No questions with Protomartyr tonight; House Fest II, St. Patrick’s Day Saturday; Titus Andronicus, MilkShopFest Sunday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 1:02 pm March 16, 2018

Protomartyr at Slowdown Jr., Aug. 12, 2016. They return to Slowdown Jr. tonight.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

I intended to do a Ten Questions interview with Joe Casey from Protomartyr, who plays tonight down at Slowdown Jr. I got in touch with the press people at Domino Records (Protomartyr’s label) and sent them the survey. The Domino guy immediately wrote back and said he could, indeed, send the questions but didn’t think I’d get the interview responses I was expecting.

He included a yet-to-be-published question-and-answer snippet with a reporter named “Leo.” Casey responded with about 100 words of pure venom.

I told Domino never mind. Fact is I don’t have time do a real interview with Casey — scheduling, research, writing the questions, doing the actual interview, transcribing then writing the story takes hours of time I don’t have for an endeavor that doesn’t pay a penny.

I don’t know who Leo works for but I’m guessing he’s not getting paid for being lambasted by Casey. He was just trying to help out the band, which is what I’m trying to do when I do Ten Questions interviews. They’re relatively painless, take little time to write, but at least give readers 1) a head’s up that the band’s coming through town, 2) a brief description of their sound/music/style, and 3) some feedback from a musician about some very basic questions: What do you like, what don’t you like, what’s it like to be a musician, how do you manage to make it happen in the era of a decomposing music industry.

A few days ago I had a brief discussion about music with a 21-year-old. I asked her what kind of music she buys. Her response: She’s never bought music in her life. She listens to everything on YouTube. “Why would anyone buy music?” That’s where we are, or certainly where we’re going.

In retrospect, I should have told Domino to go ahead and send Casey the questions and damn the torpedoes. But I wasn’t in the mood at the time, so…

That said, I’m planning on heading down to The Slowdown tonight for Protomartyr. I’ve seen these guys about a half-dozen times — they put on a good show. It’s worth it just to see Casey do his thing, in a sportcoat, looking like an insurance salesman, spitting out the words to their latest awesome album, Relatives in Descent. Check out some tracks below. Detroit proto-punk instrumental band Hydropark opens at 9 p.m. $15.

Also tonight, Brad Hoshaw is hosting a benefit for NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) at fabulous O’Leaver’s. Joining him are Jack Hotel and Clarence Tilton. Bring your cowboy hat. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Also starting tonight and going on tomorrow is We’re Trying Records Presents: House Fest II. The location is Lucy’s Public House, 8932 Blondo St. They’ll have two stages going, with bands from all over the midwest and beyond. Ten bands slated for tonight starting at 6:30 p.m.; 19 bands starting tomorrow at 1:40 p.m.  $10 per day. This is a pretty big deal. Get details and set times right here.

Dicey Riley Band at The Dubliner, March 17, 2013. They’re back this St. Patty’s Day.

Tomorrow, of course, is St. Patrick’s Day — never a good day for live indie music. Everyone has their own traditions; many just stay home and avoid the amateurs. We always go to The Dubliner for St. Patrick’s Day, and have for years. This year, Dicey Riley (ex-Turfmen) is handling the music, which makes the Dubliner the only place to be. Music starts at 2 p.m. and runs til 6, then an hour break, and then they’re back from 7 to 11 p.m. See you there.

Sunday night is the Titus Andronicus show at Slowdown Jr. I wrote about a couple days ago. Again, this is an acoustic-duo version of Titus, which is promised to be more laid-back. We’ll see. Opening is Rick McGuire from Pile. Tickets are $13 Adv/$15 DOS. Show start at 8 p.m.

Also Sunday is MilkShopFest at Petshop Gallery in Benson. We’re talking five touring bands (including Kid Chrome) and two locals, including the mighty BIB. $5, 7 p.m. Full line-up and other details here.

That’s all I got. If I missed your show, put it in the comments section. Have a great weekend.

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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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Ten Questions with Titus Andronicus (@ Slowdown Jr. March 18); They Might Be Giants tonight…

Category: Blog,Interviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:38 pm March 14, 2018

Titus Andronicus plays March 18 at Slowdown Jr. Photo by Ray Concepcion.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Since 2008 Titus Andronicus music has swayed from one style to the next, from bombastic, fist-in-the-air punk to soaring, swaying sing-along waltzes dense enough to keep a sea barge afloat.

The rock continues on the latest Titus Andronicus collection, A Productive Cough (2017, Merge), that finds singer/songwriter Patrick Stickles flexing his metaphoric pen on music that would sound good next to Exile-era Rolling Stones.

Sunday’s Titus Andronicus show at Slowdown will be an acoustic-only take on this new material, plus some Titus chestnuts. Stickles will be joined by Omaha native, pianist Alex Molini. “No drums, no ‘mosh pit’ every song pretty slow and not as loud,” Stickles said of this current tour.

