Bob Mould interview transcript… (yes this is a rerun); Worried Mothers tonight…

Category: Blog,Interviews,Reviews — Tags: , — @ 6:56 am September 4, 2013
Bob Mould, center, with Jason Narducy, left, and Jon Wurster. Photo by Peter Ellenby.

Bob Mould, center, with Jason Narducy, left, and Jon Wurster. Photo by Peter Ellenby.

by Tim McMahan,

Yes, this is a rerun, sort of. A portion of this interview was printed prior to the Maha Music Festival in The Reader. The entire transcript is being posted here so it can be found online in the future. While the transcript also was posted at, who knows how long it will be online? Whereas will live forever, just like me.

The interview explains Mould’s electric-music retirement announcement from 15 years ago, and also covers playing rock music at age 52, the current music industry model, Spotify and why he doesn’t pull his music from the service, where his music sits alongside today’s music, if he’ll ever play Black Sheets of Rain again, what he plans on playing at Maha and what’s in store after Maha, and as an extra bonus, Bob’s take on Barack Obama. Enjoy…

Bob Mould Speaks

This isn’t the first time I’ve interviewed Bob Mould. Here’s the lead from my 1998 interview:

“What is there to say about Bob Mould? Either you know his music or you don’t. I’m not going to even try to recap his career, except to say that his music – whether it was performed with Husker Du, Sugar or as a solo performer – is among the most influential in modern music. I’m not overstating. Bands from Nirvana to the Pixies revered Mould and Hüsker Dü as the virtual inventors of post-hardcore alternative rock.”

The only thing that’s changed since that story ran is the number of bands influenced by Mould, including Foo Fighters, Jimmy Eat World, Green Day, the list goes on and on. At the time of that ’98 interview, Mould had just announced that he was giving up playing with an “electric band.”

“I’m getting to the point in my life where it’s time to start thinking of doing other things, whether it’s focusing more on the acoustic performances or putting together something else… I don’t want to be up there at 50 trying to rock out, with a band or something, and have people say, ‘I remember seeing him when he was really great.’”

Now at age 52, Bob Mould is in a band again. His trio, featuring Jason Narducy (Verbow, Split Single) on bass and Jon Wurster (Superchunk, Mountain Goats) on drums, will be among the bands playing at Saturday’s Maha Music Festival at Stinson Park in Aksarben Village. You can be sure, based on his amazing album Silver Age (Merge Records, 2013), that he’ll be rocking as loud as he ever has.

He explained the 1998 announcement and what happened afterward from his home in San Francisco:

Bob Mould: It was a time when you couldn’t step out of the house without three alternative rock bands jumping on your front yard playing. I’d grown pretty tired of that style of music at that point. I’d spent 19 years of my life touring around in a band as a guitar player and singer in some iteration of a punk rock band or rock and roll band, and I was living in New York City and hadn’t really taken any time for myself, mostly in not having much of an identity as a gay man. I’d given all my life single-mindedly to music. So I think the landscape of millions of alt rock bands combined with personal frustrations of wanting to take some time for myself led to that rather grand announcement I made back then.

Fast forward 15 years, a lot has changed in my life. I spent a number of years living as a gay man in New York City as opposed to being a punk rock guitarist living in a van. So that mission got accomplished. Those millions of alternative rock bands either went away or started making other kinds of music.

Fast forward to 2012, out celebrating a record I had made 20 years prior (Sugar’s Copper Blue) that helped to sort of define that genre that I learned to hate. It’s funny how life does that. We always think we’re going down a straight path, sometimes you circle back and that’s what happened. So, I’m a liar (laughs).

I discovered you through Workbook, and then discovered Hüsker Dü afterward. When you play festivals like Maha, what do you suspect your younger fans know about your career? Just the last couple records?

Mould: There are 20 year olds that come to the show with their 45-year-old punk rock dads, and there are young people who I’m presuming (know) the entire body of work and not just one record. I don’t think there’s a lot of kids that go ‘Wow I heard “Star Machine” or “I saw people talking about it on 4chan.” I’m guessing it’s the entirety of the work, and they want to see the person who’s done this work. I sort of doubt with the younger audience that it’s any one specific thing, other than me.

Do you think they identify you with Hüsker Dü:

Mould: They might. They might identify me with Workbook (Mould’s first solo album from 1989). When I talk to people after shows people always invariably mention their entry point in the body of work, whether it’s Workbook or Zen Arcade (the landmark 1984 Hüsker Dü album) or Beaster (Sugar’s 1993 EP) or whatever it might be. I think most younger people I talk to it’s just “I heard about your work.” “I heard about you through the Foo Fighters movie.” “I heard about you because Green Day talked about you.” “I heard about you because Jimmy Eat World talks about you.” So it’s a lot of that kind of thing too.

How do you think your music fits in with what’s going on today, at least from an indie standpoint? Do you wonder if kids who are into Arcade Fire or Of Montreal or M83 will identify with your new album?

Mould: Can’t tell. I don’t do that kind of research. Right now I’m guessing my audience is older. The challenge is always to reach a younger audience. As far as the bands you just mentioned, M83 probably being the youngest and hippest of those three, I love that band, but I don’t know if many of their fans love my music. (laughs).

