Mousetrap ‘Attica’ EP gets pre-release; new Lodgings video; David Nance nabs 7.7 Pitchfork…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 1:51 pm December 9, 2020
A sneak peek at the inside sleeve of the new Mousetrap Attica 12-inch.

It’s all about who you know.

I got my advanced copy of the new Mousetrap 4-song 12-inch 45 rpm EP, Attica, yesterday in all its blood-red vinyl glory. The story again — the four songs by this ’90s-era seminal Omaha indie punk band were recorded sometime in 1997 and have sat locked in a vault (or stashed in a cardboard box under bass player Craig Crawford’s bed) all these years only to be remaster by Bob Weston of Shellac in 2020 and released for this limited run of 500 copies. It is scorching, classic Mousetrap at its most angry and acidic. Check out the lead track below and pre-order the vinyl before the Dec. 16 release via the Mousetrap Bandcamp page.

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The last time we saw indie band Lodgings they were opening for Criteria at The Waiting Room last Dec. 28 for the annual holiday show. Alas, with COVID, there won’t be any holiday shows this year.

Well earlier this week, the band released the first video from its 2019 Albini-engineered LP Water Works for the song “Emu,” directed by Amélie Raoul. Check it out below and go to their Bandcamp page to buy the album!

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I’ve been meaning to mention this for awhile but it keeps slipping off my screen: Back at the end of November Pitchfork reviewed David Nance’s latest album, Staunch Honey (2020, Trouble in Mind), and gave it a very respectable 7.7 rating, saying “The Nebraska guitarist and songwriter strips his music to its raw, noisy core, revealing how his favorite records might have sounded when still being hammered out in rehearsal.”

It’s mostly a rave wherein critic Sam Sodomsky seems to revel in the idea of underproduction, pointing out numerous times the stripped down, recorded-from-scratch nature of this album. He concludes with: “While the songs on Staunch Honey feel like breakthroughs, it’s living proof that their real journey is just beginning.” Not sure what that’s supposed to mean…

At any rate, it’s great to see Pitchfork review Nance (or any Nebraska artist, for that matter). Twas a time when a Pitchfork review was a “big deal.” It’s hard to gauge a Pitchfork effect these days when no one is touring, but even when they were, the Pitchfork effect was very limited as far as its impact on the local show draw — I can’t count the number of times I went to see a band with an 8.0+ Pitchfork review at O’Leaver’s or The Waiting Room expecting an SRO crowd only to be met with 20 or so people.

That said, Pitchfork remains a go-to website for indie reviews (though there has to be something else out there)…

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily (if there’s news) 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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


New McCarthy Trenching; David Nance’s Gonerfest performance, new album 11/13…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:53 pm October 26, 2020
David Nance and his band performing in Omaha for Gonerfest 17.

New McCarthy Trenching is just what we need as we stumble through the darkness of a COVID-infected world. The project’s primary instigators, Dan McCarthy and James Maakestad, are joined by a stable of young, ambitious talent on their new album Perfect Game, which just dropped last Friday.

The 10-song LP has all the usual McCarthy Trenching storytelling charm, wherein Dan croons about maple trees and electrical black-outs, swimming dogs and drinking beer. It’s like sitting around a campfire making s’mores with Harry Nilsson, Randy Newman and some dude who lives in a duplex in Dundee.

The album was recorded by Jim Schroeder at ARC this past September. If you dig Dan’s past efforts – or if you just like good folk songwriting – this one’s for you. Buy it at Bandcamp.

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Last month David Nance took part in Gonerfest 17, the annual festival held by the fine folks at Goner Records down in Memphis. But because of COVID, the event was held virtually, which meant Nance performed from his Omaha abode. Joining him were drummer Kevin Donahue, guitarist Jim Schroeder and bassist Dereck Higgins. Check it below. Hat’s off to Anna Nance for the video recording.

Nance used the occasion to announce that his new album, Staunch Honey, will be released on Trouble in Mind Records Nov. 13.

From the site: “Staunch Honey is the culmination of two years of hard work – Nance worked and reworked the album three times over, recording & rerecording songs until they sounded just so – a stunning batch of sonic manna that hums with feeling and mood; expertly crafted, but sounding simultaneously off-the-cuff.” 

The album was recorded entirely to tape by Nance himself at his Omaha home with assistance from Schroeder and Donohue. Check out the first track below and preorder it here.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily (if there’s news) 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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Bob Nastanovich (Pavement), Minne Lussa tonight; Unexplained Death, Safari Room Saturday; Young Guv, David Nance Sunday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — @ 1:25 pm February 28, 2020

Young Guv plays Sunday night at Slowdown Jr.

by Tim McMahan,

Busy weekend, especially Saturday night, with a fantastic show Sunday. Here we go:

Tonight at The Sydney in Benson, Bob Nastanovich of Pavement fame is doing a DJ set. Joining him are Mike Schlesinger and Minne Lussa. Good times for just $5. Starts at 10 p.m.

Also tonight (Friday) Satchel Grande headlines at The Waiting Room with The Kevin Lloyd Experience. $9, 9 p.m.

