Live Review: Stigmata Sheehan loses control; Piñata Protest tonight…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 8:30 am November 27, 2023

Stephen Sheehan with Stigmata Martyr at Reverb Lounge, Nov. 24, 2023.

by Tim McMahan,

Well, I missed the Criteria/Little Brazil show Saturday. And the Ryan Davis show at Grapefruit last night. The holidays being what they are, it just wasn’t in the cards. 

I did catch Stephen Sheehan performing with Stigmata Martyr Friday night at Reverb Lounge. This was the best Sheehan performance I’ve seen since his Digital Sex days, thanks to the energy coming off the stage as the band performed four songs by Joy Division. The setlist:

  • – Warsaw
  • – Day of the Lords
  • – Ceremony
  • – Transmission

The rarely heard “Warsaw” was the big surprise, as was the fact that Sheehan and the band, maybe wisely, bypassed other Joy Division staples like “Love Will Tear Us Apart” or “Disorder,” which may have required Sheehan to attempt Ian Curtis’ famous dance moves. Those songs also invite other comparisons, which aren’t necessary as there is no replacing Ian’s always slightly off-pitch bass-baritone delivery. Instead, Sheehan simply sang the songs as Sheehan, and the performance was better for it. 

If you missed it, you’ll get another chance to see/hear Sheehan in action as he’s among the performers taking part in the Damones’ New Year’s Eve Eve show at The Waiting Room Dec. 30. 

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You say after a weekend of turkey that you’re hankering for some accordion-powered Spanish-language Tex-Mex punk rock? Well Reverb Lounge has you covered as tonight, San Antonio’s Piñata Protest headlines. Joining them are No/Mas, Amolador and Bolzen Beer Band. $18, 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 © 2023 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Live Review: Hotline TNT, The Dirts at Reverb…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , — @ 12:24 pm November 23, 2023

Hotline TNT at Reverb Lounge, Nov. 22, 2023.

by Tim McMahan,

A quick review on this holiest of Turkey Days.

Reverb Lounge was semi-packed (not jam-packed, not cram-full) for last night’s Hotline TNT show. Pushing through the crowd to get my Rolling Rock, I noticed the booths toward the back were full of very young people stacked up around the tables, looking tired and annoyed. I’m sure there’s an interesting back story to this that involves the two opening band, which I missed.

I had no idea who was on stage – a five piece dominated by a dude playing a Flying V, surrounded by an all-female backing band. This obviously wasn’t Hotline TNT, but who was it? I was pleasantly surprised at how good they were. Especially the dude on the V who had a decent voice. He shared vocals with a woefully under-amped lead guitarist, who, when she sang, could barely be heard. 

The Dirts at Reverb Lounge, Nov. 22, 2023.

The guy, however… an interesting voice. It almost sounded like he was singing with an accent. It wouldn’t be until the end of their set, while the guitarist was looking for a capo, that he said (without an accent), “We’re The Dirts and this is ‘High Flying Bird,’” — their last song of their set. I ran into MarQ Manner in the crowd, who said they were, indeed, local and that the guy also was in Garst. The only “Dirts” band I could find online was the Swedish punk act by the same name. TIme for a name change, folks, and please let me know when you play out again…

Hotline TNT came on at around 10:30. Their style — very ‘90s wall-of-guitars — thanks to having three guitarists. Very much a Sugar/Bob Mould/Teenage Fanclub vibe – just a pure ’90s post-punk sound that was even better live than on their much-lauded, overblown (recording-wise) debut album. The only drawback to the live renditions were frontman Will Anderson’s lackluster vocals, but in the end, it didn’t matter when the night’s theme was, “How can we build on this guitar riff?”

Throughout the set, the third guitarist kept breaking strings. When he broke the first one, the lead guitarist handed him his guitar and picked up another. Then when he broke a string on that one, it looked like he borrowed a guitar from the Dirts (though I’m not certain — though it looked like same SG). 

This guitar swapping required much between-song tuning, where Anderson asked the crowd if anyone was taking part in tomorrow’s Turkey Trot. No response. He kicked off the next song with, “Let’s see your Turkey Trot right here,” pointing at the area in front of the stage. Not from this crowd. Instead, he just got more fervent head nods.

