Sucettes120917
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.



Andrew Bird, Mitch Gettman tonight; Wagon Blasters, Pagan Athletes, Cowgirl Eastern Saturday… 

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 8:58 am July 12, 2024
Wagon Blasters at Farnam House July 6, 2019. The band plays Saturday at Scriptown.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Violin-playing singer-songwriting whistler Andrew Bird is headlining tonight at The Astro in La Vista. He’s one of those guys who has always flown under the radar for me, despite being a major force in indie music for well over a decade, starting out on Rykodisc and Grimsey Records before moving on to Mom+Pop, Fat Possum, and finally Loma Vista for the last few LPs. His most recent, Sunday Morning Put-On, is a collection of jazz covers. It’s interesting to see he’s playing at such a large venue, but I guess Bird graduated to the whole Fleet Foxes/Decemberist/Feist league of indie year’s ago. 

This is a split-headliner show with country/bluegrass act Nickel Creek (Nonesuch). Singer/songwriter Haley Heynderickx opens at 6:30. Tickets range from $50 to $100.

That’s it for national touring indie-esque acts this weekend. 

Tonight (Friday), Mitch Gettman opens for Charlie Ames’ band Cable Network at Slowdown Jr. Always interesting to see what Mitch has been up to, though I know he’s been working on a follow-up to last year’s Tilde. Omaha alt rockers Dear Neighbor opens at 8 p.m. $10.

Tomorrow is the second Saturday of the month which means Blackstone Second Saturday (It just doesn’t roll off the tongue like Benson First Friday). The day’s highlight is at Scriptown Brewing Company. They’re calling it “Summer Smash Vol. II,” and includes a punk rock flea market, tie-dye station and culminates in live performances by tractor-punk mavericks Wagon Blasters and C&W cowboys Lightning Stills. It’s free, and the music starts at 3 p.m. More info here

Later Saturday night it’s back to Slowdown Jr. for another evening of up-and-coming locals that includes the arcane synth-and-drum noise-punk of Pagan Athletes. Indie stalwarts Bad Self Portraits headlines, while psych rock newcomers Cowgirl Eastern opens this show at 8 p.m. $10.

And 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 © 2024 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

#TBT: Sideshow on a dumpster couch in ’94; Wallflowers, Virgin Mary Pistol Grip tonight… 

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 8:47 am July 11, 2024

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

On this Throwback Thursday: This is a 30-year-old photo of Lincoln rock band Sideshow, taken after an interview conducted for a cover story for the defunct Lawrence, Kansas, music magazine The Note, which was published in November 1994. From left are Pawl Tisdale, Rich Higgins and Bernie McGinn. Their van smiles in the background. These days Tisdale plays drums for Domestica (the current incarnation of Mercy Rule), McGinn lives somewhere in San Francisco and I have no idea of the whereabouts of Rich Higgins. We all await their next reunion concert…

I found this photo digging through my files as I continue to work though research surrounding a book about the history of Nebraska music, circa 1990s to now. I’m looking for photos, folks, so I’ll be bothering many of you soon for pics from back in the day. Time creeps slowly until it’s passed you by…

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I don’t know a shit-ton about The Wallflowers other than frontman Jakob Dylan is Bob’s son, and that they had a mega-hit back in 1996 with “One Headlight.” This was an alt-rock era when bands like Counting Crows were holding court and a lot of the bands on FM radio sounded alike. Listening to The Wallflowers most recent album, Exit Wounds (2021, New West), their sound hasn’t evolved much over the past couple decades. 

That’s something you’ll no doubt discover if you go see Wallflowers tonight at The Astro in La Vista. Opening is Omaha alt-indie band Virgin Mary Pistol Grip, in what will likely be one of the biggest audiences they’ve played in front of (though folks at Memorial Park waiting for Roger Daltrey take the stage a couple weeks ago were treated to seeing VMPG’s latest music video).  8 p.m., $45-$80. 

