Live Review: Landlady, Thick Paint; Milk Run moving locations…

Category: Column,Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 1:45 pm February 13, 2017

Landlady at O’Leaver’s, Feb. 10, 2017.

by Tim McMahan,

Friday night’s Landlady show will likely go down as my first top-5 music moment of 2017. Fronted by Adam Schatz a.k.a. Brown Sugar of the band Man Man, the five-piece played a striking set of proggy indie rock that recalled Schatz’s other band and, for me any ways, acts like Les Savy Fav and Head of Femur. Landlady’s sound is inventive without being disjointed, melodic but sonically adventurous. And there’s nothing quite like Schatz’ voice, a high, cooing nasal delivery that bounces and jumps along with the acidic, almost afrobeat-style rhythms.

Drummer Ian Chang is one of the best stickmen I’ve seen under O’Leaver’s record collection, a marvel of poly-rhythms, he kept the sound boiling as Schatz and company rifled through a set of tunes off the bands’ last couple of albums. Highlights were a raging version of standout tracks “Electric Abdomen” and “Driving in California,” both off stellar new album The World Is a Loud Place (Hometapes, 2017).

At set’s end, Schatz brought up a small horn section, who stayed for the epic closer, a 10-plus-minute performance of “Above My Ground” where-in Schatz climbed above the crowd, leading them in a chorus of “Always, always, always…” that built to a climatic release. Well, you can see and hear for yourself in the following clip recorded from my phone for Facebook Live.

I’m told this was one of first times that opening act Thick Paint has performed as a full-blown band. Joining Graham Patrick Ulicny was a second guitarist, Icky Blossoms’ Sarah Boehling on bass, and two drummers.

Thick Paint at O’Leaver’s, Feb. 10, 2017.

The product was proggy goodness reminiscent of early Talking Heads. Like Schatz, Ulicny has a unique, high-end voice like no one else around here. The only set-back was that the band only played four songs because they’re so new together. We all want more, Mr. Ulicny.

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More about the above video: I am, again, pleasantly surprised at the audio quality one can capture from a handheld iPhone 7. I figured the mics would be blown out, but this doesn’t sound bad at all.

I had someone tell me I should do these iPhone recordings at every show. I don’t for a number of reasons, the first being it’s probably illegal, at least without the band’s permission. Second is that it’s got to be rather annoying for the band to see some guy holding a camera while they’re playing. And third, I’d rather just enjoy the music. Still, if I can sneak one song onto Facebook Live by bands that I know won’t mind, I will. Follow me at

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Arbor Labor Union at Milk Run May 28, 2016.

Word went out over the weekend that Milk Run is leaving its current location at 1907 Leavenworth. In fact, this weekend’s shows were the last at that specific venue, which hosted its first show Nov. 6, 2015.

Sam Parker, one of the founders of Milk Run, confirmed the rumor, saying the all-ages performance space will move to a new location with cheaper rent.

“It’ll be before the end of of the month. Possibly as early as this week,” Parker said. “It’ll be in the midtown area.”

Tried as I might, I could not pry the new location out of Parker. He said the owners will make an announcement this week “when they’re ready.” He did say the new space will be “roughly the same size” as the old Milk Run space. He also said expect the same sort of progressive, indie-flavored bookings.

Milk Run is one of the few places in town that consistently books out-of-town indie, post-punk and progressive bands. I was hoping the new place would be a tad larger than the crackerbox space on Leavenworth. We shall see soon enough…

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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 © 2017 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Ten Questions with Frigs; Real Estate, Twin Peaks, Ceremony among Lincoln Calling acts; Pageturners summer series, Thick Paint, Black Lips tonight…

Category: Blog,Interviews — Tags: , , , , , — @ 12:21 pm July 11, 2016
Frigs take the Ten Questions survey. They play at Brothers Lounge tomorrow night. Photo by Caitlin McLafferty.

Frigs take the Ten Questions survey. They play at Brothers Lounge tomorrow night. Photo by Caitlin McLafferty.

by Tim McMahan,

Toronto 4-piece noise punkers Frigs (formerly Dirty Frigs) play a dark, growling, acidic style of indie rock that either chugs angry and hot, or drags lethargically like a Robitussin-fueled nightmare.  On the band’s debut EP, Slush (2016, Arts & Crafts) the fast ones showcase front woman Bri Salmena sounding like a young Shirley Manson or Polly Jean Harvey as the band cranks like the reincarnation of Elastica. On the slower tracks, it’s all guitar chimes under water, backed by hypnotic, throbbing drums and Salmena spitting out the vitriol.