Saturday night Matt Whipkey’s poli-punk project Unexplained Death headlines at fabulous O’Leaver’s. Also on the bill are Farewell Transmission and Soul Ghost. $7, 9:30 p.m.

Meanwhile, over at Reverb Lounge, Safari Room headlines. The Nashville band’s frontman, Alex Koukal, is a Bellevue West grad. Joining them are Omaha up-and-comers Garst. $10, 9 p.m.

Also Saturday night, Chicago R&B/blues singer/songwriter Neal Francis headlines at The Waiting Room. Joining him is Omaha’s Virginia Kathryn. $15, 9 p.m.

And then comes Sunday and the main event.

Toronto’s Young Guv is a project of Fucked Up guitarist Ben Cook, who plays power-pop summer-of-love psych rock, gorgeous and catchy. His albums, Guv I and Guv II are summertime staples. The band is playing Slowdown Jr. Sunday night on a loaded bill that includes Jocko and our very own David Nance, all for a mere $10. 8 p.m. start time.

That’s all 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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Live Review: Cloud Nothings, Nap Eyes, David Nance Group…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 1:49 pm November 14, 2018

Cloud Nothings at The Waiting Room, Nov. 13, 2018.

by Tim McMahan,

Solid crowd for a Tuesday night at The Waiting Room last night.

Cloud Nothings won me over with a set that intensely focused on their new album, Last Building Burning. While the album is white-hot fractured punk rock bordering on emo, there’s not a lot of melody in the songwriting to tie yourself to. It’s more about bright buzzsaw riffs and frontman Dylan Baldi screaming/croaking out the vocals that sounded like a cross between Cobain and the old punk version of Rzeznik.

No, what mesmerized me about their performance was their drummer, Jayson Gerycz. With merely a snare, tom, kick drum and a couple cymbals Gerycz blew me away with what was nothing less than a virtuoso performance, a rapid-fire machine-gun that dominated every song. I could not stop watching every clever, intricate, amazing roll, fill and crash, song after song. Blazing, exhausting; like watching the film Whiplash atop a mountain of coke.

The set’s high point was a lengthy feedback interlude during epic song “Dissolution”; all guitarists had their backs to the audience, their guitars jammed into amps, bending the necks, torturing the frets, while Gerycz slowly walked a beat back in, pulling it forward then giving a clinic as to what a human can do with a drum set as the band crashed back in like a 50-foot wave. Mind blown.

David Nance Group at The Waiting Room, Nov. 13, 2018.

Almost as mind blowing was opener David Nance Group. I’ve seen Nance at least a half dozen times and this was another memorable set highlighted by a cover of Richard & Linda Thompson’s “Down Where the Drunkards Roll” completely Nance-ified by his and sideman Jim Schroeder’s feedback-fueled guitar work. The rest of the set focused on the best off the band’s latest album, Peaced and Slightly Pulverized, with raging versions of “In Her Kingdom,” “When I Saw You Last Night,” “Amethyst” and “Poison.”

In a change from the usual set style, Nance and his band seamlessly transitioned from one song to the next by Nance pulling off one feedback wave and blending in a riff that crossed over into whatever was next. Transcendent.

Someone recently asked me what Omaha bands are most likely to break into the next level of national notoriety. David Nance Group was my first response, followed by Thick Paint. Interestingly, bassist Sarah Bohling has now played in both projects.

Nap Eyes at The Waiting Room, Nov. 13, 2018.

Between bands Nova Scotia act Nap Eyes played a set that reminded me of a cross between Kurt Vile, The Feelies and Velvet Underground, with frontman Nigel Chapman giving us his best Lou Reed vocals. I halfway expected to hear a cover of “Sunday Morning,” one of VU’s sleepier numbers that would have fit right in with the rest of their set.

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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.


Live Review: Well Aimed Arrows; Cloud Nothings, Nap Eyes, David Nance tonight…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 1:40 pm November 13, 2018

Well Aimed Arrows at O’Leaver’s Nov. 10, 2018.

by Tim McMahan,

Catching up on this past weekend…

Saturday night I swung by O’Leaver’s to see the return of Well Aimed Arrows. The band hasn’t played on stage in a couple years, and life being what it is, experienced a line-up change — to a trio, consisting of frontman/drummer Koly Walters, guitarist Clayton Petersen and bassist Brian Byrd.

The new stripped down version didn’t sound a whole heckuva lot different than the old version, with Walters’ flat basso vox providing the perfect counter to the band’s simple, jangular post-rock arrangements. I’ve said before they remind me of ’80s-era indie bands like Pylon, Wire and early R.E.M., if not in sound than in spirit.

Rumor has it they’re working on their next record, we’ll (likely) be seeing more of these guys in the near future. If you get a chance, do yourself a favor…

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Tonight’s Cloud Nothings show at The Waiting Room is as stacked a line-up as you’re going to find on a Tuesday night.

You read about Cloud Nothings yesterday here. Based on this Daily Trojan review, expect tonight’s performance to be heavy and loud, focused on songs off the new album augmented by a few oldies.

