Live Review: Horse Jumper of Love at The Sydney…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , — @ 9:48 am May 13, 2024
Horse Jumper of Love at The Sydney, May 12, 2024.

by Tim McMahan,

After last night’s Horse Jumper of Love show at The Sydney, it made perfect sense why the band selected Old Ramon by Red House Painters as their favorite album. 

Horse Jumper of Love has a similar overcast, mid-tempo, slowcore style as RHP and frontman/guitarist Dimitri Giannopoulos even has a Kozelek-esque voice. And while both bands’ music is wonderfully moody, unlike RHP songs that can go on for eight minutes or more, HJoL’s songs quickly get to the point – three times through and out. 

Their first time in Omaha, Giannopoulos squinted through most of the set. “We’ve been in the van for a long time and these lights are very bright,” he said. The crowd of around 40 didn’t mind, clearly mesmerized by the low-key splendor. 

I’ve only recently been introduced to this band because of this tour date, so I’m not familiar with many song titles. Not that it would have mattered as Giannopoulos said they were playing a number of new songs last night. I did recognize slower, gorgeous versions of the title song from 2023’s Heartbreak Rules album and “Spaceman” from their self-titled 2017 debut.

The band held a quiet intensity throughout the 30-minute set, and I was reminded of the great, dreamy, post-rock bands I grew up listening to, like Bedhead, Low, Sun Kil Moon and Mark Eitzel/American Music Club. Last night’s Horse Jumper set fit right in, though their recordings are typically more upbeat (and faster). Who can blame them for sounding so lonely – after all, it had been raining all day, and they were in that van for a long time.

The Dirts at The Sydney, May 12, 2024.

I caught most of The Dirts’ opening set sitting back in one of the broken booths by the front door, and thought to myself, ‘these folks may be onto something if they can get their vocals figured out.’ Once again, whether it was the frontman or one of the women singing, the vocals were lost/buried in amidst the chiming guitars. But maybe that’s how they want it…

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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.


Live Review: Ty Segall; special show announcement even more imminent…

Category: Reviews — Tags: — @ 9:05 am May 8, 2024
Ty Segall at The Waiting Room, May 7, 2024.

by Tim McMahan,

Ty Segall and his four-piece backing band came on just after 9 p.m. last night at The Waiting Room, playing to a large (though not sold out) crowd. There was an olfactory preview of what we were about to see and hear as pungent pot smoke oozed from some hidden place behind the stage, presumably from the green room. 

Segall and his band ripped into a handful of songs from the band’s lastest album, Three Bells, that, when performed live, sounded more like ‘70s prog-rock than the psych/garage sound Segall is known for. Choppy, complicated riffs supported choppy, complicated songs.

Segall is first and foremost a guitar player, completing every song with intricate fills and stratospheric solos. In the ‘70s, for some guitar heroes just shredding at that level was enough – no need for vocals. But to his credit, Segall sings above whatever clever riff he’s invented. He doesn’t really have a rock voice, but unlike early in his career when he barked through static distortion, last night Segall’s vocals were unfettered — what you heard is what you got, mostly for the better. 

Ty Segall and his band at The Waiting Room, May 7, 2024.

It wasn’t until the band ripped into a heavy, funky version of “I Hear” (so much better than the recorded version) that things really took off. Like the first time I saw him play back in 2013 at Sokol Underground, Segall set up in the stage-right corner and sang and played toward the drummer and rest of the band throughout the entire set, never directly facing the crowd. If you were standing stage left you had a view of his back all night, only briefly looking up or to the left through his thick, blond shag. 

After that song, his bass player complained about the stage lighting that was seemingly being beamed directly into his eyes. “Can you douse that; I can’t see shit.” The lights were cut with only dim rear stage lighting, until Segall asked, “Can you turn it up the light, I can’t see my friends?” *Light* “They’re back!

Another set highlight was a tight version of “Whisper,” off 2021’s Harmonizer album.  Yet another was an intensely groovy version of “Ghost” off 2012’s Twins, which Segall said had been a request received before the set. It wasn’t until about 45 minutes in that the band ripped through a handful of the garage-rock songs.

