Maha official attendance numbers; new music Tuesday (Black Belt Eagle Scout, Mitch Gettman, Oberst); Pedro the Lion, H.C. McEntire tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:55 pm August 21, 2018

by Tim McMahan,

A few more notes on last weekend’s Maha Music Festival, but first…

I apologize for yesterday’s review, which was rife with tacos — whoops, I meant TYPOS. No excuse except that the 2,700 words were written in one long jag Sunday night, and I don’t have an editor. I fixed what I found. Reread at your leisure. Also check out The Reader‘s coverage of the big show…


Rachel Grace, who is handling Maha’s publicity, reported the following attendance numbers:

Friday: 6,500
Saturday: 7,800

“That makes Saturday among the most well-attended single days to date,” she said. But is it biggest one-day in Maha history? Apparently, no.

Last year’s one-day event came in at just over 8,500 in attendance. I don’t have the numbers, but 2016 (Passion Pit) was a down year. On the other hand 2015 (Modest Was) was officially a “sell out” year, but that only means 6,000 tickets were sold; which doesn’t equate to overall attendance.

I’ve asked Rachel for more data.

That said, 2018 will go down as the most attended Maha Festival ever with 14,300 total attendees over both days. Did their Friday night experiment work? Will it be repeated? We’ll have to wait and see.

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New music Tuesday…

Mitch Gettman, Some Purgatory (2018, bandcamp)

Mitch Gettman has a new album coming out Sept. 15 titled Some Purgatory. The LP is available for pre-order now via Bandcamp and iTunes. The first single, “No One on Your Side,” dropped last week.

I have to assume the album artwork (a shot looking toward downtown Omaha along Dodge St.), combined with the album title, is a comment on our fair city?

BTW, Gettman tells me he moved to Denver a couple months ago with his girlfriend, but he’ll be back for Farnam Fest Sept. 15.

The new track by Conor Oberst, written (or released) in conjunction with the new movie Juliet, Naked, already is in the top-10 of Sirius XMU’s Download 15.

The song, an unreleased demo called “LAX,” is covered by Ethan Hawke in the film (btw, the book, by Nick Hornby, is pretty good; the film looks iffy…).

Of the two version, the Oberst demo blows away Hawke’s rock version, which actually, just blows. You be the judge.

Finally, Black Belt Eagle Scout, the latest signing to Saddle Creek Records, is dropping singles from their upcoming Creek debut, Mother of My Children (which is actually a re-release from tiny Good Cheer Records). The album drops Sept. 14. Black Belt Eagle Scout is the moniker of Portland-based songwriter Katherine Paul.

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Seminal ’00s indie band Pedro the Lion plays tonight at The Waiting Room. It’s been years since the band, headed by singer/songwriter David Bazan, has played together. Expect a more ferocious sound than what you usually get from a Bazan solo set. To get an idea what they’ll be playing, here’s the setlist from Pedro’s Aug. 18 show in Newport, KY. And before you go, read the July 2000 Lazy-i interview with Bazan, just for fun. Merge Records artist H.C. McEntire (front woman of band Mount Moriah) opens at 8 p.m. $20

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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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Live Review: Maha Music Festival year 10: Is bigger better?; Cults, Metric tonight…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , , , , , , — @ 12:45 pm August 20, 2018

ZZ Ward performs during day 1 of the the 2018 Maha Music Festival, Aug. 17, 2018.

by Tim McMahan,

A few things before we get started.

First, the line-up. It was controversial the day it was announced if only because this was the 10-year anniversary of the Maha Music Festival. There’s only a few of us who have been to all 10, who know the dips and turns that this festival has gone through over the past decade. And every one of us has a favorite year. Mine just happens to have been last year when Maha coaxed Belle & Sebastian to their festival stage along with Downtown Boys, New Pornographers and the Faint. Run the Jewels was the usual meh headliner, but at least made a statement that Maha wasn’t going to be be mistaken for a dad rock festival.