I have still yet to step foot in The Astro, though I’ve purchased tickets for the upcoming Psych Furs/Jesus and Mary Chain concert and am a bit… concerned I may have f-ed up the tickets…

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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 © 2024 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

New Cursive video; Eric Bachmann, The Faint reissues announced… 

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 8:29 am July 10, 2024
Screen cap from the new Cursive video for “Botch Job.”

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Cursive dropped a new video yesterday for the song “Botch Job,” a track off their upcoming album, Devourer, which comes out Sept. 13 on Run for Cover Records. Local boy Tony Bonacci was the cinematographer for the video, directed by Travis Stevens. Jim Johnson (of 1% and The Admiral Theater) and Django Greenblatt-Seay (of Love Drunk fame) also are listed in the video’s credits. 

This song and the entire album is a return to old-school Cursive and I would love to see the band play the entire record in order during their upcoming shows at The Waiting Room Oct. 18 (w/Little Brazil) and 19 (w/Criteria). Gladie also opens both shows.

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Also thought I’d mention that Cursive’s former record label, Saddle Creek Records, just announced that it’s reissuing on vinyl Eric Bachmann’s solo album, To the Races, on Aug. 9. The album was originally released in August 2006 and was one of my faves that year. Bachmann mentioned the reissue at his recent Ming Toy Gallery concert, but said to keep it secret until the label announcement (I’m not sure why). Preorder here.

BTW, we’ve got another concert coming up at Ming Toy Gallery in September. More info on that one soon…

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Speaking of Saddle Creek reissues, our hometown label also announced it’s rereleasing on vinyl two classic albums by The Faint – 2008’s Fasciinatiion (originally released on the band’s blank.wav imprint) and 2014’s Doom Abuse (originally released by SQE Music). The drop date is Aug. 16. This brings all of The Faint’s releases back into the Saddle Creek fold. Order your copies 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 © 2024 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Live review: The Baseball Project at The Waiting Room…

Category: Reviews — Tags: — @ 8:53 am July 9, 2024
The Baseball Project, from left, Peter Buck, Linda Pitmon, Scott McCaughey, Steve Wynn and Mike Mills, perform at The Waiting Room, July 8, 2024.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

The Baseball Project got me wondering: What are most rock songs about? Relationships, having fun, personal struggle, love and regret. Some are political anthems. Others are meaningless word salad combinations. Almost all are written from a singer/songwriter’s vantage point. 

The Baseball Project’s songs are solely about baseball, the players, the history, the game itself. It’s the ultimate concept band that doesn’t sway from its subject matter, written by people who love and know the game and its history. With that in mind, The Baseball Project could be the first rock band to win a Pulitzer for its songwriting. Each song is a snapshot of America’s past time, reported – and sung – by the songwriter. 

All of this was going through my head as I watched and listened – along with a couple hundred folks – to The Baseball Project at The Waiting Room last night. I mentioned yesterday that Steve Wynn sang most of the songs – that’s wrong. Each member of the band except Peter Buck sang leads on a song, with Wynn and Scott McCaughey handing the lion’s share. Mills sang leads on at least three songs, including standouts like “To the Veterans Committee” (consider Dale Murphy for the Baseball Hall of Fame) and “Stuff” (about illegal substances pitchers use to get more action on the ball). 

Wynn and McCaughey have terrific complimentary voices and are commensurate storytellers. They introduced each song, explaining the history about what they were about to sing. Almost every song included a year or date for context and a lot of baseball players’ names that if you’re only a passing fan of the game, will likely be lost on you, except for heroes like Willie Mays and Hank Aaron, etc. 

Take out the baseball subject matter and you’ve got some of the best jangle-power-pop rock that you’ll likely hear, and you would expect nothing less from this legendary line-up (with Buck, McCaughey and Wynn all playing guitars, Mills on bass and the remarkable Linda Pitmon on drums). You have to wonder if these songs could have been big hits if they weren’t solely about baseball – an idea I’m sure has been written about in past reviews. Because many of the melodies and compositions are as good as stuff by R.E.M. or Dream Syndicate. 

