Sucettes at Pet Shop Gallery Dec. 9, 2017.

Welcome to Lazy-i, an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news.

The focus is on the indie music scene. Yes, there’s a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area, but Lazy-i also offers interviews, stories and reviews about national indie bands.

Most of the feature stories and columns in Lazy-i will have previously been published in The Reader, Omaha’s monthly alternative newspaper.

The Astro finally opens, Hiss Golden Messenger, BFF tonight; Uh Oh album release Saturday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 10:32 am December 1, 2023
The Astro in La Vista celebrates its grand opening tonight.

by Tim McMahan,

The long-awaited grand opening of the new Astro Theater music venue in La Vista finally arrives tonight featuring the craptacular Blue October followed by a performance tomorrow night from 67-year-old country rocker Chris Isaak. The Astro was supposed to open weeks ago; the opening was pushed back due to “construction delays.” I’d love to see the inside of this facility, but judging by the kind of acts being booked there, it seems unlikely, at least in the foreseeable future. 

Of the 16 shows booked through next September at the theater and its connected amphitheater, only geriatric Porno for Pyros comes vaguely close to the kind of band that I cover here at Lazy-i. No surprise there, based on this interview with booker Mammoth Productions.

So now we watch as The Astro competes head-to-head with Steelhouse Omaha for the exact same audience. The venues have similar booking philosophies and capacities, though Astro has that big outdoor space. Steelhouse, booked exclusively by the evil Live Nation, would seem to have an edge, but judging by what they’ve done since opening this past May, maybe not. They hosted Bush last night, but have only two shows scheduled for December, and two shows for January. No doubt they’d blame the time of year for the lack of bookings, but come on, it’s a 100+ million dollar investment that is sitting mostly unused. 

Like I said in this column in the now-defunct Reader in August, while The Astro and Steelhouse no doubt will pull in all kinds of pop, country, metal and comedy acts, these huge facilities serve no purpose for the kind of young indie bands that made Omaha famous 20 years ago — bands that draw only a few hundred rather than a few thousand concertgoers.

. O O O .

OK, so what else is going on this weekend?

Top of the list is Merge Recording artist Hiss Golden Messenger headlining at The Waiting Room tonight. The North Carolina twang-infused folk-rock band is led by singer/songwriter MC Taylor. Kind of reminds me of Wilco; if you’re into that sort of folk-Americana music, this is for you. Adeem the Artist opens at 8 p.m. $31.

It’ll be crowded in Benson tonight as it’s Benson First Friday, which means original local art will be hung at openings being held up and down Maple Street. Among them is the December Invitational Opening at Ming Toy Gallery, 6066 Maple Street (right next to Au Courant). Among the artists being shown are Josh Audiss, Shelby Audiss, Nash Bellows, Jon Bleicher, Mari Dailey, Mark Davis, Ashley DeVrieze, Lori Elliott-Bartle, GBM artists. Amy Haney. Judy Haney. Jamie Heidvogel, Vickie E. Hughes, Josephine Langbehn, Jeanne C. Langan, Chad Leahy, Emily McQueen, John Munoz, Gabriella Quiroz, Jill Rizzo, Brock Stillmunks, John Stillmunks, Anna Stoysich, Howard Thiel, Terrol Thompson, Michael Trenhaile and Grace Weihs. Whew!

The show runs from 6 to 9 p.m. Come on by and say hi! More info here.

And…it’s also another Bandcamp Friday, which means now is a best time to buy and download those albums you’ve been wanting to buy and download, as Bandcamp will waive their fees today and give it all to the artists!

Tomorrow night (Saturday) Uh Oh hosts the album release show for their year-long Cicada Songs project at fabulous O’Leaver’s. Joining them is White Wolf T-shirt and The Content. It’s a free show so why not swing by Bandcamp right now and buy a copy of their record? Bands start at 9 p.m.

