The Faint release Doom Abuse Deluxe; New TIT (w/Conor Oberst); Bats tonight w/Joe Champion (Uh Oh)…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 8:35 am April 10, 2024
The Faint at Sokol Auditorium June 12, 2014, during the original Doom Abuse tour.

By Tim McMahan,

Conor Oberst’s first record label, Saddle Creek Records, yesterday announced that it’s releasing a digital-only “Deluxe Edition” of The Faint’s 2014 album Doom Abuse. This edition includes tracks from the “Evil Voices” 12-inch which have never been available digitally. If you go to the Saddle Creek page, you’ll see the track listings organized as Disc One and Disc Two, which makes it sound like it’ll be available as a Compact Disc, but no option for ordering a CD is available. No such organization at the Bandcamp page… Would people want a CD version of this Deluxe edition? Probably…

BTW, The Faint have been named in the line-up for this year’s Outlandia Festival, Aug. 9.

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Speaking of electronic music, last week TIT — the dynamic duo of Shawn Foree and Bobby Hussy — released their long-awaited debut album, 10 years in the making. You may know Foree as the mastermind behind punk project Digital Leather. Hussy is the proprietor of No Coast Records and member of the band Wristwatch. TIT first emerged with a four-song EP back in 2013, released by Volar/FDH. 

The 11-song collection includes the track “MGBF,” with lead vocals by Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst reminiscent of this Digital Ash/Digital Urn days.  Check out the full album at the TIT Bandcamp page

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Tonight at The Sydney in Benson, Nashville indie-folk singer songwriter Bats – a.k.a. Jess Awh – headlines a three-act show that also features solo sets by Joe Champion (Uh-Oh) and Mitch Jordan. 8 p.m. $10. 

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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.


Conor Oberst launches Million Stars Records; signs The Felice Brothers…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 8:59 am April 9, 2024

The Felice Brothers, Valley of Abandoned Songs, to be released June 28 on Million Stars Records.

By Tim McMahan,

The first I heard of Conor Oberst’s new record label came via a press release with the headline: “The Felice Brothers Sign to Conor Oberst’s New Record Label Million Stars.” Wait, what? New record label? Isn’t Bright Eyes (and Conor Oberst) signed to Dead Oceans? 

In the press release, Conor explained:

“I first encountered the Felice Brothers in 2007 after being given some of their music by a friend. I liked it a lot, but there was something I couldn’t put my finger on—singular and mysterious. An iconoclastic version of what some lazy people call ‘Americana.’ I subsequently met them and played shows together. They became some of my best friends, family, really. I put out two of their records on the label I co-owned at the time, called Team Love. Then we started to perform together with them as my backing band and made a record of mine called Salutations. Needless to say, I love this band, and when I asked that horrible question, ‘Who is your favorite band?’ I always answer ‘The Felice Brothers.’ 

“So when Ian sent me this new collection of songs and told me they just planned to put it up on the internet, I kind of flipped out, because they were so goddamn good. And then I did something I swore I would never do again: I started a new record label. This is my third. It is called Million Stars, and I am so proud to say the new Felice Brothers album is our first release. I can’t quit them. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.”

So, yes, this would be Oberst’s third record label creation. The first was Saddle Creek Records, which he launched with a bunch of folks including his brother Justin, Mike Mogis (now of ARC Studios and Bright Eyes), and Robb Nansel, who still runs that label. The second label, Team Love, was launched in 2003 with his Oberst’s pal Nate Krenkel, who also was his former manager and an A&R dude at Sony ATV Music Publishing. Team Love continues to operate out of New Paltz, New York, though Oberst apparently is no longer involved. 

Based on the press release, it doesn’t sound like the idea of creating a new record label was a premeditated decision, more of a spur-of-the-moment deal, and really, isn’t that main ingredient in every success story?

