Column 147: 20 + 15 = Pissed; The Stay Awake tonight…

Category: Blog — @ 12:31 pm October 26, 2007

So, the 20 best bands in Nebraska and the next 15 after that, according to The Reader, are:

The Top 20 (in no order):

Bright Eyes
The Good Life
Little Brazil
Simon Joyner and the Fallen Men
Brimstone Howl
Coyote Bones
Art in Manila
Outlaw Con Bandana
Tilly and the Wall
The Terminals
Go Motion
Maria Taylor
Sarah Benck
Capgun Coup
The Balance
Narcotic Self

The Next 15 (again, in no order):

Flowers Forever
Kris Lager Band
The Show is the Rainbow
Spring Gun
Baby Walrus
The Monroes
The Shanks
The Mezcal Brothers
A. Symbiont
Ideal Cleaners

Agree? Disagree? Add your voice to a thread on the topic that was started yesterday on the webboard or post your own list. My thoughts on this whole “list” business:

Column 147: It Still Doesn’t Matter
Another list, another opportunity to piss people off.
So there I was Tuesday morning at 5 a.m., wracking my brain to come up with something profound to say about The Reader‘s annual “list of best bands,” something that I didn’t already say in last year’s column. Then, like a bolt out of the blue, it struck me:

Why not just rerun last year’s column?

After all, I’m not delusional or egotistical enough to believe that anyone actually read my column last year (or that anyone’s reading it now, for that matter). And what could I possibly say differently from last year that wouldn’t apply to this year’s list? So like I said:

The core problem with creating a special “music issue” of The Reader that includes a “list” of the 20 “best bands” in the Omaha/Lincoln area is obvious. You’re forced to answer the question: “What’s the point?” Why place bands in a pecking order based on the (hopefully, though unlikely) well-informed opinion of a group of faceless critics who feel compelled to tell the public what is good and what isn’t?

The argument against such a list gets down to one undeniable fact: When it comes to art, competition sucks. It serves no purpose. It makes friends enemies. It creates pride, envy and doubt in the heart of the artists. It discourages as much as it encourages new art, new ideas, risk-taking.

And yet, “best of” lists and the endless string of award shows have become an acknowledged method of recognizing art and music in our culture, even though the determination of what’s good and what isn’t ultimately rests solely in the eyes and ears of the beholder. You can tell me a thousand times that something is great or something sucks, but in the end, I’ll decide for myself (Unless, of course, I’m a sheep).

So why do it? Why make a list of the best and a list of runners-up (and, by default, a list of those that didn’t make the lists)? The most obvious reason: Because it’s fun. It’s controversial. And most importantly, because people love their lists and awards. They need to have their opinions validated, to affirm that they, indeed, have “good taste.” So I guess it all comes down to ego, and doesn’t ego fuel all art? Perhaps, perhaps…

What I can tell you with extreme confidence is that no matter how Editor Andy and the rest of the staff cut it, the list will piss people off. Hell, I don’t even like the list. Where’s Mal Madrigal and Outlaw Con Bandana? Where’s Brimstone Howl? WHERE THE HELL IS THE MONROES?

Ah, those were the days. I can still hear publisher John Heaston whining about how the list was my idea in the first place and how I had some nerve bagging on it. John, you’re right. You’re always right. That’s why you’re the publisher!

Of course, this year Outlaw and Brimstone and even my beloved Monroes made the list. Mal Madrigal continues to be a no-show, but that’ll change next year when Steve Bartolomei and his compadres finally get around to releasing that vinyl-only recording that we’ve been hearing about for, well, almost a year.

I could point out that this year’s list is missing a number of bands that I suggested, including McCarthy Trenching, Matt Whipkey, The Third Men, The Family Radio, Cloven Path, The Filter Kings and The Stay Awake. But that would sound like I was complaining, and really, what’s there to complain about?

Actually, this year anyone irritated by The Reader‘s list can wait a few short months for the Omaha Entertainment Awards to have their outrage vindicated. The OEAs depends on a public nomination process, a process that just happens to be going on right now at (Click on the banner at the top of the page to cast your vote).

If there’s one thing that stands out about this year’s list it’s the plethora of new acts that were either under the radar or simply didn’t exist a year ago. Among them, Art in Manila, Coyote Bones, Capgun Coup, Flowers Forever, Spring Gun, The Shanks and Baby Walrus. These are the bands that carry the hopes of Nebraska’s music scene into the future, whether they like it or not. A few will be on this list next year and for years to come. A few will be conspicuously absent. And a few will be gone for good. Such is the nature of rock ‘n’ roll.

Anyway… like I said last year, if you think we got it wrong, don’t get mad. Relax. It’s all in good fun. You already know that your favorite band is good, whether the idiots at The Reader know it or not. (Sorry, John.)

* * *

The weekend is upon us again, dear readers and here’s what happening:

Tonight’ top choice: The Stay Awake at O’Leaver’s with Tartufi, Barbara Trentalange (Ex- Crooked Fingers), and my all-time favorite, TBA! 9:30, $5.

Meanwhile, Cloven Path is down at Sokol Underground with The Beat Seekers and Poor Man’s Opera. I’m told that CP recently lost their lead singer, so it’ll be interesting to see how they pull that one off. $7, 9 p.m.

And the annual JazzWholes (oops, make that just The Wholes, they dropped the “jazz” part) Halloween show is going on at Slowdown with Haywood Yard. $12, 9 p.m..

Tomorrow’s marquee public show is Little Brazil with Go Motion and Malpias at Slowdown. $7, 9 p.m. There’s also a hot house party going on that’s somewhat private — I can’t give out too many details other than the lineup, which includes the area’s best punk bands: The Shanks, The Terminals, The Upsets, and Rick Rhythm and the Revengers. Some details about the show are available here, but you’ll have to search out the rest on your own.

And then on Sunday it’s Minus the Bear, Helio Sequence and Grand Archives at Slowdown. $15, 9 p.m.

–Got comments? Post ’em here.

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