival in August.

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Some #TBT goodness on a very sweaty Thursday, this previously unpublished photo of Cursive was taken June 3, 2000 (which just happens to have been my 35th birthday). The venue is, of course, Sokol Underground. It was quite a show...

Some #TBT goodness on a very sweaty Thursday, this previously unpublished photo of Cursive was taken June 3, 2000 (which just happens to have been my 35th birthday). The venue was, of course, Sokol Underground. It was quite a show…

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Couple shows tonight…

Down at Slowdown Aussie alt band Atlas Genius headlines. The Jeffrey brothers started as an indie before signing to Warners in 2012 for their debut. Warners released their last album, Inanimate Objects, in 2015. Bear Hands and The Moth and the Flame open. $20, 8 p.m.

Also tonight, The Waiting Room hosts the New Generation Music Festival Showcase, featuring a slew of acts (Ragged Company and Low Long Signal among them) that will be playing the festival slated for Stinson Park August 5. The free show starts at 8 p.m.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2016 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


TBT: June 24, 2005, Slowdown officially announced; Ten Questions with Peter Bjorn and John…

Category: Blog,Interviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:49 pm June 23, 2016

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

On this #TBT, a brief memory from the Lazy-i blog, circa 2005…

Briefly noted, Slowdown… If you turned on your TV or picked up a Lincoln Journal Star than you know that the Saddle Creek folks held a press conference yesterday officially announcing the Slowdown project in downtown Omaha between 13th and 14th and Webster and Cuming, which means I’ll be able to watch its progress daily from the vantage point of my office at UP. No real earth-shaking news, though I figured the club would be larger than the 400-capacity space described in the Associated Press story. Time frame has the venue opening in a about a year. I know just as many people psyched about the facility’s two-screen indie/arthouse cinema as the club. I’m sure we’re gonna hear a lot more about the project as time goes by, like the club’s booking philosophy and how it could impact Sokol Underground. And what’s going on with that venture slated for the old Club Joy space? — Lazy-i, June 24, 2005

What did ever happen to that Club Joy space? Slowdown, btw, ended up opening the first week of June 2007, a year later than announced (and its capacity also is much larger than 400). Jason Kulbel and Co. should begin planning for the 10 year celebration concert right now…

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Peter Bjorn and John play The Waiting Room Sunday night.

Peter Bjorn and John play The Waiting Room Sunday night.

Ten Questions with Peter Bjorn and John

You might know Swedish indie pop musicians Peter Moren, Bjorn Yttling and John Eriksson — Peter Bjorn and John —  from their 2006 whistle-hook classic “Young Folks.” The song has more than 66 million spins in Spotify alone and was a hit in Europe and the U.S. before Spotify existed. Believe me, you’d recognize the song if you heard it. After a five-year recording hiatus, the band is back with self-released LP Breakin’ Point (2016, INGRID), a collection of bouncing pop songs that sounds like what you’d get if Belle and Sebastian cross-pollinated with ABBA.

I asked the band to take our Ten Questions survey, and here’s how the trio collectively responded, presumably in unison:

1. What is your favorite album?

Peter Bjorn and John: Tropical Moonlight. A reader’s digest vinyl compilation album with tropical easy listening highlights.

2. What is your least favorite song?

More bubbles with Peter Bjorn and John.

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

Good question.

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

Loud noises.

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


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

Mexico City.

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

In Stockholm, Sweden 2002. We were booked as the opening act on an outdoor festival and when we got there they told us we had to build the stage ourselves. When we, after two hours, played the first song it was totally out of tune since Peter had forgotten the tuning pedal in our rehearsal studio. Then it started to rain.

8. How do you pay your bills?

With a twisted smile.

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

I would like to try to be the writer of a very short book.

I would not like to be a bee keeper.

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

I have heard that Bruce Springsteen was there at some point. Don’t know what he did though.

Peter Bjorn and John play with All Young Girls Are Machine Guns Sunday, June 26, at The Waiting Room, 6212 Maple St. Tickets are $20, showtime is 8 p.m. For more information, go to onepercentproductions.com.

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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.



TBT May 25, 2006 — What you hear too loud CAN hurt you…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , , — @ 12:51 pm May 26, 2016
Good ol' ear plugs...

Good ol’ ear plugs…

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

For Throwback Thursday, a bit of a public service announcement —  a column I wrote 10 years ago about hearing protection at concerts and what was at the time considered an epidemic of people playing their iPods too loud, damaging their hearing.

I’m happy to say that my hearing remains intact after 10 more years of attending rock concerts, thanks to constant use of ear plugs at shows. These days people not wearing hearing protection is the exception rather than the rule, which is a good thing.

Lazy-i – May 25, 2006 – OK, consider this week’s column a public service announcement. I listen to a lot of music, both in live settings and with a variety of headphones. Within the last few months there has been a ton of press about the dangers of iPods to your hearing. In some articles, that fear bleached over to concern about wearing headphones in general. So I packed up my iPod along with my iPod earbuds, my Etymotic ER*6 earphones and my Ultrasone HFI-700 headphones and dropped in on earguy extraordinaire Dr. Britt Thedinger, who’s name I got from commercials heard every morning on NPR affiliate KIOS 91.5 FM.