You might remember that opening band Nap Eyes played with Fleet Foxes last year at an outdoor Benson show. Their latest, I’m Bad Now (2018, Jagjaguwar), reminded me of The Feelies, thanks in part to lead vocalist Nigel Chapman’s drab, nasal delivery that matches Feelies’ Glenn Mercer; though energy-wise Nap Eyes is much more laid-back.

Opening the show at 8 p.m. is our very own David Nance Group who is smack dab in the middle of a tour. You’ll want to get to The Waiting Room early to catch these guys. This show has a “nice price” of just $15. See you 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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Cursive, Nance get the Pitchfork treatment, and an unscientific look at Spotify counts…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:45 pm October 16, 2018

by Tim McMahan,

Cursive albums always get the full critical once-over, but this new one, Vitriola, is really getting the treatment. In addition to being such a great album, critics remember the band and have the back-knowledge to make comparisons. And they are.

Cursive, Vitriola (2018, 15 Passenger)

Pop Matters called Vitriolaamong Cursive’s most ambitious work.” But of the 10 or so reviews for the record currently out there, this was the most negative. Check it: “When Kasher and his bandmates really have something to say, this scream can be a revelation; when they don’t, it sounds stilted, silly, like it’s issuing from a mouth that has nothing to scream for but still screams anyway.” Ouch. They gave the record the lowest rating of the 10 reviews so far, scoring a 5 out of 10.

On the other hand, there’s DIY, which called Vitriolaa fiercely political record, but one that seldom feels trite; married to the aggressive tone of a band back to make a point, it’s a razor-sharp lament of America in 2018.” Whoa! Their rating: Four out of five stars. Solid.

But maybe the only review that matters these days is Pitchfork. Just getting a Pitchfork review has become something of a triumph for bands (though Stereogum is quickly unseating Pitchfork as the internet indie-music taste-maker of choice). Pitchfork reviews can be somewhat obtuse, unless you luck into a review by long-time Pitchfork critic Ian Cohen. which Cursive did.

Cohen drones on and on but concludes with, “On Vitriola, Cursive songs again supply the satisfaction of blaring your horn at a shitty driver or hanging up on a robocall—fighting against an encroaching sense of cosmic impotence with contained acts of victimless aggression.” He gave the record a 6.8 — somewhat middle-of-the-road in Pitchfork terms. Anything less than a 7 can get ignored (at least by me).

One way to check how well a record is doing is by looking at the number of plays tracks are getting in Spotify. Hardly scientific, I know, but I don’t have access to sales numbers, so…

As of 6 a.m. this morning, Vitriola track “It’s Gonna Hurt” had 55,107 plays in Spotify, while “Under the Rainbow” had 85,247 spins. Contrast that with “The Recluse” off Domestica, which had 3.7 million spins. This tells me Vitriola has gained some traction.

BTW, says 85,247 spins equates to $340.99 in royalties. Wonder if that’s true?

David Nance Band, Peaced and Slightly Pulverized (2018, Trouble in Mind)

I only found three reviews for the new David Nance Group record Peaced and Slightly Pulverized, but one of them was from Pitchfork, and was particularly meandering. The pull quote: “The album was recorded by guitarist/keyboardist Jim Schroeder in his basement, but Nance’s newly anointed four-piece rips and wails through these seven tracks like they’re headlining the Fillmore.” Nice. Even nicer was the rating: 7.7.

Spotify spins for Peaced are, not surprisingly, much less than Vitriola. Opening track “Poison” had 5,774 spins this morning; “In her Kingdom” had 2,329.

I’ve been told spins aren’t what the labels look at as much as the number of people who have added an album to their Spotify Library. Though not equivalent to a sale, it indicates that listeners are playing the album more than once (and as such, is more important than, say, getting a track added to some tastemaker’s Spotify playlist, though that doesn’t hurt, either).

Adrianne Lenker, abysskiss (2018, Saddle Creek)

One more example: Saddle Creek Record’s latest release, the solo outing by Big Thief’s Adrianne Lenker called abysskiss, got the highest Pitchfork rating of all three, with a mighty 8.0. It still wasn’t high enough to earn the record the coveted “Best New Music” status.

Abysskiss‘ Spotify numbers also are the highest of all three, with tracks “symbol” pulling in 260,000 plays and “cradle” with 266,000.

In the end it’s all just navel-gazing in an era where record sales are becoming secondary to streaming numbers and the only real income left is from touring.

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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.


Lazy-i Interview: David Nance — on his new record, Jack White and how music feeds his soul (at Reverb Lounge Oct. 12)…

Category: Interviews — Tags: , , , — @ 1:15 pm October 11, 2018

The David Nance Band plays at Reverb Friday, Oct. 12.

by Tim McMahan,

Last weekend I got a chance to interview David Nance at his Dundee home while rain poured down around us. I sat on the porch swing with my lap-top while Dave walked around with his huge, shaggy head of hair, in a worn-out illegible band T-shirt and flannels and answered my meandering questions for a half-hour before it got too cold. We finished up in his living room with his dog, Wild Man, staring me down and occasionally barking.

