Live Review: Leafblower, Millions of Boys; Sad13, Closeness, Flowers Forever, Filter Kings, Wagon Blasters, Gogol Bordello tonight; Silversphere Saturday…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 1:35 pm November 25, 2016
Leafblower at O'Leaver's Nov. 23, 2016.

Leafblower at O’Leaver’s Nov. 23, 2016.

by Tim McMahan,

Leafblower is trying to bring back heavy metal as we know it, or as I knew it. The four-piece, that consists of members of Danny Maxwell’s New Lungs, is a true band project, driven as much by Craig Fort and drummer Tab Tworek as guitarist John Svatos and DMax. The crew played to a nicely packed crowd at O’Leaver’s Wednesday night, donning matching sleeveless jumpsuits with the band’s logo on the back — a screen print of their mannequin mascot, Tim, created by artist/musician Pat Oakes. That mannequin would play a central role later in the set.

While New Lungs is a heavy indie band, Leafblower is a rock band that borders on metal, with stoner overtones. Their music sounds like upbeat Black Sabbath combined with ’90s Seattle, but with better dynamics, great drops and twisted guitar solos. The closest regional comparisons (to me) are ’90s acts Cactus Nerve Thang and Ritual Device. Vocals, mostly by DMax, are of the bellow/yell variety, with Fort adding his own howl. I couldn’t tell you what they were yelling about, but they sounded like they meant it.

In addition to a knack for throbbing, head-shaking riffs, what makes these guys stand out is Svatos’ weird guitar solos and effects treatments and fast-strum riffage that counters what Dmax is doing on his ax and Fort’s own bass maneuvers that often telegraphed where the melody was headed. There were moments when all three followed the same flight plan with layered metal harmonies while Tworek pushed everything forward on his kit.

Halfway through the set, someone queued the fog machine, which consisted of smoke barreling out of mannequin Tim’s leaf blower. Before the song ended you couldn’t see anyone on stage through the smokey haze.

This was only their fourth show, and I have no idea if they’re recording any of this stuff, though I definitely would like to hear it cranked up downstairs on my Boston Acoustics. Watch for these guys.

Opening was the return of Millions of Boys, after a year or so hiatus. The trio cranked out their unique brand of ’90s-influenced post punk (bordering on pop-punk). It’s great to see Sara Bertuldo keep this one going what with everything that’s happening with her other band, See Through Dresses. For me MofBs is the funner of her two projects, with Alex Van Beaumont sharing the vocals (not sure who has the higher voice) and Ryan Haas crushing the kit.

The set was mostly new material, and word on the street is that the band is working on a followup to their debut, Competing For Your Love (2012, Golden Sound), that could be out later this year. Stay tuned.

* * *

Tonight is the busiest night of the holiday weekend with multiple hot shows happening.

Perhaps the hottest is Sad13 at Milk Run with Mannequin Pussy and Vagabon. Sad13, as you know by now, is Sadie Dupuis of Speedy Ortiz, whose new album, Slugger (2016, Carpark) has been getting raves. You’d think this show would have been better suited at a much larger venue, considering Speedy Ortiz has played Maha in the past. But Dupuis has always played house shows (which Milk Run, with its all-ages policy, resembles) including past gigs at West Wing. With a capacity well below 100, you’d think tonight’s show would have sold out a long time ago. Tickets are $10, show starts at 9. And before you go, read my 10 Questions article with Sadie, that went online earlier this week.

Maybe the reason Sad13 isn’t sold out is because of the blowout at Reverb tonight — Flowers Forever headlines with Closeness and InDreama. Flowers recently played a return set at O’Leaver’s that was knock-out, while Closeness (Todd & Orenda Fink’s new joint) is one of the best new arrivals of 2016. InDreama — a project featuring Icky Blossoms’ guitarist Nik Fackler— only plays once or twice a year. Great line-up! 9 p.m. $8.

Also tonight, another hot ticket as The Filter Kings plays at Brothers Lounge with the unstoppable Wagon Blasters. $5, 9 p.m.

