Live Review: Petfest (And How, Those Far Out Arrows)…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 12:12 pm August 17, 2020
And How at Petfest, Aug. 15, 2020.

Like being stranded in the desert and drinking an ice-cold ladel of water — that’s what it was like to finally see live rock music again.

The opportunity came at Petfest last Saturday — the first live music I’ve experienced since COVID-19 began kicking our collective asses this past March. I can’t tell you how much I’ve missed rock shows. Watching a live band really underscores why live-streamed performances are a poor — but necessary — substitute for the real thing.

And while I know our COVID numbers around here are pretty bad, with the right precautions in place I don’t understand why there isn’t at least a few live outdoor indie shows happening somewhere. But I’ll get to that in a minute.

Just prior to organizers pulling the online ticket sales yesterday morning, there were only four of the 50 available tickets left for purchase, so if it wasn’t a sell-out it was close to it. After I posted my Lazy-i update Friday, organizers decided to nix the inside stage and host the entire event with two outdoor stages. Genius sound engineer Ian Aeillo cleverly pulled the in-door “stage” to the edge of the Petshop overhead doors, adding to the overall safety of the festival.

Before entering the snow-fence-bordered compound behind Petshop in Benson you had to be masked and have a temperature check. Once inside, there was plenty of room to roam, with a bar set up on one side next to the ProBlac tent and a merch tent.

I arrived at around 6 p.m., just in time to see And How’s entire set. A seven-piece ensemble that includes a two-piece brass section (trumpet and trombone) along with the usual keys, guitars, drums, I’d been told by a number of music folks how great they were, and they weren’t kidding. Fronted by vocalist/guitarist Ryan Menchaca, their sound is textured and melodic, floating and soaring like a plastic bag doing a ballet in an updraft between two skyscrapers. Some might say it borders on yacht rock, but these days, that’s a compliment, especially in an indie scene that’s infatuated with it.

Menchaca’s vocals, a perfect mid-range coo, wasn’t the least bit hampered by the mask he wore — in fact, the entire band wore masks throughout the performance, except of course for the brass players who dropped their shields when jams required. If there was a flaw it was in the enunciation — I’m not sure what these songs are about, but if their floating psych-rock sound is any indication, the topics are peace, love and understanding.

Mechaca said the band has only recorded one song, which is linked below. Methinks now would be a good time for them to get into a studio (perhaps Aeillo’s studio?) and get the rest of their set recorded for a debut album.

Those Far Out Arrows at Petfest, Aug. 15, 2020.

And How was followed by Those Far Out Arrows playing in the garage stage (appropriately). The time off due to COVID has only strengthened the four-piece psych-rock outfit, who never sounded more lean and mean. While playing what you could consider traditional garage/psych rock, it feels like they’re headed toward different places these days. I would get caught up in a song’s warm vibe and hope it would go on for another five minutes instead of capping at the three-minute mark, like any good rock song — not jamming as much as a trance-like rhythm and tone.

The masked crowd was having fun hanging with friends, probably for the first time in a long time. Groups of two or three stayed distanced from others (for the most part). I never felt like the space was crowded or dangerous. I guess we’ll find out in a couple weeks should anyone get sick.

The Petshop folks did everything right as far as I could see, and the fact that they essentially sold out this small show at $30+fees per ticket tells me there’s an appetite for more small, safe, socially distanced, outdoor rock shows. I’m surprised there hasn’t been more like this one, but no doubt it takes a lot of organizing. That said, with summer winding down, the opportunities to do more of this before fall and winter comes — and we’re all stuck back indoors — is only going to become more limited. Let’s get it while we can.

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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.


Petfest is happening Saturday (And How, Universe Contest, TFOA), but is it safe?…

Category: Blog — Tags: , — @ 1:13 pm August 14, 2020
Petfest2020 is tomorrow (Saturday) at Petshop in Benson.

Tomorrow is likely the only local music festival for the calendar year 2020 — Petfest.

Held at Petshop Gallery, 2729 No. 62nd St. in Benson — both outside in the back lot and inside the garage performance spade — the line-up is impressive:

Outside Stage:
3:15- Bach Mai
4:35- Drag Performances
5:50- And How
7:10- Drag Performances
8:30- Queerniverse
9:00- Marcey Yates

Inside Stage:
3:50- BB Sledge
5:10- Muscle Cousins
6:30- Those Far Out Arrows
7:50- Ghost Foot
10:00- FLT RTH
10:15- Universe Contest
11:00- Kobrakyle

To keep with COVID restrictions, only 50 tickets will be sold at a cost of $30 (and there’s only about a dozen tickets left for purchase).

There’s also a ton of COVID-related safety restrictions, including mandatory mask wearing (duh!), hand-washing stations, 6-foot social distancing, temperature checks and an enforcement by the “BFF Sani Crew.”

People are dying to hear live music, but they’re not “dying” to hear it, and the BFF folks (that’s Benson First Friday) seem to have everything well covered for a safe experience. Of course you won’t know for sure until you get there. I would have loved if the whole thing were held outside, but organizers wanted two stages to keep things rolling and couldn’t fit both outside. If you’re squeamish about being inside, I’m told you’ll be able to hear the bands just fine from outside the garage space as the overhead doors will be wide open.

The only thing that gives me pause is you can’t bring in outside booze or food, and have to buy everything from them – that’s a potential touch point. I’d rather bring my own 6-pack, but there must be a reason why they’re not allowing it (like maybe it’s not legal?). This is a 21 and over show, btw. The other area of concern involves people who could congregate outside the festival compound, unrestricted and unsupervised. What do you do about them?

Ah, but safety is at the forefront of the organizers’ minds. No one wants to be identified as the non-profit that put on a super-spreader activity. This might be your only chance this year to see a line-up like this (but let’s hope it’s not).

Tickets are available right here. More info here.

That’s all I got. 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.