Live Review: Beth Israel, Working Man, Mini-Maha; Holiday Mountain, Echo Beds tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:50 pm June 1, 2015
Beth Israel at The Sweatshop Gallery, May 29, 2015.

Beth Israel at The Sweatshop Gallery, May 29, 2015.

by Tim McMahan,

Friday night’s crowd at the Beth Israel show at Sweatshop Gallery was the largest I’ve seen in the tiny artspace/garage/performance area. As per usual, as many people were outside enjoying the evening as inside enjoying the music. Sweatshop’s back parking lot felt like an old-school outdoor party. The only thing missing was a bonfire and a keg.

Working Man at Sweatshop Gallery, May 29, 2015.

Working Man at Sweatshop Gallery, May 29, 2015.

I caught the last two numbers by Working Man, the noise/jazz/experimental trio anchored by Dereck Higgins on bass and featuring John Evans on drums and Luke Polipnick on guitar. Evans, a 19-year-old from Jamaica, is a percussion major at UNO. Their music reminded me of free jazz with its unbridled improvisation reigned in only by each song’s dynamic ebb and flow. Trippy stuff that bent the edges of structured music.

Then came Beth Israel, an Austin trio whose sound falls somewhere between slacker indie and garage, heavy on rhythms and barebones riffs. The band played an intense, if not short, set that included songs from their Dull Tools debut. Not bad, though I had a hard time getting a handle on their songs whilst pressed into a wee corner of the room.

BTW, Sweatshop is an art space that holds live performances. It’s not a bar and, as such, doesn’t sell beer. The trick to going to shows there (and drinking) is to bring your own. I brought along a couple cans and noticed unmanned six-packs lying about along the ledges. It’s fun, though it felt strange walking around the streets of Benson with a couple beers stashed away in the pockets of my hoodie. It felt like old times…

Saturday night was Mini-Maha at River’s Edge park. Here’s another trick to keep in mind…

We figured we’d do the “smart” thing and park somewhere along the Nebraska side of the river and simply walk over the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge to the park. Bad idea. Traffic was snarled for a half-mile in every direction of the bridge and the Century Link Center parking lots. Remember, Taste of Omaha also was going on at the same time. Nightmare.

Before giving up, I decided to drive over the river and took Exit 0 to the Council Bluffs side where I found plenty of parking just a few hundred yards from the park. Lesson learned.

There were two stages set up Saturday night – a small stage which (I guess) was for Taste of Omaha and featured a band belting out Journey and Boston covers, and a larger Mini-Maha stage. Though they were fairly close together, surprisingly they didn’t “compete” with each other, unless you stepped into the sonic vortex between stages.

Let me take a moment to tell you how much I detest Taste of Omaha. The “food festival” is a con job that sells food-truck quality fare at airport restaurant prices. Payment is handled via tickets, and ultimately is a rip-off when you realize you’re paying $8 for a small plate of cold nachos. No matter what combination you come up with, you’re going to wind up at the end of the evening with a handful of unusable tickets — enough to buy a bag of chips but not enough for a beer. Bad food at bad prices, and yet, huge crowds.

The Dodos at Mini-Maha at River's Edge Park, May 30, 2015.

The Dodos at Mini-Maha at River’s Edge Park, May 30, 2015.

We stuck around only for The Dodos, an indie-rock drums-and-guitar duo who records for Frenchkiss and Polyvinyl, among others. Their style is sort of Panda Bear meets Vetiver, and is generally well done though none of their songs were terribly memorable. It wasn’t a huge crowd, but I have a feeling a lot more people showed up later on for Ben Kweller, who has a sizable following ’round these parts. After the sun dropped below the Omaha skyline the winds picked up, and it got colder — my signal to head back to The Good Life side of the river.

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Look for a feature/interview with yours truly, written by the esteemed Jon Taylor of Domestica, dropping sometime today at  Find out once and for all why I got into this whole, crazy writing business…

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Tonight, Austin-based electronic trio Holiday Mountain headlines at Slowdown Jr. The band compares itself to MIA, Santigold, DEVO, Little Dragon and The Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Opening is the electronic edge of local hero Stephen Nichols. $8, 9 p.m.

Also tonight, Denver experimental industrial noise trio Echo Beds headlines at fabulous O’Leaver’s. They compare themselves to ’70s-era Suicide. Opening is Minneapolis band Weak Wick, Violator X and Ruby Block. $5, 9:30 p.m.

And lest we forget, the Big 50 concert at Reverb is just two days away!

The 50th Birthday Concert at Reverb, June 3, 2015. A benefit for Hear Nebraska.

The 50th Birthday Concert at Reverb, June 3, 2015. A benefit for Hear Nebraska.

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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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