Live Review: Whipkey at Growler USA; Dude York, Paws, Uh Oh tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:49 pm April 3, 2017

Matt Whipkey and his band at Growler USA, April 1, 2017.

by Tim McMahan,

First and foremost Growler USA (the joint I wrote about that’s introducing original local music to the great unwashed masses in way West Omaha) is more bar than restaurant than music venue.

Beyond the name, just take a look at the back wall and the enormous line of beer taps and it’s pretty obvious you’ve stepped into a place designed for drinking. Behind that wall is a kitchen, which serves run-of-the-mill bar food. Finally, tucked in the front corner of the room is triangle-shaped stage surrounded by curtains with a couple over-head PA speakers and digital lighting.

For some reason I thought the place would be bigger, with a real stage, but Growler USA is actually quite small, right in line with the 120 capacity reported last week, and designed like any other new-construction West Omaha building — single level open room with windows on one side, nuthin’ fancy.

The wall o’ taps at Growler USA.

One could argue the novelty of having 100 beers on tap would be enough to keep the place filled. In fact, when I arrived at 8:30, there was nary a table to be had. Owner Brent Malnack found us a spot about 10 minutes later while I enjoyed a delicious Millstream Peach Fuzz (no Rolling Rock for me). Burgers and sliders (and tots) were quickly ordered and served. The Matt Whipkey band took the corner stage right around 9 p.m. Matt told me they weren’t going to hold back, and the room held up well to their rock ‘n’ roll onslaught, though the PA sounded overblown toward the end of the set.

That said, I can now see why Malnack was discouraging metal acts last week. The room looks better suited for quieter acoustic combos. So did the crowd, which consisted mostly of gray-templed middle-aged couples out having a beer, many of whom were as focused on the North Carolina v. Oregon game as Whipkey and Co. in the corner.

I have no doubt that Growler USA will be a smashing success with or without live music. That Malnack wants to provide a stage for original bands when clearly he doesn’t need to is a credit to someone who’s been involved in local music since the ’80s with his band Modern Day Scenics. That said, West Omaha still needs a real music venue.

Back to Whipkey… I haven’t seen him and his band in a year or so. They’re still cranking out the Americana, but two songs played Saturday night were as heavy as anything heard ’round town. The rhythm section of Travis Sing on bass and Scott “Zip” Zimmerman on drums is first class (Travis was particularly tight, while Zip seemed restrained, especially compared to his Ocean Black onslaught). I could barely hear second guitarist Korey Anderson over Whipkey’s own guitar, which was guttural, especially on his grinding solos. Give me the heavy stuff, Matt.

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Tonight Seattle band Dude York (Hardly Art Records) headlines a show at Slowdown Jr. that includes Glasgow indie band Paws (FatCat) and our very own Uh Oh. $10, 8 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 © 2017 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Growler USA targets original music in West Omaha; Maha announcement, Those Far Out Arrows, Arc Flash, Jonathan Richman tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 12:56 pm March 30, 2017

by Tim McMahan,

Brent Malnack, owner of new brew pub/restaurant/music venue Growler USA IM’d me yesterday to say Matt Whipkey Band will be playing free shows at his place from 9 to 10:30 p.m. this Friday and Saturday.

Growler USA, part of a national chain, is located way out in what I’ve heard referred to as Wonder Bread Land —  16268 Evans Plaza (right off 162nd and Maple). Malnack, who books the club, said he’s focusing on original music, not cover bands — which is something new for West O.

“All original music with the exception of the Rat Pack Jazz guys and other jazz acts,” he said. “Singer-songwriter types like Mace Hathaway and Sarah Brandt. We have Gaudio, Matt Cox Band, Charlie Burton and others coming up.”

Malnack says he and his co-owner wife have put much coin into the 120-capacity room’s sound system. “We’ve got over 1,000 pounds of custom sound panels hanging in the room. It is more studio than club,” he said. “Tom Ware did all of the sound treatments.” Ware is a legendary soundman who runs Ware House Productions.

“Our thought is that with no cover charge people will drop in with nothing to lose,” he said. “If they hate it, they’ll leave. We’re trying to keep some of the younger folks from making the trip to Benson, or at least stopping by our place on the way down.”

Still, I assumed based on the bands he mentioned that he was interested in mostly Americana and blues acts and might stay clear of indie, garage and punk rock. “Only one rule so far,” Malnack said, “no pointy guitars (metal, hair metal). Everything else is welcome.”

Over the years I’ve gotten into lengthy arguments with members of the Omaha music community over whether original music like the stuff booked in midtown would go over in West Omaha. I believe there is an enormous, exponentially huge audience of kids, young adults and music fans west of 72nd St. who are untapped in this music scene. It would be interesting to see how a traditional O’Leaver’s/Brothers/One Percent-type band — i.e., indie/garage band — would translate out west.

Something tells me the pay scale blows away midtown clubs. Just sayin’. Here’s an opportunity for bands to grow a fan base and make good money.

I plan on checking out Growler USA this weekend. If I do, I’ll have a full report next week.

In the meantime, Kevin Coffey has a detailed article about Growler USA in today’s Go section. Check it out.

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Tonight the Maha Music Festival folks have their big reveal at Reverb Lounge starting at 7 p.m. No doubt they will be tapping into their social media streams to spread the news as bands are announced. Maha’s “line-up video” premiers at 8 p.m. Reaction here tomorrow. As I mentioned before, it’s an impressive line-up and a bit of a change in direction from last year’s festival. And yes, I think it could very well sell out again this year…

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Tonight at fabulous O’Leaver’s Lawrence band Arc Flash headlines. Joining them is our very own Those Far Out Arrows and Condor & Jaybird. $5, 9 p.m.

Also tonight, Modern Lovers founder Jonathan Richman (featuring Tommy Larkins (Giant Sand) on drums) plays The Waiting Room. 8 p.m., $15.

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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 © 2017 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.