I caught up with Stickles and asked him to take the Ten Questions survey. Here’s his answers:

1. What is your favorite album?

Patrick Stickles: It has been a long time since I declared an album to be my “favorite,” as I don’t much care these days to turn art into any kind of competition. When I did make such lists, I used to say that the self-titled debut of Violent Femmes was my personal number one, though it has been a while since I revisited it, and the adolescent frustration which the album so effectively embodies has slightly faded within me over time. Over the last five years or so, the album I have listened to most is probably Supreme Clientele by Ghostface Killah, which is so lyrically dense that I can hear it a hundred times and always find new wonders — what a powerful pen.

2. What is your least favorite song?

I try not to give too much emotional energy to the music that I don’t like so when I hear a song that irritates me, I don’t tend to learn its name, but I often find myself getting very frustrated when I am at the grocery store and they play that sort of acoustic, “whoa-oh” music that sounds like the band is wearing suspenders. That music must make some people happy though so I shouldn’t put it down.

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

The most rewarding aspect of my career is meeting people who testify that the music has had a positive effect in their life, that it has helped them endure their difficult times. Many people in the audience have gone through struggles similar to my own and I know the power that art has to validate the sufferer and fortify their spirit. It is a great honor to be a part of that exchange and to pay my debt to the artists who have helped me to carry on.

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

I adopted two baby cats last year and, of course, they can’t come on tour with me. Leaving them at home was difficult and I miss them very much.

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

I smoke a lot of cigarettes, though I do not recommend them.

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

Performing in New York City is always special, as that is mostly where we all live. As I write this, we are gearing up to play in Toronto, which is a rocking town. Really though, any town with a stage where people are willing to show up and receive the music is fine by me.

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

In terms of the quality of the performance, the worst Titus Andronicus gig I can remember was in Oxford, UK, which was marred by extensive equipment malfunctions, out-of-tune guitars, general sloppiness and all those sorts of things which plagued Titus Andronicus for the first five years or so of the career. As far as shows which I enjoyed the least, our last show in Akron, OH was ruined by a certain contingent of drunk bros who took it upon themselves to create and enforce an overly violent, macho vibe on the dance floor, which bothers me to no end. This sort of thing happens more often than I would like, but it is usually the fault of a few bad apples and I try not to let it sour my impression of the whole town, Akron or anyplace else.

8. Are you able to support yourself through your music? If so, how long did it take to get there; if not, how do you pay your bills?

I am very blessed that music has been my solitary occupation since 2008, shortly after the first Titus Andronicus album was released. My needs are fairly modest, and it’s not as though I am raking in the dough or figuring that I can retire off this rock and roll thing one day, but I am very grateful that I am able to make my art the focus of my life. There’s no way to know how long that will last, but every day that I get to live the life of the artist is a great gift and I measure my success in those increments.

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

The last “regular job” I had before pursuing music full-time was in delivering pizza, so I suppose that if I wasn’t rocking, I would be doing that. Unfortunately, that’s another one of those jobs that is going to be done entirely by robots in a few years. Before that first album came out, I was studying to become a schoolteacher, but I can hardly even imagine doing anything like that now — young people are crazy, especially with those phones they’ve got these days.

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

The pianist accompanying me on this tour is a fellow named Alex Molini and he is a native of Omaha. He speaks very fondly of his childhood years and he makes it sound as though Omaha is full of a lot of decent, good-hearted people with strong values. Of course, I have been to Omaha several times myself, always enjoying it thoroughly, and I am sure that our show at Slowdown will be a worthy addition to my expanding book of Nebraskan memories.

Titus Andronicus plays with Rick Maguire (Pile) Sunday, March 18 at Slowdown Front Room, 729 No. 14th St. Tickets are $13 Adv/ $15 DOS. Showtime is 8 p.m. For more information, go to theslowdown.com.

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They Might Be Giants returns to The Slowdown tonight. From the promo: “They’re back on the road with a new show with an expanded line-up of musicians. This new set will include all-time favorites, fresh rarities spanning their epic career, and spur-of-the-moment improvisations that will delight even their exhausted road crew.”

They have a new 15-track album called I Like Fun that sounds like everything they’ve ever done over their 37-year career. Check out the setlist from last night’s show in KC. $25, 8 p.m., no opening act.

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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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Craig Finn, Titus Andronicus, Hottman Sisters tonight; Travel Guide, Mitch Gettman, Super Ghost Saturday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 1:27 pm March 11, 2016
Titus Andronicus at Sokol Underground, Nov. 21, 2012.

Titus Andronicus at Sokol Underground, Nov. 21, 2012.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Is this the biggest indie-rock show The Lookout Lounge has ever hosted?

Craig Finn is the lead dude from The Hold Steady striking out on his own for a solo tour. Titus Andronicus, known for the long, drawn-out waltz-time punk rock songs, is one of the more interesting indie bands to emerge from Matador Records in the past half decade. You get both tonight at Lookout Lounge, along with Lincoln’s Universe Contest (on their way to SXSW) and Omaha band Gordon (get there early, you don’t want to miss them) for one price of $18. Tickets available at the door. I have yet to venture into the Lookout Lounge. This could be the night.

