The Show is The Rainbow returns; Cursive tops divorce list; Truck Stop Love reunion; Agent Orange tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:46 pm October 17, 2017
Darren Keen as The Show Is the Rainbow holds court in Dundee, Aug. 27, 2011.

Darren Keen as The Show Is the Rainbow holds court in Dundee, Aug. 27, 2011. Now the one-man band is back.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

The Show Is the Rainbow is back.

The one-man band fronted by former Nebraskan now New Yorker Darren Keen is putting out a new record and hitting the road. In fact, there’s even a Kickstarter campaign under way to help underwrite some of these return activities.

The first time I interviewed Darren was way back in 2003 (right here). TSITR continued on up until a few years ago when Keen moved to New York and began focusing on DJ and production work. So why bring back TSITR?

I am bringing back TSITR because for the past few years all of my music has focused almost exclusively on sound design, and i miss iwriting songs,‘” Keen said. “Part of the reason I quit TSITR is because I was scared to sing and write lyrics since I have a way of offending and upsetting people both accidentally and intentionally. I am no longer worried about that, and am looking forward to being the lead singer of a one-man band again.”

There you have it. Keen says his new album is slated for release in November or December. You can help fund the project at his Kickstarter page. Find out more below:

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Congrats to Cursive for making Stereogum’s 25 Notable Divorce Albums list for 2000’s Domestica. From the article: “Using some embellishments and stand-in characters, the band drew on Kasher’s experience to craft a concept record built around the arc of a relationship in near-collapse, their angular emo-leaning rock an appropriate vessel for that particular brand of anguish.” They join the likes of Frank Sinatra, Bob Dylan, Fleetwood Mac and Richard & Linda Thompson (my personal favorite).

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Speaking of the ‘90s, early ‘90s Manhattan, Kansas, band Truck Stop Love is reuniting for the release of Can’t Hear It: 1991-1994. The band released three albums on Scotti Bros. between ’93 and ’95.

From the press release: “Twenty-five years ago Truck Stop Love released their first recording; a cassette recorded by the band in the back room of Vital Vinyl, a local record store in Manhattan, Kansas. This November, the band will release three of those songs, plus 8 more previously unreleased demo tracks and never-before-heard recordings, on vinyl LP through Kansas City coop record label Black Site.”

More info and pre-order info here, including info on a handful of reunion shows in the Lawrence area…

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Finally, tonight at Lookout Lounge is another night of punk with Agent Orange, Flatfoot 56 and Get Dead. $20, 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 © 2017 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

TSITR: ‘I’ve lost my edge,’ calls it quits; Foxy Shazam tonight…

Category: Interviews — Tags: , — @ 12:36 pm June 19, 2012
Darren Keen as The Show Is the Rainbow holds court in Dundee, Aug. 27, 2011.

Darren Keen as The Show Is the Rainbow holds court in Dundee, Aug. 27, 2011.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

I’ve been writing about The Show Is the Rainbow (TSITR) and other Darren Keen projects for almost a decade. So when I received an email yesterday announcing the permanent moth-balling of TSITR, written by an obviously frustrated Keen, it was more than a bit of a downer.

In addition to being a creative force, a musical talent and a hard-working mofo, Keen is one of the most polarizing figures in the local music scene. People either enjoy his pulse-rising electronic music and over-the-top performances, or discard him as a Har Mar Superstar rip-off or a no-talent attention getter. There is no in-between.

I’m not going to recap Keen’s entire career — you can read about it yourself by doing a search on “Darren Keen” in the search box on the right of the screen (or just click here). Suffice to say, Keen’s made a lot of music, released a lot of material and played a lot of shows all over the world. He’s been grinding it out for nearly a decade, but judging by the email, he’s had enough.

Keen said he’s always wanted to be famous, but on his own terms. “At the end of the big tour I did last year supporting my new record Tickled Pink, I knew it just wasn’t going to happen,” Keen wrote. “TSITR had become the kind of band that people ‘LOVED,’ but also were kind of done supporting. They had paid the cover the past few times I had come to town, and the novelty was just gone. The records sold less and less, each year, and crowds just dwindled. I had come full circle, from House Shows to Small Bars to Big Clubs to BIG support tours, to Clubs, Bars, and finally House Shows with lots of days off.”

