Live Review: Dead Wave, Whipkey Three; St. Vincent tonight (SOLD OUT)…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:03 pm May 14, 2012
The Whipkey Three at Stir at Harrah's, May 12, 2012.

The Whipkey Three at Stir at Harrah's, May 12, 2012.

by Tim McMahan,

I’m looking over my notes from Friday night’s debut performance by Cooper Moon’s new band, Dark Wave, a band we’ve all heard about for months. Well, the build-up worked, as the Barley Street was respectfully packed with curious music lovers wondering what exactly Cooper and this other band, that includes Tom Barrett (also in DM), Chad Gregerson and Mike Ivers, have been up to.

The answers (for me, anyway) and general impressions were typed into my iPhone in the following order:

Deep, dark well.
Cooper strangling the mic.
Barrett’s keyboard = dark electronic.
First song pure Joy Division.
Bauhaus dance party.
S&M bondage club. Should be played in a black hole bar.
Kill the Christmas lights, kill all the lights.
Goth played by bikers. Biker goth.

Dead Wave at The Barley Street Tavern, 5/11/12.

Dead Wave at The Barley Street Tavern, 5/11/12.

Any time a new band hits the stage, the first thing anyone does is draw the inevitable comparisons. Mine included Joy Division, Bauhaus, Peter Murphy, The Chameleons and The Church, and on the opening song, Joy Division. I’m not sure why Barrett referenced The Jesus Lizard the other night. After the brief six-song set, one well-schooled local musician/music fan compared them to early Christian Death, which may be too poppy for this rather dark dance stew. That same person pointed out that the one cover song played during the set was a very obscure Echo and the Bunnymen song that Cooper told him had only been played once by John Peel and was never captured on a “session,” but rather was a bootleg recording that Cooper, an avid Bunnymen fan, just happens to have.

That’s enough background to give you an idea where this band is coming from. Other than the post-punk, goth metal inflections, the highlights were Barrett’s keyboard textures and Cooper’s vocals, which were more “musical” than his Dim Light vocals — more range and more sustained moments. Cooper cannot merely bark the lines with this stuff, he has to use his voice to provide another texture layer, and a rather course texture at that. It’s taken almost a year to get them to play one six-song set, which concerns me as other bands in similar situations disappeared after one show. Let’s hope that isn’t the case with Dead Wave.

* * *

As Matt Whipkey said from the Stir “Live and Loud” stage Saturday night, I guess all the press worked, as the club was full during the opening of his two 45-minute sets, when he played many of the songs off his new LP, Two Truths, including personal favorite, “Maria.”

It was your typical Whipkey show, as Omaha’s best haircut made all the right moves to get his crowd of loyal followers (as well as a handful of hardcore gamblers) eating out of the palm of his hand.  In that context, he’s something of a throwback to a simpler time, before the advent of slumped-shouldered, indifferent indie hip-stars who go out of their way to ignore the audience with dollops of you’re-lucky-we’re-even-performing contempt. Whipkey, on the other hand, is the ultimate stage performer, not satisfied if even one crowd member isn’t “into it,” whether it’s on Stir’s tiny lounge stage or at Stir’s mammoth Concert Cove amphitheater. Whipkey was born for an arena, whether he ever makes it there or not.

* * *

Tonight will be the fourth time that I’ve seen St. Vincent. The first time was at The Waiting Room in July 2007, where I said Annie Clark was going “to be bigger than PJ Harvey. Maybe bigger.” Two months later she played a solo set opening for The National on Slowdown’s big stage. The last time was almost two years ago on June 3, 2009, when Clark and her band played at Slowdown Jr. It was fantastic.

Tonight we get her again on the Slowdown big stage, this time with her band. No tix? That’s a shame, because tonight’s show is sold out. Opening is the amazing Shearwater, who has recorded for Misra, Matador and with their latest, Animal Joy (2011), Sub Pop. The fun starts at 9.

* * *

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 © 2012 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

1 Comment

  • Just wanted to say that we (Dead Wave) have only been rehearsing for about 2 months. A year ago, I approached Tom about doing a dark wave, goth, dance type band and Tom wanted to start a Joy Division tribute band. We finally decided to play original music (much to my satisfaction, for I have never ever been in only a cover band!)and began rehearsing. There may have been some sort of talk for a year, but in reality because of one thing or another and everyone’s schedules we finally got this project off the ground. I am extremely excited about it and we should be around for quite a while, for we have some big plans!!

    Michael Ivers

    Comment by Michael Ivers — May 14, 2012 @ 2:49 pm

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