We asked Frigs to take our Ten Questions survey, Salmena and band member Edan Scime Stokell took the test:

What is your favorite album?

Bri Salmena: I hate this question because it changes, right all I want to listen to is Post Plague by Odonis Odonis.

Edan Scime Stokell: Rumors by Fleetwood Mac

2. What is your least favorite song?

Bri: Anything by Elvis Costello

Edan:  Anything by Janet Jackson

Bri: Edan you are insane.

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

Bri: I think if the answer isn’t playing music something is wrong.

Edan: Feeling cool and getting attention.

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

Bri: I don’t really hate anything about being in a band…

Edan: Road poops

Bri:  Oh ya, maybe that.

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

Bri: Ummmm Pepto Bismol. It helps me tolerate all my favorite “other” substances.

Edan: beer

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

Bri: Hometown shows are always fun, but it’s also nice to perform in front of a bunch of strangers. There is a certain amount of freedom for me to be as weird as I want. But i don’t really have an answer to your question.

Edan: New York City baby!

Bri: lol

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

Bri: Hmm, not sure. I feel like our first show in London, England, was pretty brutal. We had a lot of technical difficulties that made it really hard to play, but everyone was really nice.

Edan: Definitely London, yeah it was bad.

8. How do you pay your bills?

Bri: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Edan: I make pizza.

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

Bri: I studied Art History and want to go into art restoration if music is a bust. I would hate to do my job now as a real “profession” (sorry Mom, it’s just not for me!).

Edan: I’ve always dreamed of being an architect. I would hate to work in a hospital. I cant stand blood or guts or cuts or veins or stuff, ew.

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

Bri: I really like that song “Omaha” by Waylon Jennings, and I’ve heard really great things about Nathan Ma, the guy who booked us smile

Edan: Only the ones told by Bruce Springsteen on the album named after your glorious state.

Frigs play with Anna McClellan and Collin Duckworth & the Transcendental Lovers at Brothers Lounge, 3812 Farnam St. Tickets are $5, showtime is 9 p.m. For more information, go to

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Over the weekend Hear Nebraska released a handful of performers who will be playing the three-day Lincoln Calling festival Oct. 6-8. I told you there were some big names:

Real Estate
Twin Peaks
Icky Blossoms
Esme Patterson
David Dondero
See Through Dresses
Plack Blague

There’s a shit-ton more (and bigger names) that will be announced Wednesday. Their plan to release names incrementally is working, apparently. Passes at the “early-bird” rate have sold out. Three day general admission passes are now $39 and will likely follow suit. Get them while you can at

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Pageturners continues its summer music series tonight with Thick Paint, Graham Ulicny of Reptar’s one-man project. The 10 p.m. show is free.

While we’re at it, here’s the full calendar for Pageturner’s summer series. Impressive!

7/11 — Thick Paint
7/13 — Sam Martin / Pat Mainelli
7/18 — Digital Leather
7/20 — Closeness
7/22 — Phil Schaffart / Dan McCarthy
7/27 — Pro Magnum
8/1 — Noah Sterba / Ruby Block
8/3 — MiWi La Lupa / Justin Ready and Echo Prairie
8/6 — Tyrone Storm
8/8 — Chemicals
8/10 — Michael Favara / Mike Schlesinger
8/17 — Linemans Rodeo / The Shrinks
8/22 — Nathan Ma and the Rosettes

All shows are 10 p.m. start times and are free.

Also tonight, Atlanta garage band The Black Lips return to Omaha, this time to The Waiting Room. Not sure why they’re touring, as their last album came out a couple years ago. Trying out new material? Sounds like it could be a messy show, if this review of their gig last month at the 40 Watt Club is any indication. Chain and The Gang are opening. $15, 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 © 2016 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Live Review: Closeness, Thick Paint, BAMF, Relax It’s Science; 10 Questions with The Besnard Lakes…

Closeness at O'Leaver's April 30, 2016.

