Live Review: Petfest 2023 was a red hot good time… literally…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , , , — @ 5:14 am August 21, 2023

A small, sweaty moshpit formed during Cat Piss’s set at a red-hot Petfest 2023.

by Tim McMahan,

If you thought this year’s Maha Festival was miserably hot, it didn’t hold a candle to Petfest last Saturday. With the heat index rising somewhere to around 105 degrees, the annual festival held behind Benson’s Petshop Gallery felt like a survival contest. No doubt the extreme temperatures put a damper on the BFF fundraiser’s attendance numbers, which, when I was there from 4 to 7 p.m., looked to only be around 100 sweaty, stoic bodies. 

Like last year, the festival performances switched between two stages – one inside the garage of Petshop, the other across the rock parking lot. Festival organizers hung colorful parachutes in an vain effort to provide something resembling shade. Goddamn, it was hot. 

Thirst Things FIrst try not to implode from the heat at Petfest 2023, Aug. 19.

Despite the extremes, Lincoln band Thirst Things First kept with their tradition and wore matching black track suits — stifling. A red faced Mike Elfers ripped into their set backed by this always entertaining band that is sort of a cross between Devo and The Faint but with a better sense of humor. Just like last year, their synth and guitar-heavy sound wowed the crowd. What will it take to get these folks to play a show in one of Omaha’s countless venues? The answer is $$$… or oil. 

Little Brazil perform under the parachutes on the “outside stage” at Petfest 2023.

Next up across the gravel-pit lot was Little Brazil. No matter the conditions, these guys bring the rock. They took the opportunity to roll out a couple new songs, which they say will be recorded and released on a 7-inch single early next year. On one of them, Landon Hedges played a unique dissonant chord progression countered by Shawn Cox’s funky middle-Eastern-sounding riff. 

Cat Piss plays a scorching set in the Petshop garage stage.

Omaha post-punk power trio Cat Piss followed inside the Petshop garage and even got a few sweaty kids slamming in front of the garage door. 

While there was plenty of booze to choose from, Petfest didn’t offer food options – in fact no food trucks or food vendors that I could find. Maybe Dundee Day or the Riverfront grand opening hogged them all (or they were just following Maha’s example). That forced folks to leave the festival to eat, and likely provided a cooling respite from the heat and humidity in one of the nearby restaurants. I also needed a break, leaving after Cat Piss’ set to go home and change out of my sopping wet clothes.

Head of Femur rips through another hot song on the Petfest “outdoor” stage.

But I was back an hour later to catch the full set from Head of Femur on the “outdoor stage.” The band has been around since 2001, fronted by guitarist vocalist Matt Focht, they’ve released albums on a number of indie labels including Spin Art and Grey Day Records and are critical darlings thanks to their intense, intricate yet catchy take on prog rock. 

Focht and company rolled out a number of new songs that were more melodic and less proggy than their usual fare. To my ear they sounded more traditional — and groovier — and a natural for a festival like Outlandia next year. Here’s hoping this new material is a  precursor to a new album. 

I split after Femur, though I could hear the festival echoing off the streets of Benson from my house a mile away. It’s a shame that the heat got in the way, but a good time was had by the hearty few who endured the inferno. 

The Petfest compound looking North. Yes, i was as hot as it looks…

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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.


Father John Misty tonight; Petfest 2023, Dundee Day Saturday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 7:31 am August 18, 2023
Thirst Things First at Petfest 2022. The band returns to Petfest 2023 Saturday.

by Tim McMahan,

Petfest you already know about since I wrote about it in detail here yesterday. Go ahead and read it, we’ll wait….

Other detes about Petfest: Just $30 if you buy your ticket today online here, $40 if you wait until tomorrow. Children under 10 are free. It’s located behind Petshop Gallery at 2725 No. 62nd St. The fest features 20 bands and performers starting at 2 p.m. and running sometime aft 11 p.m. 

