New Unexplained Death track; Jake Bellows sighting; Stef Chura, French Vanilla, David Nance tonight at Reverb…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:38 pm August 7, 2019

Stef Chura at O’Leaver’s, May 30, 2018. She plays tonight at Reverb Lounge.

by Tim McMahan,

Matt Whipkey’s new punk-flavored project Unexplained Death is about to enter the political arena. Whipkey has crafted an album’s worth of angry  rock songs that reflect Nebraska in the age of Trump.

His latest entry is a not-so-veiled attack on Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse titled “Benny and The Sass,” which debuted a lyric video on YouTube yesterday. Who will be the first Washington intern to show it to the senator. And when will Whipkey and the rest of U-Death finally grace a stage near you?

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The Scott McCaughey tour that rolled through an Omaha living room last month rolled into LA’s Bootleg Theater this past weekend with half of R.E.M. (Peter Buck and Mike Mills) in the supporting band. Also on board was Morgan Nagler, Jake Bellows and the rest of Whispertown. Check out the coverage, which includes a shout out and a couple sweet pics of Jake and Morgan. We miss you, Jake…!

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Speaking of living room shows, there’s another one coming up Aug. 28 with Pedro the Lion’s David Bazan. Upon purchasing your limited $25 tickets here, the location of the event will be revealed. No doubt, it will once again be a living room tucked away somewhere in Dundee.

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Tonight at Reverb Lounge it’s the return of Stef Chura and her band. Chura played a sparsely attended set at O’Leaver’s last year (I was there). Her new album, Midnight (2019, Saddle Creek), produced by Car Seat Headrest’s Will Toledo, has garnered plenty of national attention, which could make tonight’s show a bit more crowded.

Toledo and Chura have something in common: Both have voices that are… challenging. Toledo’s voice swings between wobbly half-asleep tone-waddle and full-throat yell-singing. So does Chura’s, at times a scratchy granny (reminiscent of ’70s hippy yodeler Melanie (“Brand New Key”)) at others, angry nasal lady. I find it strangely precocious.

Toledo gets a ton of credit for this new record’s sound, and in a lot of ways, it’s justified. Compared to her Saddle Creek debut, 2017’s Messes, the guitars on Midnight are crunchier, the bass lines are fuzzier and more out front, and the songs are filled with clean drop-outs that wake up the tracks with karate chop precision.

Lyrically, Chura’s outsider / lost relationship musings can walk home in the dark hand-in-hand with Toledo’s lonely guy odes.

Like last night’s Outer Spaces show, this one is a four-band bill (WTF? Don’t you guys know some of us have to go to work tomorrow morning?). Joining Chura is LA art punkers French Vanilla (Danger Collective Records), New Haven rocker Stefan Christensen and our very own David Nance Group. 8 p.m., $12.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2019 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


15 Passenger’s Rare Coins; new Jason Steady; Neighbor Lady, Thick Paint, Flowers Forever tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — @ 12:38 pm March 19, 2018

Dicey Riley at The Dubliner March 17, 2018.

by Tim McMahan,

The Dubliner was its usual steamy, sloppy way on St. Patrick’s. Dicey Riley brought the Irish tradition, and the Dubliner supplied the Guinness.

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Label 15 Passenger, run by the fine folks from Cursive (Kasher/Maginn/Stevens) announced their first non-Cursive/Kasher release last week. It’s the first in a new split-LP series called “Rare Coins,” wherein one band provides the A-sde and a related band provides the B-side.

“The Rare Coins Series was conceived to offer an established artist the opportunity to share one of their favorite artists with the rest of the world by way of a limited release split 12”,” sayeth the website.

For the debut, David Bazan of Pedro the Lion fame is the A-side artist. Seattle musician Sean Lane is the B-side artist. Lane has played in Perfume Genius and Yppah, and is currently on tour with Bazan in his latest incarnation of Pedro The Lion.

The split LP comes out April 6 and will be available on gold vinyl, limited to 1,000. Pre-order it now here.  Check out one of the Bazan songs below.


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Jason Steady just dropped a new video for “I Think She’s Real.” The song is a remake of an old Feel Tight song, backed by a full band that includes Knife de la Garza on drums and Aaron Lee on bass. The band is headed out to the West Coast for a few dates in May.

