Live Review: The Blind Shake, White Mystery; Sweatshop winds down; Homeshake, Sheer Agony tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 11:48 am September 1, 2015
The Blind Shake at O'Leaver's, Aug. 31.2015.

The Blind Shake at O’Leaver’s, Aug. 31.2015.

by Tim McMahan,

Another night spent at O’Leaver’s. It’s becoming a habit, thanks to their bookings, which lately have been outshining just about everyone else in town. If you’re looking for rock music, O’Leaver’s is (once again) becoming your go-to choice.

Certainly the rock was a-rollin’ last night, and the turn-out of 30 or so was impressive for a Monday. Things started off with a film by White Mystery shown on the plasma TV that hangs behind O’Leaver’s “stage” (Just when I was about to suggest to grandmaster sound-guy Ian Aeillo that they should take down that flat panel or move it to a different wall — there’s nothing quite as tacky as having a blank plasma TV in every photo taken of bands at O’Leaver’s). The video was like a found-footage collection of road-trip video mashed with a pseudo-psycho-sexual horror film that concluded with a pick-up basketball game where-in some guy won with a granny shot. Coming to a theater near you?

DJ Dave Goldberg spun old-time wax between bands, the next up being Minneapolis power-punk trio The Blind Shake. Riveting straight-forward guitar chops and pounding rhythms backed bark vocals from the dueling guitarists of Jim and Mike Blaha. Brittle and brutal stuff in sort of Thee Oh Sees-meet-The Night Marchers vein. Great stuff.

The blurring red heads of White Mystery at O'Leaver's, Aug. 31, 2015.

The blurring red heads of White Mystery at O’Leaver’s, Aug. 31, 2015.

Then along came the brother and sister team of Miss Alex White and Francis Scott Key White a.k.a. White Mystery. The Chicago duo is becoming old-timers in Omaha. They just played here a few months ago at Reverb, and decided to pass through again after playing Riot Fest in Denver. Their stripped-down guitar-and-drums attack defines a style of garage that is uniquely their own. Now one shreds and screams quite like Miss Alex.

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There was some chit-chat on the patio last night about the demise of The Sweatshop Gallery as a music venue. The art garage in the heart of Benson’s last show is Sept. 12, headlined by Speedy Ortiz-connected band Palehound. Casey Logan at the Omaha World-Herald got the scoop last week, here. I’m told the folks taking over the space aren’t interested in hosting rock shows. A pity, as Sweatshop was gaining momentum after this year’s Sweatfest, becoming recognized as an alternative venue for cutting-edge bands that are flying just under the radar, as well as a few clearly on the grid, like Ceremony, Speedy Ortiz and Parquet Courts, all of whom have played shows there.

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Speaking of The Sweatshop, the ol’ garage is hosting a show tonight headlined by Canadian acts Homeshake and Sheer Agony, with Lineman’s Rodeo and Little Ripple. $7, 9 p.m.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.



Live Review: Giant’s Arrow, Wagon Blasters, Domestica; VMAs; White Mystery, The Blind Shake tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , , , — @ 12:59 pm August 31, 2015
Giant's Arrow at O'Leaver's Aug. 29, 2015.

Giant’s Arrow at O’Leaver’s Aug. 29, 2015.

by Tim McMahan,

Fun night of music at O’Leaver’s this past Saturday.

The consensus (even voiced from stage) was that Lincoln band Giant’s Arrow carries on the tradition of mid-’90s emo bands like Boys Life and Caulfield bands like Christie Front Drive. Their style is angular indie bordering on prog, soaring, complicated rhythms, and scream/yell vocals that lack a central melody, with ferocious guitar licks that are jittery and spastic. There also were moments of melodic lucidity. I jotted down At the Drive-in and early Husker Du. At times they reminded me of local boys The Stay Awake or even Fromanhole, though without the those bands’ precision.

The performance brought on a discussion (again) of what “emo” means and how the term evolved from its original label used to describe Rites of Spring-style punk bands. Giant’s Arrow’s sound is one-generation removed, to the pleading/angular style of emo that would later evolve into the poppier punk style of Promise Ring. At least that’s my take on it.

That said, I liked them. The four piece flailed around stage so much I thought they were going to slam their guitars into each other. Lots of kicking and jumping and wagging of heads in time with the music’s energy. They don’t play songs as much as proggy rock constructions.

Wagon Blasters at O'Leaver's, Aug. 29, 2015.

Wagon Blasters at O’Leaver’s, Aug. 29, 2015.

It’s a distinction that separates Giant’s Arrow from the other bands on the bill Saturday night. Wagon Blasters and Domestica write and perform rock songs. Gary Dean Davis may not “sing,” but there’s no denying the musicality of a Wagon Blasters’ tune. Tractor punk indeed. There is not now, nor has there ever been a band that does what Gary Dean Davis bands do.

Domestica at O'Leaver's, Aug. 29, 2015.

Domestica at O’Leaver’s, Aug. 29, 2015.

The same can be said about Domestica. Heidi, Jon and Pawl create punk anthems about everyday life that feel like rooting for the home team. Taylor’s guitar work remains somehow both raw and pristine, brutal riffs hone to a razor’s edge.

The whole evening felt like it could have taken place sometime in 1995. But then again, isn’t all great rock music timeless?

BTW, O’Leaver’s improved its sound system again. Sound engineer Ian Aeillo said they upped the wattage so the sound is cleaner not so much louder. I don’t know how much more that room can take. They’ve also added a booth in the back so that Ian or whoever is running sound can now look down over you as he twiddles dem knobs… as it should be.

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I watched the VMAs last night. What? What’s wrong with that? Alright, it does sound a bit creepy that a guy my age would watch a program clearly targeted toward teen-aged girls, but hey, as a music critic, you have to keep up with the trends.

There was a time — a loooong time ago — when MTV broadcast culturally cutting-edge content. That time has long passed. Last night’s VMAs showcased R&B, hip-hop and pop music. Notice I didn’t mention rock? That’s because today’s pop music has nothing to do with rock music, which is one of the distinctions about the VMAs of today and the VMAs from 25 or so years ago. Rock music used to have a place in popular music culture. That’s really no longer the case. Rock ‘n’ roll isn’t dead, just sort of hiding in plain sight…

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Speaking of rock music, there’s a big rock show going on tonight at fabulous O’Leaver’s.

White Mystery is playing a set as well as screening their new film That Was Awesome. Opening is The Blind Shake and a DJ set from the uber talented Dave Goldberg. $5, 9:30 p.m. What a way to kick off your week!

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.