Las Cruxes, Glue, Solid Goldberg Saturday night at The Brothers…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 2:02 pm July 23, 2021

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Las Cruxes at The Brothers Lounge, Sept. 27, 2019. The band returns Saturday night.

Ah, remember when I updated this blog daily? We’re still a long ways away from daily updates (though if I head to The Brothers Saturday night, expect a live review/pictures on Monday).

In fact, that’s the only show on my radar this weekend. Las Cruxes will return to The Brothers Lounge Saturday night for what I believe is the first live show at Omaha’s favorite punk bar since the pandemic struck. Las Cruxes has been plenty busy, having just been signed to a new label — Lennon MX Records. The first single, “Llueve En Mis Suenos,” came out last month, and a full-length is imminent, recorded at ARC by Ian Aeillo and Victor Salinas.

Also on the bill Saturday night at Brothers is Sioux City punk band Glue.

And to top it all off, Solid Goldberg is on the bill. I’m not sure if he’s playing first or last, so get there early to make sure you catch this one-of-a-kind one-man audio-visual music extravaganza.


All three bands for a mere $7. The show starts at 10 p.m.

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 © 2021 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Relax, It’s Science, Sun-Less Trio, Mere Shadows tonight; Dirt House, McCarthy Trenching Sunday; RSD 2021 Day 2 tomorrow…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 10:23 am July 16, 2021
Sun-Less Trio at The Sydney, June 10, 2017. The band returns tonight.

As the Delta variant swirls around the country and LA introduces new indoor mask mandates even for those who have been vaccinated, it’s obvious that we’re nowhere near the end of COVID-19.

That goes for what’s happening music-wise. We’ve yet to see a full-on press of quality touring shows coming through Omaha, though the volume of press releases for tours not coming through town (i.e., NOmaha) have risen sharply over the past few weeks. NOmaha tours include Protomartyr, Phoebe Bridgers, The Oh Sees, Courtney Barnett, even our own hometown act Bright Eyes.

BTW, Bright Eyes recently rescheduled its Ireland and UK dates to August 2022 due to COVID-19, though their U.S. dates starting at the end of July are still on. Odd that there’s no Bright Eyes Omaha tour dates… I think the last time Oberst played in Omaha was that Better Oblivion Community Center show at Slowdown in March 2019…

Interestingly, the next rock show featuring national indie bands is… the Maha Festival July 31, where Japanese Breakfast, Thundercat and Drive-By Truckers are among the acts.

Thankfully, we still have some local shows happening. Tonight at The Sydney in Benson Relax, It’s Science returns for a sort of an album-release show for their latest, Now It’s Your Problem, now available on CD. Mike Saklar’s Sun-Less Trio also is on the bill along with Mere Shadows. $10, 9 p.m.

Dirt House (who’s on this year’s Maha Festival bill) plays at Pageturners Lounge Sunday afternoon at 5 p.m. with McCarthy Trenching. It’s a free show.

Hey, if we can get at least one good rock show a week do we have anything to complain about?

. ) ) ) .

I missed mentioning Record Store Day Pt. 1 last month. RSD Day 2 is tomorrow. You can check out all the RSD goodies here. Most stores open at 10 a.m.

Another good news story: The Old Market now has as many record stores as it ever did back in the day. You’ve got good ol’ Homer’s (of course), Vinyl Cup Records, 1108 Jackson, the new Grapefruit Records at 12th and Jackson, and they just reopened the Drastic Plastic Vinyl Lounge at 1217 Howard St.

I’ve slowed down on my vinyl acquisitions. It really has to be a record I intend to listen to on my turntable for me to buy it. I just don’t have the room! Anyway, I’ll be buying something…

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 © 2021 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Little Brazil, Living Conditions, Sean Paul, BFF tonight; who remembers Elvis Costello?…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:41 pm July 2, 2021
Little Brazil at The Waiting Room, Dec. 28, 2019. The band plays at The Sydney tonight.

Every week it starts to feel a little more normal around here, though we’re still not where we were before the pandemic when it comes to live music. For the last couple weeks, we’ve had at least one show worth mentioning for the weekend. That’s better than none, but a far cry from the six or seven shows per weekend that used to fill this blog on Fridays.

