Column 151 — Three Years Down (and counting); Live Review: Box Elders, The King Kahn & BBQ Show; The Third Men tonight…

Category: Blog — @ 2:22 pm November 29, 2007

Someone asked me last night at Slowdown if I ever get tired of writing this column after having done it every week for three years. The answer is no, though sometimes coming up with column ideas can be a challenge (and that’s where you come in). I find writing columns and updating this blog much more fun than, say, writing features on jaded national bands who don’t want to do interviews but realize that they have to in an effort to get people to their shows. As it was when I first started writing about music 20 years ago, it’s much more fun interviewing the up-and-coming bands still hungry to get the word out, and our local bands who always always always have a good story to tell. On to year four…

Column 151: Three Years (and counting)
A look back on the third anniversary
Have I really been writing this column for three years? Yeah, I guess I have. And just as in year’s past, here we are again, celebrating the anniversary by updating some of the people, places and things that were column fodder over the past year:

Leggo My Ego (12/27/06) — Wherein Omaha rocker and former Lazy-i intern Matt Whipkey explained why he changed the name of his band from Anonymous American to Matt Whipkey and Anonymous American. It wasn’t an ego thing, he said. OK. Whipkey eventually took it one step further by forming a new band: The Matt Whipkey Three. As for Anonymous American, well, there’s always that inevitable reunion show.

Goodbye Someday Never (1/18/07) — Music entrepreneur and all around nice guy Joe Vavak talked about closing the door on his promotion company, Someday Never, which brought some of the more intriguing — though poorly attended — shows to Omaha. Joe was last seen driving Nebraska’s highways, taking photographs of every county in the state. Look for the photos at a gallery near you.

Englishmen in Omaha (1/24/07) — Fun-loving Brit Devonte Hynes talked about coming to Omaha’s ARC Studios to record his project, Lightspeed Champion, as well as his love for Target stores, Starbucks and giant display swords. The album, Falling Off the Lavender Bridge, which includes cameos by a handful of Saddle Creek musicians, is slated for release in early ’08 on Domino Records.

Cultural Attraction (2/15/07) — Dirt Cheap founder Terrence Moore reflected on the history of his record stores, which touched the lives of so many local musicians. Terrence succumbed to intestinal cancer on May 4. He is missed.

Perfect Sound Forever (3/15/07) — It’s hard to believe that The Waiting Room has only been open since March. It seems like it’s always been there. Over the course of eight months, the club has become one of the city’s most important stages for touring and local bands and a centerpiece of Benson’s revitalization.

Digital Divide (5/2/07) — Saddle Creek Records executive Jason Kulbel and Homer’s President Mike Fratt discussed the growth of digital music sales. Fratt said dropping the retail price of physical CDs to under $10 could reignite business. Unfortunately, we’re still waiting for that price drop. Meanwhile, artists like Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails have decided to just give away their music online.

Out of the Spotlight (6/7/07) — Remembering those Halcyon days of 2002 when Omaha was being touted as the “New Seattle,” and how those days are long gone. Despite the spotlight’s shift, Omaha’s music scene has never been stronger, with new bands popping every day.

Too Good for You (6/13/07) — Like The Waiting Room, it’s hard to believe that Slowdown has only been open since June. From the day it opened, it was recognized as one of the finest stages in the Midwest (despite the club’s rather antiseptic, non-indie interior). And shortly after this column ran, the bar began stocking Rolling Rock — who says Lazy-i isn’t having an impact?

Omaha’s Farewell Tour (6/21/07) — The most controversial column from last year, my suggestion that low attendance at shows could ultimately lead to more bands bypassing Omaha for larger cities was met with hate mail calling me a doomsayer and an alarmist. Just telling it like it is, folks, just ask Interpol, Hot Chip, The Arcade Fire, Band of Horses, Justice, Daft Punk, PJ Harvey, Stereolab, Mark Kozalek….

In the iQueue (7/5/07) — My review of the iPhone after six months: It was worth every penny, even the extra $200 that Steve Jobs and Co. bilked out of us early-adapters. My biggest gripe: I can’t use the phone in my house because it won’t pick up an AT&T signal. That’s kind of a problem.

Park Life (8/15/07) — The suggestion that The City may want to consider moving its annual “youth concert” to a more hospitable time of year — say spring or fall or anytime when the heat index isn’t near 110 degrees — was met with rejection, as was the idea of featuring bands with a broader demographic than craptacular child act Plain White T’s. How about Wilco or The Arcade Fire? Nope. The City is happy with the concert just the way it is — a monumental waste.
Word to the Totally (8/30/07) — Just as we were celebrating O’Leaver’s five-year anniversary of hosting awesome rock shows came word that the club was considering abandoning rock shows altogether. Since then, the owners have reconsidered, though O’Leaver’s will never host the volume of shows that it has in the past. It’s still my favorite place to see a band.
Taken Too Sirius-ly? (9/6/07) — Apparently, changing the Cornhuskers’ “Tunnel Walk” music wasn’t enough to save Callahan and Pederson.
For Against Again (9/19/07) — The reunion of the fabled Lincoln post-punk band continues to gain steam. For Against played the Tinned Tin Festival in November in Castellón, Spain. Among their bands that shared the stage: The Sea and Cake, Dolorean, Wolf Eyes, Xiu Xiu, Deerhunter, and Asobi Seksu. So where’s that new album, guys?

Onto year four, but before we go, a final request: Easily the hardest part of writing a column is coming up with topics to cover. I try to focus on newsy music-related subjects, interesting stories surrounding a band or comments (or complaints) about trends in the local or national indie music world. I say this in hopes that you, dear reader, will be generous enough to pass along your column ideas. Send them to Thanks for reading!

It was one of the bigger crowds I’ve seen for a show at Slowdown Jr. last night, which surprised a couple people who I talked to that are familiar with King Kahn & BBQ — they figured no one would show up for the gig. But it looked like 100+ did, a lot of them followers or members of the Omaha/Lincoln garage punk scene. They weren’t disappointed. Box Elders took the stage at around 9:45 (I thought Slowdown was going to strictly adhere to a 9 p.m. start time? I guess that flew out the window when they realized that people tend to buy lots of drinks while they’re waiting) with Clayton McIntyre donning a bob-cut women’s wig — shades of things to come. Box Elders’ unique spin on garage punk comes by way of the McIntyre Brothers’ dueling vocals (and one-note harmonies) and pointman Dave Goldberg on drums/keyboards — drums consisting mostly of a kick bass and high hat played with his leg and right hand while his left pounded out counter melodies on a keyboard. Goldberg’s instrumentation stood out more than the guitar and bass, but it didn’t overshadow those ginchy, sloppy vocals.

King Kahn/BBQ spent what seemed like 20 minutes fiddling with their guitars before tearing into their set of big-riff garage doo-wap music that merged ’50s greaser with ’70’s NYC punk. The King was adorned in a rather sultry dress and a purple woman’s wig that perfectly accented a macho mustache. BBQ (a.k.a. Mark Sultan) was less flashy, sporting a red turban, he played a kick drum and guitar seated, and hence was hidden behind an adoring crowd pushed against the stage. You had to get right up there to see him. After the first dozen or so songs, I got the gist of what they were about and headed home while the crowd continued to groove the night away.

Tonight at The Waiting Room it’s The Third Men CD release show with Black Squirrels and Adam Hawkins. Do yourself a favor and stroll over to the merch table and pick up a copy of Boost. You’ll be glad you did. $7, 9 p.m.

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