Also tonight, Americana/folk band Ragged Company headlines at fabulous O’Leaver’s. Joining them is Justin Ready & the Echo Prairie and Omaha buzz band The Hottman Sisters. For whatever reason, I thought the Hottmans were a country & western band, then Ian sent me a link to the following Live at O’Leaver’s. Check it. $5, 9:30 p.m. And pssst… the back patio is open!

Also tonight, Chicago is invading Milk Run. Chi-town bands Ratboy and Coaster headline, with locals Bed Rest and Crypt Kid. $7, 9 p.m.

Tomorrow night Mitch Gettman and The Way Out open for Wichita band The Travel Guide.  $7, 9 p.m.

While down at Slowdown Jr. Omaha emo band Super Ghost headlines a show with Blét, This Machine Kills Vibes and Intergalactic Star Hero. $8, 9 p.m.

By the way, my favorite time of year begins Sunday morning at 2 a.m. — that’s when Daylight Savings Time kicks in. Does that mean we lose an hour of drinking or gain an hour of drinking?

One more thing: The Brigadiers are headlining a show at Reverb Lounge Sunday night with Glen Hollow and Polka Police. The event is a fundraiser for art/photography startup Copper Collective. They’re trying to construct a dark room. The 7:30 p.m. show is $7. Find out more here.

That’s it for shows. If I missed your, put it in the comments section. Have a great weekend.

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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.

Lazy-i

Conor Oberst returns in Dolores Diaz and the Standby Club; Titus Andronicus/Craig Finn March 12…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 6:47 pm December 15, 2015
Conor Oberst at Sokol Auditorium, June 4, 2014.

Conor Oberst, left, at Sokol Auditorium, June 4, 2014.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Well, I guess Conor Oberst is feeling better.

Today our friends at fabulous O’Leaver’s announced a very special show for Jan. 3 at the club. The featured act: Dolores Diaz and the Standby Club. The country cover band’s all-star line-up includes Dolores Diaz (of course), Matt Maginn (Cursive), Dan McCarthy (McCarthy Trenching), Ben Brodin, Phil Schaffart (Con Dios), Miwi La Lupa, Roger Lewis (The Good Life), Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes) and Conor Oberst. If that weren’t enough, opening the show is good ol’ Johnathan Rice.

With the usual O’Leaver’s door price of just $5, something tells me this show will sell out. Better get on the guest list (which will be a mile long). To my knowledge, this is the first show Oberst has scheduled since Desaparecidos cancelled its fall tour Oct. 28 after Oberst fell ill in Jacksonville, Florida, and was briefly hospitalized due to laryngitis, exhaustion and anxiety.

* * *

That’s not the only interesting show announced today.

Lookout Lounge keeps hosting bigger indie shows. This time it’s Titus Andronicus with Craig Finn of The Hold Steady March 12. Also on the bill are Universe Contest and Gordon. I’m told Lookout Lounge will sell around 300 tickets to this show. How will the bar handle such a large crowd? $16 advance tickets go on sale this Friday at 10 a.m.

Then there’s Wolf Alice April 12 at The Waiting Room. Winter hasn’t even started and it feels like spring is almost here.

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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 © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Titus Andronicus, Brother Ali tonight; Yo La Tengo, Hotlines (debut) Saturday; Eros & Eschaton Sunday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , — @ 12:55 pm September 20, 2013

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Titus Andronicus is playing tonight at the Sweatshop Gallery, the space next door (south) of The Barley Street Tavern. Sweatshop’s performance space looks like it has a capacity of around 50 (including the band) which could make for tight quarters, especially if Titus draws the 75-100 or so who came to see them play at Sokol Underground last November.

I asked someone who went to the Parquet Courts show at Sweatshop this past June if the venue opened the overhead door in the back of the performance space. He said they didn’t, and as a result, the show was a tightly packed, sweaty mess, but he felt lucky to be there. I’m told Titus purposely booked small, non-traditional venues for this tour, which supports Local Business (2012, Matador), the same album they were supporting at that Sokol show. It’s worth the effort. Opening is NYC band “Lost Boy?” $10, 9 p.m.

Just up the street tonight Brother Ali returns to The Waiting Room. Ali is co-headlining with Immortal Technique. Also on the bill is Hasan Salaam & I Self Devine. $20, 9 p.m.

Also tonight over at fabulous O’Leaver’s Millions of Boys headlines with Kansas City’s The ACB’s and The SuperBytes. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Check out The ACB’s, below:

Lastly tonight, Hot Water Music frontman Chuck Ragan is doing a solo set at Slowdown Jr. with Matt Whipkey. $20, 9 p.m.

Saturday’s marquee event is the weekend’s marquee event: An Evening with Yo La Tengo at The Waiting Room. No opener, just Ira, Georgia and James (and co.) for an evening of music by one of the most influential indie bands in the last 20 years. $18, 9 p.m. See you there.