Last week Chicago label Trouble in Mind Records released his latest album Peaced and Slightly Pulverized under the name David Nance Group (don’t go looking for it in Spotify under “David Nance” because you won’t find it; better yet, just go to a record store and buy a copy or pick it up at the show). Joining Nance on the record are drummer Kevin Donahue, bassist Tom May and guitarist Jim Schroeder performing a collection of psych-rock anthems — huge, droning monoliths grounded in Nance’s grinding guitar and echoing vocals.

David Nance Band, Peaced and Slightly Pulverized (2018, Trouble in Mind)

AllMusic critic Mark Deming called the record “a raw and raucous exercise in no-frills hard rock” adding that his guitar work is “a style that splits the difference between Neil Young’s primativist noise and Keith Richards’ fractured blues, with a bit more slop than either but a similar passion for volume and blissful crunch.” I guess that’s a compliment — Deming gave the record 3-1/2 stars.

Peaced isn’t so much a natural progression from Nance’s earlier records — last year’s break-through album Negative Boogie and 2016’s More Than Enough (both released on Ba Da Bing!) — as much as a slight turn toward more structured rock songs that evolve into amazing guitar jams — satisfying and easy to get lost inside.

Nance said the album was recorded in Jim Schroeder’s basement. “Jim has a nice tape machine set-up,” Nance said. “He’s a little more focused than me when it comes to fidelity. He’ll dial it in a little more; he cares about tape hiss.

“Out of the gate it’s the record that sounds most like a live band,” he added. “The last one we recorded in a day and then threw stuff on it. This one was recorded in a room with maybe a vocal overdub. It’s 90 percent live and that was the intent.”

Regardless of the live nature of the recording, Nance said the band likely will only play four songs off the record when on stage. “We’re also doing covers and old ones,” he said.

Those live shows used to be a mixed bag. I remember seeing Nance play a few years ago, possibly at Reverb or O’Leaver’s, where the set consisted of a half-hour of drone and feedback with a slight pause in the middle. On the other hand, recent shows, including at this year’s Maha Music Festival, have been relatively straight-forward, focused on selections from his latest albums but always climaxing with him and Schroeder trying to kill each other with feedback.

“I love the way it sounds when we’ve played recently” Nance said. “It’s been really present and in the moment – lots of uncalculated things happened. It’s been deep; I get a deep feeling coming away from it.”

One recent notable gig was opening for Jack White at ONEOK Field in Tulsa (Home of the Drillers) Sept. 17. “I never thought something like that would happen,” Nance said. “Someone from Jack’s team called and asked if we could play Shreveport and Tulsa. I said we already had a gig for the first night but would love to do the Tulsa show. We didn’t hear anything back. I wrote him three days before the show to see if it was still happening and they said ‘sure.'”

Nance said they got the gig thanks to someone who works at White’s Third Man Records who’s a fan of his band. “This guy emailed and we talked back and forth about records we like,” Nance said. “I found out later that he’s the guy running the show with Jack.”

Nance said he only spent a few moments with White in Tulsa. “We were all back stage and they just showed up in a van, got out and 20 seconds later were playing on stage,” Nance said. “As they were leaving the stage, Jack said thanks for playing and apologized for forgetting to say our band’s name from stage. It was insane.”

Old connections also helped land a new label. It was Nance’s history playing with Brimstone Howl that got him in front of Trouble in Mind Records. “I met Bill and Lisa (Roe, the label’s proprietors) through Brimstone,” he said. “When we went through Chicago we stayed with them. I love their label, they put out my favorite current stuff. Years ago they said if you ever want to do a record, we’d be more than happy to release it.”

Connections over the years also helped Nance book his upcoming tour on his own. Nance and his band (Schroeder, Donahue and Sarah Bohling of Thick Paint on bass) start out in St. Louis Oct. 24 for a 22-date tour that takes them south and east, back through The Waiting Room Nov. 13 before ending Nov. 16 in Chicago. Next March they’re headed back to Europe, followed by shows in Australia with indie-punk act Thigh Master.

“I worked at Coachella cooking pad thai and that funded my first tour,” Nance said. “I’ve been booking things myself for awhile. It works out pretty well. I’ve been connected through the underground to a lot of great people doing great stuff.”

Nance said he looks at music as “another part-time job. I would love to do it full-time, but I don’t know if that’s possible. I’m lucky to have the ability to do what I do, book shit myself and come home with enough money for rent. I’ve had opportunities to meet people and see great bands.

“I just want to keep doing it. It feeds my soul. I feel whole doing it. I always go in assuming no one’s going to like anything and nothing’s going to happen, so I’m pleasantly surprised.”

David Nance plays with Closeness Friday, Oct. 12 at Reverb Lounge, 6121 Military Ave. Tickets are $8, showtime is 9 p.m. For more information, go to

Note: This story also appears online at The Reader website.

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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.


David Nance album sneak peek (via Stereogum); The Sydney rising? A Deer A Horse, Screaming Plastic tonight..

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 12:49 pm October 2, 2018

by Tim McMahan,

Stereogum is hosting the new David Nance album, Peaced and Slightly Pulverized (2018, Trouble in Mind). Nance continues in the direction he was headed with his last one, Negative Boogie. It is very much as Stereogum describes it — a collection of psych-rock anthems with a heavy Hendrix overbite, huge, droning rock songs grounded in Nance’s grinding guitar and echoing vocals.