Valley of Abandoned Songs will be released on June 28 on Million Stars. The 13-song collection consists of recordings primarily from sessions for the band’s 2019 album, Undress, as well as their most recent release, 2023’s Asylum On The Hill, both of which were captured live in an 1870s church with the band’s current lineup of Ian Felice (guitar/vocals), James Felice (piano/vocals), Jeske Hume (bass), and Will Lawrence (drums).

The band will, of course, be touring Europe and the U.S. The closest pass to little ol’ Omaha is Chicago (July 27, Beat Kitchen).

Check out the first single, “Crime Scene Queen”: 

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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.


News Bits: Saddle Creek noms; Conor/Phoebe reunion; Ritual Device in Omaha; new Pat Buchanan; Outlandia announcement imminent…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — @ 9:41 am March 26, 2024

Phoebe Bridgers and Conor Obersts reunited for a few numbers at Oberst’s show at Teragram Ballroom in LA March 21.

By Tim McMahan,

Time to clean out ol’ in-box. Hold onto yer hats… Much of this you may already have seen on the socials; some you haven’t. Here we go…

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Once again, our hometown record label – Saddle Creek Records – has been nominated for a Libera Award — the annual awards handed out by the American Association of Independent Music. Saddle Creek was nominated in the Label of the Year category for labels with 6 to 14 employees. Also in their category: Captured Tracks, City Slang, Lex Records, Light in the Attic, Mack Avenue Music Group and Photo Finish Records. Seems like Saddle Creek is nominated every year. Could this be the year they take home the prize?

In addition, Saddle Creek Records artist Indigo De Souza was nominated in the Breakthrough Artist, Best Singer-Songwriter Records, and Music Video of the Year categories. The 13th annual Libera Awards ceremony will take place June 10 at Gotham Hall in New York City. More coverage at Variety.

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The indie music world was thrown in a tizzy last week when Phoebe Bridges joined Conor Oberst on his “Conor Oberst and Friends” residency show at Los Angeles’ Teragram Ballroom – a series that heads east to Bowery Ballroom in NYC next month. The best coverage of the incident appeared in Them, an online publication that purports to be the “best of what’s queer.” 

Them’s James Factora reported that Bridgers walked on stage during the show’s encore and together with Conor performed Bright Eyes classic “Lua,” Oberst’s “Double Life” from 2014’s Upside Down Mountain and Better Oblivion Community Center tune “My City.” The occasion marked the first time the two have performed together since October 2020. Factora wonders whether, with the announced hiatus of Boygenuis (Bridgers’ project with Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus), if this unannounced reunion could be a sign of future BOCC things to come… 

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I already mentioned that legendary ‘90s-‘00s Omaha punk band Ritual Device is among the performers at this year’s Lincoln Calling May 3 and 4 (the festival schedule has yet to be released). Now comes word that RD will be playing back-to-back nights at Reverb Lounge in Omaha May 2-3 leading up to the LC weekend gig. The shows feature the band’s original lineup of Jerry Hug, Mike Saklar, Eric Ebers and Tim Moss. 

It’s been a decade since the band has taken the stage stage, and I’m sure there’s a good reason for this reunion. More to come…

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Speaking of artists from Omaha’s first golden age of indie music, Patrick Buchanan, the frontman of another ’90s-’00s legendary punk band, Mousetrap, yesterday released a new 5-song EP from his project House of Transgressor called Ain Soph Aur, which, along with the eerie album cover artwork, seems a wee bit satanic. Check it out on Spotify (I don’t see a Bandcamp or YouTube link), and here’s the first song on YouTube: 

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Finally, word from on high is that the fine folks who putting together the Outlandia Festival will announce the line-up for the August 9-10 festival sometime Thursday evening. No doubt you’ll see it blasted all over the socials that night, but I’ll be writing about it the following morning in Lazy-i

Who do you think will be this year’s headliner? After last year’s Lord Huron / Modest Mouse headliners (a festival that also included The Faint, Cat Power, Criteria, The Good Life and Horsegirl, among others), I can’t even imagine what they have up their sleeves — prior to this festival, I had never heard of Lord Huron.

