Live Review: Desaparecidos, Joyce Manor; Kamasi Washington tonight; Blackstone Farnam Fest (Digital Leather, M34N STR33T), Palehound Saturday…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:48 pm September 11, 2015
Desaparecidos at The Waiting Room, Sept. 10, 2015.

Desaparecidos at The Waiting Room, Sept. 10, 2015.

by Tim McMahan,

In this awkward political season when President Trump (roll that one around in your head for a few moments) is making headlines while stealing music from the likes of R.E.M., Desaparecidos punched back at ol’ Teflon Don by playing some (likely unauthorized) Trump audio as an introduction to last night’s SRO show at The Waiting Room.

There was Trump’s blather at its most boob-tatstic presumably “introducing” the band during the audio pre-roll, right before Omaha’s own took the stage and proceeded to blow the place up with their cynical brand of spirited, punk-fueled political discourse, spewing a world view that couldn’t be further away from The Donald’s own.

If last night truly was the last time we see this band on an Omaha stage, they certainly went out with a massive thunderclap. Easily the best set I’ve seen them play — on edge, angry, musically precise. They performed all the best stuff off their two full lengths in what Oberst said was a record-breakingly long set, even though it only clocked in at just over an hour.

The differences between the band’s two albums never stood in more contrast than they did last night. Payola is a more guttural record, more intense and straight forward than Read Music, Speak Spanish, which we forget was written during Oberst’s creative peak, right around the time of Lifted and just before Wide Awake.

Payola songs are all power and political invective reflecting a specific time and specific political issues, while Read Music provided broader social commentary, certainly more subtle and poetic. Oberst was more apt to scream the lyrics of Payola songs, while for tunes like “Man and Wife, The Latter (Damaged Goods)” (which probably could have been a Bright Eyes song) he pulled back and sang with a focused clarity. It was that contrast that gave last night’s show added depth.

The entire band was on point. Bassist/guitarist Landon Hedges’ role as a second voice never sounded more vital to the overall sound. Denver Dalley’s guitar solos were raw and majestic, and Matt Baum proved once again he’s one of the area’s most powerful drummers. Balancing it out was Ian McElroy, a bobbing head of hair slouched over his keyboard.

Between-song patter was kept to a minimum, except toward the end of the set when Oberst introduced “Marikkkopa” by underscoring the racial divide in Omaha and the rest of the country. Oberst said (and I’m paraphrasing here) just when he thought things were getting better, along comes Trump (“I shouldn’t even say his name.”) or another story about a black kid getting shot by cops for doing nothing more than buying Skittles. But at the same time, there’s Obama “who’s been a good president” and the liberation of South Carolina from its hateful Confederate flag. For a brief moment, Oberst sounded hopeful. Right before the band blasted into a song about one of the most vile people in the history of these United States.

I don’t know if the show ultimately sold out. They were selling tickets at the door when I arrived at 10. That said, I can’t remember the last time The Waiting Room was so packed — butt-to-belly from stage to back bar, a youngish crowd, with a handful of old folks like me standing in the corners, watching the crowd-surfing from a safe distance. Was it their last hurrah? Something tells me we haven’t seen the last of this band on an Omaha stage.

Joyce Manner at The Waiting Room, Sept. 10, 2015.

Joyce Manner at The Waiting Room, Sept. 10, 2015.

Opening act Joyce Manor, who released music on seminal indie punk label Asian Man before signing to Epitaph, played a brief set of brief songs clearly influenced by Weezer. They were at their best during the moments they strayed the furthest from CuomoLand and into their own emo-pop-punk territory. Loud, fun, but very much a retread of everything we’ve heard before, from The Get Up Kids to You Blew It. Still, the kids loved them.

* * *

Let’s get to the weekend.

I’ve always thought The Slowdown (specifically Slowdown Jr.) would make an amazing jazz club. Tonight you’ll be able to see how Slowdown’s big room works for jazz as one of the most critically lauded new jazz performers takes the big stage. Kamasi Washington has pushed beyond the jazz world with his latest recording, The Epic (Brainfeeder, 2015). And part of the reason for that extended reach is an 8.6 review in Pitchfork, where the album was honored with Pitchfork‘s “Best New Music” classification. And there’s also the fact that Kamasi is playing venues like The Slowdown on this tour. Delve Trio (formerly Luke Polipnick Trio) opens. $25, 8 p.m.

