Live Review Beck at Stir Cove; X, Spoon, Twin Peaks, Jay Som tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , , , — @ 12:54 pm September 11, 2017

Beck at Stir Cove, Sept. 9, 2017.

by Tim McMahan,

This is as much a review of Stir Cove as it is Saturday night’s Beck concert, though there’s plenty of Beck in this write-up. It’s actually a reaction to last week’s blog entry, wherein I asked for advice about attending my first Stir Cove concert after receiving a lot of warning about how much the venue and its “parking problem” suck.

Past horror stories about Stir were giving me anxiety about the show, and were the reason I’d never attended a Stir concert (along with the fact that Stir books mainly legacy, pop and country acts, which aren’t in my wheelhouse).

So, Saturday night came rolling around and we were off to Stir at 7 p.m., arriving at around 7:15. Prior to leaving, I’d studied a Google Earth map of Stir and the surrounding parking like a robber trying to case the joint for the quickest getaway. The two most common pieces of advice I’d been given: 1) Park on the Nebraska side of the river and walk or ride a bike over the Bob Kerrey Bridge, and 2) Park in the parking garage or use valet service.

I ignored both suggestions and instead parked in the second to last row of the surface parking. The plan: Leave during the last song, which, according to, would be “One Foot in the Grave,” which would lead into a reprise of “Where It’s At.” Beck has closed his sets with that combo all summer.

So we parked, and walked the massive half-full lot and entered the casino — the heavy door opening to reveal the smell of wet cigarettes and room deodorizer. We pushed through all the usual suspects: Big dudes in baggy cargo shorts and seed caps with their wives in colored print tops and bad hairdos, the elderly, the trailer park kids, all of them ready to Strike It Rich at the slots or tables.

In a VIP room off to the right a small, vacant-looking crowd of gamblers watched the Huskers lose —probably not the only losing they’d see that night.

We escaped out the back exit which led to the entrance to Stir Cove tucked behind the hotel. Getting in was easy, maybe because we were so early and the game was still going on. I bought a pair of $9 Blue Moons and we found a place to sit along the grassy ridge facing the stage while DJ Kethro — a.k.a. Keith Roger — spun sides to a small crowd up front. I figured since he was spinning at 7 the show probably would start at 8. Wrong.

My first impression: The Cove was much smaller than I thought it would be. In fact, it looked smaller than Stinson Park where Maha is held every year. Certainly the capacity was smaller

I liked the set up, with an area designated for lawn chairs, another astroturfed area for standing near the stage, and our grassy ridge. Off to the right was a strange VIP area, which looked like really lousy seating because of the bad angle to the stage.

One annoyance from where were were sitting was the whap! whap! whap! of the out-house doors slamming shut. Already people were lined up to use port-o-johns, and there would be a steady “stream” all night…

DJ Kethro at Stir Cove, Sept. 9, 2017.

As 8 p.m. rolled around the house turned up the sound on stage along with the lighting, which marked the beginning of Kethro’s formal set. In front of us, a girl in a hippie hat lit a hash pipe and within seconds a portly security guard in a fluorescent polo with SECURITY printed in black walked straight up to her and said, “Hope you’re having a good time.  There’s no smoking anything in here.” As he walked away, a hipster in glasses dressed like a life guard whined, “Come on, man!

Meanwhile, as the sun went down Kethro heated up, spinning “Do It” by Tuxedo, “My Girls,” by Animal Collective and closing the set with “Pardon my Freedom” by !!! (pronounced chk chk chk) one of my favorites, and a band I recently was told by one of our many local promoters that “no one listens to anymore.” Well, here were a few thousand people bouncing to it.

Actually, that wasn’t Kethro’s closing number. He ended with a classic: “Fame” by David Bowie, the spotlights and strobes from stage made the dancing crowd glow.

Beck came on at around 9:10 with “Devil’s Haircut.” By then the standing section was completely full, or so I thought. After I took a piss (the port-o-john lines had disappeared) I went to see how far I could get to the stage. It was surprisingly close. That giant crowd wasn’t densely packed, and you could easily walk through it.

Stir Cove at the height of the crowd, Sept. , 2017.

Navigation throughout that mammoth crowd was fast thanks to the security folks keeping people from standing on paved walk paths. I could walk from one end of the venue to the other in seconds.