With the Maha Music Festival taking the year off due to financial issues (according to their press release), Outlandia controls the board as the only indie music festival in the Omaha area this year. As it enters year 3, will it maintain its indie focus? We’ll find out Thursday 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.


Willy Mason (formerly of Team Love Records), Sean Pratt tonight at Pageturners…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 7:55 am March 12, 2024

Willy Mason plays tonight at Pageturners Lounge.

By Tim McMahan,

According to my records (glances at the Lazy-i Archives), it’s been about a decade since singer/songwriter Willy Mason came through town. The last time was opening for First Aid Kit at The Waiting Room back in June 2014. 

From that review: “Mason’s brassy voice has deepened dramatically since he emerged a decade ago. As proof, he played the standout track “Oxygen,” from his Team Love debut, the Ritalin-referenced lyrics betraying his lost youth. Last time Mason came through was as a solo artist, too. I’d like to see him with a band.”

I’d still like to see him play with a full band, though that’s not going to happen tonight at Pageturners. 

Those of you who were around at the dawn of Saddle Creek Records 20 years ago might remember a then-high-school aged Willy Mason played a tangential role as one of the first artists signed to Conor Oberst’s and Sean Foley’s fledgling record label, Team Love (along with Jenny Lewis and Tilly and the Wall, among others). 

The story behind that signing is also in the Lazy-i Archive, right here. Since then, Mason’s been on a bunch of labels and these days his music is licensed to Cooking Vinyl, including his last EP, Bok Bok Hill. Tonight Mason plays at Pageturners Lounge, along with our very own Sean Pratt (sans Sweats?). 8 p.m., $10 suggested donation (Why not just charge a cover?). 

Maybe Willy’s record label pal, who also owns Pageturners, will show up tonight for old times’ sake…

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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.


Conor Oberst’s bi-coastal residencies; new HAHA; Blvck Hippie tonight at Reverb…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 8:33 am November 14, 2023

Blvck Hippie plays tonight at Reverb Lounge.

by Tim McMahan,

From the in-box… 

Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes fame has signed up for two, month-long “residencies” next spring – one on either coast. Dubbed “Conor Oberst and Friends,” the shows take place each Thursday in March at Teragram Ballroom in LA and each Thursday in April at The Bowery Ballroom in NYC. These will be retrospective sets played with a “rotating backing band.”

“It will be a lot of work putting together a different band and set every week but it’s a challenge I think (that) will be rewarding,” Oberst says. Look for “surprise guests” each night. Sounds exciting, but the announcement would have been even more interesting if one of the residencies took place at O’Leaver’s…

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Speaking of Bright Eyes… that band’s drummer for their recent world tour was none other than Maria Taylor of Azure Ray fame. Well, Maria just dropped the second singles from her new project, HAHA. The duo consists of Taylor and Mike Bloom, who’s worked with Jenny Lewis and Julian Casablancas, among others. The track, “No Promises,” was released on Taylor’s Flower Moon Records. No mention if there will be a full-length in the duo’s future, but something tells me…

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Memphis singer/songwriter Josh Shaw goes by the stage name Blvck Hippie and calls his music “black fronted sad boy indie rock,” and his 2021 debut album, If You Feel Alone at Parties, “the Blackest emo record of all time.” Well, it’s not really an emo record (thankfully) and leans closer to modern up-tempo shoe-gaze. It’s pretty good.

In a recent Alternative Press interview, Shaw says there’s a hidden, untapped community consisting of people of color who would love to perform and attend DIY and punk shows, but naturally feels out of place. From the article:

People are going to feel safe in those spaces if they see someone on stage that looks like them, and bands on the bills that look like them. There are so many bands composed of people of color, but it’s so hard to break into those scenes – especially since they’re already kind of outcasts in a way. Venues and promoters have to go out of their way to find these Black artists and put them on the bills because just saying, ‘Support Black artists’ isn’t enough. You have to seek out these artists, put together all-Black shows at your venue, and advertise in communities of color because there’s so many weird Black kids in the neighborhoods that aren’t being talked to. You have to go above and beyond the fight against the systemic oppression of Black art in general.”