Here’s a taste of Kamasi’s latest album:

Also tonight, Omaha alt-country band Clarence Tilton opens for Iowa City indie band The Olympics at fabulous O’Leaver’s. Eklectica also is on the bill. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Local hip-hop hero Buck Bowen headlines at Reverb Lounge with bIXill & A Ferocious Jungle Cat. $8, 9 p.m.

The weekend’s BAE (Big Ass Event) is Saturday at the new Farnam Street District. The Blackstone Farnam Festival features food and booze from the fine establishments located in this happening now part of town, along with music from Digital Leather, M34N STR33T, Oquoa, Huge Fucking Waves and producer/DJ Kethro. It all takes place on 40th Street between Farnam and Dodge. Starts at 5 p.m., runs to 11, and is absolutely free.

Later that night, it’s back to Benson for what will be one of the last (if not thee last show ever) at Sweatshop Gallery. The line-up: headliner Palehound, Uh Oh, Low Long Signal and Strawberry Runners. $8, 9 p.m. Someone needs to save Sweatshop’s iconic zebra zig-zag stage backwall design.

Look out for motor scooters in Benson Saturday night as the Hell On Wheels Scooter Rally 2 will be in full effect, with a concert at The Sydney featuring The Bishops. $5 or free if you’re a registered rally rider. Starts at 8 p.m.

Back at O’Leaver’s Saturday night Red Cities headlines with The Broke Loose and Once a Pawn. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Sunday night, Japanese punk band Mugen Hoso plays at The Lookout Lounge with The Big Al Band. The show is listed as starting at 6 p.m. and is $5.

And finally, it’s once more back to O’Leaver’s for the homecoming of New Yorker Darren Keen. Joining him is Channel Pressure (Todd from The Faint and Graham from Reptar) and Giant Claw. $5, 9 p.m.

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

* * *

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


The Origin of Desaparecidos (Denver Dalley interview), Team Rigge and Commander Venus; Twin Shadow, La Luz tonight…

Category: Blog,Interviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:46 pm September 8, 2015
Desaparecidos' 2001 stage debut at the Holy Name High School fieldhouse.

Desaparecidos’ 2001 stage debut at the Holy Name High School fieldhouse.

by Tim McMahan,

I’m back.

The feature on Desaparecidos in The Reader is on newsstands now and online right here. Denver Dalley (and I) recall the origin of the band, starting in 2000. He talks about its rise, its unannounced hiatus, its return and the band’s new album, Payola. Better go read it. The interview was conducted in support of the band’s concert this Thursday, Sept. 10, at The Waiting Room, which, rumor has it, is close to selling out. And as Dalley says in the story, if you’re on the fence about seeing them this time ’round, “There’s a chance there won’t be a next time.” Better get your tickets now.

One thing that didn’t make it into the story…

I concluded the interview with Denver the way I’ve concluded all the Desa interviews I’ve had with Denver, with this question: When will Team Rigge return?

Named after a building on Creighton’s campus — Dalley said hip-hop act Team Rigge has included Ian McElroy, The Faint’s Clark Baechle, Oberst, former Cursive drummer Clint Schnase, Son Ambulance’s Joe Knapp and Dan Maxwell of Little Brazil, who at the time was a member of Secret Behind Sunday.

Team Rigge tracks have shown up in the strangest places.  The first Team Rigge recording was included as a pretrack on Criteria’s 2003 debut LP. The only way to find it was by dropping the CD in a player and hitting the “rewind” button to discover — voila! — something preceded the first track. McElroy, who has carried on the team’s tradition as Rig 1, said in this 2008 interview that at the time Oberst lived next door to Criteria’s Stephen Pedersen in a small house just north of Dundee. The two shared recording equipment along with a copy of Pro Tools. That first recording featured McElroy, Oberst and Jenny Lewis. Here it is:

“I would love to see an actual Team Rigge reunion,” Dalley said. “Unfortunately, one of the original members, Dave Vederami, passed away recently.”