Closeness at O’Leaver’s April 30, 2016.

by Tim McMahan,

Closeness is a new project by Orenda and Todd Fink. We all know who they are, and if you don’t, how’s life been in that cave the past 20 years? A better question: Why have they waited so long before collaborating on music? Maybe they’ve always been collaborating and we just didn’t know it. Regardless, now we get to hear the product of these two musical masterminds, and it’s been worth the wait.

Their kit is an assembly of synths, keyboards and other sound robots placed on tables surrounded by lights, cables and other gizmos. Their equipment looked like an operating theater where the couple was about to perform surgery, but with Orenda donning an electric guitar over her scrubs.

They performed face-to-face, though from my vantage point, Todd mainly looked down or over or into his microphone. Orenda, her microphone echoing with delay, provided most of the vocals, with Todd adding his distorted, vocoder-like harmonies deep or high or robotic. Musically, Closeness goes way beyond what you’d expect. Sure, there were the familiar hypnotic beats, of which Todd always has been a master, but it was the melodies and the counter melodies and the layers upon layers of textured sound that set it apart.

Most songs were thick, mid-tempo grooves reminiscent of Orenda’s O+S material, but there were moments of lilting Caribbean-style tempos and traditional electro-rock you’d expect from The Faint. Their short set was only five songs long. Among my faves was a mid-set corker that featured the couple harmonizing on a slow melody that recalled Low’s Sparhawk and Parker.

No surprise that the crazy-packed crowd loved it and wanted more, but there wasn’t any. So has any of this music been recorded, and who will have the honor of releasing it? Or maybe they’ll release it themselves and then hit the road. Ah, what a life.

Thick Paint at O'Leaver's, April 30, 2016.

Thick Paint at O’Leaver’s, April 30, 2016.

Garnering just as much enthusiasm from the crush mob was Thick Paint, the one-man show featuring Reptar’s Graham Patrick Ulicny. With just a small synth, his voice and his guitar he enraptured the audience with his beautiful songs that, at times, reminded me of early Cat Stevens played to a beat box. Really gorgeous stuff.

I realize I’m going backward through my Saturday night, which actually ended at O’Leaver’s. It began at The Lookout Lounge and the Big Al Music Festival (BAMF) First, a word about The Lookout. No other club in town has managed to capture the glorious, run-down ambiance of ’90s-era Omaha rock venues quite like this place. It was like walking into the past, right down to the smell.

Wagon Blasters at Lookout Lounge April 30, 2016.

Wagon Blasters at Lookout Lounge April 30, 2016.

Like the old Knickerbockers or Capitol Bar, the venue is split in two, with a bar in one room and a decent sized music room adjacent with an impressive elevated stage. Imagine the old Sokol Underground shrunk down to half its size and you get the gist. The walls and ceiling tiles were painted black, and air vents over the stage were appropriately covered in fuzzy grime, no doubt a reminder of decades of cigarette smoke, now long gone. Lookout isn’t fancy, but the best rock clubs rarely are.

Big Al, who has been doing his free festival for nine years. kept things on schedule. I walked in at 8:45 and Wagon Blasters were just getting started — right on time. Gary Dean Davis and  crew looked right at home bouncing on the Lookout stage, belting out their usual high-quality tractor punk. Someone in the crowd of around 30 yelled out “Fishin’ Hole”! Hey, you can’t blame anyone for mistaking these folks for that classic ’90s punk band.

Mike Saklar at Lookout Lounge, April 30, 2016.

Mike Saklar at Lookout Lounge, April 30, 2016.

Mike Saklar took the stage next playing solo electric renditions of songs from his former band, Ravine. Ravine (who you can read about here) was Saklar’s post-Ritual Device band that played very heavy-bordering-on-metal rock music way back in the ’90s. Deconstructed as solo material, the songs sounded more tuneful than I remember them, though Saklar is no less a master on guitar. What are the odds that he could resurrect a few of these songs with a full band?

Relax, It's Science at Lookout Lounge, April 30, 2016.

Relax, It’s Science at Lookout Lounge, April 30, 2016.

Then came Relax, It’s Science, the latest project from drummer Jeremy Stanosheck (ex-Kite Pilot, among others). The trio consisted of Stanosheck and two bass players cranking out huge, anthemic, proggy instrumentals with intricate, powerful rhythms. Each bass took turns providing a semblance of a melody countered by the other’s pounding rhythm lines. It was appropriate that the only spot highlighted on Lookout’s stage was where Stanosheck had his drum kit, because he was center of the attention putting on a clinic with his throaty stick work. It’s time Stanosheck got the respect he deserves.

