Lazy-i Interview: The Return of Matthew Sweet @ The Waiting Room this Saturday…

Category: Blog,Interviews — Tags: — @ 8:43 am February 15, 2024

Matthew Sweet plays at The Waiting Room Saturday night. Photo by Evan Carter.

by Tim McMahan,

When people talk about successful bands from Omaha, they immediately think of Bright Eyes or (more likely) 311 – a band that moved to California just before they hit it big. But one of the most successful Nebraska musicians from the ’90s (and today) still lives right here in Omaha. 

Born and raised in Lincoln, Matthew Sweet had one of the biggest hits of the early ’90s with his gem-filled power-pop collection Girlfriend (1991, Zoo Records) that boasted infectious singles like the title track, “I’ve Been Waiting,” “Evangeline” and “Divine Intervention.” The album became an international indie favorite.

It would be followed by Alterer Beast in ’93, 100% Fun in ’95 and the critical obscurity Kimi Ga Suki in 2003. In his heyday, when he wasn’t touring Sweet lived in Los Angeles. 

But as he said in an interview last month, after 20 years in La La Land Sweet moved back to Nebraska — and Omaha — 10 years ago. In fact, I once bumped into him at a Thai restaurant in Aksarben Village, whispering to my wife over my Tom Ka Chicken, “Pssst… look over there, eating those noodles, it’s Matthew Sweet.”

“It’s amazing that there still are people who recognize me, because I feel like a relic of a bygone era,” Sweet said. “But hey, we’re going out touring again. I’m finally getting out after Covid, and it’s been a long time.”

Four years, to be precise. Sweet said a health issue made him very afraid to go out in public during the pandemic, not only for himself, but also knowing so many bands that announced tours only to cancel them when a band member came down with Covid. 

“And then over the last year, I’ve really gotten myself together on my health and solved some problems — some breathing things I had — that had made it a big danger for me getting Covid,” Sweet said.

His first performance outing was at the fabeled 30A Songwriters Festival in Florida in early January. 

“I was very, very freaked out and horrified to have to sing and play at all,” Sweet said, adding that he’d only performed a few times online during the pandemic years, “but not really in a venue with real mics and PA. I was able to play a whole hour-long set with the backup of a couple of friends, and my voice worked surprisingly well.”

For this mini-tour that includes the performance this Saturday, Feb. 17, at The Waiting Room, Sweet has pulled together a band that includes him on rhythm guitar, John Moremen (who played on 2017’s Tomorrow Forever album) on lead guitar, Paul Chastain of Velvet Crush on bass and drummer Debbi Peterson from The Bangles. 

“Debbie’s a good friend of mine from Los Angeles,” Sweet said. “She came out here in 2016 or 17 to play drums on Tomorrow Forever, and I’ve recorded the Bangles at my house in Los Angeles. She’s a really good drummer.” Since this interview, Adrian Carter has been added to the band on 6- and 12-string acoustic. 

Sweet said the show’s set list will consist mostly of fan favorites. “Honestly, I’ve never been the sort of artist who has to force new stuff on people, even when they want to hear other things,” he said. “It’s great to see the reaction from people hearing the songs they remember and care about.”

That said, Sweet just released a new album – Live in Grant Park Chicacgo July 1993. The 17-song collection includes favorites from Girlfriend, Altered Beast and 100% Fun, performed live backed by a band that included Richard Lloyd (Television) on lead guitar, Will Rigby (the dB’s) on drums and Tony Marsico (Cruzados) on bass. 

In addition, Sweet is in the early stages of writing his next album, which has a project title Midsommar, a name he “swiped” from one of his favorite recent movies. “I really like that title,” Sweet said. “I’m having the ideas for the songs musically. I’m having tons of lyric ideas and all of it’s starting to come kind of in advance of making the album.”

For Sweet, songwriting inspiration comes from every angle and every medium – film, art and music. When he isn’t making music, he can be found making art, including his lovable cat images that are taking the world by storm.

“I was never good when a label wanted (me to write) a single,” Sweet said. “If anything, as I’ve gotten older, I feel more like an artist because it helps me to think about what I do and who I am. It’s more about doing the art than about whether someone cares at this point. I turned 59 in the fall. I’m sort of at a place where I kind of feel like I can be doing my little things whether I’m making a living or not. And I think that’s what it means to be an artist.”

Matthew Sweet plays with Abe Partridge Feb. 17 at The Waiting Room. Showtime is 8 p.m. Tickets are $17 Adv./$25 DOS. For more information, go to

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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.


Day-after-Christmas Blockbuster: Icky Blossoms, David Nance and Mowed Sound, PROBLEMS at The Waiting Room…

Category: Blog,Interviews — Tags: — @ 12:52 pm December 25, 2023

Icky Blossoms at this year’s Maha Festival. The band plays at The Waiting Room Dec. 26.

by Tim McMahan,

Holiday concerts are an Omaha tradition and Tuesday night’s show at The Waiting Room is a hum-dinger: The return of Icky Blossoms. 

Some Icky fans (me included) got ripped off at this year’s Maha Music Festival due to the “weird weather event” that emptied out the Maha compound right before the Icky’s performed. Getting back into Maha turned into a debacle. While waiting in the line, I could hear  Icky Blossoms’ music bouncing off buildings blocks away. By the time I got back in, the set was practically over.

Tomorrow night (Dec. 26) we get another chance to see their full set, and these days, that’s a rare event. The band’s core members have their hands full living life: Sarah Bohling lives in Atlanta where she’s busy with music projects (including band No Head), Derek Pressnall has a family and full-time gig at Secret Penguin, and Nik Fackler and wife, Kat, just had their first child — the lovely Faye Rose — six months ago. That doesn’t leave much time for rock and roll.

