Live Review: Speed! Nebraska showcase; Make Believe to launch (local) record store…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:53 pm July 15, 2013
Domestica at O'Leaver's, July 13, 2013.

Domestica at O’Leaver’s, July 13, 2013.

by Tim McMahan,

If you’re even passibly interested in post-punk, especially bands with a ’90s Homestead-style flair, you’ve got to check out Domestica. The band’s history is legend. Born out of the ashes of classic Nebraska band Mercy Rule, Domestica is a power-punk trio whose forte is guitar-driven buzz-saw rock songs about living and loving in the great, dusty Midwest. At the trio’s core is Capital-city-based husband/wife combo of bassist/vocalist Heidi Ore and guitarist Jon Taylor — the First Family of Nebraska punk.

Domestica has been around for a while, taking a brief hiatus when Mercy Rule returned for a short time a few years ago. The band’s last recording was the digital-only Domestica 2, released last year. Based on what I heard Saturday night at O’Leaver’s, it’s time for them to get back into the studio. Now with former Sideshow drummer P. Tisdale (I don’t know if he spells it Paul or Pawl, I’ve seen it both ways) they’re playing on a whole new level.

I’ve heard Heidi sing at least a couple dozen times over the decade, and she’s never sounded better than Saturday night. Part of the reason is, believe it or not, O’Leaver’s new PA, which does a good job with separation. I usually can’t hear Heidi because she’s buried beneath Jon’s guitar. This time she gave Jon a run for his money. In fact, I would have preferred Jon turn it up a bit more. He tweaked it about halfway through the set (but I could have used even more).

The set’s final song was (I believe) a new one. The band rarely leans back on riffs, preferring to keep with a short-shock chorus/verse format. On this one they repeated the guitar/bass lines in a way I can’t quite remember hearing before. I’d love to see them take off on a riff and repeat it over and over and over. Domestica as a jam band? Not quite…

Before they left the stage, they gave out one final treat. Earlier in the set a woman ran up to Heidi and told her it was her birthday, and (I think) made a request — Mercy Rule classic “Summer.” Heidi rolled into a verse of the song by herself as the rest of the band joined and transformed it into something slutty and psychedelic. Happy Birthday indeed.

Before Domestica I caught Sons of O’Leaver’s set, which was as cock-sure as always. They’re like Omaha’s unique version of The Replacements minus the booze and drugs (well, minus the drugs anyway). Don’t get lost in the fog of rhythms — both guitarists have some of the most clever guitar licks you’ll likely hear at The Club. Pay Attention!

This was the annual Speed! Nebraska showcase featuring all S!N bands. Missing from the festivities, however, was label co-founder Gary Dean Davis, who it was announced from stage, was at UNMC recovering from surgery. More details I cannot say, other than it sounds like Gary’s going to be all right.

On the other hand, I never heard why this year’s Soapbox Derby was cancelled, though I did hear rumors of a fill-in event in the near future involving other juvenile modes of racing transportation…

* * *

What’s this, a new local-focused record store?

The news of this new venture came via Facebook yesterday, headlined “Make Believe Music Shop Grand Opening (and free 2nd St. Creamery Ice Cream)“.

“Make Believe Music Shop and 2nd St. Creamery are coming together to celebrate the latest venture from the people who brought you Make Believe Studios in Little Italy. Just as the studio serves Omaha-area bands, so too will the record store, aiming to line our shelves with primarily Nebraska artists. Opening day is set for Friday, July 19.”

The shop is asking for help getting area musicians – as many of the 1,000 local artists as possible – into the store the first few days to bring in their records to sell.

“In addition, there will be free ice cream, BBQ and cold drinks. Join us in celebrating a new addition to the Omaha music scene.”

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


Column 349: Speed! Nebraska Turns 15; The Lupines (members of Brimstone Howl, The Third Men) debuts tonight; Jake Bellows & Co. at Film Streams…

Category: Blog,Column,Interviews — Tags: , — @ 1:38 pm November 10, 2011
The Speed! Nebraska Posse

The Speed! Nebraska posse circa 2006, from left, are Mike Tulis, Gary Dean Davis, Jesse Render and LIncoln Dickison. Photo by Bill Sitzmann.

Column 349: Speed! Nebraska Turns 15

by Tim McMahan,

When the invitation went out via Facebook for this Friday night’s Speed! Nebraska 15th Anniversary rock show at The Brother’s Lounge, the first thing that went through my mind was: Has it really been five years since we did that Speed! Nebraska 10-year anniversary cover story in The Reader?

That story, published June 28, 2006, recapped the history of the vinyl-loving record label that’s home to a handful of the area’s best local bands, including Ideal Cleaners, The Filter Kings, Domestica, The Third Men, Students of Crime and label chief Gary Dean Davis’ band, The Wagon Blasters.

