Live Review: Arbor Labor Union, Was; Purity Ring, Bud Bronson and the Good Timers tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 12:44 pm May 31, 2016
Arbor Labor Union at Milk Run May 28, 2016.

Arbor Labor Union at Milk Run May 28, 2016.

by Tim McMahan,

You’ve read about those shows where only a few people show up but the band still throws its all into the performance? Well Saturday night’s Arbor Labor Union show at The Milk Run falls into that category.

Only about 10 people were in the house when ALU took the stage and proceeded to blow the roof off Milk Run. The Georgia-based four piece that records on Sub Pop plays a hypnotic style of rock that’s based around a repeated riff driven over and over while various members fill in the spaces with bits of improvisation. Once they find their groove, the songs can chug along for 5, 10, 15 minutes or more, with the lead singer throwing in his howling John Lydon-style vocals on top of the grind.

Closest comparisons (to me) are Strand of Oaks (for sheer power), The Feelies (for hypnotic rhythms) and Red House Painters (for holding onto a sonic idea for as long as it takes). This band is a surprise find, a heavy-weight rock act whose new album, I Hear You, I’ve yet to grow tired of (I picked up a double-vinyl copy after their set).

Each song was at least 10 minutes long. The first song went on what seemed like twice that long, and could have gone on even longer for my taste. And despite the sparse crowd, the band seemed genuinely pleased to be there and playing. They closed out with a grinding, throbbing cover of “Born to be Wild” whose primary melody was all but unrecognizable. Amazing.

Some might say these micro-sized shows are exactly what Milk Run was designed for — a small room for small-drawing shows. No one wants to play to a dozen people in a huge empty room. That said, Arbor Labor Union’s sound was too large for such a small venue. The under-powered PA, could barely be heard over the rest of the band, which meant vocals were all but lost in the din. But that was the only disappointing thing about the performance.

Opening act Was could take some pointers from Arbor Labor Union when it comes to song length. This new band, consisting of Gordon’s Aaron Parker on guitar/vocals, drummer Jeremy Stanosheck of Relax, It’s Science fame and Ali-Jo Meyerhoff on bass/keys and vocals, reminded me at times of Galaxy 500 in style and tone (and drone). I’d have loved for a few of their songs to be extended beyond their short 3- to 5-minute length. Was only played for about 15 minutes. Hopefully the band will be growing its set — this was only their second gig.

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The big Purity Ring show is tonight at Sokol Auditorium. Expect a first-class production, based on what we saw at last year’s Maha Music Festival. Opening is Canadian pop experimentalist Lydia Ainsworth. $22, 8 p.m.

Also tonight, Denver band Bud Bronson and the Good Timers headlines at fabulous O’Leaver’s with Briner and Gerald Lee, Jr. (Filter Kings, Cactus Nerve Thang). $7, 9 p.m.

And Milk Run tonight has Lincoln’s Powerful Science along with Terror Pigeon and Curt Owen. $5, 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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