The speculation for year 10 ranged from LCD Soundsystem to Courtney Barnett to Arcade Fire to Wilco. Three of those four names had released a relevant new album in the past year. When Weezer was announced as the headliner, an enormous group yawn came over Omaha’s tiny audience of indie music followers. Weezer was never an indie band, doesn’t play indie rock, could even be mistaken as an MTV band thanks to it’s classic “Happy Days” video for “Buddy Holly.”

What indie fans failed to realize is that if Maha is going to pay a quarter-million dollars (or whatever they paid for Weezer) the band better be able to sell a shit-ton of tickets — or at least draw a massive crowd. And Weezer did just that. I don’t know the numbers, but Stinson Park was overflowing last night when Rivers kicked off their set with the “You Wanted to See It” bite from Happy Days.

On the other hand, the crowd was less than massive the prior evening for TV on the Radio, but I’ll get to that.

The second thing to mention before digging into the performances is how well this festival operates — and has operated from day 1. No event has better trained, better prepared volunteers than Maha — all 700 of them. I was greeted with a smile every where I turned, from check-in to buying drink tickets to the eager young lady who explained which container to dump my trash/recyclables. That doesn’t just happen, believe me. Working with an army of volunteers is a difficult, thankless job that’s ignored when it’s done right.

Finally, one of the smartest/best things to happen to Maha was selecting Stinson Park at Aksarben Village as its location. No matter what happens in the future, no matter how big or small the festival becomes, Stinson should remain ground zero for this annual event. Nothing could be more convenient.

Time for a Format Change

All that said, there was one thing that became glaringly obvious after this year’s two-day festival — there’s no reason to start bands before 6 p.m.

Yes, there was only a few hundred on hand to hear Clarence Tilton kick things off at 6 p.m. Friday night, but the crowd just seemed to grow faster by the moment. Whereas Saturday festivities were lightly attended all the way up until Hop Along took the stage. As a result, few saw some of the festival’s best performances — specifically David Nance and U.S. Girls.

Organizers, ask yourselves: If you know no one’s going to be at the park at noon to see these artists, why bother booking them so early? I would have loved to see a 6 p.m. crowd eat up Nance’s set, or for that matter, if an early-evening audience would have tried to dance to U.S. Girls.

I’m sure there’s a good reason for starting at noon. I don’t know what it is.

The perfect Maha Festival would run three days — Thursday, Friday, Saturday — each day starting at 6 p.m. Six bands each on Thursday and Friday, five bands on Saturday. That’s 17 high-quality bands, each getting a decent shot at playing in front of a sizable crowd instead of the usual handful there at noon for reasons we’ll never know. This is the only option if Maha is never going to take the plunge and book one of its headliners very early in the day in an attempt to get the crowd out early.

The later start times also allow festival-goers to avoid most of August’s oppressively hot/humid weather. Why haven’t they done it this way in the past? Does it have to do with better-utilizing vendors and facilities? I would be surprised if they’re covering labor costs before 5 p.m. As for the bands that “get their break” playing the early stage, that’s been a running joke since the festival started — “We played Maha… in front of 18 people at noon.”

Yeah, you might have a smaller crowd at 6 p.m. than at 9 p.m., but it’s going to be bigger than what was there Saturday for The Dilla Kids.

Day 1

Caveat: I wasn’t even planning on attending Friday night’s festival, but when Maha offered me a press pass, I had to go if only to see Clarence Tilton on that ginormous stage. The Omaha-based alt-country five-piece belted out its usual great set of rural-tinged rock that would make Uncle Tupelo proud.

Clarence Tilton performs at the 2018 Maha Music Festival, Aug. 17, 2018.

I’ve seen these guys play the best stages in town all the way down to a neighborhood street party and they never disappoint. The big stage only magnified their talent, though as mentioned, only a hundred or so were there to hear it. No matter. They kicked it up as if the Stinson bowl was filled.

State Disco performs at the 2018 Maha Music Festival, Aug. 17, 2018.

