Grrrl Camp Festival is summer’s best indie lineup; Silversun Pickups tonight…

By Tim McMahan,

In February when the Maha Music Festival announced it was 86-ing this year’s festival, it felt like another symptom of the slow death of indie music here in River City. Maha is/was the last reflection of a time when Omaha was a magnet for up-and-coming touring indie bands. And now even that festival was gone (for now?).

Then last week Grrrl Camp Festival announced its 2024 line-up and, by god, they’ve managed to out-Maha Maha in terms of up-and-coming touring indie bands. While no rules govern Grrrl Camp booking, there’s little doubt that the festival is a celebration of women artists in a time when women artists are calling the shots – both in the indie and pop music worlds. 

Slated for July 19 and 20 at Falconwood Park in Bellevue, One Percent Productions and Falconwood have put together one of the strongest lineups of up-and-coming touring indie acts of any local regional festival. It’s loaded top to bottom.

Clockwise from top left, Mannequin Pussy, Shannon and the Clams, Hurray for the Riff Raff and Indigo de Souza are the headliners for this year’s Grrrl Camp Festival July 19-20 at Falconwood Park.

On top of the list, Indigo de Souza, Saddle Creek Record’s current break-out act, whose last two albums have been critical and indie fan favorites.

Mannequin Pussy, who’s latest, I Got Heaven (Epitaph), is a Pitchfork “Best New Music” pick (a staggering 8.8 rating) and will provide the festival’s eye-gouging power rock moment.

Hurray for the Riff Raff‘s latest, The Past is Still Alive (Nonesuch), also is a Pitchfork “Best New Music” pick (8.3 rating)). The indie veterans who play gorgeous folk-tinged rock and count Conor Oberst among their fans (Conor also sings on their new album). 

And the last big-font name is none other than Oakland garage-punk heroes Shannon and the Clams, who I was lucky enough to see perform on The River City Star’s “sailin’ and wailin’” cruise back in May 2016. 

That alone is pretty impressive, but the remaining 10 bands on the bill are also top-shelf.

Rosali is a known commodity here in Omaha as her backing band is made up of dudes who play with David Nance (and includes Nance himself). Her latest album, Bite Down (Merge Records), is a standout. The band has been touring the U.S., culminating in a sold-out show at fabulous O’Leaver’s last weekend.

Annie DiRusso plays gritty confessional indie rock in the vein of Blondshell. Her latest EP is God, I Hate This Place (2023, Good Partners), and is a personal favorite. She’s got a full-length in the can for release later this year.

Minneapolis trio Vial’s latest, burnout (2024, Get Better), is 10 songs in 10 minutes and is brat-punk gold. They played at Reverb Lounge last year. 

Leeds, England, trio Girl Ray plays fun dance rock that sounds like un-cheesy disco with a nod toward Bee Gees and George Michael. Their latest LP, Prestige (2023, Moshi Moshi), was co-produced by Ben H. Allen (M.I.A., Gnarls Barkley, Deerhunter). 

Boston duo Mint Green‘s sound borders on modern emo. Pictoria Vark is throw-back indie (who remembers Kite Pilot?). Wichita trio Keo & Them has an R&B vibe that kind of reminds me of Khruangbin. 

Three locals round out the bill. Lincoln’s Estrogen Projection, Madeline Reddel and Krissy.

To give you an idea just how “up and coming” these bands are, albums from three of the bands currently are charting in the top-20 on the College Radio Charts — Hurray for the Riff Raff (No. 7), Mannequin Pussy (No. 8) and Rosali (No. 15), while Vial’s latest is No. 76. Indigo De Soua’s last album also topped that chart.

Hat’s off to One Percent Productions and Falconwood for putting together this line-up. Grrrl Camp is like a perfect “other” to One Percent’s Outlandia Festival, whose headliners appeal to an older audience (The Flaming Lips, Head and the Heart, Dinosaur Jr., etc). 

