Live Review: Wednesday, Draag; Breakers, Stephen Bartolomei tonight; Spoy, Pagan Athletes Saturday…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , , , — @ 9:49 am May 31, 2024
Wednesday at The Slowdown, May 30, 2024.

by Tim McMahan,

Before we get to the review of last night’s show at Slowdown, a head’s up that tonight, The Reader’s patriarch, John Heaston, is being honored by the Omaha Press Club with the 178th “Face on the Barroom Floor.” I can think of no one more deserving. I’ll be there and will try to snap some pictures or at least get a photo of the drawing. Speaking of The Reader, there’s news about the future of that publication, which I’ll pass along next week…

John Heaston, founder/publisher of The Reader, will be honored with Omaha Press Club’s “Face on the Barroom Floor” tonight.

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The band Wednesday ended its North America tour last night at The Slowdown, and as you might expect, there was a mad-cap looseness to the performance.

Frontwoman Karly Hartzman was particularly chatty throughout the set (and said so), proudly declaring it was their first time headlining in Omaha (They opened for Beach Bunny at The Waiting Room back in May 2022). With guitarist MJ “Jake” Lenderman by her side providing beautiful harmony vocals along with his snarly lead guitar licks, Hartzman and Co. played all the hits off last year’s Rat Saw God album, including a wonky, intentionally sloppy version of indie hit “Quarry.”

That song’s zany performance was driven by an introduction where-in Hartzman said folks in Denver (where they played a couple nights earlier) had told her people in Omaha don’t know how to mosh. She egged-on the crowd to form a mosh pit and the resulting “hop-and-jump” pit bounced around for the rest of the set. That’s one way to get people in Omaha to “dance.” 

I wasn’t aware Wednesday loved punk and/or metal, but it became obvious when Hartzman provided some genuinely throaty metal screams, especially during the night’s encore, which sounded like something by Destruction Unit. 

The night felt like an all-star performance with Hartzman’s versatile vocals that ranged from a soft coo to that growly scream, but the other heavy hitters were Lenderman, who carried the lead vocals on a cover of Drive By Truckers’ “Women Without Whiskey” — a highlight — and lap-steel guitarist Xandy Chelmis, who can turn any song into a twangy country ballad. In fact, the set also swung between quiet alt-country-esque ballads and gritty shoegaze noise rockers. In the end, the softer stuff won the day (for me, anyway). 

Draag at The Slowdown, May 30, 2024.

Opener Draag showed extremes – between metal/industrial and seamless, ambient shoegaze. Frontman/guitarist Adrian Acosta is a vocal chameleon shifting between Dean Wareham/Galaxie 500 crooning and all-out metal screaming. Fellow vocalist Jessica Huang was the contrast with her cool, purring voice. 

Draag opened with the hard stuff and settled into the rich shoegaze halfway through their set, hitting their obvious sweet spot. I could see these folks opening for any of the major shoegaze bands as they continue to develop their own flavor of the genre. 

Wednesday has been selling out shows on this tour, but only managed to draw around 250 last night at the Slowdown, which made for a comfortable-sized audience for the big room (with the balcony closed). That said, it underscored indie’s weak appeal in the Omaha market and continues to explain why a lot of the heavy-hitting indie acts are bypassing our little town.

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Speaking of which, onto another rather sparse weekend for indie shows….

Breakers plays tonight at Pageturners Lounge.

Tonight at Pageturners, Breakers headlines. The trio of Chris Yambor, Robert Little and Matt Focht play a jazzy form of indie, sounding like a lounge version of Pavement or GBV. Very cool. Our old friend singer/songwriter Stephen Bartolomei opens at 8 p.m. No cover, but $10 suggested donation for the artist, please.

Then Saturday night Milwaukee noise-punk band Spoy headlines at Reverb Lounge. In the old days we’d call this math-rock – fuzzy guitar speed that sounds influenced by acts like Chavez and At the Drive In whereas they site US Maple and Black Midi as influences. Opening is Ivory Daze and Pagan Athletes. $12, 8 p.m.

And 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 © 2024 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Wednesday (the band), Draag tonight at Slowdown… 

Category: Blog — Tags: , — @ 8:24 am May 30, 2024
Wednesday plays tonight at Slowdown…

by Tim McMahan ,

Asheville 5-piece Wednesday, who plays tonight at Slowdown, was one of the dominant bands in indie rock last year with the release of Rat Saw God (Dead Oceans), a collection of story songs that keenly encapsulate North Carolina trailer-park life in tones of Southern shoegaze. 