Despite that and the fact that they haven’t released new material in years, the band’s music has never been more relevant. This year alone saw two high-profile Icky Blossoms music placements. One was the use of “Sex to the Devil” from their 2012 self-titled debut as the finale song at Versace’s 2023 Spring Summer runway show in Paris. “We didn’t realize Paris Hilton would be walking that finale,” Pressnall said via a conference call with all three Icky’s.

The other was their song “Cycle” from the same album used as the finale for video game Grand Theft Auto 5 – Cayo Perico Heist. No doubt as a result, that song now has just under 1.7 million Spotify spins.  Could there be a better time for new Icky Blossoms music and a reunion tour? 

In fact, the band is working on new music. “We have a whole process for writing and recording,” Fackler said.

“We could put out a record, but touring, especially right now, seems… there’s a lot of moving parts – jobs, babies, families and where we live,” Bohling said. 

“We’re going to take a modern approach to it,” Fackler added. “Rather than one big tour, we’re looking at festivals or shorter stints on the road.”

They said you won’t hear any of that new Icky music tomorrow night, but you will be treated to an all-new digital light show created especially for the event.

The amazing David Nance and his band Mowed Sound also are on the bill, as is PROBLEMS (a.k.a. Darren Keen), who will open the show at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15.

The concert is followed with an “official after party” at Pageturners Lounge featuring an Icky Blossoms DJ set along with DJ Tyrone Storm! No cover, starts at 11 p.m.

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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 © 2023 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Lazy-i Interview: Criteria (at The Waiting Room Saturday, 11/25); Hotline TNT tonight…

Category: Blog,Interviews — Tags: , , — @ 8:12 am November 22, 2023

Criteria plays this Saturday night at The Waiting Room with Little Brazil and Healer.

by Tim McMahan,

This isn’t so much an interview with Criteria as a “catching up with Criteria”-style chat that took place at frontman Stephen Pedersen’s beautiful midtown home while his boys ran around the living room. 

The occasion for the discussion is Criteria’s annual holiday concert, which is this Saturday at The Waiting Room. Joining them as they do every year is Little Brazil, and opening the show is Dan Brennan’s band Healer. The Criteria holiday rock show has become an Omaha indie-rock tradition that dates back years — sometimes it happens around Christmas or New Year’s, more often lately it happens on Thanksgiving weekend. 

It’s also one of the only shows Criteria plays these days. The band only performs in public once or twice a year (They played at Outlandia festival this summer). This year marks the 20th anniversary of the band’s 2003 seminal album, En Garde, released during Saddle Creek Record’s heyday, when bands like Bright Eyes, The Faint and Cursive ruled the indie world and fans whispered that Omaha could become the “next Seattle.” We can all laugh about it now…

If you’ve heard Criteria’s music (and if you’re still reading this, you no doubt have), you know part of the attraction is Pedersen’s uncanny, acrobatic vocals. They go up-up-up, above everything else, a fragment or dagger that counters  his and guitarist Aaron Druery’s most-righteous riffage and the thunderous rhythms from drummer Mike Sweeney and bass player A.J. Mogis. His vocals are bright and effusive, going places few male vocalists would dare go. 

Twenty years ago, scaling such heights was rather matter-of-fact for Mr. Pedersen, but now that he has entered his late 40 — knocking on the door of the big 5-0 — and only playing out twice a year, how does this lion in winter keep hitting those blessed high notes?

“I go downstairs in the practice space, put in earbuds, turn on the PA, play the guitar and try to push out the same amount of air,” Pedersen said. “And I also do cardio. I run three times a week and do push ups and pull ups.” 

He nods when asked if he’s lost anything off the top end. “It’s not that it’s high and angular; it’s that when we play I sing a lot,” he said. “I’m constantly pushing air. A big part is just figuring out the breathing so you don’t get winded. And I drink a ton of water.”

As the conversation continues, members of Criteria show up one at a time and take a seat in the living room, arriving for the band’s scheduled practice, which I’m interrupting. Our topic of discussion — the new songs. Criteria will play two or three new ones Saturday night. In the band’s early days, Pedersen’s lyrics were meta playthings that focused on the band’s struggles to break through to the next level while the inevitable responsibilities of adulthood knocked on their doors. Or, as the opening lines of “Prevent the World” from 2005’s When We Break, go:

I’m stuck in a basement world, where even if I tried
To make rock my living, it wouldn’t coincide
So how will I reconcile six years of my life with 
The rational urges?

These days Pedersen’s rational urges more likely involve spending time with his lovely family and focusing on his career as a corporate lawyer. And as such, the nature of his songs’ lyrics have shifted to much more adult matters.

“A lot of the new songs are about people in our extended social circles getting divorced,” Pedersen said. “Something happened during the pandemic, and the social reverberations in the home tested a lot of marriages. These new songs are very abstract. I’m not telling anyone’s story, but (I’m singing about) the concepts surrounding communication and misunderstanding and losing the fire in the belly for someone.”

With that, Pedersen turned to the rest of the band and asked what they think about the new songs.

“They’re a little more stoner rocker,” says Druery.

“That’s just because they’re in a lower tune,” adds Mogis.

Regardless, the band plans to enter the studio soon to record the tracks. Could an EP be on the horizon? Stay tuned. In the meantime, you’ll be able to hear these new ballads of marital woe Saturday night at The Waiting Room. Healer kicks things off at 8 p.m. followed by Little Brazil. Just $10. See you there!

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Tonight grab your pre-holiday cheer at Reverb Lounge when NYC-based Hotline TNT headlines. The band is the project of Minnosota songwriter Will Anderson (a.k.a. Flip Sandy, according to Wiki), previously of the Canadian band Weed. Anderson is the sole permenant member of HTNT, joined by a rotating backing band.