The biggest challenge for Grrrl Camp will be overcoming its name. If you only knew the name, you’d think the festival was a two-day music development camp that’s an off-shoot to Omaha Girls Rock. In fact, some dudes may not even check out the line-up or will think the festival isn’t for guys at all, which is anything but the truth, according to organizer Shannon Claire, who said guys are indeed invited to this Grrrl Camp…

Early bird tickets for the full weekend are just $65 – insanely cheap! Tix and more info at

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LA-based alt rock band Silversun Pickups headlines tonight at The Admiral. The band’s last formal LP was 2022’s Physical Thrills (New Machine Recordings). It should be noted that the Pickups’ biggest hit “Lazy Eye” is not the official anthem for this blog. LA four-piece Rocket opens the show at 8 p.m. $40.

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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 © 2024 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Mountain Goats, Clarence Tilton tonight; Farnam Fest, Sextile Saturday; Closeness (tacos) Sunday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:58 pm September 15, 2017

The blurring red heads of White Mystery at O’Leaver’s, Aug. 31, 2015. The band plays Saturday as part of Farnam Fest.

by Tim McMahan,

Rain, rain go away… at least go away on Saturday afternoon…

We’ll get to that in a minute. First, the weekend:

It kicks off tonight with Clarence Tilton at fabulous O’Leaver’s. Joining Omaha’s favorite alt-country band is Bach Mai, while Matt Whipkey takes the opening slot. $5, 10 p.m.

Also tonight, The Mountain Goats return to Omaha, this time to The Waiting Room. Seems like Darnielle and the boys were just here (because they were). Their latest album, Goths (Merge Records) came out in May. Opening is Athens band Mothers (Grand Jury, Wichita). $28, 9 p.m.

And finally, Nebraska legend Charlie Burton and his band (Or What!) play tonight at Down Under Lounge. Prairie Gators open at 9 p.m. $5.

Then Saturday it’s Farnam Fest. The midtown block party will be held at 40th & Farnam in the Blackstone District. It’s free and all ages. Food, booze, stuff to buy, and, of course, music.

Booked by Sam Parker (the dude behind booking this year’s Lincoln Calling Festival), Farnam Fest really stepped up its game with a strong mix of local and touring acts including Shannon and the Clams, White Mystery and headliner indie band Tennis. Here’s the full line-up:

3:00 — Both
3:45 — Miwi La Lupa
4:30 — High Up
5:20 — Yes You Are
6:25 — White Mystery
7:30 — Icky Blossoms
8:50 — Shannon and the Clams
10:10 — Tennis

Looks like there’s only one problem with the festival — the weather forecast. Let’s hope the weather dudes are wrong.

There are actually two after-parties for Farnam Fest:

Over at Blackstone Meatball garage New Wave band Sextile is playing, with Ojai opening. This one was originally slated for Milk Run before the venue’s unfortunate demise. It’s free and starts at 11.

Also happening after the fest — Alex White of White Mystery will be spinning 45s at Brothers Lounge. That one’s also free.

Finally Sunday O’Leaver’s is hosting another in its series of Sunday Socials — early shows that start at 5 p.m. and involve food (this week: taco bar!). Headlining this Sunday’s Social is Closeness (Orenda and Todd, you know ’em, you love ’em), along with opener Effluvium and touring band Detroit’s You. (Avant! Records). 5 p.m. start, $5.

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 © 2017 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Live Review: Shannon & the Clams on the river, Halfwit; Ten Questions with A Giant Dog (at Milk Run tonight)…

Shannon & The Clams performing aboard The River City Star, May 15, 2016.

Shannon & The Clams performing aboard The River City Star, May 15, 2016.

by Tim McMahan,

I’m growing tired of this cold weather. I imagined how much more pleasant last night’s “Sailin’ and Wailin’ Boat Cruise on the River City Star” would have been had the temps been 20 degrees warmer. Instead, it was cold and windy and I’m happy I wore my insulated hoodie.

