Live Review: Petfest (Marcey Yates, David Nance, Thirst Things First, No Thanks)…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , , , , — @ 2:14 pm August 15, 2022
Petfest 2022 was held this past Saturday, Aug. 13, behind the Petshop Gallery

by Tim McMahan,

So by all accounts, Outlandia was a success. The festival lucked out with the weather, as Friday night and Saturday ended up being not only tolerable, but pleasant. All the photos I’ve seen from the festival showed lots of folks having a good time. I have no official word on the attendance though it looked pretty decent for a first-year festival with stellar headliners that appeal to mostly middle-aged indie music fans.

I’ve been told by folks who were that that there were no traffic snafus, no parking mishaps, and that Falconwood Park worked out well, and there already are talks about Outlandia 2 (or whatever they call it next year). Congrats to all involved.

As I mentioned, i didn’t attend Outlandia, instead opting for Petfest, which took place Saturday behind the Petshop in Benson. This year they really rolled out the red carpet… literally, as a large red outdoor carpet was placed in the center of the space between the two stages. Other changes included moving the entrance to the south side of the compound as well as moving the larger stage to the northeast corner of the lot so it faced the smaller second stage located in the garage area of Petshop.

Marcey Yates at Petfest 2022.

I arrived just as Marcey Yates’ set kicked off. It’s been a long time since I’ve caught his set and I was knocked over. I have a very narrow bandwidth for hip-hop (which can be summed up by old school ‘80s, Kendrick and Tribe Called Quest) and Yates stylistically hits it dead center. Deep beats and clever flow, very groovy. He was joined by Conny Franko for one number, who just walked right up and grabbed a microphone.

Problems at Petfest 2022.

After Yates, Problems a.k.a. Darren Keen, moved his table of electronic equipment to the large stage’s back tent and ripped into a set that included a number of thick-beat songs off his last couple releases, many of which are focused on Darren’s love of dogs (and why you, too, should love dogs). It’s kind of weird in a good way. Electronic scrunchy tone sounds atop a cracking beat was the bed of lettuce for Keen’s spoken-word life lessons, from a guy who, after years of touring has seen it all and has the respect as one of the most original performers in Nebraska.

Cat Piss at Petfest 2022.

I ducked out for an hour after Problems and came back in time for Cat Piss on the smaller Petshot stage. Shifting between the two stages meant one act could be set up while the other was performing, with only a brief sound check before each set, just enough time to grab another Zipline or whatever you were imbibing in. A lot of folks were imbibing in smoking substances, especially when the sun began to set. There was a cloud of ganga over where I stood most of the day along the north end of the compound. Pot is slowly becoming omnipresent in all outdoor festivals in Omaha, I guess I’m just going to have to get used to it.

Cat Piss is a three-piece power-punk band where drummer Nate Wolf and bass player Sam Lipsett trade vocals on songs that sound about as close to ‘90s Omaha post-punk as you’re going to find outside of a band that actually was around playing post-punk in the ‘90s (and there are a few of them still out there). Casey Plucinski ripped on guitar, but it’s that rhythm section that kept it all hopping. Great stuff.

I should point out here that I didn’t see anything less than a great set all day, which was a credit to sound engineer and show manager Ian Aeillo, who was running around like a whirling dervish all day, making sure things where plugged in and sounded great (which they did). In what was a unique set-up, music came from both PAs at once, providing a sort of quadraphonic effect. Alan Parsons, eat your heart out.

Thirst Things First at Petfest 2022.

Thirst Things First have been around at least for a decade, though I’ve never caught them before. I didn’t even know who they were except that they might be from Lincoln and that the band includes A.J. Mogis on bass — yes, that AJ Mogis, the dude who created ARC Studio with his brother, Mike, and who also plays bass in Criteria.

Wearing (mostly) matching track suits, the band tore into a set of the funnest, tightest power pop you’re going to hear this side of The Faint. Fronted by Mike Elfers of The JV Allstars and including someone I remember from Las Cruxes also on vocals, the band was powered along by Mogis and drummer Jordy Elfers, and was nothing less than remarkable. How have I missed them all these years? Who knows. Their set was a high-water mark in a festival flooded with talent. As David Letterman would say, “I’ll take all of that you got.”

Uh Oh at Petfest 2022.

If Cat Piss embodies Omaha’s ‘90s post-punk at it’s finest, Uh Oh is the embodiment of if Omaha indie jangle pop. The four piece plays big-hearted indie rock that borders on Get-Up Kids-style emo, and did a good job capturing the crowd’s attention.

David Nance Group at Petfest 2022.