That contrast in styles – from the intricate prog to dense rock to garage noise – kept it interesting throughout a loud evening that no doubt would have been even more enjoyable if I’d been high…

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Yesterday’s announcement that Roger Daltrey and Inhaler (a.k.a. Bono’s Son’s Band) are playing this year’s Memorial Park Concert June 28 was not the “imminent” show announcement I implied yesterday, nor was the announcement that Fontaines D.C. are playing Slowdown Oct. 5 – though both shows were a welcome surprise. 

No, the show to be announced tomorrow will take place at a much more intimate “venue,” but you’ll just have to wait to find out who – and were – it wil be…

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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.


Live Review: Ritual Device at Reverb Lounge…

Category: Reviews — Tags: — @ 9:05 am May 3, 2024
Ritual Device at Reverb Lounge, May 2, 2024.

By Tim McMahan,

Day One of the Ritual Device reunion shows is in the books and it was a doozy. Never let it be said that this band doesn’t bring the theatrics, even more so than back in the old days when just showing up and not getting injured was enough. 

The set started with a lengthy, haunting guitar solo by guitarist Mike Saklar, a minor-key epic played under almost total darkness as one-by-one, members of the band walked into position with frontman Tim Moss coming in last. 

Moss, who I haven’t seen in a decade, looked looked like a biker gang’s accountant with his crazy long beard and thick black-rimmed glasses. He stood stark center stage while the band tore into opening song “Thick.” Unlike the old days when he would stalk the edges of the stage holding the microphone chord like a whip, Moss stood stock still and stared at the crowd of around 100 menacingly, as if making a list for later. Unsettling, especially in contrast to the roar going on behind him.

Ritual Device’s appeal has always been in the recipe. You have Saklar — a master guitarist, really peerless in this part of the country, then the rhythm section of drummer Eric Ebers and bassist Jerry Hug who put the groove in the nightmare, a rock-solid beat factory that powered through every song. Finally, Moss, who doesn’t so much sing as tell stories punctuated by gutteral screams. He never sounded better. 

The band kept it going with “I Want Me,” then tore into my personal favorate Ritual Device song, “What You Got.” By now, Moss had lost the glasses and was in classic Moss form – weird, bent-over howl followed by falling off (or onto) the stage and then into the thrashing crowd. 

Tim Moss in stalker mode. The giant white T-shirted man (left) did what he could to keep the pit going.

A decade ago at The Waiting Room, he would have been carried around the pit, but the band’s reputation had finally caught up with them. Only about 20 or so hale and hearty types moshed in front of the stage while most of the audience stood back by the soundboard (or behind it), their mosh-pit days long behind them (It was, indeed, an older crowd). 

Unlike the sneaky, sinister snap of the recorded version, last night’s rendition of “What You Got” sounded purposely slowed down, a hazy sludge. In fact, the entire set sounded slower and stonier than I remember vs. the ol’ serial killer pace heard on Henge or performed at The Capitol Bar & Grill.

Prior to the set, the sound man (Keith?) disconcertingly, meticulously covered the stage monitors with plastic sheeting. Was this to keep blood off the speakers? He just smiled and wasn’t saying. Then, I can’t remember if it was during “Shift” or “Charlie Jones,” the reason for the plastic was made clear – soap bubbles sprayed up behind the band from a bubble machine, a glowing effect that seemed oddly counter to the murder tales being performed on stage. 

Tiny bubbles… in the beard... Ritual Device during the bubble montage.

Well, the bubbles only lasted one song (but would make an appearance again at the end). Fans got what they came for, as Ritual Device played most of the songs off Henge, including “Sucker” and “Hatesong #3.” 

The set closed with a disturbing, angry rendition of Johnny Richards’ “Young at Heart,” that likely caused Frank Sinatra to reanimate and stomp around his graveyard in Cathedral City. Moss disappeared from stage before the band left, but they all came back for an encore, with Moss thanking the crowd as the guys ripped into “Porkfist.” Oh what a time to be alive.

Day Two of the Ritual Device reunion tour continues tonight (Friday) at Reverb with Gerald Lee Jr. and Bad Bad Men opening at 8 p.m. $20. The band also plays tomorrow night at Lincoln Calling (at Duffy’s) Go!

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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.


Live Review: Sheer Mag; 9Million, The Dirts tonight at The Sydney…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , — @ 7:03 am April 25, 2024
Sheer Mag at Reverb Lounge, March 24, 2024.

