New Uh Oh, Sufjan Stevens, Middle Kids…

Category: Blog,Column — Tags: , , , — @ 7:36 am August 16, 2023

by Tim McMahan,

Not a whole heckuva lot going on indie-music wise since last weekend’s Outlandia Festival. I didn’t attend again this year, but from all reports, it was another smashing success. The  Omaha World-Herald filed a story that says attendance rose by 25%, and I’ve got a request out with one of the organizers for attendance numbers, which I’ll pass along when/if I get them. 

In the wake of Outlandia, things have been pretty quiet in indie music land. Two festivals down and one more to go this weekend. I’ll post a preview of Petfest tomorrow. 

Over the weekend, my penultimate (i.e., my second to last) column for the soon-to-be-sunsetted The Reader went online. It looks back at the glory days of Omaha indie music with a head-scratch at the current state – we’ve got more mega-venues than ever, none of which are booking up-and-coming indie bands, nor, I suppose, are they designed to. Thank god for Outlandia, Maha and Petfest. You can read the story in the printed version of The Reader (pick one up at Hy-Vee or La Casa) or online right here. I’ll be posting the column in this space eventually (for posterity’s sake – who knows how long The Reader servers will stay online?). One more issue to go…

A few new releases to pass along:

Local indie project Uh Oh released their second single off their upcoming August Cicada Songs LP, “Firefly” b/w “”When the River Runs Low.” They’re releasing two new songs per month for the next few months. 

Sufjan Stevens released the first song off his first solo singer/songwriter album since 2015’s Carrie & Lowell. It’s called Javelin and comes out Oct. 6 on Asthmatic Kitty Records. No doubt a tour will follow. Will Omaha be on his tour schedule? Hope so.

Australian indie band Middle Kids are currently on tour opening for Manchester Orchestra and Jimmy Eat World. For whatever reason the kids weren’t included in this year’s Outlandia festival, which featured both those bands. Sometimes that’s just how it works. Their new single, “Highlands,” dropped a couple weeks ago. Let’s hope they come through Omaha again (maybe even at The Sydney, like last time).

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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 © 2023 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


It’s Outlandia Time, and the weather is groovy: preview (with an eye toward Saturday)…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 12:40 pm August 10, 2023

Modest Mouse headlines Outlandia Saturday night.

by Tim McMahan,

The weather gods are shining on this year’s Outlandia Festival, which is this Friday and Saturday at Falconwood Park in Bellevue. Sure, it’ll be in the 90s on Friday, but Saturday is looking somewhat perfect and a ton better weather-wise than Maha Festival’s steam-table/thunderstorm/heatstroke weather.

Considering tickets cost the same for both days, your best value is Saturday, where you’ll get seven bands vs. Friday’s 5-band line-up. One assumes the Friday price is for headliner Lord Huron, and I must admit right up front I’ve never heard a song by this band, but am told people are coming from far and wide to hear them sing their mega-hit, “The Night We Met.” Their latest album is music from the motion picture The Starling Girl, a film I’ve also never heard of, released on Mercury Records. Lord Huron has a massive 14.6 million monthly Spotify listeners. 

The rest of Friday night’s line-up compliments Lord Huron’s mid-tempo acoustic balladry. Things kick off with Minne Lussa, an indie five-piece and local favorite fronted by the inimitable Matt Rutledge. The band plays shimmering rock songs reminiscent of acts like Luna and The Album Leaf. Really gorgeous stuff and a good reason to get there when the festival kicks off at 4 p.m. 

Next up is Des Moines indie band The Envy Corps, who have been around forever and always plays the 80/35 Festival. They’ve played Omaha clubs a number of times. 

Then comes (for me) Friday’s headliner – The Good Life. This legendary band emerged as a singer/songwriter side project by Cursive’s Tim Kasher in the early 2000s, releasing a string of classic albums on Saddle Creek Records. For years, Kasher would alternate between those two bands, releasing an album by Cursive which they would tour for year or so, and then releasing an album by The Good Life, which that band would tour, and so on. Eventually he also mixed in years where he focused on his solo album and subsequent tour. 

The Good Life hadn’t played in in years, but is currently on the road supporting a new double-LP rerelease of 2004’s Album of the Year, although this Outlandia performance will be more of a greatest hits set. I would love to see it. 