Right on, Josh.

Anyway, I mention all this because Blvck Hippie is headlining a show tonight at Reverb Lounge. Since this is a Black Heart Booking presentation, it’s a four-band bill that includes opening bands Trees with Eyes, Cupholder, and Jar (Captain Howdy dropped off the bill due to injury). $15, 8 p.m. Too late for little ol’ me but not for you slackers who don’t have day jobs. Get 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.


Conor Oberst speaks on cusp of Aussie Bright Eyes tour; Josh Audiss music tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 7:49 am October 25, 2023
Conor Oberst slouches next to Craig Ferguson from the Late Late Show circa 2005.

by Tim McMahan,

As a preview to their upcoming tour of Australia and New Zealand, Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst did a couple lengthy inteviews.  It’s a time for reminiscing for ol’ Conor, now 43, who goes back into the mind vault and talks about his early days. 

The article in The Music, “Australia’s most respected source for music news,” is the better of the two. Written as a feature story, the writer lays down some ancient history. 

Here are the best quotes from that article (which you can read in its entirety right here): 

  • — “It’s a running joke – or kinda a half-joke – that we’ll be at an airport with a bunch of guitars, and someone asks us, ‘What kind of music do you play?’ and a number of years ago, I took to saying, ‘Yeah, it’s called confusion rock’, have you heard of that?’ It doesn’t make any sense, and all our records sound different, so if you love one, you’ll probably hate the next one!’ That’s our own genre.”
  • — On the recent reissues and Companion series: “It basically happened because we moved our whole catalogue from Saddle Creek – which is the label we started as kids, which ran its course – and we moved over to Dead Oceans and the Secretly Group, and they’ve been amazing.” – Last I looked, Saddle Creek still was very much a functioning label. 
  • — “When I listen to or think about an album like [2000 third album] Fever And Mirrors, yeah, there’s a lot of embarrassing things on there – things I wrote and the way I sang and the over-the-top adolescence of it – but then every year somebody goes to high school and somebody’s older sister hands them a copy of it, and this has been happening for 20 years.”
  • — “I definitely think the output has decreased over the years. When I was a teenager or in my early 20s, I was writing constantly, and it was the only thing I thought about, or cared about really, at all. Probably to my detriment, in a lot of ways, because I think I’ve probably ruined some relationships and made some bad decisions… I don’t know, all of the stuff that you do when you’re a kid.”
  • — “I always joke that I’ve never worked a day in my life, which is not true, but you know what I’m saying, it’s fine. My buddy’s a part-time musician, and if I’m ever complaining about something on tour or about something that happened, he always goes [adopts deadpan voice], ‘Hey, beats pushing a broom’. Ain’t that the truth.”

The Mixdown appears to be another Australian-based publication (there’s not a lot of info about them on their own website). Their interview with Oberst is a straight up Q&A by someone who admits to be a long-time fan. 

The best quotes from the Mixdown interview (which you can read in its entirety here):

  • — “Commander Venus – such a bad name.” Come on now, Conor, nothing wrong with that band name. Certainly it’s as good as Bright Eyes.
  • — “People seem to like our records 5 years after they’re released. So it’s always felt like ‘let’s just make something and wait 5 years for someone to tell us it’s brilliant!’ But when it comes out it’s like ‘this is fucking shit!’ [Laughs]”
  • — On the next Bright Eyes record: “You know, we’ve been recording it… If all goes well maybe next fall. Knock on wood. Or early 2025. That feels so far away though. So I’m hoping for next fall.”