The record comes out Friday, but the rock show isn’t until Oct. 12 at Reverb (with Closeness). Nance apparently just played a stadium show opening for Jack White. Something tells me he’s on his way.

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What’s up with The Sydney? They hosted a rock show last night and have another tonight. In fact, look at their schedule on Facebook and their month is filling up. Is this the One Percent effect? After all, Marc Leibowitz and Jim Johnson took over ownership of The Sydney in August.

The answer is likely no. Tonight’s show with Brooklyn indie band A Deer, A Horse, is not a One Percent Production. And The Sydney still isn’t listed as a venue on the One Percent website.

That said, One Percent is bringing Australian powerhouse indie band Middle Kids to The Sydney on Dec. 8 — that’s a marquee show. Could more be on the way?

Anyway, tonight it’s A Deer A Horse at The Sydney. Check out a track by the band below. Opening is Houma and Screaming Plastic. The 10 p.m. show is a mere $5.

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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.


Live Review: Maha Music Festival year 10: Is bigger better?; Cults, Metric tonight…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , , , , , , — @ 12:45 pm August 20, 2018

ZZ Ward performs during day 1 of the the 2018 Maha Music Festival, Aug. 17, 2018.

by Tim McMahan,

A few things before we get started.

First, the line-up. It was controversial the day it was announced if only because this was the 10-year anniversary of the Maha Music Festival. There’s only a few of us who have been to all 10, who know the dips and turns that this festival has gone through over the past decade. And every one of us has a favorite year. Mine just happens to have been last year when Maha coaxed Belle & Sebastian to their festival stage along with Downtown Boys, New Pornographers and the Faint. Run the Jewels was the usual meh headliner, but at least made a statement that Maha wasn’t going to be be mistaken for a dad rock festival.

The speculation for year 10 ranged from LCD Soundsystem to Courtney Barnett to Arcade Fire to Wilco. Three of those four names had released a relevant new album in the past year. When Weezer was announced as the headliner, an enormous group yawn came over Omaha’s tiny audience of indie music followers. Weezer was never an indie band, doesn’t play indie rock, could even be mistaken as an MTV band thanks to it’s classic “Happy Days” video for “Buddy Holly.”

What indie fans failed to realize is that if Maha is going to pay a quarter-million dollars (or whatever they paid for Weezer) the band better be able to sell a shit-ton of tickets — or at least draw a massive crowd. And Weezer did just that. I don’t know the numbers, but Stinson Park was overflowing last night when Rivers kicked off their set with the “You Wanted to See It” bite from Happy Days.

On the other hand, the crowd was less than massive the prior evening for TV on the Radio, but I’ll get to that.

The second thing to mention before digging into the performances is how well this festival operates — and has operated from day 1. No event has better trained, better prepared volunteers than Maha — all 700 of them. I was greeted with a smile every where I turned, from check-in to buying drink tickets to the eager young lady who explained which container to dump my trash/recyclables. That doesn’t just happen, believe me. Working with an army of volunteers is a difficult, thankless job that’s ignored when it’s done right.

Finally, one of the smartest/best things to happen to Maha was selecting Stinson Park at Aksarben Village as its location. No matter what happens in the future, no matter how big or small the festival becomes, Stinson should remain ground zero for this annual event. Nothing could be more convenient.

Time for a Format Change

All that said, there was one thing that became glaringly obvious after this year’s two-day festival — there’s no reason to start bands before 6 p.m.

Yes, there was only a few hundred on hand to hear Clarence Tilton kick things off at 6 p.m. Friday night, but the crowd just seemed to grow faster by the moment. Whereas Saturday festivities were lightly attended all the way up until Hop Along took the stage. As a result, few saw some of the festival’s best performances — specifically David Nance and U.S. Girls.

Organizers, ask yourselves: If you know no one’s going to be at the park at noon to see these artists, why bother booking them so early? I would have loved to see a 6 p.m. crowd eat up Nance’s set, or for that matter, if an early-evening audience would have tried to dance to U.S. Girls.

I’m sure there’s a good reason for starting at noon. I don’t know what it is.

The perfect Maha Festival would run three days — Thursday, Friday, Saturday — each day starting at 6 p.m. Six bands each on Thursday and Friday, five bands on Saturday. That’s 17 high-quality bands, each getting a decent shot at playing in front of a sizable crowd instead of the usual handful there at noon for reasons we’ll never know. This is the only option if Maha is never going to take the plunge and book one of its headliners very early in the day in an attempt to get the crowd out early.

The later start times also allow festival-goers to avoid most of August’s oppressively hot/humid weather. Why haven’t they done it this way in the past? Does it have to do with better-utilizing vendors and facilities? I would be surprised if they’re covering labor costs before 5 p.m. As for the bands that “get their break” playing the early stage, that’s been a running joke since the festival started — “We played Maha… in front of 18 people at noon.”

Yeah, you might have a smaller crowd at 6 p.m. than at 9 p.m., but it’s going to be bigger than what was there Saturday for The Dilla Kids.

