Live Review: Aloha, Mewithoutyou, Sparta; Kite Pilot, Spring Gun, Adam Weaver tonight; crazy Saturday…

Category: Blog — @ 4:27 pm February 23, 2007

I’ve got a feeling that “parking” is going to be on the minds of a lot of people in 2007. Yes, parking. We need a feasible commuter system in this town, folks, just so we can go to shows and not have to worry about parking our vehicles for the evening, wondering if the windows will be busted out while we’re at the show, wondering if we’re going to survive the long walk through the cold arctic blast…

It took forever to find parking last night because there was some sort of play going on upstairs in Sokol Auditorium. I drove around and around and finally found a place that was only a quarter-mile away. By the time I got to Sokol, I had missed most of Aloha‘s set, catching only the last song, which was great.

The place, as they say, was packed, and I’m still not sure who everyone came to see. It seemed the most crowded for Aloha, but almost no one left by the time Mewithoutyou came on — which leads me to believe that they were the main course for last night’s ticket buyers. The band started the set by saying this was the fourth time they’d been to Sokol. “This room is my only image of Omaha because I never see any of your town,” said lead singer Aaron Weiss, who went on to say perhaps they’ve worn out their welcome, then quickly added over the chorus of No’s “I didn’t mean it that way, as if I was trying to get a response or something, but it seems like we’ve been here 10 times in the last two days.”

On their records, gaunt-looking frontman Weiss (with the scraggly beard, he kind of resembled a thin version of Dave Matthews) actually tries to sing, but on stage he turns from “singer” to “vocalist” barking out lyrics like an earnest slam poet with something “really important” to say (the meaning of which, one would assume, is probably Christian-based if the fact that their music is released on Tooth & Nail is any indication). He came off as an emo-hippie version of Craig Finn without Finn’s amusing, colorful and dirty anecdotes. When Weiss did sing, usually alone with his guitar, the effect was touching, especially since it was in such stark contrast to the band’s blazing bombasts. In fact, the band (or I should say, the music) was top-notch post-punk drenched in shimmering guitars rife with echo and delay. Add the throbbing rhythm section and you’ve got yourself a first-rate power-rock band, fronted by an evangelist.

After their set, patrons streamed out of Sokol Underground, and I wondered if Sparta was about to be Omaha’d. Most returned (apparently having finished crowding the sidewalk for a smoke), though more than a few never came back. What to say about Sparta… Although I always thought At the Drive-In was an uber-cool rip off of Chavez, I enjoyed their charisma and their afros. ATDI should have stayed together regardless of their so-called creative differences. Well, after the split, The Mars Volta got the afros and the lion’s share of charisma. Sparta, apparently got the big-band posturing that was never a part of At The Drive-In’s style. Front-man Jim Ward has an arena-rock set of pipes. In fact, after the first couple songs, I expected him to introduce the next one with something like, “There’s been a lot of talk about this next song. Maybe, maybe too much talk… This song is not a rebel song, this song is SUNDAY BLOODY SUNDAY” (Only people with a copy of Under a Blood Red Sky will understand that reference). To me, Ward had a few vocal mannerisms that reminded me of early U2, and if this band had existed in the ’80s they could have been the precursors to The Alarm or even (god forbid) Big Country, though their style is much too angsty and emo-esque to run with those big-hearted lads. Despite having a full, gorgeous rock sound underscored by a chest-thumping kick-drum, Sparta was kind of boring, thanks to a lack of dynamics and variety. Once you heard one song, you’ve heard them all. Halfway through their set I was able to walk right up past the poles, the crowd had thinned so dramatically. For a band that’s supposed to be the big-label headliner, it was obvious that either people hadn’t come to see them or had seen enough after the first 15 minutes of their set, as I had. I zipped up my jacket and headed out the door to my long walk back to the car.

* * *

What a screwed up weekend of shows. Tomorrow night’s offering is sheer and utter madness. But before we get to that, here’s what’s on tap tonight:

— At The Saddle Creek Bar it’s Adam Weaver & the Ghosts, Kite Pilot and Spring Gun. $5, 9 p.m. If you haven’t seen the new version of Kite Pilot before, you really should. It’s more straight-forward and, frankly, punkier than the Austin Britton version.

— At O’Leaver’s, it’s Root Shoot Leaf, Thunder Power and Paper Owls. Thunder Power is intern Brendan Greene-Walsh’s band, which is reason enough to attend. $5, 9:30 p.m.

— Over at Hotel Frank, 3821 Farnam (across the street from The Brothers) it’s Cap Gun Coup, No. I’m the Pilot, Articulate and Deep Sleep Waltzing. There is a major buzz going around these days for Cap Gun Coup. Check them out before they get signed.

Then there’s Saturday night. Rarely has there been a more crowded evening of shows. I’ll go down the list and let you decide which makes the most sense.

— First off, the benefit for Terrence Moore, which I wrote a column about a couple weeks ago (here). You former patrons of Dirt Cheap Records who will be in Lincoln that evening owe it to yourselves to go.

— Down at Sokol Underground it’s The Show Is the Rainbow (which I wrote about here) with Yip-Yip, Prostitute and Flamethrower. What will Darren Keen have up his sleeve for this show? Add Yip-Yip’s costumed antics and it should be a colorful evening. $7, 9 p.m.

— Meanwhile, over at The 49’r it’s The Monroes with The Filter Kings. $3, 9:30 p.m. Rare is the opportunity these days to see the mighty Monroes. And you already know how I feel about The Filter Kings.

— If you’re in Lincoln and aren’t going to the Terrence Moore benefit, there’s Domestica (ex-Mercy Rule), Robot Creep Closer and Strawberry Burn at Bob’s Tavern in ultra-cool Havelock. I don’t have a specific address, just ask around. Someone in Havelock is bound to know. Show starts at 9 and is absolutely free.

— Back in Omaha and over at O’Leaver’s it’s the All Riot Records launch with CD releases by Jealous Lovers (ex-Snake Handlers) and The Upsets, with Sioux City rockers Dead Man’s Hand. $5, 9 p.m.

— Finally, there’s Bright Eyes and Maria Taylor at Murphy’s Lounge. I mention this only because it’ll be of interest to the 200 or so people who got tickets within the 7-minute window in which they were available before selling out. No reason to rub your noses in it.

I’m sure I’m forgetting something. If you think of it, post it here.

–Got comments? Post ’em here.

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