Live Review: The Omaha Lounge; Charly Bliss, See Through Dresses, Eklund/Higgins tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:43 pm May 1, 2017

Soulful Live Trio at Omaha Lounge, April 29, 2017.

by Tim McMahan,

The plan was to go see The Lupines Saturday night at Brothers Lounge. But instead, on a lark, Teresa and I decided to drop in at The Omaha Lounge for a drink.

For the last couple weeks I’d been bombarded with ads in Facebook from this place, which is located right next to Pickleman’s downtown at 1505 Farnam. Their website boasted live jazz and blues in an historic building, and a drink menu that included something called an “Uncle Pete,” which is a sly marketing homage to Union Pacific, along with other drinks named after old Omaha businesses.

The place was as described — an old storefront on the ground level of the Baxter Building, with all the original woodwork, ceiling tile, art deco lighting fixtures and a vintage bar that stretched along most of the length of the room.

Very tasteful. However, whoever took over the place decided to replace the furniture with giant, boxy, clumsy, pleather-covered chairs  so wide they bump into each other and crowd into the aisles — just awful furniture that probably cost the new owners a ton and, unfortunately, should be dumped immediately and replaced with standard club chairs and tables.

The lounge doesn’t have a stage. Instead, performers play near the entrance where a PA has been placed next to a grand piano. Saturday night’s entertainment was provided by The Soulful Live Trio, a combo that included a piano player, saxophonist and vocalist who performed covers ranging from “Just the Way You Are” to “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay,” accompanied by pre-recorded rhythm tracks. The singer was first class, and quite a lounge lizard on the microphone.

As good as his vocals were, the most intense moments came when the sax and pianist went full-on jazz and ripped through a few standards, showcasing their talent. I’m not a jazz guy, but anyone would enjoy these guys, especially after a couple drinks. I ordered the aforementioned Uncle Pete, which was the lounge’s version of a Mai Tai — delicious… and potent. Teresa ordered something called The Paper, which was a classic chocolate martini. Lounge drinks at lounge prices — two rounds put me back $40.

Table service was excellent, though I felt sorry for the waiter who struggled to get around those giant pleather chairs. By the time we left shortly after 10 the bar was mostly filled with a crowd there to hear the music and take in the vibe (including actor John Beasley, who sat up by the band). Needless to say, by the time I got back home those Mai Tai’s took their toll. Next time, Lupines…

* * *

It’s a busy Monday night.

Tonight Charly Bliss returns to Reverb Lounge. The indie act’s new album, Guppy, was just released on Barsuk. Joining them is another band about to launch a new album, our very own See Through Dresses, who began pre-sale for Horse of the Other World last week at Tiny Engines. $10, 9 p.m.

Also tonight, Eklund/Higgins 30 Days, a new project by Greg Eklund, former drummer of Everclear, and Omaha legend Dereck Higgins, debuts at fabulous O’Leaver’s. Opening is Rouge Moon, Chalant and Phil Kolbo. 9 p.m.

* * *

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.


Live Review: Charly Bliss, Lightning Bug; Silversphere, Worried Mothers tonight; Proseeds Festival, Those Far Out Arrows Saturday…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:35 pm June 17, 2016
Charly Bliss at Reverb Lounge, June 16, 2016.

Charly Bliss at Reverb Lounge, June 16, 2016.

by Tim McMahan,

Before we get to the weekend…

I was pretty spot-on with my original comparisons to Charly Bliss: Weezer meets The Breeders with Cyndi Lauper-esque vocals thrown in for good measure. What I missed (and what became more apparent from the Reverb stage last night) was the touchstones to ’90s band That Dog, who I assume frontwoman Eva Hendricks and Co. never heard of so it probably doesn’t count. Though if they listened to, say, 1995’s Totally Crushed Out, they may recognize similar melodic and harmonic tendencies, tendencies which I’ve always loved.

When you consider the wave of female-fronted heavy/’90s-sounding bands currently stomping across American Indie — Diet Cig and Dilly Dally among them — Charly Bliss has one-upped them if only by having a better ear for melody, a broader variety of song styles and Hendricks’ unmistakable vocal style. When heard on the band’s earlier recordings, you got a sense she was always about to spin out of control in a glowing ball of uber-cuteness (Imagine Jennifer Tilly singing rock songs). But last night (and on the band’s recent single, “Ruby”) Hendricks keeps it under control, and it’s for the better, though she can’t help to let out a yelping scream-squeak every once in a while.

We all knew we were in for something weird on the set’s last song when Hendricks unstrapped her guitar and put her pedal board away to give her more room to move. And move she did, like a girl possessed, hopping and thrashing her arms as if having a seizure while the rest of the band practiced their feedback-fueled riffage for what seemed like five minutes. She ended the number by pounding her belly with both hands much in the same way Charlie Babbitt pounded his head in Rain Man. Crazy fun from a band you’ll be hearing more from.

Lightning Bug at Reverb Lounge, June 16, 2016.

Lightning Bug at Reverb Lounge, June 16, 2016.

As for opener Lightning Bug, I think I’ll need to update that list I published yesterday. I’ve never caught these guys before last night, and now I’m sorry for all the previous nights I missed. In fact, I only caught the last three songs of their set and I’m a little pissed about that.

An indie-rock four-piece, there’s a preciseness about their sound that elevates above garage and recalls Three of a Perfect Pair-era King Crimson, thanks to frontman David Moore’s at times intricate guitarwork, which swapped between old-fashioned tapping technique and all-out riffage. Add Moore’s tuneful howl — one of the more unique voices I’ve heard from an Omaha band — and they’re onto something. I ran home and listened to their Soundcloud recordings since they weren’t selling anything at the show (that I could see). When’s the next show, boys?