State Disco followed from the smaller “Omne Partners Stage,” but I’ll be damned if that stage didn’t sound louder than the main “Decades Stage.” Unlike what the name implies, State Disco don’t play no disco. Their style sounds derived from 2000s-era Vegas alternative band The Killers with some Muse and Strokes thrown in for good measure.

I walked up to the stage to get the photos and turned around to see about a dozen girls standing in a line, grooving. Cute. In the words of a seasoned musician who I bumped into: these dudes are professional, and you can tell they’re dying to get heard on the radio.

Hurrah for the Riff Raff performs at the 2018 Maha Music Festival, Aug. 17, 2018.

Half of the multitude of people I spoke to Friday night were there to see Hurray for the Riff Raff, hence (I assume) the reason they were on the big stage. Front woman Alynda Segarra is hard to take your eyes off of. She certainly commands the stage, though the band’s brand of rootsy rock failed to capture my attention, and after a few songs I was off to check out the Rabble Mill mini-ramp on the other end of the park.

Benjamin Booker performs at the 2018 Maha Music Festival, Aug. 17, 2018.

I got back in time to watch New Orleans blues-rocker Benjamin Booker on the side stage. He and his band played a blue-stomp rock in the Black Keys vein but with more variety (which isn’t saying much). Booker’s stuff comes out on ATO, the same label as Alabama Shakes, Drive-By Truckers and Hurray for the Riff Raff (I assume it was a package deal). Seems like blues-rock replaced alt-country as an indie outlier genre. We can thank Black Keys for that.

As middle-of-the-road as those two ATO acts were, they were light-years ahead of blues rock act ZZ Ward. For the half-dozen of you who asked how Dusty and Billy sounded, the “ZZ” stands for Zsuzsanna, as in Zsuzsanna Eva Ward. I would have preferred Dusty and Billy.

The music kinda sorta reminded me of Shania Twain hick-country; I halfway expected Ward to rip into “Man, I Feel Like a Woman.” It was at this point that I was thinking these last three bands would have been a great fit for the ol’ Playing with Fire concert series. Maybe that’s the crowd Maha was after.

Needless to say, Ward was an odd choice to precede early-2000s indie rock icons TV on the Radio, the band the other half of the crowd was there to see. By now Stinson was crowded, though the bowl was only half filled; the power lines leading to the side stage that cuts the park in half acted as a pseudo barrier. It was crush full on the other side of that line and pretty far back. The Maha folks had to be pleased.

TV on the Radio performs at the 2018 Maha Music Festival, Aug. 17, 2018.

What can I say about TV on the Radio’s set? I’ve never been a fan, and don’t know much beyond 2008’s Dear Science, which stands as a landmark album from that era. I recognized “Golden Age” from that album, but few others. They sounded strong and tight, as if they released that album last year. I didn’t hang around for the full set, though I’m told they played “Staring at the Sun” for an encore.

Day 2

The Dilla Kids had the inauspicious honor of opening Day 2 at 12:30 to what appeared to be about 50 people. The ensemble totaled 11 on the big stage including a graffiti artist who would hang out through a good part of the afternoon.

The Dilla Kids kicked off Day 2 of the 2018 Maha Music Festival, Aug. 18, 2018.

I’ve never seen these folks before and was very impressed with the band — every aspect but especially the rhythm section. Top-notch beats that would not stop. Fronting them were MCs Marcey Yates and Xoboi, who were all about getting the party started at lunch time, rapping about “Wings and Thighs.”

Did I mention it was humid as hell? Just as miserable as you’d expect in mid-August.

David Nance Band performs at the 2018 Maha Music Festival, Aug. 18, 2018.

David Nance Band got the day going on the side stage. Playing as a four-piece with guitarist Jim Schroeder, bassist Noah Sterba and drummer Kevin Donahue, they ripped into a guitar-fueled set of songs, many I assume from the band’s upcoming Trouble in Mind debut due Oct. 5.

