Live Review: Whipkey, Wild Powwers, Bien Fang; Basia Bulat tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , , — @ 1:43 pm March 7, 2016
Wild Powwers at O'Leaver's, March 4, 2016.

Wild Powwers at O’Leaver’s, March 4, 2016.

by Tim McMahan,

A look back at the weekend, or Friday night to be more precise.

Matt Whipkey performed in one of his most high-profile gigs in Omaha at 1200 Club Friday night. Backed by guitar, drums, bass and keyboards, Whipkey was center stage under the white-hot lights giving his all to a mostly full house. Ironically, even though there were a few hundred people collected around tables in the crowded room, it was likely one of the smaller crowds he’s played to recently, thanks to becoming one of Dwight Yoakam’s standard opening acts.

Matt Whipkey at 1200 Club, March 4, 2016.

Matt Whipkey at 1200 Club, March 4, 2016.

That road work has left Whipkey and his band water-tight as they played his double-LP Penny Park in sequence (even announcing the end of each side throughout the set). You might think it was strange he was playing an album that came out in 2013 rather than his most recent material except that Whipkey undoubtedly looked at this performance as a career high water mark and wanted to make it something special. Penny Park is probably his most thought-out release to date, something he may never duplicate. Might as well give it the staging it deserves.

I stuck around for two sides of Penny Park before heading cross town to O’Leaver’s. On stage when I arrived was Low Long Signal, a proggy, mathy four-piece instrumental rock band that ripped though a set of high-energy compositions rife with intricate rhythms. Just when you got inside one of their fast, tight grooves they’d throw a heavy riff into the mix. Very interesting and worth further investigation.

Wild Powwers were harder and faster than they sound on their most recent album — they sounded more like a punk band than a self-proclaimed grunge act. I point to the density of production on that new record for the Pacific Northwest narrative, vs. the straight-up, stripped down sound we got Friday night.

While Lara Hilgeman’s vocals and guitarwork were spot on, it was the rhythm section of while-knuckle drummer Lupe Flores and bassist Jordan (JoJo) Gomes (his bass acting more like a second guitar on most of the songs) that “powwered” the evening.

Bien Fang at O'Leaver's March 4, 2016.

Bien Fang at O’Leaver’s March 4, 2016.

Finally locals Bien Fang closed out the night. I didn’t know going in that BF is a Rachel Tomlinson Dick project (or I’d forgotten) and was pleasantly surprised to see her on stage fronting the band on heavy rock songs that bordered on punk. Two ’90s bands — Live Skull and Come — came to mind. A comrade who watched the night’s festivities said Wild Powwers had a riot grrrl flair to their set; I’d say that tag more appropriately belonged to Bien Fang.

A great night of music.

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Very quickly: Tonight at The Waiting Room it’s the Omaha return of Basia Bulat. From the press release: “Her new album Good Advice is out now to rave reviews—the LA Times callis it ‘an irresistible blend of lush pop and effervescent R&B…undeniable’ while Paste says it’s ‘playful to the point of pure effusiveness, each [song] swathed with catchy choruses and brisk, bubbly refrains.'” I haven’t heard it yet. No doubt you will tonight. The Weather Station opens. $13, 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.


Matt Whipkey at 1200 Club, Wild Powwers, High Up, Bill Clinton, Bloodcow, BFF tonight; caucus Saturday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 1:45 pm March 4, 2016
Matt Whipkey and his band at The Waiting Room, Feb. 20, 2015.

Matt Whipkey and his band at The Waiting Room, Feb. 20, 2015. Whipkey and Co. play tonight at 1200 Club in the Holland Performing Arts Center.

by Tim McMahan,

The weekend is front-loaded. Lots happening tonight, and then…

Matt Whipkey has enjoyed the best 12 months of his musical life. New record. Touring with Dwight Yoakam, and now a headlining gig at The Holland Performing Arts Center’s ritzy 1200 Club. If you’ve never been there, you owe yourself the favor — big room, bar, great stage, great sound system. Think of it as a giant, high-ceilinged lounge filled with large round tables and chairs.

It’s a perfect setting for Whipkey and his band to perform for the first time ever his 2013 double-LP Penny Park in sequence. For Whip, it’s a career highlight. Expect him at his very best. Opening is R&B singer Rothsteen. Tickets are $20. Show starts at 8 p.m.

It’s an early show, which means if Whipkey keeps his set under 90 minutes you’ll have time to hit other hot shows tonight.

Top of list is Wild Powwers at fabulous O’Leaver’s. I wrote about them Wednesday, here. Note they are NOT the headliner. Lincoln band Bien Fang has that honor. Low Long Signal opens. Show starts at 9:30, $5.