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Tonight at Ming Toy Gallery (that’s the gallery run by my better half) located at 6066 Maple in the heart of Benson, artist and musician Josh Audiss is playing a set of music. Audiss writes in a modern folk, singer/songwriter style. The free show starts at 7 p.m. and you’ll also get a chance to see (and buy) some of his art, which is on display at Ming Toy through the end of the month.

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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.


Bright Eyes special guests and Bridgers rumors; Mousetrap’s Patrick Buchanan; Hand Habits, Amber Carew leave Saddle Creek; who is Mary Ruth McLeay?…

Mary Ruth McLeay sideways.

by Tim McMahan,

A few random notes that are getting dusty in my in-box:

Yesterday Bright Eyes announced the “special guests” on the next leg of their tour will include Stranger Things’ star, singer/songwriter Maya Hawke, who also appears in the new Wes Anderson film Astroid City. But more notable is that Cursive and Neva Dinova will be the band’s special guests for the May 14 show at Tulsa’s Cain’s Ballroom and that Azure Ray will be a special guest at the May 18 gig at Houston’s White Oak Music Hall. 

Conor also is in the news because of the release of the new Boygenius album, which has member Phoebe Bridgers doing the media circuit. Yesterday, Nylon speculated that the record’s closing track, “Letter to an Old Poet,” was about Oberst, which would be a less-than-flattering portrait if true. 

Rolling Stone asked a similar question to Bridgers back in February about lyrics she added to a SZA song, where she calls some bloke an asshole. She declined to acknowledge the asshole was Conor and went on to say she didn’t know what the future holds for Better Oblivion Community Center, the project she had with Oberst.

Ah, the complicated lives of rock stars. 

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Patrick Buchanan, the frontman to ‘90s Omaha punk band Mousetrap, will do a one-off performance of his new project, House of Transgressor, May 11 at miniBar in Kansas City. Says Buchananon, “The live setup is actually NO stringed instruments at all. I will be singing & playing synth, there’s a 2nd guy who is playing dual synths, and a drummer who is playing a completely modular electronic drum kit AND synth. It’s a bit like a gothic Kraftwerk or an electronic Bauhaus.” Check out their recorded music here.

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Hand Habits announced that their next album, Sugar the Bruise, will be released on Fat Possum June 16, apparently ending their relationship with Saddle Creek Records, who release their last couple albums, including 2021’s Fun House, which was one of my favorites that year.

It also appears that the label’s Los Angeles A&R person, Amber Carew, left Saddle Creek sometime last year. Carew was involved in signing many of the band’s recent acts, including Palm, Indigo De Souza, PENDANT, Shalom, Tomberlin, Black Belt Eagle Scout, Ada Lea, Disq, Spirit of the Beehive, Stef Chura and Young Jesus. The only reason I found out was that Shalom mentioned Carew left the label in a recent interview. Carew’s LinkedIn indicates she left Saddle Creek last May, so this is pretty old news.

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And finally, Nebraska native Mary Ruth McLeay reached out in late February to let me know she released a new indie tune called “I Want Too Much.” McLeay, who’s a student at Berklee College of Music, produced the track and played on it with Dean Andreadas, who engineered and played guitars.

I’d never heard of McLeay before, though she said she’s played at Reverb and The Waiting Room, where she’s opened for acts and taken part in Femme Fest. I checked out her older music and it was anything but indie, more pop-flavored in the Swifty vein. Was the change intentional, and why?

“Definitely intentional and for so many reasons, many of them relating to simply growing up,” she said, adding her early stuff was recorded when she was 17 and influenced by acts like Lorde and Blackbear. She produced a couple pop rock songs at Berklee, which were examples “of me honing my pop writing chops but not necessarily carving my personal place as an artist.”