Meanwhile downtown, the crazy circus antics of Gogol Bordello returns to The Slowdown tonight. DJ Der Blaster opens. $30, 9 p.m.

And over at The Waiting Satchel Grande brings the party with All Young Girls Are Machine Guns. $8, 9 p.m.

That’s a lot of choices. On the other hand, there’s not much happening on Saturday night. In fact, the only show on my radar is Silversphere (ex-The Lepers) at O’Leaver’s with Hussies and Chalant. $5, 9 p.m.

That’s all I got for the weekend. If I missed your show, put it in the comments section.

Hopefully you’re hitting the records stores today for Black Friday vinyl specials. Seems like this year’s RSD/Black Friday sale has been low-key – I’ve heard almost nothing about it. Fewer crowds means more for you to buy!

Have a great weekend.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2016 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Millions of Boys, Leafblower (New Lungians), Montee Men, Clarence Tilton, Brad Hoshaw tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 1:57 pm November 23, 2016

by Tim McMahan,

Wednesday night before Thanksgiving has got to be one of the biggest bar days of the year. Everyone goes out because they have the next day off to recover. Or at least most of us do.

The place to be tonight is fabulous O’Leaver’s where the stellar lineup includes the long awaited return of Millions of Boys. In the second slot is Leaflower, the new project by New Lungs’ members Craig Fort, Danny Maxwell and Tab Tworek with John Svatos of Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship. Yuge! And headliners, the mega-power trio Montee Men. $5, 9 p.m.

Also tonight, everyone’s favorite local shit-kickin’ alt-country band Clarence Tilton is playing at the Harney Street Tavern, 1215 Harney St., with mega-power troubadour Brad Hoshaw. 9 p.m. and absolutely free.

If I don’t see you out and about tonight, have a great Thanksgiving…

* * *

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 © 2016 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Live Review: Gramps, Millions of Boys; Serial returns (the band, not the podcast); Back When, Paria reunions…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , , , — @ 1:48 pm December 14, 2015
Gramps at O'Leaver's, Dec. 11, 2015.

Gramps at O’Leaver’s, Dec. 11, 2015.

by Tim McMahan,

Great crowd at O’Leaver’s Friday night for the Gramps EP release show. Django Greenblatt-Seay and Co. belted out songs off the online-only release (along with a few others) to a festive pre-holiday crowd packed into a very hot room — so hot, in fact, I had to step outside for air halfway through the set. The atmosphere was downright mossy.

Full disclosure: I work with Django downtown at Union Pacific, but rest assured I’m showing no bias when I say Gramps’ style of jangle (not jango)-indie rock has distinctively Nebraskan flavor, sounding like a cross between Little Brazil and Criteria (one song, about four into the set, had a riff and rhythm that directly channeled En Garde).

With all the irons Django has in the fire, Gramps shows are a rarity. If you get a chance, definitely check them out.

Millions of Boys at O'Leaver's, Dec. 11, 2015.

Millions of Boys at O’Leaver’s, Dec. 11, 2015.

As much of a draw as Gramps Friday night was the return of Millions of Boys. It’s been a long time since this trio played in Omaha, and they’ve been sorely missed. Whereas Sara Bertuldo’s other band, See Through Dresses, is more of a shoe-gaze act, Millions of Boys is in-yer-face, crunchy pop-punk reminiscent of Weezer. Fun stuff we need to hear more of.

* * *

By now you may already have seen the Facebook invitation for a special reunion show Dec. 26 at Brothers Lounge. It’s the return of Serial, a band consisting of John Wolf (Cellophane Ceiling), Lee Meyerpeter (Cactus Nerve Thang) and Tim Moss (Ritual Device).

John Wolf dropped me an email last Friday announcing the show. “Moss, Lee and I did a few gigs as Serial in ’94-’96 time frame with various bass players, including Eric Melvin from NOFX,” Wolf said. “We coaxed Jerry Hug into playing this show with us!”

