Live Review: Criteria, Little Brazil; Twinsmith, Bug Heaven tonight; Las Cruxes Saturday…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , , , — @ 11:33 am November 25, 2022
Criteria at The Waiting Room, Nov. 23, 2022.

by Tim McMahan,

Very much like every other year was last Wednesday’s holiday concert at The Waiting Room, the eighth such event (according to Criteria frontman Stephen Pedersen, who celebrated this winning streak from stage). Lots of old, familiar faces were on hand to wish glad tidings as well as they could through the 100+ dB din (even between bands, it was loud).

Uh Oh at The Waiting Room, Nov. 23, 2022.

Uh Oh kicked it off with a solid set and what appeared to be the evening’s largest crowd (a crowd that slowly, slightly waned throughout the night). The more I hear Joe Champion live the more I’m reminded of Tim Quirk of Too Much Joy, thought Uh Oh’s music is played straightforward lyrically vs. TMJ’s snarky humor, and that’s OK. While the entire band is solid, lead guitarist Mari Crisler is a standout on solos that leave the histrionics for the fretboard (which is a nice way of saying the band doth not emote much on stage, but few indie bands do).

Landon Hedges, left, and Danny Maxwell of Little Brazil at The Waiting Room Nov. 23, 2022.

Little Brazil followed with their best performance in recent history driven by frontman Landon Hedges. Always solid instrumentally, for me LB shows depend on how well Landon handles those high notes. Get him on a bad night and your best best is to lean back and enjoy guitarist Shawn Cox’s amazing fretwork. Get Landon on a good night (or in this case, a great night) and you’re flying above the crowd alongside him on that vocal tight rope.

LB has been kicking it for decades but their latest album, Just Leave, is a career highlight thanks to risk taking on song structures and the guitar interplay between Cox, Hedges and the rest of the band, held down firmly by a rhythm section of LB co-originator Danny Maxwell on bass and larger-than-life drummer Austin Elsberry. That said, Hedges’ unique, high vocals make LB a standout in a city full of standouts.

There were times Wednesday night when I cringed waiting to hear if Landon was going to make that note. He almost always did, though a couple times he seemed to forget the words at the beginning of songs. No matter. He always caught up in the end.

Finally there was Criteria. What to say that I haven’t already said the last seven times I’ve seen them play this holiday show or all the other times in between? The band continues to wield the ridiculous guitar-fueled power that made them an indie-music staple in the emo-powered aughts when Omaha was a global music brand. I am here to report that frontman Pedersen can still shred the high notes as well on songs that are nothing less than endurance tests for any vocalist over the age of 30 (which he most definitely is).

The band is sheer power at every position, tight as a tick and tour ready as they’ve ever been, though they’re unlikely to play again until next November. No doubt some of the reasons for that involve the three little boys who ran around stage prior to the set — Pedersen’s personal roadies (the youngest of which wore sound-dampening headphones and ran wild in the crowd during the set). In just a few years maybe they’ll be opening for dad’s band, at a show held sometime around Thanksgiving at The Waiting Room…

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The holidays cavalcade of local shows rolls on this weekend.

Tonight at Reverb Lounge, Saddle Creek Records band Twinsmith headlines with up and comer Bug Heaven who I’m told is a must see (though I somehow keep missing them). This one starts at 9 p.m. and is $12.

Also tonight, singer/songwriters Stathi and Mitch Gettman are playing sets at The B. Bar, 4330 Leavenworth (right next to Barrett’s Barleycorn). Mitch goes on at 8, Stathi at 9 and then headliner, Sweetstreak, who describe themselves as East Omaha garage Rock, at 10. No price listed for this one, so you’re on your own.

Tomorrow night (Saturday) our old friends Las Cruxes headlines a free show at fabulous O’Leaver’s. Joining them are (kind of) new band The Rare Candies (Josh Medlock, Mitch Gettman, Ryan Menchaca and a fourth dude who’s probably pissed because he’s not listed anywhere on the band’s websites) and Kelroy. Just like the old days, this one doesn’t start until 9:30.

Also Saturday night, The Waiting Room is hosting a reunion of Omaha ska band Jimmy Skaffa. Joining them is Stick Figures and Plastic Presidents. $15, 8 p.m. Lotta people will be at this one (including on stage, if I remember this bands properly).

And that’s all I got. If I missed your show, put it in the comments section. Have a great weekend.

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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 © 2022 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

1 Comment

  • David nance and mowed sound, Syko friend, paid to smile, ol mo and varmints at the Sydney on Saturday

    Comment by P — November 25, 2022 @ 11:53 pm

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