Music Visions for 2023: A look forward (and backward) at the Omaha and national indie music scenes; BIB, Whipkey tonight…

Category: Blog,Column — Tags: , — @ 7:41 am January 11, 2023

by Tim McMahan,

What mysteries will be revealed as I gaze into my magic Fender Squire Strat and see the future of Omaha’s (and the nation’s) indie music scene? Ah, but before we get to 2023, let’s see how I did with my predictions for 2022:

2022 Prediction: COVID-19 will have its last ugly gasp this winter and then will quickly fade away (except from our memories). By late summer, music venues’ mask-and-vax mandates will be a thing of the past.

Reality: Mask-and-vax mandates are distant memories, but COVID is still very much with us.

2022 Prediction: With TikTok creating the next generation of pop stars, more indie acts will take advantage of the platform.

Reality: TikTok remains a potent talent incubator … for pop stars, not indie stars.

2022 Prediction: The Maha Music Festival will be back and at full capacity. But it won’t be alone. Another Nebraska-based, indie-flavored, day-long music festival will be announced in ’22 that will be in direct competition.

Reality: The Outlandia Festival, with headliners Wilco and The National, was launched at Falconwood Park in Bellevue.

2022 Prediction: With two small music venues closing in ’21, watch as a new, small live-music venue opens to help fill the void.

Reality: There have been new venues in the past year, but nothing could replace The Brothers.

2022 Prediction: Helping fill those small-venue stages will be an army of next-generation indie bands created during the pandemic, many consisting of children of the aught-era indie bands that made Omaha famous.

Reality: Only a couple come to mind: Cat Piss and Pagan Athletes, both bands featuring the progeny of local music legend John Wolf.

2022 Prediction: Unfortunately, when it comes to popular national indie acts, we’ll continue to be “NOmaha” for national tours.

Reality: See my year in review story, published here last month. Pretty much dead-on target.

2022 Prediction: Look for another big-time indie music name to be taken down by a #metoo-style scandal.

Reality: In August, Arcade Fire’s Win Butler was accused of sexual misconduct.

2022 Prediction: After opening offices in Los Angeles and New York City, Saddle Creek Records will make a major announcement that will impact the label’s Omaha legacy.

Reality: Nothing new here, though is their Omaha staff shrinking?

2022 Prediction: Bands and performers we’ll be talking about this time next year: David Nance, Little Brazil, Modest Mouse, Christian Lee Hutson, DIIV, Spoon, Desaparecidos, Yo La Tengo, Jenny Lewis and (once again) Phoebe Bridgers.

Reality: Nance, Little Brazil, CLH, Spoon, Hutson, Desa, YLT and Bridgers all had new releases in 2022.

2022 Prediction: No Filter 2021 will be the last Rolling Stones tour.

Reality: The Stones are immortal.

2022 Prediction: A certain music journalist will begin compiling information for an oral history of the Omaha/Nebraska music scene.

Reality: Not yet, but soon.

2022 Prediction: After years of being shut out, a Saddle Creek Records act will finally perform on “Saturday Night Live.”

Reality: Ugh! I’m giving up!

So, six out of 12 – 50%? Bah, I can do better than that! Let’s take a look at what will happen in 2023:

Prediction: For a majority of young indie music acts, recording and releasing entire albums is costly and almost always a money loser. Beginning this year, we’ll begin to see a new focus on bands (and labels) promoting individual tracks rather than full albums. Is the album era beginning to wane?

Prediction: With inflation through the roof and the erosion of album revenues, touring also has become a money-losing proposition for new bands. Watch as more artists join Santigold, who cancelled her tour in September stating the current tour model is not sustainable. For many bands, touring will be limited to close-to-home markets.

Prediction: Big music festivals and national indie tours will be dominated almost solely by legacy bands in ’23 — acts whose heydays were one, two, even three decades ago. OK Boomer.