Their latest, Cartwheel, was released earlier this month by Third Man Records and received the coveted “best new music” designation from Pitchfork, which gave the album a huge 8.4 rating. It is pretty good, combining the dirty early ’90s sounds of Teenage Fanclub and Dinosaur Jr., rife with overblown guitars that often overpower central melodies. It’s a dense forest of noise for sure.

This is another massive four-band bill, with The Dirts, Western Haikus and Paid to Smile. It all starts at 8 p.m. $18.

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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 © 2023 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Lazy-i Interview: Speedy Ortiz’s Sadie Dupuis (at Slowdown this Friday)…

Category: Blog,Interviews — Tags: , — @ 8:48 am November 15, 2023
Speedy Ortiz at O’Leaver’s, Aug. 15, 2015, after playing that day at the Maha Music Festival. The band plays Friday night at The Slowdown.

by Tim McMahan,

Speedy Ortiz music is a rough-and-tumble ride through indie and punk landscapes, contextualized by strange, unpredictable guitar parts, familiar rhythms and front woman Sadie Dupuis’ intricate, confounded and always clever lyrics about, well, living.

Take perhaps Speedy Ortiz’s most popular song, the waltzing anthem “No Below” from the recently reissued 2013 breakthrough album Major Arcana, where Dupuis sings of youth and isolation and having one friend who, in the lowest times, is looking out for you. Or at least that’s how I interpreted the song over the years (and let’s face it, I’ve never been very good at interpretation):

A decade later and a new album — Rabbit Rabbit — and things have only gotten more complicated. Her friendships seem to have evolved on the waltzing anthem “Plus One,” where Dupuis sings: 

Songs are for telling and records for show
Stole my split necklace half to see where I’d help you go
The other piece, it doesn’t fit where I hoped

Intricate, confounded and always clever, that’s Speedy Ortiz, who is playing Friday night at The Slowdown. It’s also Dupuis, who’s crafted a successful career both with this band and as Sad 13, her solo project. She’s come through Omaha in one form or another throughout her career, playing house shows (at the world famous West Wing) as well as DIY venues (Milk Run in 2016 with — get this — Mannequin Pussy and Vegabon) and regular venues, too. 

I caught up with Dupuis recently for a brief interview in support of this Slowdown show and told her she once made fun of me online when I said I was afraid to go to a house show at my age — places where i’m often mistaken for a cop or an angry father.

“I do feel like house shows should be for everyone,” she said. “I’m getting close to 40, I’m not a teenager anymore. DIY shows, especially as the infrastructure for indie venues has shrunk, have become more important. We had a couple shows on this tour that were more in the DIY realm — like art spaces — and really appreciated it.

“We played The Church, which is a basement of a Presbyterian church, and (the venue) gets the kids and people in their 70s to come to all their shows, and that’s important — to foster that generational connection. We’re all music fans coming from different parts of our lives, but coming to the same place.”

Fine Sadie, I’ll no longer turn my back on house shows. (If you see someone who looks like a cop, come say hello.)

Spanning generations was one theme to our brief discussion. i mentioned that the band UN-T.I.L. will be opening for her Friday night, an all-woman, punk power trio that’s the product of Omaha Girls Rock!. Dupuis was thrilled. Over the years, she and her band have been strong supporters of girl rock camps, even donating tour proceeds in the past to Girls Rock programs. 

“I went to a gender-inclusive summer camp, and I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing had I not gone to that camp,” Dupuis said. “I went back as an instructor. We meet girl bands that come out of those programs, and it’s always really cool . We’ve played with ex camper bands, and it’s such a positive ethos that comes out of those camps that injects needed love and support into the indie, punk and hardcore scenes.”

No doubt. BTW, if you haven’t seen UN-T.I.L., get to the show on time Friday night — you’re in for a treat.

Final question: Sadie underwent the dreaded 10 Questions treatment back in 2016 in support of that Milk Run show and was asked (as in all 10Q interviews) if she could earn a living with her music. She said she could but, “I’m not really raking it in.” 

Seven years later, things sound like they haven’t changed much. 

“We took many years off the touring, and I did a lot of random gigs,” she said. “We’ve been touring for a few months. But when (the tour ends) I’ll be back to different freelance projects – writing, production gigs. 

“This is part of why DIY and art spaces are more crucial than ever. It’s been hard for independent venues. For the style of music we play, we’ve been warned that rooms are not the same. I came with expectations that live music changed somewhat in the post pandemic and ongoing pandemic world. It doesn’t change our joy to play to people who do come out and meet us. it’s a different feeling and that’s fine for me personally. Some of my favorite shows were played in front of 10 people.”

Make sure Sadie and her band aren’t playing in front of just 10 people by coming out to The Slowdown Friday night. Joining them are tourmates Space Moth and the aforementioned UN-T.I.L. This front room show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets are $20. See you there…

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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 © 2023 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Steelhouse Omaha debut, The Killers, Garst, Bad Bad Men, Noisefest tonight; Matt Whipkey Saturday…

Category: Interviews — Tags: , , , , — @ 7:53 am May 12, 2023
The Killers will christen Steelhouse Omaha tonight.

by Tim McMahan,

If you’re wondering what those searchlights are all about downtown, tonight is the big Grand Opening of Steelhouse Omaha, 1100 Dodge St., featuring alt rock band The Killers. The concert literally sold out in minutes and I’ve yet to talk to anyone who was able to buy a ticket. 

That said, I’ll be at Steelhouse tonight, courtesy of the band’s publicist (if all goes well at Will Call). No photo pass, so something tells me we’re going to see some sort of “no photography” policy tonight as the publicist said he’ll provide photos for use with the review after the fact. Still, I’ll try to capture the evening as best I can with my iPhone.