By Tim McMahan,

Philly band Sheer Mag played a red-hot set last night in front of a crowd of about 30 at Reverb Lounge. A personal favorite since their 2017 debut album Need to Feel Your Love, sharp-eyed, long-time Lazy-i readers will remember “Expect the Bayonet” from the Lazy-i Best of 2017 compliation. Sadly, the band didn’t play “…Bayonet” last night, but did play that album’s unbelievably groovy title track linked below this review (be patient and get past the song’s odd southern rock intro).

I’ve never been able to quite put my finger on who lead singer Tina Halladay’s voice reminds me of – I’ve always considered it uniquely one-of-a-kind – until last night when it struck me she sounds like a very young Michael Jackson a la The Jackson 5 circa 1971. At times the band reminded me of the J5, too, especially on the aforementioned track and the similar sounding “Moonstruck” from their just released album Playing Favorites (Third Man Records). 

They’re often compared to Thin Lizzy and their logo even apes Thin Lizzy’s font style, but what really powers those comparisons is lead axe man Kyle Seely’s groovy, bluesy guitar lines countered perfectly by the rhythm section of bassist Hart Seely and drummer Evan Campbell. The band is rounded out by rhythm guitarist Matt Palmer (who was virtually unheard in the mix). You definately got a ’70s arena-rock vibe, right down to their walk-on music (Molly Hatchet’s “Good Rockin'”).

Pitchfork recently pooh-poohed their new album, saying (in essence) this is what happens when a band nails their sound on their first album. Yeah, that could be a problem if more people knew who they were, but despite signing to Jack White’s Third Man Records, Sheer Mag continues to fly under the radar, waiting to be discovered by the audience it deserves. 

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9Million is a Toronto shoegaze band helmed by the multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and producer Matthew Tomasi, known for his work with acts Ethel Cain and Nicole Dollanganger. While his band’s older material sort of has that shoegaze haze, grunge is the first thing that comes to mind listening to their latest EP, Gush, released last year. Playing as a seven-piece, it could be a crowded stage when the band plays tonight at The Sydney in Benson. It also could be a late night as The Dirts and Size Queen open at the published start time of 8 p.m. (which I’ll believe when I see). $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 © 2024 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


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

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

Blanky at Reverb Lounge, April 3, 2024.

by Tim McMahan,

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

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

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

Virga at Reverb Lounge, April 3, 2024.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2024 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Live Review: Sun June, Wild Pink at Reverb…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , — @ 11:51 am March 25, 2024

Sun June at Reverb Lounge, March 22, 2024.

By Tim McMahan,

What to say about last Friday night’s Sun June/Wild Pink show at Reverb Lounge? When the official 8 p.m. start time rolled around, only about 25 people were in the crowd. It’s safe to say after this and last week’s hour-late start at The Sydney, that we are officially back to pre-Covid-19 (late) start times. 

The venues’ former punctuality was likely due to self-imposed curfews to get people in and out as quickly as possible to control human contact/virus spread. But now that Covid has become a distant memory (to most people), shows are starting 30 minutes to an hour late again. Which is fine, as long as they’re consistent — no one wants to show up assuming a late start only to discover they missed the opener because the venue (or artist) decided to be punctual. That said, let’s not get back in the other pre-Covid habit of headliners taking the stage at midnight and wrapping up after 1 a.m…

Wild Pink at Reverb Lounge, March 22, 2024.

So, Wild Pink didn’t go on until a little past 8:30 – just long enough to double the crowd size. Playing as a four-piece, Wild Pink tore through a set of dense, gorgeous, mid-tempo indie rock songs led by singer/songwriter/guitarist John Ross that reminded me of Strand of Oaks or a more tuneful (better) version of The National. They sounded very much like what’s heard on their just-released EP, Strawberry Eraser (Fire Talk Records), but without that recording’s haunting Destroyer-esque saxophone parts. 

Beyond the first-rate rhythm section, the band’s secret weapon is lead guitarist Mike Brenner, who switched between pedal steel and standard electric guitar throughout the night. It was a dreamy, well-performed set that went end-to-end with few breaks and no chatter between songs – a contrast to what was to come.