The short version of what’s going on is once I got the autobiography (See a Little Light: The Trail of Rage and Melody, 2011) out of the way and got back to writing songs, touring around with the Foo Fighters and back with Jason and Jon making Silver Age and revisiting the Sugar stuff, it’s all real easy, it’s real natural. When I’m back in that environment where I seem to do my most natural work, it’s pretty easy. And we’re enjoying it right now because, as I think you or anyone who’s followed me for a while knows, things can take a right turn at any moment. We’re just enjoying the fact that we’re kicking the collective ass right now, we’re just sort of having fun with that.

How has performing changed for you at age 52? Is any of it physically trying?

Mould: Hell yeah. It’s been physically trying since I started. All the natural things, you lose a little bit of your speed, you lose a little bit of your voice, as the years go on it’s little harder to sing as I used to. But I was just in the gym for an hour and a half. I think I’m in better shape than most guys my age. I think I’m in better shape than most bands I’ve seen play. So as far as being on stage and being confident about how I carry myself, I feel real good about that.

The travel doesn’t get any easier. I’m sure anybody who gets older will tell you that. It’s just the way things are. As far as the creative part, what is that thing ‘Youth is wasted on the young’? We do all these stupid, crazy things when we’re younger, but when we get old you have all this wisdom but you don’t sometimes have the tools to use it. Well I actually think I’m in a pretty good spot right now. I think I’m beating Father Time pretty well at the moment.

It’s funny, I went to see The Who when they were coming through on the Quadrophenia tour. How old is Townsend now, almost 70? (he’s 68). You wouldn’t know it, would you?

I saw them recently and Daltrey’s voice was shot that night, but he might have been sick.

Mould: I will always give someone like Roger the benefit even if it’s shot, it’s still Roger Daltrey,  you know? And Quadrophenia is a pretty fucking hard record to sing at any age.

In that article from 1998 you predicted a lot of changes in the music industry that came true, specifically how the internet would impact music distribution. But you didn’t predict Spotify. What do you think of the service and its business model?

Mould: I wish they would pay the musicians, but that’s not their model, is it? Labels aren’t making any money. The distributor is usually the one that makes the money in anything and yeah, Spotify makes a lot of money putting the entire recorded history of music up. Most of the online streaming services are trying as hard as they can to avoid paying any kind of penny-rate royalty for playing an artist’s music in order to gather a database that they can then exploit, sell and advertise to. We don’t see any of that. We’re just the raw materials in the equation.

Then why don’t you pull your music out of Spotify?

Mould: Sometimes you have to sleep with the devil because that’s how you get your music heard. It’s not like there’s three radio stations and five tactile record stores (in every city). The landscape has changed so much trying to reach your core audience, let alone build a new audience in this day and age. Unfortunately the records become — in the market place — a billboard for other things you can sell — tickets, t-shirts, stuff like that.

So what are we going to hear at Maha?

Mould: I can tell you what the shows have been like: A fair amount of Sugar stuff focusing on Copper Blue. I enjoy playing that record quite a bit. We’re not playing the whole thing again, that’s for sure. We sure enjoy playing a good chunk of Silver Age every night, that’s a pretty easy record to play live. The response to those songs seems to be as strong if not stronger than the Copper Blue stuff. And there’s stuff from the Hüsker Dü era that is fun to play. I haven’t been playing a whole lot of the solo records. It’s not where we’re at as a band right now. The three of us have got a way that we’ve found (to) play well together, so we’re going to stick to that motif right now – the louder, faster pop stuff seems to be our strong suit, so that’s what we’re doing.

Will you ever do Black Sheets of Rain again?

Mould: Funny, we pulled out “Hanging Tree” (from the album) in Cleveland the other night only because I was walking around before the show talking to people, I walked over to the record store, and it seemed like three out of four people came up to me and said (passionately) “Black Sheets of Rain!” And so two thirds of the way through the set I stopped and looked at the crowd and said, “This is sort of a Black Sheets type of crowd isn’t it?” Loud pop, and then I just looked at Jason and Jon and said, ‘Do you guys know “Hanging Tree”?’ Jason knew it, Jon just said “Huh?” So I said, “Let’s just play it.” We hadn’t played it in four years and Jon worked his way through it fine and people loved it. It was just out of nowhere. It was just that vibe. People had talked about it all day. It would have been very selfish of me not to play one of those songs.

You’re playing with the Flaming Lips at Maha, I don’t know if you know anything about those guys.

Mould: We’re good buds from way way back. Wayne (Coyne) and I have known each other since ’86 when we played together in Oklahoma City. And then Matt and Kim and I fucking love The Thermals, we’ve played together before. It’s gonna be really fun. I like Omaha. It’s a great town and good people so it’s gonna be a fun time.

What are you going to do after Maha?

Mould: We have a handful of festivals and I think there’s talk about going to South America in October. I should know more about that in the next several days. Nothing’s confirmed. If we ever get off the road I hope we start to look at the next record, get some more recording done. The autobiography is coming out in soft cover form Oct. 15. We haven’t really fully exploited the See a Little Light documentary (a Mould tribute concert performed at Walt Disney Concert Hall in LA in 2011 and featuring, among others Dave Grohl, Craig Finn and Ryan Adams). We’re trying to figure out a way to get that in front of people again as the holidays come up. Still DJing a fair amount. It seems like I keep looking for time off and I don’t seem to find any.