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Big show (for a Monday) tonight at fabulous O’Leaver’s. Atlanta indie band Neighbor Lady is playing the center slot of a show headlined by Thick Paint and opened by Flowers Forever — stacked!

Neighbor Lady’s self-recorded debut LP, Maybe Later, was mixed by none other than Andy LeMaster of Now It’s Overhead (and Bright Eyes), and comes out in May on Friendship Forever Records. The band’s first video ever dropped just this morning. Check it below. Tonight’s show is $5, and starts at 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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


A bit of advice when it comes to local music festivals; David Bazan, Laura Gibson tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 12:52 pm June 21, 2016
David Bazan as Pedro the Lion, performing at Sokol Underground July 6, 2000. Bazan plays tonight at Reverb Lounge.

David Bazan as Pedro the Lion, performing at Sokol Underground July 6, 2000. Bazan plays tonight at Reverb Lounge.

by Tim McMahan,

There continues to be rumblings about the River City Music Festival fiasco, confusion about who did what, and what these thieves did in the past, etc. Someone asked me why I haven’t delved into it. And the reason is the same reason why I didn’t get into last year’s Grassroots Festival debacle, and it’s this: The large concerts that feature bands I want to see are booked and promoted by One Percent Productions.

One Percent knows what they’re doing, which is more than I can say for the amateurs who put on those other fly-by-night festivals. Next time you’re about to buy a ticket to a local festival, take a moment and look at who’s promoting it before you drop your cash. If it’s One Percent — or 1% — you’re in good hands. Anyone else? Do your research. Buyer beware.

This PSA is brought to you by the kind folks at

Moving on…

Tonight at Reverb Lounge it’s the return of David Bazan. Bazan, who some of you might remember as the guy behind Pedro the Lion, is out touring his latest release, Blanco (Barsuk, 2016). Blanco is made up of songs previously available in a very limited edition 7” vinyl series called Bazan Monthly, Volume 1 and Volume 2. Bazan picked 10 of those songs to update, remix and flesh out into a cohesive album. These sound much more electronic than I remember Bazan’s earlier releases but no less heartfelt. Opening is Laura Gibson, who I wrote about yesterday right here. Tickets are $15. Show starts at 9.

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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.


Live Review: Cursive (Night 2), Criteria, Bazan; Pro-Magnum, Acid Test tonight; Omahype holiday rock shop Saturday…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:54 pm December 13, 2013

Cursive at The Waiting Room, Dec. 12, Tim McMahan,

The line to get into The Waiting Room last night stretched down the sidewalk at 9 p.m. I could hear David Bazan doing his usual sad-dog electric solo set while I waited. The lady behind me said she was worried the show would sell out, and phoned a friend further up in line to buy her ticket. She was right to be concerned. The place was packed, especially compared to last week’s show.

I’ll get to the openers in a minute. First, Cursive.

The set-up was the same as last Thursday, but the actual set was altogether different. Not entirely in song choices — there were a couple repeats, including “The Martyr” and “Sierra” (I suppose they have to play those at every show) — but in the performance. Cursive brought the heavy shit last night. The band was tuned to metal, even Kasher’s guitar was extra-gritty.

While last week’s set list was a mish-mash with a heavy dose of their more-popular tunes, last night was a deep dive into obscurata, light on melody, heavy on thunder. Or maybe it just seemed that way. Again, I didn’t recognize about a third of the songs. Among the rarities was “Sucker and Dry” off their second single (rereleased on The Difference Between Houses and Homes), “Retirement” from their first album Such Blinding Stars for Starving Eyes, and something off second album The Storms of Early Summer: Semantics of Song. Kasher ended each chestnut with a wry laugh as if saying, “Remember that one? Of course you don’t.

The band played two sets. Set One highlights included “The Night I Lost the Will to Fight,” “Rise Up! Rise Up!” and “Sierra,” along with a song or two off I Am Gemini. Then they left the stage and comedian Ian Douglas Terry, maybe the bravest man in the word, came out and did 10 minutes as people screamed at him from the floor. As Dan Rather used to say: Courage.

By the time Cursive returned, the crowd had thinned slightly. They dove back in with “Sink to Swim,” “The Worst Is Over,” “Let Me Up,” “Holiday,” and a song or two off I Am Gemini, before closing with a rearranged, gospel-tinged version of “What Have I Done?” which cements Mama, I’m Swollen as my favorite Cursive record.