This weekend’s show is tonight, again at The Sydney in Benson: Omaha indie heroes Little Brazil return to the Sydney stage for the first time since Feb. 7, 2020. Joining them are Omaha screamo band Living Conditions and maybe the city’s best kept secret — Sean Paul. Some may know him from his work with Eric in Outerspace or The Sunks. Paul has been working on a solo album, and from what I’ve heard it’s going to be a scorcher.

The show is $10 and starts at 10 p.m. and is part of July’s Benson First Friday (#BFF). So get to Benson early tonight and soak in all the cool art at the local businesses, then slip on down to The Sydney at 10 for what promises to be a red hot show.

That’s the only gig I see going on this 4th of July weekend. If you know something I missed, put it in the comments section.

. ) ) ) .

If you were anywhere near social media yesterday you heard the news that Elvis Costello will be headlining this year’s Memorial Park Concert Aug. 28. Wyclef Jean is the opener.

For a certain segment of the population (of which I am one) this is unbelievable news. I grew up listening to Elvis Costello, and his debut album is one of my all-time favorites. The fact that this singular talent is playing for free in Memorial Park — a concert that historically has featured over-the-hill county-fair freedom rock acts — is nothing less than a miracle.

But I have to wonder how well it’ll draw. Yes, you and I and our friends all know and love EC, but how well is he known outside of our circles? I bet if you did a man-on-the-street survey and asked 10 random strangers shopping right now at Village Point to name an Elvis Costello song, 9 out of 10 wouldn’t answer. Sure, they’ve heard of Elvis Costello, but do they know his music? It certainly has never been played on local radio, and EC isn’t exactly a television staple these days.

In fact, to be honest, the last EC album that I really dug was Blood and Chocolate, which came out in 1986 — that’s 35 years ago. There’s a couple generations who likely don’t know who EC is. No doubt Elvis will cram his set with the hits from his first few releases (Though wouldn’t it be funny if he did a set consisting of songs from his last six albums? What’s that? No, it wouldn’t?).

Regardless of who’s playing, this will be a crazy event if only because it will be yet another moment that symbolically marks the end of the pandemic.

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 © 2021 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Saddle Creek signs LA producer/songwriter Pendant, drops first track…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:59 pm June 29, 2021

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Chris Adams a.k.a. Pendant is the latest signing by Saddle Creek Records.

Saddle Creek Records continues to impress with all of its activies, from opening a New York office, to releasing new albums by Idigo De Souza and the upcoming Culxr House compilation, and today announcing the signing of LA producer/songwriter Pendant a.k.a. Chris Adams.

Former frontman for the Bay Area noise punk band Never Young, Adams’ debut as Pendant was released on Tiny Engines, which coincidentally or not, was also the former home to another recent Saddle Creek roster addition, Spirit of the Beehive.

From the press release: “Coming from hardcore and noise-punk bands, (2019 debut album) Through a Coil saw a shift in songwriting that melded shoegaze with Britpop recalling the likes of Stone Roses and My Bloody Valentine.”

Adams has apparently decided to take yet another stylistic turn, as evidenced by the new track Saddle Creek also dropped this morning, “Blood Rite,” which the label (accurately) describes as “a gleaming rave-infused, pop track with dark undertones.” Look for Pendant’s full-length debut in early 2022, which Creek says is “an instantly definitive record that connects ’90s house and rave music with hip-hop, shoegaze, and pop.” Hey, this is definitely not your father’s Saddle Creek.

Check out the new Pendant track below.

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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 © 2021 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Live Review: Digital Leather at The Sydney…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 12:51 pm June 28, 2021
Digital Leather at The Sydney, June 26, 2021.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

It felt like old times at The Sydney Saturday night when Digital Leather played a split set to a crowd of around 40 unmasked revelers.

This might be the biggest DL ensemble I’ve seen on stage — six people including frontman Shawn Foree, who for the first time in memory, fronted as a vocalist — not behind a keyboard, not with a guitar slung around his neck — just straight-up Sinatra-style crooner in front of five folks crowded behind guitars and technology.