Keen counted the change in his pockets after his last 45-day tour and discovered that he generated a grand total of $1,500. He said he’s at a point in TSITR where “people just stopped showing up, and stopped buying my records.” Tickled Pink digital sales generated less than $70 as a pay-what-you-want record, while the vinyl version sold about 120 copies, “not even close to enough to pay off the pressing costs.

“I don’t blame people for being ‘over’ TSITR, over my bullshit rockstar attitude, over my shit talking on stage, over my disregard for the ‘touch barrier,’ over buying records that aren’t as good as the live shows, over paying to see live shows that were shocking years ago, and now just feel boring, I really don’t. I used to be able to grab a mic and say ‘I’m the best, coolest motherfucker in this room.’ I said stuff like that, because I meant it, but I just don’t feel that way anymore. I’ve lost my edge, and I don’t know how to get it back. I love you all, and I will still be making music. I never thought I’d break up TSITR, but I suppose, the hardest lesson for a musician to learn is, just because you CAN make a song, doesn’t mean you have to.”

You can read Keen’s entire letter posted at Hear Nebraska.

So the reality of the situation is this: Darren Keen isn’t going to stop making music altogether; he’s just going to stop performing as TSITR and releasing new TSITR material. He’ll continue performing as Bad Speler and Touch People. But as a one-man act, there’s nothing stopping Keen from pulling out TSITR again, right?

“I think I am going to do one more (final) TSITR show,” Keen replied. “I know nothing would stop me from bringing it back in the future, but it’s just not very likely. Touch People and Bad Speler are both finding a stride, and they also sort of have a yin-yang relationship IMO, that TSITR just doesn’t seem to fit into anymore for me…”

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Tonight at The Waiting Room it’s Cincinnati glam-rock band Foxy Shazam with Stars in Stereo. $12, note early 8 p.m. start 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 © 2012 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Column 339: Dancing in the Street – Live Review: Slowdown Block Party, Dundee Day; Ties, The F-ing Party tonight…

Category: Blog,Column,Reviews — Tags: , , , , — @ 1:09 pm August 31, 2011
The Show Is the Rainbow at Dundee Day, Aug. 27, 2011.

The Show Is the Rainbow's Darren Keen at Dundee Day, Aug. 27, 2011.

Column 339: Dancing in the Street

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

I doubt the crowd at this year’s Dundee Day rock show was expecting what it got when a sweaty, shirtless Darren Keen, a.k.a. The Show Is the Rainbow, jumped from the stage into the audience like a 250-pound Tolkien (or maybe, more suitably, toke-in’) battle dwarf, his shaggy red beard blowin’ in the wind as he performed his unique style of electronic funk-rock to a sheepish, half-drunk white-bread crowd, most of whom had stood at that same spot 12 hours earlier scooping plates of flapjacks into their gaping maws (served up by that Midwestern culinary hero, The Pancake Man), completely oblivious to the fact that 12 hours later they’d be subjected to glistening flopsweat, in-yer-face obscenities, hash-talk and an avalanche of hyperactive beats.

But I’ll get to that later.

First, there was the annual Slowdown Block Party, held Friday night in the parking lot of America’s (or at least Nebraska’s) favorite indie music club. Now in its third year, Slowdown’s free outdoor concert continues to draw larger crowds (estimated head count: 2,400, the biggest yet), thanks to booking bigger acts. Year One featured Azure Ray and Cursive (and was brought to you by Mutual of Omaha). Year Two was The Mynabirds, Rural Alberta Advantage and Built to Spill (brought to you by Toyota Antics).

