CWS rising; new Slowdown big room ‘seating’ prices; weak year for music (so far)…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 12:37 pm June 15, 2016
The Great Wad at CWS 2012. Here it comes again...

The Great Wad at CWS 2012. Here it comes again…

by Tim McMahan,

Quiet week show-wise, which gives me an opportunity to catch up on things that have been falling through the cracks.

Such as reminding you (if it hasn’t already been drilled into your head) that the College World Series kicks off this weekend. I’m reminded of this every time I look out my office window and see the white tents slowly rising like mushrooms throughout the parking lots around TD Ameritrade Park.

For The Slowdown, Friday marks the beginning of the annual harvest, when Jason Kulbel and his team scour their local hardware stores for 55-gallon trashcans, which will be used to stuff the enormous wads of cash that the out-of-towners will be dousing them with throughout the next two weeks. I envision a “counting room,” like the ones you see in those casino movies, and Jason (wearing a green, translucent visor) diligently creating stack-towers of bills in various denominations, surrounded by tired grunts humping enormous canvas bags overloaded with coinage to smoking-hot change-counting machines.

I mention all this only to give you a head’s up that live music at The Slowdown is going to be limited for the next two weeks. Sure, Slowdown is changing things up this year for the CWS with an outdoor stage in their parking lot, but the talent booked consists almost entirely of cover bands. I can’t say’s I blame them: Slowdown is catering to the gee-whiz sports audience that doesn’t give two shits about your favorite indie band (or, probably, music in general). Though, wouldn’t it be great if Slowdown booked a couple decent indie bands for just one night, sort of like throwing a bone to the rest of us? I would go.

Anyway, you can always see Slowdown’s CWS schedule online at The venue goes back to regular programming after June 25, and has among its upcoming offerings Femi Kuti & the Positive Force July 14, The Jayhawks July 31 and Bob Mould Sept. 9.

I point out these three big-room shows because all feature Slowdown’s new tiered ticket pricing. For example, the Femi show is $25 for general admission or $45 for reserved “pitside” seats. Jayhawks is $25 GA, or $40 for the balcony. Bob Mould was $22.50 GA or $35 for pitside or balcony seats. Those higher-priced Mould tickets are already gone, btw.

I’ve heard some whining from a few people about this new pricing scheme. But I have to hand it to Slowdown for finally taking full advantage of their facility. Targeted seating prices are nothing new in other cities; plenty of people are willing to pay a premium for prime seating — or just the opportunity to sit down. My wife, who is abundantly smarter than me, has no appetite for standing up for three hours straight at a rock show. So yeah, I’d have plunked down an extra $10 for those Mould pitside seats (too bad they’re gone).

I was originally concerned that this new ticket scheme was going to screw me — I like to stand on that pitside edge, along the wall, stage left, near the exit door. That’s my spot. I was afraid that spot no longer would be available without shelling out for a seat. But Jason tells me, no, I’m going to be okay. In fact, if you like to stand in the bowl in front of the Slowdown stage, your GA tickets have you covered. I guess it’s only lazy old people who will be impacted by this new ticket scheme, and most of them have the extra cash to shell out, anyway…

But is there really that much demand for balcony and pitside seating? Jason says balcony tickets for Mould sold out in a few hours, and I notice the 24 pitside seats for Jayhawks are gone, too.

* * *

I know my postings here at Lazy-i central have been somewhat erratic lately. I blame a new fitness schedule that has me up at 5 a.m. every other day. By the time I finish my morning jog, I don’t have time to write. I’ll figure it out. Also, there hasn’t been a whole helluva lot of indie news lately.

Now that we’ve hit June, I’m going to begin posting reviews of albums released in the first half of the year. And man, it’s been a shitty year for music. We lost two giants — Prince and Bowie — we’ve had to endure this unending hate-a-thon election, and to top it off there hasn’t been many stand-out releases so far in ’16. I’ll try to find the handful that demand your attention. Watch these pages.

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I can’t find a single show going on tonight..

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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 © 2016 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Josh Berwanger Band tonight, Junkstock, CWS; Lupines, Dirty Talker, UTW, Stacey Barelos Saturday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:57 pm June 12, 2015
Josh Berwenger Band at Stay Gold, March 19, 2015.