The line-up: long-time DL drummer Jeff Lambelet, Blake Kostszewa on synths, newcomer (though old acquaintance of the band) Bobby Hussy on guitar, Erica Van Engen on synths and Bright Eyes collaborator MiWi La Lupa on bass.

Foree played a few songs off DL’s most recent album, New Wave Gold, including a unique version of stand-out track “Compass” that saw Foree pass the mic to Kostszewa to handle lead vocals while Foree took his place behind the synths for this one song. Great idea, except Kostszewa started out a bit too tentative on a song that demands voice-of-doom vox. He got his footing by the second verse.

The addition of Hussy was a welcome one. Hussy brings an aggressive guitar style to a project that in recent years shifted back to its synth-focused origins. His guitar work blazed through the artificial smoke, adding a new, brighter color to Foree’s usual dark palette.

The majority of the set was dedicated to trying out new material, much of which took the band in different directions. The performance was split as Hussy broke a guitar string halfway through the set. The band took a 30-minute break while he restrung, and then played five more songs to a crowd half the size.

As I mentioned, the audience at Sydney was maskless, one hopes because all had been vaccinated. It did, indeed, feel like a pre-COVID (or, I guess now, post-COVID) show, a reminder of how things once were and hopefully will be again. Things will heat up again Friday night at The Sydney when Little Brazil returns in honor of BFF with Living Conditions and Sean Paul. See you there.

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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 © 2021 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Digital Leather (sort of belated) album release show Saturday at The Sydney…

Category: Blog,Interviews — Tags: , , — @ 1:01 pm June 25, 2021
Shawn Foree of Digital Leather. Photo by Ben Vanhoolandt.

It feels like the following story on Digital Leather, published in The Reader last August during the height of the pandemic, was written 10 years ago. Some of Shawn Foree’s predictions about post-COVID gigging came true — some clubs did close permanently, some bands did break up for good. But the one about new regulations post-COVID seems to be a miss. More and more, it’s beginning to feel like the pandemic never happened.

That said, we’re still not “fully back” in Omaha, and the live music calendar reflects that. Touring is only now just getting off the ground again, and a lot of local bands are still getting back in performance-shape and aren’t ready to return to the stage.

That said, it’s good to see Digital Leather is playing Saturday night at The Sydney. I have no idea who will be in Foree’s band for this gig or if he’ll be playing songs from his most recent release, New Wave Gold (No Coast, 2020). So much time has passed, Foree has likely already shelved those songs for new material, he’s such a fast (and prolific) song writer.

For those of you who missed it, here’s that Digital Leather article again, written in support of the new album, released when we were all hidden in our bunkers. DJ WAffLEZ also is on Saturday night’s bill at The Sydney. Show starts at 9 p.m., tickets are $10. It’s the only show I have on my calendar this weekend.

Digital Leather in the Days of COVID
The Omaha electro-punk act celebrates 20 years with its 24th album.

Aug. 13, 2020 — Prior to the interview for this column, the last time I spoke with Shawn Foree, the mastermind behind the musical project Digital Leather, was a couple years ago. It was late in the evening standing outside the patio door at mid-town punk club O’Leaver’s, no doubt killing time between live sets from a couple local garage bands we both knew.

Foree, who looked like an unholy cross between Jim Morrison and Deliverance-era Burt Reynolds, told me he was about to hang it up as far as Digital Leather was concerned. He’d just turned 40 and was tired of banging his head against the music industry wall, trying to get someone to notice what he was doing. And it sure didn’t look like things would ever change.

The conversation bummed me out, because Foree / Digital Leather was and is my favorite Omaha-based music project. The only person more frustrated by his music never receiving the attention it deserved was me. Digital Leather music is the perfect amalgamation of modern songwriting, instrumentation and vintage digital sounds. The product is highly addictive, darkly worded 21st Century synth-punk that can stand alongside music by acts like Gary Numan, Psychic TV and The Faint.

As it turned out, Foree was just in a bad mood that night at O’Leaver’s. “Don’t believe me when I say I’ve given up,” he said over the phone July 21. “I’ve said it before, and I’ll probably say it again.”

In fact, only a few months after that announced retirement, Digital Leather recorded and released a new album, followed by another and another.

