Titus Andronicus, Country Westerns, Simon Joyner and the Echoes tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 6:31 am March 28, 2023
Titus Andronicus at SXSW 2009. The band plays at The Slowdown tonight.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

The first time I saw Titus Andronicus live was at Habana Calle Annex 6 at the first South by Southwest Festival I ever attended way back in 2009. Of that performance, I said: “I liked their most recent album (The Airing of Grievances) enough to place it on my 2008 top-10 list — it’s rowdy and rough and young, with unbridled energy — and so was the band, bashing away on stage, the frontman sporting the new-hipster unibomber beardo look. It was loud, but forced — they never got into an angry groove or maybe it was just too early for that sort of thing.” It was a day show.

Fourteen years later, Titus Andronicus frontman Patrick Stickles still has that new-hipster unibomber beard look, but it ain’t so new anymore. I’ve seen Titus many times since that first gig, and have another chance tonight at The Slowdown. 

The band’s latest, The Will to Live, was release last year on Merge Records. It’s a departure from the Titus I remember all those years ago. On this new record, the band is “drawing on maximalist rock epics, from Who’s Next to Hysteria.” Big riffs and lots of guitar solos, it sounds like power pop from the Titan label, sort of. Actually, it reminds me of Butch Walker and The Let’s-Go-Out-Tonites, an album that came out two years before Titus Andronicus’ debut album.

At any rate, it’s change from massive, punk anthems like “Four Score and Seven” or “A More Perfect Union” from the band’s seminal 2010 album, The Monitor, which was remastered and rereleased in 2021. The band’s had a lot of personnel changes since 2008, but their latest line-up with Stickles, Liam Betson on guitar, R.J. Gordon on bass, and Chris Wilson on drums, has been the longest-running consistent lineup in their history. According to the one-sheet, The Will to Live was created in large part as an attempt to process the untimely 2021 death of Matt “Money” Miller, the band’s founding keyboardist and Stickles’ closest cousin. That’s a lot to process. Expect an epic performance because Stickles and Co. leave everything on stage every night. 

Opening band Country Westerns combines punk and classic rock and has the audacity to say their 2020 debut made Pitchfork’s list of the Top 35 rock albums of that year. But get this, the band includes Nashville underground legend Brian Kotzur. Prior to Country Westerns, Kotzur drummed for Silver Jews and Crooked Fingers and has played in bands with Duane Denison of The Jesus Lizard, and country legends Bobby Bare Jr. and Charlie Louvin. Soak it in.

You get both bands for a mere $20. Show starts at 8 p.m., in the front room. 

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Also tonight, it’s the tour kick-off for Simon Joyner and the Echoes at Grapefruit Records, 1125 Jackson St. The band released a new CD last month that features full-band reinterpretations of songs from across Simon’s catalog, including a cover of Loudon Wainwright III’s “Hospital Lady.” The Echoes are Mychal Marasco, drums; Sean Pratt on guitar, bass and keys; and Megan Siebe on strings, keys and vocals. Starts at 8 p.m., $10 suggested donation. Let’s send them off in style.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — 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 © 2023 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Outlandia Festival GA tickets cheaper than last year (sort of), camping, other pricing, Vs. Maha…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 7:34 am March 27, 2023

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Outlandia Festival tickets went on sale last Friday and though the VIP prices have gone up, General Admission tickets are actually a little less compared to last year. The reason? They’ve included your parking fee right in the ticket price. 

This year, ticket prices are $89 for a single-day pass or $169 for a 2-day pass, but both come with general admission parking. Last year tickets were $79 single day / $149 2-day, but general admission parking was $25 (or $15 if you were willing to take a shuttle to your car). So… cheaper, right?

However, Outlandia VIP tickets this year are $249 for one-day passes and $449 for two-day passes – which is a price bump compared to 2022 when VIP tickets were $199 for one-day, $340 for 2-day passes with VIP parking included. That’s a substantial increase.

Not charging for parking is obviously a good idea – not only does it seem like a better value but it’s a lot less confusing than last year, where people didn’t understand the parking situation or felt ripped when they found out that they were being gouged for parking. Odd that Outlandia hasn’t ballyhooed the free parking. 

