Live reviews: Slumber Party showcase, Students of Crime; New Pornographers sneak tonight…

Category: Blog — @ 5:55 pm April 19, 2010

by Tim McMahan,

I’ll post my thoughts on Friday night’s Digital Leather show at Harrah’s at a later date in the very near future. Later that night I headed back over the river for the Slumber Party Records showcase, and was pleasantly surprised. Remember, I had accidentally said online (and in print) a few days prior to the show that it was going to be held in the front room, based on assumption more than anything, and not bothering to double-check with the Slowdown site. Stupid, lazy me. Turns out that Slowdown’s big room was the right room. When I arrived at around 10:30, the main floor and the railing area back to the bar were completely filled for Conchance, which made me wonder if he’s emerging as the label’s next (or first) big star. We’ll find out when he finishes recording his new album. In the meantime, I’ll say what I’ve said in the past — backed with an eight-piece band that included trumpet, bongos, bari-sax, keys and the usual rock accouterments, Conchance must be taken seriously. The band definitely knew its way around a comfortable, mid-tempo groove, and Conchance did his thing with the right amount of swagger and confidence needed to pull it off. So is he any good? You’d have to ask a real hip-hop aficionado. My take: You can tell about 10 seconds into any hip-hop performance if the guy/gal on the mic knows what s/he’s doing (or doesn’t, which in those cases, is embarrassing for everyone involved). Conchance knows what he’s doing. But we’ll have to wait for the record to decipher what he’s got on his mind, and if there’s any weight to his words.

The crowd dwindled slightly for Talking Mountain, who put on their typically colorful circus act — lots of LEDs, smoke, strobes and, of course, the monster mask, worn by frontman Jason Meyer-Cusack. Goofy fun. I still think they need to get a live drummer and drop the pre-recorded drum tracks, but who knows — the crowd didn’t seem to care as they hopped around to the bands candy-punk beat.

Closing out the evening, with the floor only half-filled, was Noah’s Ark was a Spaceship, whose sound these days resembles a cross between Sonic Youth and metal, and is very loud indeed. See photo. If you missed the showcase, you’ll be able to catch all of these bands again this week/weekend at the Omaha Invasion Festival in Lincoln. The sched is in Facebook, here.

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What did I expect from Students of Crime, who had their debut Saturday night at a respectably packed O’Leaver’s? Well, since frontman Robert Thornton is sort of known as a punk rock guy, I was expecting another punk band. What we got instead was something that bordered on alt country — like a combination of Uncle Tupelo, Buffalo Tom and The Replacements. Call it Americana or Whipkey Rock, but with a punk sheen. Or think of it as Thornton’s previous band, Carmine, with an undercurrent of twang and you’re halfway there. For their first performance, they were very solid and a lot of fun, though Thornton’s vocals were timid for the first half of the set. He and the rest of these criminals in training will only get better over time.

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Slowdown and Matador Records are hosting a special listening party in the front room tonight for the new New Pornographers album, Together, which comes out May 4. The “event’ starts at 8, and according to Matador, the first 20 folks through the door get an exclusive/numbered mix from New Porno’s Carl Newman. Admission is free and 21+.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area.

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