And now comes New Wave Gold, out Sept. 15 on Madison, Wisconsin, label No Coast Records (Thee Oh Sees, Red Mass, The Hussy). The 16-track collection is the 24th full-length album (in addition to 13 EPs and singles) released by Digital Leather over the 20 years Foree has made music under that moniker.

Digital Leather fans will be happy to know New Wave Gold is the most cohesive, pop-fueled collection Foree has released since 2009’s Warm Brother (Fat Possum Records). He recorded and mixed the album in his apartment studio with contributions by drummer Jeff Lambelet and mastering by sound engineer Ian Aeillo.

The album opens with the first COVID-19 quarantine-inspired song I’ve heard, “Dark Ages,” which closes with the lines: “Don’t you go and worry about me, baby / You got better things to think about, I’m sure / Honey, don’t you know these are the Dark Ages / Disease is in the air, and it’s pure.”

Foree is the only person I’ve talked to who’s tested positive for COVID-19. “I tested positive a month and a half ago,” he said. “I was asymptomatic. It was a little freaky. I wasn’t sure if I was going to become sick, but fortunately, I was OK, maybe a little tired. I tested again a couple weeks after, and it came back negative.”

His day job doing environmental testing, which he’s kept throughout the pandemic, takes him all over the country. “I was floating around South Dakota, Missouri, all around red states, so it could have come from anywhere,” he said. “It was a positive test, but none of my friends had it, just me. So I don’t know if I really had it.”

With COVID-19 shutting down music venues and making touring impossible, it’s a strange time to release a new album. Foree, who has released more than an album a year on average, didn’t want to wait around for the world to reopen. “The record was done,” he said. “I showed it to Bobby (Hussy), who runs the record label, and we just said fuck it and put it out so I can move on to new material.”

To help market the release, Foree is working with national publicist Grandstand Media, whose massive client roster includes acts like Tame Impala, Waxahatchee, Soccer Mommy, Bright Eyes and Kim Gordon, to name a few. “It’s totally new ground for me, selling records without playing live,” Foree said. “If we can make our money back, that would be fine. Making a profit is not on my or the label’s to do list.”

Foree also is the first musician I’ve interviewed since COVID-19 began. The pandemic has had a huge impact on his music world. “All my friends want to play shows and are depressed, because it’s not only their livelihood, it’s part of their sanity. It’s part of who they are,” he said. “I have friends who were about to release records, go on tour, go to Europe, and now it’s all TBD. I think everyone is pretty fucking depressed about it.”

Even after the pandemic is under control, he said things won’t be the same. “There will be all kinds of new regulations; it’ll be weird,” Foree said. “A lot of people won’t want to go out to shows. Venues might close. How are they going to support themselves if they can’t do business? The same goes for musicians who live off their music.”
Foree isn’t one of those, not anymore. He’s managed to find a balance between making a living and making music, and has accepted the fact that, despite having toured the country and releasing albums on a dozen different record labels, he may never make it to “the next level.”

“Part of me is frustrated that I don’t have a larger audience, but I’m also kind of glad things are the way they are,” he said. “I see the silver lining. I have freedom to do what I want. You’re supposed to give it up at 30 and get a real job once you realize there’s no money in it. Well, I have a real job and can still do it, so fuck them all.”

First published in The Reader, September 2020. Copyright © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Live Reviews: Tomato a Day, Brad Hoshaw; show bookings are catching fire…

Category: Blog — @ 7:59 pm June 16, 2021
A Tomato A Day at The Little Gallery in Blackstone, June 12, 2021.

Catching up on last weekend, with this weekend in the cross-hairs.

Brian Poloncic’s project, A Tomato A Day, played the inaugural live music show at The Little Gallery in Blackstone last Saturday night. Joining Poloncic, who sang and played a 12-string acoustic guitar, were bassist Brian Lynn and percussionist Alex Boardman. The quiet little trio was just enough to fill the oak-walled confines of the The Mansion where The Little Gallery resides.

