Live review: Vampire Hands, Okkervil River; Neko Case/Giant Sand tonight…

Category: Blog — @ 5:56 pm September 15, 2008

Crazy night at O’Leaver’s Friday punctuated with some exciting outdoor activities involving furniture and automobiles. I cannot divulge the details other than to say it was entertaining. As was Vampire Hands, who played to a nice crowd of around 50. Their music takes on a slightly more violent, distinctly more rhythmic tone when performed live. Their bushy v-neck-T-wearing frontman played both keyboards and a modified drum set that backed a full drum set and then a third drum on a few songs. With three vocalists who can actually sing — and with music that’s modern and groovy — these guys will be heading to a larger label near you, which is nothing less than they deserve. Dining note: I declare Worker’s chili dogs to be supremely satisfying after a night of Rolling Rock. Do it.

Saturday night was spent at Slowdown where the most pleasant surprise (besides the show nearly selling out) was the ascension of Neva Dinova from a sleepy indie folk band to a full-out rock odyssey explosion. Never have I heard the combo sound so white-knuckle heavy. It was like watching the second coming of Crazy Horse with Jake Bellows taking Neil’s place. Huge.

Okkervil River looked like rock stars in front of a floor filled with adoring fans who sang along all night — something I never thought I’d live to see back when they were playing to 10 people at The Junction. I think they’re on the verge of becoming this year’s Spoon. At the Dundee Theater earlier that evening Okkervil River was piped through the sound system before the show, only to be heard moments later during a coming-attractions trailer. The audience at Slowdown wasn’t the typical indie crowd — I saw more than my share of backward baseball caps and chummy buzz-headed greeks making out with their girlfriends during the set — yet another sign that they’re on the verge of breaking through the indie glass ceiling, for better or worse. Performance-wise they sounded as good as they always do, but with a new female lead guitarist who pulled the attention away from slouching, slightly spastic Will Sheff. With numerous thank-yous and acknowledgements of shows past (including the infamous California Taco show) the gig had all the makings of a welcome-home celebration from a band that’s made Omaha an integral part of its touring life. Let’s hope they don’t forget us as they continue to climb the ladder.

* * *

Tonight at Slowdown it’s Neko Case with Giant Sand. This show originally was scheduled for Sokol Auditorium, and while its shift to Slowdown reflects poor ticket sales and bad news for One Percent Productions, it could mean the difference between a good show and a great one. Sokol Aud is probably my least favorite place to see a band, what with its lousy acoustics and barn-like atmosphere. Let’s be honest — wouldn’t you rather see The Faint sell out three nights at Slowdown rather than have to see them at one hot, overcrowded, poorly mixed show at Sokol Aud? Sure you would, though I have a feeling that’ll never happen. Tickets to Neko Sand are $22. Show starts at 8 p.m.

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