Live Review: Har Mar Superstar, Pinkerton; are SLAM Omaha’s message boards dead?

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 1:17 pm January 2, 2012
Har Mar Superstar at The Waiting Room, Dec. 30, 2011.

Har Mar Superstar at The Waiting Room, Dec. 30, 2011.

by Tim McMahan,

Oh Har Mar Superstar, how you vex me so as you jump around stage wearing nothing but thong underwear, your sweaty mane flopping on your chubby ivory shoulders like a filthy floor mop while your gigolo posse poses so demurely, so rock star, in the background.

It’s a shtick that never gets old, or does it?

This was my first time seeing Har Mar Superstar, and based on everything I’d heard, I expected a lot. There are those ’round these parts who consider a Har Mar show to be the epitome of fine rock entertainment. His O’Leaver’s performance from years ago is still whispered about with respect (and a little fear) by the elders who are slowly poisoning themselves into senility at that famous lovable shit hole.

And I admit to being a fan of HMS’s last full length, the sexy, sultry dance romp called Dark Touches. The man knows his way around a funk-o-licious beat.

So it hurts me to say that I was a bit disappointed by last Friday night’s performance at a packed (but not sold out) Waiting Room. Har Mar a.k.a. Sean Tillmann looked and sounded like the rest of us — half-gassed and exhausted after a week’s worth of holiday bullshit. He seemed tired as he bounded on stage in his full-length macramé hoody, only half singing his “hits” surrounded by a band that included two drummers, two bass players (including former local hero Denver Dalley in trademark white v-neck T-shirt and flowing blond hair), a guitarist and the one thing that was doing the yeoman’s share of the work — a laptop loaded with pre-recorded audio tracks. In fact, most songs started with a touch of a button before the band slowly started playing along. Half the fun was wondering if/when anyone was actually playing their instruments on stage (most of the time, they were).

The routine calls for Har Mar to slowly strip away his clothes at the conclusion of each song, eventually stripping to his thong by the end of the set. Those yearning to see his gleaming buttocks were not disappointed. On any other night, I’m sure we’d all be celebrating his virile portliness with ironic aplomb, but Friday night, Tillmann just looked like he wanted to get the set over with and get back home for New Year’s Eve. He sure didn’t look like he was having fun (though the rest of his band did). Maybe he was (too) loaded? Or maybe all of his shows are like this? I don’t know, but I doubt it. You don’t rise as high as Tillmann has by phoning it in every night.

Pinkerton at The Waiting Room, Dec. 30, 2011.

Pinkerton at The Waiting Room, Dec. 30, 2011.

One band that didn’t phone it in was Pinkerton, who opened for Har Mar Friday. Fronted by Criteria’s Stephen Pedersen and featuring former Cursive drummer Clint Schnase, this band of old friends gets together at least once a year to play a set of Weezer covers for fellow adoring fans. Many a fist was pumped in the air as they tore into the band’s greatest hits, including set highlight “Tired of Sex.” Running through my mind the entire set — will we ever see Criteria again?

* * *

And speaking of burning questions, are the SLAM Omaha message boards — one of the oldest bastions of local online music “discussion” — finally closing down? Maybe, temporarily. After a recent spate of hate, SLAM admin “Mick” posted that the boards will be taking a little vacation. “At some point even the simplest of things need to be evaluated and decisions need to be made about how they help our cool art and music community.” As of this morning, the boards were still live but users who tried to post a comment were met only with a Terms of Service statement.

If SLAM Omaha goes away, it’ll be an end of an era for a website that used to be a viable source of music news and discussion. Yes, there are a lot of options for music calendars and news now, but other than Lincoln’s Star City Scene music board, none of them have been able to generate online discussions. Hear Nebraska’s “forums” are a barren wasteland, mainly due to the board’s poor design and usability., which launched a snappy redesign over the holiday weekend (complete with “responsive design” for portable devices) only allows feedback on individual news items (as comments). And Saddle Creek Records’ old discussion area is a long faded memory.

These days all of the “discussion” is handled in well-mannered Facebook, where users actively monitor criticism and a “dislike” button doesn’t even exist. Are we better off not having some place where an anonymous critic can tell bands that they suck? Yeah, too much bitching can get old, and there should be no tolerance for personal attacks, racial/sexual comments and threats. That said, SLAM Omaha is/was one of the last places where bands could get unfiltered feedback, even if 95 percent of it was bullshit. Learning to deal with criticism — be it warranted or not — is an important part of being an artist. How you react to negative feedback helps define who you are. Unfortunately, we live in a town where criticism of anything “local” is viewed as hate, whether its constructive or not. The rule seems to be either throw roses at their feet, or go home.

But the cold hard fact is, maybe your band really does suck.

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2011 Best of Lazy-i Sampler

Hey you — yes you!

Don’t forget to enter to win a copy of the highly coveted Lazy-i Best of 2011 Sampler CD!  Just send me an e-mail (to with your name and mailing address and you’ll be dropped in the digital hat. Deadline lis Jan. 15. Enter today!

Track listing:

1. Eleanor Friedberger, “My Mistake”
2. Peace of Shit, “You Can’t Let Me In”
3. Lykke Li, “Youth Knows No Pain”
4. The Beastie Boys, “Nonstop Disco Powerpack”
5. tUnE-yArDs, “Gangsta”
6. It’s True, “I Don’t Want to Be the One”
7. The Decemberists, “Down By the Water”
8. Big Harp, “Goodbye Crazy City”
9. Kurt Vile, “Jesus Fever”
10. Low, “Try to Sleep”
11. So-So Sailors, “Young Hearts”
12. Destroyer, “Downtown”
13. St. Vincent, “Cruel”
14. Icky Blossoms, “Perfect Vision”
15. Gus & Call, “To the Other Side of Jordan”
16. Lana Del Rey, “Video Games”
17. Digital Leather, “Young Doctors in Love”

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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 © 2011 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Live Review: Pinkerton; Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., EMA tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:49 pm June 13, 2011
Pinkerton at The Waiting Room, June 11, 2011.