Comparably, the price for Maha Festival tickets are $50 for Friday night, $60 for Saturday, $100 two-day; VIPS are $130 for Friday, $160 for Saturday and $240 for 2-day VIPs. Parking has always been free and abundant at Maha. That’s a price increase for Friday and 2-day tix over last year’s pricing, which were $35 for Friday night, $65 for Saturday and $85 for both days. VIP tix in 2022 were $90 Friday, $165 Saturday and $230 for two day. So, strangely, Saturday prices are cheaper this year.

Maha has already posted a “low ticket” warning, that’s because the current price point for general admission will eventually go up by $10 per ticket, and then another $10 increase day of show. VIPs are static. They used to call these Tier I tickets “early bird” pricing. Remember when they used to offer the discount before they announced the lineup?

Like I’ve always said, if you’re really into the Maha line-up, and you’ve got the bread, VIPs are really the best way to go – food, your own bar, fantastic sight lines, private bathroom, shelter from the sun – it’s worth it.

Outlandia VIP tickets are a simlar value. Conversely, if you’re going to the entire Outlandia weekend, camping would be the way to go because, once you’re there, you’re there. No parking hassles, no weird traffic hangups (though it’s not clear if you can camp overnight and leave the day following the festival).

Weekend camping passes are $100; car camping passes (which come with two camping passes) are $250 and RV camping passes are $800 (and also include two camping passes). Priced DO NOT include festival tickets. Camping is only available to festival ticket holders, and only people with camping passes can access the campsite, where you must be 21 to enter. Lots of rules for this one – beverages must be purchased from Camp Outlandia, outside food is allowed but you can’t bring it with you to the festival grounds. No grills or campfires!

So waitaminit, I can’t bring my own cooler full of booze? Then again, something tells me these campers will be imbibing in something other than booze for their good times…

I’m not a camping-type person, but I asked a friend who and he thought the RV prices were steep unless they included hookups. This being their first year for camping, I’d have offered a discount, but hey, they have their reasons, right? 

I didn’t attend Outlandia last year, but was told getting in and out was relatively painless, and you know it’ll be even smoother the second year (especially with “free” parking). 

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — 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 © 2023 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Another no-indie weekend; Mezcal Brothers tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: — @ 7:14 am March 24, 2023
The Mezcal Brothers play The B-Bar tonight.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

It’s another no-indie weekend, but don’t fret. Next week is busy thanks to The Slowdown, who has Titus Andronicus on Tuesday and Protomartyr on Wednesday. So… maybe sleep up this weekend?

The only show that moves the needle is the rockabilly sound of The Mezcal Brothers at B-Bar tonight — actually it starts this afternoon at 5 and runs until 8.  No price listed for this show and I’ve never been to B-Bar but I heard the set-up is nice. 

Saturday night cover band The Damones returns to The Waiting Room. 8 p.m. $10. 

Sunday there’s a pop-up record shop at fabulous O’Leaver’s. It’s been awhile since the club has hosted a show, but they have Scout Gillett and Anna McClellan slated for next Friday and David Nance and Mowed Sound just announced a May 6 gig. Come on, O’Leaver’s, book more shows!

That’s it folks. 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 Lazy-i.com — 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 © 2023 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


#TBT: Reliving 2015 SXSW in audio form (Speedy Ortiz, Laura Burhenn, Icky Blossoms, Natalie Prass, Courtney Barnett, The Residents, The Pop Group, more…)

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , , — @ 6:59 am March 23, 2023
White Mystery at Beerland Patio, March 18, 2015.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Flipping through Lazy-i for #ThrowbackThursday I came across this entry, published eight years ago, that compiled three days of South by Southwest 2015 reporting in three podcast episodes that captured descriptions and performances by White Mystery, Twin Shadow, Speedy Ortiz, PUJOL, Laura Burhenn, Icky Blossoms, Viet Cong, Krill, Natalie Prass, Courtney Barnett, Best Coast, LITE, Drivin’ and Cryin’, The Residents, The Pop Group and Will Butler, along with photos from each performance. 

Eight years ago I was first experimenting with podcasting, having caught the bug from listening to the Serial Podcast, and if you dig around Lazy-i you’ll find podcast episodes embedded into entries that captured local and national performances on Omaha clubs along with interviews from around Omaha. The weekly podcast, which summarized my week of Lazy-i reporting and the shows I went to that week, was fun to produce, but I did the whole damn thing by myself with semi-professional audio equipment using Garageband for editing – what a grind!

