Live Review: Operators; Quilt vs. Teen, Oh, Rose tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 12:48 pm March 31, 2016
Operators at Reverb Lounge, March 30, 2016.

Operators at Reverb Lounge, March 30, 2016.

by Tim McMahan,

Operators at Reverb last night wasn’t exactly what I was expecting. Instead of a full-out synth dance explosion like what’s heard on the band’s new album, Blue Wave, Dan Boeckner and his band ratcheted up the guitars so it sounded more like Spoon than Depeche Mode. At least most of the time.

A few songs were butt-shake-inducing thanks to the dynamic rhythm section of drummer Sam Brown (who was celebrating a birthday last night and was serenaded with the usual song by the crowd) and bassist Dustin Hawthorne, who looked like a Russian accountant until he took off his blazer revealing sleeves of tattoos.

Two of the best songs of the set are both from 2014’s EP Vol. 1. “One True Love,” the set closer, had a brittle, corrosive (in a good way) rhythm line and intricate synth parts via synth player Devojka that recalled Eno and Jerry Harrison’s first solo album. Intense. It was followed by the first of a two-song encore — the song “Ancient,” performed as a trio sans bass — pure dance heaven.

The live arrangements had me rethinking their new record. I think this was only the second date on their tour supporting this new album, and they may still be adjusting things. For example, another song with a mind-bending deep-groove synth intro was started and stopped two times before the band threw up their hands and moved onto a slower guitar-rock song from the new album. I’ll take the synths — fractured or not — over the riffage every time.

Bogan Via at Reverb Lounge, March 30, 2016.

Bogan Via at Reverb Lounge, March 30, 2016.

I also caught three songs from opening duo Bogan Via, including their twee take on “Hallelujah.” Sweet voices behind two synths and pre-recorded beats. I should have gotten there earlier.

* * *

Two big shows are happening tonight. Which will you be at?

Over at fabulous O’Leaver’s TEEN headlines. Prepare by reading my Ten Questions interview with the band here. This is a pretty big name for the Club, and I expect it to be packed to the gills. It’s a fully loaded bill with Naytronix (member of tUnE-yArDs) and Icewater opening. $8, 9 p.m.

Meanwhile across town at Reverb Lounge (where I’ll be) Quilt headlines. Like I said yesterday, their new album, Plaza (Mexican Summer Records) is on top of my ’16 list. Read their 10 Questions here. Opening is Iowa City band Halfloves. 9 p.m., $12.

Also tonight, iOlympia Washington indie band Oh, Rose headlines at Milk Run. Thick Paint (Graham Patrick Ulicny of Reptar) and The Shrinks open. $8, 9 p.m.

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


Ten Questions with OPERATORS; Live Review: Those Far Out Arrows; Mamiffer tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:28 pm March 28, 2016
Operators' Dan Boeckner. Photo by Liam Maloney.

Operators’ Dan Boeckner. Photo by Liam Maloney.

by Tim McMahan,

Don’t overthink Operators, the band playing Wednesday night at Reverb Lounge. Their glowing synth music is pure dance rock that recalls all the usual suspects: Depeche Mode, New Order, Psychedelic Furs, Oingo Boingo, Future Islands, Friendly Fires, Big Black Delta, you get the drift. This is full-on strut rock at its finest

Operators is helmed by Dan Boeckner, who you might remember from Wolf Parade, Handsome Furs and Divine Fits.  His new trio includes drummer Sam Brown (New Bomb Turks, Divine Fits) and synthmaster Devojka, who (along with Boeckner) provides all those glowing dance tones. Those looking for local comparisons, Boeckner’s vocals have always reminded me of Eli Mardock’s (or Mardock’s reminded me of Boeckner’s), while the music has the same acid-buzz that Icky Blossoms’ fans will recognize (and love).

When it came time to make their debut full length, Blue Wave (out this Friday on Last Gang Records), the band brought in the big guns in the form of producer Graham Walsh, who’s worked with METZ, Alvvays and Viet Cong, among others. The record is an uplifting rock album that as a whole recalls classic ’80s good-time new wave dance music as embraceable as your favorite John Hughes movie.

We asked Boeckner to do our Ten Questions, and he responded with gusto.

1. What is your favorite album?

Dan Boeckner: Right now it’s:

Sister – Sonic Youth
New Plastic Ideas – Unwound
Roots Manuva – Brand New Second Hand
London Zoo – The Bug
Laurel Halo – Quarantine
Not Waving – Animals
The Body – No One Deserves Happiness

2. What is your least favorite song?

Right now they’re:

“When I’m 64” – The Beatles.  Awful.  Just awful.