Josh Berwanger Band at Stay Gold in Austin during SXSW, March 19, 2015. His band plays tonight at fabulous O’Leaver’s.

by Tim McMahan,

From my window in the crow’s nest on the 15th floor I can see the tents rise….

It’s College World Series time again, and all of us who work in downtown Omaha will have to suffer through it together. The traffic. The idiots. The traffic. Ah, but it’s a small price to pay to support this national event that for two weeks turns Omaha into ground zero for a college sport no one cares about.

For The Slowdown, CWS is the harvest season, the time of year when their Green Room is converted into a “count room,” and when Wells Fargo armored trucks circle the facility like elephants in a Shriner parade picking up bushel-baskets filled with wrinkled currency. Needless to say, the indie music comes to a halt at Slowdown for the next two weeks. In fact, unless you’re into beer tents and college baseball, your best bet is to stay clear of downtown Omaha altogether until they fold up their tents and go home.

But who cares about what’s NOT happening this weekend? Here’s what IS happening. And it’s mostly at fabulous O’Leaver’s, where tonight the Josh Berwanger Band is playing. Berwanger is a former member of Lawrence band The Anniversary. I caught his band’s set at SXSW this year when they played the Saddle Creek/Nicodemus showcase and was duly impressed by their very clean, very tight take on indie rock. You’ll like it. Also on the bill are Saturn Moth and Anonymous Henchman. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Also going on all weekend is Junkstock, waaaay out at 315 So. 192nd St. Vendors, plus live music. $6 per day admission. It already started today and runs until 7 p.m. Music is primarily local folk bands. Check out the schedule here.

Moving on to Saturday, it’s back to O’Leaver’s for Lupines (coming off a red hot set at my birthday bash last week), Laughing Falcon and Lincoln’s Dirty Talker, who’s celebrating an album release. Dirty Talker is Brendan McGinn (drums) and Adam 2000 (guitar) of Her Flyaway Manner. Justin Kohlmetscher rounds out the trio on bass and vox. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Also Saturday evening, toy piano player Stacey Barelos is playing a set at Almost Music in Benson. Joining her is Jared Brown on percussion. 8 p.m., $5.

Bazile Mills headlines at Reverb Lounge with Kait Berreckman Saturday night. $7, 9 p.m.

Finally, UTW Day is being celebrated at Jerry’s Bar in Benson. The all-day art, food and music event runs from noon to midnight Saturday and closes out with performances by John Klemmensen and the Party and Hand Painted Police Car (starting at 8). Admission is by donation. More info here.

That’s what I got. If I missed your show, put it in the comments section. Have a great weekend.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Live Review: Criteria rocks the CWS; Hear Nebraska launches new website and HN Radio…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:51 pm June 23, 2014
Criteria at The Slowdown, June 21, 2014.

Criteria at The Slowdown, June 21, 2014.

by Tim McMahan,

Well, Jason Kulbel was right. I had no problem finding on-street parking when I drove downtown Saturday night to catch Criteria at Slowdown. I spent the evening closely monitoring the College World Series game on TV (which went into extra innings), worrying it might push into the Criteria set time. I didn’t want to get caught in a post-game traffic quagmire. With the last out I headed downtown, avoiding Cuming Street, taking Dodge, and eventually running into crowds and cops navigating 14th St. I found a spot about three blocks away near the UP daycare center. So much for all the whining.

If the chaos that was taking place in Slowdown’s tented parking lot is any indication, we’ll soon be seeing Mr. Kulbel and Mr. Nansel driving ’round in brand new Bentleys. It looked like spring break in Bro-land, a sea of backwards baseball caps carrying Silver Bullets looking for someone to high five. Needless to say, I didn’t spend much time outside.

Inside the climate-controlled trappings of The Slowdown it felt like any other show except for the TV screens showing highlights from the game that just ended and the Slowdown staff decked out in matching “staff” baseball shirts. CWS refugees mixed with the regular crowd, I doubt they knew what they were in for when Criteria rolled on stage launching into a set of indie-rock anthems with their usual panache. Those looking for dance beats and/or “hot action” exited through the back door.

“Sounds like there’s some fat beats going on out there,” said dashing frontman Stephen Pedersen between songs, as you could hear the dull thump through Slowdown’s cinderblock. “We’re more of a treble band.”  Those who hung around — my guestimate: 100-150 — got exactly what they came for.