For the performance, the trio played in an adjacent room where a roll-back wall was pulled back, opening the space into the gallery for a crowd of 20 or so. This was the first performance by this line-up and the first time Poloncic has performed live in years. Hopefully, it won’t be the last time. His singer/songwriter style and knack for getting the most out of simple melodies most closely resembles musicians like Bob Pollard or fellow ’90s local dude Todd Grant.

Here’s a video shot during the performance. I made the bush league mistake of not holding my iPhone horizontally! Whoops! Wouldn’t it be great if this was the beginning of a new acoustic house show series at The Little Gallery?

A Tomato A Day live at The Little Gallery in Blackstone June 12, 2012.

Then last Sunday afternoon, Brad Hoshaw blew into town for a live acoustic performance at The Trap Room. The gig was limited to 30 tickets, so Dan Brennan decided to stream the show on Facebook Live. Nothing has changed with Hoshaw — he still has a honey-sweet voice, a light-handed guitar and a unique way with a melody. I think he’s one of the best pure songwriters to come out of Nebraska, and one of the state’s great undiscovered talents. My dream is that some day one of his CDs will find its way to a Nashville star, who will take a liking to one of the songs and ask to record it. And the rest, as they say, will be musical history.

But it hasn’t happened yet. Still could.

Anyway, the whole performance is still online at the Trap Room Facebook page. I can’t embed the video, so you’ll have to scoot on over to watch it. The performance is right here.

. ( ( ( .

Shows are coming back, and people are itching to see them. Just look how quickly that Sept. 16 Pixies show sold out. 1% is indeed bringing the heat, with ’90s indie cult band Idaho playing at Reverb Lounge July 8; Black Pumas at The Waiting Room Aug. 8, and Neko Case and AC Newman at The Bourbon Theatre in Lincoln Aug. 31.

The Admiral fka Sokol Auditorium.

And the 1% folks said keep an eye open for their first show announcement next week for the new Admiral Theater, formerly the Sokol Auditorium. You can read about The Admiral in my column in the June issue of The Reader, online here.

For reasons I don’t fully understand 1% doesn’t list shows at The Sydney (which they own) on their website. The Sydney has a busy upcoming schedule, including Digital Leather June 26, Little Brazil July 2, Relax, It’s Science July 16, and a night with the legendary Tyrone Storm July 23.

The Slowdown is somewhat lagging behind on show announcements. They’ve got their hands full for the next two weeks with the College World Series, which turns their entire facility into a money-printing machine. The only shows of note so far booked at The Slowdown are Mannequin Pussy Sept. 17, and a blast from the past — former Saddle Creek Records act Tokyo Police Club Oct. 28. Hopefully they’ll fill in some dates after the CWS ends.

What hasn’t come back yet is fabulous O’Leaver’s. There’s still no solid date on when The Club will be hosting live rock shows. To me, the pandemic isn’t over until there’s a band playing at O’Leaver’s.

Yeah, Tim, but what about this weekend?

I got nothing on my schedule, which is fortunate because I won’t be in town. If you have a show worth mentioning, put it in the comments sections. See you next week.

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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 © 2021 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Mere Shadows, Bad Actors, Solid Goldberg tonight; A Tomato A Day Saturday; Brad Hoshaw live(stream) Sunday…

Category: Blog — @ 12:36 pm June 11, 2021
Mere Shadows celebrate a CD release tonight at Reverb Lounge.

Look at this! A full weekend of shows to hype! I guess the pandemic is really over?

The fun starts tonight at the remodeled Reverb Lounge. Topping the bill is the record release show for Mere Shadows’ December 2020 release, Vices for Vices. The band features Michael Johnson on guitar/vocals with Julie Kestner, bass, John Kestner, guitar, and drummer Jeff Everroad. The album was recorded by Bryce Hotz at Archetype Recordings. Check out a track or two below.

Also on the bill is Bad Actors, an Omaha band fronted by “Thad Sand, veteran of the gritty Sioux City IA punk scene (FUR, Kidd Death), and Shawn Tracy, also a figure in the early days of Sioux City’s ‘Kings Court’ scene (Los Guapos, The Blisters), and later guitarist for ’90s Roadrunner Records artist Die Monster Die. Shawn Ruth on bass and Shane Adams on drums complete the lineup.

They’re dropping a new album tonight called Black Static.