Among my faves was a song presumably called “Kingdom of Shit” and the roarin’ first single, “Poison.” Nance and Schroeder played off each other throughout, challenging themselves to a feedback contest. The new stuff has a Neil Young / Crazy Horse vibe, with jams you’d love to have gone on for 20 minutes or more. He ended the set with a dirge, which is a no-no for any festival (He would have killed them if he’d closed with “Negative Boogie”).

U.S. Girls perform at the 2018 Maha Music Festival, Aug. 18, 2018.

Then came U.S. Girls. I was expecting something more electronic and dance-beat fueled like on their new album, In a Poem Unlimited. Instead, the band ripped into heavy guitar rock that morphed into dance-beat fabulousness spurred on by front woman Meghan Remy’s inviting coo.

The sound was slow, heavy and erotic, Remy out front and inviting, imploring the crowd of around 300 to dance instead of just standing there staring like lumps. The lead guitarist, dressed head-to-toe in red, looked like an extra from an episode of Starsky and Hutch but was friggin’ amazing. This was not your typical Maha moment, it was something completely different, and I don’t think the audience knew what to make of it. A highlight.

Next up was Mesonjixx at 3 p.m. In all years past, there have been some holes in my coverage of the Maha Music Festival, and this year would be no exception. One looks at the schedule and picks the spots when they’re going to go home to recover from the heat, or, in my case, go home and let the dogs out. This was my chance.

As a result, I missed Mesonjixx, who I’d seen just a few weeks ago at Slowdown, as well as Hop Along (who I intended to catch at O’Leaver’s Sunday night, but failed) and Ravyn Lenae.

Tune-Yards perform at the 2018 Maha Music Festival, Aug. 18, 2018.

I returned at 6:30 for Tune-Yards and am happy I did. This was my favorite set of the festival. Tune-Yards play as a trio fronted by super-talented Merrill Garbus standing on a platform with a battery of pedals at her command used to trigger a myriad of loops and samples. With bass player Nate Brenner on one side and a drummer on the other, she crushed a large-ish crowd with thick beat, high-rhythm art-rock songs as experimental and interesting as Eno-era anybody.

The band is enjoying some notoriety thanks to scoring the break-out film Sorry to Bother You, but Tune-Yards already were well-known with the indie set, having plenty of airplay on national streaming indie stations and Sirius XMU. Her song “Gangsta” somehow gets sneaked into every cable program, and single “Water Fountain” has been used in a number of commercials.

The rhythms were pounding, and god help me, some people were actually dancing.

The Kills perform at the 2018 Maha Music Festival, Aug. 18, 2018.

It was a hard act to follow but The Kills did the best they could from the side stage. A band this big, I was surprised to see them relegated to the small side, but it didn’t tamp down their energy.

As you’d expect from a festival, the fans got a greatest hits set that included “List of Demands (Reparations),” which is the only Kills song I can pick in a line-up.

(Festival sets are kind of like listening to a band’s Greatest Hits album. Everything is out of context and placed in an unfamiliar order and as a result, looses a bit of whatever it was that made the music stick in the first place.)

Father John Misty performs at the 2018 Maha Music Festival, Aug. 18, 2018.

By the time Father John Misty started at 9 the audience had arrived. The whole park was filled and the bowl was a crush mob. The Omaha World-Herald reported the attendance was “almost 8,000” (by comparison, the 2015 Maha with Modest Mouse was officially sold out, whatever that means, so which had a bigger audience?). Let me put it this way: It was a shit-ton of people.

I expected a sleepy set from FJM a.k.a. Josh Tillman and got anything but. He came out dressed to the nines and ripped though a greatest hits set of his own backed by an incredible band. I never realized how many good songs FJM has, from “Nancy From Now On” to “Real Love Baby” to the current hit, “Mr. Tillman.”

His stage shtick is looking debonair and reserving his smooth dance moves for just the right moments. He has one of those voices that is unmistakable and bound to be a touchstone to this era, at times reminding me of Elton John.

I expected some snappy patter but he only got in one zinger from stage, paraphrasing, “I want to dedicate this song to all the sad-looking Weezer fans up front. Hang in there, guys. It’s almost over.”