Prediction: Also in the bummer category, despite the vinyl explosion, downtown Omaha will not be able to sustain so many record stores. Watch as one of them closes its doors in ’23.

Prediction: In a shrewd, money-making move, a number of large local stages once known for hosting indie rock shows will begin booking full weekends of cover bands, Ranch Bowl-style.

Prediction: Omaha Performing Arts’ new Steelhouse music venue will open in May. Booked by Live Nation, it won’t be afraid to take chances (partially because it’s a funded nonprofit) and will pump new life into Omaha’s waning indie music scene.

Prediction: The Maha Festival will make a huge announcement after it enjoys yet another successful year in 2023. Don’t worry, great things are on its horizon.

Prediction: Meanwhile, Outlandia Festival will be bigger and better in Year 2, adding on-site camping and a broader array of artists, including new breakthrough indie acts.

Prediction: So, does Omaha have room for a third music festival? You better believe it. Watch for the announcement.

Prediction: The band with the longest-running original lineup, U2, will finally come to an end.

Prediction: Bands we’ll be talking about this time next year: David Nance, Lewsberg, Phoebe Bridgers (again), The Faint, Courtney Barnett, The Smiths, Parquet Courts, Hand Habits, Orville Peck, Matt Whipkey, Cactus Nerve Thang, Icky Blossoms and Car Seat Headrest.

Prediction: A huge movie crew will arrive here in River City in ’23 to begin filming a Netflix/Amazon/Hulu docu-drama series about the music scene during the early 2000s. Omaha, get ready for your closeup!

Over The Edge is a monthly column by Reader senior contributing writer Tim McMahan focused on culture, society, music, the media and the arts. Email Tim at

First published in January 2023 issue of The Reader. Copyright © 2023 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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I predict two shows of importance tonight…

Omaha noise/punk band BIB (Pop Wig Records) kicks off yet another tour tonight at Reverb Lounge. Joining them on tonight’s bill are Total Sham, Dose, and Fire Sign. $10, 8 p.m.

Also tonight, Matt Whipkey, Justin Lamoureux and Aly Peeler are having “singer/songwriter roundtable” at The Jewell. $10, 7 p.m.

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Lazy-i Best of 2022

Relive the year gone by with the  Lazy-i Best of 2022 Comp CD!

The collection includes my favorite indie tunes I’ve come across throughout the past year as part of my tireless work as a music critic for Lazy-i and The Reader. Among those included: Big Thief, Arcade Fire, Belle and Sebastian, Sudan Archive, Megan Siebe, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Plains, Simon Joyner, Rosie Thomas and more.  The full track listing is here.

To enter to win a copy of the CD, send me an email with your mailing address to Hurry, contest deadline is Thursday, January 12, at midnight.

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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.


Music Visions for 2019: What happened last year; what’ll happen this year…

Category: Blog — Tags: , — @ 12:00 pm January 2, 2019

Visions of 2019

by Tim McMahan,

It is time once again to gaze into the crystal Fender Strat and peer into another dimension which will reveal to my eyes alone the happenings and occurrences that shall take place over the next calendar year in the world of popular music. Hey man, it’s my annual music predictions!

But before we get to that, let’s take a look at how I did with last year’s visions for 2018.

2018 Prediction: With Milk Run gone another DIY venue will emerge to try to fill the void in booking up-and-coming touring indie artists.

Reality: While there are still house shows, no one has really stepped up to fill Milk Run’s shoes.

2018 Prediction: With new California offices, expect as many as four new bands added to the Saddle Creek Records’ roster in 2018, including at least one veteran indie band looking for a new home.

Reality: The Creek added Black Belt Eagle Scout, Young Jesus, Tomberlin and Big Thief’s Adrianne Lenker. As for that veteran band, The Faint is back and will release its first new album in five years.

2018 Prediction: Watch as some rather big names leave NYC and LA for the cheap digs and central location only Omaha can provide.

Reality: We’re still waiting.

2018 Prediction: Those who freaked out when vinyl returned will be doubly shocked when cassette tapes begin to make a comeback this year.