But I guess for these folks, if it wasn’t about baseball, it wouldn’t be fun. There is almost nothing controversial or polarizing about the game. I guess you could argue about ‘the Steroids Era,’ or Pete Rose or your personal take on the Designated Hitter Rule, but it’s mostly just harmless fun, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

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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 © 2024 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Live review: Heavy Clippings; The Baseball Project tonight…

Category: Blog — @ 9:52 am July 8, 2024
Heavy Clippings at Reverb Lounge, July 7, 2024.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

I got reverse Omaha’d last night, but it’s all good.

I weighed my options: Do I go see the classic ‘70s/‘80s punk band that’s on their last tour who I’ve seen before in a place that’s bound to be a crush mob or do I see the new band who’s just coming through town to play for what I expect to be a mostly empty venue?

I chose the latter, mainly because if I had to pull a CD from either band to listen to right now I’d chose TV Stars, who played at Reverb Lounge last night.  Nothing against X, who played at The Waiting Room last night. They’re great. Good luck in your retirement, John, Exene, Billy and DJ. 

Anyway, i decided to watch the end of the Yankees game (they lost) before showing up at around 9 p.m., figuring with three bands I’d only miss the opener, Cupholder, who I’ve also seen before. Heavy Clippings was just taking the stage when I arrived. 

Playing in front of a audience that numbered a grand total of 10 patrons, Noah Sterba and his crew ripped into an amazing set of music that to me sounds like a reimagined version of The Feelies meets latter-day VU/Lou Reed combined with New Morning-era Bob Dylan and Simon Joyner to create something wholly unique and captivating. In honor of this performance I wore an Almost Music T-shirt, which was the music store that carried on a tradition of The Antiquarium, and was the kind of place where members of this band either hung out or worked (after it closed, that tradition is continuing at Grapefruit Records in the Old Market, which is a magnet for the area’s most creative, inspiring indie bands).

Noah Sterba is at the helm on guitar and vocals with former Yuppies sideman Jeff Sedrel. The band is rounded out by Vince Franco and Tanner Rogerson. To my knowledge, their music is not available in any recorded format, but they must be recording somewhere because their songs are polished and they play just enough songs to fill a traditional vinyl LP – a make-believe LP that I long to play on my vintage/shitty Technics turntable. 

The set was flawless. Sterba was in fine form in his  ?-mark ball cap and Birkenstock sandals, clearly having a great time despite the tidy little crowd that included two young women who danced throughout their entire set, a young, bookish couple seated along the wall and a two or three dudes who stood in the center of the floor properly nodding their heads to the beat.

They wrapped up their set and I sat back down in one of the booths when, boom, the lights came up. The show’s over? The bartender said Cupholder played a short set and TV Star came on second. I wonder if they were afraid of getting Omaha’d. Who knows; all I know is that I missed their entire set. Still, I got my money’s worth seeing Heavy Clippings, who are on the top of my list of favorite local bands.

The Baseball Project plays tonight at The Waiting Room.

There’s no chance of that happening tonight at The Waiting Room. The Baseball Project, tonight’s headliner, doesn’t have an opener – or at least none is listed on the One Percent Productions website. 

The Baseball Project is a dyed-in-the-wool supergroup made out of the remnants of ’80s indie pop bands. But can you call it a supergroup if only two of its members were part of a megaband? Peter Buck and Mike Mills are world-renowned members of R.E.M., a band who re-emerged in the natinonal zeitgeist recently with their induction into the “songwriters hall of fame” which culminated with a one-song R.E.M. reunion at the ceremony.

Steve Wynn, who handles most of singing in The Baseball Project, was the frontman to ‘80s band The Dream Syndicate, but I remember him best as the guy in ‘90s band Gutterball. Steve McCaughey was a member of The Minus 5 and Tuatara with Buck. Wynn’s wife, Linda Pitmon of Zuzu’s Petals, rounds out the band on drums. 

They’re on the road in support of last year’s album, Grand Salami Time! (Omnivore Recordings). The band lives up to its name – they play songs about baseball, with names like “Pete Rose Way,” “Ted Fucking Williams,” “Monument Park” and “New Oh in Town,” which is a tribute to Dodgers’ superstar Shohei Ohtani. The music sounds like what you’d expect from such a supergroup playing songs with lyrics about our national past-time. Don’t go to the show tonight thinking you’re going to hear covers of R.E.M. or Dream Syndicate songs cuz it ain’t happening.