I interviewed Omaha Performing Arts President Joan Squires and Erika Hansen, who is responsible for booking Steelhouse, for an article that appears in this month’s issue of The Reader. That story, which is online here, covers booking policies, including the decision to use Live Nation and Ticketmaster as exclusive booking and ticket agents. It also addressed The Killers ticket sales situation and lots of other stuff. I’ve also posted the article at the end of this post (captured for posterity’s sake).

As a fan of modern indie music, I’m keeping my fingers crossed Steelhouse will book at least one show a month that will coax me into buying a ticket. Two shows a month would be gravy. But I’m not naive. I know that indie music is a niche genre, and while it’s wildly popular along the coasts and in large cities, I’m not so sure how popular it is in Omaha these days. Instead of Book It and They Will Come, the story’s headline should have been Book Acts that will Bring Them In.

I thought, being a non-profit, that Steelhouse and O-pa could take more risks on acts that are breaking through in other parts of the country — really introducing them to the Omaha area — and that profitability would come second to cultural enrichment. We’re talking bands that would draw 300 instead of 3,000. Squires added some clarification:

“We have to raise money every year as a nonprofit organization so I don’t take that as a given that we don’t still have to watch our bottom line just like everybody else,” she said. “We do have a responsibility to make sure we are being fiscally responsible. We want to make (Steelhouse) the right experience and the right fit. Those bands would not be a great fit for Steelhouse because you’ve got a small band and a small audience and you sit in a space that could have 3,000 people. It is not the kind of scene you want for either the artist or the audience.” 

Let’s face it, no one want to play in front of a mostly empty auditorium.

Hansen did go on to say that the venue is flexible and there are adjustments that can be made for certain acts. For example, the upcoming Elvis Costello concert will be a seated event with chairs and a capacity of 1,500 total. 

“3,000 isn’t always a success measure,” Hansen said. “It might be a band that would be a thousand and that’s great and that’s a success. So the capacity of the venue is not a measurement of success.”

Both Squires and Hansen pointed to the future. Although many of the shows currently scheduled for Steelhouse cater to an old(er) crowd, both said those shows don’t represent what will eventually be booked at Steelhouse. Hansen said, essentially, what ’til you see what they have booked for this fall. Their October already is mostly booked.

If you want to check out Steelhouse, the venue is hosting a free Open House on Sunday. It will include tours and a performance by the Central High School Jazz Band, Nebraska All-Star Rock & Roll Band, Omaha Girls Rock, Salem Baptist Church Choir and Enjoli & Timeless. For more info about this and other community events, as well as the latest concert lineup, go to

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OK, what else is going on this weekend?

Tonight over at art-space Project Project, 1818 Vinton St., it’s Noisefest, featuring 20 “local and touring noise musicians,” including from Omaha: Lonnie Methe, Dereck Higgins, Alex Jacobsen, Cole Kempke, Smith & Jensen, Bovinae, and Quiz The Machine Elf. I don’t know most of those acts, but you might. The full list of performers is here. This free show starts at 5 p.m. 

Meanwhile, downtown at The Slowdown tonight, Omaha rockers Garst is hosting its album release show with punk super-group Bad Bad Men and BB Sledge. 8 p.m., $12.

Tomorrow night (Saturday), Matt Whipkey is playing two shows at The Jewell in celebration of the release of his new album Gummi Soul: Another Rubber, his reimagining of The Beatles’ Rubber Soul album. The performance will include a reunion of Whipkey’s band The Movies and special guests including the incomparable Stephen Sheehan of Digital Sex and The World fame, and newcomer Kristen Buell. Expect a mix of the Beatles songs and Movies chestnuts. Two shows: 6:30 and 8:30; $15.

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

Now, here’s the Steelhouse article. It first appeared in the May issue of The Reader.

Book It and They Will Come

With Its Opening May 12, Steelhouse Hopes to Put Omaha Back on the Tour Map

By Tim McMahan

Everything about the new Steelhouse Omaha music venue, operated by Omaha Performing Arts (O-pa), will be state of the art — the lights, the sound, the overall experience. The 3,000-capacity downtown venue, which is designed for standing concerts (mostly, there are also balcony seats), will celebrate its opening night May 12 with a performance by alt-rock band The Killers, a show that, despite its $75-plus ticket price, sold out in minutes.

The quick sellout proves more important than state-of-the-art facilities is booking quality acts. Last January, O-pa President Joan Squires was interviewed by local media saying one of the project’s motivations was to attract young patrons, specifically between the ages 18 and 45. “The entire venue is going to be an experience that will really help this city attract people this age,” she was quoted as saying.

I was a little bummed. After all, I’m in my mid-50s, well outside that target range. I envisioned a constant stream of TikTok-style pop acts playing in front of a huge, squirming crowd of squeaky-clean youngsters, all holding up cell phones for one giant Instagram moment. 

However, after a few weeks of Steelhouse show announcements, it turns out I might be at the lower end of the target age. Among the acts announced so far: ’90s alt-rock legends Counting Crows, hair-metal bands W.A.S.P and Cinderella’s Tom Keifer, ’70s funk icons Parliament Funkadelic, 68-year-old singer/songwriter Elvis Costello, and The Flaming Lips performing an album released more than 20 years ago. In fact, all the above performers’ heydays were more than 20 years ago. 

Oh, it’s not all legacy acts. Steelhouse is also hosting “fresh” hip-hop performer $not (pronounced Snot), Japanese novelty Babymetal and indie darlings Fleet Foxes, whose breakthrough debut was released 15 years ago, but that’s it for new-ish artists. So, what exactly is the venue’s booking strategy? Squires and Erika Hansen, director of booking for Steelhouse, said these early bookings are just that: early bookings.