Sun June – typically a five-piece and a collaboration between front-woman Laura Colwell and guitarist/co-songwriter Stephen Salisbury — played as a four-piece with drummer Sarah Schultz and lead guitarist Michael Bain. I’m not sure who was on bass, and to be honest with you, I have no idea what Stephen Salisbury looks like or if he’s even still in the band. I reached out to Run for Cover Records via Instagram to determine the band’s current touring line-up to no avail.

Regardless, who we saw Friday night was pretty terrific. Colwell suffered some initial technical difficulties which she trouble-shooted as being caused by her glass of white wine perched atop her guitar amp. After the first trepidatious number it was smooth sailing, with the band playing songs from their most recent album, 2023’s Bad Dream Jaguar. If you think Colwell has a whispery voice on her records, it’s nothing compared to the faint, soto voce in which she began her set. 

She didn’t hit her stride until about halfway through, with solid renditions of “Texas” and “Mixed Bag” that showcased her voice and clever songwriting. “Texas” is a personal favorite, and had I enough cash I would have bought one of their T-shirts with the song’s lyric, “Texas, you keep breaking my heart.” 

Live, Sun June’s music is more energetic and less somber than on recording. Throughout the set, four or five members of the crowd sang along with Colwell, one person demonstrably so. The band brought everything back down for their final song, a stirring rendition of album standout “John Prine,” so quiet in fact, that the thump-thump-thump from whoever was playing in The Waiting Room could be heard bleeding through the back of the stage, which Colwell acknowledged with a smile, saying “Hey, you can hear them next door.” You sure can, Laura. 

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And that’s it for touring indie shows in Omaha for the balance of the month. The next show on my radar is a couple Lawrence bands, Blanky and Virgo, making a trip to Reverb Lounge April 3 (with The Dirts and Garst)…

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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.


Live Review: Color Green at Reverb; Size Queen at The Sydney…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 11:50 am March 19, 2024

Color Green at Reverb Lounge, March 18, 2024.

By Tim McMahan,

Size Queen is a new LimOma band whose members include drummer Sam Crisler – one of the bookers of this year’s Lincoln Calling Festival. Last night I sat in The Sidney and watched Sam meticulously build his drum kit for a half-hour, wondering when the band would actually start playing. In the pre-Covid days, everyone knew an 8 p.m. start time meant a 9 p.m. start, but post-Covid most clubs have been insistent about start times, especially during weeknights. And yet, here we were at 8:30 as Crisler slowly placed one half of a high hat on the pull rod, then the next, then slowly tightened the clutch. I can’t say’s I blame them – the longer you wait, the bigger the crowd, right?

But the plan was to watch Size Queen play at The Sydney and then race across Benson and catch the show at Reverb, which was happening at the same time. Sure, I’d miss Heavy Clippings, but I just saw them last weekend at Goatfest but figured I could still catch The Dirts. Well, you know what they say about plans…

Size Queen at The Sydney, March 18, 2024.

Size Queen finally took the stage a little after 9 p.m. The only other person’s name I know in the band is guitarist Sam Lipsett, who also plays in Cat Piss. I’ve also met the bass player Jessy Hunt before, but knew nothing about the front person (who I’ve come to find out is Rosemary Ellis). 

The band’s sound was feral and combative, aggressive but controlled. I guess you’d call it post-punk, but much heavier and faster, bordering on hardcore, though Crisler’s drumming (thankfully) was more creative and interesting than the usual straight-four hardcore rhythms that seem only designed for moshing. Crisler’s drum work has a definite hard-rock persona that blended well with Lipsett’s feedback-driven, heavy-ass riffs and the solid bass lines. 

Above it all was the whirling-dervish front person who spewed undecipherable yell vocals, struggling to be heard above the rest of the noise. I’ve seen noise-rock bands who tried doing this style of music without a vocalist, and (for me) it rarely works. You’ve got to have someone out front screaming something, whether you know what they’re screaming or not — it adds a necessary counter to everything else going on. It’s risky, and Size Queen’s vocalist pulled it off. 

The band’s 15-minute set was a nod to ‘90s post-punk, more so, say, than grunge, though I was reminded of Skinyard, and the guy next to me (a legend in his own right) referenced Royal Trux. Plucinski’s Cat Piss has a similar but more focused bombast, and no doubt Size Queen will get there, too – remember, this was only their second show (and their first time in Omaha).