Still, Dalley said he’d “be curious” to see a reunion of surviving members. “I’d also love to see a Smashmouth reunion,” he said, referencing a band that included Criteria’s Pedersen, bassist Bart Volkmer and drummer Schnase.

“We’ve been trying to get Conor to cover a Commander Venus song,” Dalley added. “We tried back in 2001, but he thought the two bands (Desaparecidos and Commander Venus) sounded too similar.”

Denver said during Desa practices he’ll start to play a Commander Venus song and guitarist Landon Hedges will immediately join in, “but it just fades off. Maybe that will be my ultimate goal — to break him down before Sept. 10 to do one encore song.” Do you think CV guitarist Robb Nansel would join them on stage?

Get a load of baby Conor heard on this classic Commander Venus track:

* * *

Twin Shadow returns to The Waiting Room tonight. Twin Shadow is Dominican-born George Lewis, Jr., whose 2012 album Confess (4AD) was a dizzying trip back to ’80s electro-pop with a sound that recalled everything from General Public to Fine Young Cannibals to New Order. I caught the band this year at SXSW, where they played music from their current release, Eclipse, which isn’t much of a departure from Confess. Opening is electronic trio LANY. $17, 9 p.m.

Also tonight, Seattle band La Luz headlines at fabulous O’Leaver’s (where I’m told the new beer garden has finally opened (and must be seen to be believed)). Opening is Will Sprott and the always entertaining Sucettes. $7, 9 p.m.

* * *

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


TBT: Live Review Criteria, Tilly and the Wall, Statistics June 15, 2003; Conor Oberst (SOLD OUT), Deerpeople tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — @ 1:02 pm June 18, 2015

by Tim McMahan,

On this Throwback Thursday, here’s another tumble into the past via a live review of three brand new bands on the scene… in 2003. BTW, is this the first documented use of the term “kill” in a live music review?

Live review: Criteria, Statistics, Tilly and the Wall — a night of pop – June 15, 2003

This was probably my favorite overall show of the year thus far, because each band complimented the other with its unique take on pop. For one night, melody reigned at the Sokol Underground with three unabashed lovers of pure rock smiling from the stage.

Tilly and the Wall at Sokol Underground June 14, 2003.

Tilly and the Wall at Sokol Underground June 14, 2003.

The show started later than normal at around 10:15, I’m told because they expected the sets to be short — these are three brand new bands here with a limited repertoire. Tilly and the Wall took the stage like a team of waiters at Grisanti’s making their way to a table to do a “happy birthday” chant — clapping and stomping their feet as they hopped into position.

Tilly is three girls (two of whom were in Magic Kiss) and two guys on guitar and keyboard. The drums were replaced with Jamie Williams’ tap shoes and plenty of hand claps, absolutely appropriate for these happy, peppy, fun-loving acoustic songs sung mainly by the women, with the guitarist adding some vocals here and there. Imagine Park Ave. mixed with an upbeat Azure Ray and you begin to get the picture. It was fun, and cute… maybe a bit too cute toward the end, but hey, everyone was having a good time.

I made this statement last night and I stand by it this morning with the fog of alcohol firmly lifted from my judgment: Tap-dancing will sweep the nation and UK as the primary form of rock percussion by this time next year. Who can deny its infectious nature and pure staging value? Williams’ feet cut through the noise crisply, thanks to what appeared to be a microphoned plywood amplification box. The downside (for Williams) is that there’s no way she’ll be able to do that on any sort of sizable tour, especially if their set ever grows beyond its current 20 minutes. She looked bushed by the end of the second song, and who can blame her?

Statistics at Sokol Underground, June 14, 2003.

Statistics at Sokol Underground, June 14, 2003.

Statistics, headed by Denver Dalley of Desaparecidos (I didn’t recognize the rest of the trio on drums and bass). The band played songs off their soon-to-be-released Jade Tree EP and they sounded pretty good, though Denver’s vocals were a wee bit off. Part of it was that his mic wasn’t turned up enough. But most of it was his uncertainty on stage. Watching from the side, Dalley seem a bit hesitant to belt out the vocals and as a result, they were thin and slightly off pitch. Chock it up to stage rust — his tour only just began a few days ago. I suspect as he gets more comfortable on stage and listens to the playback he’ll either get more confident. Musically, the compositions are as first-rate as they are on the CD, but more guitar- than electronically-driven. I liked the tone, and the girls seemed to like looking at Denver. Someone yelled “Take off your clothes!” from the audience. Denver shielded his eyes, gazing out through the crowd, and said, “Mom? Are you out there?” Funny.