Also Saturday night, local alt rockers Names Without Numbers celebrates the 20th anniversary of Running Marathons/Chasing Ambulances at Reverb Lounge, with Beachmont and Better in Eleven. $13, 8 p.m. 

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

* * *

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 © 2023 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Pop-punk (emo) night: Teenage Halloween, Bug Heaven, Blondo, Estrogen Projection at Reverb…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 8:40 am November 28, 2023

Teenage Halloween playes tonight at Reverb Lounge.

by Tim McMahan,

UPDATE: The band order for this show has changed due to Teenage Halloween’s fear of being Omaha’d:

Estrogen Projection – 8 to 8:20
Blondo – 8:35 to 9
Teenage Halloween – 9:15 to 9:55
Bug Heaven – 10:10 to end

Boatloads of people go to those “emo nights” at The Waiting Room, which are nothing more than someone showing up with an iPhone and a playlist. Tonight at Reverb Lounge, you can see real modern emo played live by living breathing bands (OK, maybe they’re pop-punk bands).

Headlining is Asbury Park, New Jersey band Teenage Halloween. Fronted by singer/songwriter Luk Henderiks, the band has released a couple LPs, including their most recent, Till You Return (2023, Don Giovanni). Is it emo? Is it pop-punk? You decide. 

Since this is a Black Heart Booking production, it’s a 4-band bill, with three locals supporting (and probably splitting $100 three ways). 

Lincoln’s Estrogen Projection opens the show at 8 p.m. The 4-piece all-female pop punk band has an album coming out in December, according to their gram. 

Next up is Blondo, a pop-punk band fronted by Alex Malnack.

And then, before the headliner, here comes Omaha’s Bug Heaven.

That’s a lot of pop-punk/emo for $15. Like I said, starts at 8 p.m. 

* * *

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 © 2023 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Live Review: Stigmata Sheehan loses control; Piñata Protest tonight…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 8:30 am November 27, 2023

Stephen Sheehan with Stigmata Martyr at Reverb Lounge, Nov. 24, 2023.

by Tim McMahan,

Well, I missed the Criteria/Little Brazil show Saturday. And the Ryan Davis show at Grapefruit last night. The holidays being what they are, it just wasn’t in the cards. 

I did catch Stephen Sheehan performing with Stigmata Martyr Friday night at Reverb Lounge. This was the best Sheehan performance I’ve seen since his Digital Sex days, thanks to the energy coming off the stage as the band performed four songs by Joy Division. The setlist:

  • – Warsaw
  • – Day of the Lords
  • – Ceremony
  • – Transmission

The rarely heard “Warsaw” was the big surprise, as was the fact that Sheehan and the band, maybe wisely, bypassed other Joy Division staples like “Love Will Tear Us Apart” or “Disorder,” which may have required Sheehan to attempt Ian Curtis’ famous dance moves. Those songs also invite other comparisons, which aren’t necessary as there is no replacing Ian’s always slightly off-pitch bass-baritone delivery. Instead, Sheehan simply sang the songs as Sheehan, and the performance was better for it. 

If you missed it, you’ll get another chance to see/hear Sheehan in action as he’s among the performers taking part in the Damones’ New Year’s Eve Eve show at The Waiting Room Dec. 30. 

. 0 0 0 . 

You say after a weekend of turkey that you’re hankering for some accordion-powered Spanish-language Tex-Mex punk rock? Well Reverb Lounge has you covered as tonight, San Antonio’s Piñata Protest headlines. Joining them are No/Mas, Amolador and Bolzen Beer Band. $18, 8 p.m. 

* * *

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 © 2023 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Universe Contest, Stigmata Sheehan tonight; Criteria, Little Brazil Saturday, Ryan Davis & the Roadhouse Blues Band Sunday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 10:09 am November 24, 2023
Universe Contest at The Waiting Room, Dec, 27, 2013. The band plays at The Sydney in Benson tonight.

by Tim McMahan,

Hope you survived the holidays, but they’re not over yet. The first round of “holiday shows” are this weekend (the second round will take place around Christmas). 