We spent about five minutes talking about iPods and headphones and spent the rest of our two hours together talking about rock shows and earplugs. An area of focus that didn’t make it into the column was concerns faced specifically by musicians who are bombarded by loud music every night. He said being behind the stack protects them somewhat — it’s louder in front of the speakers. But that ultimately there are risks for rock stars. Just look at Pete Townshend, who has become a spokesperson for hearing loss.

“The point is, musicians are realizing that they’re at risk,” Thedinger said, “Old rock stars saying, ‘You young people, this will happen to you.'” Thedinger recommends making an appointment and getting fitted for “musicians earplugs” which cost around $150 but are effective in blocking out only dangerous frequencies and not all frequencies — like my trusty yellow earplugs do. It’s a small price to pay to be able to rock when your 65.

Column 78: Don’t be a Tough Guy

There are a few things that can make you feel like “an old guy” at a rock show. I won’t get into the gloomy specifics involving people looking young enough to be your children or bartenders not even looking for the fluorescent wrist-band — everyone knows you’re old enough to drink, pops.

Earplugs are another one. I’ve been wearing them to rock shows starting back in ’93 when I road-tripped with Lincoln band Mercy Rule to a show at Harry Mary’s in Des Moines. Before their set, bassist/frontwoman Heidi Ore strolled through the crowd of angry punks with a prescription vial in hand.

She wasn’t passing out drugs, she was handing out earplugs. She ambled up to one big guy with his arms crossed and made an offering. He just nodded his head. He didn’t need them. The pixie-ish, bespeckled, five-foot-nothing dynamo responded flatly, “Don’t be a tough guy, just take them.” He did. So did I. And she was right, we needed them. Few bands play as loudly as Mercy Rule did, thanks to Jon Taylor’s roaring guitar.

That was the first time I wore earplugs at a show. I’ve been wearing them ever since — little yellow pieces of foam tied together by a handy blue cord, the kind railroad workers wear in the field and in the shops. I’ve had a case of them in my cupboard all these years and always keep extra pairs in my car in case I forget to take them with me. Dr. Britt Thedinger, an otologist at Ear Specialists of Omaha, says the practice may well have saved my hearing.

I know, I know, you’ve read a gazillion stories about the dangers of loud rock music. I don’t blame you if you stop reading. And to be honest, I didn’t seek out Thedinger to do a story on earplugs. It was my iPod that motivated me, along with the dozens or recent stories about how prolonged listening to iPods could cause hearing damage. Could I have wasted all those years wearing earplugs only to be butchering my hearing with my iPod while cycling the Keystone Trail?

I dropped by Thedinger’s midtown clinic last Saturday morning. What I heard surprised me. I expected gloom and doom. In fact, things aren’t that bad.

Turns out the iPod scare is mostly hype. “I don’t think there’s a huge iPod crisis of people losing their hearing right and left,” he said. Still, too much of anything can’t be a good thing. Thedinger said a sign that you’re listening to your iPod too loudly is if the person next to you can clearly make out what you’re listening to. That’s pretty freaking loud. But what about my trusty Etymotic in-ear isolator earphones? “If they’re turned up so loud that they hurt your ears, you’re damaging your hearing,” he said.

Pretty simple advice. Okay, so while I’m here, what about those standard yellow, foam earplugs that cost about 50 cents at the Quik Pik? Are they doing the trick? Thedinger said they block about 29 dBs, more than adequate to protect me at a typical rock show, which he says can get as loud as 115 dBs. Wadded up toilet paper, by the way, blocks only 3 to 5 dBs — in other words, it doesn’t work.

But even if I didn’t wear earplugs at every show, Thedinger said I’d probably be okay. Hearing damage occurs from prolonged high-decibel noise exposure. “At that level, it has to be continuous,” Thedinger said. “The quiet few minutes between songs is usually enough to recover.”

It also depends on the room’s acoustics and where you stand, like right in front of speakers that can blow out up to 125 dBs. Even a short exposure at that level can erode your ability to hear frequencies between 2,000 to 8,000 hz — the range where human speech makes lispy syllables, like “sh,” “th,” p’s, and f’s.

Which brings us to tinnitus — the ringing in your ears that everyone’s experienced after a night at The Qwest Center. Turns out that ringing is always there. We just don’t notice it until our hearing has been damaged — then it’s all we hear.

“When I was doing my residency in a Boston emergency room, we’d have patients come in after a concert at The Garden saying, ‘My ears are ringing and it’s driving me nuts.’ The membranes had swollen in their ears resulting in decreased hearing capability, so they could hear the tinnitus. After a few days the swelling went down, their hearing improved and the tinnitus went away.”

Unless, of course, they sheered off the nerves, permanently damaging their hearing.

You might recover just fine after a few loud concerts without earplugs, but night after night of unprotected hearing will sneak up on you. “It’s an insidious process,” Thedinger said. “People don’t realize the damage they’ve done until it’s too late. And once you’ve lost it, it’s gone.”

It still amazes me every time I look around at rock shows and notice that I’m the only one wearing earplugs. The excuse that they “ruin the experience” is lame. They allow me to actually focus more on the bands and worry less about damage — even if they may make me look like an old wuss in the eyes of guys too tough to wear them.

“You can be as tough as you want,” the good doctor said, “but it’s a real pain in the ass being hearing impaired.” — Lazy-i, May 25, 2006

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A quick thank you to those who donated yesterday to Hear Nebraska during Omaha Gives!

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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.