Then Criteria came on and killed everyone.

Criteria at Sokol Underground, June 14, 2003.

Criteria at Sokol Underground, June 14, 2003.

With this performance, they immediately put themselves on top of the list as one of the best Omaha/Lincoln bands for pure-energy post-punk. Stephen Pedersen has surrounded himself with some amazing musicians, not the least of which is AJ Mogis on bass and backing vocals. Mogis, with his receding hairline, glasses and beard looked like a radio DJ or a ’70s-era Walter Becker standing next to the suave Pedersen all covered with sweat like a young Rock Hudson. Pedersen is a phenomenal guitarist, but second guitarist Aaron Druery is just as remarkable. Drummer Mike Sweeney topped it off with pounding precision — he would give even Clint Schnase a run for his money. The comparison is apt when you consider that Criteria’s music is clearly an off-shoot of early Cursive, right down to Pedersen’s Kasher-like vocals.

With such a prof line-up, the band is amazingly tight, and lord knows they have to be considering the intricacy of their music — time changes, syncopation and massive breaks abound. Beneath it all are some of the most hummable post-punk melodies you will hear from anyone in the business these days. Pedersen looked elated to be on stage again, and the whole band glowed with an energy akin to pride. They performed every song off their Initial Records’ debut, En garde, and what I believe was an early Cursive song — I’m bad with song titles. It was introduced by Pedersen saying, “This next one will show our age.”

The irony of Criteria is that there are no plans for them to play again in the near future. Pedersen told me during our interview that only this Sokol date had been set up — they hadn’t even lined up a Lincoln gig yet (though he acknowledged he’d like to do a show there, but didn’t know where or how). There are no plans to tour, though he’ll continue to play local shows. He said the band hopes to hit the road sometime this summer, when Pedersen can take some vacation time from his attorney gig. It’s a shame because this band is ready right now and would conquer any tour they could line up. They would be a sure crowd-pleaser on a Cursive tour — something that probably won’t be happening too soon as I’ve heard Cursive will take some time off when they finish this tour so Kasher can get to work writing the next Good Life CD. It could be a long time until out-of-towners get a glimpse of Criteria.

As for the crowd, it was a regular Who’s Who of the Omaha indie scene. Among the 300 on hand were most of the members of Bright Eyes (including Oberst), most of the members of The Faint, Azure Ray, half the Saddle Creek office staff, members of The Carsinogents, Little Brazil, Fizzle Like a Flood, The Movies, Bliss Repair, The Mariannes, Oil, and maybe most astounding of all, local legend Dave Sink, operator of The Antiquarium record store, who rarely attends shows these days. The last time was a Monroes show a month ago, before that, maybe two years since I’d seen him in a club.–June 15, 2003

Dave, we all miss you.

* * *

Welp, good ol’ Conor Oberst returns to The Waiting Room tonight. Conor’s out supporting his most recent solo album, Upside Down Mountain (2014, Nonesuch). Alas, the show is sold out. And if you didn’t get tickets in time, you’re not alone. I also didn’t get tix in time. We snooze, we lose. Opening is The Felice Brothers. Starts at 9 p.m.

Also tonight, Oklahoma indie band Deerpeople plays at fabulous O’Leaver’s along with Lincoln’s Universe Contest and headliner Lightning Bug. $5, 9:30 p.m.

* * *

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


Nightbird joins Ritual Device/Cellophane Ceiling bill; Denver Dalley’s Broken Bats; Darren Keen mixes…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 2:00 pm December 16, 2014

by Tim McMahan,

There was no update yesterday as I was buried writing a cover story for Thursday’s issue of The Reader about Cellophane Ceiling and Ritual Device, who are playing Dec. 26 at The Waiting Room. It’s a Main Vein Production (which is also discussed in the article). Huge show, huge reunion.