I liked listening to these guys if only for the sheer guitar-riff power and the wayback-machine quality of their post-punk songs. Not a bad way to spend a Wednesday night before Thanksgiving…

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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.


Live Review: Speedy Ortiz, Spacemoth at Slowdown…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , — @ 8:28 am November 20, 2023

Speedy Ortiz at Slowdown, Nov. 17, 2023.

by Tim McMahan,

We missed opening band UN-T.I.L. Friday night at The Slowdown, which I guess you could call another life lesson for this very young band that is the product of the Omaha Girls Rock program. We had just seen them a couple weeks earlier at that organization’s fundraiser at Benson Theater (they were awsome) and kind of knew we’d miss them Friday as we were running late. The life lesson: The opening slot in a three-band (or even worse, four-band) bill often gets missed by those who don’t want to (or can’t) spend three-plus hours at the venue. 

Spacemoth at Slowdown, Nov. 17, 2023.

We arrived right as Spacemoth began their set. The four-piece led by Maryam Qudus played a woozy brand of spacey shoegaze indie rock, dominated by synths. They were at their best when they were at their simplest – stripped down to the most basic rhythm/melody. 

The inability to understand the words sung by the vocalist is practically a shoegaze trope, but here, when the band is straddling the line that divides shoegaze from indie rock, the lack of enunciation only takes away, as the vocals merely become another tonal instrument. 

Their set’s highlight was the second to last song, which Qudus said was “a new one.” It stood above the others in its more conventional arrangement – in other words, it rocked. Kicky fun. More of this, please. 

Speedy Ortiz came on at around 10 p.m. and proceeded to rock the crowd of around 60. The band’s latest, Rabbit Rabbit, is maybe their least accessible album, with intricate rhythms and melodies that lean close to prog. Surprising time changes, wandering vocals and dominate, at times over-the-top drums make this anything but sing-along stuff. There were moments when the drums were down-right distracting. Songs off the new record performed live were sometimes grooveless, but when they did fall into a groove, you really noticed.

Front person Sadie Dupuis was complimentary about our fair city throughout the set, but the whole band was taken by surprise when the crowd didn’t react to the shout-out. Dupuis said if this were Philly, the crowd would have gone bananas with just the mention of their town’s name; but in this case, the reaction was matter-of-fact, if they acknowledged it at all. 

Despite this, later in the set, Dupuis remarked why she loved playing in Omaha. Apparently Mike Mogis mixed the band’s previous album, which meant she spent a couple weeks here, driving around. “It’s almost like a second home,” she said. In that case, welcome home, Sadie, we missed you. 

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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.


Live Review: Great Lake Swimmers; #BFF, another quiet weekend…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 11:11 am November 3, 2023

Great Lake Swimmers at The Slowdown, Nov. 2, 2023.

by Tim McMahan,

The streets of downtown Omaha were lined with cars presumably belong to patrons of the Shania Twain concert being held at that very moment in the CHI arena. Somewhere, rows of middle-aged women in denim skirts, red boots and bedazzled cowboy hats were line-dancing to “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!” 

Meanwhile, inside the dark, cavernous confines of The Slowdown, tables of more hip and no doubt more introspective middle-aged music fans waited for Great Lake Swimmers to take the small stage. What would Shania fans think of their style of rural Americana folk rock? Who am I kidding? They’d be bored out of their minds. Not that any style of music is better than another, but Shania arena concerts (well, like any arena concert) is all about the spectacle and radio hits, and, well the only spectacle at The Slowdown was the musicianship of the five people on stage who looked like they were having the time of their lives playing their music.

Fronted by singer/songwriter/guitarist Tony Dekker, the band — stand-up and electric bass, drums, guitar/banjo, keys/guitar — played a tight set of songs from their new album, Uncertain Country, along with selections from the Great Lake Swimmer’s 20-year-long catalog, Dekker quietly introducing most with stories about their origins and meaning, explaining how happy he was just to be able to tour again after the pandemic kept him locked up in his Toronto home. 

Their style is indie folk more so than “Americana” and has a lot in common with ‘70s soft rock bands like America and Cat Stevens – at times (considering the rural themes) even reminscent of John Denver, though Dekker’s voice leans closer to Neil Young’s in its high timber. 