Day 1

Caveat: I wasn’t even planning on attending Friday night’s festival, but when Maha offered me a press pass, I had to go if only to see Clarence Tilton on that ginormous stage. The Omaha-based alt-country five-piece belted out its usual great set of rural-tinged rock that would make Uncle Tupelo proud.

Clarence Tilton performs at the 2018 Maha Music Festival, Aug. 17, 2018.

I’ve seen these guys play the best stages in town all the way down to a neighborhood street party and they never disappoint. The big stage only magnified their talent, though as mentioned, only a hundred or so were there to hear it. No matter. They kicked it up as if the Stinson bowl was filled.

State Disco performs at the 2018 Maha Music Festival, Aug. 17, 2018.

State Disco followed from the smaller “Omne Partners Stage,” but I’ll be damned if that stage didn’t sound louder than the main “Decades Stage.” Unlike what the name implies, State Disco don’t play no disco. Their style sounds derived from 2000s-era Vegas alternative band The Killers with some Muse and Strokes thrown in for good measure.

I walked up to the stage to get the photos and turned around to see about a dozen girls standing in a line, grooving. Cute. In the words of a seasoned musician who I bumped into: these dudes are professional, and you can tell they’re dying to get heard on the radio.

Hurrah for the Riff Raff performs at the 2018 Maha Music Festival, Aug. 17, 2018.

Half of the multitude of people I spoke to Friday night were there to see Hurray for the Riff Raff, hence (I assume) the reason they were on the big stage. Front woman Alynda Segarra is hard to take your eyes off of. She certainly commands the stage, though the band’s brand of rootsy rock failed to capture my attention, and after a few songs I was off to check out the Rabble Mill mini-ramp on the other end of the park.

Benjamin Booker performs at the 2018 Maha Music Festival, Aug. 17, 2018.

I got back in time to watch New Orleans blues-rocker Benjamin Booker on the side stage. He and his band played a blue-stomp rock in the Black Keys vein but with more variety (which isn’t saying much). Booker’s stuff comes out on ATO, the same label as Alabama Shakes, Drive-By Truckers and Hurray for the Riff Raff (I assume it was a package deal). Seems like blues-rock replaced alt-country as an indie outlier genre. We can thank Black Keys for that.

As middle-of-the-road as those two ATO acts were, they were light-years ahead of blues rock act ZZ Ward. For the half-dozen of you who asked how Dusty and Billy sounded, the “ZZ” stands for Zsuzsanna, as in Zsuzsanna Eva Ward. I would have preferred Dusty and Billy.

The music kinda sorta reminded me of Shania Twain hick-country; I halfway expected Ward to rip into “Man, I Feel Like a Woman.” It was at this point that I was thinking these last three bands would have been a great fit for the ol’ Playing with Fire concert series. Maybe that’s the crowd Maha was after.

Needless to say, Ward was an odd choice to precede early-2000s indie rock icons TV on the Radio, the band the other half of the crowd was there to see. By now Stinson was crowded, though the bowl was only half filled; the power lines leading to the side stage that cuts the park in half acted as a pseudo barrier. It was crush full on the other side of that line and pretty far back. The Maha folks had to be pleased.

TV on the Radio performs at the 2018 Maha Music Festival, Aug. 17, 2018.

What can I say about TV on the Radio’s set? I’ve never been a fan, and don’t know much beyond 2008’s Dear Science, which stands as a landmark album from that era. I recognized “Golden Age” from that album, but few others. They sounded strong and tight, as if they released that album last year. I didn’t hang around for the full set, though I’m told they played “Staring at the Sun” for an encore.

Day 2

The Dilla Kids had the inauspicious honor of opening Day 2 at 12:30 to what appeared to be about 50 people. The ensemble totaled 11 on the big stage including a graffiti artist who would hang out through a good part of the afternoon.

The Dilla Kids kicked off Day 2 of the 2018 Maha Music Festival, Aug. 18, 2018.

I’ve never seen these folks before and was very impressed with the band — every aspect but especially the rhythm section. Top-notch beats that would not stop. Fronting them were MCs Marcey Yates and Xoboi, who were all about getting the party started at lunch time, rapping about “Wings and Thighs.”

Did I mention it was humid as hell? Just as miserable as you’d expect in mid-August.

David Nance Band performs at the 2018 Maha Music Festival, Aug. 18, 2018.

David Nance Band got the day going on the side stage. Playing as a four-piece with guitarist Jim Schroeder, bassist Noah Sterba and drummer Kevin Donahue, they ripped into a guitar-fueled set of songs, many I assume from the band’s upcoming Trouble in Mind debut due Oct. 5.

Among my faves was a song presumably called “Kingdom of Shit” and the roarin’ first single, “Poison.” Nance and Schroeder played off each other throughout, challenging themselves to a feedback contest. The new stuff has a Neil Young / Crazy Horse vibe, with jams you’d love to have gone on for 20 minutes or more. He ended the set with a dirge, which is a no-no for any festival (He would have killed them if he’d closed with “Negative Boogie”).

U.S. Girls perform at the 2018 Maha Music Festival, Aug. 18, 2018.