They were followed on the larger stage by who, for me, was the festival headliner, David Nance Group. For this iteration, Nance was joined by Dereck Higgins on bass, Kevin Donahue on drums, guitarist Jim Schroeder, and Rosali Middleman on synths. In April, Nance’s band backed Rosali when she opened for Destroyer at The Waiting Room, and now she appeared to be returning the favor.

The band ripped into that killer version of “Credit Line” that they played a month or so ago at Reverb, a version that kicks ass thanks to a super-funky rhythm section — again, I wish they’d record this version of the song (a more rustic and non-funky version appears on Nance’s latest release, which was sort of a solo recording). Known as a garage psych-rock dude, Nance sounds like he’s shifting to a more swinging, funky style — and it’s a welcome change.

Of course that doesn’t mean he’s lost any of his sheer guitar power. Nance and Schroeder still traded guitar riffs back and forth, and ripped it up old school closing their set with a kick-ass version of “Poison” from the break-out Peaced and Slightly Pulverized.

Living Conditions at Petfest 2022.

Next up on the small stage was a metal/noise set from Living Conditions. This aggressive-noise style whose vocals consists mainly of pained yelling is not something I generally go for, but even here, they glowed for group of fans tightly gathered in front of the stage.

No Thanks at Petfest 2022.

The final Petfest performer for me was No Thanks, who announced from stage that this is their second-to-last performance, which I guess means the band is breaking up. If so, that would be a terrible loss for the music scene, as No Thanks is one of the best bands in Nebraska — as musicians, performers and songwriters. Frontman Castro Turf a.k.a. Brendan Leahy is a force of nature, who moves and vamps like a short, Midwestern version of Lux Interior, yelling and barking more than singing, a magnetic performer. But just is notable is this band, that has created a new version, authentic post-punk whose closest relative are bands like Preoccupations and Ceremony.

They hit their stride on their second song of their set — a glorious versions of “Hot Water Rising” (which just happens to be my favorite). It continued to rise from there, with Leahy pacing the front of the stage, taunting the crowd, before poring some sort of substance over his head (fake blood? motor oil? I couldn’t tell in the dark light). No Thanks was a band that had everything in front of them, and like so many other great band from Nebraska, never really got their chance.

That was it for me at Petfest. If Maha Festival showcases the newest indie acts and Outlandia celebrates past national indie icons, Petfest is the ultimate showcase of the best talent this state has to offer. From that perspective, it might be the most important festival we have, because it provides a stage and a spotlight to our local talent, who these days have fewer and fewer opportunities to shine.

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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 © 2022 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Live Review: Mudhoney, Violenteer; A Deer A Horse, No Thanks, Las Cruxes tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:46 pm May 5, 2022
Mudhoney at The Slowdown, May 4, 2022.

by Tim McMahan,

One of the good things about post-pandemic rock shows is that clubs seem to have adopted a weeknight, two-band, 8 p.m.-start-time policy, which translates to getting home by 10:30, a nice contrast to the old days when weeknight shows meant dragging your tired carcass home at 1 a.m. and then having to drag it to the office the following morning with four hours’ sleep.

Whether Mudhoney was rebelling against that policy or actually had technical problems last night at The Slowdown will forever be a mystery. One of the band’s grips fiddled with the stage microphones, tested guitars, tested drums, then tested the microphones again for nearly 20 minutes, so that the 9:15 set didn’t start until around 9:50. A classic rock ’n’ roll move? I have a feeling someone was getting high backstage.

In any event, the legendary Seattle four-piece ripped into a set of grunge-flavored psych rock that highlighted musicians whose skills have been honed to a microfine edge. Standouts were legendary drummer Dan Peters in fedora, who was showcased in an extended drum solo early in the set, and lead guitarist Steve Turner, whose tone and style were pure arena gold. Frontman Mark Arm, looking like a rock ’n’ roll version of Lucius Malfoy, cracked heavy his own guitar solos and was in prefect voice, no doubt just as he’s done for the past three decades.

Listening to this band was like staring at a musical moment captured in amber, their sound the epitome of ‘90s-era big-guitar alt rock. For better or worse, music has changed dramatically over the past 30 years, though the audience only slightly so. Among the gray-haired fans was sprinkled a new generation of rock fans that looked much more clean-cut than the grunge rockers I remember from the early ‘90s.

Violenteer at The Slowdown, May 4, 2022.

Opening (on time) was Omaha’s own Violenteer. Last night’s performance felt heavier and more sludgy then their set a couple weeks ago at O’Leaver’s. The band’s double-bass attack was roped in by Eric Ebers’ precise drumming, and vacillated between metal, math and prog in their mostly instrumental compositions that became trance-inducing at times, especially on the set’s closing song, that went from stoner to psych rock in a deliciously Floydian fashion.