Beck sounded great. I saw a few people on my social channels complaining about the sound. Not me. Way in the back was as good as up front, and you didn’t need earplugs, the sound was so clean.

His performance was flawless. Beck’s band is loaded with seasoned pros. The set list (read it here) followed closely what he’s been playing on tour all year. Highlights included a slower section with “Lost Cause” from Sea Change (my favorite Beck album), “Qué Onda Güero,” which turned the place into a party, and a smokin’ version of “Dreams” (soon to be rereleased on his upcoming album).

And then there was “Loser.” I remember first hearing that song way back in ’93, thinking it was a trash rap track with an infectious hook. A year or so later it ended up on MTV, but Beck still managed to retain a sort of subversive, outsider tone. Though he was 22 or 23 at the time, he looked like a 16-year-old stoner. Quite a contrast to the 47-year-old dude Saturday night playing a song that has turned into a shopping-mall anthem for the dad-rock set, coaxing the crowd to sing the verse (which they did with gusto).

Finally at around 10:15 Beck got to his encore and rolled out “Where It’s At,” which he used as an intro to a pseudo medley that highlighted each member of his band. Among the song snippet covers were Gary Numan’s “Cars,” B-52’s “Rock Lobster,” The Rolling Stones’ “Miss You” and Phil Collins “In The Air Tonight,” complete with drum solo.

And then he got out his harmonica and began playing “One Foot in the Grave,” which was my cue to skedaddle. We headed to the exit, pretty much alone, heard Beck say “Good night” and walked to our car and drove straight out of the lot. The only hitch in our getaway plan was not being allowed to get back on I-29 North, as they forced everyone to turn right. No matter, we got on at the next exit.

Later that evening I heard from a number of people who said they had no issues leaving Stir, but not everyone. One dude texted me at midnight, saying he was still trying to get out of the back parking lot, 90 minutes after the concert ended.

The bottom line for me: It was one of the most well-run outdoor events I’ve attended. Was it an anomaly? A friend told me the Darius Rucker show last month (also a sell-out) was a complete and total cluster-f***. Maybe Stir learned from that mistake. Regardless, I’ll be paying more attention to their calendar announcements in the future…

* * *

Three huge shows on the same Monday night, and surprisingly, none of them have sold out.

Top of the list is X at The Waiting Room. Skating Polly opens. $30, 8 p.m.

Meanwhile, down at Sokol Auditorium, Spoon headlines. I’ve heard a lot of people complain about their latest album, Hot Thoughts. I love it. There’s no question it’s a departure from their older sound, a stab at dance rock that hits the mark, though there’s a lot of overhang from bands that came before (For example, single “Can I Sit Next to You” sounds like the Cure’s “Fascination Street,” with synths from The Cars’ Heartbeat City, and so on). Opening is Twin Peaks, who just keep getting bigger. This one’s $35 and starts at 8:30.

Finally, indie act Jay Som plays at Reverb tonight with Stef Chura and Soccer Mommy. $14, 9 p.m

And I will miss all three.

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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 © 2017 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Trying to figure out Stir Cove for Saturday’s Beck concert; O’Leaversfest weekend…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 12:43 pm September 8, 2017

Oquoa at Reverb Lounge, April 13, 2017. They play tonight at O’Leaversfest.

by Tim McMahan,

Saturday night’s Beck concert at Stir Cove will be my first time going to a show at the casino’s outdoor lawn stage, and I’m nervous.

I’ve heard nothing but horror stories about Stir Cove, specifically the parking situation — getting in, and especially getting out — has been described to me as the 9th Ring of Hell, an hour (or more) of my life that I will never get back.

With this in mind, I’ve been asking for advice about how best to get to Stir, and the majority of people are telling me to hoof it over Bob Kerrey Bridge because Harrah’s parking situation is so fucked I’ll want to kill someone by the end of the evening.

I’ve also been told that the facility itself is somewhat seedy (hey, it’s a casino), has sight-line limitations, and can be torturous when hot (though the weather should be pretty nice Saturday night). I’m all ears for advice from any past Stir Cove victims…

The only reason I’m going is because Beck is something of a bucket-list band; I doubt he’ll ever return to our area, so this is it. Of course a full recap of the evening will be online here Monday. This one’s sold out, but aftermarket tickets are still listed at Ticketmaster starting at $76. Show starts at 8 p.m.