Then came U.S. Girls. I was expecting something more electronic and dance-beat fueled like on their new album, In a Poem Unlimited. Instead, the band ripped into heavy guitar rock that morphed into dance-beat fabulousness spurred on by front woman Meghan Remy’s inviting coo.

The sound was slow, heavy and erotic, Remy out front and inviting, imploring the crowd of around 300 to dance instead of just standing there staring like lumps. The lead guitarist, dressed head-to-toe in red, looked like an extra from an episode of Starsky and Hutch but was friggin’ amazing. This was not your typical Maha moment, it was something completely different, and I don’t think the audience knew what to make of it. A highlight.

Next up was Mesonjixx at 3 p.m. In all years past, there have been some holes in my coverage of the Maha Music Festival, and this year would be no exception. One looks at the schedule and picks the spots when they’re going to go home to recover from the heat, or, in my case, go home and let the dogs out. This was my chance.

As a result, I missed Mesonjixx, who I’d seen just a few weeks ago at Slowdown, as well as Hop Along (who I intended to catch at O’Leaver’s Sunday night, but failed) and Ravyn Lenae.

Tune-Yards perform at the 2018 Maha Music Festival, Aug. 18, 2018.

I returned at 6:30 for Tune-Yards and am happy I did. This was my favorite set of the festival. Tune-Yards play as a trio fronted by super-talented Merrill Garbus standing on a platform with a battery of pedals at her command used to trigger a myriad of loops and samples. With bass player Nate Brenner on one side and a drummer on the other, she crushed a large-ish crowd with thick beat, high-rhythm art-rock songs as experimental and interesting as Eno-era anybody.

The band is enjoying some notoriety thanks to scoring the break-out film Sorry to Bother You, but Tune-Yards already were well-known with the indie set, having plenty of airplay on national streaming indie stations and Sirius XMU. Her song “Gangsta” somehow gets sneaked into every cable program, and single “Water Fountain” has been used in a number of commercials.

The rhythms were pounding, and god help me, some people were actually dancing.

The Kills perform at the 2018 Maha Music Festival, Aug. 18, 2018.

It was a hard act to follow but The Kills did the best they could from the side stage. A band this big, I was surprised to see them relegated to the small side, but it didn’t tamp down their energy.

As you’d expect from a festival, the fans got a greatest hits set that included “List of Demands (Reparations),” which is the only Kills song I can pick in a line-up.

(Festival sets are kind of like listening to a band’s Greatest Hits album. Everything is out of context and placed in an unfamiliar order and as a result, looses a bit of whatever it was that made the music stick in the first place.)

Father John Misty performs at the 2018 Maha Music Festival, Aug. 18, 2018.

By the time Father John Misty started at 9 the audience had arrived. The whole park was filled and the bowl was a crush mob. The Omaha World-Herald reported the attendance was “almost 8,000” (by comparison, the 2015 Maha with Modest Mouse was officially sold out, whatever that means, so which had a bigger audience?). Let me put it this way: It was a shit-ton of people.

I expected a sleepy set from FJM a.k.a. Josh Tillman and got anything but. He came out dressed to the nines and ripped though a greatest hits set of his own backed by an incredible band. I never realized how many good songs FJM has, from “Nancy From Now On” to “Real Love Baby” to the current hit, “Mr. Tillman.”

His stage shtick is looking debonair and reserving his smooth dance moves for just the right moments. He has one of those voices that is unmistakable and bound to be a touchstone to this era, at times reminding me of Elton John.

I expected some snappy patter but he only got in one zinger from stage, paraphrasing, “I want to dedicate this song to all the sad-looking Weezer fans up front. Hang in there, guys. It’s almost over.”

From there he kicked into a wicked version of “Pure Comedy,” a song whose message I’m sure went well over their heads. He closed with “I Love You, Honeybear” — the set seemed to fly by.

Weezer performs at the 2018 Maha Music Festival, Aug. 18, 2018.

Then came Weezer. I only stuck around for the first four or five songs. Weezer sounded great. Just like Weezer. And the crowd loved it.

Which brings us back to the line-up. Look, I don’t know where Maha hopes to go from here. It’s hard to imagine them bringing in a more commercial band than Weezer and still maintain some sort of indie-rock connection. You could say they stepped away from that years ago, or were never really concerned about it (Let’s face it, Garbage is hardly a cutting-edge indie band).

Maha will never have my dream line-up because my dream line-up would probably sell a total of 300 tickets. That’s not what it’s about. Maha is about bringing community together around music. You can’t do that without having a radio-friendly legacy act at the top of the bill. And if you can slip in a U.S. Girls or Tune-Yards or David Nance along the way, well then, you’ve succeeded. And they have. Here’s to the next 10 years…

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NYC band Cults headlines tonight at The Waiting Room. In addition to Columbia, the band’s music is released on Lilly Allen’s In the Name Of label. Dreamy synth rock in the vein of early M83. The Shacks (Big Crown Records) opens at 8 p.m. %15.

