Live Review: Local Natives (the new Arcade Fire?); Lincoln Calling weekend, Photo Atlas tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , — @ 7:19 pm October 1, 2010
Local Natives at The Waiting Room, Sept. 30, 2010.

Local Natives at The Waiting Room, Sept. 30, 2010.

by Tim McMahan,

Sorry about the lateness of this post, but it’s been one o’ them days… Onward.

Walking up to The Waiting Room at just before 10 last night I could see a long line stretching along the sidewalk on either side of the door. I ran into one of the club’s legendary beer slingers on the street, apparently on his night off, and we both wondered what as going on. “Must be a late start,” he said, adding that it might have something to do with a sound check because the show’s advance sales had been weak, certainly not a sell out. The beer slinger went into Jake’s to catch the end of the Okie State game and I waited in line for about five minutes as people slowly began to file in with a band making noise on stage. It turned out that it was, in fact, a sold-out show, and the first band had already finished its set. That line was merely late arrivals, like myself, just waiting to get in.

Once inside, The Love Language was getting started, and the place was absolutely packed. More packed than a usual sell out, which leads me to believe that TWR does better business on nights like these then when a show sells out well in advance. You couldn’t get anywhere near the stage, and the closest I got was the soundboard.

The Love Language was a perfect opener for Local Natives — their sound is similar, though less trippy and more pop, upbeat and catchy, but while their music was well played, nothing left a mark with me.

With a guitarist/singer who looked like a cross between John Oates and Freddy Mercury (thanks to a big, bushy black mustache and a thick head of jet back hair), the band rolled into the songs off their debut album fueled by an enthusiastic crowd that knew the words. They played an old Talking Heads song (or so they said, I didn’t recognize it) then did one that sounded like an old Arcade Fire number. And then came the hits: “Airplanes” and album opener “Wide Eyes.” The crowd (as they say) went wild.

Freddy said this was a better show than the last time they came through a year and a half ago. I would think if they keep on this trajectory, the next time through they’ll be selling out Slowdown’s big room. But are they the next Arcade Fire? I heard that more than a few times last night. The answer is probably no.

I remember when Interpol came through and played Sokol Underground on a blizzardy night Jan. 15, 2003. Turn On the Bright Lights had been released the previous August and everyone knew that it was a game-changer. Their Omaha show was a coup on a number of levels, and if you were at the show, you knew you were seeing a band that was about to explode.

The same goes for The Arcade Fire when they played at Sokol Underground back on Sept. 29, 2004. The story goes that the booking had taken place well in advance of their meteoric rise, back when they were still playing bars/clubs, before they had been discovered by the New York Times and David Bowie. Despite being hugely in demand, the band faithfully played out their dates in smaller venues, including ours in South Omaha. Everyone there that night knew they were seeing something special, something that they’d never see again in such a small space.

I never got that feeling last night watching Local Natives. Yes, it was an enthusiastic, sold out crowd; yes they played a terrific set, but I never thought that I was seeing something that would have a lasting impact on the music scene like I did with the Arcade Fire or  Interpol. But then again, they probably said the same thing about Radiohead when Pablo Honey came out (an album that I bought). You just never know…

* * *

Tonight is probably the best night of the entire Lincoln Calling festival.

As discussed in the column, highlights include Deerpeople and a reunion of Pablo’s Triangle (Head of Femur, Broken Bells) at Duffy’s; Conduits, Cowboy Indian Bear, Masses and Poison Control Center at The Bourbon Theater; Noah’s Ark, The Power and Little Brazil at The Zoo; Thunder Power and Talking Mountain at 12th St. Pub. The Lincoln Calling website boasts day passes for sale, but doesn’t say how much or where to find them (Come on, Jeremy!). Other pricing and schedules are on the site. Lincoln Calling concludes tomorrow night, and among the highlights is the Speed! Nebraska showcase at The Zoo Bar. Check it out.

* * *

Other than LC, ain’t much going on this weekend. Tonight The Photo Atlas returns to Slowdown Jr. with Bazooka Shootout and Baby. 9 p.m., $7. And that’s all, folks.

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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. Copyright © 2010 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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