As mentioned, no opener is listed. The show is slated for 8 p.m. Tickets are $30. 

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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 © 2024 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Boxknife, Size Queen, #BFF tonight; Minne Lussa, Saturday; X, TV Star, Heavy Clippings Sunday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , , — @ 8:58 am July 5, 2024
X, circa 1979. They still look just like that, btw. See them on their farewell tour Sunday night at The Waiting Room.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Before we get to this weekend’s rock shows, a reminder that it’s the first Friday of July which means Benson First Friday (#BFF). Galleries and other businesses up and down Maple Street will be celebrating art openings tonight. Among them, our very own Ming Toy Gallery, which this month features the amazing art of Jenna Jaffery. Read my feature profile on Jenna and stop by the gallery (located at 6066 Maple Street, right door to Legend Comics and Coffee) between 6 and 9 p.m. to check out her art, have a drink and say hi. See you there.

After you swing by Ming Toy, head on over to Reverb Lounge for the GRRRL Camp showcase headlined by LinOmaha noise-rock band Size Queen. KC self-described “queer dark-pop band” Boxknife is also on the bill. Lincoln’s Ghostlike opens the festivities at 8:30 p.m. $10. BTW, GRRRL Camp is right around the corner – July 19-20 at Falconwood Park. More info here.

Saturday night it’s back to Reverb Lounge for another three-band bill this time with local, laid-back indie from Bazile Mills, Minne Lussa and Fox (Jessica Errett, Marta Fiedler and Co.). $15, 7:30 p.m. 

Also Saturday night, fabulous O’Leaver’s continues its free concert series with Radical Sabbatical and Aircraft Grade. 9 p.m. and, uh, FREE.

And then along comes Sunday and two competing shows in Benson.

On top of the list is the last hurrah concert by Los Angeles first wave band, X. This concert features the original line-up — Exene Cervenka, John Doe, Billy Zoom and DJ Bonebrake — in what we’re being told will be their last tour ever. Opening is Jesse Ahern (Dummy Luck Music/PIAS). This is it, folks, last stop on the X train. I’m a little surprised it isn’t sold out yet. $40. 8 p.m. 

Meanwhile, around the corner at Reverb Lounge, Seattle shoegaze band TV Star headlines. These guys sound like they grew up listening to Teenage Fanclub for sure. This ticket line-up, again, is loaded with local noise-punk bands Heavy Clippings and Cupholder. $10, 8 p.m. Choose wisely.

And that’s all I got. I’m praying to the rock gods that we don’t get any hailstone/flooding weather this weekend so I can go to these shows! If I missed yours, 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 © 2024 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

A look ahead at the calendar of touring indie shows…

Category: Blog — Tags: — @ 12:27 pm July 2, 2024

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

When nothing’s going on, I like to update the list of upcoming touring indie shows. Not much change over the last update except the addition of that Bright Eyes date (so rare to have a Steelhouse concert on the list!). I also added A Giant Dog at Reverb Sept. 5 and a couple others. Grrrl Camp is in just a few weeks! Get your tickets now.