“The making of ‘I Want Too Much’ felt like my arrival to the place I’ve been trying to get for eight years. I went into my friend Dean’s home studio (I discovered that’s my favorite way to record over the years) with my only objective being I wanted to make something that sounded like my interior and my thought processing and reflected my presence. Therefore, the sound turned out like the exact path genre-wise I’d like to be on for a long time.”

Here you go. Looking forward to the next one:

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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.


Conor ‘jams’ at B-Bar; Lincoln’s DEMOS (ex-Strawberry Burns, The Sleepover) releases Hell’s Angles…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 7:36 am January 24, 2023

by Tim McMahan,

Hmmm…. another quiet weekend for me, though stuff happened, including a sort of Bright Eyes “secret show” at B-Bar Saturday night. “Bright Eyes” only in that two members of the core members – Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis — were in the band that also included MiWi La Lupa on drums, Zach Schmieder on bass, Cubby Phillips on guitar and Shawn Foree on synths. I did not attend this affair, but heard from various reports that the performance was “improvisational” and involved Mr. Conor singing articles from magazines. No Bright Eyes songs were performed. One person who was there said it was like going to a Bright Eyes show where you were allowed to talk during the performance. Another said it was like watching a band practice. 

It’s nice to see Oberst is still hanging around Omaha. He could live virtually anywhere he wants, and chooses to camp out in his hometown, which make him unique among the many Saddle Creek Records acts who defined Omaha’s indie sound in the late ‘90s/early ‘00s.  

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DEMOS, Hell’s Angles (2023, self-release)

You remember Lincoln’s Cory Kibler from Crush the Clown and Strawberry Burns fame? Sure you do. Cory’s got a new project called DEMOS that just dropped a new album today called Hell’s Angles

The 10-song LP has origins that date back to 2011, though most of it was recorded in Lincoln over the past few years. It was “mixed and produced by Jim ‘Kimo’ West, Grammy Award-winning solo artist and longtime guitarist for Weird Al. It was mastered by Golden Mastering in Ventura, CA.,” says Mr. Kibler.

The album has a real Built to Spill essence to it, thanks to the guitar work and Kibler’s Doug Martsch-esque vocals. The rest of the band consists of Greg Joyce, drums, guitar and vocals; Jarek Olivetti, guitars, vocals and drums on “Shut Each Other Up” and “Morning Will Come,” and James Tucci, bass, various synths and noises. It’s available on CD and digital download (buy it from the Bandcamp page), and maybe vinyl in the future. Kibler says don’t expect an album release show anytime soon as Olivetti lives in Seattle. 

There was a bit there when I wasn’t sure if we’d ever get these songs on tape,” Kibler said. “Definitely very different from the young band experience, when you’d use what little show money you had to record and mix an entire record in like six days! We have a horse-ton of other demoed songs as well, so look for our follow-up in 2033!”  

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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.


Pageturners Lounge weekend (Jake Bellows, Digital Leather, David Nance Band, Solid Goldberg, special guests?); Gary Numan Saturday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:47 pm September 9, 2022
Pageturners Lounge at 50th and Dodge celebrates its 10-year Anniversary this weekend, starting tonight.

by Tim McMahan,

Tonight is the first night of the Pageturners Lounge 10 Year Anniversary weekend. I still don’t know how they’re gonna cram all this entertainment into that little bar, but at least now we have start times and line-ups, as follows:


Las Cruxes
Cat Piss
Digital Leather
Marcey Yates
Jake Bellows

Specter Poetics
DJ Tyrone Storm


Bug Heaven
M34n Str33t
Felice Brothers w/ Special Guest

Solid Goldberg

SUNDAY 9/11: 

McCarthy Trenching
Megan Siebe
Ben Eisenberger
Jim Schroeder Band
David Nance & Mowed Sound

Not listed in the acts above Conor Oberst, who’s name is prominently displayed on the the weekend’s show poster. I’m told there may be an unannounced performance (of sorts) tonight was well, which should be the crush mob as Jake Bellows is headlining and there are tons friends and family dying to see Jake back on stage, especially with the re-release of the entire Neva Dinova catalog on Saddle Creek Records. Should be something special.