Finally, alt-folk singer/songwriter Gregory Alan Isakov plays a set before Lord Huron takes the stage. He played a sold out Admiral Theater earlier this year, and again, I have to admit to not having heard any of his music prior to that show, but the tracks I have heard since were great. 

Here’s the Friday schedule:

  • Minne Lussa – 4 p.m. 
  • The Envy Corps – 5 p.m. 
  • The Good Life – 6:15 p.m. 
  • Gregory Alan Isakov – 7:45 p.m. 
  • Lord Huron – 9:30 p.m. 

Saturday’s line-up is more diverse and, in my opinion, rock solid.

It kicks off at 1 p.m. with Criteria. The Omaha-based indie rock band (often classified as emo, though they’re not really emo in my book), was among the cadre of acts that released music on Saddle Creek Records in the early 2000s. Fronted by the high-flying guitarist/vocalist Stephen Pedersen, Criteria hosts a holiday concert every year at The Waiting Room, which is always jam-packed with familiar faces. Let’s hope some of them show up for this early set. 

They’re followed by Chicago indie band Horsegirl, whose 2022 album, Versions of Modern Performance (Matador Records), was on my list of favorites that year. This band would have been a natural for the Maha Festival, but Outlandia gets them and is better for it. 

Then along comes Cat Power. I’ve seen her a number of times, and you’re either in for a performance that’ll do down as an Outlandia highlight, or you’re in for a train wreck. There is no in between. Cat Power a.k.a. Chan Marshall, was part of the high-water days of Matador Records when the label could do no wrong with acts like Pavement, GBV and Yo La Tengo releasing one classic album after another, with Cat Power right there in the mix.

Chan’s followed by a reunion of another classic Omaha band, The Faint, who by themselves is worth the prices of admission. This band of No Wave / Blank Wave / electronic-driven dance-punk rockers owned the early 2000s indie landscape next to labelmates Bright Eyes, and were one of the driving bands that briefly made Omaha indie-famous during Saddle Creek Records’ glory years. Do not miss.

Then comes the festival’s headliners…

Manchester Orchestra have been around forever and falls into the same dreary category as The National to some extent, though they’re not nearly as popular. They have a new EP out on Loma Vista Records.

Lots of people are excited about emo band Jimmy Eat World. Either you were a big Jimmy Eat World fan or, like me, you missed the boat with these guys. That said, there will be a ton of people on hand just for this set. Their latest release, the single “Place Your Debts,” was written by Desaparecidos’ Denver Dalley and The Faint’s Clark Baechle. Will Clark make a cameo appearance during the set?

Finally, it’s headliner Modest Mouse. They played Maha a few years back and have a huge fan base that counted me among them… back when they released their debut album, The Lonesome Crowded West. Unfortunately, they kind of moved on from that sound, and are more known for their single “Float On.” 

Here’s the Saturday schedule:

  • Criteria – 1 p.m.
  • Horsegirl – 2 p.m.
  • Cat Power – 3:30 p.m
  • The Faint – 5 p.m.
  • Manchester Orchstra – 6:30 p.m.
  • Jimmy Eat World – 8 p.m.
  • Modest Mouse – 9:30 p.m.

I’m on the fence about going on Saturday afternoon, which should be pretty awesome, though I have some trepidation about the whole campsite situation, having never been to Falconwood and having no idea how to get there. I’ve talked to a couple folks who have attended, and they say it’s easy-peasy. 

Single-day festival tickets are $105 ($89+$16 in fees); two-day passes are $190 ($169+$21 in fees); single-day VIP tickets are $273 ($249+$24 in fees). This year all tickets include parking. More info at

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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 © 2023 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Outlandia Festival GA tickets cheaper than last year (sort of), camping, other pricing, Vs. Maha…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 7:34 am March 27, 2023

by Tim McMahan,

Outlandia Festival tickets went on sale last Friday and though the VIP prices have gone up, General Admission tickets are actually a little less compared to last year. The reason? They’ve included your parking fee right in the ticket price. 

This year, ticket prices are $89 for a single-day pass or $169 for a 2-day pass, but both come with general admission parking. Last year tickets were $79 single day / $149 2-day, but general admission parking was $25 (or $15 if you were willing to take a shuttle to your car). So… cheaper, right?

However, Outlandia VIP tickets this year are $249 for one-day passes and $449 for two-day passes – which is a price bump compared to 2022 when VIP tickets were $199 for one-day, $340 for 2-day passes with VIP parking included. That’s a substantial increase.