  • July 7 – X @ The Waiting Room
  • July 7 – TV Star @ Reverb
  • July 8 – The Baseball Project @ The Waiting Room
  • July 15 – Etran de L’Air @ The Waiting Room
  • July 18 — Blanky at Pageturners Lounge
  • July 19-20 – Grrrl Camp @ Falconwood
  • July 24 – Caspian @ The Waiting Room
  • July 31 – SNÕÕPER @ Reverb
  • Aug. 3 – Orville Peck @ The Admiral
  • Aug. 3 – Shiner @ Reverb
  • Aug. 7 – Cults @ The Waiting Room
  • Aug. 9-10 – Outlandia Music Festival @ Falconwood
  • Aug. 15 – PACKS @ The Slowdown
  • Aug. 17 — Petfest @ Petshop Gallery
  • Aug. 19 – King Buzzo @ The Slowdown
  • Sept. 5 – A Giant Dog @ Reverb
  • Sept. 12 – Soft Kill @ The Slowdown
  • Sept. 21 – Built to Spill @ The Waiting Room
  • Sept. 22 — Bright Eyes @ Steelhouse
  • Sept. 24 – Why? @ The Slowdown
  • Sept. 25 – Descendents @ The Admiral
  • Oct. 1 – Jungle @ The Astro
  • Oct. 4 – Brigitte Calls Me Baby @ Reverb
  • Oct. 4 – Turnover @ The Slowdown
  • Oct. 5 – Fontaines D.C. @ The Slowdown
  • Oct. 16 – Mdou Moctar @ The Waiting Room 
  • Oct. 17 – Superchunk @ The Waiting Room
  • Oct. 18-19 – Cursive @ The Waiting Room
  • Oct. 22 – Psychedelic Furs/Jesus and Mary Chain @ The Astro
  • Oct. 26 – Porches @ Reverb
  • Oct. 31 – Lunar Vacation @ The Slowdown

Am I missing something? Let me know…

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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 © 2024 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Live Review: Roger Daltrey, Inhaler; The Goalie’s Anxiety… Bokr Tov, B.B. Sledge tonight… 

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 12:23 pm July 1, 2024
Surprisingly sparse crowd for Roger Daltrey at the annual Memorial Park concert June 28, 2024.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

On one hand, I was surprised at the light turn-out for the Roger Daltrey/Inhaler free concert at Memorial Park Friday night. On the other hand, I had to wonder how many people under the age of 30 know who Roger Daltrey is and was. 

To underscore the latter perception, Omaha Magazine posted a video on social media wherein one of their “reporters” asked random kids if they knew Daltrey’s music. You can imagine the results.  Add to that week-long weather forecasts that warned of thunderstorms (the weather was beautiful, btw), and I guess I can see why the attendance was lower than I expected. 

Inhaler at the annual Memorial Park concert, June 28, 2024.

It’s a shame, because Friday’s concert was somewhat awesome and maybe the best Memorial Park show I’ve attended. Opening act Inhaler featured Bono-from-U2’s son, Elijah Hewson, on lead vocals and guitar and was a solid band. It’s unfair to compare Inhaler to U2 I know, but it’s impossible not to. Hewson’s voice is a doppelgänger of his old man’s, but their pop-alt-rock music was a far cry from the power and energy heard on albums Bono was making when he was Elijah’s age. Ah, but those were different times. 

Inhaler’s slick, formulaic approach to songwriting will either mean their music will remain unforgettable or, considering the pedigree and the power of Universal (their label), that they’ll be superstars. I wish the Omaha Magazine folks would have asked the same kids if they knew who Inhaler was. 

Right at 8:30, on came Roger Daltrey and his band. The last time I heard him sing live was years ago when The Who played at CHI Center (or whatever it was called at the time). Back then, Daltrey was clearly under the weather – or so we were told – and his voice was a rasping, ragged ghost of its former self. 

Roger Daltrey performing in Memorial Park, Omaha, June 28, 2024.

That wasn’t the case Friday night. At age 80, Daltrey can still hit (most) of the high notes and is smart enough not to try when he knows he can’t. I was astonished at how well he sang.  

The setlist was a great collection of classic Who songs and appropriate covers, opening with a cover of Pete Townshend’s “Let My Love Open the Door,” which Daltrey said The Who should have recorded. Lots of old Who songs followed, including “Substitute,” “Squeeze Box” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again” alongside a rarity like “Tattoo.” Daltrey did an a cappella rendition of the first few lines of “Love, Reign O’Er Me” just to sort of prove to the crowd that he could, and after the first chorus said, “That’s enough of that.” 

The band, which included guitarist Simon Townshend (Pete’s son, who sang leads on “Going Mobile”), was solid, replacing pulsing organ and synths lines on songs like “Won’t Get Fooled Again” and set closer “Baba O’Riley” with violin and accordion, to great effect. 

