by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com
It felt like a reunion whether they want to call it one or not. The Millions (or The Millions NE as the lawyers would prefer) took the stage at The Bourbon Theatre Saturday night to a crowd that one person estimated exceeded 400.
The revamped movie house (formerly The State Theater) was filled to the brim with people crowded into the stadium risers and crushed in the aisles and on the floor. The audience looked the part of a crowd that came to see a band whose heyday was over a decade ago — more gray hair than hipster swoops, more pant suits and dresses than colored tights and blue jeans. You could have mistaken it for a wedding reception except the audience looked like it actually wanted to be there (unlike most receptions I’ve attended), and were downright bubbly despite the fact that their local football team was being pounded into oblivion on the flat-panels above the bar.
The band strolled on stage without fanfare at around a quarter to 10 and jumped right into their set as if they just walked off a stage in 1995, albeit older and wiser but with no less enthusiasm. If they were as good as they were back then, I cannot say as I never saw them play live “back in the day” (Who knows why, as I’m told they played in Omaha as much as they played in Lincoln). Compared to their recordings, including the just released Poison Fish, I can say they still have their chops. And needless to say, the crowd still adores them.
But there are still some nits to be picked. The sound mix was ass for the first of two sets — dreadfully muddy with too much bass and not enough guitar. Someone figured it out during the break because they sounded spot on during the second set. Also of note was the absence of drummer Greg Hill. No question that young’n Brandon McKenzie did a yeoman’s job behind the kit, but he still didn’t have the dynamism or drive that Hill brought to those recordings, and to be honest, I didn’t expect him to. The fact that he was there to help facilitate the reunion deserves plaudits on its own, and over time, I have no doubt that McKenzie would find his own groove to these rather well-worn songs if he got the chance. The question, of course, is will he get that chance.
There have been no official announcements regarding any future Millions shows, though I have to believe based on the turnout Saturday night that an Omaha promoter would be wise to book a gig either at Slowdown or The Waiting Room if the band is willing or interested. And then there’s the rest of the region. No doubt during their heyday The Millions did their share of touring in the KC/Lawrence/Des Moines/Columbia market. With that new rarities album now available, it would behoove them to retrace their past conquests. And after that, who knows?
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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 © 2012 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.