Live Review: Bloodcow, Universe Contest; Hop Along track leaked, album details (Omaha date); Helmet tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 12:49 pm March 9, 2015
Bloodcow at Reverb Lounge, March 7, 2015.

Bloodcow at Reverb Lounge, March 7, 2015.

by Tim McMahan,

Unlike the last time I saw them at The Waiting Room, no one threw empty beer cans at Universe Contest during their set Saturday night at Reverb Lounge in Benson. Did the band ask the crowd to reframe from throwing shit? Did fans naturally hold their throwing hands because they didn’t want to soil the pristine confines of the newish Reverb? I do not know.

Also absent was the band’s giant light rig. Maybe they didn’t want to hassle with putting it together or hauling it up from Lincoln. Instead, they settled for Mercy Rule-style floor floods — always a trusty standby, and hard to beat for simple drama.

And Universe Contest already has plenty of drama when it comes to their music. They still sound like early Modest Mouse, driven in part by the lead guy’s spot-on Isaac Brock screech / yell and their own halting, angular, arty wallop. I don’t remember them having a violin player. Regardless, you couldn’t hear her during the set as she was drowned out by the rest of the band. Maybe it’s the Reverb’s small space, but there wasn’t much sonic separation between instruments, and as a result, it sounded like a bassy mish-mash.

Especially during Bloodcow’s set. I tried recording it for the podcast — no dice. The volume was too high (and I had my microphone set wrong) so the entire set was clipped. Bloodcow brings the low end. They also bring the rock. I would classify this as heavy metal more than metal — I divide the two based on guitar solos. I grew up on metal music where every song included a high, whining, blazingly fast guitar solo.

Bloodcow songs are more about riffage and rapid-fire lyrics about sex, booze, drugs, all the things that make up rock ‘n’ roll. There was nary a high-flying guitar solo during the first three songs, and only a few sprinkled throughout the set, usually buried in the plodding mix.  I’ve heard their upcoming release — Crystals and Lasers — and can attest to its blazing glory. The album is a better showcase than what we heard Saturday night, though the show was still plenty fun.

By the way, that new record is still at the pressing plant. The band had CDs on hand Saturday night but no vinyl, which is part of the reason why the show wasn’t their official album release show. Nor is next Saturday night’s opening slot at The Slowdown for The Killigans. We might have to wait until April for that extravaganza…

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Saddle Creek’s latest and greatest signing, Hop Along, leaked the first track off the band’s Creek label debut, Painted Shut, titled “Waitress.” The album was recorded with producer John Agnello (Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr., Kurt Vile). Check out the track below and pre-order the album here at the Saddle Creek online store. The album hits store shelves May 5.

And (best of all) Hop Along is now scheduled to play at Slowdown June 4.

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Tonight at The Waiting Room it’s brittle ’90s post-punk band Helmet on their Betty 20th Anniversary tour. Betty was released on June 21, 1994, and peaked at number 45 on the Billboard 200 album chart, making it Helmet’s highest ranking album. The band will perform the seminal album from start to finish tonight. There are no openers listed. $20, 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 © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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