As the set ran toward 10 p.m., Daltrey said they had time for one short one, and so they ripped into “The Kids Are Alright.” A few seconds into the song, Daltrey said from stage, “They’re telling us we have to stop. They’re giving us the hook,” but despite this, the band played to the end. I don’t know if they were being directed by a curfew or the start time for the disasterous fireworks display, which came on immediately after Roger said goodnight.  

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Tonight at The Slowdown, Philly band The Goalie’s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick headlines. The six-member band has a real throwback sound to ’00s indie, almost like early K Records chamber-pop bands (or our very own Slumber Party Records’ acts). Also on the bill are local indie bands Bokr Tov and B.B. Sledge. 8 p.m. $15. 

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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 © 2024 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Roger Daltrey and Bono Jr. in the park; Bug Heaven Friday; Healer, Lightning Stills Saturday… 

Roger Daltrey of The Who plays tonight in Memorial Park.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Roger Daltrey of The Who is scheduled to perform in Memorial Park this evening.

Apparently Daltrey doesn’t like it when people look up his past set lists to see what he’ll be playing at his concerts. That said, here’s a link to his setlist played at Meadow Brook Amphitheater in Rochester Hills, MI, June 25. It reads like “The Who’s Greatest Hits,” minus anything from Tommy. I expect “Baba O’Riley” will be the night’s epic closer. 

For some, Daltrey’s opening band, Inhaler, is why they’ll be at the park. The Dublin band is fronted by Elijah Hewson, Bono’s son. who sings just like dear old dad. Their latest LP, Cuts and Bruises, was released last year on Universal. As a U2 fan, I’m looking forward to seeing these guys, though I’m also a long-time fan of The Who. 

I’m not a fan of the recent weather, however, and the National Weather Service has put Omaha in the “Slight Risk” category for severe weather to strike sometime between 4 and 11 p.m. – i.e., when the concert is supposed to be happen. Channel 7 is saying the storms should be over by showtime. Fingers crossed.

Inhaler is scheduled to come on at 6:45. Daltrey comes on at 8:30. Fireworks at 10. Park at UNO and walk over. Look for the guy in the Lazy-i baseball shirt.

So what else is happening this weekend?

Tonight at The Sydney in Benson Bug Heaven headlines a bill that includes a couple bands I’ve not heard before – Old Wolves and Russell Wolf. $10, 8 p.m. (but seeing as this is The Sydney, count on a later start time). 

And then Saturday, there’s a big metal show at The Waiting Room called The Great American Metal BBQ. Tucked in among all the metal bands is Healer. Dan Brennan, who fronts Healer, said this will be a solo set for Healer as his bandmate, Johnny Svatos, can’t make the show. 

You may not be aware that Svatos’ music store, Ground Floor Guitar (GFG), was robbed again last week, with two thieves stealing two valuable consignment guitars as well as Svatos’ car. GFG is closed until they figure out a business model wherein they can secure their stuff from thieves. A GoFundMe was set up last week that raised over $10,000 for GFG and Svatos.

As part of the fundraising effort, Brennan will be selling Healer mech and GFG merch at Saturday’s show, with all proceeds going to GFG. Dan will also be taking donations via Venmo since the GFM is now closed. 

Seeing Dan’s solo set and supporting GFG is reason enough to drop by the metal BBQ. Also on the bill are The Tale Untold, Catsclaw, Conflicts, Zach Adkins and Bloodwork. Healer (Brennan) will go on sometime around 7:30. Tickets are $15.

Also Saturday night, the country and western band born out of a punk band – Lightning Stills – opens for Denver country/folk band Clay Street Unit at The Slowdown. $12, 8 p.m. Yee-haw!

And 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 © 2024 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Bright Eyes brought to you by 89.7 The River? #TBT: The River Music Summit – my, have times changed… 

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 10:54 am June 27, 2024

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

I haven’t listened to FM radio station 89.7 The River in years, so when the Sept. 22 Bright Eyes concert at Steelhouse was announced as being “presented by 89.7 The River,” I had to wonder… Does The River even play Bright Eyes’ music? Because they never used to.