Reality: Cassette sales for the first half of 2018 were up 90 percent year-over-year in the UK and we now have an annual Cassette Store Day where you can pick up cassette copies of Nevermind, Back in Black and the Bohemian Rhapsody Soundtrack, among others.

2018 Predictions: Speaking of vinyl, as albums sales begin to flatten this year, watch as prices for new vinyl finally begin to drop. Can the $9.99 album be far behind?

Reality: You’ll still be hard-pressed to find new vinyl albums under $20.

2018 Prediction: Fed up with facing a crowd of people holding up smart phones during concerts, artists will implement new technology that will block smart phone cameras from operating inside venues.

Reality: While this tech exists (Apple patented it years ago) artists are still using Yondr devices to lock up your cell phone during shows.

2018 Prediction: With Hi-Fi House going public last summer and Hear Nebraska merging with Lincoln’s The Bay, look for yet another music-related organization to emerge, this time as a non-profit performance venue.

Reality: The Bemis is establishing a new sound art and experimental music residency program that will include a recording studio and performance space, but the music will be anything but pop.

2018 Prediction: More and more bands will change their names after their first or second release. Same band, different name, all to keep their music in front of the ever-fickle music public always looking for the next big thing.

Reality: Nope.

2018 Prediction: With the opening of the new Capitol District we will see even more live original music somewhere downtown other than at No-Do.

Reality: Well, there’s the Harney Street Tavern…

2018 Prediction: As the Maha Music Festival turns 10 this year, expect a mega-spectacular headliner and the festival’s expansion to a two-day event.

Reality: Maha indeed expanded to two days in 2018, with Weezer as the headliner.

2018 Prediction: You thought Prince’s and Bowie’s deaths were earth shakers, someone even bigger will be knocking on heaven’s door this year.

Reality: Mr. Zimmerman is still very much with us.

2018 Predictions: Bands we’ll be talking about this time next year: LCD Soundsystem, Arcade Fire, Monsters of Folk, High Up, Little Brazil, David Nance, Low, Stephen Malkmus, Cursive, Car Seat Headrest, Whitney, Navy Gangs, Bib, Hop Along.

Reality: Almost all the bands mentioned released new material in 2018.

2018 Prediction: Director Alexander Payne will be so bowled over by the area’s music scene that he not only will try to integrate Omaha music into one of his upcoming films, he’ll begin work on a movie based loosely on the Omaha music scene circa 2003.

Reality: I still think it’s a helluva idea, and I know where you can find a screenwriter, Alexander.

So, let’s see…. 6 out of 13. Eek. Let’s see if I can beat that this year?

Prediction: First it was vinyl, then cassettes and now even 8-tracks. Next year crazed music aficionados will take it one step further as we see the first album released on reel-to-reel tape.

Prediction: You thought having concert tickets on your iPhone was handy, watch out for facial recognition tickets. By submitting your facial profile to Ticketmaster, checking in at a show will be as easy as looking into a camera.

Prediction: A savvy concert promoter will organize a new Lilith Fair next year that brings together every hot indie female-led act for a traveling tour. Among them female indie supergroup boygenius, Saddle Creek’s Big Thief and Hop Along, Mitski, Noname, Eleanor Friedberger, Courtney Barnett and, of course, the return of Sarah McLachlan.

Prediction: Now with offices in Omaha and LA, watch Saddle Creek open offices in New York City and reopen offices in the UK as the label continues to expand its new-era roster.

Prediction: Speaking of Saddle Creek, with the return of The Faint to the roster, expect an even more surprising new release from another of the label’s first-generation superstars.

Prediction: For years the Hi-Fi House flew under the local radar before finally going public. This year a national publication will discover the project and bring it to the attention of a world-wide audience.

Prediction: As times get tougher for musicians, watch next year as the number of GoFundMe campaigns rise, including from some very well-known artists. They won’t be asking you to fund recording projects; they just need to pay their bills.

