Column 103: Happy Anniversary (to me); Devotchka, Pink Floyd tonight…

Category: Blog — @ 1:29 pm November 29, 2006

Easily the hardest part of writing a column is coming up with topics. Unlike some of the other columnists around town, I don’t spend column inches writing about the week’s upcoming shows — The Reader has the 8-Days Calendar and feature stories for that. My heads-up about shows can be found the day of or day before the actual show online here. No, instead I try to focus on newsy music-related topics, interesting stories surrounding a band or comments (or complaints) about trends in the local or national indie music world. A few times I’ve used the column to write more personal features about artists that wouldn’t work in a standard feature-story format. So after two years, coming up with new column fodder (and not repeating myself) has become a challenge. Most of the time I don’t have a column topic “thought out” until the weekend before deadline, which leaves me running down interviews on my days off. I’m not complaining. I say this in hopes that you, dear reader, will be generous enough to pass on any column ideas that pop into your heads. I would be oh-so grateful.

Column 103 — Two Years (and counting)
A look back on the second anniversary
The end of the year for music fans means endless retrospectives of the past 12 months written with great pomposity, and lists upon lists upon lists upon lists of “the best blah-blah-blah of ’06.” We complain, but we love looking back if only to say “I told you so,” conveniently forgetting the blind missteps, and hoping you forgot them, too. That said, let this be the first of those retrospectives for ’06, as we celebrate the second year of Lazy-i in The Reader and look back with great aplomb to update the past year’s columns.

Presto! Change-o! (2/1/06) — A description of the new Presto! Studios in Omaha, gleaned from an issue of Tape Op Magazine. Saddle Creek Records executive Jason Kulbel tells me that the building that housed the Lincoln Presto! Studios now sits empty following tracking last fall for the upcoming Bright Eyes record. The new studios, located near 69th and Dodge Sts., are coming to life. As I type this, the facility’s “B Room” is being used for the final mixing of said Bright Eyes CD. By the way, the name Presto! apparently will die along with the Lincoln studio.

Scars for All to Hear (2/16/06) — A profile of Outlaw Con Bandana’s Brendan Hagberg. The band currently is recording its fifth release, Faeries and Rewards, with producer Ted Stevens between Cursive world tours. “We are also attempting an EP by hook or crook during the down time,” Hagberg says on his myspace page. Look for both records in early ’07.

Band of Brothers (2/23/06) — A profile of them thar Thornton boys — Bob and Will — and their band Past Punchy and the Present. Since the column, Past Punchy has become rather dormant. Instead, Bob’s new band, Now Archimedes!, has established itself as the hottest new punk band in town.
Not for The Faint of Heart (3/22/06) — Wherein your fearless columnist reported about the possibility of The Faint leaving Saddle Creek Records for American Recordings, a rumor that Creek label chief Robb Nansel confirmed. Since then, The Faint has begun working on the long-awaited follow-up to 2004’s Wet from Birth in their new studio. Asked if the record will come out on Saddle Creek, Kulbel gave a two-word answer: “No comment.”
Living in Fun City (6/22/06) — The Omaha World-Herald took umbrage to my attack on their declaration — made after this summer’s Bright Eyes concert in Memorial Park — that Omaha is “Fun City.” An OWH editorial, cleverly titled “The Quest for Coolness,” referred to “a local blogger” who is “beside himself that anyone could possibly consider Omaha a Fun City.” Pity they didn’t have the stones to either mention The Reader (where the column also appeared) or my website’s address. But like I said last week, The OWH doesn’t acknowledge non-OWH-controlled local media sources in print. As for their editorial: If the paper and the Chamber of Commerce think the answer to Omaha’s “quest for coolness” is to bring in more national-chain retail outlets like Cheesecake Factory and Williams-Sonoma instead of supporting home-grown businesses, then they clearly have no idea what “cool” is.
Unlikely Underdog (6/29/06) — Amid a cloud of negative buzz, the column was an early defense of Cursive’s new release, Happy Hollow. The record, which I still consider to be the band’s best effort in their storied career — continues to split fans down the middle between those who love it and those who don’t. Regardless, the album sold 9,700 copies in its first week of release, enough to place it at No. 96 in the Billboard top 100. To date, Happy Hollow has sold more than 27,000 copies, according to Kulbel.
Urban Legend (7/6/06) — A profile of local rock band An Iris Pattern’s quirky, mysterious frontman, Greg Loftis. Since the column, Loftis reports that An Iris Pattern has been asked by world-renowned fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger to be the first band on his new record label. Stay tuned.
Flyover Country (6/1/06) — The premise: Top-drawer national indie bands are beginning to pass by Omaha because cheapskate concert-goers won’t pay more than $10 for tickets. In fact, ’06 will be remembered as one of the better years for stellar acts hitting our stages, including such bands as Yo La Tengo, Joanna Newsom, M Ward and Gillian Welch. Lately, however the crowds are staying home. One Percent Productions’ Marc Leibowitz, who along with partner Jim Johnson is responsible for most of Omaha’s indie shows, says ticket prices alone aren’t to blame. “It’s more likely the combination of higher ticket prices and over-saturation of shows,” he said. “There are a ton of shows that are all slightly overpriced. But when we talked about ticket prices (in June) it was just for Omaha, and this downturn in attendance is happening in a lot of other cities as well.”
The Kids Aren’t All Right (8/3/06) — Wherein I ask the question: Where have all the new indie bands gone? Leibowitz says they’re right here, you just have to look for them. Among them: Coyote Bones, Bear Country, Spring Gun, Domestica, Art Bell and Hyannis.
And so on… Thanks to everyone who provided their insight, inspiration, information — and most of all, ideas. These are the things that keep Lazy-I going. Now onto year three…

Beyond these, the most popular columns not mentioned above were the more introspective comments: Fear of Cool (how pretension keeps people away from shows); Being Alone Together (how to go to shows/movies/dining alone), Acid Test in the Park (will the city turn out for the Bright Eyes concert in Memorial Park?); Getting Omaha’d (leaving after the opening band); Everything Old Is Old Again (how retro rock is dominating radio); and more recently The Trouble with Lists (about The Reader top-20). As always, thanks for your feedback. It’s nice to know that someone is reading this, either in The Reader or online.

Tonight: As mentioned yesterday: Devotchka and an all-star version of McCarthy Trenching at Sokol Underground. $12, 9 p.m., tickets still available. Also tonight, a screening of Pink Floyd – Live at Pompeii at O’Leaver’s as part of the Rock Movie Night series. I’m told it’s quite a flick, and it’s free. More info here.

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