Tonight at The Sydney in Benson, Lincoln’s Universe Contest returns to their favorite Omaha haunt. They remind me of a midwestern version of Modest Mouse; they certainly have that vibe. This is a crowded bill that also includes the dynamic duo of Pagan Athletes and In Tongues (Robert Little, Jason Ludwick and Boz Hicks). Cupholder kicks things off at 9 p.m. $10.

Also tonight, I typically don’t hype tribute bands or cover shows, but there’s a special one going on at Reverb. Stigmata Martyr is a Bauhaus tribute band anchored by former Ritual Device members Randy Cotton and Mike Saklar with Benn Sieff of Bennie and the Gents fame. Joining them for what’s being billed as a “mini set” is Omaha legend Stephen Sheehan (Digital Sex, The World, Between the Leaves) performing the music of Joy Division. Opening the gig is Misfits tribute act 138. 8:30 start time, $10. 

Then tomorrow night (Saturday), it’s the big Criteria, Little Brazil, Healer show at The Waiting Room. I interviewed Criteria for a story that was published earlier this week (read it here). This one’s always a blast and feels like a family reunion/wedding reception with all the scene legends in the crowd. 8 p.m., $10. 

Finally, Sunday night it’s a Grapefruit Records in-store performance by Ryan Davis & the Roadhouse Blues Band. Davis is kind of a DIY legend, having operated Sophomore Lounge Records and co-founding Louisville’s annual Cropped Out music festival. But the main thing is his music. The band’s latest, Dancing on the Edge, is a collection of twangy indie-folk nuggets very reminiscent of Bill Callahan and Silver Jews. Pitchfork gave the album a massive 7.9 rating. Also playing this show are Sean Pratt and Nathan Ma Band. Grapefruit Records is located in the Old Market at 1125 Jackson St. Early 7 p.m. start, $10.

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

* * *

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 © 2023 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Live Review: Hotline TNT, The Dirts at Reverb…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , — @ 12:24 pm November 23, 2023

Hotline TNT at Reverb Lounge, Nov. 22, 2023.

by Tim McMahan,

A quick review on this holiest of Turkey Days.

Reverb Lounge was semi-packed (not jam-packed, not cram-full) for last night’s Hotline TNT show. Pushing through the crowd to get my Rolling Rock, I noticed the booths toward the back were full of very young people stacked up around the tables, looking tired and annoyed. I’m sure there’s an interesting back story to this that involves the two opening band, which I missed.

I had no idea who was on stage – a five piece dominated by a dude playing a Flying V, surrounded by an all-female backing band. This obviously wasn’t Hotline TNT, but who was it? I was pleasantly surprised at how good they were. Especially the dude on the V who had a decent voice. He shared vocals with a woefully under-amped lead guitarist, who, when she sang, could barely be heard. 

The Dirts at Reverb Lounge, Nov. 22, 2023.

The guy, however… an interesting voice. It almost sounded like he was singing with an accent. It wouldn’t be until the end of their set, while the guitarist was looking for a capo, that he said (without an accent), “We’re The Dirts and this is ‘High Flying Bird,’” — their last song of their set. I ran into MarQ Manner in the crowd, who said they were, indeed, local and that the guy also was in Garst. The only “Dirts” band I could find online was the Swedish punk act by the same name. TIme for a name change, folks, and please let me know when you play out again…

Hotline TNT came on at around 10:30. Their style — very ‘90s wall-of-guitars — thanks to having three guitarists. Very much a Sugar/Bob Mould/Teenage Fanclub vibe – just a pure ’90s post-punk sound that was even better live than on their much-lauded, overblown (recording-wise) debut album. The only drawback to the live renditions were frontman Will Anderson’s lackluster vocals, but in the end, it didn’t matter when the night’s theme was, “How can we build on this guitar riff?”