Prediction: At least one major, respected rock artist will come out in 2019… as a Trump supporter, and the fallout will make even Kanye blush.

Prediction: Because of the advent of streaming services, more and more vintage (i.e., ancient) artists will enter the Billboard Hot 100 as a new generation of listeners discovers them via television commercials or film soundtracks. Everything old is new again.

Prediction: As we mourn the passing of Almost Music a new record store will open in 2019 either downtown or in Benson operated by another well-respected member of the local music community. The shop will feature the same high-quality curated new and used stock, and will quickly become “the place” where musicians and young fans hang out.

Prediction: A very famous candle in the wind will be extinguished in 2019.

Prediction: Bands we’ll be talking about this time next year: Beck, Belle & Sebastian, The Faint, Algiers, Spoon, Sufjan Stevens, The Smiths, The Rolling Stones, Bob Mould, Thick Paint, Ryan Adams, Bjork, M Ward, Iron & Wine and Bright Eyes.

Prediction: Finally, one of Saddle Creek Records’ new era artists will do what no other Creek artist has been able to do: Be the musical guest on Saturday Night Live. Can you guess her name?

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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.


Column 304: Scoring last year’s predictions; Con Dios tonight…

Category: Blog,Column — Tags: — @ 1:47 pm January 6, 2011

Column 304: Visions of 2011, Pt. 1

Scoring last year’s predictions.

by Tim McMahan,

Crystal Ball

Before we can look forward, we must look back.

Last year’s predictions for 2010 started with nine hunches that can be summed up this way: There will be fewer bands all trying to get paid more to play in fewer clubs that will be booking fewer shows but with better national bands playing at a higher ticket price.

To gauge my accuracy, we went to the expert. Marc Leibowitz, whose One Percent Productions books most of the indie rock shows in Omaha (primarily at The Waiting Room and The Slowdown), said last year the number of shows booked was about the same, though “some were just smaller.” Ticket prices went up “a little bit, but not much. We fight to keep shows cheap.” And there weren’t fewer quality bands, just “fewer bands that have big followings.” All of which neither validated nor disproved my predictions.

What we do know: A number of notable local bands did break up or went into hiding last year, their official whereabouts unknown, including It’s True, UUVVWWZ, Box Elders, Beep Beep, Son Ambulance and The Faint. Both It’s True and UUVVWWZ are returning with new line-ups. And filling in the gaps was the arrival of The Mynabirds, Conduits and So-So Sailors — all three potential breakout national acts.

As for the number of clubs, the choices have dwindled to just The Waiting Room and Slowdown for touring indie bands. O’Leaver’s is booking fewer shows, and The 49’r was deep sixed.

Last year I also predicted that that we’d see fewer record labels with fewer bands recording fewer albums. But recording studios have hung in there despite the availability of high-quality home-studio options. And we’ve actually seen the rise of Grotto and Grapefruit Records join local entities Saddle Creek, Speed! Nebraska and Slumber Party.

So, I’m batting less than.500. Let’s see how I did in the Lightning Round.

2010 Prediction: Another well-known mainstream band will give away the digital download of its next album.

Gorillaz, The Fall; Girl Talk, All Day; Prince, 20Ten and Phoenix, Live in Sydney; were among last year’s free downloads. R.E.M would be wise to follow suit.

A new kind of record store will open that specializes in just that: Vinyl records.

Not here, not yet.

We’ll see an increase in “alternative venues” like in the ’90s, when social halls and practice spaces became options for one-off shows.

The Faint’s old Orifice practice space on Leavenworth has become a funky option for smaller shows.

A new social media tool will be optimized for easy, instant (and legal) distribution of online music, revolutionizing how musicians and fans access “music content” on portable devices.

We welcomed Apple’s Ping, but Ping ponged.

The Maha Music Festival will become the event organizers dreamed it could be, if they get the right line-up.

Direct hit.

