Live Review: Whipkey, Wild Powwers, Bien Fang; Basia Bulat tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , , — @ 1:43 pm March 7, 2016
Wild Powwers at O'Leaver's, March 4, 2016.

Wild Powwers at O’Leaver’s, March 4, 2016.

by Tim McMahan,

A look back at the weekend, or Friday night to be more precise.

Matt Whipkey performed in one of his most high-profile gigs in Omaha at 1200 Club Friday night. Backed by guitar, drums, bass and keyboards, Whipkey was center stage under the white-hot lights giving his all to a mostly full house. Ironically, even though there were a few hundred people collected around tables in the crowded room, it was likely one of the smaller crowds he’s played to recently, thanks to becoming one of Dwight Yoakam’s standard opening acts.

Matt Whipkey at 1200 Club, March 4, 2016.

Matt Whipkey at 1200 Club, March 4, 2016.

That road work has left Whipkey and his band water-tight as they played his double-LP Penny Park in sequence (even announcing the end of each side throughout the set). You might think it was strange he was playing an album that came out in 2013 rather than his most recent material except that Whipkey undoubtedly looked at this performance as a career high water mark and wanted to make it something special. Penny Park is probably his most thought-out release to date, something he may never duplicate. Might as well give it the staging it deserves.

I stuck around for two sides of Penny Park before heading cross town to O’Leaver’s. On stage when I arrived was Low Long Signal, a proggy, mathy four-piece instrumental rock band that ripped though a set of high-energy compositions rife with intricate rhythms. Just when you got inside one of their fast, tight grooves they’d throw a heavy riff into the mix. Very interesting and worth further investigation.

Wild Powwers were harder and faster than they sound on their most recent album — they sounded more like a punk band than a self-proclaimed grunge act. I point to the density of production on that new record for the Pacific Northwest narrative, vs. the straight-up, stripped down sound we got Friday night.

While Lara Hilgeman’s vocals and guitarwork were spot on, it was the rhythm section of while-knuckle drummer Lupe Flores and bassist Jordan (JoJo) Gomes (his bass acting more like a second guitar on most of the songs) that “powwered” the evening.

Bien Fang at O'Leaver's March 4, 2016.

Bien Fang at O’Leaver’s March 4, 2016.

Finally locals Bien Fang closed out the night. I didn’t know going in that BF is a Rachel Tomlinson Dick project (or I’d forgotten) and was pleasantly surprised to see her on stage fronting the band on heavy rock songs that bordered on punk. Two ’90s bands — Live Skull and Come — came to mind. A comrade who watched the night’s festivities said Wild Powwers had a riot grrrl flair to their set; I’d say that tag more appropriately belonged to Bien Fang.

A great night of music.

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Very quickly: Tonight at The Waiting Room it’s the Omaha return of Basia Bulat. From the press release: “Her new album Good Advice is out now to rave reviews—the LA Times callis it ‘an irresistible blend of lush pop and effervescent R&B…undeniable’ while Paste says it’s ‘playful to the point of pure effusiveness, each [song] swathed with catchy choruses and brisk, bubbly refrains.'” I haven’t heard it yet. No doubt you will tonight. The Weather Station opens. $13, 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 © 2016 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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