Those tiny Antics cars were back this year, parked throughout the Slowdown lot like prizes on a game-show set — shiny, multicolored spaceships dropped from a far-off Toyota mothership signaled to from below by a giant “aNTICs” sign projected on the side of The Slowdown building. Say what you will about the tackiness of Toyota’s sell job, but it was the car makers’ cash that made the event possible (and for free). These days you’d be hard pressed to find any outdoor event or “festival” that isn’t draped in a sponsor’s precious brand. Call it a sell-out if you want to, but get used to it because sponsorships ain’t going away, especially in the growing shadow of the dwindling music industry.

Omaha ambient dreamscape ensemble Conduits was on stage — statuesque frontwoman Jenna Morrison stood front and center, belting it out in her Siren tones while the band poured on thick dollops of droning, throbbing rock. The band just keeps getting better, honing its stage show, waiting for someone to pick up their recording and release it to a hungry public. What’s taking so long?

San Diego sunset rockers The Donkeys were next, then came indie “supergroup” Mister Heavenly, the Sub Pop-fueled mega-trio of Honus Honus of Man Man, Nick Thorburn of Islands and Joe Plummer of The Shins/Modest Mouse. It was Man Man’s wonky circus caterwaul, which owes a lot to early Modest Mouse, that dominated their sound.

The crowd ballooned for The Hold Steady, who seemed determined to make up for their past limp performance at The Slowdown. Frontman Craig Finn, looking like Mike Mogis’ long lost accountant brother, was a bundle of nervous ticks and awkward dance steps; impossible not to watch as he barked out lyrics in his trademark flat, nasal monotone. It was a fun night that left me wondering why Slowdown doesn’t do more outdoor parking lot shows.

Saturday afternoon was a street-dance death match between Farnam Fest and Dundee Day — two competing outdoor neighborhood shows overflowing with local talent. Proximity and variety won the day for Dundee, where I showed up in time to catch Gus & Call’s set. G&C is my favorite band on Slumber Party Records‘ roster, and deserves a deal with a mid-sized (or larger) national indie label. With two great vocalists and talented musicians, their sound blends warm, introspective folk with blistering rural rock that’s as good as anything from the alt-country heyday. Wilco could not find a better opening act.

After a strange, unexpected hour-long break, on came Digital Leather. From the outset, the band seemed an odd fit for a suburban neighborhood street dance, and apparently they agreed because the trio blasted through a set of bloody-knuckled punk songs as if they couldn’t wait to get off stage. Frontman Shawn Foree barked out the lyrics to songs like “Your Hand, My Glove” and a cover of MOTO’s “Deliver Deliver Deliver,” sounding like an auctioneer on meth.

Finally, Keen, who wore a shirt when he jumped on stage prior to his set. Among his opening verbal salvos was an attack on yours truly for having not reviewed his latest album, Tickled Pink, suggesting that I was offended by the cover art — a drawing by Lincoln artist Jimmy Lee of a woman’s shaved private parts with his band’s name spelled out in a liquid substance across her scarred flesh. Not true.

From there, he took on a couple hecklers as he cued up the first pre-recorded track on a laptop that sat on the edge of the stage, unleashing the opening beats of album highlight “Return to the Microthrone.” Then off came the shirt.

Keen and his belly bounced into the crowd, spitting out lines like, “I want to touch your macaroni,” with a tangled mic chord trailing behind him. His in-your-face performance style is old hat to any longtime The Show Is The Rainbow fan — Keen’s performed from the floor as long as I can remember. But for those uninitiated Dundee-ites, there was a sense of shock and awe as Keen invaded their personal space. Once they realized the big man wasn’t going to hurt them, the crowd got into it, embracing Keen, his music and his humor. By god, a few even danced.

It ended with Keen precariously climbing the tower of speakers that balanced on the edge of the stage, looking like a big pink bear climbing a tree in search of a bee’s nest. Once on top, he looked out over the crowd he just conquered, and saluted them with his microphone.

* * *

Addendum: As you read this, Mr. Keen is preparing to leave these United States for a self-booked European tour that kicks off in Norway Sept. 3 and ends in Kassel, Germany, Oct. 2 (so far).