Throughout the set, the third guitarist kept breaking strings. When he broke the first one, the lead guitarist handed him his guitar and picked up another. Then when he broke a string on that one, it looked like he borrowed a guitar from the Dirts (though I’m not certain — though it looked like same SG). 

This guitar swapping required much between-song tuning, where Anderson asked the crowd if anyone was taking part in tomorrow’s Turkey Trot. No response. He kicked off the next song with, “Let’s see your Turkey Trot right here,” pointing at the area in front of the stage. Not from this crowd. Instead, he just got more fervent head nods.

I liked listening to these guys if only for the sheer guitar-riff power and the wayback-machine quality of their post-punk songs. Not a bad way to spend a Wednesday night before Thanksgiving…

* * *

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 © 2023 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Lazy-i Interview: Criteria (at The Waiting Room Saturday, 11/25); Hotline TNT tonight…

Category: Blog,Interviews — Tags: , , — @ 8:12 am November 22, 2023

Criteria plays this Saturday night at The Waiting Room with Little Brazil and Healer.

by Tim McMahan,

This isn’t so much an interview with Criteria as a “catching up with Criteria”-style chat that took place at frontman Stephen Pedersen’s beautiful midtown home while his boys ran around the living room. 

The occasion for the discussion is Criteria’s annual holiday concert, which is this Saturday at The Waiting Room. Joining them as they do every year is Little Brazil, and opening the show is Dan Brennan’s band Healer. The Criteria holiday rock show has become an Omaha indie-rock tradition that dates back years — sometimes it happens around Christmas or New Year’s, more often lately it happens on Thanksgiving weekend. 

It’s also one of the only shows Criteria plays these days. The band only performs in public once or twice a year (They played at Outlandia festival this summer). This year marks the 20th anniversary of the band’s 2003 seminal album, En Garde, released during Saddle Creek Record’s heyday, when bands like Bright Eyes, The Faint and Cursive ruled the indie world and fans whispered that Omaha could become the “next Seattle.” We can all laugh about it now…

If you’ve heard Criteria’s music (and if you’re still reading this, you no doubt have), you know part of the attraction is Pedersen’s uncanny, acrobatic vocals. They go up-up-up, above everything else, a fragment or dagger that counters  his and guitarist Aaron Druery’s most-righteous riffage and the thunderous rhythms from drummer Mike Sweeney and bass player A.J. Mogis. His vocals are bright and effusive, going places few male vocalists would dare go. 

Twenty years ago, scaling such heights was rather matter-of-fact for Mr. Pedersen, but now that he has entered his late 40 — knocking on the door of the big 5-0 — and only playing out twice a year, how does this lion in winter keep hitting those blessed high notes?

“I go downstairs in the practice space, put in earbuds, turn on the PA, play the guitar and try to push out the same amount of air,” Pedersen said. “And I also do cardio. I run three times a week and do push ups and pull ups.” 

He nods when asked if he’s lost anything off the top end. “It’s not that it’s high and angular; it’s that when we play I sing a lot,” he said. “I’m constantly pushing air. A big part is just figuring out the breathing so you don’t get winded. And I drink a ton of water.”

As the conversation continues, members of Criteria show up one at a time and take a seat in the living room, arriving for the band’s scheduled practice, which I’m interrupting. Our topic of discussion — the new songs. Criteria will play two or three new ones Saturday night. In the band’s early days, Pedersen’s lyrics were meta playthings that focused on the band’s struggles to break through to the next level while the inevitable responsibilities of adulthood knocked on their doors. Or, as the opening lines of “Prevent the World” from 2005’s When We Break, go:

I’m stuck in a basement world, where even if I tried
To make rock my living, it wouldn’t coincide
So how will I reconcile six years of my life with 
The rational urges?

These days Pedersen’s rational urges more likely involve spending time with his lovely family and focusing on his career as a corporate lawyer. And as such, the nature of his songs’ lyrics have shifted to much more adult matters.