Seeing as I could be holding up this article to you in an interview in 15 more years, what predictions do you have for 2028. You’ll be 67.

Mould: Probably, if everything still works, it’ll just be more of the same. Like I said, ‘97 ‘98, I was pretty sick of the alt rock and wanted to find my gay identity, which I never bothered to do. Now that alt rock is framed a little more properly at least in my mind, and my gay identity is framed properly in my mind, that sort of wipes all that out to me. I get up every morning and work on music, I try to keep myself in good shape to get on stage, and I take it very seriously, but I have a lot of fun with it. It’s pretty much all I do, so why not keep doing it?

One final question… because our last interview ended with a question about politics and the Monica Lewinski controversy that was brewing at the time, what do you think about Obama and the job he’s doing?

Mould: I think Obama’s done really good. I can’t remember in my lifetime as much obstruction being placed in front of one person as has been placed in front of our current president. It’s pretty fucking un-American what these conservatives are doing to this president. It really is. It’s really sort of a shame. And piece by piece that little empire that they built on greed and divisiveness and skin color is going to go away soon and they’re not going to be left with anything except memories of how they couldn’t stop time and progress and momentum and people just wanting to get on with their lives. They can throw all the roadblocks they want, it’s not going to work.

They’ve made it really really difficult for Obama to get anything done. I think he’s a pretty brilliant president. I think he’s very methodical. I know in the gay community there was a lot of outrage about EDNA and DOMA and gay marriage that he didn’t act soon enough. He acted when the time was right. Everybody wants everything now. He had a country to rebuild, you know? In case nobody looked when the Republicans left town, they pretty much took the silverware with them.

I think he’s a good man, I think he’s an honest man, He’s an incredibly well-educated man. I wish the obstructionists would just get the fuck out of the way so that all of us that would like to make this country a better place for everybody can get back to work. And I think even conservatives are coming around to it. They’re starting to see that they’re really in a mess and they’ve got to start acting like adults and start acting like reasonable people.

Portions of this interview were first published in The Reader Aug. 14, 2013. Copyright © 2013 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Sweet show at Benson’s Sweatshop Gallery tonight. Local punks Worried Mothers headlines a four-band bill that also includes No Thanks, Slut River and Black Panties. $5. Probably starts at 9…

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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.


Live Review: At Age 5, Maha Is All Growed Up (in the column); Klemmensen hits goal, Vovk/Carl go Kickstarter; Beach Boys tonight…

Maha's cup overfloweth. A view at the crowd at this year's festival while the Thermals perform.

Maha’s cup overfloweth: A view of the crowd at this year’s festival while the Thermals perform.

by Tim McMahan,

In this week’s column, a recap of this year’s Maha Music Festival. You can read it in this week’s issue of The Reader or online right here. Or heck, why not just read it below?

Over the Edge: At Age 5, the Maha Music Festival Is All Growed Up

Was this year’s Maha Music Festival a success?

The concert, held last Saturday at Stinson Park in Aksarben Village, drew 5,100 people. If that number seems light — especially compared to your typical CenturyLink Arena concert — consider that you cannot hear any of the bands that performed at Maha on your local FM radio. None. They don’t call it “indie rock” for nothing.

Tre Brashear, one of the festival’s organizers, said Saturday’s 5,100 was a 20 percent increase in attendance compared to the 4,300 there last year to see Garbage and Desaparecidos in the rain.

It was a big crowd. In fact the first thing I noticed after walking through the gates was that Maha had somehow made the park shrink. There wasn’t much green space for the crowds between the massive duo stages, the food vendors on Mercy Street, The Globe performance tent and the Bellevue University Community Campus.

Despite that, Brashear said Maha has yet to outgrow Aksarben Village, at least from a music standpoint. “Stinson is large and can hold more,” he said. “Furthermore, parking still continues to be pretty easy and convenient.”

On the other hand, Maha’s vendor space on Mercy Street has become too constrained. “People want more food options, more vendors,” Brashear said, “but we don’t have any place to put them unless we can figure out a way to put more items on the far side of the park.”

But beyond vendor congestion, if Maha ever bags its dream act — Wilco — organizers will have little choice but to look elsewhere, as the band could easily attract well over the park’s 10,000 capacity.

Enough about logistics. Here’s rundown of the bands I saw after arriving midway through the concert.

Saddle Creek Records’ latest recruits, The Thermals, played the straight-forward power-punk the trio is known for, including a number of songs off their latest album, Desperate Ground. The crowd seemed to like it, though they stood like scarecrows holding their beers and nodding their heads to the unchanging straight-four beat.

While The Thermals sounded good on the massive “Weitz Stage,” local boys Criteria sounded even better on the smaller “Centris Stage.” Don’t ask me why, but that junior-sized set-up sounded fuller (and louder) than its big brother, but maybe the band had something to do with it. Criteria, also a Saddle Creek act, boasts more dynamic songwriting vs. The Thermals’ play-and-repeat, one-gear punk style.