Now eight years later, it’s a running joke that everyone has their own podcast. In fact, Emmy winning series Hulu’s Only Murders in the Building is a series about a podcast. As more of my free time opens up in the coming year(s), I’d like to do another podcast, but this time with some help!

The podcast never had huge listener numbers – somewhere between 200 and 300 per episode spread out across numerous hosting platforms, including iTunes, Libsyn and Soundcloud – podcast hosting was not easy back then. Considering I was using a hand-held Zoom H2 recorder and MacBook with no sound mixing or mastering, it didn’t sound half bad, especially the live recordings. Who knows how this would have sounded had an audio engineer been involved… 

Anyway, check out the post for all the photos or just listen below:

Day 1: Performances by White Mystery, Twin Shadow, Dotan and Speedy Ortiz.

Day 2: Performances by PUJOL, Laura Burhenn (Mynabirds), Icky Blossoms, Viet Cong, Krill and Natalie Prass.

Day 3: Performances by Courtney Barnett, Best Coast, LITE, Drivin’ and Cryin’, The Pop Group and Will Butler.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — 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 © 2023 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


More Outlandia thoughts; discovering (or not discovering) new music…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:48 pm March 22, 2023
Lord Huron’s Ben Schneider.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Some meandering thoughts about Outlandia…

I just wrapped up a column for the April issue of The Reader wherein I tried to “translate” the festival’s bands into RIYL bands that someone in their 50s who has become disconnected to music might recognize. It was not easy.

As I was writing it, the Outlandia line-up was announced, and I considered including Outlandia bands in the write-up until I discovered that the headliner and a couple other prominent acts were completely unfamiliar to me. I was told by a pal at the office that Lord Huron has played in Omaha many times. Gregory Alan Isakov played The Waiting Room way back in 2011 (with Kyle Harvey opening no less), again in 2017 opening for Blind Pilot and as recently as a few weeks ago at a sold out Admiral show. Manchester Orchestra also has played Sokol Auditorium in 2009 and 2014 according to the Lazy-i Wayback Machine. So how come I’m so clueless about these three bands?

It probably has something to do with how I discover music, which is exceptionally hit and miss. Beyond listening to new bands after they’ve been scheduled to play in Omaha, I discover new indie music via Sirius XMU (which, by the way, doesn’t play anything by those three artists), as well as reading Pitchfork, Stereogum, Brooklyn Vegan and review aggregator Album of the Year, and also word of mouth via social media, where people embed YouTube videos, etc. 

Lord Huron and Isakov, moreso than Manchester, are indie folk artists. Over the past five (maybe 10 years) indie folk and indie singer/songwriter music has been dominated by women. The Maha Festival line-up is headlined by Adrianne Lenker’s Big Thief and includes women-led acts Alvvays and The Beths – three of my favorite artists in the past few years. The last male indie folk artist who caught my attention was Christian Lee Hutson, whose sound is in direct lineage with Simon and Garfunkel. If Hutson were to play a local festival, no doubt it would likely be Maha. 

I’m also of an era where record labels were everything when it came to finding new music – Matador, Sub Pop, Merge, 4AD, Jagjaguwar, Saddle Creek, Jade Tree, Carpark, Domino, Dead Ocean, Speed! Nebraska, all the way back to Mute, Factory, Rough Trade, etc – I always gave a listen to artists released on these labels, and still do. Lord Huron’s last couple albums were released on Republic, a label I’ve never followed. Isakov’s albums are released on his own Suitcase Town Music. Outlandia act Cat Power, on the other hand, was one of the early big names released on Matador Records, and as a result, I’m very familiar with Chan’s output. 

Of course Outlandia’s line-up this year goes well beyond the three acts I mentioned above, but really, other than Modest Mouse and the cadre of Saddle Creek Records legacy acts, those three are the ones who are getting the most notice and will sell the most tickets. I have to believe Horsegirl will be a complete mystery folks buying tickets to see Lord Huron, Manchester and Isakov. Horsegirl and Cat Power are my favorites from this year’s Outlandia line-up, along with the Creek bands of course (and I’d place Modest Mouse up there if they only played their early material — highly unlikely).

Yeah, I know I’m missing a lot of great music the way I do it, but don’t we all?