Also tonight Metric opens for Smashing Pumpkins at CenturyLink Center. 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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


It’s Maha Festival weekend: Clarence Tilton, TV on the Radio tonight; David Nance, U.S. Girls, Hop Along, Tune-Yards, Father John Misty Saturday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 1:00 pm August 17, 2018

U.S. Girls is among the highlights of tomorrow’s Maha Music Festival, which kicks off tonight at Stinson Park.

by Tim McMahan,

Ah, Maha. The festival gods must be looking down kindly on this one as the weather is looking perfect and from all indications, this is gonna be big event.

Everyone is asking about ticket sales. The fact that Maha hasn’t sold out of VIP tickets yet (and everywhere you look someone is giving away passes) may be an indication of sales sluggishness, but the fact is Maha and other festivals do a lot of walk-up sales, and with this weather, I have no doubt that’ll be the case.

Tonight’s first-ever Friday showcase has a ringer with TV on the Radio headlining at 10:30. I have to admit TOTR is a band that went right by me when they first hit the scene in the early 2000s. That said, there’s a ton of buzz about this set.

Tonight will mostly be a night of discovery for me. I’ve had zero (known) exposure to ZZ Ward, Benjamin Booker and Hurray for the Riff Raff. And to be honest, the band we’re most excited to see is opener Clarence Tilton at 6 p.m.

GA tickets for tonight are $45; VIP tix are $110.

Them comes the really big show tomorrow.

Like Omaha World-Herald’s Kevin Coffey, I also have five acts that I’ve deemed “must-see”:

David Nance Band at Reverb Lounge, Nov. 15, 2016.

David Nance Band — With a new album coming out in October on Chicago’s Trouble in Mind Records and on the verger of a massive Eastern U.S. Tour, Nance is one of those acts that any festival would love to have — and he’s grouped in with Maha’s “local acts.” Nance and Co. are headed to this year’s Gonerfest in Memphis next month. Their music is a rough-shod style of psych-rock direct from the garage rife with amazing guitar work and Nance’s Jon Spencer-like bark. If you haven’t seen him, here’s your chance. He comes on after The Dilla Kids at 1:15.

U.S. Girls — The Philly band fronted by Meghan Remy has had records released by Siltbreeze, FatCat and their cuurent label, 4AD. Their latest, In a Poem Unlimited, is loaded with pop songs, like the infectious “Rosebud” that Madonna would kill for. They can be dancey, they can be spacey, but it’s Remy in the middle with her sweet coo. This one starts at 2 p.m.

Hop Along at Slowdown Jr., June 4, 2015.

Hop Along — The new-era Saddle Creek Records act is no stranger to Omaha. Frances Quinlan has a guttural, scratchy, feral-cat growl of a voice on tuneful indie songs that have become Sirius XMU staples. The band’s latest album, Bark Your Head Off, Dog (2018, Saddle Creek) is a personal favorite, having just acquired a new puppy of my own that enjoys barking way too much (in fact, she’s barking as I type this, dammit).

Hop Along goes on at 4:15. BTW, rumor has it that Hop Along is the “secret show” at O’Leaver’s Sunday night. No one has confirmed or denied that rumor…

Tune-Yards — They’ve gained new notoriety for having been included in the soundtrack to 2018 break-out dark-comedy Sorry to Bother You. I know them from their 2011 4AD Records debut release Whokill, and its tasty single “Gangsta.” They used to be the duo of Merrill Garbus and Nate Brenner. I’m assuming they’ve grown since I saw them play at SXSW in 2009. Interesting, weird, arty act. On stage at 6:30.

Father John Misty — This could be a real wild-card. Misty, who’s no mystery to Omaha fans having played here before, can either put on a blow-your-head-off set filled with laff-riot between-song patter or he could be BAF, depending on his mood. Let’s hope he’s the former. I know a lot of people who bought tickets to Maha for this performance alone. 9 p.m. start time.

Then there’s Weezer, who didn’t make my list because, well, I’m not a huge Weezer fan. They lost me after Pinkerton, which came out something like 22 years ago. That said, the crowd will crest for their set.

If ticket sales are slim this year it’ll be because your typical Weezer fan not only doesn’t know the who the openers are, but doesn’t care. They’re looking at this as a $70 Weezer concert, which may be a tad steep. Actually, if they walk-up tomorrow, they’ll be paying $80. That’s lot of cash to see a band play a Toto cover.

Maha Festival headliners have never been the draw for me. My all-time favorite Maha moment came from an afternoon set by Belle & Sebastian. I typically catch the first couple songs by the headliner than head out. We’ll see what happens this year.

Here’s the full line-up w/times:

The Friday night gig:

6 p.m. – Clarence Tilton
6:30 – State Disco
7:20 – Hurray for the Riff Raff
8:15 – Benjamin Booker
9:10 – ZZ Ward
10:30 – TV on the Radio

The Saturday schedule:

12:30 p.m. – The Dilla Kids
1:15 – David Nance Band
2 – U.S. Girls
3 – Mesonjixx + Omaha Girls Rock
4:15 – Hop Along
5:30 – Ravyn Lenae
6:30 – Tune-Yards
7:45 – The Kills
9 – Father John Misty
10:30 – Weezer

More info at See you 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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.