Also Saturday night, new band Hotlines has its stage debut at O’Leaver’s. Hotlines consists of heavy hitters from a number of local bands: Dereck Higgins, Amanda DeBoer Bartlett, Javid Dabistani and Luke Polipnick. Flamethrower opens. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Finally Sunday is a homecoming of sorts down at Slowdown Jr. Eros and Eschaton is the new project by Adam Hawkins of It’s True that also features his wife, Katey Sleeveless. I’ve heard the new album, Home Address for Civil War (2012 Bar/None), and can tell you if you loved It’s True, you’ll love this new incarnation that takes the same rich songwriting and covers it in dollops of shoe-gaze feedback. Opening is hot newcomers Twinsmith and the Omaha’s heartbreak king John Klemmensen and the The Party. This is an early show — 7 p.m. $8. Go!

Did I miss anything? Put it in the comments section. Have a fantastic weekend.

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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 © 2013 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Live Review: Titus Andronicus, Ceremony; Who is Gordon?; Criteria, Domestica Saturday…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 1:01 pm November 23, 2012
Ceremony at Sokol Underground, Nov. 21, 2012.

Ceremony at Sokol Underground, Nov. 21, 2012.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

I’m guessing by the size of the crowd that in the battle between Tilly and Titus, Tilly won. One of my music cohorts blamed indie slacker girlfriends for the poor turnout at Sokol Underground Friday night — maybe 75 tops for a band that packed The Waiting Room the last time they came through. His contention was that the girlfriends insisted on going to Tilly and the Wall at The Slowdown rather than Titus Andronicus at Sokol — girls’ music versus guys’ music — and that the girls will always win that argument. What a goddamn sexist thing to say, Chris! There were a few girls in the crowd at Titus, but something tells me there were a heckuva lot more at Tilly. Sometimes stereotypes are right on.

A little after 10 the warm-up band, Ceremony, took the stage and began playing their brand of post hardcore hardcore music to a tiny mob in front of the stage intent on moshing even if no one else wanted to. Three or four guys bounced around before eventually giving up and maintaining a metal-esque headbob routine. The S.F. four-piece isn’t a hardcore band, at least not anymore, not like they were before they signed with Matador Records. Still, their brutal post-punk sound crossed into hardcore territory during more intense moments or when frontman Ross Farrar introduced a song as “an old one.”

Their more recent streamlined sound is compared to early Wire, some have called it an homage. I wouldn’t go that far for, among other reasons, how much they lean on their guitars. On their new record, they remind me more of Bad Religion than any proto-post-harcore band. I would argue that they’re better live because they’re willing to blur the lines between the old and new as much as they want to, the yelling sounds more genuine.

Titus Andronicus at Sokol Underground, Nov. 21, 2012.

Titus Andronicus at Sokol Underground, Nov. 21, 2012.

We had a bet going on how long Titus would play. The consensus was an hour and 15 minutes. They went about a half our over that (with no encore). Patrick Stickles and company came on in a matter-of-fact fashion and barreled through a set that included the best off the new album (including “Tried to Quit Smoking” “My Eating Disorder” and “Titus Andronicus Vs. The Absurd Universe (3rd Round KO),” and a handful of the classics from the past couple of albums, including “A More Perfect Union,” “Titus Andronicus Forever” and “No Future Part Three: Escape from No Future” with the rousing chorus “You will always be a loser.” Big, anthemic fun without the nasty filler.

Before I left a member of one of the opening bands, called Gordon (the band’s name, not the guy’s name), gave me a copy of their six-song demo EP, I guess they were just handing them out. After listening to it this morning, I’m sorry I got to the show late.

Pretty fantastic stuff, especially opening track “No Masters, No War,” a soulless, dark little counter-argument to the neon-colored youth-freedom anthems that Tilly was singing just a few miles away to a much cuter audience, an audience who would blanch at lines like “And there were piss stains on the carpet / Where I laid my head and slept / There was a memory that I lost / Couldn’t remember when I woke up.” Ew, gross! There is something bracing and honest about a chorus that goes “It was love / It was death / There were no masters / There was no war.”

That goes right into a straight-up indie pop number called “I Don’t Mind” whose guitar lines and rhythms owe a lot to The Cure and Dinosaur Jr., with scratch vocals that are a direct nod to J. Mascis. Short and sweet.

Track three, “Down Goes Red” is a buzzsaw guitar and a droll mumble and a shout chorus of “Bang, Bang, Bang / Goes my gun.” Kind of an RFTC vibe, minus the candy coating. The last few songs are cleaned up garage songs that rock. The whole thing’s good and at times borders on brilliant.

On these recordings (according to the lyrics sheet included in the unlabeled heavy-black plastic CD case) Gordon is Austin Mayer, guitar/vox; Nick Sortino, drums/vox; Josh French, bass/vox, and Aaron Parker, guitar/vox. I don’t know anything about these guys, other than that French is in Snake Island, and that Mayer and Parker are in a project called Scratch Howl.