An evening highlight was born from a calamity — Dekker broke a guitar string right before playing one of the band’s most popular songs, “Your Rocky Spine.” But instead of holding up the performance, he asked guitarist Erik Arnesen to lead off the song. What followed was an extended banjo introduction performed while Dekker kneeled on stage and did his stringing, smiling and nodding his head. The long intro changed the complexion of the song, creating a new drama not heard on the recording that they should make a regular part of their set — in other words, Dekker needs to break more guitar strings. 

That moment was only eclipsed by a gorgeous cover of Kate McGarrigle’s “Come a Long Way” accented by beautiful harmonies from guitarist Colleen Brown, and an epic version of “The Real Work,” from the band’s 2018 album The Waves, The Wake (Nettwerk Music Group). The polite, gracious crowd of around 50 never strayed from their seats, leaving only one oddball standing next to the stage throughout the evening. 

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Not much happening this weekend. Again, no touring indie bands are coming through. In fact, there’s almost no shows at all. Is this the Husker effect?

Tonight, however, is Benson First Friday, which means Maple Street will be abuzz with art lovers taking in openings in galleries throughout the district. Among them is the opening reception at Ming Toy Gallery (6066 Maple Street) for photographer Jeanne C. Langen’s De Herdere Nacht. The exhibition is a benefit for Wings of Hope Cancer Support Center in honor of Jeanne’s parents – Wesley A. and Judith C. Brown (Pittack), with 100% of all sales going to the non-profit. The show runs from 6 to 9 p.m. Come by and say hi.

As part of BFF, The Sydney is hosting LA electro-techno-punk act Cruel Kiss (a.k.a. Dustin Hollenbeck), along with Ex Lover and Nowhere. $15, 9 p.m. 

Saturday night Omaha hardcore band Stronghold is having an album release show at Reverb Lounge with four opening acts: Static Soul, Heavyweight, Healer and Mass Hysteria. $10, 8 p.m. 

And that is it. If I missed your show, put it in the comments section. Have a great weekend. 

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2023 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Live Review: See Through Dresses, UN-T.I.L. at the Benson Theatre…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 7:50 am October 30, 2023

See Through Dresses at The Benson Theatre, Oct. 27, 2023.

by Tim McMahan,

The Benson Theatre, located right in the middle of our drunken little townlet, could really be a cool stage for rock shows. The room is, indeed, quite beautiful, well designed, with rows of seating and plenty of room in front of the stage to stand. It’s the best of both worlds, or could be. In my mind I could imagine all those Undertow artists’ shows, like the recent Mark Eitzel show that took place downtown in a brew pub drinking room, performed on the Benson Theatre stage, a room just the right size for tours from past stars who now find themselves nomadically playing people’s living rooms. 

Alas, one assumes the operating costs associated with this “non-profit” theater makes such concerts impossible, which is a shame because there’s woefully little programming taking place in the state-of-the-art facility in the heart of the city. 

But I digress…

Friday night the theater hosted a fundraiser for Omaha Girls Rock, another Omaha non-profit, this one designed to provide direction both musically and ethically to young women from our community. The sold-out crowd consisted mostly of parents of these young rock stars on hand to give moral support, sitting or standing in groups while young kids ran around in costumes or wiggled on the “dance floor” in front of the stage. 

Omaha is currently suffering from a lack of young, up-and-coming indie bands. And as few new or touring Omaha indie bands as there are, there are even fewer bands fronted by women, which is ironic because today’s national indie music scene is dominated by women artists. No need to list them, if you know than you know. Omaha Girls Rock, while not established to fix this problem, could certainly provide an effective remedy. 

In times past when I’ve seen OGR bands play at fundraisers I’ve approached it like just another supportive parent (though I’m not), understanding the girls were only just learning their instruments. Not so Friday night. The two bands I saw were actually pretty good.  Nothing Rhymes with Orange was cute and showed promise, but UN-T.I.L. actually could stand on its own as a functioning post-punk power trio. No idea who’s in the band, but they had some chops, especially on the last two numbers that had more intricate compositions. And if you doubt me, you can find out for yourself as UN-T.I.L. will be opening for Speedy Ortiz at The Slowdown Nov. 17.