“We’re just starting, Tim,” Squires said. “We’re certainly going to continue to move in a younger direction. This just happens to be who’s got opportunities to come to Steelhouse right now.”

Hansen, 48, who hails from Sioux City and has been booking gigs for 20 years, agreed, saying booking summer months was a challenge, because many acts had already been booked for festivals and outdoor gigs. “Not that this lineup is anything to be down about,” she said, “but it is a different type of crowd that we’re probably looking at for the first few months, and then we’re really going to start to get into the diversity that we’ve been talking about. If I showed you everyone who’s holding dates at Steelhouse, it’s a much different look than what you’re seeing right now on sale.” 

Working with Live Nation

To power booking efforts, Steelhouse via O-pa signed an exclusive contract with Live Nation, the country’s largest concert promoter. “We felt they could work with us to ensure we get bands as they route them across the country,” Squires said, pointing out Omaha falls in the gap between Denver, Chicago, Kansas City and Minneapolis. 

Headquartered out of Beverly Hills, the publicly traded company boasts “bringing 40,000 shows and 100-plus festivals to life” per year and works with just about every successful pop artist, from Alice Cooper to the Zac Brown Band. 

Hansen said she’s in contact with Live Nation multiple times a day. “They definitely will suggest artists they know are touring that they think might be a good fit for Omaha and will work with the venue space,” she said. “It’s a two-way street, though. We definitely have suggested to them, ‘Hey, can you check out this artist or can you look for more artists that are within this genre and see who’s out there?'”

Steelhouse’s real goal isn’t putting on shows that target a specific age group. “(Steelhouse) was built with philanthropic dollars and really is open to everybody,” Squires said. “The target is to attract the bands that have been missing our city because there was no venue of this size.”

“We are absolutely looking at artists that have never played Omaha before or that maybe have played much smaller venues in the market and are now getting to the size where they could fill a venue like Steelhouse,” Hansen added. “I think the purpose is really to add to the music scene in general in Omaha. We want Omaha to be a destination for artists so that all of the agents looking at tour stops think of Omaha as a hot music scene.”

Building awareness is one of the challenges. Squires said Hansen and Live Nation have been busy telling agents and artists that there’s a new kid in town. “Part of it is just getting the word out,” she said. “And the more we book, the more we’ll book.”

What about Indie Music?

As an indie music fan, I had to ask if the venue’s 3,000 capacity will prevent booking important up-and-coming indie artists who draw fewer than 1,000. Squires said the space may not be appropriate for those shows, which would be a better fit for small O-pa-operated venues like the Holland Music Club. However, Hansen said Steelhouse is flexible and has options, including the use of retractable risers. 

“We’re playing with the space,” Hansen said. “I think we will be able to do some smaller shows in there and make it feel full and really cool for the artist and the fan.” But, “we’re not wanting to step on anyone else, either. If some other venue in Omaha has a great opportunity to book a show and it’s a better fit for their room, by all means.”

What about local acts? I suggested local bands could be great openers for larger touring acts. O-pa has done this in the past. Local singer/songwriter Matt Whipkey, for example, opened for the band America at the Holland Center last year. Hansen said artists typically decide who will open their shows, not the promoter, but “if there’s an opportunity, we’ll absolutely do that.”

Ticketmaster ‘the right choice’

I couldn’t let them go without talking about Ticketmaster, a subsidiary of Live Nation that has been embroiled in controversy concerning ticket-selling practices. Just ask Taylor Swift, who appears to be fighting a one-woman battle against the company. Squires said it was O-pa’s decision to use Ticketmaster because “we felt Ticketmaster was the right choice for the marketing, for the fans, for the experience.” 

The almost immediate sellout of The Killers concert left many fans venting their frustrations on social media. Squires said they expected a very quick sellout because The Killers play 20,000-capacity arenas. “We were sorry people were frustrated,” she said. “It was a demand question. We just hope people will stay with us to come back and try something else.”

“I think sometimes Ticketmaster takes kind of a rap for ticketing issues in general,” Hansen said. “Demand is always going to be a problem if you have an artist that has a demand that’s greater than the number of tickets available. That’s not necessarily a Ticketmaster thing.” 

Squires and Hansen were both eager to hear my list of bands I’d like to see play Steelhouse, a list that includes Lana Del Rey, Yo La Tengo, Shame, Gorillaz, Boygenius, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Alex G, M83, The Strokes, Beck, Angel Olsen, Wet Leg, Everything But the Girl, Ladytron and Nation of Language — all touring acts that as of now do not have Omaha as a stop. 

They promised to share the list with Live Nation. They’re looking for your suggestions, too. You can provide them by following Steelhouse on social media, the best place to see the latest announcements. 

“This is going to evolve,” Squires said of Steelhouse Omaha’s bookings. “We’re just getting open. We’re going to continue to reinvent and reevaluate. It’s going to keep moving.”

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

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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 © 2023 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Ten Questions with Night Moves (playing tonight at Reverb Lounge)…

Category: Blog,Interviews — Tags: , — @ 12:49 pm October 4, 2022
Night Moves at The Waiting Room, April 23, 2013. The band plays Reverb Lounge tonight.

by Tim McMahan,

Minneapolis indie band Night Moves has been knocking around since 2010, dropping their first full length, Colored Emotions, in 2012 on Domino records. From the Domino Records website: “Founded by guitarist/lead vocalist John Pelant and bassist Micky Alfano, and later joined by Mark Hanson and Chuck Murlowski, the Minneapolis outfit Night Moves meld the sounds of classic rock with Americana, creating irresistible hooky cosmic sludge with a Nashville twang.

I’m not sure where the “twang” comes in. Rather, Night Moves sounds like a psych-rock version of Beach House, with dense, guitar-driven melodies countered by Pelant’s dreamy, wayward croon that bears no resemblance whatsoever to Bob Seger.