Don’t know where you can find a copy of these recordings, but they’re worth finding.  The note scratched on the lyrics sheet next to the recording credits says “We suck, we know.” Do you?

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Looking at the sched, it’s going to be a quiet Friday night EXCEPT at The Barley Street Tavern, where Lincoln DIY punk legend Jim Jacobi and the Crap Detectors take the stage with The Shidiots and Never Trust the Living (Rob Rutar, Troy Garrison, Chad Roles and Dave Carnaby). Look, this is the only thing of substance going on tonight, you have no excuses. $5, 9 p.m.

Tomorrow night is the long-awaited (annual) return of Criteria. And when I say return, I mean with new material. Sayeth Criteria frontman Stephen Pedersen “Criteria is writing new material (for the first time in 6 years).  Should be 3 or 4 new ones for the show. I am excited to perform them live.” Oh, and we’re excited to hear them, Steve. Opening is Landing on the Moon and Lincoln post-punk strategists Ideal Cleaners. $8, 9 p.m. Expect a crowd.

Just down the street, Lincoln anthem rockers Domestica take the stage with The Lupines (Frontman John Ziegler, Mike Friedman (ex-Movies, member of Simon Joyner and the Fallen Men), Mike Tulis (Monroes, Fullblown, Sons of ___, The Third Men),  Javid Dabestani (Ghost Runners, among others)). $5, 9 p.m.

Have a good weekend…

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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

Little Brazil’s new lineup; Tilly and the Wall Vs. Titus Andronicus tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — @ 2:49 pm November 21, 2012
Little Brazil, circa now.

Little Brazil, circa now.

by Tim McMahan. Lazy-i.com

You might have wondered the same thing I did when you saw the sexy new band photo for Little Brazil (above) posted yesterday: Where’s the rest of the band?

Guitarist Greg Edds (the guy on the left) confirmed that drummer Oliver Morgan and wife Megan have left the band to focus on their other band, Landing on the Moon.

Edds characterized the line-up change this way: “Obviously, we all are still close friends and you’ll most likely find us in Benson shooting Rumplemintz and tossing Busch Light cans at each other. It’s all good.”

So who’s playing drums now? None other than Desaparecidos drummer Matt Baum. Edds said Baum is filling in for the band’s next show — Dec. 27 at The Waiting Room with The Sons of The Waiting Room, John Klemmensen and the Party, and The Brigadiers (more about them in a sec).

Oliver’s technical, intricate drumming style with lots o’ cymbals has always been a core element of the band’s sound. “Bombastic” might be the best way to describe Baum’s style (Edds referred to Baum’s “Hulk Smash” skills — quite appropriate). The only thing more signature than Baum’s booming style is his habit of getting up from behind the kit between songs and yelling at the crowd.

One of the few other local drummers that hits the toms as hard as Baum is former Cursive drummer Clint Schnase, who put away the sticks back in 2007, returning for a one-shot performance at the August 2011 Maha Festival. Well, Schnase’s back, this time as drummer of The Brigadiers, a band that includes Shane Lamson, guitar, vocals; Mark Weber (ex-Box), lead guitar, vocals; and Vic Padios (ex-Calico, ex-Gymnastics), bass, vocals. This Dec. 27 show is looking pretty hot…

* * *

In this week’s column, random notes written a week ago (due to pushed-up holiday deadlines) about Lance Armstrong, Bob Kerrey and the new Ralston Arena. You can read it in the current issue of The Reader (which I’m told is already on news stands) or online right here.

* * *

We all have the day off tomorrow, so there’s no excuse for not going to a show (unless the show sells out), and there are some doozies to choose from.

Tonight at The Slowdown it’s the return of Tilly and the Wall. The band has been on the road for a few weeks supporting their most recent Team Love release, Heavy Mood. For me, Tilly’s always been a sweet little tap-dancing-fueled combo tailor made for the little girl in all of us — cute and fun, with rarely noticed sinister lyrics lying just beneath the covers.

That changed with Heavy Mood, which, after you get past the B-52’s-flavored opening tracks, is as good of an indie rock album as I’ve heard this year. For me, the best part is that the band has finally learned to harmonize. In the old days, everyone sang the same note at the same time, which while sounding “youthful” also sounded very amateurish. Harmony rich tracks like “Hey Rainbow” and “I Believe in You” give Azure Ray a fun for their money. “Echo My Love” is flat-out one of the best tracks I’ve heard this year. Opening tonight’s show is Saddle Creek Records act UUVVWWZ and Sun Settings. $13, 9 p.m. In her weekly email, Val kinda/sorta warned that this one could sell out, so if you’re into it, get your tickets online now.

Also tonight, down where Omaha indie rock was born — Sokol Underground — it’s the return of Titus Andronicus. Their new album, Local Business (XL Records) takes a few steps back from their last two epic-strewn releases to more stripped-down territory. Heck, there are even a few songs in the 3- to 5-minute-long category. But ol’ Pat Stickles just can’t help himself and thus, right in the middle is the 8-plus-minute “My Eating Disorder” while the nearly 10-minute “Tried to Quit Smoking” closes out the record.

