Column 314: Examining the scuttlebutt behind Red Sky’s imaginary line-up; O’Filter Kings, O’Bloodcow tonight…

Category: Blog,Column — Tags: — @ 12:32 pm March 17, 2011

Column 314: Red Sky Mining

Who will play at Omaha’s largest music festival?

by Tim McMahan,

Speculation is always a dangerous proposition. It can be construed as rumor mongering, which to be honest, I’ve never shied away from (as long as there was some substance to the rumors, of course). But when it comes to Omaha’s first annual Red Sky Music Festival, speculation is all we have, for now.

The event, slated to take place July 19-24 at the brand-spanking new Ameritrade Park, has been shrouded in secrecy. Speculation is beginning to bubble up on who will play the event, which is being organized by the star chamber known as the Metropolitan Entertainment & Convention Authority, or MECA (or Mecca, as I like to refer to them) and national promotion giant Live Nation. MECA already should have announced the festival’s line-up weeks ago, but here we are, still staring at our watches, tapping our feet.

I have no contacts at MECA. In fact, the Red Sky Festival couldn’t be more outside my wheelhouse as I’m not interested in the brightly colored homogenized pop cheese consumed by The Great Wad, which is bound to be a staple for this event. That said, among the programming rumors for Red Sky is this idea that each day of the festival will focus on one central genre. One day/night would be dedicated exclusively to country music, another would be dedicated to pop, another for dinosaur acts, and one would be dedicated to “alternative rock.” How exactly MECA and Live Nation define “alternative rock,” I do not know, though I suspect they will lean more toward how commercial radio defines it, which means goon-rock outfits heard on 89.7 The River. It’s unlikely to mean the style of indie bands that you and I know and love.

And then there’s the rumor that Red Sky will offer three tiers of musical acts: Huge main stage national bands would play inside the stadium; a second tier of bands that consist mostly of “casino acts” (REO Speedwagon, BOC, that sort thing) would play stages set up outside the stadium, and a third level of club acts and local bands would play on small stages in the parking lots. Perhaps you’ll be able to buy tickets for each individual level, or for one huge price, an all-access laminate for all three. If they follow that model, we could see quality indie bands booked for those second-tier stages.

Anyway, it’s all speculation. And what makes this column all the more risky is that Red Sky could announce its entire line-up the day this goes to press. So at the risk of looking like an ass (again) here are some of the names that I’ve heard kicked around that could be among the 50-odd bands performing at Red Sky:

U2 — This would be quite a coup for the festival’s inaugural year, but looking at U2’s current tour schedule, the band already is slated to play in New Jersey on July 20 and then Minneapolis on July 23. Yeah, that does leave July 21 and 22 open, but U2’s stage is rather massive and takes days to set up, move and tear down. It doesn’t seem likely that they’d be able to sneak in an Omaha date, unless… as a favor to Susie Buffett (who reportedly is a close friend of Bono’s), U2 flew into Omaha and left its massive stage in Minnesota. Maybe, maybe…

Journey — This sounds more like a second-tier stage event, especially considering that Journey no longer is the band most of us know after Steve Perry hung up his microphone years ago. Journey will be touring with Foreigner and Night Ranger in mid July.

Black Eyed Peas — The only other BEP gig scheduled even close to the Red Sky date is the Wireless Festival at Hyde Park in London July 1. I can’t think of a more banal, unoriginal act, but somebody loves them (judging by the Superbowl).

Jamie Johnson — A couple people have mentioned this cowboy. I had to look him up in Wikipedia, which says the “American country artist” had a top-10 hit called “In Color” and has co-written material with Trace Adkins and George Strait, among others. He’s listed as a supporting act for Kid Rock’s 2011 Born Free Tour, which brings us to…

Kid Rock — He’s just the kind of white-trash superstar that your typical Husker-lovin’, pick-up drivin’, Larry-the-Cable-Guy quotin’ stooge would love to see. And he has July 19-21 wide open on his tour schedule.

311 — You can pretty much pencil this one in as a done deal. And if this is what MECA considers “alternative,” well, the MAHA Music Festival folks have nothing to worry about.

Jimmy Buffett — Back when Red Sky was first announced, MECA’s Roger Dixon was quoted by KETV Channel 7 saying Buffett “is probably the No. 1 requested artist to have.” I can’t think of a more vile act other than, well, Kid Rock. Unfortunately for Dixon, Buffett got lost in Margaritaville and fell off the stage at Hordern Pavilion in Sydney, Australia, back in January, suffering a head injury. He returns to the road in April, but already has gigs booked for July 19, 21 and 23.

Sublime with Rome — Not sure why this one has so much buzz. Sublime is indeed back on the road with a new line-up after the death of frontman Brad Nowell in ’96. Now fronted by Rome Ramirez, the band was forced to change its name due to legal pressure from the Nowell family, who owns the Sublime moniker.

Bright Eyes — Many thought they were a shoe-in for Red Sky before Bright Eyes announced its June 4 date at Westfair Amphitheater. Now it seems like a long shot, though stranger things have happened, especially when MECA-sized money is involved.

So what’s the real Red Sky line-up? Keep an eye on — a website domain owned by MECA — for the announcement. It should come any day now…

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I was pounding my thick, Celtic head trying to figure out who is the most “Irish”-sounding band in Omaha, and then I realized (duh) it’s The Filter Kings. The only band more “Irish” sounding is probably Bloodcow. And then I looked at tonight’s schedule at The Waiting Room and, lo and behold, both bands are slated to preside over the bar’s St. Patrick’s Day activities along with those fine Irishmen The Whipkey Three and The Beat Seekers. You get it all for just $7. Starts at 9.

If you’re in Lincoln, you’d be remiss in missing The Killigans on St. Patrick’s Day, they’re playing at Knickerbockers at 9 p.m.

And then there’s Lady Gaga at the Qwest….

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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 © 2011 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


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