I’ve been watching Criteria perform live for well over a decade. I’ve never seen a crowd respond to them the way last Saturday night’s crowd did. The floor in front of the stage became an ad hoc mosh pit with rabid fans pounding each other and/or doing some sort of improvised hoe-down dance. Fans leapt onto the stage, but finding the crowd too sparse to jump on top of instead jumped back down to the floor and were carried overhead in a weird ritual that looked more like piggyback riding than crowd-surfing. Needless to say, these fans knew the words to all the hits, which they screamed back at the stage. No doubt Criteria still has a rabid base dying for their return.

And return they shall, with a new album Pedersen said was “almost done” and ready for shopping to a label willing to back an act that hasn’t put out new material in nine years and/or doesn’t do extensive touring. Something tells me they’ll find a taker right here in Omaha (if they want it).

Criteria played at least four songs from that yet-to-be-released album, including a couple they’ve never performed live. One, played toward the very end of the set, was classic Criteria, as good as anything they’ve done in the past. The band continues to age well. Pedersen can still strike hot with his vocal contortions, glancing off the high notes as if he were still in his 20s (though he had to be grateful he doesn’t have to do it every night).

With the last song, the fans began chanting for an encore. They got two more songs for their efforts, including a transcendent version of “Prevent the World” that left them satisfied.

This show plus The Faint last week are evidence that Slowdown is proud of the music that helped put Omaha on the indie music map and wants to share it with the great unwashed masses that attend the CWS. Here’s hoping they continue the tradition at next year’s CWS.

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Drumroll please….

The redesigned website finally went live this morning. Go take a look. The cleaner, easier-to-navigate design is fully responsive — that means it looks and behaves as well on your smart phone or tablet as it does on your desktop browser.

But maybe the most important new feature of is the launch of HN Radio — that’s the music player located at the top of the homepage. The goal is to provide an online channel that makes available music from local bands. The current playlist includes songs by Once a Pawn, Digital Leather, Dumb Beach and Anna McClellan.

HN Radio also ia premiering Live at O’Leaver’s. For the past few months (year?) O’Leaver’s has been recording live performances at the club, the quality of which is amazing. The current HN Radio playlist includes tracks by Deleted Scenes and Eli Mardock recorded as part of the O’Leaver’s series. My only gripe about HN radio is that the playlist is too short, but methinks this is merely V 1.0. Expect a lot more music — and content — at HN Radio in the very near future.

Congratulations to Andy Norman and the entire Hear Nebraska staff for getting the new design and HN Radio afloat. Check out the site and give them your feedback.

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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 © 2014 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Peter Murphy Vs. Criteria Saturday; Solid Goldberg for your Sunday afternoon…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 12:27 pm June 20, 2014
Peter Murphy will perform at The Waiting Room this Saturday night.

Peter Murphy will perform at The Waiting Room this Saturday night.

by Tim McMahan,

The CWS is winding down. Been to a game yet? Me neither. It’s not so much that I don’t want to go as much as I don’t have tickets, don’t have patience, don’t see a need to tolerate the heat, especially when I can watch it from the comfort of my air conditioned living room. But even then, I have a hard time rooting for schools I have no allegiance to. Heck, I don’t even root for the Huskers, being the proud UNO alum that I am. Why would I root for Cal Irvine or Ole Miss?

Anyway, the CWS winds down this weekend, culminating with championship games next Monday and Tuesday (and possibly Wednesday). In the heart of the madness Saturday night The Slowdown is hosting one of the more interesting local rock shows of the first half of the year. Criteria returns. Rumor is they’re recording a new record. Who knows when it will ever be released, but I suspect they’ll be playing a few songs off it Saturday night. Opening is Lincoln band Universe Contest. The free show starts at 9 p.m. Hopefully by then, the CWS game will have ended and the fans will have headed back to wherever they came from. As mentioned earlier this week, Slowdown proprietor Jason Kulbel insists that street parking is no problem during the CWS. I will test his theory Saturday night.

Also Saturday night, Peter Murphy plays at The Waiting Room. I saw Murphy at SXSW back in 2009, and though he looked old and tired during the performance, he still had the same grotto growl he was known for in the ’90s and as a member of Bauhaus. If you feel like a stroll down memory lane, read my “Goth to God” Murphy interview from 2002, written in support of a Ranch Bowl gig that never happened (Murph apparently took one look at the bowling alley, got back into his tour bus/van and left without performing). Opening is Austin band Ringo Deathstarr. $22 Adv. / $25 DOS. Starts at 9.

