Live Review: Landing on the Moon, Students of Crime; Workers Takeout closes; Son of 76 tonight; Benson After Dark Saturday; Mountain Goats, Psychedelic Furs Sunday…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 1:57 pm June 11, 2010
Landing on the Moon at O'Leaver's, June 10, 2010

Landing on the Moon at O'Leaver's, June 10, 2010

by Tim McMahan,

First, some sobering news after a night that was anything but…

Workers Takeout, the sandwich shop next to O’Leaver’s owned and operated by Chris Machmuller of Ladyfinger, shut its doors for good this week. Last night I noticed a “Closed” sign written in Sharpie on the door that said “Thanks for the memories.” I didn’t get a chance to talk to Mach about what happened, though I’ve been told by people close to the business that you haven’t seen the last of Worker’s Takeout, just the last of it from that location. As discussed in this interview/column, Workers opened at the height of this country’s most recent Great Recession in August 2008 with only a sandwich counter and a helluva menu. They just opened a new dining room this past January. It seemed like the perfect location — right next door to O’Leaver’s, across the parking lot from the Pub’s popular sand volleyball courts. But Workers just couldn’t get the army of toned, tanned athletes to step foot inside their shop, I guess because they feared it as much as they fear the inside of O’Leaver’s, which also rarely seems to attract any spikers. The irony to me is that Workers is the first place that I ever ordered a Cuban sandwich — a sandwich that recently was added to the Panera Bread menu. My suggestion (which has no wings whatsoever) would be to move Workers into  O’Leaver’s old kitchen and turn the bar’s pool table room into an order window. I’m sure it would take many thousands of dollars to get O’Leaver’s kitchen up to code, however. Here’s hoping that Machmuller finds the right location, and that Workers reopens soon…

As for last night’s gig…

I have now seen Students of Crime — Robert Thornton’s new band — twice, but it seems more like I’ve seen two separate bands with the same personnel. They even looked different. For their debut back in April (also at O’Leaver’s), the band was dressed to the nines in suit and tie. Last night, however, they wore the usual O’Leaver’s uniform of jeans and T shirts. Just as different as their costumes was their sound. On night one, SOC leaned toward Americana – almost to alt-country. Last night they were a punk band in the vein of Carmine (one of Thornton’s old bands), but with a harder, SST edge. And without a hint of twang (this definitely wasn’t Whipkey Rock). It was the band I expected to see/hear back in April. I have no idea why they changed styles, and frankly don’t prefer one over the other, though Thornton looked more relaxed playing the punk that we’ve come to expect from him.

Having just returned from a few weeks of touring, Landing on the Moon was as tight as you’d expect. In fact, last night’s performance was the best I’ve ever seen them. I guess that road does something to a band — it changes them. Or maybe it was just the booze because they’ve never felt more cohesive. And for the first time I was able to put my finger on who they remind me of. In fact, LotM has a style that is distinctly its own, especially compared to the rest of the Omaha scene. No one does quite what they do — a fusion of indie and throw-back radio rock with a groove that heralds all the way back to the ’70s. I’m going to get skewed for this, but I was reminded of late-’70s Journey. Someone else in the audience referenced Mates of State, which also was a stretch, albeit a more indie (and realistic, and probably less offensive) stretch.

The real difference last night came from folks who I hadn’t noticed before. I point directly toward bassist Eric Harris, who has never sounded more up front and important to the band’s sound. His deep groove swing is the secret weapon that is (now) impossible to ignore. So is frontman John Klemmensen. I use the “frontman” moniker loosely, since there are three lead vocalists in the band, with Megan Morgan taking a more prominent role especially on the new material. Still, it’s Klemmensen who stood out — part of the reason is that O’Leaver’s PA simply isn’t kind to female vocalists, who have a way of getting buried in the mix. No single member of the band is ever the center of attention, however. The most “out there” player is drummer Oliver Morgan, who doggedly looks for any and every opportunity to decorate his percussion with fill upon fill upon fill upon roll upon fill. There is nothing unfancy about his drumming style, which will not — cannot — be ignored.

The band announced last night that their latest album, We Make History Now, will be released by Young Love Records Aug.10 (with a Young Love showcase scheduled for The Waiting Room Aug. 12). With a label, distribution and publicity behind them, who knows where they’ll land.

Finally, after midnight, it was time for the dynamic duo of Cloven Path, who apparently was having an off night, as the guitarist mentioned a few times that his pedal was broken. He only played two or three songs before leaving the stage. Their shtick is to play shredding electric guitar and trigger-happy drums over dense, heavily textured electronic tracks — very EDM-meets-metal. It’s dramatic and fun. The only thing missing is a vocalist, preferably a wonked-out bleached-haired goth chick with a Debra Harry voice clad entirely in black latex. Surely they can find someone around this town to fit the bill.

* * *

You’ve got ’til the end of the day to get in on a sweet offer by Digital Leather designed to raise some money to buy sound equipment. The fund-raising project had a goal of $600. They’re currently at $1,695 — a success (that is if shipping costs don’t eat away at their profits). The details again:

There are two levels in which you can pledge:

1. $10. You’ll receive a free download of their new, yet-to-be-released album.
2. $15. You’ll receive a free vinyl with a numbered, super-limited-edition cover, along with the free download. The vinyls are limited to 150.

To get in on it, just go to the site and fill out the online form. The offer ends in just a few hours.

* * *

It’s back to O’leaver’s again tonight for My Pal Dragon with D.L. Diedrich and the Devil, She’s the Fastest and Thunder Power. $5, 9:30 p.m.

If you’re in Lincoln tonight, check out the Son of 76 and The Watchmen CD release show at The Bourbon Theater. Also on the bill are Tijuana Gigolos, Brad Hoshaw and the Seven Deadlies and The Killigans. $6, 8 p.m.

Saturday night’s main event is the Benson Day: After Dark showcase, featuring more than 30 bands on five Benson stages — The Waiting Room Lounge, Barley Street Tavern, PS Collective, The Sydney, and Burke’s Pub. $5 will get you into all of them all night. Shows start at 9 p.m.

Finally, Sunday night boasts two huge shows. At The Slowdown, it’s the return of The Mountain Goats. The trio of John Darnielle, Peter Hughes and Jon Wurster will be playing songs off their latest 4AD release, The Life of the World to Come.  Opening the show is The Beets. $15, 9 p.m.

Competing with that show are ’80s legends The Psychedelic Furs with frontman Richard Butler at The Waiting Room with She Wants Revenge. $35, 9 p.m.

* * *

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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