“A lot of the new songs are about people in our extended social circles getting divorced,” Pedersen said. “Something happened during the pandemic, and the social reverberations in the home tested a lot of marriages. These new songs are very abstract. I’m not telling anyone’s story, but (I’m singing about) the concepts surrounding communication and misunderstanding and losing the fire in the belly for someone.”

With that, Pedersen turned to the rest of the band and asked what they think about the new songs.

“They’re a little more stoner rocker,” says Druery.

“That’s just because they’re in a lower tune,” adds Mogis.

Regardless, the band plans to enter the studio soon to record the tracks. Could an EP be on the horizon? Stay tuned. In the meantime, you’ll be able to hear these new ballads of marital woe Saturday night at The Waiting Room. Healer kicks things off at 8 p.m. followed by Little Brazil. Just $10. See you there!

. 0 0 0 .

Tonight grab your pre-holiday cheer at Reverb Lounge when NYC-based Hotline TNT headlines. The band is the project of Minnosota songwriter Will Anderson (a.k.a. Flip Sandy, according to Wiki), previously of the Canadian band Weed. Anderson is the sole permenant member of HTNT, joined by a rotating backing band.

Their latest, Cartwheel, was released earlier this month by Third Man Records and received the coveted “best new music” designation from Pitchfork, which gave the album a huge 8.4 rating. It is pretty good, combining the dirty early ’90s sounds of Teenage Fanclub and Dinosaur Jr., rife with overblown guitars that often overpower central melodies. It’s a dense forest of noise for sure.

This is another massive four-band bill, with The Dirts, Western Haikus and Paid to Smile. It all starts at 8 p.m. $18.

* * *

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 © 2023 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Live Review: Speedy Ortiz, Spacemoth at Slowdown…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , — @ 8:28 am November 20, 2023

Speedy Ortiz at Slowdown, Nov. 17, 2023.

by Tim McMahan,

We missed opening band UN-T.I.L. Friday night at The Slowdown, which I guess you could call another life lesson for this very young band that is the product of the Omaha Girls Rock program. We had just seen them a couple weeks earlier at that organization’s fundraiser at Benson Theater (they were awsome) and kind of knew we’d miss them Friday as we were running late. The life lesson: The opening slot in a three-band (or even worse, four-band) bill often gets missed by those who don’t want to (or can’t) spend three-plus hours at the venue. 

Spacemoth at Slowdown, Nov. 17, 2023.

We arrived right as Spacemoth began their set. The four-piece led by Maryam Qudus played a woozy brand of spacey shoegaze indie rock, dominated by synths. They were at their best when they were at their simplest – stripped down to the most basic rhythm/melody. 

The inability to understand the words sung by the vocalist is practically a shoegaze trope, but here, when the band is straddling the line that divides shoegaze from indie rock, the lack of enunciation only takes away, as the vocals merely become another tonal instrument. 

Their set’s highlight was the second to last song, which Qudus said was “a new one.” It stood above the others in its more conventional arrangement – in other words, it rocked. Kicky fun. More of this, please. 

Speedy Ortiz came on at around 10 p.m. and proceeded to rock the crowd of around 60. The band’s latest, Rabbit Rabbit, is maybe their least accessible album, with intricate rhythms and melodies that lean close to prog. Surprising time changes, wandering vocals and dominate, at times over-the-top drums make this anything but sing-along stuff. There were moments when the drums were down-right distracting. Songs off the new record performed live were sometimes grooveless, but when they did fall into a groove, you really noticed.

Front person Sadie Dupuis was complimentary about our fair city throughout the set, but the whole band was taken by surprise when the crowd didn’t react to the shout-out. Dupuis said if this were Philly, the crowd would have gone bananas with just the mention of their town’s name; but in this case, the reaction was matter-of-fact, if they acknowledged it at all. 