If you didn’t already know, Nightbird has been added to this line-up, and I’m told Lee Meyerpeter and his crew will be playing some Cactus Nerve Thang covers (Lee, as you know, was in Cactus) just to make this post-Christmas trip inside the Wayback Machine that much more authentic.

It’s great that we have all these reunion shows happening next week (Neva Dinova is next Tuesday at The Slowdown, for example) because there’s virtually nothing else happening around here (at least until Friday). I mean, holy shit, has there ever been a bigger drought in local news?

The hottest buzz is that Icky Blossoms has finished recording their new record, which is headed for a release on Saddle Creek next year. And Matt Whipkey informs me his new record is in the can, ready for a 2015 release.

And then yesterday Hear Nebraska reported (right here) that Denver Dalley of Desaparecidos, Statistics, Intramural and Two of Cups fame (as well as Har Mar Superstar’s sideman) has formed a new band with Pink Spiders frontman Matt Friction called Broken Bats. What that will sound like is anyone’s guess.

And finally, Darren Keen has chimed in from his new home in Brooklyn, New York, to say that he’s posted a couple new DJ mixes:

This is a worldy / tropical bass / club oriented type mix: . This is a retro / synth / vocoder funk mix as my loose “DJ Tango Cash” pseudonym:

The DJ Tango Cash mix got me through my morning. I’m still trying to catch up with Darren to see what his plan is for conquering The Big Apple…

In case you were wondering, there are no shows going on tonight. Head over to The Barley Street Tavern for the Viva La Vinyl Christmas Party and buy DJ Brad Hoshaw a tall boy…

* * *

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.


Live Review: Desaparecidos ain’t nothing but a good time; Orgone tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 12:36 pm October 23, 2013
Desaparecidos at The Waiting Room, Oct. 22, 2013.

Desaparecidos at The Waiting Room, Oct. 22, 2013.

by Tim McMahan,

The main point Denver Dalley made during our recent interview — and in most other interviews of his I’ve read — is that Desaparecidos is a playground for the guys in the band, a full-on good time where — no matter what else is going on in their lives — they can enjoy playing their music and just being together.

And it was obvious watching them on stage last night at a sold-out Waiting Room that they were having the time of their lives. But I have to admit, frontman Conor Oberst always looks like he’s having a good time on stage except when he’s clearly NOT having a good time (Like at some of those early Bright Eyes shows legendary for his unpredictable incendiary behavior). And really, when doesn’t Denver, Landon Hedges and Matt Baum look like they’re having fun no matter what band they’re playing in? (Is it even possible for a guy like Dalley to not have a good time?).

That said, last night’s set felt like an effortless party. Their strategy of releasing singles every few months has proven to be a smart one — it keeps their set sounding fresh, and makes the older material glow that much brighter. As big and bombastic as ever, Desa never sounded better. I credit the TWR stage and environment, which feels intimate while delivering full-on concert sound.

Oberst was in rare form, though his voice was hoarse at times, especially on those high notes. Good thing Landon was there to fill in the gaps. Here’s a secret: Hedges has a better voice, but when the material calls for screaming more than singing, it doesn’t really matter.

Like all Desa shows, there were the obligatory political comments between songs, but none were heavy handed. Oberst mentioned the Concert for Equality and how proud he was that those shitty Fremont housing laws got overturned.

He spoke in support of against-the-grain ideas. “Socialism isn’t a dirty word. Communism isn’t a dirty word,” he said as he introduced “The Underground Man,” the B-side of the band’s most recent single.

He pointed out that Omaha is a segregated town, a racist town. Paraphrasing, he said black people live in North Omaha. Hispanic people live in South Omaha and white people live in West Omaha “and the only time they look each other in the eye is when they drive by each other in their cars.” I think he knew he was stating the obvious. “I don’t know where I’m going with this… get to know someone who doesn’t look like you.”

The comments weren’t so much angry as matter-of-fact statements. Let’s face it, no one wants to be preached at, especially at a party.

The set closed with “Greater Omaha,” which he introduced saying “This song is about where we’re standing right now.” Is it? I always thought that song was about the miles and miles of beige houses spread out across the freeways and traffic lights and drive-through windows west of 120th Street. Maybe not.