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — 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 © 2023 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Outlandia 2023: Lord Huron, Modest Mouse, The Faint, Cat Power, The Good Life, Horsegirl, Criteria, more…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 12:47 pm March 20, 2023
The Faint at the Maha Music Festival in 2017. The band is among the performers slated to play at this year’s Outlandia Festival.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

This morning, the folks at Outlandia announced the line-up for their August 11-12 festival at Falconwood Park in Bellevue.  Look, I knew The Faint would be playing somewhere in Omaha this year since they’re opening a couple Texas dates for Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and here we are. The Good Life, Tim Kasher’s more mellow side project, also is on the Outlandia bill, as is Criteria. The only thing missing is a Conor/Bright Eyes/Desa performance to make it a Saddle Creek Records reunion festival (and hey, who knows who might show up…). 

The full Outlandia Festival 2023 line-up:

  • Lord Huron – Their song “The Night We Met,” has 1.2 billion spins no Spotify and has been used for everything from Budweiser ads to season 1 of The Flash. Needless to say, I’m not familiar with them. 
  • Modest Mouse – They headlined Maha a few years ago and continue to be staple at festivals. They’re known for the single “Float on,” but it’s The Lonesome Crowded West that puts them on my list of faves.
  • Jimmy Eat World – Emo personified, though I like their latest release, “Place Your Debts,” which was written by Desaparecidos’ Denver Dalley and The Faint’s Clark Baechle. It’ll be like having an Emo night with real emo.  
  • Gregory Alan Isakov – Nominated for a Grammy for best Folk album, he’s another act I’m not familiar with.
  • Manchester Orchestra –  Seems like these guys have been around forever, kind of a natural for Outlandia considered they booked The National last year. From Atlanta with a new EP out on Loma Vista.
  • The Faint – Two-time Maha headliners, they always put on a great show and without a doubt will again. Their set will be what people remember from this year’s Outlandia, much in the same way Turnstile will be the festival moment for 2023 Maha. 
  • Cat Power – Legendary Matador Records singer/songwriter whose live shows are like walking on a balance beam – they’re either euphoric or a total meltdown — either way it’s entertaining. Can’t imagine her playing at a festival, especially if it’s just Chan and a guitar/piano. 
  • Horsegirl – One of my favorites from last year, would actually have been a home run booking for Maha. My guess is no one there to see Lord Huron or Manchester Orchestra will have heard of this band.
  • The Good Life – One assumes Tim Kasher didn’t want to do Cursive since they already have a May 16 gig at The Waiting Room to play Domestica in its entirety. This one was a pleasant surprise.
  • The Envy Corps – Des Moines band that plays 80/35 every year and has come through Omaha a few times.
  • Criteria – Another Saddle Creek Records entry, anyone who has seen their holiday shows at The Waiting Room know they’re really well suited to play festivals. 
  • Minne Lussa – A favorite local indie band whose pastoral style will be dreamy in a park setting.

We knew it would be hard to beat last year’s line-up that featured The National and Wilco. I wouldn’t put any of these bands in those bands’ category, though Modest Mouse is a big deal. I simply don’t know anything about Lord Huron – it’s not a band that I’ve come across over the years, and not someone played on Sirius XMU, so some research is order on my part.

No word on tickets except they go on sale this Friday and will include tent and RV camping tickets. I gotta believe camping tickets will be the first to sell out – what better way to see a festival than to park your RV and walk to the concert site?

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — 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 © 2023 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Happy SPD; The Killigans, Filter Kings Saturday; Grocer, Bad Self Portraits Sunday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 10:07 am March 17, 2023
Grocer at Reverb Lounge August 18, 2021. The band returns to Reverb Sunday night.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

First off, Happy St. Patrick’s Day. 

When Benson first began to emerge as one of city’s nightlife hubs in the late 2000s, my dream was that the district’s businesses would eventually pull together to create the ultimate St. Patrick’s Day experience, wherein those of Irish descent (and otherwise) could stumble down Maple Street throughout the day/afternoon/morning drinking Guinness and/or Irish whiskey, enjoying traditional Irish music (or otherwise) from one bar to the next. Now, 16 or so years later, the Benson District still doesn’t jointly celebrate St. Patrick’s Day — one of the best bar days of the year. Ah well…

Instead, a handful of bars throughout the city do their own thing, with The Dubliner still being the best place to celebrate this day dedicated to day drinking, Irish lore and March Madness. The only thing missing is The Turfmen. Wherever you end up (even if it’s at home) please enjoy responsibly, or whatever.