Weather issues aside, Perpetual Nerves has a hit on its hands if it decides to do more of these River City Star concerts, because last night’s was a blast. The cruise couldn’t have gone smoother. If you weren’t on board by 6:55 you were left standing on the shore. In fact, I know one party of people, only seconds late, who had to practically fight their way to the deck (heroically saved by booker Sam Parker).

The River City Star is a small two-story river boat that launches from Freedom Park near the Gallup campus. The festive bottom deck was where the free keg and cash bar were located. Those standing in line were serenaded by the finest party music (from Prince to  Tom Tom Club) via a DJ. With drink in hand it was up to the top deck where Nathan Ma and The Rosettes were already performing as the boat drifted away from the dock. I recognized among the band mates Sarah Bohling of Icky Blossoms adding vocals. Their music was a mix of garage and indie, including a cover of The La’s “There She Goes” that got the loudest applause.

They were followed at 8 p.m. sharp by Shannon and the Clams, an Oakland-based four piece that played early ’60s-style garage rock with doo-wap and surf elements. It felt very much like a very hip sock hop played on a drifting dance floor, all the while floating past either Deliverance-style river-bottoms foliage or urban industrial decay. For every bit of picturesque wildlife (geese, flying fish) there was a reminder that you were adrift on a river of dark brown sewage.  Floating up and down the Missouri River, we were met time and time again by a large white half-submerged floating upright refrigerator. Was there someone inside it, traveling to the Gulf of Mexico? We’ll never know.

The sound, by the way, was amazing. No doubt the river people, who were either fishing or dumping garbage along the shore, could easily hear the bands, and wondered who those lucky bastards having the time of their lives?

The obvious question on everyone’s minds: Why doesn’t Perpetual Nerves book these cruises all the time, or at least once a month during the warm months? Especially considering it sold out the same day it was announced (within hours of the announcement).

Halfwit at O'Leaver's, May 13, 2016.

Halfwit at O’Leaver’s, May 13, 2016.

Friday night I caught Halfwit at O’Leaver’s. The Lincoln band fronted by Dan Jenkins of Ideal Cleaners and including bass-playing madman Saber Blazek crushed the crowd with heavy rock that bordered on proggy metal. The guitar interplay between Jenkins and guitarist Kevin Waltemath was next level amazing. Unfortunately the usually high-flying Blazek was seated for the performance, a victim of some sort of foot injury judging by the massive isolation boot he was wearing. I tried to imagine him at full thrash. Probably would have take out a wall or two. I’m told the performance was recorded for a possible future Live at O’Leaver’s set. Keep your fingers crossed.

Well Aimed Arrows at O'Leaver's May 13, 2016.

Well Aimed Arrows at O’Leaver’s May 13, 2016.

Last up was Well Aimed Arrows playing their usual brand of stripped down, minimalistic post New Wave music that combines almost atonal vocals with intricate rhythms. People who “get them” love them, and those who don’t are left scratching their heads. Their loss. If you grew up with very early REM or Wire — of if you’re old enough to remember groundbreaking ’90s Omaha band The Protoculture — seek them out immediately.

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A Giant Dog plays at Milk Run tonight.

A Giant Dog plays at Milk Run tonight.

Tonight at Milk Run Austin indie band A Giant Dogs perform. Just this second, I received back a Ten Questions response from the band. Here it is:

1. What is your favorite album? 

A Giant Dog: Sparks,  Angst In My Pants. This is one of our favorite albums and we have been doing a cover of “Angst In My Pants” at our shows recently. Sparks had a big influence on us when recording the new record, PILE, and this album is on repeat while driving on tour.

2. What is your least favorite song?

It’s a never ending list. Nothing in particular comes to mind.