Those long songs just seem to meander, especially when played live. I’ve seen these guys a number of  times and their best sets have been at SXSW, where they were forced to keep it simple and keep it quick. As a headliner, expect another epic (and long) performance. Opening this four-band bill are local boys Gordon, Iowa City’s Slut River, and Matador Records band Ceremony, who by themselves would be a decent draw. $15, 9 p.m. Slowburn Productions kinda/sorta warned that this one might sell out, too. You might want to get your tickets right now right here.

Also tonight, the 3rd Annual Benson Canned Food Drive is happening at the Barley Street Tavern. Performers include Brad Hoshaw, Kyle Harvey (I guess he’s in town for the holidays), Matt Cox, John Klemmenson, Nick Carl, Bret Vovk, Rebecca Lowry and Matt Whipkey. Admission is two cans of food. Show starts at 9.

And The Waiting Room is hosting a slew of “tribute” (more like cover) bands including REModeled doing their version of Reckoning, Surfer Rosa and Rock and Roll Suicide doing Talking Heads’ Stop Making Sense. $7, 9 p.m.

Better get it in tonight, folks, because there ain’t shit going on tomorrow or Friday night.

Happy Turkey Day…

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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

SXSW Day 2: Jesus and Mary Chain, Neon Trees, Cults, Glen Hansard, Purity Ring, Titus Andronicus, more…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , , , , — @ 12:35 pm March 16, 2012

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Same routine as yesterday: Go here to thereader.com and read my Day 2 recap of SXSW featuring reviews of performances by Neon Trees, Glen Hansard, and Gardens & Villas, and the amazing Jesus and Mary Chain, then take a look at my photo diary, below.  And if you really want to know about the pain that is SXSW, read my column in this week’s issue of The Reader, online here.

Inca Abraham at Antone's, SXSW, March 15, 2012.

Inca Abraham at Antone's, SXSW, March 15, 2012.

Neon Trees at Antone's, SXSW, March 15, 2012.

Neon Trees at Antone's, SXSW, March 15, 2012.

Glen Hansard at Antone's, SXSW, March 15, 2012.

Glen Hansard at Antone's, SXSW, March 15, 2012.

Cults at 1100 Warehouse, SXSW, March 15, 2012.

Cults at 1100 Warehouse, SXSW, March 15, 2012.

Gardens & Villa at Mohawk Patio, SXSW, March 15, 2012.

Gardens & Villa at Mohawk Patio, SXSW, March 15, 2012.

Purity Ring at Central Presbyterian Church, SXSW, March 15, 2012.

Purity Ring at Central Presbyterian Church, SXSW, March 15, 2012.

Titus Andronicus at The Belmont, SXSW, March 15, 2012.

Titus Andronicus at The Belmont, SXSW, March 15, 2012.

The Jesus and Mary Chain at The Belmont, March 15, 2012.

The Jesus and Mary Chain at The Belmont, March 15, 2012.

The Jesus and Mary Chain at The Belmont, March 15, 2012.

The Jesus and Mary Chain at The Belmont, March 15, 2012.

Tomorrow: Day 3. See you then…

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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

Live Review: Titus Andronicus, Free Energy; Appleseed Cast tonight, Bloodcow Saturday; Cursive Sunday…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , — @ 1:43 pm September 17, 2010
Titus Andronicus at The Waiting Room, Sept. 16, 2010.

Titus Andronicus at The Waiting Room, Sept. 16, 2010.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

How would I describe last night’s Titus Andronicus show at The Waiting Room? I wouldn’t say it was “epic” as much as an attempt at being epic. You could describe Titus’ music as tuneful anthem punk — the songs usually start off as quiet indie ballads that slowly build and explode into pounding riffs, sing-along lyrics and the occasional Celtic-flavored melody. It’s a lot of territory to cover, and that means some pretty long songs. And though I was exhausted at the end of their 90-minute set, I felt like I just saw what could become an important band at a pivotal moment in its history.

They’re still just starting out. While Titus has gotten a lot of national press and attention (including some late-night network chat-show airplay) for a band that’s only been around only a couple years, it’s still very much flying under the radar, judging by last night’s draw of only a couple hundred, many of whom came to see pop opener Free Energy. In fact, at the end of the set, Titus did the ol’ “We’re looking for a place to crash tonight” spiel from stage. They’re definitely living out of the van these days, but judging by last night’s performance, they won’t be for long.

The band is centered on frontman Patrick Stickles, who looks like your typical indie rock beardo but sings like a man trying to exorcise his own evil spirits. He’s both a crooner and a howler, and as I said in yesterday’s feature, has often been compared to Conor Oberst vocally. You could hear some of that last night, and Stickles even acknowledged it about four songs into the set, saying that though the band has never been to Omaha, they’ve been plagued by a certain Omaha singer/songwriter, and then went on to say that his next song’s self-loathing nature (“No Future Part Three: Escape From No Future”) would showcase this. And that’s exactly what it did. We got the bray, we got the shrill screams, but they weren’t a central part of his vocal style, and when he flat out sang, he didn’t resemble Oberst at all.