* * *

So, looks like it’s gonna be another O’Leaver’s weekend…

Tonight at fabulous O’Leaver’s electronic post-punk band Silversphere headlines. The band features Owen Cleasby and Ken Brock, who you may remember from the previous incarnation as The Lepers. Opening the show is gritty garage rock goodness of Worried Mothers and new trio, Was. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Also tonight, local punk band No Thanks has a tape release show at Milk Run. Opening is Bien Fang and Super Moon. Show starts at 9:30 p.m.

Proseeds, a local firm that helps generate money for non-profits, is hosting a free local music festival at Stinson Park in Aksarben Village Saturday evening. Among the performers are All Young Girls Are Machine Guns, Routine Escorts and State Disco. See the full line-up here.

Tomorrow night (Saturday) it’s back to O’Leaver’s for Those Far Out Arrows. Opening is Heavy Lungs and KC band Psychic Heat (High Dive Records). $5, 9:30 p.m.

Start your evening off early Saturday with an in-store show at Almost Music in the Blackstone District. On the card are Topeka experimental act Aaron Martin with Erinome (Aaron Hansen) and Sopor (Zach Schiermann). $5, 7 p.m.

And that’s the sum of it. If I missed your show, put it in the comments section. Have a great Father’s Day weekend…

* * *

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 © 2016 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


The Reader’s top bands list(s); Saddle Creek signs Sam Evian; Charly Bliss, Lightning Bug tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:47 pm June 16, 2016
Charly Bliss plays tonight at Reverb Lounge.

Charly Bliss plays tonight at Reverb Lounge.

by Tim McMahan,

I recently was asked by one of the many local music festival organizers (and there’s a lot of them these days) if I had any recommendations for local bands to play his festival. I sent him the following list, and told him he couldn’t go wrong with any of these bands and musicians.

The Reader compiles this list annually, usually in late winter toward the end of the year. But this year Reader publisher John Heaston decided to move the annual Music Issue up to June, and asked me to supply a list of my favorite bands. So, I submitted the following acts who — in my humble opinion — are making unique, heart-felt, personal, smart and (above all) kick-ass music, either live or on recordings.

Some of these names have been around for years (even decades). Some debuted within the last 12 months. All are worth your time and effort to seek out, both in the clubs and in the local record bins.

Without further ado, my 2016 favorite local artists lists (six months early):

Anna McClellan
Bien Fang
Brad Hoshaw
Clarence Tilton
Digital Leather
Dumb Beach
The Good Life
Hand Painted Police Car
High Up
Jeff Runnings
Josh Hoyer and Soul Colossal
Little Brazil
Matthew Sweet
Matt Whipkey
Relax, It’s Science
Sam Martin
See Through Dresses
Simon Joyner
Super Ghost
Thick Paint
Those Far Out Arrows
Uh Oh
Wagon Blasters

A few caveats: Bands had to be active. The Faint, for example, haven’t done much this year, but look out for later this year. Same holds true for Conor Oberst, who (other than his fun country covers project) has been relatively dormant after last year’s cancellation of that Desaparecidos tour. I suspect we’ll see more out of him later this year.

My list is “indie centric” because that’s the kind of music I listen to. That being the case, Reader colleague BJ Huchtemann, who focuses on blues and R&B, provided The Reader with her list of favorites for 2016:

All Young Girls Are Machine Guns
CJ Mills
Hector Anchondo Band
Jack Hotel
Josh Hoyer and Soul Colossal
Kris Lager Band
Matt Cox
Michael Campbell
Sam Ayer & The Love Affair
Shawn Holt & the Teardrops
Tim Budig Band

Both lists are in the current issue of The Reader. If you or your band is missing, I wouldn’t worry about it, because, let’s face it, lists are only good as conversation starters, and little more…

* * *

Yesterday Saddle Creek Records announced its latest signing, a band out of Brooklyn called Sam Evian, the latest project by musician Sam Owens.

According to “Sam Owens of Celestial Shore, (is) going by ‘Sam Evian’ for his solo project because there is apparently an entirely different New York musician named Sam Owens who locked down an internet presence first and because ‘bottled water is weird and totally irresponsible (kinda like playing music) but that one tastes the best to me.‘”

Celestial Shore’s 2014 album, Enter Ghosts, was released on Hometapes and got a rousing 6.8 rating from Pitchfork. The Sam Evian track that Saddle Creek shared yesterday reminds me of a cross between Kurt Vile and Foxygen. Good stuff.

Saddle Creek label exec Robb Nansel said they’ve “been talking to him for over a year… just waiting for him to make the right record and he finally did!” and “He’s had some other projects in the past that were on our radar; and everything came together with this one.”

“Sleep Easy” is the first track to be shared from Premium, the debut Sam Evian LP, scheduled for release by Saddle Creek this year. The label is on something of roll lately, striking gold with their last two recruits, Hop Along and Big Thief. Will Sam Evian continue the streak?

* * *

Tonight at Reverb Lounge Brooklyn grunge-pop 4-piece Charly Bliss headlines. On their latest single, “Ruby,” they sound like a cross between Weezer and Breeders, though frontwoman Eva Hendricks has some distinctive Cyndi Lauper overtones to her vocals.  Lightning Bug opens. $10, 9 p.m.

* * *

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 © 2016 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.