Like I said, the band sounded especially good last night. It was the first time I really noticed Dalley’s blazing guitar work — he handled the difficult stuff, the technical intros and the counter solos that cut through all the chopping going on around him. Drummer Baum did his usual between-songs madman yelling from back of the stage. When he egged the audience on to “move around more,” Oberst cut in with, “No, just stand there as still as possible and try to send as many texts as you can.”

After the obligatory exit stage left, the band returned for an encore that included the single “Anonymous,” before Oberst called opening band, Brooklyn’s So-So Glos. to join them for a cover of The Clash’s “Spanish Bombs,” which strangely was the one song that stuck in my head as I walked back to my car. (The set list pretty much matched their show in Lawrence the night before, which is online here).

Afterward I chatted with a guy outside who said Desaparecidos is the best thing Conor has ever done. Well, it’s certainly the funnest music he’s ever played, the most sonically violent. Whether Oberst finds Desa to be the most satisfying thing he does only he can say. Which brings up that question: Will they really keep it together this time like Denver said in the interview? It’s hard not to be skeptical considering every temptation that Oberst has dangled before him.

Concert notes: Though a sell-out, The Waiting Room felt nice and roomy because they removed all the tables. Moving around was a snap. The sound at TWR just seems to get better and better. And thanks to the Lazy-i reader who bought me a draw of Rolling Rock! I’ll get you back at the next show…

* * *

The party continues tonight at The Waiting Room as LA funkmeisters Orgone returns with support from Satchel Grande. $9, 9 p.m.

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2013 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Desaparecidos’ Denver Dalley says it’s ‘For real this time;’ Desa plays tonight at The Waiting Room…

Category: Blog,Interviews — Tags: , — @ 12:57 pm October 22, 2013
Desaparecidos rock the Holy Name Fieldhouse in April 2001.

Desaparecidos rock the Holy Name Fieldhouse in April 2001.

by Tim McMahan,

First, Desparecidos is playing tonight at The Waiting Room and believe it or not, there’s still tickets available as of noon today. If you have any interest in going, you should go to the this e-tix page right now and buy your $25 tickets.

Next, you should read my interview with Desaparecidos’ Denver Dalley where the guitar-playing blond wonderboy testifies that the current incarnation of Desa ain’t no reunion gig, it’s the real deal. The boys are back for good this time, and that means new music and (maybe) a new album.

The story was written for The Reader, which means you’ll have to go here to The Reader website to read it. Just click this link. DO IT NOW.

Okay, if you don’t want to do it now, you can wait until tomorrow when the story appears in the printed version of The Reader. Yes, I know this should have come out last week, but there was a snafu with the deadline and, well, JUST GO AHEAD AND READ IT NOW.

And then go to tonight’s show, which should be a freakin’ blast. The So-So Glos are opening. Show starts at 9.

* * *

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.


Geriatric 12-12-12 performers take a (dentured) bite out of the Big Apple; Ladyfinger frontman is an undercover galactic star fighter; Stats sign to Afternoon Recs…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 1:40 pm December 13, 2012

by TIm McMahan,

Mick about to take flight.

Mick about to take flight.

I didn’t watch every moment of the 12-12-12 concert last night, but I did catch Rolling Stones, The Who, Billy Joel, Bon Jovi, Alicia Keys and Paul McCartney. For my money, Billy Joel won the “best remaining voice” competition among the codger squad. The Stones sounded every bit of 70 years old, Roger Daltrey can’t hit the high notes any more and McCartney was, well, better than I thought he’d be. It was a real sausage party. Strange that there was only, what, one woman vocalist all night? Shades of 2011 Maha Festival. As a whole, the production was a few steps below Jerry Lewis Telethon quality, with way too many technical glitches and quick cuts to people in headsets angrily shouting at someone off camera. But hey, that’s live television (or webvision) for ya.