None of that mattered when Bob Mould took the main stage and blew them both away. Grinning throughout the set, Mould rifled through a “greatest hits” selection that included favorites off his Sugar albums, new stuff off his lastest solo record, The Silver Age, and classic Hüsker Dü in the form of “I Apologize” off New Day Rising. Bassist Jason Narducy filled out the vocals when Mould couldn’t, adding tasty harmonies throughout the set.

Mould was the highlight of the day for me and for a lot of others I spoke to including Brashear, who said Maha had been trying to book him since the festival began five years ago. As for those who complained that Mould’s set was “too loud,” the term “pussy” comes to mind. It’s Bob frickin’ Mould, folks. What did you expect?

Which brings us to Digital Leather. A few years ago during a lunch meeting I tried to convince the Maha guys to book the band by playing songs off their album, Blow Machine. When the execs heard stand-out track “Studs in Love,” with lines “I like Wrangler butts / I like hairy asses / I like men” they just shook their heads and said, “Maha’s a family event; we can’t have that.”

Cut to last Saturday and there was Digital Leather on stage singing about hairy asses to a crowd that barely noticed. Why would they? Isn’t rock ‘n’ roll supposed to be controversial and/or risky? What’s risky about hairy asses?

The thought that Maha organizers would be offended by Digital Leather seemed ridiculous after Matt & Kim took the stage. The keyboard-and-drums duo that plays cute, shiney indie pop dance tunes spent most of the time between songs yelling profanities at the audience. Every other word out of drummer Kim Schifino began with an F or MF. I guess they needed something to “rough up” their cutesy veneer and all those colored balloons just wasn’t cutting it.

It took about a dozen grips a half hour to get the set ready for festival closer The Flaming Lips. T-shirted stage hands carried huge chrome-plated globes while electricians carefully draped light strings from massive overhead crossbars. A few minutes before the set, out walked frontman/messiah Wayne Coyne in his shiny electric-blue suit, his graying mane blowing in the summer breeze. Coyne climbed atop the mountain of silver embryos and stood like a hipster Jesus grasping a weird fetus doll in his left hand.

If you came for the spectacle, you got it. The Lips’ amazing light show included a huge digital back-screen that blazed with glowing imagery while pin-lights flowed from above Coyne down the chrome mountain and back to the sky like an LED volcano.

Yes, there was plenty of smoke; yes there was confetti. Too bad there weren’t many hits. Coyne and Co. spent the first 20 minutes droning through depressing tonal music indicative of the band’s most recent album, The Terror. They would close out their set with hit, “Do You Realize?” but by then I was pedaling through Elmwood Park on my way home.

So was Maha a success? Artistically, it was the strongest festival they’ve ever put on. Brashear said it was financially successful as well, thanks to strong sponsorships, heavy donations throughout the year, and best-ever ticket sales.

“We definitely made a profit,” Brashear said. “That profit is going to get rolled into making next year’s Maha ‘better.’ What does that mean? We don’t know just yet. Could mean more expensive talent and/or an additional day. It’s too early to tell.”

Over The Edge is a weekly column by Reader senior contributing writer Tim McMahan focused on culture, society, the media and the arts. Email Tim at

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John Klemmensen met his piddly Kickstarter goal of $500, actually exceeded it by a couple hundred dollars. I am among those who donated enough to get JK to do cover. I’m still mulling my choice  — should I select one of my favorite Buckingham Nicks songs or ask John to breath new life into a song by a local artist? Decisions, decisions…

Meanwhile, Bret Vovk (a.k.a. Under Water Dream Machine) and Nick Carl (a.k.a. Kicky Von Narl) just launched a Kickstarter in support of their upcoming 3-week tour of the American Southwest and West Coast. “All the proceeds gathered will go toward the happenings of a successful tour and production of a brand new split LP, available exclusively (for a time) to their Kickstarter backers,” they say. Get in on the action right here.

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Been kind of quiet show-wise since Maha. Not much happening tonight either, except for the next installment of The Record Club @ the Saddle Creek Shop (located in the Slowdown Compound), this time featuring The Beach Boy’s classic Pet Sounds album. The needle drops at 7 p.m. followed by a critical discussion of the record. As always, the event is free.

Also tonight, singer-songwriter Damon Dotson plays at Slowdown Jr. $5, 9 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 © 2013 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Mousetrap tonight, Maha tomorrow, and everything in between…

Category: Blog — Tags: , — @ 12:47 pm August 16, 2013

by Tim McMahan,

The top priorities on your music-watching list this weekend should be Mousetrap tonight at The Waiting Room and the Maha Music Festival tomorrow at Stinson Park/Aksarben Village.

You read about Mousetrap yesterday. Opening tonight’s show is Ron Wax (Ron Albertson of Mercy Rule) and Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship. $8, 9 p.m. See you there.

Also going on tonight…

Gypsy punks Gogol Bordello plays at The Slowdown with Omaha’s own gypsy punk, Solid Goldberg. This one’s SOLD OUT. Starts at 8.

Team Love hip-hop artist Rig 1 (a.k.a. Desaparecidos’ Ian McElroy) is doing his thing at Benson’s Sweatshop Gallery tonight at 10. Opening is the debut of Routine Escorts, featuring Jon Tvrdik (ex-Back When). $5.

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Tomorrow, of course, is the Maha Music Festival. Save $10 by purchasing your $45 ticket today at The DOS price is $55 (kids under 10 are in fer free).