Whoa! Add to that a “special guest” and you’ve got a post-Christmas show for the ages.

Speaking of reunion shows, I would be remiss in not mentioning another big reunion show taking place the same night, Dec. 26 at The Waiting Room. Reuniting for one night only, after years defunct, is powerhouse noise-metal band Back When. Joining them is the equally fierce rock of Paria.

Where will you be the day after Christmas?

* * *

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 © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Column 359: Totally Crushing on Millions of Boys…

Category: Blog,Column — Tags: , , — @ 1:21 pm January 19, 2012
Millions of Boys from left are Alex van Beaumont, Ryan Haas and Sara Bertuldo.

Millions of Boys from left are Alex van Beaumont, Ryan Haas and Sara Bertuldo.

by Tim McMahan,

Omaha power-pop punk band Millions of Boys’ new 10-inch record, Competing for Your Love, is a 180-gram slab of vinyl complete with digital download key, and even comes with a photo of local booze palace O’Leaver’s on the cover. What more could you ask for? Well, there’s also the record’s 10 sticky-sweet rock songs that capture all the fun and pain of middle school crushes.

Released by Kansas City’s Golden Sound Records, the mini album is being celebrated with a rock prom at Slowdown Jr. Saturday night.

While the trio has a distinctive sound of its own, there’s no denying its influences – real or imagined. During our brief coffee talk at Blue Line in Dundee Sunday, I went on and on about how the band reminded me of That Dog (actual spelled “that dog.”), a mid-‘90s LA power pop act whose members would go on to write songs for the new Josie and the Pussycats and become members of The Rentals and Decemberists. I loved That Dog’s cool, ironic take on cloying high school love and heartbreak on albums like ‘95’s Totally Crushed Out! and follow-up Retreat from the Sun.

Of course Millions of Boys had never heard That Dog’s music before. Nor (probably) have they heard Tsunami or Blake Babies or the other ‘90s bands that plowed this same fertile fun-pop ground a decade (or two) before them, though…

“We all just grew up loving light-hearted pop punk,” said drummer/vocalist Ryan Haas.

“There’s this connotation that pop punk has, but…” said guitarist/vocalist Sara Bertuldo before Haas quickly added “It’s like a guilty pleasure, but it’s not.”

Bassist/guitarist/vocalist Alex van Beaumont merely nodded, as if having heard it all before.

Millions of Boys, Competing for Your Love (Golden Sound, 2012)

Millions of Boys, Competing for Your Love (Golden Sound, 2012)

The three started playing together in 2010. Bertuldo and Haas had been in a very short-lived band with Snake Islands’ Allan Schleich called Leaving Vaudeville that played all of one show before disbanding. Bertuldo, already a member of Honey & Darling, wanted to continue working with Haas, who said at the time he’d recently “fallen in love with Weezer again” and wanted to be in a two-piece project. Unfortunately, when it came time to do solos, Bertuldo couldn’t handle it. “I’m not very good at looping,” she said.

Enter van Beaumont, a friend of Haas’ sister who Bertuldo had met before. “We tried it and it worked,” Haas said. “These are not super complicated songs. They’re straight-forward. He just gets it and nothing has to be explained.” Van Beaumont merely nodded again.

All three members share vocals and switch instruments, but it’s hard not to look at Bertuldo as the band’s front woman, despite her diminutive stature. I first met her in 2005 when she was working as an intern for One Percent Productions, taking money at Sokol Underground shows. Standing at around five foot nothing, she’s so tiny you just want to put her in your pocket and take her home with you. She’s like the daughter that none of us will ever be lucky enough to have — cute, unassuming and quiet.

In fact, maybe too quiet. One of the challenges of being so tiny is also being heard above the rest of this rather rowdy band, something she’s struggled with at clubs with less-than-optimum (i.e. shitty) PA’s, like O’Leaver’s, where Bertuldo has had no choice but to ratchet up her sweet, innocent mew.

