Live Review: Pro-Magnum, Digital Leather; The Spits tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 1:18 pm March 11, 2013
Pro-Magnum at O'Leaver's, March 9, 2013.

Pro-Magnum at O’Leaver’s, March 9, 2013.

by Tim McMahan,

The bulk of my evenings this weekend were spent at O’Leaver’s.

Friday night was Digital Leather and a crowd bigger than the one that showed at O’Leaver’s for Criteria the prior weekend, or so it seemed. A real crush-mob. I guess word is getting out about Todd Fink of The Faint joining the band. Or maybe folks are just beginning to “get” what Digital Leather is all about.

Needless to say, the crowd was too big to get close enough for a photo. No matter. You’ve seen these guys before, but you probably haven’t heard them quite like this. The weird, dark, sweaty nature of the evening helped it eclipse the new lineup’s debut a few weeks ago opening for Ty Segall at Sokol Underground. But then again, DL always plays better at O’Leaver’s, where they’re surrounded by friends and booze confessors.

While I have five or six DL albums and tapes, I’m not an expert on the band’s complete discography. That said, I’d never heard the second song played during their set, one in which Fink and frontman Shawn Foree traded vocals. I’m told that they’re writing new material, but I have no idea what role Fink is playing in it. As I’ve said before, Fink adds the synth element that’s been missing in Digital Leather for years, even stretching back to when Foree and others played keys on stage but were barely heard. There’s no missing Fink in the mix. Intense fun. As was the pseudo-encore of “Studs in Love” which is once again becoming a staple in the band’s set (as it should). If you missed it, DL’s next stop is opening for White Lung April 2 at The Slowdown.

Speaking of openers, I got to the club early enough Friday night to catch the last half of Plack Blague’s twisted, bass-heavy, goth-techno-bondage set. The bass was so loud it caused ripples in people’s voices when they spoke. Creepy weird.

So for the past two week’s I’ve gone to the new, improved O’Leaver’s where I saw bigger crowds than I’ve ever seen at this hole-in-the-wall music venue. I’m more used to seeing a casual 40 or 50 people leaning on the railing watching the show, and that’s exactly what I got Saturday night for the debut of Pro-Magnum (They spell their name with all caps, but I’m not doing it. Sorry guys. Just like I won’t add an exclamation point to a band’s name (Snake Island, Thunder Power, take note).

Consisting of Pat Oakes, Paul Hansen and frontman/bassist Johnny Vredenburg, the power trio sounds like they’ve been spending their off hours listening to ’80s metal and prog rock. Heavy, heavy shit with strong riffs on anthems that are more punk than metal and are anything but run-of-the-mill. Halfway through the second song, Vredenburg broke into a super-intricate bass riff that was proggy and powerful and very cool. His vocals are mainly of the shriek/scream variety, but what else would you want from power/metal/rock? For a debut, pretty awesome; they definitely left the crowd wanting more.

As for the rest of Saturday night, touring band Buildings played the kind of driving, dark music you’d expect to hear while beating someone to death with a ball-peen hammer. Closing band, the charmingly named Flesh Eating Disease, played one- to two-minute noise explosions keyed with hyper-active yell vocals, the kind of thing you can imagine being played to break down Gitmo prisoners just before the water-boarding begins.

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Tonight at Slowdown Jr. it’s Seattle mutant garage band The Spits on what I’m told could be their last tour ever. Opening is Coaxed and The Dad. $12, 9 p.m.

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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 © 2013 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


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