Beyond the countless anthems, the highlight was the ironically named “Theme from ‘Cheers'” (my fave from their latest album) and their cover of The Misfits’ “Where Eagles Dare.” Stickles has a great band behind him these days (Titus has gone through a number of personnel changes over the past couple years), but the most entertaining addition is guitarist/violinist Alexi Crawford, whose constant pogoing — bouncing around the stage — was infectious, especially to the crowd up front. She’s the kind of person anyone would want in their band because in addition to being an amazing musician and having a sweet voice, she is intensely “into” every song — you get the sense that she feels like the luckiest person on the face of the earth to be on stage performing with this band.

If Titus has a drawback, it’s in their lack of editing. There were just too many anthems, too many attempts at heroics with each song. One can only stand so many epic closers before they begin to wear on you. It’s hard to fault a band that is just trying to entertain the best way it knows how — and with large portions. But sometimes you have to push yourself away from the table and say “no more” (but this comes from a guy who has zero interest in sitting through one of Springsteen’s legendary four-hour marathon concerts — an hour is more than enough of the Boss). I think Titus is still trying to figure out the right balance, and when they do — both on stage and on their recordings — they’re going to find themselves sleeping in the Hilton downtown instead of on somebody’s floor.

Free Energy at The Waiting Room, Sept. 16, 2010.

Free Energy at The Waiting Room, Sept. 16, 2010.

Lots o’ hype about opening band Free Energy, and like I said, they were the reason a large portion of the crowd was there. And while I like pop rock as much as the next guy, I just wasn’t feeling it. Sure, they know their way around a good ’70s-style rock song, but frontman Paul Sprangers (following in a long tradition of frontmen who don’t play an instrument on stage) is no Robin Zander or Phil Lynott (or Julian Casablancas, for that matter) when it comes to cock-rock stage presence (if anything, he reminded me of Evan Dando). But that may come with time, along with some better songs. One of their set’s biggest crowd-pleasers was when members of Titus joined them on stage for a cover of Springsteen’s “I’m Going Down” that made me wonder why more people don’t cover that song.

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On the radar screen this weekend

Tonight at The Waiting Room, Appleseed Cast returns. As interesting as the headliner are opening bands Lawrence’s Cowboy Indian Bear and new Omaha shoe-gaze flavored rockers Conduits. $12, 9 p.m.

Down at Slowdown, Ember Schrag returns. Opening is The Chiara Quartet and Noah Sterba & The Cocktails. $7, 9 p.m.

Meanwhile, this year’s Nebraska Pop Festival continues (it’s been going on in Benson for the past few days) at PS Collective. On the bill is Lincoln’s Floating Opera along with Omaha’s Thunder Power and a slew of out-of-towners. The full line-up is here. 7 p.m., $5.

Tomorrow night punk superstars/deviants Bloodcow celebrates its 10 year anniversary at The Waiting Room with Filter Kings and Saudi Arabia (The Dinks). $7, 9 p.m.

Meanwhile, down at O’Leaver’s Saturday night, it’s a Speed! Nebraska mini showcase with Wagon Blasters, Ron Wax (Ron Albertson of Mercy Rule) and Students of Crime. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Then Sunday night, it’s night one of two nights of Cursive at The 49’r. Opening is So-So Sailors. Starts at 9, SOLD OUT.

Finally, at The Waiting Room Sunday night, it’s the Pine Ridge Live Recording session for a benefit CD that will be sold later this year to generate cash for Lash LaRue’s annual Toy Drive. Slated to perform: Kyle Harvey , Jake Bellows, Dustin Clayton, All Young Girls Are Machine Guns, Son of 76 , Platte River Rain, Korey Anderson, Vago, Matt Cox, Noah’s Ark Was A Spaceship, Brad Hoshaw, Josh Dunwoody, LL Dunn, Mariachi San Juan, Cass Brostad, Brad Thompson and more. The show starts at noon and runs ’til closing, and is absolutely free.

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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

Lazy-i Interview: Titus Andronicus; CVS protest today; Titus, Pixies tonight…

Category: Blog,Interviews — Tags: , , , — @ 1:03 pm September 16, 2010
Titus Andronicus

Titus Andronicus


Our Civil War

Titus Andronicus’ music addresses the battle within ourselves.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

A caveat before reading further: Titus Andronicus’ frontman Patrick Stickles’ comments came under the influence of having not slept in 26 hours, after he and the rest of the band drove over night from Toledo to St. Louis to play on a hot Saturday afternoon at LouFest.

“I guess ‘Lou’ is short for St. Louis,” he said, adding that the band was playing “smack in the middle of seven or eight bands. Broken Social Scene is the headliner.”

It was just two years ago that Titus Andronicus, which hails from Glen Rocks, New Jersey, began to break through the oversized, amorphous cloud that is the U.S. indie music scene with their XL Records debut The Airing of Grievances, an LP that captured their rowdy, raucous anthem-punk style.