They were followed by the return of See Through Dresses, who haven’t played out in a few years. Drummer Nate Van Fleet even made a special trip to Omaha from his new home in LA just for the show. The entire band dressed in matching skeleton costumes a la Phoebe Bridgers’ band, which made it a sort of double costume. 

While the band sounded as good as ever playing music that’s a combination of shoegaze and Dinosaur Jr., the vocals by Matthew Carroll and Sara Bertuldo sounded naked on stage, pulled right out front of everything instead of being properly mixed with the rest of the instruments. I’ve never heard these two so loud and clear, like auctioneers fronting DIIV. Still, despite the poor mix, it was great seeing them on stage again.

In an era in Omaha when we’ve got ginormous new music venues popping up everywhere, here’s a small, well-made smaller alternative venue going mostly unused. It would be a shame if more bands weren’t booked 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.


Live Review: Sextile, Ratboys, Another Michael; O’Leaver’s weekend (Dance Me Pregnant); Samia Saturday…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , , — @ 10:46 am October 20, 2023

Sextile at The Waiting Room, Oct. 19, 2023.

by Tim McMahan,

I’ll start with Sextile at The Waiting Room and go backward from there. 

The band had made it known they were going on at 10:15 last night, and I arrived shortly before that, catching only the last song by the opening act, someone who’s music I had determined I didn’t need to hear after listening to a number of his tracks prior to the show. Some folks expected Sextile to be a big draw, others were like me, skeptical but hopeful that Omaha would show up — and more Omaha showed up than I expected – a crowd of maybe 150, a fine mix of ages and genders drawn together by a goth sense of fashion and a shared love for this style of post-punk post-New Wave synth-powered dance music.

The trio bounded onto the velvet-black stage to the blump-blump-blump beat of “Contortion,” off their new album, Push. Or at least I think that was the name of the song. I would be lying if I told you I knew the words to any Sextile song or their names for that matter, other than the ones fans consider their “hits” – “Disco,” “New York,” “No Fun,” “Current Affair,” etc., all of which were played at some point last night to a crowd of sometimes-jumping sometimes-undulating fans, many of which looked ready for Halloween. 

In addition to having an infectiously driving beat, Sextile songs sport abrasive counter-melodies played mostly on synths but sometimes on electric guitar, and vocals that consist mostly of either frontman Brady Keehn or frontwoman Melissa Scaduto barking out words in a staccato yelp tightly in synch with the proceedings. At their best, even the most dead pile of human flesh can’t help but move to their coal-black rhythms.

So much of the music was preprogrammed that it was hard to say if and when any of Sextile were actually playing anything, other than punching the track number from a play list, though it sure looked like guitarist Cameron Michel was actually shredding that guitar, as did Scaduto. More often, the performance consisted of a bleach-blond-sunglassed Keehn bounding about the stage, spitting out lyrics while showing off his contorted dance moves, glowing/blasting on-off-on in the blinding strobes. T’was a shame the place wasn’t packed, as (like that Model/Actriz show a week ago) I can only imagine how this performance would feel at, say, a sold-out Terminal 5 in Brooklyn. 

Another Michael at Reverb Lounge, Oct. 19, 2023.

Going backwards earlier the evening… There was a wholly different kind of audience at Reverb Lounge last night for Ratboys, a well-attended (but not sold out) show. These folks clearly were not ready for Halloween. Opening band Another Michael is a Philly four-piece that plays Americana-inflected indie rock, though that’s not really a fair description. It’s clearly a singer/songwriter act powered by frontman Michael Doherty backed by a rock-solid band anchored with precision and grace by a drummer who’s name I don’t know and can’t find and in this day-and-age don’t want to make any assumptions. 

Doherty’s songwriting style would be as successful in the ‘70s as it is here in the ’20s (and upon reading that sentence, I feel very old indeed). The only band I would compare them to is early ‘90s-era The Silos. Doherty has a high, sweet voice and style similar to Walter Salas-Humara, though instead of singing about the Southwest, Another Michael’s songs are rooted in the frozen Northeast. Really gorgeous stuff and a good opener for Ratboys.

Ratboys at Reverb Lounge, Oct. 19, 2023.