Leader Randy Cotton mentioned from stage that the band will be entering the studio to record a new album in the near future. More to come…

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Two shows again to choose from on this Cinco de Mayo.

Over at The Sydney in Benson, Brooklyn noise rock band A Deer A Horse headlines. Joining them are Omaha punk masters No Thanks and Goofy Gooey. $10, 9 p.m. (What’d I say about weeknight shows with 2-band bills and 8 p.m. start times? Not at The Sydney).

Also tonight, Omaha punkers Las Cruxes headlines a bill at Pageturners Lounge in Dundee. Joining them are Chicago’s Kelroy and NYC’s Brook Prodemore. I’m told the first band will hit the stage at 9:30. No idea on price. BTW, this same line-up is playing tomorrow night at The Down Under.

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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 © 2022 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Live Review: No Thanks, Red Kate at Brothers Lounge…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 12:46 pm September 20, 2021

by Tim McMahan,

No Thanks at Brothers Lounge Sept. 17, 2021.

I’m forever wondering if punk — or post-punk — or let’s face it, rock — will soon die of old age.

Most people my age already have thrown dirt over the grave, saying punk lived and died in the ‘70s, post-punk lived and died in the ‘80s, and alternative took over in the ‘90s, followed by indie, which most oldsters don’t consider rock music.

Of course none of it is true. Every time I start to get jaded listening to, say, Sirius XM and the endless list of “vibe” music on my Spotify new music list, something catches my ear and my hope is renewed. The same thing goes for live music. Friday night at Brothers Lounge I caught a set by a couple bands on the Black Site label out of KC, Red Kate and our very own No Thanks, and was, again, given hope for the future.

Red Kate at Brothers Lounge, Sept. 17, 2021.

Red Kate wasn’t doing anything new. The post-punk four piece played straight-ahead post-rock with yell vocals, solid rhythms and the prerequisite catchy riffs. Fast and hard, they were tight out of the gate. If you love this style of music, you would have loved this set.

This is the third or fourth time I’ve seen No Thanks live, and I’ve notice a common denominator to their sets — they always start off tenuous, as if frontman Brendan Leahy is unsure he really wants to go through with whatever he’s about to do, or simply isn’t in the proper headspace. Let me clarify — the rest of the band does sounds ready to go from the outset. Guitarist Mike Huber is one of the best things to come out of Omaha in years, and the rhythm section of Cam Stout and Gabe Cohen are first rate.

Musically, I was reminded of old school golden age Omaha post-punk band Ritual Device. To be clear, Leahy doesn’t in any way resemble a ‘90s-era circus-geek-loving Tim Moss. And while Moss had a guttural Nick Cage vocal swagger, Leahy has a high, kind of Jerry Lewis-style speaking voice. But when he gets warmed up, he can be equally sinister and disturbing as Moss.

But, just like those other times, it took Leahy three or four songs before he began to lose whatever inhibitions he may have had and started to let it all hang out. About four or five songs in, the shirt came off and he turned into a totally different dude — posing, crawling, preening, performing — he could give Future Islands’ Sam Herring a run for his money.

Halfway into the set I noticed the entire front of the stage was surrounded by young women dancing — or dare I say, moshing. I’m not sure exactly what it was they were doing except having a good time. It was the youngest crowd I’ve seen at a Brothers show — both young dudes and women — and it gave me hope that there is a new generation out there who still gets into this style of grinding, static, feedback-driven post-punk.

Another great night at Brothers Lounge. The club has been putting on a lot of shows lately and have more on the way. Catch them if you can.

A quick note about their vax card policy — the guy at the door was not playing around. You better have had both a vax card (or a photo of your vax card) and a second photo ID or you weren’t getting in. The process was quick and easy, and there’s no reason all the venues aren’t laying down similar policies.

If you don’t want to get vaxed, stay home and save us all a lot of grief.

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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.


No Thanks, Red Kate, Mannequin Pussy, 38 Special tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 7:15 am September 17, 2021

by Tim McMahan,

Mannequin Pussy headlines tonight at The Slowdown.

First weekend of shows since the pandemic where there are two great shows happening on the same night, forcing either decisions or a very long evening. And while that is yet another sign that we’re slowly getting back to “normal,” we’ve still got a long way to go.


Tonight at the undisputed home of Omaha punk rock — The Brothers Lounge — it’s the best post-punk act currently happening in the region: No Thanks. Check out this Alex Preston interview with the band in The Reader. They’re bringing along their Black Site Records label mates, KC’s Red Kate, who open at 10 p.m. No entry without proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test within the last 24 hours. This is the first no-vac/no-entry show I know of at Brothers, and if Brothers is doing it, everyone should be doing it. $7 at the door.

