Live Review: Blanky, Virga, The Dirts and Garst…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 8:32 am April 4, 2024

Blanky at Reverb Lounge, April 3, 2024.

by Tim McMahan,

The Dirts have been playing out for at least a couple years and I still don’t know who’s in this band. Other than an Instagram page, there virtually was nothing I could find out about this intense 5-piece act that consists of four women and one of the guys who also plays in Garst (who we’ll get to later).

Last night’s set at Reverb Lounge was the second time round seeing them and they’re becoming one of my favorite new Nebraska bands thanks to their dense, atmospheric style of shoegaze. In addition to singing well (his voice kind of reminded me of the guy in Pardoner), he did a nice job balancing songs with his relaxed guitar solos. The band’s two women vocalists could barely be heard above the roar, though what I could hear sounded good. Their lack of presence in the mix was likely more due to the fact they didn’t appear to be singing very loudly or very close to their microphones. 

To my knowledge, there are no recordings of The Dirts on the internet or streaming services, and since I don’t know who’s in the band, I don’t know who to ask. I guess I could have asked one of them while I was in the club, but I’ve startled more than my share of young musicians over the years (it’s the cop thing) and was in no mood to do so last night. Short set! Done by 8:30.

Virga at Reverb Lounge, April 3, 2024.

Maybe the women of The Dirts could take a clue from Faith Maddox of Virga, who played next. Fronting a fourpiece with guitar in hand, Maddox’s gorgeous, lonesome voice was a perfect match for Virga’s two chord verses, minor-key, heavy, and at times dirgy downer rock that had a way of exploding before the end of each song. Later, Virga rolled out a few very ’90s-style post-grunge songs reminscent of Lawrence bands from back in the day. 

Maddox said last night was the first stop on their tour, which will take them to Chicago tonight, and was very appreciative of the crowd response. The band closed out with another uptempo number but then, in the end, reverted back to its downer-core as if to say “This is who we really are.” 

As they cleared their gear from the stage, I thought, “For the love of god, please let Blanky play next.” I didn’t want them to get Omaha’d by Garst. 

Thankfully, Blanky did go on next. The trio played in a more upbeat style than what’s heard on their Blood Harmony album, and likely is a sign of where their sound is headed. Frontman Anthony Cunard was the showpiece, a fantastic guitarist who played in an echoing, slow-pulse surf style a la early Pixies or Breeders and sometimes sounded like Jon Spencer on Valium. They had an intensely cool sound and Cunard’s solos were eye-popping. . 

Then came Garst a little after 10:30. These guys are, indeed, ferociously good at what they do, which is play ’80s-style riff rock at a breakneck pace. All four dudes are super talented and mega-tight shredding fast, intricate riffs like a ’70s prog band with fun-loving ’80s hair metal charm. The frontman/guitarist began the set sporting a sort of affected growl that thankfully faded halfway through. I recognized Cat Piss/Pagan Athletes drummer Nate Wolf behind the drum kit, who I assumed was a new addition as the frontman went out of his way to introduce him early in the set. Wolf is one of the city’s brightest new talents. 

While not a style of music I listen to often anymore (Hey, I grew up on bands like Fastway and Van Halen) these guys were impressive, jumping from one riff-fueled groove to another. You could argue Garst was an odd way to end a night of touring indie rock bands (and one great local shoegaze opener), but they also helped bring a crowd. Garst’s fans – many of them young ladies — patiently waited in the back during the early sets, but once their dudes came on stage were went right up front dancing. 

Funniest moment of the Garst set was between songs when the frontman said (and I’m paraphrasing): “There’s a lot of slow core coming out of Lawrence these days. I’ve got a question: Are you guys OK?

To which one of the Blanky guys sitting next to me at the bar responded by yelling, “No, we’re not.”

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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 © 2024 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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