A hot ticket thanks to the success of their latest album, the Chris Walla produced The Window, and for touring with bands like Wilco and Guster (who they opened for here in Omaha a year ago), the band has a poise and style that points to much bigger stages than Reverb’s. Singer/guitarist Julia Steiner is like watching Broadcast News-era Holly Hunter lead a modern indie band that has a lot in common with acts like Hop Along (the closest comparison vocally to Steiner). Her voice can be at times sound earnest and personal while at other times almost overtly cute, just as their songs can waver between straightforward indie rock and Wilco-esque Americana. 

Steiner also has good between-song-tuning-my-guitar snappy patter, telling stories about “the wooden man” they saw at a Luv’s somewhere in Iowa (Hate for Iowa was a theme throughout the night by both bands who wrongly think Nebraskans hates Iowa for some reason, which couldn’t be further from the truth, but who am I to correct their regional prejudices?).  There is no doubt this band is going to be huge, and the fact that this show didn’t sell out tiny Reverb only adds to the continued mystery as to why touring indie shows are drawing so disappointingly in our market. 

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Onto the weekend, and an O’Leaver’s weekend at that, though there is one big touring indie show worth mentioning.

First though, like a blast from the past, there are back-to-back nights of live music this weekend at fabulous O’Leaver’s. Tonight, elusive local indie band BB Sledge opens for two bands I’ve never heard of — Saltwater Sanctuary and The Bedrock. Will I finally see BB Sledge after countless efforts to see them in the past were for naught? Maybe. This show is $10 and starts at 9:30.

Tomorrow night (Saturday) at O’Leaver’s see the return of Dance Me Pregnant, who we haven’t heard from since, what, 2012? It’s the classic Dance Me Pregnant line-up with Chris Machmuller, Johnny Vredenburg, Corey Broman and Jeff Ankenbauer. Some of these folks I literally haven’t seen in a decade. If that weren’t enough to get you to O’Leaver’s, the night’s bill also includes The Flamboyant Gods (I’m Drinking This Records) and In Tongues (Robert Little, Jason Ludwick and Boz Hicks). And it’s free. Expect a crush mob. Good thing it’s nice out so you can step out onto their gorgeous patio between sets. Starts at 9 p.m., just like old times.

The other big show Saturday night is indie darling Samia at The Waiting Room. The band is riding a wave of popularity thanks to the sing-along song “Honey” off the album of the same name released earlier this year on Grand Jury Records. Was a time you couldn’t turn on Sirius XMU without hearing the track (how does that happen, by the way?). Also on the bill is the cute Nashville indie duo Venus & the Flytraps.  8 p.m., $25.

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

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2023 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Live Review: Civic at The Slowdown…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: — @ 7:32 am October 16, 2023

Civic at The Slowdown, Oct. 13, 2023.

by Tim McMahan,

Aussie band Civic didn’t so much get NOmaha’d by the crowd as much as they were NOmaha’d by Bad Religion at the Admiral Friday night, or more accurately, Dwarves, who opened for Bad Religion. I have little doubt that the Admiral’s show drew away their target audience, and it was a shame.

While it was an intense performance by Civic, you’re naturally going to lose something when only playing in front of 50 or so people in a mostly empty Slowdown Jr. Frontman Jim McCullough made the best of things, asking the crowd to move up closer to the stage between songs. “We have a problem,” he said with his charming Aussie accent. “This hole right here.” He pointed at the empty space in front of him. “Move up. You don’t have to be afraid.” 

The crowd did move up and a few even tried to start a shoving mosh pit to no avail. Certainly Civic’s music lends itself to shoving, the band takes a clean, modern approach to punk rock even though their music is too well played for punk, sounding more like fast heavy metal with a snarl. I would have loved to have seen these guys play this show at a drunken, chaotic O’Leaver’s back in its heyday. 

Regardless, despite the small crowd, Civic was good-hearted fun, clearly excited to be in Omaha (and Nebraska) for the first time. “For dinner, we were going to go to this joint where you can watch raccoons eat,” McCullough said between songs, clearly referencing the Alpine Inn in Ponca Hills. “But we were two hours late so we’ll have to throw some garbage in the pit and watch you eat it. Just kidding. When we come back, you’re all going with us.”

“And he’s paying,” quipped sideman Lewis Hodgson. Count me in. 

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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.