From there he kicked into a wicked version of “Pure Comedy,” a song whose message I’m sure went well over their heads. He closed with “I Love You, Honeybear” — the set seemed to fly by.

Weezer performs at the 2018 Maha Music Festival, Aug. 18, 2018.

Then came Weezer. I only stuck around for the first four or five songs. Weezer sounded great. Just like Weezer. And the crowd loved it.

Which brings us back to the line-up. Look, I don’t know where Maha hopes to go from here. It’s hard to imagine them bringing in a more commercial band than Weezer and still maintain some sort of indie-rock connection. You could say they stepped away from that years ago, or were never really concerned about it (Let’s face it, Garbage is hardly a cutting-edge indie band).

Maha will never have my dream line-up because my dream line-up would probably sell a total of 300 tickets. That’s not what it’s about. Maha is about bringing community together around music. You can’t do that without having a radio-friendly legacy act at the top of the bill. And if you can slip in a U.S. Girls or Tune-Yards or David Nance along the way, well then, you’ve succeeded. And they have. Here’s to the next 10 years…

* * *

NYC band Cults headlines tonight at The Waiting Room. In addition to Columbia, the band’s music is released on Lilly Allen’s In the Name Of label. Dreamy synth rock in the vein of early M83. The Shacks (Big Crown Records) opens at 8 p.m. %15.

Also tonight Metric opens for Smashing Pumpkins at CenturyLink Center. 7 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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


It’s Maha Festival weekend: Clarence Tilton, TV on the Radio tonight; David Nance, U.S. Girls, Hop Along, Tune-Yards, Father John Misty Saturday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 1:00 pm August 17, 2018

U.S. Girls is among the highlights of tomorrow’s Maha Music Festival, which kicks off tonight at Stinson Park.

by Tim McMahan,

Ah, Maha. The festival gods must be looking down kindly on this one as the weather is looking perfect and from all indications, this is gonna be big event.

Everyone is asking about ticket sales. The fact that Maha hasn’t sold out of VIP tickets yet (and everywhere you look someone is giving away passes) may be an indication of sales sluggishness, but the fact is Maha and other festivals do a lot of walk-up sales, and with this weather, I have no doubt that’ll be the case.

Tonight’s first-ever Friday showcase has a ringer with TV on the Radio headlining at 10:30. I have to admit TOTR is a band that went right by me when they first hit the scene in the early 2000s. That said, there’s a ton of buzz about this set.

Tonight will mostly be a night of discovery for me. I’ve had zero (known) exposure to ZZ Ward, Benjamin Booker and Hurray for the Riff Raff. And to be honest, the band we’re most excited to see is opener Clarence Tilton at 6 p.m.

GA tickets for tonight are $45; VIP tix are $110.

Them comes the really big show tomorrow.

Like Omaha World-Herald’s Kevin Coffey, I also have five acts that I’ve deemed “must-see”:

David Nance Band at Reverb Lounge, Nov. 15, 2016.

David Nance Band — With a new album coming out in October on Chicago’s Trouble in Mind Records and on the verger of a massive Eastern U.S. Tour, Nance is one of those acts that any festival would love to have — and he’s grouped in with Maha’s “local acts.” Nance and Co. are headed to this year’s Gonerfest in Memphis next month. Their music is a rough-shod style of psych-rock direct from the garage rife with amazing guitar work and Nance’s Jon Spencer-like bark. If you haven’t seen him, here’s your chance. He comes on after The Dilla Kids at 1:15.

U.S. Girls — The Philly band fronted by Meghan Remy has had records released by Siltbreeze, FatCat and their cuurent label, 4AD. Their latest, In a Poem Unlimited, is loaded with pop songs, like the infectious “Rosebud” that Madonna would kill for. They can be dancey, they can be spacey, but it’s Remy in the middle with her sweet coo. This one starts at 2 p.m.

Hop Along at Slowdown Jr., June 4, 2015.