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Tonight at The Waiting Room it’s Omaha proto-punkers Ties with Feral Hands, Ketchup & Mustard Gas and The Fucking Party. $5, 9 p.m. Bring your ear plugs.

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Transmissions from Lazy-i.com will be spotty over the next few days as I will once again be on the road to NYC. In my absence, don’t miss Bluebird at The Waiting Room tomorrow night, and Two Gallants at The Waiting Room Sunday night. Perhaps you’ll see some dispatches from the field. Or perhaps not.

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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 © 2010 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

The weekend in pictures (Mister Heavenly, The Hold Steady, Gus & Call, Digital Leather, The Show Is the Rainbow)…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — @ 12:33 pm August 29, 2011

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Below is a handful of images from this past weekend’s festivities. Look for a full review in this week’s column. Until then…

Mister Heavenly at The Slowdown Block Party, Aug. 26, 2011.

Mister Heavenly at The Slowdown Block Party, Aug. 26, 2011. The "indie supergroup" was more Man Man than The Shins or Modest Mouse.

The Hold Steady at The Slowdown Block Party, Aug. 26, 2011.

The Hold Steady at The Slowdown Block Party, Aug. 26, 2011.

The Hold Steady at The Slowdown Block Party, Aug. 26, 2011.

The Hold Steady's Craig Finn makes a point during The Slowdown Block Party, Aug. 26, 2011.

Gus & Call at Dundee Day, Aug. 27, 2011.

Gus & Call at Dundee Day, Aug. 27, 2011. Is this the best band on the Slumber Party Records roster? (Yes)

Digital Leather at Dundee Day, Aug. 27, 2011.

Digital Leather plays a rapid-fire set at Dundee Day, Aug. 27, 2011.

The Show Is the Rainbow at Dundee Day, Aug. 27, 2011.

The Show Is the Rainbow's Darren Keen in the crowd at Dundee Day, Aug. 27, 2011.

The Show Is the Rainbow at Dundee Day, Aug. 27, 2011.

The Show Is the Rainbow ends Dundee Day on a high note.

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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 © 2010 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Live Review: The Show Is the Rainbow; Bright Eyes for free; Dim Light tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 2:14 pm January 31, 2011
The Show Is the Rainbow at The Waiting Room, Jan. 28, 2011.

The Show Is the Rainbow at The Waiting Room, Jan. 28, 2011. Photo by John Shartrand.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Friday night, to an audience of fewer than 100 at The Waiting Room, Darren Keen, a.k.a. The Show Is the Rainbow, had a message he delivered just before launching into a set of all new material from an album that’s yet to be recorded. The message boiled down to this (and I’m paraphrasing here): The best work Keen’s done was when he was doing it for himself, and the worst work he’s done was when he was trying to impress all the wrong people. Well, now Keen’s through trying to impress anyone, as he hits the road for eight months on a self-booked tour with his girlfriend in tow.

Keen sounded like a man who had come to some sort of self-realization that no matter how hard he tries to control his future, his life, his career, he’s powerless in the face of a world, of an industry, that never knew and never cared. Which is a long-winded way of saying that now he’s doing it for himself. And that’s a pretty good message.

And with that, he tore into a set of abstract, art-damaged polyrhythmic “songs” that examined his view of the world around him. The themes: paying the cover, faux indie angst, learning how to think, learning how to (literally) grow, his love of dope, and his love of love. It sounded like hippie stuff, and maybe it was. As a one-man act, he sang the tunes over prerecorded keyboard tracks that were a dizzying kaleidoscope of circus arpeggios and electronic beats. Did I say sing? Most of the songs featured Keen doing a sing-song rap delivered from the floor instead of the stage while he performed an interpretive dance bare-chested, pants-sagging, sweat glistening off his fat rolls.

When TSITR first started all those years ago, Keen was criticized for being a home-grown version of Har Mar Superstar by people who had never actually listened to or heard Har Mar or Keen. The only thing those two had in common were a love of dance music, a willingness to take off their shirts and ivory white bellies. These days, thanks to his ginger beard and habit of improvising at the keyboard (and his “keen” wit), Darren could be compared to a young Zack Galafianakis, though only the most demented minds like my own would ever come up with that comparison.