Did you noticed I skipped over Friday night?  Only show of note is The Big Deep at The Barley Street Tavern w/ Dear Rabbit and intrepid singer/songwriter Nick Carl a.k.a. Kicky Von Narl, a.k.a. Nicky Carla. $5, 9 p.m.

Now let’s really confuse things and go back to Saturday night, which is when The Filter Kings headline at The Barley Street (the Barley’s been the place to be lately). Opening is South Sioux City roots rocker Mat D and the Profane Saints. $5, 9 p.m.

Finally Sunday our ol’ pal O’Leaver’s is hosting its “Sunday Social,” this time featuring the “2014 Primitive Poodlez Tour” headlined by a couple touring Oakland garage bands — Pookie and the Poodlez (Burger Records) and Primitive Hearts (FDH Records). Kicking things off is the always cool Solid Goldberg. This is an early 5 p.m. show, and will be going on at the same time as USA v. Portugal in the World Cup. I’m told TVs will be tuned to the match. $5.

That’s what I got. If I missed anything, put it in the comments section. Have a good 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 © 2014 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


CWS and the slow pace of things lately…

Category: Blog — Tags: — @ 12:55 pm June 14, 2012

by Tim McMahan,


I almost didn’t post an update today, like I didn’t post an update on Tuesday, and the reason — there just ain’t that much going on. There are a few good shows on the horizon (The Hold Steady tomorrow; Blue Bird on Saturday), but as a whole, we’re in a down time that will only get downer as the College World Series launches today at “The Trade” (A more lame-ass nickname I could not devise. Thank you, OWH…).

Unless you’re into the college sports scene (and I’m not), it’s a pretty dull event. Even duller is the array of “entertainment” going on in and around the tents surrounding the ball park. Bad blues acts and cover bands. Lots of overpriced booze. Heat, humidity and the overpowering stench of cooking port-o-johns and B.O. What it means to me — avoid downtown for the next two weeks. Unfortunately, I work downtown, so it can’t be avoided.

Anyway…  if you got music news or a show tonight that you want to mention, post it in the comments. I’m not seeing anything on my radar for tonight, unless you’re into emo/punk-pop (Bayside at TWR)…

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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.


Dance Me Pregnant ain’t over; Slowdown goes (mostly) covers for CWS; Son Volt tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:48 pm May 24, 2012

by Tim McMahan,

Somehow this one fell through the cracks. Received April 26 from one John Vredenburg with the subject line: “Dance Me Pregnant Over?”

I think not. We’re finishing our record in May and will be out playing shows ASAP. We’ve just been on a delayed holiday, with all of us in our current projects….Chris Machmuller in the So-So Sailors and Ladyfinger, Mark McGowan in Ketchup & Mustard Gas, Corey Broman in New Lungs, and me in Digital Leather and Saudi Arabia. Busy dudes finally wanting to get this project back up and full steam ahead. Matt Balis is going to be the  fellow that’s mixing our first LP, and we couldn’t be more excited. Just figured I’d plant the seed in the scene.

I think when he says “Matt Balis” that Johnny means Matt Bayles, whose productions credits include the latest Cursive album, The Sword, Mastodon, Minus the Bear and a shitload more. This is indeed welcome news. In a related story, Ladyfinger just announced that it’s doing a free gig with Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship June 22 at Slowdown as part of the club’s College World Series events.


Alas, the Ladyfinger/Noah’s gig is the only one of consequence for the June 15-26 tent-city CWS madness at Slowdown. The rest of the schedule, announced earlier this week, includes such cutting edge bands as The Mother Dudes, The Lizard Kings, Hi-Fi Hangover, The Fishheads and Lemon Fresh Day. I realize that Slowdown feels that they should cater to the great unwashed masses (i.e., the non-300) for CWS, a crowd that one presumes doesn’t give two shits about indie rock. Still, I’ve been told that Slowdown’s tents weren’t exactly at capacity at last year’s CWS event with basically the same lame-o coverband lineup. For what it’s worth, it has been suggested that Slowdown build on its strengths as an indie/quality rock music centerpiece to Omaha’s music scene by booking some of the best local indie bands for the CWS weeks, which at the very least would expand some culture into a rather culture-starved CWS fanbase. Deaf ears…

* * *

Tonight at The Waiting Room, it’s classic ’90s band Son Volt (Jay Farrar ex-Uncle Tupelo) with Matt Cox. And yes, I prefer these guys to Wilco (but as you might guess, I’m in the extreme minority). $15, 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.