* * *

There’s a lot of “truth” and “growing up” going on with Ladyfinger’s next album, Errant Forms, slated for release Feb. 5, 2013, on Saddle Creek Records, and no track underscores that more than “Galactic,” the auto-biographical epic that explains once and for all the mysterious behavior of frontman Chris Machmuller. The gritty, brutal rock song tells the story of a man who picks up signals in his head — numbers and images — obviously a distress signal about an alien coup, and I’m not talking about an uprising at the Arizona state capitol. It all comes down to this line: “I’m a space invader and I think I can save this planet from galactic destroyers from space.” Unclear if Machmuller is saying he, himself, is an alien or some sort of “super soldier” tasked with leading a mission to destroy an alien onslaught. I’ve listened to this song on repeat at least 100 times in the past 24 hours and I’m still not sure. Maybe I’m not supposed to “be sure.” What I can say is that “Galactic” is one of the most important songs ever released by Saddle Creek Records (and one of my favorites). Watch the skies, people. PS: I can’t wait to see the video. Attention: Ridley Scott.

* * *

Look’s like Statistics, the project by Denver Dalley (of Desaparecidos fame and Har Mar Superstar sideman) has signed to Afternoon Records. The label will be releasing the next Stats full length, Peninsula, in March. More info here. Check out Stats’ first AR single, below:

Statistics, “Rewind, Replay, Repeat”

[soundcloud url=”″ width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]


* * *

BTW, that For Against box set I mentioned on Tuesday slated for release in January? Well its release has been pushed back until May or June of 2013. And I’m also told to not hold my breath waiting for a For Against reunion. One can dare to dream…

* * *

This week’s column is pt. 1 in a series about the joys and frustrations of remodeling a house. You can read it in this week’s issue of The Reader or online right here.

* * *

No shows again tonight, which sucks because I have tomorrow off.

* * *

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.


Lazy-i Interview: For Desaparecidos’ Denver Dalley everything’s the same, only different; Big Harp, Gus & Call tonight…

Category: Blog,Interviews — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:38 pm August 8, 2012
Desaparecidos, from left, are Conor Oberst, Matt Baum, Denver Dalley, Landon Hedges and Ian McElroy. Photo by Zach Hollowell

Desaparecidos, from left, are Conor Oberst, Matt Baum, Denver Dalley, Landon Hedges and Ian McElroy. Photo by Zach Hollowell.

The Politics of Thrashing

Desaparecidos is back and angrier than ever.

by Tim McMahan,

Also published in The Reader, Aug. 9, 2012.

In the on-again off-again world of indie rock band Desaparecidos, when Conor Oberst calls you drop what you’re doing and run to his side, right?

Not at all says Desaparecidos guitarist Denver Dalley. “Well, maybe to some extent, but it’s not like anyone abandoned any commitments.”

Over the phone last week, Dalley quickly ran down what the rest of the band’s been up to. Guitarist/vocalist Landon Hedges is busy with his band, indie powerhouse Little Brazil. Keyboard player Ian McElroy has been in New York working on hip-hop project Rig 1 “but I don’t know how close he is to releasing new material,” he said.

Drummer Matt Baum has been vacant from the drum kit. “Before we started back up again he said he had an itch to make music,” Dalley said. “He’s done a lot of podcasts for his comic book world (called The Two-Headed Nerd).”

As for Dalley, he’s been bouncing between homes in Omaha, Nashville and Los Angeles. When not touring as part of dance-rock project Har Mar Superstar, he’s been finishing recording his own project, Statistics, as well as a score for a feature film about the Joplin, Missouri, tornado. “I also went to massage therapy school last year,” he says, though he doesn’t know if he’ll ever actually apply those new skills.

And then there’s Conor Oberst. But we all know what the Bright Eyes frontman has been up to.

"Marikkkopa" b/w "Backsell" 7-inch, Desaparecidos (2012, self released)

“Marikkkopa” b/w “Backsell” 7-inch, Desaparecidos (2012, self released)

Just two years after the last time Desaparecidos got together for the Concert for Equality concert, all their schedules have aligned and the boys are back in town. And judging from their new single, “Marikkkopa” b/w “Backsell,” they’re better than ever.

The single’s A side continues the band’s attacks on anti-immigration xenophobes by taking on Arizona’s Joe Arpaio, sheriff of Maricopa County, the king of racial profiling who has earned the title “America’s Worst Sheriff” by the New York Times. If you’re wondering what Arpaio is all about, just listen to the song’s lyrics, which paint the portrait of a racist rounding up illegal immigrants in a style that recalls the worst of Nazi Germany or The Klan.

