Live Review: Criteria; Mere Shadows, Stigmata Martyr; the week ahead…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 2:29 pm November 29, 2021
Criteria at The Waiting Room, Nov. 27, 2021.

by Tim McMahan,

It was a comfortable crowd at Saturday night’s Criteria “holiday” show. I was expecting a sell out crush when I arrived at 10 right in time for their set, but was surprised at the draw, which was probably around 200, maybe half-full. 

On stage, the ageless Stephen Pedersen and his crew belted through the usual set of favorites from the band’s Saddle Creek years and beyond, with the same vigor as when I saw them two years ago at the same club — or for that matter, 10 years ago at that same club. Pedersen, a consummate showman, continues to hit those epic high notes, but will only find them harder to climb as time marches on, unless he’s afflicted with the same age-defying genetics as world’s sexiest man Paul Rudd… a possibility, though I’m no scientist. 

It is these show that keep our scene alive, like a continuous thread that runs through the years. For the most part, the faces in the crowd remain the same, though they’re a bit more haggard. A few new, younger ones were also mixed in, no doubt the progeny of those who came before. I almost missed this show myself, having received a Moderna booster earlier in the day and only just beginning to feel its effects that night. I’m happy I made it.

Mere Shadows at Reverb Lounge, Nov. 24, 2021.

It was a long holiday weekend that began with seeing Mere Shadows and Stigmata Martyr at Reverb Lounge Wednesday night. Mere Shadows provided surprisingly awesome grinding punk rock played with a speed and intensity perfect for breakneck, angry late-night driving on Dodge Street. Big quick riffs and tight rhythms were the fuel. My only critique involves the lack of variety — either change it up or keep the sets short.

Stigmata Martyr was a four-piece Bauhaus tribute band anchored by Randy Cotton and Mike Saklar, former members of ’90s legendary Omaha punk bands Ravine and Ritual Device, and always a pleasure to see and hear live. In the Peter Murphy role was Benn Sieff of Bennie and the Gents fame sounding spot on — you could do no better. But in truth I was there to see the Cotton/Saklar combo, as I’ve never been a big Bauhaus fan. I stuck around for the obvious climax, which was, of course, their rendition of “Bela Lugosi’s Dead.” Very nice.

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So, if you didn’t get out this weekend to see some live stuff, you may be out of luck. A quick glance at the 1% and Slowdown calendars shows the weeks ahead are rather lacking. In fact, I don’t see anything of interest indie-wise until See Through Dresses returns to Reverb Dec. 19.

Ah, but little bird tells me December could see the return of something we’ve all been waiting for. Stay tuned…

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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 © 2021 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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