CWS madness an opportunity for local bands; Peace of Shit, Watching the Train Wreck, Benson Summerfest Saturday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 10:17 am June 18, 2011
Solid Goldberg at The Barley Street May 13. See him tonight at O'Leaver's.

Solid Goldberg at The Barley Street May 13. See him tonight at O'Leaver's.

by Tim McMahan,

Yes, things are slowing down for the next couple of weeks, especially for shows featuring national touring bands, but there has to be something to do for those of us avoiding the downtown clusterfuck called the College World Series.

As mentioned the other day, The Slowdown has gone “all in” with the CWS, converting itself into a virtual ESPN SportsZone over the next two weeks, and who can blame them? The CWS is a money-printing bonanza, an opportunity for them to “make their year” in two weeks, bringing in more than enough cash to justify booking your favorite money-losing underground sensation later this year that will play to fewer people than will be standing in the piss line after the Session 3 battle between Bum-fuck and Bum-fuck State. Yes, I will be frequenting The Slowdown College Beer Festival over the next two weeks, not because I have tix to a CWS match-up, but because I work downtown and will already be parked within walking distance of “The Tents” — i.e., the gold-rush-like  mini-town that’s sprung up in the concrete parking lots surrounding “New Rosenblatt, Nebraska.”

Anyway… Slowdown has no “real shows” for the next two weeks, and even if they did, no one would go because they wouldn’t have the patience to deal with the chaos. Without Slowdown, the volume of national-band shows are cut at least in a third, if not in half. A golden opportunity for The Waiting Room to fill that void? Yes, but they haven’t, I guess (wrongfully) assuming that everyone is going to be pre-occupied with CWS. A lost opportunity for them; a golden opportunity for local bands to step up and show their wares. Will they step up?

* * *

O’Leaver’s had the most talked about “show” last weekend with the stewed-in-booze meat festival known as the Mr. O’Leaver’s competition. Have there ever been more recipients of restraining orders in one place at one time? Unlikely.

O’Leaver’s will try to top the mayhem again this week with tonight’s cherry of a line-up featuring Peace of Shit and Watching the Train Wreck, two bands who are celebrating the release of a split 10-inch. But this isn’t just any split 10-inch. The record will be a one-sided lathe-cut record limited to only 30 copies on clear vinyl. The blank side features a screen-printed image that shows through and looks like a picture disk.  The first 10 copies sold at the show will feature a bonus lathe-cut 7-inch with a cover tune from both bands. Local lathe-cut label Fear of Music Records is putting it out, according to WtTW / Rainy Road Records impresario Kevin Cline.

I have heard the tracks on this split and can tell you that they are absolutely mint, must-have relics of modern-day Omaha gutter punk. And only 30 copies? Imagine what they’ll be worth on The E-bay when the law finally catches up to these two collections of degenerates and “puts them away”?

Topping it all off is the one-man psychedelic groove dance party called Solid Goldberg, a.k.a. Dave Goldberg of Box Elders fame and his battery of audio/visual special effects. Get thee to this show, tonight at O’Leaver’s. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Also going on tonight is Benson Summerfest After Dark — five Benson clubs featuring local bands all night starting at 9 p.m. Full schedule is available at SlamOmaha, here. $10 wristband gets you into all the clubs all night.

Finally, a couple more local shows on Sunday night worth mentioning:

First, there’s a welcome home bash for Cass Brostad at The Barley Street Tavern featuring Traveling Mercies, The Family Gram (reunion), The Fergesens, Tenderness Wilderness, Kyle Harvey, Brad Hoshaw, Bret Vovk, Rebecca Lowry and Dylan Davis. Show starts at 7 p.m. No idea on the cover, but it’s probably around $5.

Also Sunday night, Satchel Grande and Midwest Dilemma play in the Red Sky Battle of the Bands competition at The Waiting Room with We Be Lions and Lonely Estates. Go and root for your favorite to win the right to play on the local stage at one of the lamest festivals in the country (But hey, a good payday is a good payday, right?). $5, 7 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 © 2011 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.