The band is on the road supporting their recent EP, The Redaction. I caught up with them and gave them the Ten Questions treatment. Here’s what they had to say.

1. What is your favorite album?
Night Moves: Willis Alan Ramsey by Willis Alan Ramsey

2. What is your least favorite song?
“I’m Bugged At My Old Man” by The Beach Boys

3. What do you enjoy most about being in a band?
“Band” assumes you’re with other people, so from that lens I guess it would have to be the funny times us psychos share together. The “sillies” as they say.

4. What do you hate about being in a band?

5. What is your favorite substance (legal or illegal)?

6. In what city or town do you love to perform (and why)?
Cleveland – feels like we could move there and get jobs.

7. What city or town did you have your worst gig (and why)?
Manitowoc, WI — gear issues, sound issues, personal headspace/comfort problems… my whole family was there, too, which added to the conundrum. Also, there was a man in a white zoot suit and a buzz cut dancing solo right in front of us the whole time #RockinRicky unsure whether or not this helped or further hindered our success.

8. Are you able to support yourself through your music? If so, how long did it take to get there; if not, how do you pay your bills?
We all have side gigs, bartending, serving, delivery type jobs.

9. What one profession other than music would you like to attempt; what one profession would you absolutely hate to do?
I’d like to design/make fishing lures.  I would hate to drive a bus or work at H&R Block.

10. What stories have you heard about Omaha, Nebraska?
One time we played “Colored Emotions” in the pitch black at Reverb Lounge. We told the sound guy to turn off all the lights. Everything. It was special.

Night Moves plays with Free Music Oct. 4 at Reverb Lounge. Tickets are $18; showtime is 8 p.m.

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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.


Ten Questions with Quivers (performing at Grapefruit Records Sunday)…

Category: Blog,Interviews — Tags: , , — @ 11:37 am September 24, 2022
Quivers play at Grapefruit Records in the Old Market Sunday night.

by Tim McMahan,

It’s starting to become a stereotype about Australian indie bands — they just know now to write really catchy, embraceable melodies that sound on first listen as if you’ve heard them all your life. Melbourne’s Quivers certainly falls into that category. 

The band’s latest album, Golden Doubt (2021, Ba Da Bing!), is a 10-song collection of comfortable indie folk-rock characterized by gorgeous pop melodies, chiming, bright instrumentation and warm, layered harmonies. For me, it’s very much a throwback to the kind of music that dominated college radio in the ‘80s by acts like R.E.M., Hunters and Collectors, The Go-Betweens and The Reivers. 

The band consists of guitarist/vocalist Sam Nicholson, bassist/vocalist Bella Quinlan, drummer/vocalist Holly Thomas and guitarist/vocalist Michael Panton. I caught up with then on their way to Grapefruit Records in the Old Market this Sunday night, Sept. 25, for a very special in-store, and gave them the ol’ Ten Questions survey. Here’s what they had to say:

1. What is your favorite album?

We don’t really play favorites but here are some albums that have hugely impacted on us or we are just listening to at the moment.

Mike: Armlock – Trust

Holly: Michael Kiwanuka – Home Again

Sam: Chad Vangaalen –  Soft Airplane

Bella: Lucinda Williams – Car Wheels On A Gravel Road

2. What is your least favorite song?

Sam: I think all music is great, and if someone likes it somewhere then it deserves to exist.

3. What do you enjoy most about being in a band?

Holly: Having band mates! And sharing all sorts of wonderful experiences with them. 

Sam: All the people you meet and places you see that you would never if it wasn’t for a few songs.

4. What do you hate about being in a band?

Holly: I really can’t think of anything to hate.  It’s actually the best; everyone should be in a band!

5. What is your favorite substance (legal or illegal)?
Mike: Phosphorus
Sam: Pancakes
Holly: Love

6. In what city or town do you love to perform (and why)?

Sam: There’s no city that I wouldn’t want to visit and play music in – we are so excited to get around all these cities in the USA. I would love us to one day play in Mexico City though!

7. What city or town did you have your worst gig (and why)?

Sam: Really don’t want to name names. Our worst gig was still too much fun, sometimes when it gets weird it really is more memorable!

8. Are you able to support yourself through your music? If so, how long did it take to get there; if not, how do you pay your bills?

Sam: It supports us emotionally and sometimes financially!

9. What one profession other than music would you like to attempt; what one profession would you absolutely hate to do?

Holly: Probably something creative that doesn’t involve 9-5 hours, or maybe a professional sports person? Though I think those days have well passed. I would really dislike working for a big corporation that doesn’t care about people or the earth.

10. What stories have you heard about Omaha, Nebraska?

As a kid my sister had hundreds of CDs, lots of R.E.M., but there was one Counting Crows CD that I think I still know all the words to even though I haven’t heard it since I was ten. Their song “Omaha” made me always want to get there! And of course later hearing Nebraska by Bruce Springsteen. We can’t wait to visit and also to check out Grapefruit Records as we play our instore – we’ve been in contact with Simon Joyner there for a while now and he helps us post our records around the USA. He’s also a great songwriter, too – and I’m sure those store shelves are stocked with some good records!

Quivers perform Sunday, Sept. 25, at Grapefruit Records, 1125 Jackson St., Suite 5. Local support is TBC. Show starts at 6:30 p.m. and is free/by donation. For more information, call 402-769-6583.

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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.


Ten Questions with Live Skull (playing Lincoln Calling Friday night!)…

Category: Blog,Interviews — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:25 pm September 20, 2022
Live Skull plays Friday night at Lincoln Calling. Photo by Jen Jaffe.

by Tim McMahan,

When it was announced that Lincoln Calling managed to book seminal ‘80s noise-rock legends Live Skull for this year’s festival, which runs this Thursday through Saturday, I was flummoxed. 