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Weekend-wise, live music resumes on Saturday where The Waiting Room gets into St. Patrick’s Day a day late with a rock show featuring Lincoln Celtic rockers The Killigans. They’re as close as you’re going to get to Flogging Molly in these parts (other than Flogging Molly, who played The Admiral a week ago). Adding to the Midwestern brogue is Des Moines’ The Vandon Arms. Joining them is the not-so-Celtic-sounding Filter Kings. Also on the bill is Aage Birch. 8 p.m., $18.

Sunday night, Philly indie band Grocer (who I wrote about here) returns to Reverb Lounge. Joining them are rising stars Bad Self Portraits, who have been playing out a ton lately – here’s your chance to see them again live in person. Estrogen Projection opens the show at 8 p.m. $10. 

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 Lazy-i.com — 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 © 2023 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Who will emerge at SXSW? Thick Paint, Summer Like the Season tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 7:34 am March 16, 2023
Thick Paint at Reverb, March 16, 2022. They return tonight.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

I used to love love love going to South By Southwest, if not for a chance to see both emerging and classic indie bands than as an escape from our crappy, cold weather here in Omaha. I attended four years in a row and saw some amazing acts, including The Oh Sees, Jesus and Mary Chain, PJ Harvey, Peter Murphy, Glen Hansard, Big Star, Bob Mould, the list goes on and on, not to mention a lot of local talent that made the trip to Austin either on their own (Digital Leather, Little Brazil) or as part of a Saddle Creek Records showcase. 

Saddle Creek, by the way, is back at SXSW again this year, doing a joint a showcase with Sub Pop and Hardly Art, happening tonight at my favorite SXSW venue, Mohawk. Creek bands playing are Young Jesus, Pendant, Tomberlin and Indigo De Souza. I would definitely have gone to this showcase had I attended this year.

Who else would I have seen? Well, top of the list is an LA band called Blondshell, which I’m noticing now is emerging on the top of a lot of people’s list. Both NME and Brooklyn Vegan list Blondshell, a.k.a. Sabrina Teitelbaum, as a must-see act. The reason is the release of the band’s self-titled debut April 7, which includes tracks previously release on an EP that already is on my list of favorite releases of 2023. Teitelbaum is the first artist to emerge in the past decade with both a tunefulness and lyrical honesty that rivals Liz Phair during her Guyville days. Needless to say, her tour isn’t taking her to Omaha, but I’ve already purchased tickets for her 7th Street Entry show in Minneapolis in July (my first travel gig). 

That’s the standout. Also on the list is Tacoma’s Enumclaw, Chicago post-punk act Lifeguard, Matador rock band Algiers (who will never come to Omaha, I guess), legends New Order and Tangerine Dream and The Oh Sees (again).

The only uncertainty about going to SXSW is rolling the dice when it comes to the weather. When it’s warm and sunny in Austin, it’s heaven. Unfortunately, the forecast calls for rain today and highs the rest of the weekend only in the 50s and 60s. Dang! It’s still better than what we’re going to have here this weekend.

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We’ve got our own indie show going on tonight right here in Omaha. Former local band Thick Paint returns to Reverb Lounge (hey, weren’t they here one year ago on this very day?). What have they been up to since then? Find out tonight. Joining them is Detroit band Summer Like the Season. Omaha’s own Masonjixx headlines. DJ Hair Brain opens at 8 p.m. $15.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — 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 © 2023 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Outlandia line-up annoucement imminent; Amyl does Omaha; Philly’s Grocer Vs. Pitchfork (in the column)…

Category: Blog,Column — Tags: , , — @ 10:59 am March 14, 2023

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Outlandia yesterday officially announced that the two-day festival returns Aug. 11 and 12 to Falconwood Park in Bellevue, with a line-up announcement in late March.

This year’s fest will for the first time offer a limited number of RV and camping locations, which was part of the original Outlandia vision. As for the actual lineup: “In its second year, Outlandia is staying true to its vision of featuring established and emerging indie, alternative and alt‐country artists and celebrating the community’s love of music,” said Outlandia cofounder Marc Leibowitz of One Percent Productions.

