Live Review: Criteria; Mere Shadows, Stigmata Martyr; the week ahead…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 2:29 pm November 29, 2021
Criteria at The Waiting Room, Nov. 27, 2021.

by Tim McMahan,

It was a comfortable crowd at Saturday night’s Criteria “holiday” show. I was expecting a sell out crush when I arrived at 10 right in time for their set, but was surprised at the draw, which was probably around 200, maybe half-full. 

On stage, the ageless Stephen Pedersen and his crew belted through the usual set of favorites from the band’s Saddle Creek years and beyond, with the same vigor as when I saw them two years ago at the same club — or for that matter, 10 years ago at that same club. Pedersen, a consummate showman, continues to hit those epic high notes, but will only find them harder to climb as time marches on, unless he’s afflicted with the same age-defying genetics as world’s sexiest man Paul Rudd… a possibility, though I’m no scientist. 

It is these show that keep our scene alive, like a continuous thread that runs through the years. For the most part, the faces in the crowd remain the same, though they’re a bit more haggard. A few new, younger ones were also mixed in, no doubt the progeny of those who came before. I almost missed this show myself, having received a Moderna booster earlier in the day and only just beginning to feel its effects that night. I’m happy I made it.

Mere Shadows at Reverb Lounge, Nov. 24, 2021.

It was a long holiday weekend that began with seeing Mere Shadows and Stigmata Martyr at Reverb Lounge Wednesday night. Mere Shadows provided surprisingly awesome grinding punk rock played with a speed and intensity perfect for breakneck, angry late-night driving on Dodge Street. Big quick riffs and tight rhythms were the fuel. My only critique involves the lack of variety — either change it up or keep the sets short.

Stigmata Martyr was a four-piece Bauhaus tribute band anchored by Randy Cotton and Mike Saklar, former members of ’90s legendary Omaha punk bands Ravine and Ritual Device, and always a pleasure to see and hear live. In the Peter Murphy role was Benn Sieff of Bennie and the Gents fame sounding spot on — you could do no better. But in truth I was there to see the Cotton/Saklar combo, as I’ve never been a big Bauhaus fan. I stuck around for the obvious climax, which was, of course, their rendition of “Bela Lugosi’s Dead.” Very nice.

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So, if you didn’t get out this weekend to see some live stuff, you may be out of luck. A quick glance at the 1% and Slowdown calendars shows the weeks ahead are rather lacking. In fact, I don’t see anything of interest indie-wise until See Through Dresses returns to Reverb Dec. 19.

Ah, but little bird tells me December could see the return of something we’ve all been waiting for. Stay tuned…

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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 © 2021 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Clarence Tilton, Pony Creek outdoors tonight; Mere Shadows, Las Cruxes, Dead Letters (ex-Protoculture) at Reverb Saturday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — @ 1:00 pm September 18, 2020
Mere Shadows plays Saturday night at Reverb Lounge.

It’s been about six months since I wrote a weekend shows preview; it seems like six years. There are two actual live indie shows happening — one tonight and another tomorrow, each showcasing a venue that’s making its way through COVID-19.

Tonight is the premiere of The Slowdown’s outdoor concert series I mentioned in yesterday’s blog. It’s a joint effort with the folks from the Maha Festival and is being held in the parking lot behind the Slowdown. Indie country rock/alt-country band Clarence Tilton headlines. Pony Creek opens the hootenanny with an early start time of 6:30. $15. Don’t forget your mask. Read all the COVID rules for entry right here at the Slowdown website.

The Slowdown fall outdoor concert series continues Saturday afternoon with Rhythm Collective, Ro Hempel Band and Dereck Higgins. $15.

Tomorrow night (Saturday) I’m planning my return to Reverb Lounge for the first time since COVID to see the new, improved bar/venue. They’ve blown out the walls of the old music performance space to make Reverb one large open music venue/bar.

The remodeled club has been operating since the end of last month, but tonight is the first indie show they’ve booked since their return. Headlining is Mere Shadows, a post-punk 4-piece framed by the twin guitar attack of John Kestner and guitarist/vocalist Michael Johnson.

In the center slot tomorrow night at Reverb is Las Cruxes, the Spanish-language punk outfit that’s releasing a new full-length on cassette tape from CINTAS in Mexico and digitally from Afonico/Sony U.S. Latin in the states.

Get to Reverb early Saturday night (show starts at 9) for the stage debut of Dead Letters, a new project from Koly Walter (Well-Aimed Arrows, The Protoculture) with Brian Byrd (Well-Aimed Arrows) and Mark Johnson (Places We Slept). Koly is always entertaining and full of surprises.

You get all three bands for $7. Due to COVID, all shows at Reverb are seated and the club will only be at 25% normal capacity, which means you may want to get your ticket in advance. Of course masks are required everywhere except when seated at your table.

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 (if there’s news) 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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.