A product of the Lower Manhattan music and art scene of the ‘80s, Live Skull was the definitive post-punk noise act alongside bands like Sonic Youth, Swans and Lydia Lunch. They dominated the late-‘80s with a handful of albums released on Homestead, many featuring Thalia Zedek on vocals and all begging for a reissue. Soon after Positraction was released in ’89, the band called it quits. 

Now they’re back after a 30-year hiatus. The band’s founder — guitarist/vocalist Mark C. — reformed Live Skull with a new line-up in 2018 that includes Lincoln native Kent Heine on bass (Who remembers Kent’s former band, The Holy Ghost? I do. Read my interview with the band from way back in 2002). Live Skull has released a couple new albums including 2020’s Dangerous Visions on Bronson Recordings. 

The Lincoln Calling gig is part of a fall U.S. tour and will no doubt be a highlight of the Festival. I caught up with Mark C. and gave him the Ten Questions treatment. Here’s what he had to say:

1. What is your favorite album?

Mark C.: Depending on the day of the week either, Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks, or Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures, or Miles Davis’s Bitches Brew, or Joni Mitchel’s Blue, or The Fall’s Live At the Witch Trials, or Fela’s Expensive Shit!

2. What is your least favorite song?

Every pop song with auto-tuning!

3. What do you enjoy most about being in a band?

Travelling to different cities around the world to perform can be exciting, when the drives aren’t too long, you’ve gotten some sleep, and you get a soundcheck! I also relish not always having to be the driver, so I can shoot video out the window.

4. What do you hate about being in a band?

Hearing loss! Also having to feign laughter at bad, drummer jokes! How can you tell someone’s a drummer? He’s the one hanging with musicians…

5. What is your favorite substance (legal or illegal)?

Organic Hawaiian black tea from the Big Island!

6. In what city or town do you love to perform (and why)?

New York City will always be my favorite, but our last tour of Norway was super fun, and I would say recently we’ve been having a lot of fun playing upstate in Kingston. The air is sweet, the crowd is enthusiastic, and there’s nice outdoor space at the club we’ve been playing at, Tubby’s -where they feed you the most amazing vegan pizza and win you over with positive vibes!

7. What city or town did you have your worst gig (and why)?

Hmm… we’ve played shows where guitar amps blew up, lead singers could just barely crawl onto stage in the middle of the opening song, disappearing sound engineers at showtime…but back in the day we had a gig in Wuppertal, Germany, where we were told we had damaged a $1,800 microphone (somehowjust about the amount of our fee) and therefore they wouldn’t be paying us. And there was the time in Phoenix, Arizona, after a well-attended gig, I think the day after New Year’s, when Tom Paine and I were summoned upstairs to the club owner’s office, but instead of a check, he pulls a gun out of the drawer and slams it down on his desk in front of us. He looked up and asked what we were still doing sitting there!!

8. Are you able to support yourself through your music? If so, how long did it take to get there; if not, how do you pay your bills?

There was a time near the end of the ‘80s when Live Skull could support the band members while touring and pay everyone’s rent back home. But I’ve always had other jobs, and these days I record bands at my studio, Deepsea in Hoboken, New Jersey. I also piece together photography work and other assorted activities to help make ends meet.

9. What one profession other than music would you like to attempt; what one profession would you absolutely hate to do?

I’ve been semi-obsessed with art photography since I was a kid — you can see some of my work on our early album covers, posters and the 5-D video as well as on Sugar’s Copper Blue – and I imagine I would like teaching it.

Basically, I never thought I could face a steady 9-5 office job of any kind.

10. What stories have you heard about Omaha, Nebraska?

Aside from Insurance tips from Mutual of Omaha, I’ve heard they have the largest indoor desert and the largest indoor rain forest in America. Why travel further? And I always thought the Brooklyn Botanic Garden was special with their Bonsai Museum!

Live Skull plays Friday, Sept. 23, at Bodega’s Alley, 1418 O Street, Lincoln, as part of Lincoln Calling. Showtime is 9 p.m. For more information, including ticket pricing, go to

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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.


Ten Questions with Grocer (playing tonight at The Sydney)…

Category: Interviews — Tags: , , , , , — @ 5:45 am March 21, 2022
Grocer at The Reverb Aug. 17, 2021. The band plays tonight at The Sydney in Benson.

by Tim McMahan,

The last time Philly indie rock band Grocer came through Omaha last August I tagged them for a quick interview about touring during COVID, with the Delta variant about to come down like a hammer.

Drummer Cody Nelson put some wisdom to the situation: “We’re in a new place every night. If we can make sure we’re surrounded by as few potential carriers as possible that increases the chances of us being healthy and being able to continue our tour. If the venue takes the lead, it’s more comfortable for us to show up and be safe.” You can read the full article at The Reader website, here.

Looks like they survived, as the band is returning to The Sydney in Benson tonight, for a tough-as-nails Monday gig. Their style very much is in the early Pixies tradition, angular and cool riding high on the bass line and backbeat drums, while guitarist Emily Daly shreds feedback-drenched leads filtered through a muffled effects pedal.

Since last time, the band recorded a 9-track LP, Numbers Game, that’s slated for release May 6, and just released the first track, “Pick A Way.”

We caught up with Grocer again, but this time subjected them to the Ten Questions treatment. Here’s what they had to say:

What is your favorite album?

Danielle Lovier: My most listened to album is Shadow of Your Smile by Astrud Gilberto.

Nick Rahn: Bitte Orca – Dirty Projectors

Cody Nelson: Commit This to Memory by Motion City Soundtrack

Emily Daly: Sister by Sonic Youth

What is your least favorite song?