“It’s why I’m starting to like screaming,” she said. “It’s really hard, especially if you have a sound guy who’s not paying attention. I can’t wait until we have our own sound person.”

Ah, but first things first. The band would like nothing more than to tour full time, which, of course, would take a booking agent, which they don’t have yet. But at least they have a label, which is helping them with distribution and the digital side of things.

Clocking in at a just over 23 minutes, Competing for Your Love is a chock full of tasty little morsels like “Dudcats,” (with the inspirational chorus “That girl is the bomb / That girl is the bomb / But that bomb is a dud,”), the roaring zombie epic “Dead Girls,” the too-cute-for-its-own-good “Sparky + Mittens” (“I’ll give that cat a home in a hot dog bun“), and the mythic story of local super hero “Doug Flynn,” one of our scene’s unforgettable legends.

“Doug Flynn is the big guy that used to work the door at The Waiting Room,” Bertuldo said. “One time I blacked out there during a Times New Viking show and he picked me up and carried me to the back room.”

Haas remembers watching what he called “The Maple Street Riot” from his apartment that overlooked the melee. “There were about 100 people in the street, and in the middle of it was Doug Flynn,” presumably keeping the peace like an indie Buford Pusser.

“He’s the big brother of The Waiting Room,” Bertuldo said.

Anyway. The album is pretty fantastic. It was recorded by Bertuldo’s boyfriend (and member of Honey & Darling) Matt Carroll at Little Machine, the couple’s basement studio (where New Lungs currently is recording its debut).

Opening Saturday night’s release show is label mates Empty Spaces, as well as local low-fi punkers The Dads and new band Power Slop, which Haas described as “a loud, fast band that includes members of Hercules.” That’s a lot of rock for $5. Go to for more info.

* * *

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 © 2012 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Live Review: The Stay Awake, Millions of Boys, Honey & Darling; Good Speakers tonight…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 12:42 pm August 23, 2010
The Stay Awake at O'Leaver's, Aug. 21, 2010.

The Stay Awake at O'Leaver's, Aug. 21, 2010.

by Tim McMahan,

The Stay Awake sounded particularly sinister Saturday night at O’Leaver’s. Frontman/guitarist Steve Micek explained from stage that he couldn’t “feel” with his ring and pinkie fingers of his left hand after having pinched a nerve. “I’m getting old,” he said. Aren’t we all? Regardless, no one in the audience could tell he was suffering from this temporary disability. The band sounded as raw and unnerving as it always does. They don’t make it easy on their audiences, nor do they try to. The trio’s music is rhythmically violent — a throbbing math equation that solves itself by kicking over the instructor’s desk and kneeing him/her in the groin before scrawling a giant “Fuck You” on the chalk board with the skin/blood of their fists. I like this band; I like them even more when they “lock in” and drive everyone right over the edge with no intention of slowing down. Circumstances have placed The Stay Awake’s future in question. I strongly suggest you catch them the next time they play, because it may be your last chance.

Saturday night also was the debut of Millions of Boys, a new band by Honey & Darling bassist/guitarist/vocalist Sara Bertuldo. She’s primarily playing guitar in this new trio that sounds more cuddlecore K Records poppy than her other band, which also played Saturday night. It’s the first time I’ve seen Honey & Darling in about six months, and they’ve honed their sound to a glistening edge, no matter what instrument any of the members end up playing on any given song (They change it up a lot). In both bands, Bertuldo’s soft, sweet voice could barely be heard over rhythm sections. Frankly, there’s not much a club like O’Leaver’s — with its limited PA — can do about someone who sings just barely above a whisper when the rest of the band is in flames.

* * *

Tonight at The Waiting Room it’s Good Speakers — a new monthly series by Darren Keen. The show features Talking Mountain, Enfant Coma (Jacob Thiele’s DJ project) and Bad Speler, which Keen describes as  “experimenting with Drum and Bass and noise.” The show is well-explained at the One Percent website, so go there for more info. $5, 9 p.m.

* * *

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 © 2010 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.