Adding to the annual “Youth Concert” and the July 4th weekend county-fair freedom-rock concert, look for a third free major concert event featuring a genuine outside-the-box performer.

Slowdown’s free “block party” featured Built to Spill.

Like other big cities, we’ll see DJs spinning at more and more clubs and restaurants in Omaha.

DJs are becoming so ubiquitous; there’s even one (Brent Crampton) spinning at the new Republic of Couture jeans store in Midtown Crossing.

A new all-ages performance space will take hold, becoming this generation’s Cog Factory.

We watched the rise and fall of The Hole, the all-ages venue that started downtown and moved to Benson, and whose future remains uncertain.

Who we’ll be talking about this time next year: Arcade Fire, Rolling Stones, Radiohead, Liz Phair, Tim Kasher, Of Montreal, Okkervil River, Bright Eyes, It’s True, Soundgarden, Prince, Pavement, Ritual Device, Beck, MGMT, Bear Country, Modest Mouse, The Wrens and Sufjan Stevens.

Most were hot topics, though we’re still waiting for Radiohead, Ritual Device and The Wrens’ return.

Who we won’t be talking about: Animal Collective, Susan Boyle, Monsters of Folk, Wilco, Cursive, The Faint, Emphatic, Lady Gaga, Black Eyed Peas, Phoenix, Green Day and Vampire Weekend.

There’s no avoiding Lady Gaga.

UK musician/dope fiend Peter Doherty will finally see his problems resolved once and for all.

He’s still kicking.

Conor Oberst will break the hearts of thousands of his female (and a few male) fans.

Well, he didn’t get married anyway.

Sick of life on the West Coast and seeing no discernable advantages to living near L.A., a member of a national band we all know will move back to Omaha.

Cursive’s Tim Kasher returned home from the wild last summer.

A major musician will record his/her new album at The Faint’s Enamel Studio.

Didn’t happen, as far as I know.

Watch out SLAM Omaha, a new local online resource will launch in ’10 that will act as the definitive arts, entertainment and music information hub.

We welcomed last month, and is at the starting gate.

Like Michael Jackson another 6-year-old raises the eyebrows of an America still mourning the passing of the King of Pop.

Willow Smith, Will Smith’s daughter, had a mega hit with “Whip My Hair,” but she’s downright elderly at 9 years old.

Look for a new live original music venue to open in Midtown Crossing among all those restaurants.


The next national breakthrough for a local band will come when one of its songs is included on the soundtrack of a major motion picture.

Well, there was Lovely Still.

Next week: Visions of 2011.

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As discussed yesterday, Con Dios begins its “residency” (translated: weekly booze binge) at O’Leaver’s tonight. Joining them is the amazing McCarthy Trenching. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Also tonight, The Benningtons and Moses Prey open for Rock Paper Dynamite at Slowdown Jr.  The Benningtons are fronted by guitarist/vocalist Tony Bonacci (ex-Hyannis) and includes Michah Renner, bass; Ben Brich, drums; Matt Tilwick, guitar; Hannah Emsick, keys, vocals; and Catherine Carne, vocals.  $7, 9 p.m.

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Lazy-i Best of 2010

Lazy-i Best of 2010 sampler

Must you go on and on about your frickin’ Lazy-i Best of 2010 CD sampler? OK, we get it. You’re giving away a copy(ies) in a drawing to any loser who sends their name and mailing address in an e-mail to Big deal. Next you’ll tell us that the CD is “highly coveted” and a “collector’s item,” as if I could sell it on eBay or something (which I couldn’t), and that tracks include songs by The Mynabirds, Sally Seltmann, The National, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, Jenny and Johnny, A Weather, freakin’ Land of Talk, Arcade Fire, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, and that the full track list is here. Oh yeah, better not forget about the free Lazy-i Sticker that comes with it (whoop-dee-doo!). Don’t bother telling me the deadline for entires is Jan. 18 because I already have a frickin’ copy. I bought mine on eBay!

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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 © 2010 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.