Opening the whole shee-bang tonight is rock royalty in the form of Solid Goldberg a.k.a. Dave Goldberg. Dave is worth the price of admission alone! There’s never been a better time to check out the remodeled Reverb. $8, 9 p.m.

. ) ) ) .

A Tomato A day, The Moon is Green (2008, Public Eyesore)

Saturday night it’s the return of A Tomato A Day, the project by singer/songwriter Brion Poloncic. Those familiar with the Omaha’s golden age of punk circa the early ’90s will remember Poloncic as a member of power punk trio Cactus Nerve Thang. A Tomato A Day was a completely different animal, a low-key acoustic melody-driven project that saw Poloncic sing/moan over chiming chords and warm cello.

Here are comments from March 2008 Lazy-i:

Three years in the making, The Moon Is Green, released on local art-noise label, Public Eyesore, was recorded by Alex McManus at Fried From Sound studio, and features musicians Dave Nordin, David Downing and Allen Hug. There’s something lost and lonely about Poloncic’s acoustic folk confessions, which plow the same stark territory as, say, Husker Du’s Candy Apple Grey or sad Replacements or Todd Grant’s yearning solo album.

Good luck finding a copy of this disc, though I wouldn’t be surprised if Poloncic has a few in hand for this show.

The performance takes place at The Little Gallery in Blackstone, located inside the Mansion at 144 So. 39th St. (just north of Night Owl), where Poloncic currently has a gallery show of drawings created during the pandemic. Also Saturday the mansion will be a food pop-up featuring food from The Pie Fairy and Yeak Inc.

Art viewing and music are free and start at 4 p.m., music starts at 8 p.m. More info here. Swing by and have a beer.

( ( ( .

Finally, Sunday night former Omahan now Californian Brad Hoshaw returns for one night only for a gig at The Trap Room. Unfortunately, the show has been sold out for ages, but fear not. The performance will be streamed live from the Trap Room via Facebook. More info on the Facebook livestream here. I suspect you’ll hear a few new songs off Brad’s yet-to-be-released solo album. The music starts at 5 p.m.

And that’s all I got. Wow, a crowded live music weekend! Weeee! If I missed your show, put it in the comments section, and 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 © 2021 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Saddle Creek to release Culxr House, adds New York offices; new Nathan Ma; Cog Factory merch benefits Omaha Girls Rock…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 9:40 pm June 7, 2021
A scene from Culxr House.

So now Saddle Creek Records has a New York City office?

Yep, according to their Twitter feed. Add it to the Los Angeles offices, and Omaha offices, of course. Once upon a time Saddle Creek even had a European office in London. Not sure if they still do; wouldn’t be surprised if they reopened it.

Bigger news is that Saddle Creek will be releasing Culxr House: Freedom Summer – a collaborative project showcasing a host of talent from Omaha all tied to innovative community hub Culxr House. The LP, out July 30, features Marcey Yates and Xoboi, along with J. Crum, Mars Black and lots more.

Available digitally and via a limited edition vinyl run, 50% of the album’s profits will be shared between the artists involved, with the other 50% donated directly to the Culxr House venue that brought this project to life,” according to the Creek site.

The first track from the album, “Inherit the Earth,” by Marcey Yates and Xoboi, already dropped. Order the album from the Saddle Creek site.

I think this marks the first album Saddle Creek released with a connection to Omaha since The Faint’s Egowerk came out in March 2019.

. ) ) ) .

Nathan Ma has a new track out called “Midnight” produced by Young Guv, and featuring The Upper Las Colonies Pyramid Band (Noah Kohll, Young Guv, Colin Duckworth, Bobbie Lovesong and James Matthew VII). It’s just under three minutes of Big Star-flavored pop you’ll want to check out. When’s Nathan coming out with a full-length?

. ) ) ) .

The fine folks at Ink Tank are selling a crapload of cool Cog Factory gear, including T-shirts and hoodies. Orders are being taken through June 18 and all proceeds will benefit Omaha Girls Rock, so everybody wins. Check out the selection and order yours here.

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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 © 2021 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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More on 1%’s acquisition of Sokol Auditorium (and who will book it); BFF tonight…

Category: Blog — @ 7:15 am June 4, 2021
Marc Leibowitz, left, and Jim Johnson outside Sokol Underground circa 2003.