“Blood On The Leaves” – Kanye.  Kanye takes one of the most brutally effective, devastating,  righteous political songs ever written (Strange Fruit)…and turns in into an allegory for not wanting to pay alimony.   And something about courtside seats.

“Sexy Mexican Maid” – Red Hot Chili Peppers.  Weapons grade bad.  The ’90s were a time where you could spot weld casual racism to ham-fisted tuneless funk metal and be applauded for it.  Here, look:

3. What do you enjoy most about being in a band?

Playing shows and the ability to travel.  Playing shows because, it’s a transcendent experience.  I’m not a spiritual guy but…being onstage and playing music, transmitting something to an audience, having that catharsis…that’s a blessing.  It’s a lucky thing to get to do.  Travel because I grew up in a tiny, rural town in Canada in a low income family and had no real prospects for getting to see the world.  I could read about it and look at it but it was unavailable to me.

4. What do you hate about being in a band?

Any time I feel like being in a band is a burden I think about playing shows, the fact that I get to travel and the fact I’m not telemarketing or working demolition or being a line cook and those feelings just…melt away.

5. What is your favorite substance (legal or illegal)?


6. What city or town do you love performing at?

Belgrade, Serbia.

7. What city or town did you have your worst gig (and why)?

Probably Kaunas, Lithuania.   I played a Russian owned mafia club.  Halfway through the set, the security tasered a guy for dancing and threw him down a flight of stairs.  After the set was over, the promoter leapt onstage and gave a 5 minute speech in Russian and Lithuanian, the main theme being: the band would play his favorite song.  We did not know how to play his favorite song.  He like…kind of sprung that on us.  So: he kept us onstage and encouraged us to MIME that song while the mobbed up club “investors” got drunker and angrier.  Later in the evening he got apocalyptically wasted in my hotel room and told me how when he was in the Soviet Navy he almost died in a nuclear submarine accident.

9. What one profession other than music would you like to attempt; what one profession would you absolutely hate to do?

If I wasn’t doing this, I’d probably be doing journalism or working for a foreign intelligence agency.  Hate to do: my old job working for a pharmaceutical company.

10. What are the stories you’ve heard about Omaha, Nebraska?

The one about radioactive “Fukushima” bees.

The one about the salt witch.

The one about the creek named after the guy who was skinned alive for murder

The one about the devil worshipping sex cult that turned out to be about embezzlement

The one about how tackling Steven Malkmus of Pavement mid set at Slowdown while you’re wearing a “Tricerasquatch” (Sasquatch body-Triceratops head) costume will only make him pissy and not just laugh at the sheer ridiculousness of the situation and then high five you like you thought it would.

Operators plays Wednesday, March 30, with opener Bogan Via at Reverb Lounge, 6121 Military Ave. Showtime is 9 p.m. Admission is $10 Adv./$12 DOS. For more information, visit

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Those Far Out Arrows at O'Leaver's, March 26, 2016.

Those Far Out Arrows at O’Leaver’s, March 26, 2016.

The mob couldn’t have been more crushing than Saturday night at O’Leaver’s for Those Far Out Arrows’ record release party. It was hard just to find a place to stand.

Despite the SRO pressure, the band reproduced all the subtle touches heard on their new record, right down to the whistle intro on “Fantasizing Lover.” The trio’s sound centers on the brothers Keelan-White — one on drums, the other on guitar. Evan seemed to have the leads most often (brother Ben was mostly on drums), while Jon Oschner provided the groovy bass. They unapologetically cross ’60s British psychedelic with Bowery proto-punk a la Velvet Underground.

I guess you could call it retro in as much as Burger Records garage rock is retro, though TFOAs feels more authentic and structured than most modern-day low-fi fuzz rock. The record is definitely worth finding (Almost Music is your best bet).

The trio’s gritty psych-rock was dulcet tones compared to the band that proceeded it. Dead Flower Preservation Club Band consisted of three or four musicians — I couldn’t see how many were on stage from my perch way in back of the club — that played loud, bleating waves of dense noise. Feedback, guitar, drums and synths created a cacophony of harsh sound that can only be described as a symphony of chaos.

* * *

Yet another big show tonight at fabulous O’Leaver’s when Mamiffer comes to town. The duo  of Faith Coloccia and Aaron Turner (Isis, Old Man Gloom, Hydra Head Industries) bring the heavy. Opening is Downtrod, Bus Gas and CBN. $7, 9 p.m.