Back in the day, The River was an alt-rock/metal/grunt-rock radio station. If you were looking for Korn or Slipknot, you found your home on the radio dial. Listening to the station’s live stream as I type this (at 8 a.m. CT, June 27, 2024), they just played Foo Fighters, Imagine Dragons, Daughtry, Filter and Ghost, though the set started with The Last Dinner Party. 

After a bit of digging, I found The River’s playlist for the week of June 17 online at their website (the play list is here) and alas, Bright Eyes wasn’t on it. Of the 50 or so bands listed, almost all were on major labels, most were alt-rock or metal. The closest thing to an indie band was Black Keys, who started out on Fat Possum and Nonesuch but are currently on Warners. And just now, the station’s promo announced that The River is “Your anchor for metal and modern rock.” So there you go.

If that’s the case, why is the Sept. 22 Bright Eyes concert brought to you by The River? If I had to venture a guess, I’d say it had something to do with the fact that Omaha Performing Arts (the owner Steelhouse Omaha) is booked exclusively by Live Nation, a company that books national tours by a lot of the bands on The River playlist. 

The Steelhouse / Bright Eyes booking was a head-scratcher from the beginning. Bright Eyes is a Ground Control Touring band and their shows were historically booked by 1% Productions, which runs The Admiral and The Astro (with Mammoth Productions) – two venues that also would have been a good fit for this Bright Eyes show.  To be honest, I’m not sure how all these players work together.

Still, the question persists: Will 89.7 The River add Bright Eyes to their regular rotation? I know I’ve heard Bright Eyes on the station before (and not just on one of their specialty shows)… but it was probably 15 years ago. 

Anyway, all of this reminds me of the time 20 years ago when I sat on a panel hosted by The River’s Sophia John. The topic of “The River Music Summit” was how to succeed in the music business. While the Internet was definitely up and running, streaming didn’t exist (neither did iPhones), though music downloading had already begun. 

Let’s take a trip back to 2004 on this Throwback Thursday and contemplate how much — and how little — the music industry has changed…

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Who wants to be a rock star? The River Music Summit rehash – from Lazy-i, June 28, 2004

Let me preface this to say I was probably the wrong person to be on Saturday’s panel at The River Music Summit. Just a glance at the audience pretty much indicated that the vast majority of the 300+ people in the audience were metal fans, loyal listeners of 89.7 The River and support how they operate their station. I don’t listen to The River and don’t agree with their decision to play mainstream commercial metal on what’s supposed to be a college radio station. Regardless, the audience was made up mostly of musicians whose idea of success is moving a million units and being on MTV (or a Clear Channel radio station). Successful indie bands are lucky to sell 10,000 copies of their CDs. Really successful indie bands could sell 100,000. Almost none of them sell a million.

So anyway, here I was on this panel. To my left (according to the program) was Andrew Linde from Tinderstick promotions, a company that handles a lot of indie bands. To my right, three or so current or former radio executives, none from traditional college radio stations. At the far end of the table, Mike Fratt representing Homer’s Records and MarQ Manner representing Delmar Productions. Linde and I were clearly outnumbered, but then again, I doubt the majority of this audience cared two shits about the indie music scene.

The core message — how to promote your music to radio and press — was more of a seminar on how to get your music on commercial radio — i.e., how your band could be the next Korn. Sophia John, the program manager at 89.7 The River, did most of the talking. Appropriately, I said very little. At one point I had a chance to ask the crowd, “How many of you would be satisfied selling 10,000 copies of your CD?” A few dozen hands went up. Then, “How many of you would be happy selling 100,000 copies?” About half the audience raised their hands. Finally, “How many of you won’t be happy until you sell a million copies.” Here, more than half the hands went up.

Later I asked, “How many of you are in this business to make a million dollars?” One hand. Good. “All right then, how many of you are doing it for the money?” Some hands, not many. Then, “How many are in it for the music?” Most hands went up. I told them that if they could be satisfied selling 10,000 copies, they could make music the way they wanted to make music. But if they want to be on a major label, they’re going to have to compromise to the suits, and will lose control of their music — talk about stating the obvious, eh?

Still, I doubt this was what the organizers wanted communicated at the summit. The radio guy next to me made the point that the music business is all about greed — he was a real Gordon Gecko type. Sophia’s message was that The River was going to save the Omaha music scene and that it’s the only radio outlet for local music.