In that article, Wagon Blasters drummer (then Monroes drummer) Jesse Render declared that it was The Golden Age of Speed! Nebraska Records. Five years later and Davis says that Golden Age continues.

“Not much has changed,” Davis said over the phone, while one of his three precocious children made noise in the background. “At that time I was feeling good about the fact that there were a lot of bands on the label. The amazing thing is that in five years, that’s continued.”

In many ways Davis and his label cohorts have always been ahead of their time. Since its first release — a 7-inch by long-defunct band Solid Jackson called “Fell” b/w “In a Car” — the label has focused on releasing vinyl. Except for punk fans and audiophiles, vinyl was viewed as a novelty and a waste of money… back then. Today, almost every mid-major indie band — along with a number of major-label superstars — releases music on vinyl as CD sales continue to decline.

“Vinyl may be back, but it never left for us,” Davis said.

Regardless, he added that the so-called “vinyl renaissance” hasn’t had much of an impact on Speed! Nebraska’s sales. “If you can get a turntable into someone’s home, that’s in our best interest,” he said, “but I don’t know if it’s filtered down to what we do.”

But it’s never been about sales. Having music released on vinyl is “the musicians’ dream,” Davis said. “Talking to the guys in our bands and others who have not had vinyl releases, it’s the ultimate. Elvis put out records. Johnny Cash put out records. In a sense having a record puts you on the same level as those guys. The reason you got involved with music was from listening to records.”

He pointed out that today, fewer people are even releasing CDs thanks to the impact of digital downloading. “If you’re going to do a release and make it download-only, you could put out a new record every day, right?” Davis said. “It’s a watering down of what it means to be a musician. The time involved with putting out a record — recording and mixing and mastering and sending it to the plant and waiting for them to come back and then doing the cover — there’s a lot of stages to that finished project vs. the general immediacy of the times we live in.”

Davis equated it to the difference between getting a letter in the mail and receiving an e-mail — or between receiving a birthday greeting on your Facebook wall and getting hand made birthday cards from his students at St. Stanislaus, where he’s the principal. “A Facebook happy birthday is nice, but a handmade card — I mean, I keep those,” he said. “Someone spent time and thought enough to do it. There’s something more special about that.”

So don’t even bother asking Davis about Spotify. He doesn’t know what it is and doesn’t care enough to find out. It isn’t because he’s some sort of neo-luddite anti-technology snob; he just thinks making vinyl records is, as Wilford Brimley used to say, “The right thing to do.”

And keep doing it he shall. This past year, Speed! Nebraska released a new CD by Ideal Cleaners, Far As You Know, and the tasty 10-inch vinyl compilation Speed! Soapbox Riot 300, which included a song by every band currently on the label’s roster. Davis said future plans include a possible 7-inch by The Filter Kings, more by Ideal Cleaners, and a full-length by Domestica, while Davis’ own band, The Wagon Blasters, is currently writing songs, though they’re in no hurry to put something out.

“Playing in a band is still fun and a nice thing to do, but if I have to do something with the kids…” Davis said. “All the guys in the band understand. We do this because it’s fun. There’s never any tension about it. Once we have enough songs, we’ll go into the studio.”

I ended that 2006 cover story by asking Davis where Speed! Nebraska will be in 2016. So it just made sense to ask him again if he thought the label would be around in five years.

“Oh yeah, definitely, whether I’m playing in a band or not,” he said. “I want to keep doing the label in some capacity, whatever it looks like. As long as we continue to have something to say in our records and music and the aesthetic and presentation, we’ll continue to do it.”

The Speed! 15th Anniversary Celebration is Friday, Nov. 11, at The Brothers Lounge, 38th & Farnam St., featuring performances by Ideal Cleaners, The Wagon Blasters, Domestica, Techlepathy and The Filter Kings. Show starts at 9 p.m., cover is $5. If you go, consider bringing Davis an anniversary card, preferably one that’s hand made.

* * *

Debut performances by bands are always special events. And none more so than the one taking place tonight when The Lupines trot onto the “stage” for the first time at fabulous O’Leaver’s. The band consists of some local heavy hitters: John Ziegler of Brimstone Howl, the legendary Mike Tulis of The Third Men, Mike Friedman, who’s played alongside Simon Joyner, and Javid Dabestani of Bright Calm Blue and Broken Spindles. Opening the show is Detroit garage/psych/grit band Gardens (Alive Naturalsound Records). $5, 9:30 p.m.

Also tonight, down at Film Streams, it’s a screening of silent film The Adventures of Prince Achmed with a new original score performed live by Jake Bellows (Neva Dinova), Ben Brodin (Before the Toast and Tea, Mal Madrigal) and Ryan Fox (1989 Chicago Cubs, Our Fox, The Good Life). Tickets to the 7 p.m. screening can be purchased from the Film Streams website: $8 for Film Steams members, $10 for students, and $12 for the general public. Go!

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2011 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.