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


Live Review: Future Islands, Operators; Bob Log III, Millions of Boys tonight, Saturn Moth Saturday; Digital Leather, Little Brazil Sunday…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:55 pm August 29, 2014
The many faces of Samuel T. Herring of Future Islands, The Waiting Room, Aug. 28, 2014.

The many faces of Samuel T. Herring of Future Islands, The Waiting Room, Aug. 28, 2014.

by Tim McMahan,

Samuel T. Herring paced the stage like a sweaty caged bear. By now, thanks to David Letterman, any fan of Future Islands is familiar with his groovy dance routine, but they probably weren’t so familiar with his other rather unique performance gestures displayed on stage last night, such as:

— Picking the imaginary berry and eating it (along with his hand)
— Pounding his chest, hard, like a gorilla
— Reaching into his chest and pulling out his heart, and eating it (along with his hand)
— Swinging his fist round-house style, hard and wide, just like Elvis
— And “Hello God, it’s me, Samuel” (softly, Waterfront Bando-style, while looking up at the moon).

These gestures and many more were woven into his usual battery of low-dips, twists, high kicks and vogue-like head turns during last night’s Future Islands’ set at The Waiting Room.

The first time I saw him — back in 2011, cold-called, never even having seen a picture of the band before — I was startled and enamored. Last night, having seen the shtick a few times since, I was merely amused and entertained. So was the sold-out audience, who jerked and dived right along with Herring throughout an hour-plus-long set that left him looking as if he’d just undergone the ice bucket challenge, his red collared dress shirt sweat-soaked and clinging to his ape-like physique.

Now you know. Herring doesn’t hold back. He leaves it allllll on stage, every performance, presumably every night. And that kind of kinetic self-brutality has to take a toll on something. Last night it was his voice.

You did not hear Samuel T. at his best. His vocals were ragged from the very start, often breaking down to choked whispers. As one guy put it, “He started his growl pretty early in the set tonight.” He sure did. At past performances, that monster growl had been tossed out sparingly, for effect. Last night his guttural Cookie Monster roar appeared early and often, most likely to compensate for a lack of high end.

The limitation was most noticeable on their most known song, “Seasons (Waiting on You),” made famous on Letterman. The song’s soaring moments were cut off, growled or strangled. Strangely, as the night wore on, Herring’s voice got better. In fact, he sang best during the three-song encore.

Not that it mattered. People who didn’t know better surely thought it was all part of the show, a show that hasn’t changed much since the last time I saw it on TWR stage; and it’s still just as entertaining.

Operators at The Waiting Room, Aug. 28, 2014.

Operators at The Waiting Room, Aug. 28, 2014.

The real surprise last night (for me, anyway) was opening band Operators. The band consists of frontman Dan Boeckner (Wolf Parade) and drummer Sam Brown (New Bomb Turks), who worked together with Britt Daniel in the one-off Devine Fits project. Rounding out the trio is fetching keyboard player Dvojka. Their sound was a fine combination of ’80s synthrock and post-wave Eno-era Talking Heads sung with indie-rock gusto by Boeckner, who resembled a young (though shirted) Iggy Pop.

Operators new EP, EP 1, captures their synth-rock-dance energy (check out “Ancient”), but doesn’t capture their live dynamic, which was more free-form and fun, a good opening match for Future Islands…

* * *

So what’s going on this long, three-day weekend? Plenty.

Tonight creepy helmeted slide-guitar freakshow Bob Log III graces the stage at fabulous O’Leaver’s. Log III has mainly performed in larger clubs around town, like The Waiting Room. I can only imagine what’ll happen in The Club’s intimate confines. Will Mach be stirring up a Boob Scotch?  Find out at tonight’s massive showbill, which also includes Dumb Beach, Sean Pratt and the Sweats and DJ Dave Goldberg. Note this is a $7 show, starts at 9.

Also tonight, Millions of Boys plays at The Sydney with Kansas-based indie rockers Schwervon! and The Love Technicians. $5, 9 p.m.

Meanwhile, down at The Slowdown, Satchel Grande returns with Funk Trek. $8, 9 p.m.

Saturday night local indie rockers Saturn Moth celebrate their CD release at The Waiting Room with The Sub-Vectors, Manic Pixie Dream Girls and Lot Walks. $5, 9 p.m.

Then it’s back to O’Leaver’s on Sunday for a very special O’Leaver’s Sunday Social featuring three things none of us can live without: Digital Leather, Little Brazil and food. The music starts at 5 p.m. and it costs the usual $5. Look, we all have Monday off anyway. Might as well spend Sunday afternoon getting wasted at The House That Mello Built.

That’s what I got. If I’m missing your gig, 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 © 2014 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.