Hop Along — The new-era Saddle Creek Records act is no stranger to Omaha. Frances Quinlan has a guttural, scratchy, feral-cat growl of a voice on tuneful indie songs that have become Sirius XMU staples. The band’s latest album, Bark Your Head Off, Dog (2018, Saddle Creek) is a personal favorite, having just acquired a new puppy of my own that enjoys barking way too much (in fact, she’s barking as I type this, dammit).

Hop Along goes on at 4:15. BTW, rumor has it that Hop Along is the “secret show” at O’Leaver’s Sunday night. No one has confirmed or denied that rumor…

Tune-Yards — They’ve gained new notoriety for having been included in the soundtrack to 2018 break-out dark-comedy Sorry to Bother You. I know them from their 2011 4AD Records debut release Whokill, and its tasty single “Gangsta.” They used to be the duo of Merrill Garbus and Nate Brenner. I’m assuming they’ve grown since I saw them play at SXSW in 2009. Interesting, weird, arty act. On stage at 6:30.

Father John Misty — This could be a real wild-card. Misty, who’s no mystery to Omaha fans having played here before, can either put on a blow-your-head-off set filled with laff-riot between-song patter or he could be BAF, depending on his mood. Let’s hope he’s the former. I know a lot of people who bought tickets to Maha for this performance alone. 9 p.m. start time.

Then there’s Weezer, who didn’t make my list because, well, I’m not a huge Weezer fan. They lost me after Pinkerton, which came out something like 22 years ago. That said, the crowd will crest for their set.

If ticket sales are slim this year it’ll be because your typical Weezer fan not only doesn’t know the who the openers are, but doesn’t care. They’re looking at this as a $70 Weezer concert, which may be a tad steep. Actually, if they walk-up tomorrow, they’ll be paying $80. That’s lot of cash to see a band play a Toto cover.

Maha Festival headliners have never been the draw for me. My all-time favorite Maha moment came from an afternoon set by Belle & Sebastian. I typically catch the first couple songs by the headliner than head out. We’ll see what happens this year.

Here’s the full line-up w/times:

The Friday night gig:

6 p.m. – Clarence Tilton
6:30 – State Disco
7:20 – Hurray for the Riff Raff
8:15 – Benjamin Booker
9:10 – ZZ Ward
10:30 – TV on the Radio

The Saturday schedule:

12:30 p.m. – The Dilla Kids
1:15 – David Nance Band
2 – U.S. Girls
3 – Mesonjixx + Omaha Girls Rock
4:15 – Hop Along
5:30 – Ravyn Lenae
6:30 – Tune-Yards
7:45 – The Kills
9 – Father John Misty
10:30 – Weezer

More info at See you there.

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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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Maha Music Festival schedule announced; Dereck Higgins, Todd Grant tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 1:31 pm July 19, 2018

by Tim McMahan,

The folks at the Maha Music Festival today announced the schedule for its Aug. 17-18 Festival at Stinson Park in Aksarben Village.

The Friday night gig — a first for Maha, which will be celebrating its 10-year anniversary — is the softer (and cheaper — $35 GA) of the two nights, and starts at 6 p.m.

6 p.m. – Clarence Tilton
6:30 – State Disco
7:20 – Hurray for the Riff Raff
8:15 – Benjamin Booker
9:10 – ZZ Ward
10:30 – TV on the Radio

The Saturday schedule is stacked, and starts at 12:30 p.m. and costs $70 for GA tix.

12:30 p.m. – The Dilla Kids
1:15 – David Nance Band
2 – U.S. Girls
3 – Mesonjixx + Omaha Girls Rock
4:15 – Hop Along
5:30 – Ravyn Lenae
6:30 – Tune-Yards
7:45 – The Kills
9 – Father John Misty
10:30 – Weezer

You can buy a two-day festival pass for $95 and save $10. Prices go up by about $10 per ticket DOS. If you buy your pass by midnight Friday you’ll be entered into a drawing for a free VIP upgrade (we’re talking free pizza and air conditioned potties — what more could you ask for?).