It’s going to be hot as fxxx, so bring a water bottle if you don’t plan on getting all liquored up. 

All info here. See you there.

What else is happening this weekend? 

Maybe because it’s being held at Lincoln’s Pinewood Bowl, but tonight’s Father John Misty concert has been flying under my radar. He played at Maha 2018 right before Weezer and was pretty good. His duet with Lana Del Rey is one of my favorite songs of 2023. FJM is opening tonight for boring folks rock act The Head and the Heart.  Miya Folick also is on the bill. This is a seated show with tickets running between $30 and $70 bucks. Starts at 8 p.m. 

Also tonight, Des Moines folk rock band The Nadas plays at Reverb Lounge with Elizabeth Moen. $20, 8 p.m. 

Tomorrow (Saturday) in addition to Petfest, it’s Dundee Day, which I accidentally wrote about last week (right here). Again, don’t miss the parade along Underwood Avenue at 10:30 a.m. featuring a marching band consisting of a number of indie music notables from bands that include Desaparecidos, Cursive, Flowers Forever, the list goes on and on. Should be weird.

Las Cruxes kicks off the Dundee Night Street Party at 4 p.m., which is capped off by Satchel Grande at 10:15 p.m. The full line-up is here.

Also, the Riverfront grand opening is this weekend, and there are a couple interesting performances, but you’ll have to navigate their painfully lousy website to figure it out. I plan on going down there sometime this weekend. Future home of Maha Music Festival…

And 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 © 2023 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Petfest 2023 Preview: Head of Femur, BIB, Little Brazil, Mike Schlesinger, more this Saturday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — @ 6:43 am August 17, 2023
Gone but not forgotten Omaha rockers No Thanks close out Petfest 2022. Petfest returns this Saturday.

by Tim McMahan,

Petfest is this Saturday behind Petshop Gallery in Benson, 2725 No. 62nd St. If you thought last year’s was a cornucopia of the best local talent, you’re in for even more this year. We’re talking two stages, one right next to the other, hosting bands playing 30-minute sets. If you don’t like what you’re hearing, go take a piss, grab a bite or a drink, and when you come back a different act will be performing (or a dope drag queen). 

We’re talking 20 bands starting at 2 p.m. with Ojai and wrapping up at 10:35 p.m. with BIB (followed by DJ Scherritaivo). I don’t know every act, but here are the ones I do know:

Head of Femur – Fronted by guitarist/vocalist Matt Focht with contributions by a plethora of local heroes, the band plays gorgeous indie that falls somewhere between folk rock and prog. 

Little Brazil – Sometime in the last 20-odd years they elevated to the status of “local legends.” Founded by singer/songwriter/guitarist Landon Hedges and bassist/vocalist Danny Maxwell, the band was — and is — a staple of the Omaha indie music scene thanks to their punk-meets-emo rock histrionics. 

Mike Schlesinger – Acoustic singer/songwriter has the best voice of any performer from ’round these parts, playing sad folk indie songs guaranteed to break your heart. 

Thirst Things First – Lincoln band of uniformed musical miscreants is a cross between Devo and Uranium Club with a complicated backstory about a computer gone mad. DO NOT MISS.

Dereck Higgins – The one and only, his music spans every genre though lately the focus is on electronic dance and ambient (dare I say, jazz?). Who knows what he’ll bring to the show Saturday. 

Cat Piss — The post-punk trio is carrying on a rock tradition with roots that run deep in Omaha’s early ’90s golden age of indie, but for a whole new generation. 

Pagan Athletes – Noise-rock brothers Griffin and Nathan Wolf make a jittery, noisy racket that will fray your nerves… in a good way. 

Universe Contest – The Lincoln band is massive in size and sound, like having our very own version of Modest Mouse (but back when Modest Mouse was good). 

The Machete Archive – Another classic Lincoln indie noise-rock band from back in the day, known for its guitar and bass histrionics, they’ve only improved with age. Epic. 