Outlandia will be challenged to beat last year’s line-up, topped by Wilco and The National. My two “guesses” of who could do that are The Pixies and Yeah Yeah Yeahs. I guess we’ll see soon enough.

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Another Outlandia guess would have been Amyl and the Sniffers, but instead we’re going to get them Oct. 18 at The Admiral. This will be a cool show. Pre-show tix go on sale Wednesday (sign up from the Amyl website), with general ticket sales happening Friday morning. 

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Philly band Grocer returns to Reverb Lounge Sunday night. In support of that show, I interviewed the band for my monthly column in The Reader. The topic – are brutally negative album reviews necessary in an era when all music is available all the time. It’s not like ye olden days, when you shelled out your hard-earned cash, took home the album and hoped that the singlers weren’t the only decent tracks on the record. You simply didn’t know until after you bought the record. My, how things have changed.

Grocer was particularly irritated about a Pitchfork review of Maneskin’s shitty new album (and Steve Albini’s Steely Dan takedown), and said so in Twitter. See what they had to say either by picking up a copy of the March issue of The Reader at any of your favorite pick-up locations (mine is La Casa on Grover Street) or read it online right here. … Actually, here’s the column in its entirety, posted for posterity (because The Reader’s articles have a way of disappearing in a few years, unlike Lazy-i’s content, which lives forever….). 

Haters Gonna Hate

Early last month, Pitchfork, an online indie music news and reviews website, published a blisteringly negative review of glam-rock album “Rush!” by the Italian band Måneskin. Negative reviews are nothing new for Pitchfork, but this one was particularly biting; its sentiment was neatly summed up in the article’s subhead, in which author Jeremy Larson described the record as “absolutely terrible at every conceivable level.”

You’d think such a record would rate a 0.0 on Pitchfork‘s 10-point scale, but somehow the album garnered a 2.0. A rating that low catches people’s attention, and sure enough, the review received “viral lift” on social media by music fans who celebrated Larson’s butchery of an album they likely never would have listened to otherwise. And isn’t that what rock criticism is all about?

Not to Nick Rahn, guitarist/vocalist of Philadelphia-based indie band Grocer, which is slated to play at Reverb Lounge on March 19. Rahn headed to Twitter, posting from the band’s account: “Hot take alert: We no longer have a need for negative music reviews when you can listen to anything you want for free and form your own opinion.”

Rahn’s rebuttal continued in the threaded tweet. “I get that it feels good to shit on things you don’t like but is it helpful? Does it have a place on a public forum? With so much music out there isn’t it more useful to single out music you like than to single out music you don’t like? Also can we stop saying that music is ‘good’ or ‘bad’? It’s ok to have an opinion. You don’t need to be an authority on the objective quality of something just because it doesn’t register as ‘cool’ for you.”

Rahn’s reaction came a day after a different critical brouhaha boiled over on Twitter, this time featuring legendary post-punk recording engineer Steve Albini lambasting (of all things) ’70s yacht rock supergroup Steely Dan.

Albini, whose contribution to music history includes recording classic albums from grunge icons The Pixies, Nirvana and PJ Harvey, tweeted a bunch of one-liners about the band responsible for such hits as “Peg” and “Deacon Blues,” including: “Christ the amount of human effort wasted to sound like an SNL band warm up,” and “Music made for the sole purpose of letting the wedding band stretch out a little.”

As both a longtime Steely Dan fan and long-time Albini fan, this produced a chuckle. Others were not so amused, as online publications including Pitchfork “amplified” Albini’s rant, resulting in much venting of spleen on social media. Grocer reacted to this on Twitter, too: “If we are going to get upset every time an old guy has an opinion on Steely Dan there is no hope for us to survive in this world.” Huzzah!

Grocer bandmates, drummer/vocalist Cody Nelson and bassist/vocalist Danielle Lovier, said people got pissed about Rahn’s Pitchfork tweets.”They reacted angrily,” Rahn said via a phone interview.

“A lot of people took the comments to say that we don’t want to be criticized,” Nelson said. “When a multimillion-dollar company owned by Conte Nast decides to heat up conversation for a day, it’s going to be lame. The review’s author should have said he hates (the album) on twitter. For Pitchfork, (the review) is being mean for no reason. There was a period of time when a Pitchfork review could stop careers from thriving. These days it doesn’t matter.”