Despite this, later in the set, Dupuis remarked why she loved playing in Omaha. Apparently Mike Mogis mixed the band’s previous album, which meant she spent a couple weeks here, driving around. “It’s almost like a second home,” she said. In that case, welcome home, Sadie, we missed you. 

* * *

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 © 2023 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Speedy Ortiz, Spacemoth, Slothrust tonight; Bad Bad Men Saturday; Fizzle Like a Flood Sunday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 10:10 am November 17, 2023

Speedy Ortiz plays tonight at The Slowdown.

by Tim McMahan,

That headline is a like a movie trailer that gives away the whole movie, except there are little bits and pieces missing that you must know to enjoy your weekend.

First in line is Speedy Ortiz at The Slowdown tonight. You read the interview with Sadie Dupuis on Wednesday, right? You didn’t? Well what are you waiting for? Tour mates Spacemoth is a tuneful post-punk project by Maryam Qudus. Their latest, No Past No Future, was released last year by Wax Nine Records, and is just dandy, as the kids say (They say that, right?). Omaha Girls Rock product UN-T.I.L. opens this show at 8 p.m. and is definitely worth getting there on time for.  This one’s tonight in the front room and will run you $20. See you there.

Also tonight, Brooklyn alt rock band Slothrust headlines at Reverb Lounge. They came through town back in 2019 (at O’Leaver’s!) and just dropped a new album last month called I Promise (on Dangerbird Records) that further galvanizes their cred as the second coming of Garbage. It’s just a matter of time before alt-rock stations discover a banger like “Maybe Maybe” and ascend Slothrust to FM stardom (if such a thing exists anymore). Fellow Broolynites Pronoun (self-proclaimed emo-pop auteur Alyse Vellturo) opens the show at 8 p.m. $20.

Tomorrow night (Saturday), Omaha punk power trio Bad Bad Men headlines at Reverb for their final show of 2023. Two KC bands join them — The Utilitarians (w/Omaha’s Billy Guifoyle on drums) and Dan Jones & The Squids (with Season to Risk’s Steve Tulipana on bass). 8 p.m., $10. Come on, go to the show. The last thing you need to do is stay at home and watch the Huskers lose again.

Finally, Sunday night sees the return of Township & Range (featuring the talented Travis Sing), with Willoughby (Corey Stroud of 89.7 The River). But opening the gig is none other than the legendary Fizzle Like a Flood, one of my all-time favorite local singer/songwriters who the dang lemmings at Saddle Creek Records should have signed back in 2000. Will Doug play “Believe in Being Barefoot”? Show up at 7 p.m. at Reverb Lounge (this is an early show) and find out. $10. 

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

* * *

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 © 2023 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


M34N STR33T tonight at Low End; #TBT: The Twilight Singers at Sokol Underground, 11/6/03…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 8:37 am November 16, 2023

M34N STR33T performs tonight at Low End in the Bemis.

by Tim McMahan,

New first, than the old stuff…

Tonight at the cool/fun Low End performance space in the basement of The Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, Omaha hip-hop duo M34N STR33T performs. M34N STR33T is Haunted Gauntlet The Producer (LEO) & Conny Franko The Rapper (TAURUS). It’s a one-hour set that starts at 8 p.m. and is absolutely free. That said, you can reserve as spot from this website.

. 0 0 0 .

Now for Throwback Thursday, let’s go back to Nov. 6, 2003 – 20 years ago – when Greg Dulli and The Twilight Singers played at Sokol Underground with Lincoln band Marianas. My, it seems almost like yesterday…

First published in Lazy-i. com, Nov. 7, 2003:

It will go down as arguably the best live show of 2003, and even more precious for the true Dulli/Whigs fans in the crowd (and there were plenty among the 165 on hand, judging by the age and the patter, the constant ongoing arguments over which was his best album, Black Love or Gentlemen or ’65). 