Hat’s off to Big Al for such a strong line-up. This was the first time I’ve attended one of his festivals, and I was impressed by how it was run. On a table in the back of the room was a large pile of canned and packaged foods destined for the food bank. As Gary Dean Davis said at the end of this set, “Keep feeding the world, Big Al.” Here’s to Year 10.

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Tonight Canada’s Besnard Lakes returns to Omaha, this time at Reverb Lounge. You really should go to this one. Look, it’s a 9 p.m. show but with only one opener (Sub Pop and Burger Records band Jaill, which could be a headliner by themselves).

The Besnard Lakes play tonight at Reverb Lounge.

The Besnard Lakes play tonight at Reverb Lounge.

Ten Questions with The Besnark Lakes.

The Besnard Lakes’ music is so massive, so mammoth, it’s the sound you hear while teetering on the edge of a cliff with the gorge spread out in front of you, the river below a mere silver sliver among the rocks.  The Montreal-based six-piece is centered on the husband-wife core of Jace Lasek and Olga Goreas, who released their first studio album, Volume 1, in 2003 (but which was rereleased by their label, Jagjagwar, in 2007).

While the band is undoubtedly indie — Lasek’s and Goreas’ harmonies are reminiscent of Low — their gorgeously dense music has touch points in ’70s arena rock recalling bands like Yes and Boston, acts that knew how to make their anthems sound majestic. And most of Besnard Lakes’ new album, A Coliseum Complex Museum (2016, Jagjaguwar) is, indeed, majestic — a swirling miasma of beautiful multi-tracked sounds cut to the core by Robbie MacArthur’s sparkling guitar solos. It’s a sound so large one can only wonder how it’ll fit inside tiny Reverb Lounge Monday night.

We asked The Besnard Lakes to take our Ten Questions survey. Here’s what Olga had to say:

1. What is your favorite album?

The Besnard Lakes’ Olga Goreas: Side two of The Beatles’ Abbey Road.

2. What is your least favorite song?

Anything that doesn’t come from a sincere heart.

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

Playing bass. I love that thing so much!

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

I really can’t complain about any aspect of being in a band. It’s pretty much the best job in the world. I don’t know, long rides in the van can get tedious I suppose.  I’ve got restless legs too, but I don’t think I can blame it on being in a band! Just gotta get up and stretch once in a while.

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

I do enjoy a well-made double espresso.  Caffeine is the one drug I could never give up.

6. What city or town do you love performing at?

Chicago has been a special city for us.  The audience is always super appreciative, and the city too is quite lovely.  The old architecture melds with the new really well.  I almost get a Canadian vibe from it too, more than any other American city except maybe Minneapolis. Also love playing Glasgow, London and just the UK in general.  Audiences seem to understand us best in the UK.

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

That honor belongs to Victoria, BC.  It had actually started quite well – we took a ferry from Tsawassen to Victoria and two of our bandmates at the time ran into the drummer from Def Leppard, who happened to be playing the same night in the big arena.  We actually went to see them and then went to play our show.  I don’t know if it was something weird in the air but it was a very strange crowd and we tried to be loud enough to be heard over the rowdies.  Jace was trying to sing a song and just got fed up and told someone in the audience who was basically yelling the whole time to shut the fuck up.  This person replies “get over yourself” to which another person in the audience gets into some altercation and the night basically ended with bar fights and the cops being called. The end!

8. How do you pay your bills?

Online baby!

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

I went to university and studied Psychology.  I’d like to be a researcher or a clinical psychologist.  The mind is a fascinating creature to me.

I wouldn’t be able to work at a collection agency or anything that involves taking money from people who don’t have it.

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

We played once in Omaha many years ago. There was a college football game and nobody came to our show.  It’s totally fine, that sort of thing happens here for hockey so I get it. I also remember going to a laundromat and seeing bullet holes in the window. I started calling Omaha “Omaharsh” after that.

The Besnard Lakes plays with Jaill Monday, May 2, at Reverb Lounge, 6121 Military Ave. Showtime is 9 p.m. Admission is $12. For more information, go to

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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 © 2016 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.