I wrote about 1% buying Sokol Auditorium (with a couple partners) for The Reader three weeks ago, but because The Reader is a monthly, the story ended up getting scooped by the Omaha World-Herald. Such is the the sad realities of publishing a monthly newspaper.

That said, there’s much in my story (that went online yesterday) that isn’t the Herald’s story, and some stuff included in the Herald story not in mine, including how much money was involved — $1.6 million was the purchase price with plans to pour another $2.5 million into renovations, according to the OWH. That’s a big chunk, but a far cry from the $105 million (though I’ve heard final costs could exceed $150 million) for the Omaha Performing Arts “Steelhouse” project.

The Reader article includes more details about facility upgrades as well as the future of Sokol Underground. Go read it.

Some interesting facts that I didn’t have room for in The Reader article include that Mammoth likely will handle the bulk of bookings at the The Admiral. Based out of Lawrence and KC, Mammoth has been around forever.

“Mammoth is much bigger than we are,” said Marc Leibowitz in the interview for the story. “We have one buyer, they have seven and are going to take a bigger role in booking. We’re the ones in Omaha, so we’ll have a bigger role in facility management, staffing and day-to-day.”

Leibowitz went on to say Mammoth books the whole territory, and can route tours through the area. You may not realize it, but Mammoth has been booking in Omaha longer than 1%, including bringing shows to Sokol Underground back in the day as well as Cog Factory, working under monikers that included Avalanche and Hunt Industries.

A glance at their Facebook page shows Mammoth books a lot of shows at the Bottleneck in Lawrence, and at their primary venue, KC’s Uptown Theater, including St. Vincent Oct. 7. They’ve also got a Future Islands show at Liberty Hall Sept. 29. I always thought they were more into metal shows, and I think they booked a lot of them at Sokol Underground post-1%. Fact is, they’re going to have to book a wide variety of styles if they’re going to fill The Admiral on a regular basis. Mammoth is clearly working with the big-name indie bands; and though there will be no Sokol Underground for the smaller touring indie acts I love, there’s still Reverb, The Waiting Room, Slowdown and who knows who else…

. ) ) ) .

Here’s the story:

History in the Making
Sokol Auditorium to become The Admiral Theater

As important as Saddle Creek Records and its bands were to the Omaha music scene, so were Sokol Auditorium and Sokol Underground.

Located on South 13th Street in the heart of Omaha’s Little Bohemia, Sokol Auditorium was a barn of a venue. Owned and operated by the Sokol organization — a Czech-American group dedicated to the sport of gymnastics — the giant concrete structure was indeed a gymnasium as well as a balconied ballroom that hosted polka dances, wedding receptions and the occasional rock show. In the late ’90s and into the early 2000s, the facility’s basement — named Sokol Underground — was home to live touring indie rock bands, including acts that would make Omaha famous — Bright Eyes, Cursive and The Faint — and national indie stars like Arcade Fire, Sufjan Stevens, Interpol and Guided by Voices.

Those shows were booked and hosted by 1% Productions — the dynamic duo of Marc Leibowitz and Jim Johnson — who called Sokol Underground their home until they opened their own club — The Waiting Room in Benson — in 2007.

Now more than two decades later, 1% Productions has bought Sokol Auditorium as part of a trio of investors that includes Kansas City’s Mammoth Productions and Lincolnites Sean and Becki Reagan, formerly of Orange Whip Productions, who now operate The Bourbon Theater in Lincoln. In fact, all three of the above parties also purchased The Bourbon earlier this year.

For Leibowitz and Johnson, the acquisition of Sokol Auditorium is a dream come true.

“Sokol Auditorium was where we produced our first show (Ani DiFranco in 1997),” Leibowitz said. “We wanted to buy it since ’97, but it was never for sale.”

During the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Sokol organization received an unsolicited offer to buy the building from an out-of-state promoter. Sokol then approached 1%, suggesting they also put in an offer. In the fall of 2020, with their partnership, they did. After much consideration by the Sokol organization, their offer was accepted, and they closed the deal on April 1.