Live Review: The Church at TWR, Model/Actriz at Reverb…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , — @ 7:57 am October 10, 2023

The Church at The Waiting Room, Oct. 9, 2023.

by Tim McMahan,

Truly a night of contrasts between old-school, romantic, guitar-engineered pomp rock and new school, queer-focused, violent, oversexed dance music – one cast in shades of lavender blue, the other in blood-red shadows and strobe lights. 

The night began with The Church, presumably an entire evening of them as there was no opening act and as the cheerful door guy pointed out, there would be two sets and an intermission. That’s a lot of Church. 

The wizened British Australian five-piece walked onto The Waiting Room stage a little after 8 to whoops of applause from a comfortable crowd of around 250 — far from the sell-out a band like this deserves. With a heyday in the 1980s powered by their roaring, moody rock and MTV videos for songs like mega-hit “Under the Milky Way,” The Church’s heavenly guitar-fueled post-Pink Floyd rock deserves to be played in front of a sold-out arena instead of in small clubs like this. Their music can be soaring, dense and gorgeous like the best arena rock from the 1970s. 

Frontman guitarist Steve Kilbey has lost little of his voice and there was a gravitas to the 69-year-old Brit who not only stood front and center singing the hits but also narrating the storyline to the band’s latest concept album, The Hypnogogue, a futuristic tale of overcoming writer’s block, love and getting older, not necessarily in that order. 

Alongside him, lead guitarist Ian Haug, looking and sounding like British rock royalty, a throwback to an era when guitar tone was everything and a rock solo was a necessity to push any song onto the next level. Maybe it’s due to a steady diet of indie rock, but listening to Haug’s guitar was like stepping back to a time when musicians like David Gilmour, Jeff Beck and Brian May strode the earth like gods. 

The fans, mostly dudes in their 50s, got plenty of what they came for in the opening set that included spot-on takes on old hits like “Destination” and “The Unguarded Moment” along with the new stuff that fit nicely alongside them. All gorgeously delivered, but I began to get itchy about three-quarters through the first set, as 9 p.m. approached and I knew industrial/punk/dance band Model/Actriz was about to go on stage around the corner at Reverb Lounge. So I snuck out right before the intermission.

Let me point out that I got Model/Actriz completely wrong in yesterday’s write-up. Well, mostly wrong. I said they sounded like a cross between industrial bands The Soft Moon and Nine Inch Nails when in fact they’re a throbbing hard-noise queer/dance/punk band whose adrenaline-fueled beats (no electronics at all) beg beg beg you to move and/or gyrate along with frontman / diva Cole Haden as he flings/twists/undulates first on stage then on the floor, calling out “Omaha” throughout the set, telling the tiny audience of around 30 that “I didn’t come here to take a nap.

Model/Actriz at Reverb Lounge, Oct. 9, 2023.

While their much-lauded debut album, Dogsbody, is a high-octane thumper, it’s also dark, cast in shadows and strobes like a modern-day audio version of a darkly Times Square bar scene from a ’70s movie. The record is not as fun as the music performed live, where the energy is over-the-top, driven by a Aaron Shapiro’s always-percussive, muscular bass, Ruben Radlaeur’s simple but dominating drums and Jack Wetmore’s rattling, nervous guitar. The music is pure and all-encompassing, but it’s Haden’s full on, in-your-face performance (literally) bordering on disturbing (He’s not coming for me next, is he?) that made the spectacle what it was. 

The highlight was early in the set when Haden stepped down to the floor for a confrontational rendition of the song “Matador,” spitting out lines: “Get hard / Dumb fuck / Fuck good / Come strong,” and then asking, “What’s your name anyway? What’s your name? What’s your name Veronica? What’s your name?” leaning in close person-to-person through the nervous, energized crowd. He would later directly serenade one young male patron, his mic chord wrapped around his wrist, pleading. Oh my. 

The energy continued to rise through the set’s best songs from the new album, including killer versions of “Donkey Show,” “Mosquito” and “Crossing Guard.” Toward the set’s end, the throbbing dance beats devolved into throbbing (and less-interesting) slabs of pounding noise and Trent Reznor-style screams before pumping back up for the closer.  Imagine seeing them play in front of a crushed, sweaty crowd in a larger city…

I got back to The Church for the second set’s closing songs, including a majestic version of “Tantalized” and an encore that included Starfish standout “Reptile.” I was back in the time machine, and it might be where I belonged, but I still listened to Model/Actriz on my way home.