There was some verbal jousting between Sophia and the panelists (me included). Her and Linde argued over debt and major label record deals. Linde said that most musicians don’t realize that as soon as they sign with a major label, they’re immediately in debt. Why? Because the advance money and promotional costs are really loans to the bands, that the label is acting like a bank, loaning money that they expect to recoup through CD sales. 

Sophia took exception to this, asking Linde to name one band that had to pay back an advance to a label after they were dropped. Linde said he knew bands that were in that exact situation, but couldn’t name names. Sophia said she’d never ever heard of a failed band forced to repay a label. An apparent VH1 Behind the Music watcher in the crowd yelled, “What about the Goo Goo dolls?” Sophia yelled back, “What about the Goo Goo dolls? They’re making millions of dollars for themselves and their label.” Yeah, the guy said, but what if they hadn’t gotten signed by Warners after they were dropped by Metal Blade?

Sophia was right, of course. It seems doubtful that a major label would call out the dogs to get advance money from a failed band, probably for the simple fact that 1) It would cost more in lawyers fees and bad PR to pursue it and 2) Because the band simply doesn’t have the cash and probably never will. But wasn’t Linde’s point the fact that the bands are, in fact, in debt from the second they sign a deal? Sure, they may never have to pay back the money, but they know they’re still responsible for it, that they ethically should do what they can to pay it back. Instead, one of the panelists pointed out how it’s important for bands and musicians to set up a separate incorporated business so that the labels can’t sue them for their personal money.

Sophia didn’t like my admiration for Saddle Creek Records (It should be pointed out here that I asked the crowd to raise their hands if they had even heard of Saddle Creek Records. I counted maybe seven or eight hands). I mentioned Saddle Creek early in the panel as an example of a label that would be doing pretty well if a new artist sold 10,000 copies of a CD. That, despite the fact that Creek’s total sales since it was formed wouldn’t equal a tenth of what Eminem sold of his last CD, the label is still held in the highest esteem as a leading national indie label.

So, when someone asked about press kits, I said I threw one-sheets away — put your info on the internet along with your press photo and include the URL on the CD case. I then made the mistake of mentioning how Saddle Creek printed a brief bio on the back of their artists’ promo jewel cases. Sophia had had enough. “Saddle Creek! Is that the only label you can talk about? What about Suckapunch Records?” I replied that I didn’t think Suckapunch printed their bios on the back of their discs, then went on to talk more about Creek, which was met with Sophia’s shaking head… Oh well.

I’m guilty. I like Saddle Creek Records, their artists and what they’ve accomplished. I also think it makes sense to use them as an example as they’re the second most successful local record label (Mannheim Steamroller being the most successful overall, Creek being the most successful rock label). Historically, The River hasn’t been the biggest supporter of Saddle Creek. But according to their website, they now play Cursive and Azure Ray in rotation. Still, it’s embarrassing that you can’t hear Creek’s most successful band, Bright Eyes, on the radio in the band’s own hometown.

Sophia’s last argument (with me, anyway) came when a couple of the execs were talking about how artists get their music played on the radio. Their point appeared to be that the name of the game these days is “pay for play.” I kind of got lost here, when out of the blue, Sophia said she didn’t know how reviews get published and asked if bands or labels pay to have reviews placed in the paper. No, I said, newspapers don’t receive payments for running reviews. But Sophia disagreed, saying that it might not have happened in my experience, but she was certain that it happens all the time, which she said would explain a lot of the bad CD reviews that she’d read.

Sophia may be right. I can’t speak for Rolling Stone or Magnet or Alternative Press. I don’t know anyone who works at those pubs. They may very well be rolling in payola from CD reviews. But somehow, I doubt it.

At the end of the panel, I think the audience got what they wanted to hear. At one point, one of the radio guys said something like “I know these guys are telling you to be satisfied with selling 10,000 CDs, but I’m telling you the guys from Korn were sitting right where you are now, and they did it. You can too!” – June 28, 2004

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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 © 2024 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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