Meanwhile, down at The Slowdown, Philly punk band Mannequin Pussy headlines in the big room. Their new 5-song EP, Perfect, was released this year on Epitaph. Baltimore punk band Pinkshift opens. This also is a no-vax/no-entry event. 8 p.m. $20.

Which will it be? Well, considering the timing, it may be possible to catch both shows. That’s a lot of rock. And it ain’t all tonight.

If you’re planning on tooling over to Benson tonight, be prepared for Military Ave. to be closed as you drive through flocks of silver-haired dudes on their way to see 38 Special on the outdoor stage. They call this Waiting Room Outdoors, but it should be called Reverb Outdoors. Myron Elkins opens at 7:30 p.m. This is a $45 show. Gates at 6, so hold on loosely and don’t let go.

Also tonight, Josh Hoyer and the Soul Colossal play at The B Bar, 4330 Leavenworth. $10, 9 p.m.

Meanwhile, just down the street at the Down Under, 3530 Leavenworth, it’s Jeremy Mercy and the the Rapture Orphans. 9:30, no price listed.

While over at The Sydney tonight, Chicago band Waltzer performs. No opener listed, but there will also be a drag show. 9 p.m., $10.

All that stuff happening tonight and ain’t a thing going on the rest of the weekend, at least not on my radar. If I missed your show, put it in the comments section. Have a great weekend!

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2021 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Solid Goldberg, No Thanks, BFF, Bach Mai, Problems tonight; Under the Radar Saturday; Black Pumas Sunday (outside)…and it’s Bandcamp Friday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 11:40 am August 6, 2021

by Tim McMahan,

No Thanks during a performance at Slowdown. The band plays tonight at The Sydney.

This might be the busiest post-COVID weekend since, well, Maha (OK, ok… I know we’re actually still very much in the heat of COVID. If you’re vaxxed, enjoy the weekend; if you’re not, just stay home and enjoy your conspiracy theories).

Tons happening tonight.

Firstly, it’s Benson First Friday (#BFF), which means the art will be flying throughout Benson. The Sydney has a mighty line-up tonight, headlined by the one and only Solid Goldberg. Joining him is one of my favorite local bands, No Thanks, whose last album, Submerger (2020, Black Site Records), was one of the best from last year. Opening is singer/songwriter Ben Eisenberger. $10, probably 10 p.m.

Also tonight in Benson, Reverb Lounge is hosting PROBLEMS (Darren Keen of The Show is the Rainbow fame, doing his one-man thing) with Goth Martin (aka lowercase tres) and W. Groves. Free before 10 p.m., $5, after 10 p.m.

Meanwhile down Slowdown Jr., Bach Mai is hosting its album release show for What You’ve Given, which came out in January, and includes a huge supporting cast and was mixed, recorded and engineered by Rick Carson (Make Believe Studios). Joining him are J. Crum and Steady Wells (Jordan Smith from Twinsmith). $10, 7 p.m.

Saturday, Omaha Under the Radar is happening throughout the city at spaces like Kaneko, Joslyn, OutrSpaces and The Trap Room. Among those performing are Dereck Higgins, who has a new album out today called Future Still. Events are happening throughout the day. No idea on costs. More info here.

Finally, Sunday night at “Waiting Room Outdoors” — which is a blocked-off Military Ave. outside of Reverb Lounge — is Black Pumas with Neal Francis. Gates at 6 p.m., show at 7 p.m. $40. Expect a crowd.

Also, today is Bandcamp Friday, which means Bandcamp is waiving its fees for purchases from its site today only. So go to all the above Bandcamp pages and make some purchases, like the new one by Big Nope, “Mt. Baker.”

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

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2021 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Barley Street reopens; new releases from No Thanks, Benny Leather, Matthew Sweet, Bright Eyes, Steady Wells, STATHI…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — @ 2:22 pm November 2, 2020

So who’s nervous on this Election Day eve? Despite all the threats and sturm and drang, for some reason I’m less anxious than I was in 2016. We’ll either have a new president or Marshall Law by the end of the week… Look, if you have voted already, make sure you go to the polls tomorrow. Has there ever been an election where an individual vote was more valuable?

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A quick music update: Things have been quiet lately and are bound to get even quieter with winter and COVID-19 spiking in Douglas County. That tiny taste of live music at the end of summer/early fall is probably going to be it until next spring. I just finished a column that’ll be in the next issue of The Reader wherein I say we take live music for granted. Something tells me we won’t come next May…

One place where we might see live music again is The Barley Street Tavern, which reopened last Friday. The venue is now operated by the folks who operate Brokedown Palace on 88th and Maple. According to a Facebook post that went online Friday, the new owners have no plans to change the Barley’s operations / vibe, but let’s face it, they need to make it what they want it to be. Just keep some of ol’ Barley spirit (or ghosts) around for good times’ sake….