Heavy Clippings at Reverb Lounge, March 18, 2024.

By the time I got to Reverb, I’d already missed The Dirts, who played first (not how the bill was listed). On stage in front of a full room was Heavy Clippings sounding louder and more aggressive than at Goatfest/Scriptown last weekend. The band has a handful of singles available on Bandcamp that you can check out here. Those Bandcamp tracks sound more like demos, and one can only hope they’re leading up to a proper LP release in the near future. 

There is (and has been for years) an undercurrent of a “scene” going on in Omaha associated with the record stores The Antiquarium, Almost Music, and now Grapefruit Records. At the heart is Simon Joyner, who continues to produce amazing, vital records and seems to always be on the road touring. While Joyner is globally recognized by a niche audience, another Grapefruit Records regular, David Nance (and his current band, Mowed Sound), has probably garnered the largest fan base, thanks to a catalog of solid recordings, lots of touring, and a recent release on Jack White’s Third Man Records. Heavy Clippings also is part of this scene – a band fronted by Noah Sterba with Jeff Sedrel on bass — their sound fuses singer/songwriter Americana with a unique Midwestern flair.

Others that fall into this Omaha record store scene include Sean Pratt, Nathan Ma, Megan Siebe, Jim Schroeder, I’m sure many more. The group has been around for years – stretching back to the ‘90s – making their own DIY recordings and playing DIY shows. When anyone asks about an “Omaha Sound,” this is what comes to mind more than anything (including early Saddle Creek Records artists, who never had a central, common thread soundwise).

Though they’re from Los Angeles, Color Green has a connection to this scene via one of the band’s two core members – Noah Kohll — a former Omahan and fellow record store hanger-outer who likely has played alongside all these Antiquarium/Almost Music/Grapefruit folks at one time or another.  With fellow guitarist Corey Madden, Kohll has taken that Midwestern sound and fused it with something akin to Allman Bros./Derek and the Dominos-style blues rock to create something both new and familiar, and strikingly beautiful. 

At the heart of it is the gorgeous, intricate guitar play between Kohll and Madden that last night was spotlighted in intros that gracefully led into the songs, some sang by Kohll, others by Madden, harmonized sparingly by the band’s female drummer and bass player (whose names I don’t know but who were spectacular). 

Playing in the dark with only overhead stage lights, Color Green’s hour-long set consisted mostly of songs off their gorgeous 2022 self-titled album, released by ORG Music. And while that record is something you should seek out immediately, it doesn’t hold a candle to the band’s live performance, which took it all to the next level — the best guitar interplay I’ve heard in years (and that includes recent Nance/Schroeder slugfests). The band’s dynamics ranged from heavy riff-rock to bluesy mellow balladry that sounded like The Allman Bros. playing a cover of Led Zep’s “The Rain Song” – a comparison that I’m sure will make the Grapefruit Records folks cringe. 

Toward the end of the set, Kohll talked about his Omaha roots and even pointed out his parents in the crowd, saying the show was kind of a homecoming. That being the case, welcome home, Mr. Kohll. And please, don’t be a stranger.

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Tonight at The Waiting Room, Atlanta-based self-described emo/indie punk Michael Cera Palin headlines a four-band bill that includes locals Trees With Eyes, Valley Street and Dullparty. $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 © 2024 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Live Review: Ojai, Ione at fabulous O’Leaver’s; Color Green, The Dirts, Chew, Size Queen tonight…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 8:30 am March 18, 2024

Ojai at O’Leaver’s, March 16, 2024.

By Tim McMahan,

Just getting to O’Leaver’s has become something of a nightmare with all the friggin’ road construction. Once through the maze of barricades along Leavenworth and Saddle Creek Saturday night, I found a parking lot chock full on both sides of the volleyball courts and almost expected to be turned back at the door. Inside, O’Leaver’s was comfortably filled but not cram packed (So where were all those people who own all those cars?). 

Ione at O’Leaver’s, March 16, 2024.

Ione was already halfway through her set playing in front of a woman-heavy crowd (a rarity for O’Leaver’s). Fronting a three-piece band, Ione stood alone with microphone in hand, a true pop crooner. There’s no denying she has a killer voice, polished and radio-friendly with all the familiar nuances heard on modern pop records, and I have no doubt if she keeps at it we’ll be seeing her on television one day singing a style of pop music that isn’t my cup of tea.

