Yelp’s confederacy of dunces, and why it’s Omaha’s last critical frontier (in the column); Shins, Against Me! tonight…

Category: Blog,Column — Tags: , — @ 12:53 pm May 31, 2012

by Tim McMahan,

lot 2 logo

A non-musical tangent: This week’s column in The Reader is about Yelp. You can read it online right here. (BTW, it looks like Over the Edge has stuck as the column name.)

A brief addendum to the column: Within 24 hours of posting my review of Lot 2 in Yelp, I received an email from the restaurant’s owner/operator, Brad Marr, thanking me for the criticism and wishing I had talked to him personally so he could address the issues. Marr said they’ve taken measures to address problems with heat and noise (though beyond stapling carpet remnants on the ceiling, I’m not sure what they could do). After asking that I come back and try Lot 2 again, Marr added that he took offense at my description of our server as being “elfin,” which he called “offensive.” I guess in Marr’s world elfin means “trollish” or “ogre-like.” I’ve always considered “elfin” a term of endearment for people who are strangely, unworldly attractive. I guess Marr was thinking of the Keebler type of elf rather than the Elrond/Arwen type as seen in The Lord of the Rings films. Regardless, I struck “elfin” from the write-up. These days any physical description of anyone is considered unacceptable, at least in more sophisticated circles than I travel in. You can read the Lot 2 review here.

Marr’s almost immediate reaction to the review sort of proves the strange power and reach of Yelp, and how much restaurants pay attention to it. On the other hand, it may also reflect the almost total lack of critical discussion outside the social media arena. That said, there are 19 reviews of Lot 2 in Yelp, and almost all of them give the restaurant a rating of 4-stars or higher, which would seem to indicate that my 2-star experience was unique. Everyone in Benson wants Lot 2 to succeed (including me), and what better way to help them along than by writing a 5-star review…?

There’s nothing quite like Yelp in the local music world — a place where fans can throw bouquets or turds at bands and their music. The closest thing we have is, but no one takes it seriously, as almost all of the comments on SLAM are anonymous, and as a result, useless.

Speaking of anonymous comments, yesterday’s blog post attracted a couple real doozies, which you won’t be reading on my website. While I do allow anonymous comments on my blog, I don’t if they include personal attacks or make direct accusations. Anonymous criticism is okay, but it’s spineless to call someone a name or accuse them of something without putting your own name behind the comment.

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Tickets are still available for tonight’s Shins show at Stir Concert Cove at Harrah’s in Council Bluffs. Opening is The Antlers and Blind Pilot. Tix are $35, and the show begins at 7.

Also tonight, it’s the return of Against Me! at The Slowdown with The Icarus Line and Sky Road Fly. Against Me’s front person, Tom Gabel, performed for the first time as Laura Jane Grace this past weekend in San Diego. Read the Rolling Stone review of the show here. From the write-up: “I was worried that some people expected me to come out looking like Little Bo Peep or something,” Grace said after the show while hanging out at the merch table with her wife, Heather. Talk about courage. $15, early 8 p.m. start time.

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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 © 2012 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


  • I talked to a woman (who is the sweetest person) who had a really negative experience at the bar there this past weekend. She said the initial experience at the door was very good, but the bartender was really rude. I think they would agree with your rating. I want Lot 2 to do well, too. I want a lot of restaurants in this town to do well, but we’ve all got things to work on.

    Comment by Annie — May 31, 2012 @ 1:52 pm

  • Tim, your tendency to write out the critical reviews and just think about the good reviews in no way resembles your music review policy to me, at least. I wish you wrote more about the records/performances that suck. You’re still very cool, though.

    Comment by Collin M. — May 31, 2012 @ 5:56 pm

  • Tim,
    you were right on with your description, I think Lot 2 has a few bugs to work out. We had dinner at Lot 2 with friends and experienced very similar experiences. We will give it 6 months and give it another try.

    Comment by kirk — May 31, 2012 @ 7:04 pm

  • if an anonymous review has insightful or speculative content it should be considered. who cares about who signed it. like you can verify an internet signature?

    Comment by bone head — May 31, 2012 @ 7:13 pm

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