Here’s the Maha schedule:

Noon   Gates Open
12:05  Centris Stage     Purveyors of the Conscious Sound
12:40  Weitz Stage        Millions of Boys
1:20  Centris Stage        HERS w/ Omaha Girls Rock!
1:55  Weitz Stage           Sons of Fathers
2:45  Centris Stage       Rock Paper Dynamite
3:20  Weitz Stage         Thao and the Get Down Stay Down
4:25  Centris Stage       The Millions
5:00  Weitz Stage        The Thermals
6:05  Centris Stage     Criteria
6:45  Weitz Stage        Bob Mould
7:55  Centris Stage     Digital Leather
8:55  Weitz Stage        Matt & Kim
10:15  Weitz Stage     The Flaming Lips
Midnight  Show Over

More details at Weather looks grand. This should be a good one.

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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.


Interview: Bob Mould Speaks (on age, identity, Spotify, Maha, Obama…); Big Star movie packs ’em in; Talking Mountain, Mammoth Life tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:56 pm August 14, 2013
Bob Mould, center, with Jason Narducy, left, and Jon Wurster. Photo by Peter Ellenby.

Bob Mould, center, with Jason Narducy, left, and Jon Wurster. Photo by Peter Ellenby.

by Tim McMahan,

In this week’s issue of The Reader, my interview with Bob Mould in support of his upcoming performance at Saturday’s Maha Music Festival. I asked Bob about things he said when I interviewed him 15 years ago for The Reader, at a time when he’d just announced he no longer would play “electric” shows because “he couldn’t imagine playing rock music at age 50.” It was quite a scandal at the time.

Mould explained what was going through his head when he made those statements (His hate of alt rock, his struggle with his sexual identity). We also talked about playing rock music at age 52, the current music industry model, Spotify and why he doesn’t pull his music from the service, where his music sits alongside today’s music, if he’ll ever play Black Sheets of Rain again, what he plans on playing at Maha and what’s in store after Maha, and as an extra bonus, Bob’s take on Barack Obama.

It was enough for a 2,700 word story, but I only had space for 800 words in print. BUT, you can read the entire interview transcript by clicking right here and heading to  Go read it now! Then get your ticket for Saturday’s festival at

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Big Star played to a full house last night, even though that performance was merely a reflection on the big screen.

While waiting for Film Streams to open the door to the screening aud, it felt like being at O’Leaver’s on a Saturday night — lots of familiar faces from the Omaha music scene taking advantage of this one-night-only screening of documentary Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me.

And it was quite a film. While always a fan of Big Star, I’ve never researched the band, who’s heyday was back in the early 1970s. The film’s biggest surprise was how much Chris Bell was responsible for the band’s sound on their early records. I guess I always thought it was an Alex Chilton thing, and he definitely was a central figure. Bell’s story provided the film’s tragic undertow, and when they played the single “I Am the Cosmos,” along with the b-side “You and Your Sister,” I discovered where that amazing sound on Number 1 Record really came from.

Anyway, it’s a good flick, and worth checking out on iTunes or Amazon on demand. Hats off to Film Streams for hosting this special night of music and film. Judging by the turn-out, this kind of one-shot music documentary showing could be a hit for them.

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There’s a free show going on tonight at Slowdown Jr. Headlining is San Francisco dream-pop band Mammoth Life. Joining them is Omaha’s own space-rock band Talking Mountain, and 8-bit rockers The Superbytes. The event also is an art show featuring works by CJ Espargo, Anthony Brown, Cassidy Hobbler, The Mock Turtle and Collin Pietz. Get there early and check out the art. The rock starts at 9.

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Tomorrow: Mousetrap.

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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.


Live Review: The Men, Baby Tears, Gordon; Flaming Lips, Bob Mould headline Maha 2013…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , , , — @ 12:57 pm May 1, 2013
The Men at Slowdown Jr., April 27, 2013.

The Men at Slowdown Jr., April 27, 2013.

by Tim McMahan,

Here we are, a few days late. Don’t blame me, blame my work. Someone has to pay the bills, and it ain’t you.

Anyway… It’s been a few days since The Men played at Slowdown Jr., but my memory of the performance is still somewhat vivid. Just prior to their set I chatted with one of the venue’s bartenders who also happens to be an accomplished musician. He hadn’t heard the band before and asked me what I thought. I recapped my SXSW story (posted last Friday) and said I wasn’t sure what we were in for. That the new album had shades of Centro-matic about it. He nodded. He likes Centro-matic.

Well, just like in Austin, the band climbed on stage and proceeded to rip into three hard fast rock songs that were more garage or punk than anything with a twang. This even though one of the band members was now playing keyboards. “(The bartender) must think I’m nuts or an idiot or both,” I thought.

It took about a half hour, but eventually The Men began to slow it down and bring up that keyboard along with the twang in the form of dueling guitars that sounded like something off The Allman Brothers Band’s Eat a Peach album. Here was a band that could effortlessly switch between hyper-rock and something vaguely resembling alt-country while always maintaining their speed, power, grace. It was good stuff that in its own way had an epic flair similar to what Titus Andronicus brings, but with a more refined songwriting style.