What else is happening this weekend?

Well, there’s O’Leaversfest. The two-day event has been split into an indie/garage night and a metal/noise night. Tonight is indie/garage with Sean Pratt and the Sweats, Oquoa, Miwi La Lupa, Midnight Opera, BareBear and Tyrone Storm in the beer garden.

Saturday’s O’Leaverfest line-up is powerhouse noise-punk act Bib, Plack Blague, Cult Play, Satanic Abortion and Dilute. Both of these start at 9 p.m. and cost $7.

Also Saturday night, The Waiting Room is hosting the Daisy Jones’ Locker Summer Spectacular, which involves a car show, pinup pageant and performances by Huge Fucking Waves and The Electroliners. $10, 5 p.m.

And that’s it for the weekend.

All the massive shows (beyond Beck) are happening Monday night, with X at Waiting Room, Spoon/Twin Peaks at Sokol Auditorium and Jay Som at Reverb, but we’ll get to all that next week.

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 © 2017 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Thick Paint added to Big Thief show; NOmaha alerts (but Beck plays CB); Esme Patterson tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:47 pm July 12, 2017

by Tim McMahan,

Thick Paint has been named as the opener to tomorrow night’s Big Thief show at fabulous O’Leaver’s. If you remember, Big Thief was slated to open for Conor Oberst outdoors in Benson (on Military Ave.) but the show got nixed by the City who said no more outdoor shows during the week.

Conor cancelled but Big Thief was rescheduled at The Club. I understand there was some competition for this opening slot. Congrats to Thick Paint for nabbing it. I’m also told that this show will sell out, so you may want to get your tickets today.

* * *

This week in NOmaha Alerts; tours have been announced by Gillian Welch, Protomartyr and Matt Pond PA. None are headed to Omaha.

Gillian Welch has some local connections and no doubt would do well here. On the other hand Protomartyr and Matt Pond PA both played here recently. Still, I’d love to see both again. Protomartyr, who got their start on Hardly Art Records, just signed with Domino for their next album, A Private Understanding, which comes out Sept 29.

BTW, this morning Oh Sees shared a new track off their upcoming Castle Face release, Orc. Still no Omaha date on the tour list. Come on, promoters!

Outweighing that dreary news is the fact that Beck has been scheduled to play Stir Cove Sept. 9. Beck is sort of a bucket-list band for me, and it looks like I might finally have a reason to check out Stir Cove, which I’ve managed to avoid all these years. Pre-sale for Beck started today with the promo code DREAMS; it continues tomorrow at 10 a.m. with code WOW2017; general ticket sales start 10 a.m. Friday. Pre-sale GA tickets are priced at $60 and some change, including fees, via Ticketmaster.

It should be interesting to see how well this one does. Sell out? BTW, Beck is opening for U2 on their fall stadium tour.

* * *

Tonight Esme Patterson returns to The Waiting Room. She was just there in March with Lucero.  The Hottman Sisters open tonight’s show, which starts at 9 and costs $14.

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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 © 2017 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


On Grammy’s and indie music; Beach Slang, Taboo tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 1:50 pm February 9, 2015
Beach Slang plays tonight at Slowdown Jr.

Beach Slang plays tonight at Slowdown Jr.

by Tim McMahan,

Thoughts on the Grammy’s… Morning Phase to me was merely a sequel to Beck’s far superior (and out of the blue) Sea Change album from 2002, so the fact that it won Album of the Year is really a testament to his earlier, better release. At least that’s how I see it. The whole deal with Kanye rushing the stage — a publicity stunt. In fact, most of Kanye’s career is a publicity stunt. At least that’s how I see it.

As for the rest of the Grammy’s, well, as I said last night on Facebook, the Grammy’s have always sucked. Look back to the history of the awards and you’ll see they’ve been consistent in honoring the most commercial, flavorless pablum released in the prior year, because that’s what the public wants. Even Beck’s victory is nothing more than a rehash of something he did before.

Needless to say, none of my favorite records from 2014 received accolades last night. Imagine if they had. Imagine if, say, Mark Kozelek had been nominated — or had won — a televised Grammy. It would have been surreal, since virtually no one in the audience has ever heard of Sun Kil Moon or Kozelek. Would I/we really want to see that? Do I/we really need our tastes validated by Grammy voters? The only thing I’d want to see is Kozelek giving Kanye a beat-down if/when he tried to grab his mic.