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Lots of new local music was released last week. Here’s a few of those releases that are on my radar:

Omaha goth/indie punk band No Thanks released their latest LP, Submerger, on Halloween via Kansas City’s Black Site Records. Produced by No Thanks, the album was recorded, engineered, and mixed by Mathew Carroll (See Through Dresses) at Little Machine in Omaha, and was mastered by Mike Nolte at Portland OR’s Eureka Mastering with vinyl mastering by Chris Muth at Taloowa Corp. out of Yonkers, NY. That’s right, vinyl, limited to 75 (at least for the first pressing). Order it here (sure to be a collector’s item).

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Omaha blank wave/electro-punk band Benny Leather dropped its full-length, Temporary Insanity, yesterday via FDH Records. Who is Benny Leather? Nobody knows (but actually, everyone knows but they’re not saying). Let’s just say I’d love to see this band play at O’Leaver’s (or the new Barley Street). This one also is available on limited-edition vinyl. Order yours here.

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Omaha rocker Matthew Sweet announced last week he’s releasing his 15th album, Catspaw, Jan. 15 on Omnivore Records. Says the press release: “…aside from excellent drumming by longtime collaborator Ric Menck (Velvet Crush), this is Matthew Sweet’s first entirely solo effort. Sweet handles all of it: recording, mixing, Höfner bass, electric guitars, and Pet Sounds-like background vocals.” The first single, “At a Loss,” was released last week.

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Bright Eyes released a song in support of Planned Parenthood called “Miracle of Life,” with proceeds generated from its sale benefiting he organization. Said Conor Oberst: “It is a protest song, I guess. Or maybe just a little story about what was, what still is in many parts of the world and what could be again here in this country if the GOP is successful in reshaping the Supreme Court and rolling back all of the hard fought progress made for reproductive rights in the last fifty years.” On the track Bright Eyes is joined by Phoebe Bridgers, Jon Theodore and Flea. Buy it here.

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Jordan Smith of Twinsmith has another band called Steady Wells and it released a new single last week called “Good Again.” I believe this is the second single by Smith under this moniker.

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And finally,

Omaha singer/songwriter Stathi Spiros Patseas has released new song from his band STATHI. “This is my first release since my debut EP Life of Compromise, which I released in March of last year,” he said. “This single is part of an upcoming EP called Post-truth, which has not yet been announced, but will likely be released sometime next month. The EP was recorded at ARC in September of 2019 and produced by Miwi La Lupa.

Kevin Donahue, Drew Tvrdy and Miwi join Stathi on the track. Dig it:

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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.


KC’s Black Site Records to release new No Thanks album; more new Digital Leather…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — @ 12:01 pm September 3, 2020
No Thanks’s new album, Submerger, comes out on Halloween on Black Site Records.

Self-proclaimed Omaha “goth punk” band No Thanks yesterday announced the Oct. 31 release of their sophomore album, Submerger, on Kansas City label Black Site Records.

The album was recorded by See Through Dresses’ Matt Carrol in his Little Machine Studios. From the press release: “The band’s first release on vinyl is a ten-song blast of stripped down, honest rock and roll that combines proletarian ethics with blood, bats and ripped black mesh to create a fearsome sound with a looming menace that aptly captures the stark reality of our hellscape era.

Fierce! The band consists of bassist Cam Stout, drummer Gabe Cohen, guitarist Michael Huber and one of the most entertaining — if not flamboyant — frontmen in Omaha, Castro Turf. The band throws around the “goth” term a lot these days no doubt in part because of Mr. Turf’s stage craft, which looks influenced by Cramps’ legend The Cramps’ Lux Interior. This is one of my favorite local bands to see live, preferably smashed into a crowd at O’Leaver’s or The Brothers Lounge.

So who is Black Site? According to the release, it’s “a record label cooperative created by Kansas City musicians interested in supporting regional punk and rock bands (releasing) their recordings on a physical medium.” The label’s roster includes Red Kate, Stiff Middle Fingers, Truck Stop Love (who remembers the ’90s?) and Libations, among others.

Check out the the track below and pre-order here via Bandcamp.


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Also yesterday, Digital Leather released the third track from the project’s upcoming full-length release, New Wave Gold, out Sept. 15 on No Coast Recordings. Frontman / project mastermind Shawn Foree said the track, “Sinking Ship,” is “about how fucked the world is, and how we are all going to die in the worst way possible soon. There is nothing we can do. It’s far too late. Plus, it’s got a beat and you can dance to it.” 