Somewhere in the middle of the set, between songs, one of the guys said, “Being New Yorkers, we’re not a sentimental bunch, but this next one is a tribute to someone who died yesterday.” With that, the band tore into its own unique rendition of George Jones’ “White Lightning.” A fitting tribute indeed.

By the time the band got to the end of its set — more than an hour after it began — The Men’s sound had transformed again, this time into something resembling psych-rock, but again without losing their signature power and drive. It was an exhausting set that left (most of) the crowd of around 75 satisfied..

Baby Tears at Slowdown Jr., April 27, 2013.

Baby Tears at Slowdown Jr., April 27, 2013.

If that set sounds long, Baby Tears made up for it with a short set of only four or five blistering, violent noise-rock tunes. The plan called for playing at least one more long number, but the set was marred by a broken kick-drum pedal which blew out after the first song, leaving all of us wanting more.

Gordon at Slowdown Jr., April 27, 2013.

Gordon at Slowdown Jr., April 27, 2013.

Starting things off was a rather straight-forward set by Gordon, at least compared to the last time I saw them play at The Side Door this past January. I have no idea what drove that weird, wonderful performance, but compared to that chaos, the band was downright restrained Saturday night, resting entirely on their songs and musicianship. They are easily the best Omaha band you’ve never heard of, and I’m scratching my head wondering why no one has helped them put out a record. One young label owner asked me if their 5-song demo was online anywhere. It is. In fact, you can download the whole thing right here. Get it.

* * *

While I’ve been away (though I’ve been right here the whole time) the folks at the Maha Music Festival announced their big stage line-up for this year’s extravaganza, which takes place Saturday, Aug. 17 at Stinson Park in Aksarben Village.

The full schedule:

12:05 – OEA Winner
12:40 – Millions of Boys
1:20 – Hers w/Omaha Girls Rock!
1:55 – Sons of Fathers
2:45 – Rock Paper Dynamite
3:20 – Thao and the Get Down Stay Down
4:25 – The Millions
5:00 – The Thermals
6:05 – Criteria
6:45 – Bob Mould
7:55 – Digital Leather
8:55 – Matt & Kim
10:15 – The Flaming Lips
Midnight – Show Over

The reaction from most people I’ve talked to about this line-up has been, “Whoa, Flaming Lips.” Even “civilians” who never go to rock shows are impressed. The Lips’ reputation for putting on over-the-top multi-media parties with confetti cannons and giant balloons is well known even with the stay-home suburban set. Will this be a game-changer for Maha? We’ll have to wait and see.

But as excited as the armchair music fans are about the Lips, the hardcore indie fans are over the moon about Bob Mould.  Then again… I always assumed everyone knew who Mould is, until I ran into a label guy in his 20s this week who didn’t have the foggiest. I told him that Mould was in Sugar. Nothing. “How about Husker Du? Ever heard of them?” He had, but still wasn’t familiar with their music. Fact is, this guy was in diapers when Zen Arcade came out (if he was alive at all).

My young label geek did know who The Thermals are. I didn’t ask him if he’d heard of Matt & Kim (but he probably has, especially since they just played Slowdown last year). Thao and the Get Down Stay Down is a more obscure choice, and even I had never heard of Sons of Fathers until Maha. Based on their iTunes snippets (They don’t have much of an online presence) I’d classify them as alt country or “roots.” We’ll never know the real story about how Maha found these guys (and why the booked them).

So there you have it, the 2013 Maha Music Festival line-up. Will this one be a record-breaker for Maha, the one that finally pushes them out of Stinson Park and into a larger facility (with campgrounds, as is their dream)? And more importantly, who’s going to pick up all that confetti after the show is over?

* * *

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.


Live Review: Poliça, Night Moves; Maha finances in OWH; avoiding bad news (in the column)…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 1:04 pm April 25, 2013
Poliça at The Waiting Room, April 23, 2013.

Poliça at The Waiting Room, April 23, 2013.

by Tim McMahan,

Pixie-ish Channy Leaneagh looked like a young Mia Farrow (back when Farrow was married to Sinatra, circa Rosemary’s Baby) doing a jerky genie ballet, her tiny hands casting quirky spells on the mesmerized crowd, with a voice like a Twin Cities’ version of Bjork of Sinead. Behind her a band that consisted of two drummers and a bass player named Chris Bierden, who carried the burden of melody on his back.

As such, Poliça, who played at The Waiting Room Tuesday night to a medium-sized crowd (125?), relied more on rhythm than melody. Leaneagh also added her own sounds via a small electronics panel that housed synth samples and effects, but it was her voice at the center of it all, a cooing tone at times layered by technology. The set held a gorgeous, sexy vibe, like a deep-night strut laced with shot-gun echo, with Leaneagh leading the way through the pitch-black tunnel, holding your hand.

My only gripe — the delay in her vocals made it impossible to understand what she was singing, which likely wasn’t a problem for those already familiar with Poliça’s songs. I’m only now discovering them, so the set held a bit more mystery.

Night Moves at The Waiting Room, April 23, 2013.

Night Moves at The Waiting Room, April 23, 2013.

