Live Review: Digital Leather at The Sydney; Clarence Tilton on the street; Mannequin Pussy tonight…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:48 pm September 9, 2019

Digital Leather at The Sydney, Sept. 6, 2019.

by Tim McMahan,

It’s been so long since Digital Leather played locally I thought frontman Shawn Foree moved back to Arizona. The project came out with a limited edition vinyl compilation on the Stencil Trash insignia in January called Feeet, as well as a limited 8-track tape (you read that right) version of 2007’s Blow Machine (FDH Records). But still no local appearances.

Then last Friday night Foree and his current Digital Leather line-up took the stage at The Sydney for a half-hour set. DL has had numerous iterations over the years, swinging between ‘80s electronic synth-driven No Wave to full-on guitar punk, with Foree either behind a keyboard rack or slinging an electric guitar. This time he stood out front with an electric bass backed by two synth players — a pal from Arizona named Jason and Omahan Blake Kostszewa of FiFI NoNo — while veteran stickman Jeff Lambelet took his usual place behind the drum kit.

Bringing the bass out front proved to be a bold move as the band ran through a set that included standout track “Puff” off the new record (but originally released on 2018’s Headache Heaven) and a re-imagined version of “B12” (originally released as part of Foree’s Mere Mortals project and later covered (with lyrics rewritten) by The Faint as “Damage Control”).

Foree put down his bass and returned behind the synths for the set closer, singing lyrics read from a sheet of notebook paper. I figured it was maybe an obscure cover, but he said afterward it was a new song called “Compass” — red hot and the evening’s highlight. Here’s hoping the song gets a proper release, along with whatever else the prolific Mr. Foree has been working on.

Clarence Tilton at the Parkwood Lane Bluegrass Festival, Sept. 7, 2019.

Saturday night I walked around the block to the Parkwood Lane Bluegrass Festival to catch a performance by Clarence Tilton. This is actually the annual block party held on Parkwood Lane just west of Memorial Park — picture lots of neighbors standing in the street eating covered-dish gourmet while kids speed around on mini BMX bikes, big-screen TVs showing whatever game is on ESPN. And at the end of the street, a small stage under a tent where the bands played.

I keep comparing Clarence Tilton to ’90s-era indie power-pop acts and I’ve got to admit, it’s kind of a stretch, especially when you see them perform live. I mean, don’t get me wrong, they could be a fantastic power-pop act, especially with their backgrounds, but the fact is these guys are playing countrified Americana music, and the twang is unmistakable on stage, where they resemble The Statler Brothers more than The dBs, and that’s not a bad thing.

Overheard from the neighborhood crowd: “These guys are the real deal.” And they are. I don’t know why they haven’t been discovered on a national level, they’re certainly as good or better than anything I’ve heard on the country Sirius stations. The Weber Brothers are among the best axe men around, and then you’ve got three different (very good) vocalists. I guess maybe their lack of national notoriety has to do with the fact that the band members have other careers — and lives — that prevent them from touring outside our little burg. That means Clarence Tilton will likely remain Omaha’s — and Parkwood Lane’s — best kept secret.

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Tonight at Slowdown Jr. it’s Philly band Mannequin Pussy. Though they’re on Epitaph Records, they don’t sound like a run-of-the-mill Epitaph band. With their shoe-gaze shimmer, I’d more likely mistake them for someone on 4AD. Their latest, Patience, is shoe-gaze leaning on heavy metal. Opening is Sacramento band Destroy Boys (Uncool Records) and UK producer/musician Ellis. $15, 8 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 © 2019 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Live Review: Clarence Tilton at a block party; Terror Pigeon, Iska Dhaaf tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:42 pm September 12, 2016
Clarence Tilton at the Parkwood Lane Bluegrass Festival, Sept. 10, 2016.

Clarence Tilton at the Parkwood Lane Bluegrass Festival, Sept. 10, 2016.

by Tim McMahan,

From the porch of my house on Sunset Trail I could see the lights glowing from the stage through the trees. This was no ordinary block party, it was the Parkwood Lane Bluegrass Festival, an event that’s been held since 2014 along the said neighborhood street between Western and Underwood. It’s gotten bigger every year; this year’s featured performer was Clarence Tilton. Next year I expect Wilco to headline.

Despite the stage and professional sound (Hiddleston is first class), it really is just an annual block party. The street was blocked off on either end and long tables were set up leading to the stage, which was a riser surrounded by white Christmas lights strung from poles. It was like a small-town concert, with kids tooling around on push-scooters screaming and laughing, people in groups drinking beers and wine, a portable fire pit and kiosk loaded with flat-panels that showed night college football games for those who couldn’t bear missing a snap.

What I found interesting was how everyone knew everyone; whereas I didn’t know anyone on the street. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised — I don’t live on Parkwood Lane. But then I got to thinking about how many people I really know on my street; know by name. Or who know me. The number is maybe five or six? That’s what happens when you don’t have kids. If you have kids, well, you’re going to know everyone in a four-block radius…who has kids. That’s how it’s always been and should be.

Anyway, we sat on a hay bale and listened as the Clarence Tilton gang ripped though a set of alt-country songs that deserve attention from the rest of the world. At the core is the Weber Brothers on electric guitars and vocals, surrounded by some of the tightest-playing musicians in Omaha. Though alt-country in style, the music reminded me of bands like The Rave-Ups, The Reivers, The Windbreakers and Uncle Tupelo. It’s music that will appeal both to country fans and fans of good, upbeat, tuneful indie music. In fact, I don’t know why they haven’t been discovered by a label. Their debut album, which came out last year, is among the best things produced out of Nebraska.

Though I didn’t see anyone doing a two-step (which got me thinking, these guys really should try playing a few sets at Bushwackers in Ralston) the neighborhood looked like it was having a good time. And the sound was immaculate. We left after about an hour, and of course, was able to continue listening from our house, and didn’t mind at all…

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Tonight there’s a pretty cool electronic/dance show at Lookout Lounge. I haven’t been able to find a shit-ton of info about the headliner, Terror Pigeon, on the interwebs. The best info was from this 2014 Stereogum article:

…formed as Terror Pigeon Dance Revolt, it’s a collective that was created in 2008 by then-SUNY Purchase student Neil Fridd. They signed to David Byrne’s Luaka Bop label and put out one full-length in 2010, the charmingly-titled ‘I love you! I love you! I love you and I’m in love with you! Have an awesome day! Have the best day of your life!’ They were written up in The New York Times and played shows at SXSW, CMJ, and around DIY venues in Brooklyn and Manhattan. Their emoji-heavy website shows that they’ve been touring consistently for the past four years since the release of their debut. With “Girl!,” they’ve officially started the rollout for their sophomore album, called Live It Up Before You Die It Up!, which will be released through Nashville-based label Stay Magical.

Their music reminds me of Matt & Kim, sorta, though I like TP’s music a lot more.  Also on the bill is Real Dom, a lap-top dance dude. Locals Thick Paint (Graham Ulicny of Reptar) and Big Slur (Dan Scheuerman of Deleted Scenes) open. $5, 8 p.m.

Also tonight, Iska Dhaaf,  is playing a sneaky show at Milk Run. Sneaky because it came out of nowhere. They played at O’Leaver’s this past April (BTW, here’s Ten Questions with Iska Dhaaf written in support of that show.)Opening are Idle Fox and King Pegion.  $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.