“A lot’s happened since then,” Stickles said. “We went through a couple guitar players and made this whole other record. We’ve pretty much wildly exceeded our expectations.”

Titus Andronicus, The Monitor (XL Records)

Titus Andronicus, The Monitor (XL Records)

The “other record” is sophomore effort The Monitor, released by XL this past March. While it continued in the same rambunctious fashion as their debut, the album is sprawling — more than an hour long with half the songs over seven minutes in length, and one clocking in at a whopping 14 minutes.

“I’ve never been too good at editing myself,” Stickles said. “At the time we were theorizing these songs, I guessed all would be three or four minutes long. What we ended up recording is a byproduct of me having poor temporal reasoning skills. We always strive for a level of grandiosity, but even I couldn’t have predicted that we’d go that far.”

The recording also expanded on the band’s low-fi punk sound, adding new instruments (bagpipes, fiddle, trombone, cello) that elevated these epic, drunken, Celtic-flavored sing-along ballads to a level as grand as the album’s so-called Civil War theme, which Stickles said shouldn’t be taken too literally.

“The music is set in modern times. The Civil War is only used allegorically; I thought it would be an apt metaphor,” Stickles said. In fact, the lyrics on The Monitor (named after the Civil War-era battleship) are both self-flagellating and confrontational, with slogan-like lines “Baby we were born to die,” “You’ll always be a loser,” “I was born to die like a man,” and most central to the album’s theme: “The enemy is everywhere.” Booze provides a lyrical counterbalance to desperation and hostility.

“The point is that we’re all complacent in our various societal ills,” Stickles explained. “All this stuff about the enemy being everywhere, just as often it’s inside us, our own bodies, our earthly prisons. We as individuals have to be willing to take responsibility for our own happiness and fulfillment. There seems to be a tendency of humans trying to pass the buck for their unhappiness, and say, ‘If other than xyz, I would have the life of Riley.’ To me, it’s a defense mechanism at best. It’s quite possible to achieve peace and happiness on this crazy planet, but we have to allow that to come from within rather than look for external reasons.”

Heady stuff, but beyond their deeper meaning, all those angry lines make for some amazing sing-along moments. Stickles agreed. “They tend to make the best rock and roll songs,” he said, acknowledging how much the band loves it when the crowd shouts the lines back at them. “Their enthusiasm has a way of quickly creating enthusiasm on stage.”

Stickles said the band has never played in Omaha, but heard that the city’s punks “like to rock out in the basement.” He also said he and his high school pals grew up listening to Saddle Creek Records, which opened the door to the next line of discussion.

There are probably 100 reviews of The Monitor online and in print, and I venture to guess that at least half of them compare Stickles’ rambunctious vocal style to Omaha’s very own Conor Oberst, from the overdriven screams to that distinctive Conor bray.

Stickles said he admires Oberst’s honesty. “He doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who’s too scared to lay it on the line,” he said, “though his last two records kind of left me cold.”

As for the comparisons, “I’ll tell you because you rep the Omaha readership,” Stickles said. “I think it’s a little short-sighted.

“The constant comparisons to anyone gets old, even if it’s Jesus Christ. Doesn’t everyone want to be themselves? Don’t we all want to blaze our own trail, though I know this is rock and roll, and there’s not too much under the sun? But it seems kind of like, uh, cheapening slightly to say that if you’ve heard one guy you can pretty much guess what this guy is going to sound like. After awhile it feels like a feedback loop, a house of mirrors, like sometimes (reviewers) get these things to sound so similar that I’m reading reviews of other reviews. But maybe that’s me being a self-righteous, entitled type. Even if it were true, is it helpful? Who’s to say? It’s not in my control. As I put my art out into the world, it’s out of my hands. History will judge.”

It will indeed. Now go get some sleep.

Titus Andronicus plays with Free Energy Thursday, Sept. 16, at The Waiting Room, 6212 Maple St. Showtime is 9 p.m. Admission is $10. For more information, call 402.884.5353 or visit waitingroomlounge.com.

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An addendum to yesterday’s CVS Pharmacy item: There’s an organized protest taking place today at 4:30 p.m. on both sides of Dodge Street outside The 49’r. It’s called “The Rally to Preserve the Integrity of Dundee.” Find out more at the event’s Facebook page. Will it make a difference? Who knows… it couldn’t hurt…

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So, tough choice for tonight: The Pixies or Titus Andronicus? I grew up listening to The Pixies and love all of their albums. I consider them to be among the most influential indie bands in the last 30 years. And tickets are still available in the $35 to $65 range. The show is at The Orpheum and starts at 7:30. I guess since it starts so early, there’s no reason to not go to both shows…

Opening for Titus Andronicus at The Waiting Room tonight is Free Energy, a hot hot hot new indie pop band from Philly that sounds influenced by ’70s arena acts like Cheap Trick, The Knack and yeah, Thin Lizzy, along with a healthy dose of Pavement. 9 p.m., $10.

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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