Opening act Night Moves had a Beach House thing going on, especially from vocalist John Pelant, but musically it would be hard to confuse the two bands. Beach House’s music is more ethereal compared to Night Moves’ more rooted psych rock sound. The band was at its best when Pelant was given room to lean back on his guitar and open up late verses with floating solos. Laid-back indie at it’s finest.

* * *

Kevin Coffey has a feature in today’s Omaha World-Herald that partially outlines the financial structure of the Maha Music Festival. The only thing missing is the dollar signs, though Kev did get them to cough up that year one cost $250k. The money involved is, indeed, substantial. We’re lucky to have these four talented entrepreneurs willing to take the risk. Watch for the big stage announcement this Sunday night.

* * *

In this week’s column, with all the bad shit going down these days, should we just avoid the news? And who else gets bummed out by NPR? The story is in this week’s issue of The Reader or read it online right here.

* * *

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.


Live Review: Noah’s Ark, Back When; RSD results; Maha announces ‘local stage’; Johnny Marr tonight…

Noah's Ark Was a Spaceship at The Waiting Room, April 20, 2013.

Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship at The Waiting Room, April 20, 2013.

by Tim McMahan,

Every band should play one cover song during their set because the song they choose opens a hidden door into what they’re about. At least that’s the conventional wisdom. In the case of Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship, that wisdom does not necessarily apply.

Halfway through their well-attended (200?) album release show Saturday night at The Waiting Room, the band decided to play “the best song we didn’t write,” and tore into Neil Young’s “Hey, Hey, My My (Into the Black).” Fantastic rendition including blazing between-verse guitar solos by frontman Andrew Gustafson. Great song, but who would have guessed that this is the cover they’d pick? I would have guessed something by Sonic Youth or Dinosaur Jr. or even the Pixies, but an old Freedom Rock chestnut from Rust Never Sleeps? Surprising indeed, and somewhat amazing, as was the rest of their set.

Tell me if I’m wrong (my memory, it fades) but I remember Noah’s being an instrumental-only band when they first came on the scene all those many years ago. Now I can’t imagine them without vocals — lead guitarist/vocalist Gustafson has a fantastic voice — imagine J. Mascis without the croak-groan and you’re kinda getting there. He bends his notes in a similar appealing fashion that pulls everything together for this power trio. If you haven’t checked out You Need You you need to.

Back When at The Waiting Room, April 20, 2013.

Back When at The Waiting Room, April 20, 2013.

I found out weeks ago that the opening slot for Noah’s would be Back When’s last-ever gig, but somehow it slipped my feeble mind. Why they’re hanging it up, I cannot say, though one (well-connected) person in the audience told me that the band felt they’d simply moved on to other things, other projects, other lives.

The irony for me is that Saturday night’s show was really the first time that I “got” what Back When was going for, and it came about three songs before the end, during an epic sonic punch-out where each member was locked into every break, every moment, as if channeling some dark, Gothic metal secret shared only by an elite circle of musicians who can hear the rhythmic language that floats beneath the surface of the chaos. Theirs was a pounding, pummeling sound, experimental on a number of levels as well as cinematic in sheer layered scope (pushed in that direction by recent videos). And of course, it could be very dark indeed. You would never mistake it for pop music.

* * *

The line outside of Homer's yesterday prior to the 10 a.m. opening time. Photo by John Shartrand.

The line outside of Homer’s yesterday prior to the 10 a.m. opening time. Photo by John Shartrand.

Mike Fratt, who runs Homer’s Records, said Saturday’s Record Store Day was one for the record books. “Historic sales for us as well as every other retailer around the country I’ve talked to,” he said. “Loads of fun and exhausting, too. Crowds/customers were awesome, and we are very thankful for their support.”

The nitty-gritty: Homer’s sold 273 of the 313 titles they got in — double-digits sales quantities on 32 titles. “We still have quantity left on about 80 RSD items, 1’s or 2’s,” Fratt said. “We ordered some items in heavy quantities hoping we would have 3 to 6 left so there would be stock through the year, but many of those totally sold out; Mumford, White Stripes, Notorious BIG, etc.”

I didn’t get to the store until Saturday afternoon, but still managed to find the two main things I was looking for: Pulp Vs. Soulwax 12-inch and  Big Star’s Nothing Can Hurt Me. Both releases are remarkable.

* * *

The Maha Music Festival announced its “local stage” last night, and it’s got something for everyone: Criteria will provide another in its series of amazing “occasional” performances, pop band Rock Paper Dynamite, a reunion of Lincoln indie band The Millions, the arresting chamber pop of Hers, and the winner of the OEA talent contest. And the band I guess could be considered the “local stage headliner”: Digital Leather. Yeah, the night could get weird (in a good way) if DL does its usual set closer “Studs in Love.” But something tells me there will be an Ed Sullivan-type dictum thrown out by the Maha organizers to prevent DL from playing their more racier material. Will Shawn Foree pull a Jim Morrison? We’ll have to wait and see.

* * *

Last week I was whining about the lack of touring indie shows. This week, we’re loaded, beginning with tonight’s Johnny Marr show at The Waiting Room. Lots of buzz about this one. Tickets are still available for $25. Opening is Alamar. Show starts at 8.

* * *

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.