Very nice. You can order the record from bandcamp, here:

For those of you who missed the article/interview with Mr. Foree in the August issue of The Reader, here’s the story in its entirety. I like to post these on Lazy-i just so’s I have a digital copy if/when The Reader goes belly up…

Digital Leather in the Days of COVID
The Omaha electro-punk act celebrates 20 years with its 24th album.

Prior to the interview for this column, the last time I spoke with Shawn Foree, the mastermind behind the musical project Digital Leather, was a couple years ago. It was late in the evening standing outside the patio door at mid-town punk club O’Leaver’s, no doubt killing time between live sets from a couple local garage bands we both knew.

Foree, who looked like an unholy cross between Jim Morrison and Deliverance-era Burt Reynolds, told me he was about to hang it up as far as Digital Leather was concerned. He’d just turned 40 and was tired of banging his head against the music industry wall, trying to get someone to notice what he was doing. And it sure didn’t look like things would ever change.
The conversation bummed me out, because Foree / Digital Leather was and is my favorite Omaha-based music project. The only person more frustrated by his music never receiving the attention it deserved was me. Digital Leather music is the perfect amalgamation of modern songwriting, instrumentation and vintage digital sounds. The product is highly addictive, darkly worded 21st Century synth-punk that can stand alongside music by acts like Gary Numan, Psychic TV and The Faint.

As it turned out, Foree was just in a bad mood that night at O’Leaver’s. “Don’t believe me when I say I’ve given up,” he said over the phone July 21. “I’ve said it before, and I’ll probably say it again.”

In fact, only a few months after that announced retirement, Digital Leather recorded and released a new album, followed by another and another.

And now comes New Wave Gold, out Sept. 15 on Madison, Wisconsin, label No Coast Records (Thee Oh Sees, Red Mass, The Hussy). The 16-track collection is the 24th full-length album (in addition to 13 EPs and singles) released by Digital Leather over the 20 years Foree has made music under that moniker.

Digital Leather fans will be happy to know New Wave Gold is the most cohesive, pop-fueled collection Foree has released since 2009’s Warm Brother (Fat Possum Records). He recorded and mixed the album in his apartment studio with contributions by drummer Jeff Lambelet and mastering by sound engineer Ian Aeillo.

The album opens with the first COVID-19 quarantine-inspired song I’ve heard, “Dark Ages,” which closes with the lines: “Don’t you go and worry about me, baby / You got better things to think about, I’m sure / Honey, don’t you know these are the Dark Ages / Disease is in the air, and it’s pure.”

Foree is the only person I’ve talked to who’s tested positive for COVID-19. “I tested positive a month and a half ago,” he said. “I was asymptomatic. It was a little freaky. I wasn’t sure if I was going to become sick, but fortunately, I was OK, maybe a little tired. I tested again a couple weeks after, and it came back negative.”

His day job doing environmental testing, which he’s kept throughout the pandemic, takes him all over the country. “I was floating around South Dakota, Missouri, all around red states, so it could have come from anywhere,” he said. “It was a positive test, but none of my friends had it, just me. So I don’t know if I really had it.”

With COVID-19 shutting down music venues and making touring impossible, it’s a strange time to release a new album. Foree, who has released more than an album a year on average, didn’t want to wait around for the world to reopen. “The record was done,” he said. “I showed it to Bobby (Hussy), who runs the record label, and we just said fuck it and put it out so I can move on to new material.”

To help market the release, Foree is working with national publicist Grandstand Media, whose massive client roster includes acts like Tame Impala, Waxahatchee, Soccer Mommy, Bright Eyes and Kim Gordon, to name a few. “It’s totally new ground for me, selling records without playing live,” Foree said. “If we can make our money back, that would be fine. Making a profit is not on my or the label’s to do list.”

Foree also is the first musician I’ve interviewed since COVID-19 began. The pandemic has had a huge impact on his music world. “All my friends want to play shows and are depressed, because it’s not only their livelihood, it’s part of their sanity. It’s part of who they are,” he said. “I have friends who were about to release records, go on tour, go to Europe, and now it’s all TBD. I think everyone is pretty fucking depressed about it.”

Even after the pandemic is under control, he said things won’t be the same. “There will be all kinds of new regulations; it’ll be weird,” Foree said. “A lot of people won’t want to go out to shows. Venues might close. How are they going to support themselves if they can’t do business? The same goes for musicians who live off their music.”

Foree isn’t one of those, not anymore. He’s managed to find a balance between making a living and making music, and has accepted the fact that, despite having toured the country and releasing albums on a dozen different record labels, he may never make it to “the next level.”

“Part of me is frustrated that I don’t have a larger audience, but I’m also kind of glad things are the way they are,” he said. “I see the silver lining. I have freedom to do what I want. You’re supposed to give it up at 30 and get a real job once you realize there’s no money in it. Well, I have a real job and can still do it, so fuck them all.”

