Live Review: Eagle Seagull, It’s True, North of Grand, The Third Men; Dr. Dog tonight…

Category: Blog — @ 6:38 pm February 8, 2010

It was a strange, mopey night at The Waiting Room Saturday, or maybe I was the mopey one. The crowd seemed restless for a good time and you’d figure they’d get it from Eagle Seagull, who announced from stage that their full length is finally coming out March 28 (but they didn’t say who was putting it out, maybe they’re doing it themselves?). Edit: A reader pointed out that I reported back in December (in this blog entry) that the record is coming out on [PIAS] Recordings.

If the band seemed a bit listless it might have something to do with not having one of their guitarists — has there has been a personnel change that I wasn’t aware of or was he just under the weather? Or maybe their rather detached performance had something to do with violinist/keyboardist Carrie Butler, who looked sullen bordering on upset throughout their entire set (Or maybe that’s just her way). No matter. The music was the usual good stuff, despite the band looking bored and distracted (They say Fleetwood Mac’s best album was borne out of conflict.)

The chatter in the crowd focused on It’s True, who has announced that its having a CD release party for their debut full-length at TWR April 30. No one, however, knows who is releasing it, and now people are speculating that the band will release it themselves.. No one understands why this band doesn’t have labels nipping at its heels, be they local or national imprints. Here’s a band with a solid collection of songs that seems willing to do whatever is necessary to get the music in front of a larger audience. What more could a label want? Then again, it’s getting harder for bands to figure out why they need to be on a label at all, other than the bank and the marketing that goes with it (and certainly they’d like someone to pick up the tab for their recording). Distribution, which was a key advantage in the old days, is losing its value as more people quit buying CDs altogether.

By now, the story of Eagle Seagull’s multi-year constipation in releasing their material is well documented, which doesn’t make it any less unfortunate. They were a rocket left on the launching pad, bogged down with too many delays until people began to wonder whether the darn thing could ever get off the ground. If nothing happens with their new record, it’ll be another in a series of tragedies that seems to characterize Nebraska bands these days. No one wants to see what happened to ES happen to It’s True, which is why if the band decides to put out the record themselves that it makes all the sense in the world, especially in an era where patience is often mistaken for indifference. It’s True has to push forward right now, and should a label suddenly take interest in them, they can always release the album again. In the meantime, they’re hitting their stride, growing with every performance, which means there’s never going to be a better time to get out and share it with the rest of the world. (See photo).

Friday night was spent at O’Leaver’s with The Third Men and Des Moines rock band North of Grand. My take on The Third Men: Just about any bar or venue would be better off having them perform in some sort of residency capacity, say every second Thursday or the first Friday of the month. The Third Men play good-time rock music for smart people who recognize well-played good-time rock music. There’s something comfortable and familiar with their sound, which is probably due to the fact that the band grew up — and continues to — love good, unpretentious (and fun) rock music. It also helps that they roll out a few covers with every set. This time they unveiled a snarling version of Warren Zevon’s “Poor Poor Pitful Me,” along with “Next Time Round,” an Elvis Costello chestnut off of 1986’s Blood and Chocolate (That’s right, that record came out 23 years ago).

Chatting with North of Grand’s drummer Pat Curtis before their set, I was expecting a full-on punk attack, but in fact NoG has more in common with post-punk power rock than straight-up punk (and to me, that’s a good thing). Despite being hard with their guitars, the band isn’t afraid of hooks or cranking up white-knuckle backbeat rhythms right after a break. For whatever reason, I was reminded of post-punk acts like Bad Religion, Fugazi and Husker Du. But that’s just me. With four albums under their wing — all apparently self-released — it’s bands like this that epitomize the DIY business approach that every band will have to adopt sooner or later. Just ask It’s True. (See photo of North of Grand).

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Briefly, Mastodon announced its spring tour this morning, and Omaha’s Sokol Hall is on the list for May 14.

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Alt country band Dr. Dog returns to The Waiting Room tonight with The Growlers. $12, 9 p.m. I’m told TWR is one of their favorite venues. Since they haven’t been here since Sept. 2008, they’re in for a surprise.

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