Live Review: Young Jesus, Thick Paint, Ian Sweet, Jason Steady…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:49 pm October 29, 2018

Young Jesus at O’Leaver’s, Oct. 28, 2018.

by Tim McMahan,

On the surface, Saddle Creek Records’ addition of Young Jesus to its roster would appear to be a real thinking-outside-the-box moment for a label that’s prided itself on releasing some of the best singer/songwriter indie rock over the past 20 years.

Young Jesus’ new album, The Whole Thing Is Just There, has the auspicious honor of including the longest track ever released by a Saddle Creek band, “Gulf,” a tune that clocks in at just over 20 minutes. On first blush the entire record seems experimental bordering on art project. That said, The Whole Thing… also has the honor of being the highest-rated Saddle Creek release reviewed by Pitchfork, coming in at a staggering 8.1 rating. In Pitchfork terms, that’s genius level.

The Whole Thing… is about as far away from being a pop album as anything Saddle Creek has released since Beep Beep back in the ’00s. And on first listen, it can be a challenge, but I have to admit the record goes down better after seeing these guys live last night at O’Leaver’s. Following what sounded like an improvised jazz-rock instrumental, they launched into “Green,” the opening track off their Saddle Creek rerelease S/T, which, yes, sounds like an indie rock song.

The rest of the set included songs off the new album, including standout track “Deterritory” and set closer, “Gulf,” whose center section consisted of a free jazz improvisational noise collage that bent back into the opening chords and took all of its 20-plus minutes.

After the set. the house music was tracks off the Cap’n Jazz anthology Analphabetapolothology (Jade Tree, 1998) that someone aptly pointed out was appropriate considering the similarity between the bands’ sounds. While possible free-form at its core, there’s obvious structure to Young Jesus’ songs, a method to the madness that made me rethink the album (which I listened to again on the drive home). I don’t know if it will be a big seller for Saddle Creek, but it adds credibility to their vision of releasing music not necessarily for commercial sake, but because they love it.

Thick Paint at O’Leaver’s, Oct. 28, 2018.

I caught the last half of Thick Paint’s opening set and it was the usual amazing, intricate, tuneful rock that they’ve become known for. A different player on bass (usual bassist Sarah Bohling is on the road with David Nance, I believe) didn’t throw off their game a bit. Call it indie prog. The mystery continues as to who is going to put out this band’s next album.

Ian Sweet at O’Leaver’s, Oct. 28, 2018.

Last night’s show, which was originally scheduled to start at 6, didn’t get rolling until after 7 because the bands were late getting to town. As a result, headliner Ian Sweet didn’t go on until after 10. Playing as a three-piece, the set was harder and more abrasive than what I was expecting having heard her new album — i.e., it rocked, at least for the four songs I caught before I headed home.

Hey O’Leaver’s, I love these early Sunday shows. Keep them coming!

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Jason Steady and the Soft Ponies at Burrito Envy, Oct. 26, 2018.

I think I might be the only person I know that likes the food at Burrito Envy. I had three tacos, chips and salsa and a couple fine margaritas there Friday night before I caught a set by Jason Steady and the Soft Ponies.

All the way back to the Talking Mountain days, Steady’s style has been funny, friendly, good-time jangle rock with a slightly disconcerting message just below the surface, a message that’s hard to decipher when he and his ponies — a guy on a stripped-down drum kit and a backing vocalist/percussionist — are making you bounce in your seat to their sunny, good-time music, that included a couple country-esque indie pop ditties. Fun.

Steady is a natural showman, punctuating his set with between-song banter that makes you think he’d be the perfect host for a Pee-Wee’s Playhouse-style children’s program on Nick or PBS Kids. All he needs is some puppets, and anyone who knows Steady knows that’s well within his reach. Nothing would make my Saturday mornings better…

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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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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