Interestingly, “Ione” has second persona — a side-act called Safe Space, which is a duo with her guitarist whose songs border on modern indie music a la Phoebe but not quite. She appears to be trying to cover all the bases with Safe Space, which is admirable and curious considering how much time she’s invested in her Ione brand. I was told months ago Ione was moving to Chicago. Better see her while you still can — her and he band are opening for Wyrmwood March 29 at Benson Theater. 

No doubt a large portion of the crowd Saturday was there for Ione as the place thinned out for Ojai. A trio fronted by guitarist / songwriter Michael Hulstein, their set was marred by an audio mix that put the bass way out front above all else. Bassist Micah Renner indeed has awesome bass-playing chops but I doubt even he would want his bass to be so prominent in the mix – it overpowered everything on stage. 

Meanwhile, Tanner Rogerson has one of the lightest touches of any drummer I’ve heard behind a kit. I kept checking to see if he was playing with brushes. Hulstein’s chiming, surf-style guitar parts were kind of great when you could hear them above the bass. His approachable vocal style is right on for songs I think I’m going to like when I hear them recorded and properly mixed. In fact, he said much of his set consisted of material from an upcoming EP. I was reminded me of Dave Doughman of Swearing at Motorists, a band I’m sure no one remembers or has even heard of, and a band that’s a lot weirder than Ojai. 

Long story short, I need to see Ojai again when they don’t sound like they’re playing in a bass competition. As for O’Leaver’s — it was hot, it was smelly, it was just as I remember it from the last time I was there. Here’s hoping it never changes. 

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A reminder about tonight’s shows, which I covered in detail last Friday

At Reverb Lounge tonight LA band Color Green (Noah Kohll and Co.) headlines with The Dirts and Heavy Clippings. $15, 8 p.m. 

Meanwhile, down the street at The Sydney, Atlanta psych/electronic band Chew headlines with the Omaha debut of LinOma band Size Queen. 8 p.m., $10.

I’ll see you tonight in Benson…

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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.


Live Review: Head of Femur, Heavy Clippings and Goatfest…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 9:03 am March 11, 2024

Heavy Clippings at Goatfest, March 9, 2024.

By Tim McMahan,

This year’s honorary Goatfest goat, Linda, was a sort of goat-ette — a miniature version of a goat whose cuteness was amplified by the diaper it proudly wore as it walked around the room adjacent to Scriptown brewery’s main room. A steady stream of parents hurriedly led their own “kids” to see Linda, forced to walk in front of the bands, the childrend with their tiny hands over their tiny ears. 

Goatfest could become one of those quirky events that cities boast about in their Chamber of Commerce write-ups – a combination beer bust, rock show and livestock display, hosted annually just before St. Patrick’s Day. Or even better, they should hold it monthly on every Second Saturday as part of the new Blackstone pseudo event, that, by the looks of the crowds in the streets, is off to a roaring start. 

Heavy Clippings was already deep in their set when we arrived, playing behind a large crowd bunched in the back and circling Scriptowns enormous bar. The band consists of two former members of the band Yuppies — Noah Sterba and Jeff Sedrel — along with Vince Franco and Tanner Rogerson, or as one person described them, “guys who used to hang out at Almost Music.” Stylistically, they play hypnotic post-punk, a sort of Midwestern version of Lewsberg or The Feelies with Sterba providing just the right amount of coffee-shop folk drawl. 

I don’t believe the band has any recordings, or at least any online, which is a shame (Sterba, btw, has a cassette out on Chris Fischer’s Unread Records). They sound like they should be playing either at Grapefruit Records downtown alongside Simon Joyner or on the soundtrack to your favorite just-discovered indie film. Either way, I’d see them again tomorrow if they were playing somewhere…

Head of Femur at Goatfest, March 9, 2024.

On the other hand, you’ll be seeing a lot more from Head of Femur. Frontman Matt Focht announced that the band was playing a ton of new songs from their upcoming album, and I have it on good authority that the record will be released on a long-standing, proper indie label in the very near future. 