It was during the second set that they rolled out “The Martyr” again. I can’t put a finger on it, but this week’s version was looser, groovier, more brazen that last week’s, and was indicative of the entire set. While there was more head-scratchers on the set list this week, the overall performance was louder, meatier, more primal — i.e., it was pretty fantastic, maybe the best Cursive show I’ve seen since that secret “sneak” show at O’Leaver’s seven or eight years ago when they rolled out Happy Hollow songs for the first time.

As everyone knows, last night was one of three shows at The Waiting Room being recorded for a (proposed) live album. I think they pretty much got what they needed. God only knows what we’re in for next week. The conventional wisdom is that now that they have the necessary tracks in the can, next Thursday’s show will be a fuck-it free-for-all where anything goes. It could be a marvel or a bloody mess, and either will make for grand theater.

Speaking of grand theater, the near sold-out crowd was just as enthusiast about Criteria as they were the headliner.

Criteria at The Waiting Room, Dec. 12, 2013.

Criteria at The Waiting Room, Dec. 12, 2013.

When I was a kid I used to read Hulk comics (who am I kidding, I still read Hulk comics). The best part about ol’ greenskin is that no matter how much they throw at him, he just gets stronger. The same thing can be said about Criteria frontman Stephen Pedersen.

When the band came out and played their first song, I texted a buddy hidden somewhere in the crowd: “Steve’s losing his voice. Those high notes, just a tad out of reach.” I don’t remember what song it was, one of those early Criteria classics.

But it didn’t take long for Pedersen to get in range. Maybe he needs to warm up more before the show? I don’t know. Frankly, I don’t know how he’s even able to sing those songs, each one is a circus-act tight-rope walk of searing high notes akin to an indie-rock yodel thrust loudly into the crowd via that thick, bulging vein in his neck. Pedersen is a marvel of art and science. As is his band, whose rhythm section sits proudly alongside Cursive’s as among the finest in the land.

By the end of the set Pedersen was unstoppable. I expected his voice to be a worn-down burned-out nub, but it only got stronger. Don’t get him angry, you won’t like him when he’s angry…

The big news was the slew of new Criteria material — all solid. Though not a new direction by any means, each song held its own (and then some) alongside the band’s stellar back catalog. Pedersen’s announcement that the band is recording a new album in January was met with whoops of approval from the crowd. Is this the beginning of a second act by a band that’s sorely missed?

As for Bazan — good ol’ Bazan — his solo set was well received, though there was a lot of chatter in the back of the room. I’d be surprised if many of the youngsters in the crowd even heard of Pedro the Lion. As per usual, he paused a couple times between songs and asked if there were any questions. Someone asked him to play an older tune, and his response was something like, “Sorry man, I’m no longer the guy who wrote and played that song.”  So it goes.

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All right, it’s Friday. The weekend’s looking… interesting.

Tonight at fabulous O’Leaver’s noise-rock band Pro-Magnum headlines what they’re calling “Metal \m/ Night” featuring Old Bones (self-described hardcore band featuring ex members of Split Second, 8th Wave and Ryan McLaughlin (Rymo) of Race for Titles), Relentless Approach, and Borealis (self-described death metal). Sounds loud, doesn’t it? $5, 9:30 p.m.

Also tonight, it’s Snake Island, Worried Mothers and the incomparable Dereck Higgins at Venue 51, 1951 St. Mary’s Ave. They’re calling this show “Acid Test” and describing it as “a night of interactive light and group levitation. Projections, Psychedelia, and euphoria…” $5, 9 p.m. Fitting that it’s Friday the 13th?

Tomorrow night back at O’Leaver’s it’s The Doneofits (Michael Trenhaile), Under Water Dream Machine and The Love Technicians. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Meanwhile Saturday evening down at Slowdown it’s Omahype’s annual Holiday Rock and Shop featuring local designers and crafts-makers, as well as bands: All Young Girls Are Machine Guns, John Klemmensen & The Party, Manic Pixie Dream Girls, cellist April Faith-Slaker and Seer States. Between bands buy a hip-ass bag by Artifact, a foxy dress by Hello Holiday or a kick-ass poster by Doe-Eyed Design, among others. The fun starts at 6 and entry is $5. More info here.