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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.


Live Reviews: Slow Pulp, Lewsberg, The Prairies; The Church, Model/Actriz, Ethel Cain tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , , , — @ 7:41 am October 9, 2023

Lewsberg at Grapefruit Records, Oct. 8, 2023.

by Tim McMahan,

This weekend was a study in accessibility – three shows, three experiences, only two out of the three were successful.

Friday night’s crowd for Slow Pulp at The Slowdown was picture perfect – the floor of the main room was nicely filled but not too crowded, you could get  around easy but the place didn’t feel empty, I was able to stand at my favorite stage-left perch throughout the set. It’s the way I like it at Slowdown and probably a bummer for the club owners, who would prefer a jam-packed evening for obvious reasons. 

Slow Pulp at The Slowdown, Oct. 6, 2023.

Slow Pulp came on at around 9 and were terrific. The remarkable thing about the band is how lead singer Emily Massey’s flat, unadorned, unfussy vocals perfectly compliment the bands’ impeccable playing. On the surface, Slow Pulp is nothing new or groundbreaking — they play somewhat run-of-the-mill indie rock that would fit comfortably alongside other modern-day female-led indie projects like Alvvays or Momma. Their strength lies in creating a sound that feels comfortable and assured — a fine, even style of songwriting I could listen to all night.  

At time’s Massey’s voice was as naked and pure as a senior-year talent show, but it’s that unassuming, unadorned style that made it so appealing, powered by a super-tight band who looked relaxed and assured. Her voice only got stronger as the night wore on, peaking during a great rendition of “Broadview,” a favorite off their most recent album, Yard, where Massey pulled out a harmonica and pushed the song into Neil Young Harvest territory. 

Saturday night was Rosali at Pageturners but, alas, it was not to be. When I arrived at around 9 Sean Pratt was on stage with Megan Siebe and every table was filled. Folks were standing in the back in the aisle that leads to the parking lot and I wondered where I would be able to stand and watch the show. The answer: nowhere. It was like the old days at The 49’r, another bar where if you didn’t get there early you were screwed because the tables took up all the room right up to where the band played and there was nowhere to go where you wouldn’t be in someone’s way, especially if you’re 6-foot-2. 

So with no place to stand, I turned around and left and learned a lesson that the trick (or necessity) to seeing a show at Pageturners is to get there early, before the performances start. 

Finally Sunday night it was down to Grapefruit Records for an in-store concert by Lewsberg. The set-up was as Simon had described it – the store had wheeled the album racks into the hallway, creating a big-ish space for people to stand in front of the the small elevated stage. It was a comfortable crowd of around 50 with a few seated on the floor to the left of the stage like grade schoolers at storytime. 

The Prairies at Grapefruit Records, Oct. 8, 2023.

One of the openers, The Prairies, consisted of Dave Nance, Noah Sterba, Myke Marasco and Kevin Donahue all having the time of their lives playing old songs from an old cassette recorded years ago – a cassette I would now like to own a copy of. Each took turns rotating between instruments (“Everyone plays drums in The Prairies”) for these short, sharp, fun songs that heralded back to the good old days of Nebraska post-punk.

The best way to describe Lewsberg’s set was how my wife described it, saying she felt like she was in a cool, secret club somewhere in Europe.  To me, it felt like seeing Talking Heads during their 1977 tour at someone’s house party in the Lower East Side.

The Rotterdam four-piece played songs off their amazing new album, Out and About (2023, 12XU), as well as older favorites like “Cold Light of Day,” from 2020’s In This House. Their simple arrangements, chiming guitars and frontman Arie van Vliet’s dry, close-to-spoken-word Lou Reed-style delivery gets them compared to Velvet Underground, while their stripped down rhythms recall The Feelies, but for me there was a trance-like quality I haven’t heard since The New Year/Bedhead. That’s a lot of comparisons for a band that has created something wholly originally and difficult to pin down – quiet yet intense, the only thing more intense was guitarist Michiel Klein’s tight, skull-like stare throughout the set as he focused on the repeated rhythm parts or opened up on solos. It was good to see him smile after the set. 