New Desaparecidos date; Maha pre-sells out; Thermals release day (Pitchfork rating: 5.0)…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 1:04 pm April 16, 2013

by Tim McMahan,

A couple brief news items…

Yesterday Desaparecidos announced via twitter and on its website that they’ll be joining Pearl Jam, Nine Inch Nails, Alkaline Trio and a bunch of other bands at the Voodoo Arts and Music Festival in New Orleans Nov. 1. Ticket info here.

* * *

If you didn’t get in on the early bird deal to buy Maha Music Festival tickets you’re out of luck. All the discount and bundle packages have already sold out. Man, that was fast. Advance general admission tickets are still available for $45 (It’s $55 DOS).

* * *

The Thermals’ Saddle Creek Records debut, Desperate Ground, dropped today. Pitchfork, that all-knowing know-nothing arbiter of indie music taste posted its review of the record today as well, giving it a 5.0 rating (out of 10) — which is kinda/sorta not good. The review concludes:

Perhaps the pileup of clichés and the numbed production is supposed to give Desperate Ground a meta context, that the endless body count has rendered Harris completely desensitized. But that’s a generous reading for an album that begins and ends with guns-blazin’ mission statements with plenty in between, so it’s more likely Desperate Ground is a failure to respond to the horror rather than an intention to reflect it.

Ouch. By contrast, NME gave the album an 8.0 calling the it in its review “low-fi goodness.” gave the record a 4-out-of-5 star rating (here). While PopMatters also gave it an 8/10 rating.

What the f*** does Pitchfork know?

* * *

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.


Maha tix on sale now; Whipkey’s ‘Penny Park’ Kickstarter beats goal…

Category: Blog — Tags: , — @ 12:48 pm April 15, 2013

by Tim McMahan,

Another “showless” weekend for me. And it looks like it’s going to be a showless week as well. I see nothing indie on any club schedule until Friday. Is it me or are rock shows — especially those featuring touring indie bands — becoming fewer and fewer these days?

* * *

Speaking of rock shows, tickets to this year’s Maha Music Festival went on sale today. Get your early bird $30 GA tickets now and find out later what you’re in for. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

* * *

Matt Whipkey’s Kickstarter campaign for his “Penny Park” double album exceeded its $4,000 goal over the weekend. Impressive. The campaign has nine days to go, so you can still get in on the deal.

* * *

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.


Reception spotty…; Maha announces an announcement; Stir’s summer snores; Ted Stevens tonight; White Lung, DL Tuesday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , — @ 8:17 am April 1, 2013
Ravine at The Junction, April 24, 2000, posted for no apparent reason...

Ravine at The Junction, April 24, 2000, posted for no apparent reason…

by Tim McMahan,

A head’s up that transmissions from Lazy-i Central may be spotty over the next few days as The World Headquarters is moving…but only a few blocks from its current location. Still, access to the World Wide Web could be difficult if not impossible. So here are a few parting shots since I don’t know when I’ll be back online.

Maha Music Festival logoThe Maha Music Festival people yesterday announced that it’s going to announce its line-up April 28 at 8 p.m. I guess they felt they needed to announce the fact that they’re going to make an announcement in the shadow of Stir Cove announcing its season last week. Or maybe they’re just really excited.

The announcement: Tickets to this year’s Maha Music Festival go on sale April 15, nearly two weeks before you’ll know who you’ll be paying to see. The local stage line-up will be announced April 21; the main stage line-up will be announced April 28. What they forgot to mention in their announcement (via Facebook) is that the actual festival is August 17 at Stinson Park.

Stir Concert Cover logoBack to that Stir announcement… You can read their full summer line-up at the Stir website, but for me, the highlights are… fuck, there aren’t any. Of the 14 acts, Cheap Trick is always fun, but I just saw them play Memorial Park a couple years ago. There’s the “Kings of the Mic” tour — a cavalcade of ’90s-era hip-hop acts. I guess Ice Cube could be interesting. And then what? She & Him? They come through here every year. Avett Brothers (the only other indie act).  Zzzzz. The rest is the usual county fair circuit. If you’re Stir, those county fair acts are always a sure bet (get it?) — just think who butters their bread. Put your money on Billy Idol and Alice Cooper, and let it ride…

The other big announcement — Stir shows are now “all ages.” Why weren’t they before?

* * *

Speaking of festivals, who’s going to the Mission Creek Festival in Iowa City? Grizzly Bear, Divine Fits, Deerhoof, Iris Dement, Pujol, No Coast, White Lung, about 20 more. It friggin’ starts tomorrow…

* * *

Speaking of White Lung, they’re playing at Slowdown Jr. Tuesday night with Digital Leather, Video Ranger and Sister Kisser. Show of the Week. $8, 9 p.m.

Yes, I know Cold War Kids is Thursday at The Slowdown.

And I know that Local H is Thursday at The Waiting Room.

But I overlooked the fact that Ted frickin’ Stevens is playing at Pageturners tonight (Monday) with Vic Padios, so maybe that’s the show of the week.

What’s that? PUJOL is this Friday night at O’Leaver’s? Freakin’ PUJOL?

And BTW, Touch People’s Omaha album release show is Saturday at The Waiting Room.

Hmmm… I better rethink this whole “Show of the Week” thing.

BTW, it’s April Fools Day, and all of this is true.

See you when I see you…

* * *

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.