First published in The Reader, September 2020. Copyright © 2011 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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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 © 2011 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Nebraska to reopen venues; Live Review: No Thanks; Mercy Rule / Sideshow panel tonight; Little Brazil, Noah’s Ark Saturday; RIP Kyle Tonniges…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:33 pm May 22, 2020
No Thanks streamed live from the Slowdown main stage May 21, 2020.

Well, what did I tell you yesterday? As if on cue a few hours after I posted, Ricketts announced bars and lounges can reopen June 1 with the same rules now applied to restaurants. That is: 25 people allowed in the venue, or 50 percent of the venue’s rated occupancy. Patrons have to be seated at tables that are located six feet apart with no more than six people per table. And there must be six feet between entertainers and patrons.

I got this backwards. See CLARIFICATION posted right here.

If it sounds confusing it’s because it is, but I’m sure it’ll all be spelled out before June 1. For example, does the 25-person cap include employees and bands? Do you include employee/band numbers in the 50 percent occupancy restriction? And so on…

So if I’m hearing this correctly, a venue like The Waiting Room or Slowdown could only host shows with a maximum of 25 people in the audience (if employees/bands are excluded from the overall venue count). and even though they’re much smaller, The Brothers and O’Leaver’s also could host the same body count since their capacity exceeds 100.

Any way you slice it, it’s going to be a giant pain in the ass for venue owners who will be responsible for monitoring all those numbers. Some of them might decide to just stay closed until restrictions are loosened even further, and I can’t blame them.

Would I go to a rock show at any of those venues the first week of June? Yeah, I would, but judging from what I’ve seen in social media, I’m in the minority.

For example, I would have loved to have been among the 25 allowed in to watch last night’s No Thanks / Marcey Yates show streamed live from The Slowdown.

It probably would have been like this: I’d have been seated at a table (probably by myself) and I’d would have worn a mask though I haven’t heard any stipulation saying that’s required. That said, I have no problem wearing a mask as long as I could pull down my gator to drink my Rolling Rock(s).

Last night’s show was outstanding. Technically it was next-level as far as streamed concerts are concerned — terrific sound (by Dan Brennan), and video (from Love Drunk’s Django Greenblatt-Seay and his crew) utilizing at least five cameras.

And the performances were terrific. But the one thing missing was an audience — something even more apparent during No Thanks’ set, which had silent pauses between songs where the crowd usually fills in the spaces. Toward the end of the stream, the crew threw in a few whoops and hollers, which was better than nothing.

Yates was accompanied by a DJ and keyboard player as well as a couple additional vocalists — all of them on point and smooth. You can see why he’s on top of Omaha’s hip-hop ladder.

No Thanks did their usual sweaty set, using the occasion to roll out a couple new red hot numbers from an upcoming album (which, yes, they might as well release right now instead of waiting).

Next up on the Slowdown streaming concert series (of which there are two gigs) is tomorrow night (Saturday), when Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship plays with Little Brazil. Any other time, this concert would be a sloppy, drunken good time. Can these bands deliver in an empty auditorium? Find out. Tickets are $5 (plus whatever tip you want to add). The show is scheduled to start at 8:15, though last night’s started at 8:30 (You really notice the extra time when you’re staring at a computer screen). Get your tickets here.

Also happening this weekend — tonight to be exact — is a virtual round table with members of Domestica, Mercy Rule and Sideshow. It’s called Nebraska Music History: Episode 1, presented by Nebraska Performing Arts Hall of Fame. I’m sure we’ll be hearing all about the golden age of Nebraska indie rock born in the early ‘90s from two of the bands that were there. Mercy Rule and Sideshow not only recorded and toured around the country, they often toured together. Expect to hear some gnarly war stories. The program starts at 7 p.m. and is being streamed via Facebook from here.

Finally, yesterday we lost a good one. Kyle Tonniges was a friend of mine who I met working at The Reader. He was one of the funniest, most acerbic, smartest people I ever met, and one hell of a great writer. His music criticism was always spot-on — I know he introduced a lot of readers to new sounds. He went on to write reviews for Publishers Weekly (focusing on cookbooks), where he also did a lot of interviews. He battled cancer like the hero he was, but it got him in the end, and we’re all the lesser for it. He will be missed.

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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


When will Omaha bars reopen? New music: Eddy Mink; Pagan Athletes; No Thanks, Marcey Yates tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:40 pm May 21, 2020

No Thanks at O’Leaver’s, Aug. 2, 2019. The band plays a live streamed showcase tonight at The Slowdown.

by Tim McMahan,

We’re all still sitting around twiddling our thumbs waiting to hear when bars are going to be allowed to reopen, especially after Iowa announced a 50 percent capacity reopening starting next Thursday (May 28).