* * *

Dereck Higgins’ monthly residency continues tonight at The Down Under Lounge. Higgins will be playing songs from his just-released album The World Is Burning. Joining him is singer/songwriter Todd Grant, formerly of the band Compost.

For some background on Grant, here’s a 2005 interview/feature/column about the man behind the 1994 album Strangled Soul. Needless to say, a lot has happened to Grant since that column was published.

The show starts at 9:30 p.m., and is free.

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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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


O’Leaver’s launches beer garden series, buys Winchester Bar & Grill…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 12:48 pm May 16, 2018

The fabulous Winchester Bar & Grill is now owned by the same folks who own fabulous O’Leaver’s.

by Tim McMahan,

There’s no better place to enjoy great weather than your own back yard… or a beer garden. The folks at fabulous O’Leaver’s know this, so a couple years ago they built a giant beer garden behind their building. This hidden Narnia is one of the Omaha music scene’s best kept secrets (that’s not really secret).

Anyway, O’Leaver’s just announced a new “Summer Happy Hour Live Music Series” that takes place out in the beer garden one Thursday per month. The schedule:

May 17 — Bazile Mills
June 21 — Clarence Tilton
July 19 — Electroliners
Aug. 16 — RAF
Sept. 20 — Clarence Tilton
Oct. 11 — Shithook

These 6 p.m. gigs are $5, and what’s interesting is they haven’t limited the bands to quiet acoustic combos. RAF is a violent, raucous punk band. What will the neighbors say? Well, it’s so early in the evening I can’t imagine they’ll say anything.

Noise issues are the only reason I can fathom why more Omaha beer gardens don’t host outdoor gigs. Benson’s 1912, for example, has a massive beer garden on its roof perfect for a weekly local gig. The just opened Bärchen, also in Benson, has a great beer garden behind its building.

Speaking of O’Leaver’s, the club’s ownership group has expanded its holdings with the purchase of Winchester Bar & Grill at 7002 Q St., right across the street from Fun Plex. In addition to their attempt at cornering the market on volleyball (Winchester has five nets), there’s also pool, darts and karaoke.

Winchester’s motto: “A Legend of Good Times and Food Since 1975,” which is probably the last time I was there. Actually, I remember Winchester’s as part of the ’80s club scene that stretched along 72nd street (Who remembers Jodhpurs, Brandywines, The Crazy Horse and The Ranch Bowl — meat market bars that featured cover bands? Toss Arthur’s in there for good measure since it was right up the street).

I’m told the new owners haven’t had a chance to make any changes but “anything is possible there” including live rock shows, maybe in line with what we’ve seen at O’Leaver’s. Maybe they’ll play off the name and focus on a C&W theme, or Americana? Time will tell. I intend to drop by this weekend before or after the races at Horseman’s Park.

* * *

Monday’s item about Maha charging volunteers a $35 deposit caught the attention of the Maha folks.

They said the grizzled Maha veteran volunteer who complained to me literally didn’t get the memo, as veteran volunteers were offered an early-bird opportunity in April to volunteer and waive the $35 fee. Any other veteran volunteers who didn’t get the memo should get in touch with Maha at

Maha also reiterated that volunteers are what keep the festival a well-oiled machine, which is something anyone who’s gone to a Maha Festival already knows.

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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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Surprised by the Maha Festival schedule? Single-day tix on sale; volunteers charged $35 deposit…

Category: Blog — Tags: , — @ 12:40 pm May 14, 2018

by Tim McMahan,

Was anyone surprised by the Maha Music Festival lineup announcement last week? Pairing Weezer and Father John Misty makes perfect sense considering Maha is charging $70 for Saturday and $35 for Friday. In some ways, the line-up announcement changed the complexion of the festival, for me anyway. Saturday looks very solid:

Father John Misty
The Kills
Rayvn Lanae
Hop Along
U.S. Girls
David Nance
The Dilla Kids

They’ve grouped everyone I wanted to see on Saturday; and while I’m not a big Weezer fan (especially of their output the past decade) I generally skip the headliner anyway. For a few people I’ve spoken to, FJM is their headliner, and they were hoping he was playing Friday night (so they could save some cash, I suppose). But it would make no sense to put two headliners on the Friday half-day show. FJM makes Saturday more than just a Weezer concert with a string of opening bands (though for some Weezer fans, that’s all it is).