“Suggested Donation” is $10, which I guess is an alternative to charging a cover (is this a tax dodge?)? If you’re going, get there early, though I have a feeling there will be a constantly rotating audience throughout the night, cuminating with the headliners each night (Felice Brothers w/”Special Guest” headline Saturday night, which has got to be the Oberst appearance (if there is one)). 

It’s a shame this isn’t being held outdoors (but where would they put it?). Of course it’s supposed to rain tomorrow, so that would have brought everyone inside anyway. 

Pageturnersfest not the only thing going on this weekend. 

Gary Numan’s long rescheduled concert is finally happening Saturday night at The Waiting Room, and lo and behold, the show still isn’t sold out. This is among his last shows on Numan’s tour and who knows when he’ll tour again (if ever). I Speak Machine opens at 8 p.m. $35.

Also Saturday night, Des Moines singer/songwriter Dan Tedesco headlines at Reverb Lounge. Local boys Farewell Transmission and singer/songwriter Jeremy Mercy open. 8 p.m. $17.

Is that everything? Oh yeah, 311 is playing out at Shadow Ridge Country Club tonight. Wouldn’t want to forget that. Did I miss 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 © 2022 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Live Review: Bright Eyes and the new The Admiral Theater…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 1:46 am July 3, 2022
Bright Eyes at The Admiral Theater, July 2, 2022

by Tim McMahan,

As much as some things change, some things never change. Like finding parking around The Admiral f.k.a. Sokol Auditorium.

I didn’t get down there Saturday night for the Bright Eyes concert until well after 9 p.m. and was thrown into a time warp circa the early 2000s, driving the same back streets I did back then, looking for a parking space. I remembered my ol’ standby about three blocks southwest of the auditorium. Wasn’t there a church there before? And where did this high-rise condo/apartment building come from?

Neighbors were out on their stoops, getting ready to watch street fireworks. “You going to the show?” a young lady said while her husband chatted up a neighbor across the street, a baby in his arms.

“Sure am.” I said.

Well, have a good time!

Ah, that South Omaha charm, it never fades.

The building’s exterior hadn’t changed at all. Security was out front on the sidewalk checking IDs for drinkers, and someone asked to see my Vax card (few if any wore masks in the audience). Once inside, I emptied my pockets and lifted my seed cap to a guy holding a scanning wand, wondering how long the line must have been an hour earlier.

Once past the stairway and into the actual hall and you’re met with what feels like a new facility. The biggest updates on first glance were the fresh coat of paint (gilded gold along the balcony and the stage crown) and the gorgeous, new enormous bar in the north end of the building where the gym used to be (Note: no Rolling Rock. I settled for an $8 Stella tallboy).

Bright Eyes at The Admiral Theater, July 2, 2022

Bright Eyes already was on stage when I entered. So the big question: How did the room sound? I’m no audiophile, but it sounded more balanced and less boomy than I remembered. The PA speakers are now flown from the ceiling, and there’s an enormous new soundboard. It sounded as good as any large performance venue in Omaha, heard through my earplugs because the high volume.

The first thing I noticed missing from stage — Mike Mogis. Turns out he got COVID and missed the show — a real bummer.

Frontman Conor Oberst was his usual shambolic self, doing his new, weird solo dance during “Dance and Sing,” that looked forced and unnatural. You know what they say, dance like no one is looking. And that’s exactly what he did.

Showing high energy to the point of being jittery, Oberst’s voice was a bit frayed, especially on the more energetic numbers. He was backed by a small orchestra and a band that included MiWi La Lupa on multiple instruments, amazing drummer Jon Theodore (Queens of the Stone Age, ex-The Mars Volta), and Nate Walcott, who played the Paul Shaffer role as the pseudo bandleader giving cues from across the stage.