BIB – They’re saving the hardest, fastest, punkest for last. BIB are redefining hardcore without losing sight of their roots. This is the real thing. 

And there’s more, most of which I’ve never heard before, but no doubt all worth checking out. 

Get in all day for just $30 dollars in advance (with no additional charges!) or $40 day of show. Plus art, a cash bar, and you’re supporting the non-profit Benson First Friday crew. Here’s the lineup, on two stages:

  • 2:00 – OJAI
  • 2:25 – Pagan Athletes
  • 2:50 – Dereck Higgins
  • 3:15 – XID
  • 3:40 – Mike Schlesinger
  • 4:05 – Specter Poetics
  • 4:30 – Living Conditions
  • 4:55 – Thirst Things First
  • 5:25 – Little Brazil
  • 5:55 – Cat Piss
  • 6:30 – Nowhere
  • 6:50 – Head of Femur
  • 7:20 – The Machete Archive
  • 7:50 – Face
  • 8:20 – Child of Night
  • 8:50 – Universe Contest
  • 9:25 – Jeff in Leather
  • 10:00 – Chew
  • 10:35 – BIB
  • 11:00 – DJ Scherritaivo

More info, tickets, schedule and other good stuff at the Petfest webpage, right here. 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 © 2023 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Petfest releases Aug. 19 festival schedule; Liam Bauman, Ben Eisenberger tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 7:34 am August 3, 2023

Liam Bauman plays tonight at Pageturners Lounge.

by Tim McMahan,

The annual Petfest festival is two weeks from this Saturday, Aug. 19, at Petshop Gallery in Benson, 2729 No. 62nd Street (in the back). It again features the year’s best line-up of local bands all in one day-long event. 

Yesterday, organizers dropped the show schedule, which bounces between an outside stage and an inside stage located in their back garage area, which opens to the same outdoor area. It’s sort of like a mini amphitheater!

Here’s the schedule:

Outside Stage:

  • 2:00-2:20 Ojai
  • 2:50-3:10 Dereck Higgins
  • 3:40-4:00 Mike Schlesinger
  • 4:30-4:50 Living Conditions
  • 5:25-5:50 Little Brazil
  • 6:50-7:15 Head Of Femur
  • 7:50-8:15 FACE
  • 8:50-9:20 Universe Contest
  • 10:00-10:30- CHEW

Inside Stage:

  • 2:25-2:45 Pagan Athletes
  • 3:15- 3:35 XID
  • 4:05-4:25 Specter Poetics
  • 4:55-5:20 Thirst Things First
  • 5:55-6:20 Cat Piss
  • 6:30-6:45 NOWHERE
  • 7:20-7:45 Machete Archive 
  • 8:20-8:45 Child of Night
  • 9:25-9:55 Jeff In Leather 
  • 10:35-11:00 BIB
  • 11:00-Midnight DJ SCHERRITAIVO

There also will be drag performances throughout the day between sets. Advance tickets are $30 and are available online here, or pay $40 day of show. 

The Outlandia Festival at Falconwood Park is Aug. 11 and 12, and unless it’s hidden somewhere on their website, they’ve yet to announce their show schedule/set times. No doubt it’ll drop any day now, though we already know Lord Huron will headline Friday night and Modest Mouse headlines Saturday night. 

I stand corrected. Looks like Outlandia posted the schedule on their Instagram earlier this week. Here it is:

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Tonight at Pageturners Lounge Nashville singer/songwriter Liam Bauman performs with our very own Ben Eisenberger. He counts Eliott Smith and Phoebe Bridgers among his influences (he reminds me of Phoebe sideman Christian Lee Hutson). Really good stuff. Ben Eisenberger is no slouch, either. Not sure who goes on first, but the show starts at 8 p.m. and although it’s free they’re suggesting a $10 donation (Come on, give it up!). 

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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.