Not charging for parking is obviously a good idea – not only does it seem like a better value but it’s a lot less confusing than last year, where people didn’t understand the parking situation or felt ripped when they found out that they were being gouged for parking. Odd that Outlandia hasn’t ballyhooed the free parking. 

Comparably, the price for Maha Festival tickets are $50 for Friday night, $60 for Saturday, $100 two-day; VIPS are $130 for Friday, $160 for Saturday and $240 for 2-day VIPs. Parking has always been free and abundant at Maha. That’s a price increase for Friday and 2-day tix over last year’s pricing, which were $35 for Friday night, $65 for Saturday and $85 for both days. VIP tix in 2022 were $90 Friday, $165 Saturday and $230 for two day. So, strangely, Saturday prices are cheaper this year.

Maha has already posted a “low ticket” warning, that’s because the current price point for general admission will eventually go up by $10 per ticket, and then another $10 increase day of show. VIPs are static. They used to call these Tier I tickets “early bird” pricing. Remember when they used to offer the discount before they announced the lineup?

Like I’ve always said, if you’re really into the Maha line-up, and you’ve got the bread, VIPs are really the best way to go – food, your own bar, fantastic sight lines, private bathroom, shelter from the sun – it’s worth it.

Outlandia VIP tickets are a simlar value. Conversely, if you’re going to the entire Outlandia weekend, camping would be the way to go because, once you’re there, you’re there. No parking hassles, no weird traffic hangups (though it’s not clear if you can camp overnight and leave the day following the festival).

Weekend camping passes are $100; car camping passes (which come with two camping passes) are $250 and RV camping passes are $800 (and also include two camping passes). Priced DO NOT include festival tickets. Camping is only available to festival ticket holders, and only people with camping passes can access the campsite, where you must be 21 to enter. Lots of rules for this one – beverages must be purchased from Camp Outlandia, outside food is allowed but you can’t bring it with you to the festival grounds. No grills or campfires!

So waitaminit, I can’t bring my own cooler full of booze? Then again, something tells me these campers will be imbibing in something other than booze for their good times…

I’m not a camping-type person, but I asked a friend who and he thought the RV prices were steep unless they included hookups. This being their first year for camping, I’d have offered a discount, but hey, they have their reasons, right? 

I didn’t attend Outlandia last year, but was told getting in and out was relatively painless, and you know it’ll be even smoother the second year (especially with “free” parking). 

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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 © 2023 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Outlandia line-up annoucement imminent; Amyl does Omaha; Philly’s Grocer Vs. Pitchfork (in the column)…

Category: Blog,Column — Tags: , , — @ 10:59 am March 14, 2023

by Tim McMahan,

Outlandia yesterday officially announced that the two-day festival returns Aug. 11 and 12 to Falconwood Park in Bellevue, with a line-up announcement in late March.

This year’s fest will for the first time offer a limited number of RV and camping locations, which was part of the original Outlandia vision. As for the actual lineup: “In its second year, Outlandia is staying true to its vision of featuring established and emerging indie, alternative and alt‐country artists and celebrating the community’s love of music,” said Outlandia cofounder Marc Leibowitz of One Percent Productions.

Outlandia will be challenged to beat last year’s line-up, topped by Wilco and The National. My two “guesses” of who could do that are The Pixies and Yeah Yeah Yeahs. I guess we’ll see soon enough.

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Another Outlandia guess would have been Amyl and the Sniffers, but instead we’re going to get them Oct. 18 at The Admiral. This will be a cool show. Pre-show tix go on sale Wednesday (sign up from the Amyl website), with general ticket sales happening Friday morning. 

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Philly band Grocer returns to Reverb Lounge Sunday night. In support of that show, I interviewed the band for my monthly column in The Reader. The topic – are brutally negative album reviews necessary in an era when all music is available all the time. It’s not like ye olden days, when you shelled out your hard-earned cash, took home the album and hoped that the singlers weren’t the only decent tracks on the record. You simply didn’t know until after you bought the record. My, how things have changed.

Grocer was particularly irritated about a Pitchfork review of Maneskin’s shitty new album (and Steve Albini’s Steely Dan takedown), and said so in Twitter. See what they had to say either by picking up a copy of the March issue of The Reader at any of your favorite pick-up locations (mine is La Casa on Grover Street) or read it online right here. … Actually, here’s the column in its entirety, posted for posterity (because The Reader’s articles have a way of disappearing in a few years, unlike Lazy-i’s content, which lives forever….). 