Oberst has never been one to pull punches when it comes to his politics, so it’s a good thing the rest of the band shares his beliefs. “Fortunately, we all agree on these things,” Dalley said, “but we do discuss them ahead of time.”

For example, Dalley said there was some back-and-forth over the use of the word “spic” in “Marikkkopa,” in the line “These spics are brave and getting braver.

“The whole song is written from the perspective of this person who is really anti immigration,” Dalley explained, “but we didn’t want it to come across in the wrong way. We thought about it and decided there is a time and a place and a context where (that language) is appropriate. This song is supposed to be controversial and make people think. Not to compare ourselves to them, but songs like Lennon’s ‘Woman is the Nigger of the World,’ and Dylan’s ‘Hurricane’ prove that there’s a point in using that kind of language.”

Considering that most of Desaparecidos’ fans already share their politics, isn’t the band merely preaching to the choir? Dalley said songs like “Marikkkopa” stoke the flames when the fire dies down after the headlines are forgotten. “It gets the conversation going again,” he said. “After we started streaming the songs yesterday (Aug. 2), we watched the Twitter feed and some people thought it was dead on while some said we’re lumping too many things together.”

Then there’s that sizable portion of the audience who doesn’t care about the lyrics, the ones who just want to rock out. “I’m guilty of that myself at times,” Dalley said, adding that he loves it when the crowd gets revved up over the message “but there’s a line you don’t want to cross. There’s a way to bring (issues) up, and a point when someone gets carried away.”

So when Oberst spends too much time on his soapbox, whose job is it to tell him to shut up and play? Dalley laughed. “Knock on wood we haven’t had to deal with that,” he said. “Maybe one night he’ll get on a tear and we’ll have to play him off, like on The Oscars.”

Good luck with that one.

Despite the politics behind the band’s message, Dalley said Desaparecidos (for him at least) is more about having fun, just like it was when the band first started in the early part of the last decade. Though 10 years have passed since the band’s only album, Read Music/Speak Spanish, was released, little has changed.

“It’s shockingly the same in the best possible way,” he said. “I was excited about the idea of practicing and the hi-jinx and laughing with the guys, and it really has been like that.”

There is a nostalgic way in how Dalley describes not only the band’s reunion, but the entire Omaha music scene. He compares the heyday of Saddle Creek Records circa 2001 like being in high school.

“There was a point afterward where everyone went off to college and got married or whatever,” he said. “Now it’s like people are returning from college and going back to their old stomping grounds, where they find a new, younger generation. I could go to a Cursive show back in 2000 and name everyone in the crowd. Now I only know a handful, and that’s great. I still feel like part of something. It’s different, but it’s the same.”

Desaparecidos is slated to play only a half-dozen shows after this Saturday’s Maha Music Festival. Dalley is unsure what will happen after that.

“There’s no plan as of now,” he said. “I think Conor has a handful of solo dates this winter, so as of now there’s nothing scheduled, but we’re all kind of open to whatever and hoping something happens.”

But only “as long as it’s still fun,” he added. “One of the reasons we went on hiatus was because there was starting to be expectations and it was getting stressful. It got away from being dudes having fun playing the music that we love. We’re all focused on that now.”

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The more things change, the more they stay the same. Seems like only yesterday instead of 11 years ago that I was drinking coffee with Denver at the 13th St. Coffee Shop where he broke the news about his new band for this story. We all expected big things from Desaparecidos, and we got them. Desa was destined to be Saddle Creek’s counterpunch to Cursive’s uppercut — a brash, in-yer-face punk band pissed off at the suburbia that would become its fan base. Oberst was and is at his best when he’s political, and Desa provides that outlet in a time when this country desperately needs his voice. It would be a shame if he and the rest of the band put away the boxing gloves after this brief reunion tour.

Speaking of which, Desa kicks off that tour tomorrow night at the infamous 400 Bar in balmy Minneapolis before they head back to town to co-headline the Maha Music Festival at Stinson Park Saturday night. Tix are still available for $35 at, where you can also check out the full festival line-up, schedule and other pertinent info. I’m told this is the fastest selling concert in Maha’s brief history.

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Tonight at Slowdown Jr., it’s the return of Big Harp with Gus & Call and Field Club. $7, 9 p.m. Get your weekend started on Wednesday!

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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.