Live Review: Ojai, Ione at fabulous O’Leaver’s; Color Green, The Dirts, Chew, Size Queen tonight…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 8:30 am March 18, 2024

Ojai at O’Leaver’s, March 16, 2024.

By Tim McMahan,

Just getting to O’Leaver’s has become something of a nightmare with all the friggin’ road construction. Once through the maze of barricades along Leavenworth and Saddle Creek Saturday night, I found a parking lot chock full on both sides of the volleyball courts and almost expected to be turned back at the door. Inside, O’Leaver’s was comfortably filled but not cram packed (So where were all those people who own all those cars?). 

Ione at O’Leaver’s, March 16, 2024.

Ione was already halfway through her set playing in front of a woman-heavy crowd (a rarity for O’Leaver’s). Fronting a three-piece band, Ione stood alone with microphone in hand, a true pop crooner. There’s no denying she has a killer voice, polished and radio-friendly with all the familiar nuances heard on modern pop records, and I have no doubt if she keeps at it we’ll be seeing her on television one day singing a style of pop music that isn’t my cup of tea.

Interestingly, “Ione” has second persona — a side-act called Safe Space, which is a duo with her guitarist whose songs border on modern indie music a la Phoebe but not quite. She appears to be trying to cover all the bases with Safe Space, which is admirable and curious considering how much time she’s invested in her Ione brand. I was told months ago Ione was moving to Chicago. Better see her while you still can — her and he band are opening for Wyrmwood March 29 at Benson Theater. 

No doubt a large portion of the crowd Saturday was there for Ione as the place thinned out for Ojai. A trio fronted by guitarist / songwriter Michael Hulstein, their set was marred by an audio mix that put the bass way out front above all else. Bassist Micah Renner indeed has awesome bass-playing chops but I doubt even he would want his bass to be so prominent in the mix – it overpowered everything on stage. 

Meanwhile, Tanner Rogerson has one of the lightest touches of any drummer I’ve heard behind a kit. I kept checking to see if he was playing with brushes. Hulstein’s chiming, surf-style guitar parts were kind of great when you could hear them above the bass. His approachable vocal style is right on for songs I think I’m going to like when I hear them recorded and properly mixed. In fact, he said much of his set consisted of material from an upcoming EP. I was reminded me of Dave Doughman of Swearing at Motorists, a band I’m sure no one remembers or has even heard of, and a band that’s a lot weirder than Ojai. 

Long story short, I need to see Ojai again when they don’t sound like they’re playing in a bass competition. As for O’Leaver’s — it was hot, it was smelly, it was just as I remember it from the last time I was there. Here’s hoping it never changes. 

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A reminder about tonight’s shows, which I covered in detail last Friday

At Reverb Lounge tonight LA band Color Green (Noah Kohll and Co.) headlines with The Dirts and Heavy Clippings. $15, 8 p.m. 

Meanwhile, down the street at The Sydney, Atlanta psych/electronic band Chew headlines with the Omaha debut of LinOma band Size Queen. 8 p.m., $10.

I’ll see you tonight in Benson…

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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.


Ojai, Ione Saturday; St. Patrick’s Sunday; Color Green, The Dirts, Heavy Clippings, Chew, Size Queen Monday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — @ 8:41 am March 15, 2024

LA Band Color Green plays at Reverb Monday night.

By Tim McMahan,

Get a load of this: The best shows of the weekend are actually next Monday night. 

Briefly, there are (again) no touring indie rock shows in Omaha this weekend. 

Only one show is worth your attention tonight and it’s in Lincoln: The Speed! Nebraska “Winternationals” showcase at The Zoo Bar, featuring Bad Bad Men, Wagon Blasters and Pagan Athletes. If you’re in the Capitol City, it’s definitely worth your time. $10, 9 p.m. 

Tomorrow night (Saturday), Omaha indie band Ojai headlines a free show at fabulous O’Leaver’s. I know very little about this act, other than they’ve been around for a long time. Maybe it’s time I catch their set? Joining them is singer/songwriter Ione (Who also performs around town as Safe Space — I’m not sure why she oscillates between the two names – maybe it has something to do with whomever is accompanying her?). Like I said, FREE, and starts at 9 p.m. 

Also Saturday night, local rock band Safari Room plays Reverb Lounge with Bad Self Portraits and Steady Wells. 8 p.m., $18. 

Sunday is, of course, St. Patrick’s Day, which just happens to be the lousiest day to have St. Patrick’s Day. i think we need to make a command decision and forever make St. Patrick’s Day the second Friday of March. My usual go-to on this national holiday (for us Irish folk, anyway) has always been The Dubliner, who this year features “three fantastic sets of live Irish music.” The main act on St. Patty’s Day always plays in the afternoon, and this year Lincoln act Out of the House gets that honor from 1 to 5 p.m. 

And that’s it for the weekend, so let’s talk about Monday. I generally wait until Monday to tell you about Monday, but considering the lousy weekend, here’s something to look forward to:

Top of the list Monday night is Los Angeles indie band Color Green at Reverb Lounge. The band features Noah Kohll, who has been involved in a number of local indie acts over the years, including Staffers and Nathan Ma. He’s been doing Color Green with Corey Madden for a few years. Their latest is a self-titled album released in 2022 by ORG Music and Aquarium Drunkard that sounds like a modern version of Allman Brothers crossed with The Byrds. Also on the bill are up-and-coming Omaha bands The Dirts and Heavy Clippings (who we saw last weekend at Goatfest). This one’s jam-packed and starts at 8 p.m. $15. 

Meanwhile, just down the street Monday night at The Sydney, Atlanta psych/electronic/noise act Chew headlines. Their latest is 2022’s Horses (Stolen Body Records). Opening for Chew is a new LinOma band Size Queen, whose members include Lincoln Calling booker Sam Crisler. I don’t think they’ve played in Omaha before, so consider this their Omaha debut. 8 p.m., $10. 

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.