The other thing that went through this demented mind Friday night was that Keen may be onto something. His set was fun and “in your face,” with just enough edge to be considered subversive. There is an aggression boiling just below the surface, a strange unnerving tension that could erupt at any moment. And though the music is less “dancy” than his earlier material (which may change after he fills it out in the studio), it’s no less engaging. Let’s face it, it’s impossible to be bored at a TSITR show, which is more than I can say for 90 percent of the indie bands that come through town. And for those folks who will stumble onto Darren by accident as he and his girlfriend criss-cross the country over the next eight months, he could be a revelation or at least one helluva conversation piece.

Opening the evening was Machete Archive, who has steadily become the most interesting instrumental-only band I’ve seen on stage since Mogwai (who they in no way resemble). Beyond the music, which is borderline metal balladry, is the headbanging performance itself. In addition to having insane dance moves, bassist Saber Blazek is a marvel on the fretboard, maybe the best bass player in Nebraska. But the only way that claim could be proven is if Hear Nebraska or Omahype or The Reader hosts another long-needed “bass off” among the state’s best four-stringers. The gauntlet has been thrown.

* * *

You can now stream Bright Eyes’ new album The People’s Key in its entirety at NPR.org. Here’s the link. My first impression is that the biggest by-product of the Monsters of Folk tour is that Conor now writes and records music that sounds like M. Ward tunes. You be the judge.

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People are already rescheduling things in the face of what could be one of the more brawny storms to hit the city since… last year. Something tells me even if the storm gets here before 9:30, tonight’s show at O’Leaver’s will carry on as planned. The headliner is the amazing Dim Light, with Nature Boys and The Prairies. $5, bring a shovel…

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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 © 2011 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

The Show Is the Rainbow tonight; Marijuana Death Squad Saturday…

Category: Blog — Tags: — @ 1:42 pm January 28, 2011

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

What a long frickin’ week it’s been, filled with excitement and political intrigue. But somehow we managed to make it to the weekend…

Tonight at the Waiting Room it’s the triumphant return of The Show Is the Rainbow — Darren Keen’s original musical vision returns as a one-man show. There have been some memorable TSITR performances over the years, not the least of which was this March 2009 TWR gig where Darren ended up on stage in his birthday suit. Sorry, no photos, just this description: “His ‘full disclosure’ had the audience of around 200 in a state of shock and awe and eww.” Where will Darren go with it tonight? Opening is Lincoln’s Machete Archive and Prairies. $5, 9 p.m.

Tomorrow night The Brothers Lounge is doing a a rare show, hosting Minnesota band Marijuana Death Squad. “Headed by Ryan Olson (the man behind GAYNGS), MDS is a mix of semi improvised electronic music mixed with absolutely explosive drumming,” says the listing on the webboard. Looks like MDS will be sharing a month-long residency with Omaha fave Har Mar Superstar at Satellite in LA. Opening is The Fucking Party (Craig Fort & Party Paul). $5, 9:30 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 © 2011 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

It Are Recording; High Art tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , — @ 3:21 pm July 8, 2010

It’s a slowwww news day, folks…

As if Darren Keen (The Show Is The Rainbow, Bad Speler, High Art) didn’t have enough to do, he announced today that he’s opening the It Are Recording studio in his basement. Photos and gear specs are posted on the Star City Scene website. Keen self-engineered and produced a number of TSITR albums, including Radboyz ONLY!!!, Gymnasia, and Wet Fist —  the last two of which were mixed with Joel Petersen of The Faint at Enamel studio in Omaha. “My rates are $100/day, which is very fair,” Keen said. “Sure, it’s a shitty basement, but I have great equipment and a ton of experience.” Discuss it with him tonight at The Waiting Room, where his band, High Art, is opening for Yard Dogs Road Show, which looks like a rip off of the Jim Rose Circus. $15, 9 p.m.

Lazy-i