I didn’t ask Leibowitz the price, but he did say it will cost more money to renovate the facility than what it cost to buy it.

Renamed The Admiral Theater as a sort of tribute to the classic movie houses that once populated Omaha (another 1% project, a La Vista-based venue/amphitheater about to break ground, is called The Astro), Leibowitz said rehab work will commence as soon as permits are in hand and will include a lot of modernizing to bring the building up to code. That means installing an elevator, fire suppression, an alarm system and modern HVAC. They’re also renovating and enlarging the bathrooms, adding real dressing rooms, production offices, showers and other amenities artists want.

“We’re rebuilding the infrastructure for the curtaining and rigging that was almost 100 years old,” Leibowitz said. “The sound and lights are being sold. We’ll have brand new sound and lighting. We’ll fly the PA from the roof of the building.”

The auditorium’s “tumbling room,” built over the entranceway steps, is being converted into a “VIP experience” that will require club membership for access. The VIP room, which will have its own bar and bathrooms, will open onto the auditorium’s balcony.

Speaking of bars, a “proper bar” will be constructed along the auditorium’s north wall that will include much higher-end offerings than the old Sokol.

“We’re trying to fix as much of the customer experience as possible,” Leibowitz said, “but we can’t fix the parking yet.”

The auditorium’s parking lot can support only a fraction of an audience that can attend a show. Leibowitz has plans to clear as many spaces as possible for customers, but “part of going to a show at Sokol is parking in the neighborhood,” he said. That’s unlikely to change anytime soon.

And while the name will change — in fact they legally cannot use the Sokol moniker — Leibowitz said they won’t completely erase the old Sokol.

“There’s going to be things that remind you of the historic nature of the building,” he said. “We’re keeping as many old touches as we can.”

The target for The Admiral’s grand opening is February 2022.

So what about the old Sokol Underground? Leibowitz said the facility’s basement that once hosted hundreds of indie rock shows (and also once had a four-lane bowling alley) will be treated as a separate business. “It’s not going to be a music venue,” he said. “We’re demoing it at the same time as the auditorium, putting in infrastructure, HVAC, elevator and bathrooms, and then we will sit on it a little while.”

Leibowitz sees the irony of no longer hosting shows in a room that played a big role in establishing 1% Productions, but he also can’t see a need for yet another 300-capacity club in Omaha.

The Admiral Theater, with a capacity of 1,400, will fill a unique entertainment void.

“The Holland Center’s capacity is around 1,900; the Ralston Arena around 3,500, Sumpter is around 2,500. Sokol has always held a unique position in terms of capacity,” he said.

In fact Leibowitz said many shows booked at smaller venues over the years would have been hosted at Sokol Auditorium if the venue wasn’t universally considered a dump.

“If the Sokol as an entity would have invested in their facilities, there wouldn’t have been a Waiting Room or a Slowdown, but they never did,” Leibowitz said.

Now it’s happening. The decision to go all-in on Sokol was a gutsy move taken at one of the most challenging times in our country’s history, when no one was sure what would happen with live entertainment. Leibowitz shrugs off the risk.

“I like our business, the music industry and our venues,” Leibowitz said. “The timing wasn’t great when the Sokol deal came up, but how do we not do it? It was our dream venue, something we wanted to do back when we were doing 20 shows a month in the Underground. We always thought it would be amazing if we could own this place.”

Over The Edge is a monthly column by Reader senior contributing writer Tim McMahan focused on culture, society, music, the media and the arts. Email Tim at tim.mcmahan@gmail.com.


It’s the first Friday of June which means Benson First Friday. It’s a special Pride Month edition, which explains all the little Pride flags along the sidewalks throughout Benson. There’s lots of art throughout and DJs at a couple places but no live indie rock. See the full lineup of events here.

Show-wise, Matt Whipkey opens for The Samples Saturday night at The Waiting Room. $50, 7 p.m. Rex Granite Band is at Reverb Lounge Saturday night. $10, 7 p.m. That’s about it for shows. If I missed your show, put it in the comments section. The world may be reopening, but rock ‘n’ roll hasn’t quite caught up with it. We’ll get there… 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 © 2021 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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