Haters Gonna Hate

Early last month, Pitchfork, an online indie music news and reviews website, published a blisteringly negative review of glam-rock album “Rush!” by the Italian band Måneskin. Negative reviews are nothing new for Pitchfork, but this one was particularly biting; its sentiment was neatly summed up in the article’s subhead, in which author Jeremy Larson described the record as “absolutely terrible at every conceivable level.”

You’d think such a record would rate a 0.0 on Pitchfork‘s 10-point scale, but somehow the album garnered a 2.0. A rating that low catches people’s attention, and sure enough, the review received “viral lift” on social media by music fans who celebrated Larson’s butchery of an album they likely never would have listened to otherwise. And isn’t that what rock criticism is all about?

Not to Nick Rahn, guitarist/vocalist of Philadelphia-based indie band Grocer, which is slated to play at Reverb Lounge on March 19. Rahn headed to Twitter, posting from the band’s account: “Hot take alert: We no longer have a need for negative music reviews when you can listen to anything you want for free and form your own opinion.”

Rahn’s rebuttal continued in the threaded tweet. “I get that it feels good to shit on things you don’t like but is it helpful? Does it have a place on a public forum? With so much music out there isn’t it more useful to single out music you like than to single out music you don’t like? Also can we stop saying that music is ‘good’ or ‘bad’? It’s ok to have an opinion. You don’t need to be an authority on the objective quality of something just because it doesn’t register as ‘cool’ for you.”

Rahn’s reaction came a day after a different critical brouhaha boiled over on Twitter, this time featuring legendary post-punk recording engineer Steve Albini lambasting (of all things) ’70s yacht rock supergroup Steely Dan.

Albini, whose contribution to music history includes recording classic albums from grunge icons The Pixies, Nirvana and PJ Harvey, tweeted a bunch of one-liners about the band responsible for such hits as “Peg” and “Deacon Blues,” including: “Christ the amount of human effort wasted to sound like an SNL band warm up,” and “Music made for the sole purpose of letting the wedding band stretch out a little.”

As both a longtime Steely Dan fan and long-time Albini fan, this produced a chuckle. Others were not so amused, as online publications including Pitchfork “amplified” Albini’s rant, resulting in much venting of spleen on social media. Grocer reacted to this on Twitter, too: “If we are going to get upset every time an old guy has an opinion on Steely Dan there is no hope for us to survive in this world.” Huzzah!

Grocer bandmates, drummer/vocalist Cody Nelson and bassist/vocalist Danielle Lovier, said people got pissed about Rahn’s Pitchfork tweets.”They reacted angrily,” Rahn said via a phone interview.

“A lot of people took the comments to say that we don’t want to be criticized,” Nelson said. “When a multimillion-dollar company owned by Conte Nast decides to heat up conversation for a day, it’s going to be lame. The review’s author should have said he hates (the album) on twitter. For Pitchfork, (the review) is being mean for no reason. There was a period of time when a Pitchfork review could stop careers from thriving. These days it doesn’t matter.”

“What is weird,” Lovier added, “is that people will hate-listen to that album now.”

Lovier is right. I listened to the Måneskin album only because of its viral negative review and 2.0 rating. I never would have if Pitchfork rated it between 5.0 and 8.0. And while Rahn is correct that people can find out for themselves if an album is good or bad now that music is so freely available, that availability doesn’t come with the one valuable thing we all need to listen to new music — time.

Instead of hate-listening to the latest Måneskin album, Grocer would prefer you listen to their new album, “Scatter Plot,” released March 3 on Philly label Grind Select. Having listened to both, I can attest your time will be better spent.

And you can bet that, despite the criticism of Pitchfork, Grocer would love the so-called “bible of Indie music” to review their album.

“We would love them to pan us,” Nelson said. “And let’s face it, it’s better for (Pitchfork) to attack a band no one’s heard of than, say, Greta Van Fleet.”

Grocer performs at Reverb Lounge on March 19 with Bad Self Portraits and Estrogen Projection. Showtime is 8 p.m., tickets are $10. For more information, go to

Originally published in The Reader, March 14, 2023. Copyright © 2023 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 © 2023 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.