An aside: I recently heard on the Dan Patrick Radio Show a conversation about pop music, where Patrick lauded the qualities of Taylor Swift because she “writes her own music.” In fact, Swift does have writing credits on all the tracks on 1989, along with a stable of co-writers. You can’t blame Patrick for not knowing how modern pop music is created, with all the producers involved.

But Patrick went onto compliment Swift by saying no one writes their own music anymore. “They used to call them singer/songwriters.” Today’s pop stars are performers, not songwriters. Patrick points to people like Bieber, who is a media star as much as a pop star. That hasn’t changed much over the years, but if you look at the history of the Grammy’s pre-2000 a lot of the top-tier nominees wrote their own music — for better or worse. And certainly Beck wrote Morning Phase.

Patrick ignores (as most people do) the entire sub genre of indie music, where the material is almost always written by the performers rather than created in a production lab. Those folks who really enjoy The Grammy’s have never heard of indie music and never will and that’s the way it’ll always be. The Grammy’s and the music they recognize are a business, whereas indie music is a way of life, an often thankless one that involves holding down a couple jobs and walking away when it comes time to raise a family. So be it.

* * *

We have a few things going on this week. Orenda Fink is Wednesday night at Reverb. Will she sell out? Maybe, maybe… Sleater-Kinney, which is Friday at Slowdown, sold out weeks ago.

Tonight, Cursive tour mates Beach Slang plays a headline show at Slowdown Jr. The Philly punk trio, which released an EP last September on Tiny Engines, joins Cursive on tour Feb. 10 in Denver and hangs with them until March 16. Telepathy Problems and Timecat open tonight’s 8 p.m. show. Tix are $8.

Also tonight, Maine goth/noise band Taboo (they’ve been compared to Throbbing Gristle and Royal Trux) plays at fabulous O’Leaver’s with Ruby Block and Hag. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Lots to do for a Monday…

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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 © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Random Notes: The first Xmas comp of 2012; Beck launches Song Reader project; New Faint interview; Delicate Steve, UUVVWWZ tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , — @ 1:53 pm November 14, 2012

by Tim McMahan,

XO For the Holidays, Vol. 5 (2012)

XO For the Holidays, Vol. 5 (2012)

Get a jump on your Christmas music with the XO for the Holidays Vol. 5 compilation. XO is a publicist whose stable includes Blue Skies for Black Hearts, Piney Gir and The Winter Sounds. They’ve been putting out Christmas music comps by their artists for five years, and the content has been consistently good. The best part — the download is absolutely free and available right here (along with downloads for vol. 1-4). Ho ho ho.

* * *

An illustration from Beck's Song Reader.

An illustration from Beck’s Song Reader.

By now you’ve heard of Beck’s Song Reader project — instead of recording his latest batch of songs, he’s published them as sheet music. The Song Reader is available for presale now for $34, but Beck has made the first pages of sheet music available for free download for the tune “Old Shanghai” and is asking people to record their own version of the song, upload it to YouTube and link link it at Beck’s website. A few contribution are already online, along with versions of Song Reader song “Do We? We Do.” Very savvy marketing gimmick. Here’s a chance for your band to get the attention of arguably one of the most innovative pop musicians in the past two decades.

“Do We? We Do” Bradley Dean Whyte

* * *

There’s a new Q&A with Todd Fink at Oregon Music News. Among the topics, playing Media live (“For whatever reason, I just don’t ever want to play those songs.”). Wonder why. Read it here.

* * *

Pere Ubu is back. Lady from Shanghai, their first release in three years, comes out Jan.7 on Fire Records. Check out the first song, “Free White,” via NPR here.

* * *

Luaka Bop recording artist Delicate Steve is playing tonight at Slowdown Jr. This morning I listened to his latest album, Positive Force, on Spotify (That’s right, Steve, that 1/4 of 1 penny in your Spotify royalties check next month comes from me). There’s an ocean breeze that runs through this electronic, mostly instrumental music. Modern surf? Maybe, maybe. With Dana Buoy (Lefse Records), UUVVWWZ (Saddle Creek records) and Sun Settings. $13, 9 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 © 2012 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.