Cody: Don’t know if I have one, but I really don’t like Du Hast

Emily: Baby Shark

What do you enjoy most about being in a band?

Cody: Pass…JK it’s the most meaningful form of social/creative connection I’ve personally ever found. 

Emily: The camaraderie of hanging out with fellow weirdos with the same impossible goals

D&N: Touring!

What do you hate about being in a band?

Danielle: Making a decision on where the four of us should eat a meal while on tour.

Nick: Self Promotion

What is your favorite substance (legal or illegal)?

Cody: Legal: Coffee, Illegal: Don’t worry about it 😉

Danielle: LSD lol

In what city or town do you love to perform?

Danielle: I think Omaha actually is pretty high up on the list for us, as well as Atlanta & Charleston.

Emily: Chicago/El Paso

What city or town did you have your worst gig (and why)?

Nick: Phoenix, too many reasons

Cody: Definitely Philadelphia, haha

Are you able to support yourself through your music? If so, how long did it take to get there; if not, how do you pay your bills?

Nick: No, I also freelance as an audio engineer and a handyman.

Danielle: Not quite there yet. I make planters.

Cody: Certainly not (yet), I’m also a professional poker player.

Emily: Nope!

What one profession other than music would you like to attempt; what one profession would you absolutely hate to do?

Emily: I would love to teach, which I’ve done before, but unfortunately doesn’t pay a living wage. I would be useless at anything involving math. 

Cody: I would like to try being a therapist/psychologist, would hard pass any other sort of medical/legal field.

What are the stories you’ve heard about Omaha, Nebraska?

Danielle: We heard that there’s a recording studio in Omaha, where the sound engineer actually wrote ‘All I Want for Christmas is You’ and gave it to Boys II Men, from which Mariah Carey stole it and said sound engineer was never credited.

Nick: Just the one story about the corn husker who saw Conor Oberst at a Runza.

Grocer plays tonight with Bad Self Portraits and Bach Mai at The Sydney in Benson, 5918 Maple St. Show time is not listed, but it probably starts at 8 p.m. $12.

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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.


Ten Questions with Squirrel Flower (at Reverb Saturday); new And How music, tonight with Thick Paint…

Category: Blog,Interviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:05 pm March 16, 2022
Squirrel Flower plays at Reverb Lounge Saturday, March 19.

by Tim McMahan,

Chicago by way of Boston’s Squirrel Flower a.k.a. Ella Williams has been writing and recording indie folk music since 2015, but broke through the waves with 2020’s I Was Born Swimming (Polyvinyl) that Paste Magazine called a record “you’ll want to sink into, like a warm bath or maybe a 4 p.m. ocean that’s been baking in the hot sun all day.”

She followed it up with Planet (i) (Polyvinyl, 2021), of which Allmusic said, “Themes of personal, meteorological, and environmental disaster scud like silver clouds over the album’s panoramic arrangements in a tenuous, but pleasingly textural way.” In fact, the record’s one-sheet called it “a love letter to disaster in every form imaginable. Tornadoes, flooding, gaslighting assholes, cars on fire—these songs fully embrace a planet in ruin.”

Sound depressing? Yeah, it can be. But most of Planet (i) is acoustic-riff indie rock that fits alongside acts like Cassandra Jenkins or Tomberlin at their quieter moments. It’s a pretty record that feels like a long, contemplative road trip, dusty and afternoon-sun lit, lost along an empty Highway 30.

Expect to hear tracks off this one when she rolls into Reverb Saturday night, as well as songs off her just release follow-up EP, Planet (Polyvinyl), which consists of outtakes from the Planet (i) sessions and a cover of Bjork’s “Unravel.”

We caught up with Williams and asked her the Ten Questions. Here’s her rather minimal responses:

What is your favorite album?

Squirrel Flower’s Ella Williams: Nebraska by Springsteen 😉

What is your least favorite song?

Happy Birthday

What do you enjoy most about being in a band?

Playing music with them 

What do you hate about being in a band?

Literally nothing !

What is your favorite substance (legal or illegal)?

Bagel with cream cheese

In what city or town do you love to perform?

Chicago! Where I live right now. 

What city or town did you have your worst gig (and why)?

I’ve never had a bad gig but one time I played in Sioux City, Iowa, and we got caught in the craziest rain storm ever. Full rivers flowing on the street while we were loading out.

Are you able to support yourself through your music? If so, how long did it take to get there; if not, how do you pay your bills?

I have very low living costs and teach and work catering/restaurant gigs from time to time. It took a long time to get to the point of only needing a bit of side work here and there.

What one profession other than music would you like to attempt; what one profession would you absolutely hate to do?

I worked as a carpenter’s assistant for a bit, which I really loved. Would like to go into carpentry maybe. I would hate to be in finance or be a coder. 

What are the stories you’ve heard about Omaha, Nebraska?

Mainly just nice tales from my friend Paige, who grew up on a goat farm outside of Omaha! Can’t wait to play in Omaha. 

Squirrel Flower plays with Tenci Saturday, March 19, at Reverb Lounge. Tickets are $15, showtime is 8 p.m. This is a No Vax No Entry show, so bring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test.

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Omaha band And How released a new track off a forthcoming album with no set release date (that I know of). Produced/recorded by Ian Aeillo, who gave me the tip, the song was recorded at the old Enamel Studios (and I’m sure there’s a good story behind that). When we’ll hear more tracks from these sessions is a mystery, as I’m told frontman Ryan Menchaca has his hands full with this project and touring with Thick Paint. Fingers crossed that both bands play at this year’s Petfest…

Speaking of which, tonight And How plays with Thick Paint and Masonjixx (headliner) at Reverb Lounge. $15, 8 p.m.

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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.