A handful of people had been there an hour earlier to hear the soundcheck, Dulli apparently was rife with comments about buying cocaine and playing pick-up cover songs. Afterward, Dulli and his band wheeled off to Gorat’s to get a few platters of steak, prepping for a gut-wrenching night (I know those big, fat steaks took their toll when, halfway through his set, Dulli said, “I need a nap.”).

While they were gone, Marianas played their set. The Lincoln 5-piece that prides itself on meticulously arranged ambient songs seemed a strange match for a white-knuckle gutter bluesman like Dulli and Co. It ended up being an interesting contrast. Marianas’ music is multi-layered, with two keyboardists, a guitarist, drummer and bassist/trumpeter. If they sounded like Tristeza on their debut CD, they sounded even more so live, like a blend of The Album Leaf and The Mercury Program. 

There were some obvious problems with their gear that the band must not have noticed from the stage — the guitar was either out of tune or (as one person told me) had a problem with its pedal. The low-end was overpowering, either from the bass or from the keyboard/synth/drum machine, occasionally drowning out the rest of the band. While the drummer did a good job keeping in the middle of everything, I so wanted him to let go and really punish his set. Their best songs featured the bassist on trumpet, and a unique cover of The Velvet Underground’s “Sunday Morning.” I like this band, and would love to see them open for someone like Low or Her Space Holiday.

Five minutes after their set ended, Dulli and his band walked in and within minutes The Twilight Singers lifted off.

Dulli looked like a lean, sweet, young Jake LaMotta, decked out black-on-black, his gleaming jet-black hair framing a face that is pure Italy by way of Greece, like a thin, fit John Belushi standing short beneath a microphone that was too high on purpose, forcing Dulli to squeeze upward with every note, while at the same time pulling down on his electric guitar.

There’s not much to say about the set other than it was as pure an hour and forty-five minutes as you’re going to hear from any performance. Dulli was in perfect voice; as if time had stood still since the day Gentleman was released 10 years ago. He was obviously having a good time, grinning at the crowd, at his band, at his guitar-tech who stood off to the side of the stage and poured him a plastic cup of Maker’s Mark, constantly feeding him cigarettes between songs. The whole band was tight as a tic, the drummer was especially flamboyant and acted as a perfect foil to Dulli’s wide-open front-man pose.

I’ve always liked the Afghan Whigs, and own Gentleman and Black Love, but I couldn’t tell you the name of one of his songs. I recognized a few old Whigs tunes, and the tunes off the most recent Twilight Singers CD, which blended seamlessly together, along with a barrage of covers inset within the songs themselves, covering everything from Prince to Derek and the Dominos to Skip Spence (Moby Grape) to The Zombies. Regardless, I knew the purist would be disappointed without a set list, so I swiped one from the stage after the band finished its encores. Here it is, copied letter-for-letter:

Esta Noche
Teenage Wristband
Twilite Kid
That Bird Sings
Cloud Busting
Decatur Street
Annie Mae
Dixie Peach / Ying for Yang
Martin Eden
King Only
Black is the Color/Time of The Season
The Killer/Rhiannon/Layla

Throughout the set, Dulli referenced Council Bluffs at least a half-dozen times, asking the crowd to join him there for a drink after the gig. He deserved it. We all did after that set. I left thinking Dulli has one of the most distinct and awesome voices in the history of rock, the perfect instrument that can make you cower or cry or stand up straight right alongside him, wanting to testify to love both good and bad and every which way, a dark love that Dulli has seen and wants you to see with him. 

* * *

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 © 2023 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Lazy-i Interview: Speedy Ortiz’s Sadie Dupuis (at Slowdown this Friday)…

Category: Blog,Interviews — Tags: , — @ 8:48 am November 15, 2023
Speedy Ortiz at O’Leaver’s, Aug. 15, 2015, after playing that day at the Maha Music Festival. The band plays Friday night at The Slowdown.

by Tim McMahan,

Speedy Ortiz music is a rough-and-tumble ride through indie and punk landscapes, contextualized by strange, unpredictable guitar parts, familiar rhythms and front woman Sadie Dupuis’ intricate, confounded and always clever lyrics about, well, living.