Pinkerton at The Waiting Room, June 11, 2011.

by Tim McMahan,

The problem with seeing Pinkerton this past Saturday night at The Waiting Room: I’ve had that “Buddy Holly” song stuck in my head all weekend. Pinkerton wasn’t so much a “Weezer tribute band” as a band that played Weezer songs. Fronted by Stephen Pedersen (Criteria) and including Clint Schnase (Cursive) on drums, the four-piece played stripped down, sweaty versions of songs off the first two Weezer albums — arguably the only two Weezer albums worth owning.

But along the way they took some liberties with some of the arrangements. As Pedersen said from stage, Weezer songs only have four chords so they had to do something to make things a little more interesting. That usually involved heavier arrangements of favorites like “Undone – The Sweater Song” and set closer “Tired of Sex.” So no, these weren’t note-for-note renditions of the classics (heck, there wasn’t even any keyboards, and yes, I missed them), but they did their job of getting the healthy-sized audience (100+) singing along, and with gusto.

One other footnote: Schnase is, indeed, back. No doubt he’ll be ready for his return to Cursive at MAHA in August.

* * *

Tonight, at The Waiting Room it’s Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. and EMA. I don’t know much about DEJJ, but I can tell you that EMA is a force to be reckoned with. EMA stands for Erika M. Anderson, a native of South Dakota, whose music is described as Drone Folk. On her debut, Past Life Martyred Saints (Souterrain Transmissions) she puts it all out there lyrically in a way I haven’t heard since maybe Liz Phair’s Matador debut, all the while drenching each song with layers of guitar/keyboards/static/feedback/numbed pain. The centerpiece is “California,” an anti-ode to the Golden State, with lines like “You’re bleeding from the fingertips / You rubbed me raw, you rubbed me wrong” and “What does failure taste like? / To me it tastes like dirt / I’m begging you please to look away.” Harsh. Hard. Fantastic. And worth the $10 all by herself. Show starts at 9.

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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 © 2011 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Red Sky blows it, loses its biggest night; Gus & Call, Ted Stevens, Pinkerton tomorrow…

Category: Column — Tags: , — @ 1:01 pm June 10, 2011

by Tim McMahan,

Red Sky logo

The story started going around yesterday, spread by an “insider,” and this morning Kevin Coffey made it official in the Omaha World-Herald (story here). The story — the Red Sky Music Festival has decided to cut its “festival” a day short, dropping its evening headliner spot for Saturday night altogether. Wow.

The primary quote from Kevin’s article:

“With the dates we selected, we just couldn’t find something there for that sixth evening,” said Jason Wright, vice president of booking for Live Nation Midwest. “When you’re in a limited window to work with, you’re at the mercy of the touring community. Anyone that was touring this summer, we tried to see if there was a possibility to make work. There was nothing that was available to us on that particular evening.”

Of course that’s complete bullshit. It’s a classic example of “go big or don’t go at all.” With the kind of cash MECA has to throw around they could easily have booked a band to fill that Saturday night slot. It just wouldn’t have been a band as huge as U2 or Jimmy Buffett or as Kevin suggests in his article, Lil’ Wayne or Jay-Z. Believe me, Live Nation has access to a lot of cool bands (though you wouldn’t know it by looking at the actual Red Sky line-up), they could have found an act, and I’m willing to bet Live Nation suggested quite a few to MECA, who turned them down because “It’s the last night of the festival, we have to have someone bigger than that,” or more likely “I’ve never heard of those guys, no.

MAHA organizer Tre Brashear’s defense of MECA and Live Nation in Kevin’s piece —  “I think people do labor under an assumption that it’s like going to a restaurant and picking off a menu. It’s just not that way” — is true. But somehow with a sliver of the budget that MECA has to work with MAHA has managed to put together a festival that blows away Red Sky, and does it with only one day’s worth of entertainment.

This is what happens when you turn to a conglomerate like Live Nation, who already has its hands full with more established and better-curated festivals (Sasquatch, for example, which boasts Death Cab, Decemberists, Modest Mouse, Bright Eyes…) and built-in assumptions about a Nebraska market, and you have a governing body involved like MECA, who comes off like an uncool uncle — the one who spends all day listening to sports talk radio — trying to select the music to be played at his niece’s Sweet 16 birthday party.

Imagine what One Percent could have put together with MECA’s budget…

And where is MECA in all this? According to Kevin’s OWH article: “MECA officials deferred comment to Live Nation.” Presumably MECA’s PR hack, who also goes by the name Pontius, was washing his/her hands at the time of this proclamation. Well, there’s no hiding from this one. This is MECA’s festival and MECA’s responsibility. The blame lands squarely on their shoulders.

* * *

Not much going on tonight, but tomorrow night’s looking good.

At red hot Barley Street Tavern Gus & Call plays a show with The Low End and Ted Stevens of Cursive. $5, 9 p.m.

Also tomorrow night, it’s the return of Pinkerton, a Weezer tribute band (that performs songs only from the first two albums) whose lineup includes Clint Schnase (ex-Cursive) and Stephen Pedersen (Criteria). I’m not sure who rounds out the band, but they’re probably superstars as well. The show’s at The Waiting Room. Live karaoke band Girl Drink Drunk opens. 9 p.m., $7.

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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 © 2011 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.