As it stands, unless you’re a TV on the Radio fan (and I’m not), Friday night’s line-up, which starts at 5:30, is a bit of a snooze:

TV on the Radio
ZZ Ward
Benjamin Booker
Hurray for the Riff Raff
State Disco
Clarence Tilton

If you buy the two-day pass, you’re getting Friday for just $25 more ($95) — worth it for TVotR fans (and for Hurray for the Riff Raff, whose 2017 concept album The Passenger (ATO Records) was a critical smash in a bluesy Big Thief sort of way). TVotR currently is only scheduled to play three other dates this year, including a Red Rocks show Aug. 15 with Father John Misty (which is why some thought FJM would be playing with them Friday night).

Something else new this year: Maha volunteers are being asked to submit their credit card info and will be charged a $35 deposit “which helps make sure everyone comes to their shift and your fellow volunteers aren’t left hanging.” I’ve already heard a complaint about this from a long-time Maha volunteer who says she’s never screwed Maha so why are she being charged? What about loyalty? Etc.

And this new policy would seem to exclude anyone who doesn’t have a credit card, but how many 19-year-olds (the minimum age for most volunteer slots) don’t have a credit card these days?

By the way, Des Moines’ 80/35 Festival requires volunteers to authorize an $85 charge on their credit cards.

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Did anyone else notice that The Decemberists have been booked to play The Holland Oct. 1?

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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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


New M34N STR33T; new MaxTrax site; Maha announcement day; album review: Yo La Tengo…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:40 pm April 4, 2018

M34N STR33T’s Don Quixote’s Lance album/audio book hits the streets April 13 and 14.

by Tim McMahan,

More new music news:

M34N STR33T is releasing their second album, titled Don Quixote’s Lance, April 13 via streaming services and April 14 at Omaha Zine Fest. Why at zine fest? Because the 14-track album, which consists of recordings from 2013 to 2018, includes a limited-edition 34-page illustrated book from Oddities Prints. There are only 100 copies available and it could sell out at zine fest, but some might be available in record stores on Record Store Day.

This news comes via Adam Robert Haug, who adds, “We plan to book live performances again later this spring, and have even newer music on deck.” Omaha Zine Fest is April 14 at the Union for Contemporary Artists, 2423 No. 24th St. More info here.

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Max Trax Records launched a new website at (duh), where you can pre-order Little Brazil’s new LP, Send the Wolves, on ginchy blue vinyl. Album comes out June 1. Check it out.

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The folks at the Maha Music Festival yesterday said they’ll be announcing this year’s line-up Tuesday, April 17, at 7 p.m. That’s also when early-bird tickets go on sale. Maha has expanded the festival to two days on this their 10th anniversary year, Aug. 17 and 18.

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The April issue of The Reader is out, though I haven’t seen it on the stands yet. This month’s Over the Edge column is a Q1 2018 music recap with 12 short album reviews — or more accurately, notes about new releases I’ve been listening to. You can read them all online right here. But I’ll be posting a different review from the column every day for the next few weeks, starting today.

Yo La Tengo, There’s a Riot Going On (2018, Matador)

Yo La Tengo, There’s a Riot Going On (Matador) — I assume the title was supposed to be ironic? I’ve been listening to Yo La Tengo since the ’90s, and while every album has a few sleepy tracks, there’s also always a handful of Velvet Underground-style rockers. Not so much this time. With the exception of the grinding “Out of the Pool” and the bouncy “For You Too,” this was the most yawn-inducing YLT album ever, like listening to breezy airport music — warm, pleasant and easy to ignore.

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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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.