“What is weird,” Lovier added, “is that people will hate-listen to that album now.”

Lovier is right. I listened to the Måneskin album only because of its viral negative review and 2.0 rating. I never would have if Pitchfork rated it between 5.0 and 8.0. And while Rahn is correct that people can find out for themselves if an album is good or bad now that music is so freely available, that availability doesn’t come with the one valuable thing we all need to listen to new music — time.

Instead of hate-listening to the latest Måneskin album, Grocer would prefer you listen to their new album, “Scatter Plot,” released March 3 on Philly label Grind Select. Having listened to both, I can attest your time will be better spent.

And you can bet that, despite the criticism of Pitchfork, Grocer would love the so-called “bible of Indie music” to review their album.

“We would love them to pan us,” Nelson said. “And let’s face it, it’s better for (Pitchfork) to attack a band no one’s heard of than, say, Greta Van Fleet.”

Grocer performs at Reverb Lounge on March 19 with Bad Self Portraits and Estrogen Projection. Showtime is 8 p.m., tickets are $10. For more information, go to onepercentproductions.com.

Originally published in The Reader, March 14, 2023. Copyright © 2023 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — 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 © 2023 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Live Review: GoatFest 2023 (Those Far Out Arrows, Bad Bad Men, beer, goats)…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 7:20 am March 13, 2023
Those Far Out Arrows at GoatFest, March 11, 2023.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Was it the first-time novelty of the event or a reflection of an actual thirst for Saturday afternoon rock shows? Whatever the reason, Saturday’s GoatFest was a marvelous success judging by the crowd and the good times. When I arrived at a little past 3 p.m., punk-trio Bad Bad Men was already playing in the back corner of Scriptown Brewery, hidden behind a crowd that ran along both sides of the enormous bar all the way to the entrance. From the looks of it, as many people were there to sample a pint of Scriptown’s tasty, just-released Goatsmack Helles Bock as enjoy the music. 

Like I said last week, GoatFest had the potential to provide that same warm party vibe as I remembered from South By Southwest day parties. Anyone who’s been to SXSW will tell you the day parties are the best part of the festival – super laid-back events where you can listen to great bands while enjoying some much-needed day drinking. The only difference: It’s usually 80 degrees and sunny at SXSW, whereas it was 30 degrees and snowing in the Blackstone. But that didn’t slow anyone down. 

Someone told me that Blackstone was considering more daytime rock shows on weekends. It’s something the district could become known for — or that Scriptown could corner the market on if so inclined. Would the crowds continue to show up if they hosted rock shows every weekend? 

To me, it depends on the bands. SXSW day shows, for example, involve the best original indie bands in the country. I wouldn’t go if it featured cover bands or blues acts. Still, plenty of serious beer drinkers like both of those “genres,” and  regardless of the band I could definitely see a regular weekend afternoon series catching on, especially if another venue in Blackstone also got into the act — part of SXSW’s appeal is stumbling from one venue to another and back again to listen to bands all afternoon. 

And Blackstone is tailor made for hosting weekend day shows, more so than Benson, whose stages are dedicated to supporting that district’s robust nightlife, or the gentrified Dundee and its vibrant restaurant scene, or the Old Market that despite its hip brick buildings still feels like a tourist scene. 

Bad Bad Men at GoatFest, March 11, 2023.

What more to say about Bad Bad Men that I haven’t already said? They’re a super-fun hard rock band that verges on post-punk, fronted by Omaha legend John Wolf, whose rapid-fire guitar riffs scorch above a rhythm section powered by a Siebken/Hug powertrain. I don’t know what John was singing through that PA and it didn’t matter. Folks not used to this style of music had to wish they brought their ear plugs (as I always do). 

The music only got louder when Those Far Out Arrows took over shortly after 4. They stand side-by-side with David Nance Group as the best full-on psych-rock guitar band in this region. Both bands have a knack for finding a deep, guttural groove and playing it out for all its worth. The differentiator is how the Arrows stand closer to traditional, pure ‘60s garage rock, taking that sound and modernizing it in their own midwestern way. 

The goats of GoatFest.

Amost forgot to mention — what would a GoatFest be without real goats? Two were stabled out back in a small trailer parked near the patio area, no doubt wondering who all these drunks were stumbling out of the building, gawking at them. 

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — 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 © 2023 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.