Take perhaps Speedy Ortiz’s most popular song, the waltzing anthem “No Below” from the recently reissued 2013 breakthrough album Major Arcana, where Dupuis sings of youth and isolation and having one friend who, in the lowest times, is looking out for you. Or at least that’s how I interpreted the song over the years (and let’s face it, I’ve never been very good at interpretation):

A decade later and a new album — Rabbit Rabbit — and things have only gotten more complicated. Her friendships seem to have evolved on the waltzing anthem “Plus One,” where Dupuis sings: 

Songs are for telling and records for show
Stole my split necklace half to see where I’d help you go
The other piece, it doesn’t fit where I hoped

Intricate, confounded and always clever, that’s Speedy Ortiz, who is playing Friday night at The Slowdown. It’s also Dupuis, who’s crafted a successful career both with this band and as Sad 13, her solo project. She’s come through Omaha in one form or another throughout her career, playing house shows (at the world famous West Wing) as well as DIY venues (Milk Run in 2016 with — get this — Mannequin Pussy and Vegabon) and regular venues, too. 

I caught up with Dupuis recently for a brief interview in support of this Slowdown show and told her she once made fun of me online when I said I was afraid to go to a house show at my age — places where i’m often mistaken for a cop or an angry father.

“I do feel like house shows should be for everyone,” she said. “I’m getting close to 40, I’m not a teenager anymore. DIY shows, especially as the infrastructure for indie venues has shrunk, have become more important. We had a couple shows on this tour that were more in the DIY realm — like art spaces — and really appreciated it.

“We played The Church, which is a basement of a Presbyterian church, and (the venue) gets the kids and people in their 70s to come to all their shows, and that’s important — to foster that generational connection. We’re all music fans coming from different parts of our lives, but coming to the same place.”

Fine Sadie, I’ll no longer turn my back on house shows. (If you see someone who looks like a cop, come say hello.)

Spanning generations was one theme to our brief discussion. i mentioned that the band UN-T.I.L. will be opening for her Friday night, an all-woman, punk power trio that’s the product of Omaha Girls Rock!. Dupuis was thrilled. Over the years, she and her band have been strong supporters of girl rock camps, even donating tour proceeds in the past to Girls Rock programs. 

“I went to a gender-inclusive summer camp, and I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing had I not gone to that camp,” Dupuis said. “I went back as an instructor. We meet girl bands that come out of those programs, and it’s always really cool . We’ve played with ex camper bands, and it’s such a positive ethos that comes out of those camps that injects needed love and support into the indie, punk and hardcore scenes.”

No doubt. BTW, if you haven’t seen UN-T.I.L., get to the show on time Friday night — you’re in for a treat.

Final question: Sadie underwent the dreaded 10 Questions treatment back in 2016 in support of that Milk Run show and was asked (as in all 10Q interviews) if she could earn a living with her music. She said she could but, “I’m not really raking it in.” 

Seven years later, things sound like they haven’t changed much. 

“We took many years off the touring, and I did a lot of random gigs,” she said. “We’ve been touring for a few months. But when (the tour ends) I’ll be back to different freelance projects – writing, production gigs. 

“This is part of why DIY and art spaces are more crucial than ever. It’s been hard for independent venues. For the style of music we play, we’ve been warned that rooms are not the same. I came with expectations that live music changed somewhat in the post pandemic and ongoing pandemic world. It doesn’t change our joy to play to people who do come out and meet us. it’s a different feeling and that’s fine for me personally. Some of my favorite shows were played in front of 10 people.”

Make sure Sadie and her band aren’t playing in front of just 10 people by coming out to The Slowdown Friday night. Joining them are tourmates Space Moth and the aforementioned UN-T.I.L. This front room show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets are $20. See you there…

* * *

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 © 2023 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.