If you’re like me and you’re watching the various and sundry COVID-19 reports/charts/graphs, the numbers seem to be flattening or headed downwards in Nebraska. Meanwhile, flip through Facebook and you’ll quickly find numbers that say Douglas County is still red hot — cases continue to rise, but so do tests. And yet, I’ve still (luckily) yet to know anyone who has tested positive (or know anyone who knows anyone who has).

With the Nebraska DHM (Directed Heath Measures) proclamation expiring June 1, I foresee we’ll be getting an announcement regarding bars reopening sometime in the next week. If they follow Iowa’s lead and allow for a 50 percent capacity reopening, will you be willing to return that first week of June?

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New music continues to be released even during the shutdown.

The long-awaited new album by Eddy Mink (a.k.a. Kerry Eddy), Open Container Heart Surgery, dropped last week on Spotify and other streaming services.

Recorded at ARC with Ben Brodin in March 2018 with Ben Armstrong on drums/keys, Patrick Hargon on guitar, baritone guitar and pedal steel and Eddy on guitar and vocals, it’s one of my favorite local releases so far for 2020. Eddy has a bright, aggressive voice that’s like hearing one of the Wilson sisters (Heart) fronting a modern indie rock band. The songs gallop on a rhythm section whose bass lines lead the way (see standout tracks “Eaten Alive,” opener “Alarms”).

I’m including a Spotify link below because the band doesn’t have a Bandcamp page (though you can find the entire album here on YouTube).

The Wolf Brothers of Griffin and Nathan are sons of local rock royalty — John Wolf — but that’s not why you should check out their new four-song EP Live at the DN. The drums/synth combo’s recordings are jittery sonic acid trips of rhythm and noise. Call it electro-punk annihilation, or the soundtrack to your personal COVID nightmare.

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The doors are closed tonight at The Slowdown but there’s still a rock show happening on the big stage, and you’re invited to tune in via the internet.

Punk rock show-stoppers No Thanks and hip-hop master Marcey Yates (a.k.a. Op2mus) are the first to be featured in a new live stream experiment at Slowdown. With house sound guy Dan Brennan and renowned videographer Django Greenblatt-Seay behind the controls, this is sure to be a next-level streaming experience.

And it ain’t free. Tickets are $5 (though you can donate more) with the cash going to the talent involved. Ticket holders will receive a link to the event both 48 hours and 10 minutes prior to the event. Performances begin at 8:15 sharp. More info and tickets available here.

It’s the next best thing to going to a rock show. 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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


The Slowdown gets in the livestream concert game; Ramon Speed tonight, Matt Cox Saturday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — @ 11:45 am May 8, 2020

Ramon Speed at Junkstock #20 at Sweatshop Gallery, Nov. 8, 2014. The band has a livestream tonight at 6 p.m.

by Tim McMahan,

The Slowdown announced two upcoming concerts featuring full bands. No, you can’t attend. Both are livestream events.

The first is Omaha punk newcomer No Thanks and hip-hop royalty Marcey Yates (a.k.a. Op2mus), Thursday, May 21 at 8 p.m. (RSVP/tickets here).

The second features two of Omaha’s most beloved punk/indie bands — Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship and Little Brazil Saturday, May 23 at 8 p.m. (RSVP tickets/here).

These are not free streams. Tickets are $5, and ticket holders will receive a link to the event 48 hours and 10 minutes prior to start time. The shows begin at 8:15 p.m.

No doubt you’ll get your money’s worth. Expect the highest quality stream experience possible, with sound by house engineer Dan Brennan and video production by Love Drunk’s Django Greenblatt-Seay – it doesn’t get any better.

All acts will be performing on the big stage, making them safe from a social-distancing perspective.

I intend to tune in for both, and have to wonder if this livestream approach is successful if it isn’t something Slowdown will continue even after COVID has gone its merry way. Because some nights you just want to stay in, but you don’t want to miss the rock…

Speaking of livestreams… there’s a red hot one going on tonight.

Tonight at 6 p.m. via their Facebook page ( ) tune in for a performance by Ramon Speed (Unread Records).

Tomorrow night (Saturday) Matt Cox is live from Mars House starting at 7 p.m. Go to Facebook to watch the stream.

While we’re talking streams, Low End, the new performance space that used to be Bemis Underground, is hosting a livestream Thursday, May 14 , featuring FXTHR^, the sound collage art of Dustin Bushon. More info here.

I’m sure there’s more live streams going on this weekend I don’t know about. If I missed yours, put it in the comments section. Have a great weekend.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.