You couldn’t switch on Sirius XMU on your car satellite radio last year without hearing the album’s single, “Quarry.” That was fallowed by “Chosen to Deserve” and the booming “Hot Rotten Grass Smell.” Frontwoman Karly Hartzman has a voice reminiscent of Big Thief’s Adrianne Lenker, though the band’s sound is closer to acts like Momma and Horsegirl. 

You may recognize Wednesday guitarist MJ Lenderman, who’s had a pretty successful solo career, signing to Anti- records after the release of his second album, Boat Songs. Lenderman has played on albums by Indigo De Souza and Waxahatchee.

This show has been on the radar since it was announced late last year. Draag, who I wrote about yesterday, opens the show in Slowdown’s main room at 8 p.m. $25. 

Lean back into a 30+ minute documentary about 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 © 2024 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Ten Questions with Draag (May 30 w/ Wednesday @ Slowdown)… 

Category: Interviews — Tags: , , — @ 8:43 am May 29, 2024
Draag opens for Wednesday at The Slowdown May 30.

by Tim McMahan,

Despite their shoegaze collar, Los Angeles band Draag sonically reinvents a number of nostalgic influences to emerge with something wholly modern.

Fronted by singer/songwriter Adrian Acosta, the five-piece is rounded out by Jessica Huang (synth, vocals), Ray Montes (guitar), Nick Kelley (bass), and Eric Fabbro (drums). Their latest EP, Actually, the Quiet is Nice (2024, Julia’s War), is a sonic blur amidst a curtain of strobe lights, like a being wrapped in a warm blanket that has random needles woven into the fabric.

What makes Draag stand out amongst the current army of shoegaze bands is their reliance on breakneck, white-knuckle percussion. Sure, there’s plenty of drone (especially with the vocals, which are mostly indecipherable on first listen), but the tracks’ hammer beats owe as much to industrial and metal as the shoegaze masters who obviously influenced their sound, like My Bloody Valentine, Lush, etc. 

Draag should be a welcome contrast to tour headliner Wednesday – both bands play at The Slowdown tomorrow night (May 30). We caught up with Acosta and the rest of Draag and gave them the Ten Questions treatment. Here’s what they had to say.

1. What is your favorite album?

Currently: The Land of Rape and Honey by Ministry  (1988, Sire)

2. What is your least favorite song?

I’d rather not say. Too close to home. I think some people we know personally are friends with this band whose music I hate. 

3. What do you enjoy most about being in a band?

Making people feel something real.

4. What do you hate about being in a band?

The business side. It kind of sucks the fun out of it. Touring is chill, but the long drives in between can be very mentally challenging at times. 

5. What is your favorite substance (legal or illegal)?

Caffeine &  micro-dosing psilocybin.

6. In what city or town do you love to perform (and why)? 

Seattle, Missoula & Chicago. Couldn’t pick one  – those cities have very good energy to feed off of and everyone we met was polite. 

7. What city or town did you have your worst gig (and why)? 

Probably Portland, OR. The energy was off. It was more than likely our fault. 

8. Are you able to support yourself through your music? If so, how long did it take to get there; if not, how do you pay your bills?

Absolutely not. We all have day jobs. Jessica is an occupational therapist, Ray is the manager for a weed company, Nick works for the post office, Eric is a graphic designer and I (Adrian) run a construction company. 

9. What one profession other than music would you like to attempt; what one profession would you absolutely hate to do?

Adrian: Would love to work in production or coach a High School Basketball team. I don’t want to be a contractor anymore. 

Ray: Carpentry. Would hate to work in parking enforcement. 

Nick: A cobbler. Would hate to work at Home Depot.

Eric: Probably would want to attempt to be a zoologist cause I love animals and want to understand their intelligence and communication more.  And would hate to be an advertising executive for a failing fast food company.

Jessica: Painter and interior designer. Job I’d hate to do would be in investment banking. 

10. What stories have you heard about Omaha, Nebraska? 

The Murder at Mystery Manor. I also hear the food is good, the people are great, alongside some very dynamic weather. 

Draag plays with the band Wednesday at The Slowdown May 30. 8 p.m. start time, $25 DOS. 

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2024 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.