Playing as a five-piece with Focht in the frontman pocket, the band ripped into a fresh set of proggy post-punk rock songs that were equal parts tuneful and challenging. Focht has a lilting, mewing voice that rides atop the sometimes complicated rhythms and melodies that are unafraid to take a quick left turn in the middle of a jam. No doubt these songs will sound completely different when heard through headphones. 

Highlights included “Tomato Party” and “Gravitational F’s,” whose names I only know because the band had their boldly printed setlist lying on the floor in front of where they played. Focht is a long-time Linoma indie music veteran, known as much for his work playing drums with Bright Eyes in the early days as for his Head of Femur output. When will this new album be released? I’ll let you know when I know.

As for Goatfest, like I said, I’d love to see Scriptown make live music a regular weekend-afternoon thing. This gig always feels like a South By Southwest day party (in the best way), with the crowd enjoying good music along with Scriptown’s delectable beers and now also smoked meats from Lazy Buffalo BBQ. After meeting Linda, here’s hoping the BBQ place keeps goat off the menu.

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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.


Live Review: Matthew Sweet; Yo La Tengo tonight at The Waiting Room…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , — @ 8:15 am February 19, 2024

Matthew Sweet at The Waiting Room, Feb. 17, 2024.

by Tim McMahan,

If it wasn’t a sell-out, it was dang close, as The Waiting Room was crazy-packed Saturday night for Matthew Sweet. Just moving around in the crowd was a challenge – a crowd that consisted of people in their 40s and 50s (and older), big people, mostly dudes, many carrying two drinks at a time because they didn’t want to deal with the bar situation. I didn’t even try to get my usual Rolling Rock, knowing I would never get it in time.

Instead, with no clear path in sight, I pushed my way through the cushion-like mass of humanity toward my usual perch at stage left, only to find that the bar had set up a four-top table in that small niche on the other side of the bathrooms, making things that much more crowded. At the table, two post-middle-aged couples dressed as if attending an awards program chatted and laughed in what was probably a rare night out for them. They didn’t seem bothered that tall people stood right next to their table, blocking their view. 

Sweet and his band took the stage a little after 9 p.m. Wearing a Greek sailor’s hat and mustache, he looked like a younger version of George R.R. Martin, a guitar slung over his shoulder, with wee lead guitarist John Moremen to his right, Velvet Crush bassist Paul Chastain on his left, young guy Adrian Carter between them on acoustic guitar and legendary Bangles drummer Debbi Peterson glowing perched behind her drum set. 

With no fanfare they tore right into opening song “The Ugly Truth” and kept on playing the hits, mostly songs off Girlfriend and Altered Beast, with newer song “Pretty Please” from the Tomorrow Forever thrown in for good measure. Sweet was in great voice and the band was tight.

It was right after playing “Winona” that things took a bit of a turn. Sweet launched into what felt like a 20-minute story that covered everything from Valentine’s Day to his second career making cat art (bronzes, now paintings) to his new tattoo to his love for the film MIdsommer to ideas for his next album and on and on – a speech that seemed even longer for me having already heard most of it a few weeks earlier during our interview. Sweet knew he was going on too long because he said so a few times during the monologue while his band wandered about adjusting their instruments, this wasn’t the first time they’ve heard these stories, either. 

I like stage patter as much as the next guy, and even feel offended when a band rifles through a set without acknowledging the audience standing right in front of them, but this massively long monologue killed the momentum the band had built up to that point in the evening, and felt like it would never stop. 

But it finally did stop and the band tore right back into their performance with “Devil with the Green Eyes” and continued for seven or more songs, ending their set with favorite “Evangeline,” wherein Sweet closed the song standing alone on stage with his back to the audience creating feedback with his guitar and pedals. I could hear him start to explain what he was doing as I left the Waiting Room, missing an encore that no doubt included “Girlfriend” and “Sick of Myself,” which he’s been playing as encores throughout this mini tour. 

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The Waiting Room has another terrific show queued up tonight – Yo La Tengo. This show was rescheduled from last fall to allow Georgia Hubley to recover from knee surgery. Promoted as “An Evening with Yo La Tengo,” expect to hear two sets filled with songs from throughout their career followed by an encore. The band played 22 songs at their Fort Collins show this past Saturday (the set list is here).  Good thing there’s no opener. 8 p.m. start time and $35. How will it do on a Monday night? 

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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.