Also tonight, the city’s hottest up-and-coming band, High Up, headlines at The Waiting Room with M34N STR33T. Lineman’s Rodeo opens at 9 p.m. Hopefully by start time they’ll have cleared out all the Secret Service from Bill Clinton’s visit to TWR, which is scheduled to take place at 2:15 p.m. Please note, there is an RSVP  form you’d be wise to fill out if you intend to see the president stump for his wife.

No doubt Clinton will return to Omaha (after a visit to Lincoln) just in time to catch Bloodcow at The Barley Street Tavern tonight. Wouldn’t be surprised if Bill has his sax in tow to join the band  for a jazzed up version of “Ultra Super Sexual.” Opening is Super Moon and Montee Men. $5, 9 p.m.

And lest you forget, it’s Benson First Friday. If you’re checking out the art, drop by The Little Gallery, right across the street from The Sydney, for the opening of Jennifer Radil’s abstract cartography show. Eye popping stuff. From 6 to 9 p.m. More info here.

Tomorrow is caucus day. Get your carcass out and caucus.

That’s all I got. If I missed your show, put it in the comments section. Happy weekend, y’all…

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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.


Ten Questions with Wild Powwers (new feature!); Ringo Deathstarr tonight…

Category: Blog,Interviews — Tags: , , , — @ 1:36 pm March 2, 2016
Wild Powwers play Friday night at O'Leaver's

Wild Powwers play Friday night at O’Leaver’s

by Tim McMahan,

I get a lot of requests from bands coming through town to do interviews for Lazy-i and The Reader. No surprise there. How else are they — unknown quantities traveling through a maze-like network of faceless towns— going to get people to come to their shows? Any buzz — no matter how little — is better than no buzz.

Unfortunately, it’s not possible to interview all these bands. I simply don’t have the time or resources, especially considering the money I get for writing for Lazy-i and The Reader. Still, I want to be helpful, which is why I came up with Ten Questions.

Actually, it was Bernard Pivot who came up with the idea for the French series Bouillon de Culture. James Lipton stole the questions and uses them to close out each episode of TV show Inside the Actors Studio. And I stole the idea from Lipton, changing the questions so they have a music spin. The 10 questions will be the same for all the bands and performers, though I might adapt and/or change a few if I can come up with something better.

The first band to take the plunge is Seattle band Wild Powwers, who are playing at fabulous O’Leaver’s this Friday night. The trio of guitarist/vocalist Lara Hilgeman, drummer/vocalist Lupe Flores and bassist/vocalist Jordan (JoJo) Gomes wholly embrace the “grunge” label, though their sound more closely resembles modern-day bands like Dilly Dally (Who sounds like Hole to me, so yeah, I guess there is a grunge connection).

Their new album, Hugs and Kisses and Other Things (linked below), comes out this month and is a real grinder — towering guitar lines and soaring vocals that reflect the musical heritage of the Pacific Northwest city they call home. Actually, the more I listen to this album the more I hear Seattle influences from Temple of the Dog to Screaming Trees.

To me, grunge was a throwback genre coming out of the mid-’80s post-punk/new wave/hair metal era, grunge brought back big guitars and heavy rhythm sections. Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam were repackaged ’70s heavy metal. Somehow Nirvana got roped in with the label, though (to me) they weren’t grunge. These guys are. If you’re a fan of the kind of music heard on the Singles soundtrack, you’re going to love Wild Powwers.

So without further ado, here are the Ten Questions:

1. What is your favorite album?

Lupe: Exile on Main St
Lara: The Man Who Sold The World
Jojo: Right now I’m listening the most to Dilly Dally’s Sore

2. What is your least favorite song?

“Hotel California” and anything by Mackelmore

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

Getting to write sweet rock ‘n’ roll with your friends and touring.

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

Not being able to do it full time.

5. What is your favorite substance?

I mean, tequila.

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

Anywhere, all the time.

7. What city or town did you have your worst gig?

Eugene, OR

8. How do you pay your bills?

We all work at the same bar — Hattie’s Hat — the best bar in the world.  We slang dranks and snacks.

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

Lara: Illustration. I would hate to be a telemarketer.

Lupe: Deep sea diver; insurance salesman

Jojo: Dog walker; janitor at a strip club.

10. What one piece of advice would you give to aspiring musicians?

Have fun. Making music isn’t about getting attention or being the coolest person in the room. Making music is about putting all you are into something you believe in and loving it despite the fact that people may not care, or listen. Have fun with your friends.

Wild Powwers plays with Bien Fang and Low Long Signal Friday, March 4, at O’Leaver’s, 1322 Saddle Creek Rd. Showtime is 9:30 p.m. Admission is $5. For more information, visit

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Austin-based modern-day shoe-gazers Ringo Deathstarr headlines tonight at Reverb Lounge. Their latest album, Pure Mood, came out this past November. Noise-rock band Future Death opens. $10, 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.