Sunday there’s a “Whiskey Tasting” being held at O’Leaver’s at 4 p.m. That just seems like a bad idea to me…

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 © 2013 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


David Bazan returns, Stickerguy facelift, OEAA predictions, Dirty Flourescents debut tonight, Wavves/Best Coast Saturday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , — @ 6:20 pm February 11, 2011

by Tim McMahan,

Some housekeeping items as we close out the week, before we get to the weekend picks:

— David Bazan of Pedro the Lion is returning to Omaha as part of a spring house-show tour. Bazan did this same tour last year, and it was a big success. Like last time, Karl Houfek (It’s True) is once again hosting the event. The show is March 24, and tickets (limited to just 40) went on sale today at 2 p.m. online here. Cost is $20. Karl said last year’s Bazan house show sold out in 48 hours, so if you’re interested, you better get clickin’.

— A head’s up that just redesigned its website. I’ve been using  these guys for my stickers for a long time, driven by their cost and quality. In fact, I just got some new stickers made, so if you run into me at a show, ask for one. If you find a better vendor locally, use it; in the meantime, check ’em out.

— Someone on the webboard who posts as “Laserdisque” asked if I was going to make my annual picks for the Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards, which are this Sunday night in Council Bluffs, Iowa, which is an ironic location considering the organization’s name. Anyway, my response was that I haven’t been following the awards since my public resignation earlier this year (which you can read here). And instead of a contest, if you’re looking for a list of the best bands and musicians in the area, it’s hard to fault The Reader‘s annual list, which you can read right here.

But that being said, I did manage to find the list of OEAA music nominees here at So for you, Laserdisque, here are my predictions:

Best RockWho will win: Landing on the Moon. Who should have won: Probably Cursive, though they didn’t release anything in 2010 other than a benefit single (I think).

Best Hard Rock — Who will win: Emphatic. Should have won: Looking at the nominees, who cares?

Best Blues — Who will win: Matt Cox. Should have won: I honestly don’t know because I don’t follow local blues (or any blues for that matter).

Best Adult Alternative/Singer Songwriter — Who will win: Brad Hoshaw, though he didn’t release any new material last year. Should have won: Tim Kasher

Best Alternative/Indie — Who will win: Little Brazil (also nothing new in 2010). Should have won: Tim Kasher

Best Roots/Americana/Country/Bluegrass — Who will win: Filter Kings. Should have won: Filter Kings (though, again, no new material in ’10).

Album — What will win: It’s True, self-titled; Should have won: Tim Kasher, The Game of Monogamy

New Artist — Who will win: Conduits. Should have won: Conduits

Artist of the Year — Who will Win: It’s True. Should have won: Tim Kasher.

The fact that so many nominees didn’t produce new material in 2010 — Cursive, Landing on the Moon, Brad Hoshaw, Dan McCarthy, Little Brazil, Filter Kings, Conduits — is yet another strike against the OEAAs. I realize it’s a public nomination process, but really, to not have nominated Tim Kasher in any of the categories seems a bit, well, silly. But this is what I’ve come to expect from the OEAAs, and part of the reason why I’m no longer involved in it. But that said, the ceremony always is a good time, so if you’re going, have fun.
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Now onward, to the weekend:

Tonight at O’Leaver’s, it’s the world debut of Dirty Flourescents. According to this post on SlamOmaha, the trio is fronted by former Landing on the Moon guitarist Shawn Cox and includes Cricket Kirk on bass (Paper Owls) and Dave Hynek, drums (Venaculas). Also debuting at the very same show is The Garden, featuring frontman Jason Pollard (Song Remains the Same), guitarist Bunny Geist (Song Remains the Same), Cricket Kirk, bass; and Dave Hynek, drums. Also on the bill are Comme Reel and Paper Crickets. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Also tonight, OEAA nominee The Filter Kings are playing at The Sydney with Reckless Ones, Blacktop Ramblers and Snake Island. $5, 8 p.m.

The big show Saturday night is Best Coast, Wavves and No Joy at The Waiting Room. And guess what, kids, this one’s sold out. No Joy came through Slowdown Jr. last October, and were pretty cool (review here), so I suggest you get there right at the 9 p.m. start time.

For those of us without tix, it’s back to O’Leaver’s for The Third Men, Students of Crime (a Thornton production) and Chromafrost. $5, 9:30 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.