Live Review: J Fernandez, Shy Boys; No Coast Music Festival announced (vs. Maha?); Retox tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , , — @ 1:51 pm March 2, 2015
Shy Boys at Almost Music, March 1, 2015.

Shy Boys at Almost Music, March 1, 2015.

by Tim McMahan,

My only show this weekend wasn’t a show at all. It was a pre-show. Yesterday afternoon, J Fernandez and Shy Boys did an in-store at Almost Music in Benson prior to their gig last night at O’Leaver’s.

Set up in the Solid Jackson Bookstore area, each band played a half-hour set to a handful of people. I didn’t know about the in-store until yesterday morning via an IM on Facebook. Needless to say, it could have been better promoted, but it was a last-minute thing.

Both bands played low-key sets. Since I didn’t go to O’Leaver’s last night, I don’t know if these were typical, but I can say they were rather awesome. Fernandez style is a mix of garage and art rock, think early Talking Heads soaked in swirls of reverb guitar with a less-severe vocal that was warmer and more inviting than Byrne’s bark. They were jazzier more than they were arty.

Kansas City’s Shy Boys’s garage rock was sweet, sweet, sweet; with sweet, sad-eyed vocals atop great kick-back rhythms. Gorgeous stuff. Listen for snippets of both performances in this week’s podcast Wednesday (if I can get it done).

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Speaking of Almost Music, the store took part in Saturday afternoon’s Bar Stool Record Swap at The Brother’s lounge along with four or five other vendors including Homer’s and Drastic Plastic. Music fans flipped through boxes of vinyl with one hand while drinking booze with the other — the perfect combination. I scored a sealed copy of Ritual Device’s Henge album on orange vinyl — something I thought I’d never see.

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The River, 89.7 FM, and One Percent Productions this morning announced the No Coast Festival, June 2 at Westfare Amphitheater. The line-up includes major-label pop bands Cage The Elephant, Bleachers, Joywave, Saint Motel, In The Valley Below along with Saddle Creek band Icky Blossoms, and more.

Though a “festival,” No Coast can’t be compared to the other big local rock “festival” — the Maha Music Festival. No Coast is a full two months before Maha (which takes place Aug. 15) and targets a younger alt-radio audience vs. Maha’s college-age-plus indie crowd.

But when talking about these two festivals, there is a a subtle irony that can’t be ignored. Indie bands by their very nature appeal to a smaller audience. That’s the way it’s always been. Major label acts like Cage the Elephant, Bleachers (both on RCA) and Saint Motel (Elektra), which enjoy more radio support, draw a much larger audience. As a result, you’d naturally assume No Coast — with its more popular bands — would have the higher ticket price, but in fact No Coast’s $10 ticket (which is what you’d typically pay for a mid-level show at The Waiting Room) will likely be about a quarter of the price of Maha Festival tickets.

Factor in that non-profit public radio station The River may be underwriting a lot of the No Coast Festival’s costs (which they can “write off” as a promotional expense) and that No Coast could draw substantially more people than Maha (high volume brings down prices), and you begin to understand the $10 ticket versus a $40+ ticket.

No doubt if No Coast draws an exponentially larger crowd than Maha there will be those who argue the reason is either better bands or a lower ticket price or both. But one can’t ignore the sheeple factor. There is only one radio station in the Omaha/Council Bluffs market that plays modern music, albeit shitty modern music. A lot of people grudgingly listen to The River because it’s the only alternative to the oldies/freedom rock stations that litter the FM dial. Those River listeners can expect to hear a constant barrage of advertising for No Coast Festival between now and June 2. Strike that. Public radio stations aren’t allowed to air advertising, right? So if they’re not ads, I guess you’d have to call them, what, “targeted announcements”?

Poor Maha. A true non-profit organization, can it afford the level of radio advertising that No Coast undoubtedly will get? Add to that the fact that most of Maha’s bands historically don’t get airplay in the Omaha market and it’s an uphill climb. This is what happens when you don’t have a radio station that plays College Music Journal (CMJ)-style indie music in a market the size of Omaha.

One Percent also announced this morning the Gentlemen of the Road Stopover, a 2-day festival in Waverly, Iowa, June 19 and 20 headlined by the dreadful Mumford and Sons but that also includes Jenny Lewis, My Morning Jacket, Flaming Lips and Jeff the Brotherhood among others. Still, Waverly is about 260 miles (more than 4 hours) from Omaha…

One other 1% show — Built to Spill returns to The Slowdown May 23. (I thought this one was going to be the big 10 a.m. announcement).

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Tonight at Slowdown Jr., it’s a punk featuring San Diego hardcore act Retox (Epitaph Records). The four-piece was founded by Justin Pearson and Gabe Serbian,whose tour of duties include stints in The Locust, Head Wound City, and Holy Molar. Joining them is Atlanta noise rock band Whores and Lincoln black noise band Vickers. $10, 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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