Live Review: Ladyfinger, Little Brazil; and *yawn* Oberst on Conan last night…

Category: Blog — @ 6:51 pm November 12, 2008

Nothing like a charity event to bring out a crowd on a Tuesday night. Actually, I didn’t talk to anyone who really knew who Lori Wirth is, though all sympathized with her horrendous plight. With around 200 on hand and folks throwing extra green into the pot she’ll at least have a little more cash to help get the bills paid.

I got there just before Ladyfinger took the stage (Notice that, anymore, no one mentions the “NE” that’s supposed to be tacked onto their name? I doubt that anything “legal” has been resolved, just a general reticence by the fans to acknowledge the ridiculous lawyer tag). The set was mostly (if not all?) new material that they just recorded as the follow-up to Heavy Hands. As much as I liked that record’s plodding, crack-of-doom indie-metal, this one will be a better. The songs are more focused melody-wise and riff-wise, while maintaining their singular devotion to the head-pounding rhythms. There was some strange (as in different) stuff going on as well — a clear shift from their usual straight-four shriek rock — drop-outs and breaks, parts where only Mach and drummer Oakes were playing, insidiously sexy riffs by Massey layered beneath the melee. I assume the separation will be more noticeable on the recording, and hopefully, so will the vocals. Machmuller’s voice was mired in the mix, its anonymity helped along by his own mumbling way of singing that can twist instantly to shrieks when everyone comes in on the chorus. We’ll see. Saddle Creek will be putting out their new record probably early next year.

Little Brazil frontman Landon Hedges has successfully entered the ranks of the “Beard-o’s” — his scraggly facial hair now fully, crazily realized into something that only Gimli the Dwarf would be proud of. I’m sure he was tired of being mistaken for a 14-year-old version of Bobby Brady. Now Landon looks like a less-bald version of AJ Mogis or like a wizened clock maker (or bomb maker) thanks to his tiny eyeglasses that hang on the very tip of his nose. I’ve always fancied LB as an indie-pop band defined by a traditional emo style (yes, I said emo) and Hedges’ boyish croon. Like Ladyfinger, last night they played new material just recorded at ARC for a release on their new label, Anodyne, in February. Also like Ladyfinger, this record will probably be better than the last one, thanks to simpler song structures. Though there’s still a lot of Sturm und Drang, I have a feeling that Son (that’s the new album’s title) will consist mostly of simpler pop songs, pulled together into a concept arc about fatherhood, or so I’m told. We’re going to have to wait for a lyric sheet to find out. Even though Hedges sings more clearly than the majority of Omaha’s harder rocking acts, it all gets lost in the mix, except for a brief moment during one song when the music broke to nothing and Landon speaks the lyrics. But even then, I don’t know what he’s talking about. I can’t wait to find out.

Ladyfinger and Little Brazil make a great pair. Members of both bands are longtime friends, almost like family. If I was a booking agent, I’d figure out a way to get them on the road together — a dynamic double bill consisting of two acts from successful indie labels. You’d think it would be a sure thing.

* * *

After I got home last night I watched a DVR’d rebroadcast of Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band on Late Night with Conan O’Brien (If you missed it, it’s online here). Conor wore his new trademark Panama hat, surrounded by the usual cast of long-hairs. Overall, the appearance was uneventful, other than the fact that whatever song they played isn’t on the new album, a vinyl copy of which O’Brien held up during his rushed introduction. Oberst’s TV appearances are so numerous these days that they’ve become matter-of-fact, no longer gee-whiz events (no one I talked to at the bar last night even knew he was going to be on). It’s these numerous appearances that probably will keep him off Saturday Night Live. I’ve been told that SNL has an exclusivity arrangement with their “special musical guests.” I don’t know if I believe that, but I do know that they strive to present something unique. Looks like my annual SNL predictions will never come true…

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