II can’t wait to see another show at Grapefruit Records. If this is what it means for indie to go back underground, I’m all for it. 

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It’s another Monday night in Omaha with three marquee shows happening at the same time, maybe because these touring bands just finished playing bigger cities over the weekend. Whatever the reason, there are choices to me made.

In the case of The Church, who is playing tonight at The Waiting Room, Omaha is actually the kick-off city for the next leg of their U.S. tour. They’re out on the road supporting new album, Hypnogogue, a strong collection that recalls their mid-‘80s heyday when they released Starfish and their biggest hit, “Under the Milky Way.” This is “an evening with The Church,” which means no openers. $35, 8 p.m. 

Meanwhile, around the corner at Reverb Lounge, electronic post-punk band Model/Actriz headlines. They remind me a shit-ton of The Soft Moon – same sort of bracing bounce electronic rhythms mixed with static noise and bass, like Nine Inch Nails meets The Rapture. This could be a really cool show. Conjunto Primitivo opens at 8 p.m. $15.

Meanwhile, The Slowdown is hosting the long-sold-out Ethel Cain show. Everyone’s wondering how The Slowdown got this gig, considering Cain has sold out much larger rooms. I’m told she specifically sought out the club on this tour — a tiny room considering she has nearly 2 million monthly listeners on Spotify and one of her most popular tracks is called “A House in Nebraska” – a stark and depressing song about crippling lost love. Midwife opens at 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 © 2023 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Live Review: Mitch Gettman, Little Bo Bash…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 6:56 am September 18, 2023

Mitch Gettman at The Slowdown, Sept. 16, 2023.

by Tim McMahan,

Mitch Gettman and his band played most (but not all) of his new double-CD Tilde to a crowd of less than 100 Saturday night at The Slowdown. He kicked off the set with Track 1 from CD 1, “Someday,” and then went right into Track 2, “PS,” and so on, but eventually changed it up. In the end, he didn’t play it all but did play all my favorites from the 90-minute audio tome.

Backed by a rhythm section of bassist Kevin Sullivan and drummer Adam Stoltenberg (who also co-produced the album), along with a guitarist whose name I didn’t catch, Gettman filled out the dense sound heard on the record playing either keyboards or guitar (using a repeater pedal to give him even more coverage). He seemed at times to be a reluctant frontman, as if he didn’t want to get in the way of his own songs. This makes for an enigmatic performance, with Gettman looking focused, earnest, not wanting to miss a single note (which he didn’t). 

I guess you’d call it a tight performance. He did loosen up on his R&B send-up, “Adore You,” which included some righteous rapping and a rhythm that got the crowd moving. Not one of my favorites from the album, it translated much better live than on record, likely because Gettman knew he has to really throw himself into it to make it work. 

That was the case with most of the guitar-driven numbers (versus the more retrained keyboard tunes), including the night’s centerpiece, a gorgeous rendition of “Empire,” my favorite track from the album, which Gettman held for his encore. I wish he would have instead launched his set with it. The other big standout was an extended version of “Goldie,” a track that, if this album was released by a label, would be the primary single despite its nearly 12 minute run time. 

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Uh Oh on the Omaha Mobile Stage at teh Little Bo Backyard Bash, Sept. 16, 2023.

Earlier in the day I swung by the Little Bo Backyard Bash, the third-annual “festival” held in the parking lot across the street from the old Bohemian Cafe on 13th St. If the intent was to get people to rediscover this new, vital district, it worked, for me at least. I haven’t been down along this street in years and was pleasantly surprised by the cool, new little shops and restaurants (including Fizzy’s, a hip diner/bar that took over part of the Bohemian Cafe). 

In addition to the usual art and beer tents, the Omaha Mobile Stage was on hand to host the music. Uh Oh played a full set in front of an intimate gathering of neighbors, families and their pets (lots of dogs!).

David Nance at the Little Bo Backyard Bash, Sept. 16, 2023.

David Nance closed out the day with a solo acoustic set. He’s one of the only performers who can hold my attention with only his guitar and his voice. Despite the small crowd (by then, the Husker game had started), Nance looked content sitting on stage and singing his stories. 

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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.