The 2022 version of Bright Eyes includes Oberst performing a number of songs with only microphone in hand — not behind a piano or a guitar. That freed him to do his wonky dancing and odd hand gestures, running to and fro across the stage. Oberst was at his best seated at a piano or playing guitar, more relaxed and more natural. In fact, as big and bombastic as this version of Bright Eyes is, I’d prefer to see the band stripped back down to Mike, Nate, Conor, MiWi and that drummer, just like the good ol’ days.

You can see the full set list below, which for the most part followed what he’s been playing on tour (with a couple order changes). The highlight was a modernized version of “Neely O’Hara” pushed forward by a very cool electric guitar counter melody. It was followed by a stripped-down version of “First Day of My Life” that had the crowd singing along.

I’ve been going to Bright Eyes concerts for 25 years, and this was one of the more downcast set lists I can remember — lots of slower, darker songs. On stage Oberst acknowledged his ongoing pessimism/sarcasm, and punctuated it with his usual between-song political rants, which we’ve all heard before and all agree with.

He strayed from politics only a few times. Once reminiscing about living in the apartment house on 40th and Farnam nicknamed the Jerk Store back in ’98 and ’99 (and where I first interviewed him while Joe Knapp practiced music somewhere upstairs). The other was toward the end of the set where he acknowledged the new Admiral. “I’ve played here a thousand times,” he said. “I wouldn’t call what I’m feeling ‘deja vu’ as much as ‘The Twilight Zone.’”

The band stuck to their usual three-song encore and then the lights went up and I could see the Admiral a bit better.

The Admiral Theater looking from the balcony toward the new bar area, July 2, 2022.

The floor was the same as I remembered, as was the chandelier. With everyone filing out the security guard let me see the balcony — maybe the biggest improvement of the entire remodel. It’s completely different, with a new built-out bar that runs along the building’s east wall and windows, and is amazing. It’s like a small club separated yet open to the balcony. The actual balcony wings were the same, though now you can see into the backstage area (maybe you always could?).

Gorgeous new Admiral balcony bar. Notice the windows in back, which are the building’s front windows. July 2, 2022.

Balcony tickets were $75 vs. the $45 general admission. Definitely worth the splurge for the right band. I’m not sure Bright Eyes fits the bill. That said, I’ve never been a fan of watching performances from the balcony. It’s too isolated, too separated from what’s going on down on the floor.

Which brings up one more big improvement at The Admiral. Friday’s show was crowded — probably a sell out. In years’ past, shows like that at Sokol Auditorium would have been a test to endure the heat and humidity. The Admiral’s HVAC did yeoman’s duty, keeping the place relatively cool and air well-circulated — which is even more important considering how COVID is beginning to spike again in Douglas County.

Jim Johnson and Marc Leibowitz — the masterminds behind the renovation — looked like a couple proud papas. They should be proud. They’ve created a jewel of a live performance space and saved a piece of Omaha history in the process. And they did it the old-fashioned way — as part of a team of investors who put their own money on the table along with their sweat and blood. That takes enormous courage after what this city — and this country — has been through. I have no doubt the gamble will pay off.

Check out their shiny new website. Looking at their calendar, I see more Admiral in my future. On my radar: Sunny Day Real Estate Sept. 14, Kurt Vile and the Violators Oct. 20 and Godspeed You! Black Emperor Nov. 4., which, by then, will mean trudging through snow drifts to get back to our car.

Here’s the setlist from the July 2 Bright Eyes show at The Admiral:

Dance and Sing
Lover I Don’t Have to Love
Bowl of Oranges
Mariana Trench
Old Soul Song (for the New World Order)
One and Done
Falling Out of Love at This Volume
No One Would Riot for Less
Haile Selassie
Persona non grata
Stairwell Song
Neely O’Hara
First Day of My Life
The Calendar Hung Itself
Comet Song

Ladder Song
I Believe in Symmetry
One for You, One for Me

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2022 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.