3. What do you enjoy most about being in a band?

We started our band as a way to have fun, make music and hangout with other bands in Austin and around the country. We’ve also been close friends since high school and played in different bands together. So it’s great being able to play music and travel with your long time buds. Aside from that aspect, we’re generally unsettled with how repetitive, boring and predictable rock music can be. One of the best things about being in a band is considering the bleakness out there and then finding ways to make a song more creative, interesting and against the grain. I’m not sure how well we do that, but it’s something we enjoy trying to do.

4. What do you hate about being in a band?

The music biz is tough right now and that is a constant frustration we and other bands have to work around. Music has always been tough, but I think it’s okay to say there is a lot less money now than in the early 2000’s pre-Napster. There is a bad gap between good music and getting it to people who will appreciate it. I hope streaming can get its shit together, and this is a problem they need to solve. I know that journalism and film are in the same boat.

5. What is your favorite substance (legal or illegal)?

Mostly weed and more legal substances these days to keep our voices in tact and be able to keep up with the fast pace lifestyle we live. It’s been most interesting buying weed across the U.S. in the last two years. It’s funny buying it in Colorado and then sneaking it through Utah like you’re still at your parents house and sneaking in past curfew.

6. In what city or town do you love to perform?

Minneapolis, Chicago, New York and any town with a passionate promoter who knows how to put together a cool show. The funny thing about live music is that any town can be killer for shows. You just need one guy or gal who loves putting on shows and knows what bands are good.

7. What city or town did you have your worst gig (and why)

Pittsburgh. We showed up to a DIY space that was had the right elements for a good show – big empty house with a good turnout and decent bands booked. But the place was run by kids in pajamas eating ramen. There was a thunderstorm that day and they were afraid of the thunder thinking the show should be canceled. We bought them a six pack and passed on the show.

8. How do you pay your bills?

We work part time or remote jobs in addition to making music. Andrew (guitar/vocals) is a door guy, Graham (bass) makes pizza, Danny (drums is a waiter, Sabrina (singer) works at a Ramen place and has an Airbnb and Andy (guitar) is a software consultant. Multiple incomes is the main way we get by and it’s well worth the time and effort to be able to tour and keep making records.

9. What one profession other than music would you like to attempt; what one profession would you absolutely hate to do

Sabrina was talking about becoming an acupuncturist the other day. Eastern medicine in general is interesting and it seems that could be a rewarding job.

10. What are the stories you’ve heard about Omaha, Nebraska

Nothing yet. Friends have said the Milk Run is cool and a good place to play. Let’s see what stories come from the show tonight.

A Giant Dog performs with Kitten Forever, No Thanks and Worried Mothers tonight at Milk Run, 1907 Leavenworth St. Tickets are $8, show starts at 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.


Well Aimed Arrows, Relax, It’s Science, Electroliners tonight; Anna McClellan, Domestica Saturday; Shannon and the Clams cruise, Brian Jonestown Massacre Sunday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , — @ 12:14 pm May 13, 2016

Well Aimed Arrows closed out Take Cover Five at O'Leaver's Jan. 30, 2016. The band celebrates its album release tonight

Well Aimed Arrows closed out Take Cover Five at O’Leaver’s Jan. 30, 2016. The band celebrates its album release tonight.

by Tim McMahan,

Big weekend for local-band shows capped off by a big national indie show on Sunday.

Let’s start with tonight.

There’s a record release show for Well Aimed Arrows new self-released album Head Arrangements at fabulous O’Leaver’s. The album was recorded by Matt Carroll, mixed by J.J. Idt and mastered by the master himself, Doug Van Sloun. It’s available at a “name your price” price at Bandcamp right here. Get a preview before the show! Opening is infamous Lincoln indie-punkers Halfwit and up-and-coming Omaha duo The Natural States. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Also tonight, Relax, It’s Science is hosting an EP-release show of their own at Reverb Lounge. We’re talking two basses and a massive drum kit. Must be seen to be believed. Opening are The Sunks and Montee Men. $5, 9 p.m.

Just ’round yonder from them, the country bumpkins that call themselves The Electroliners have a CD release show at The Waiting Room. It’s indie Western swing at its finest. Opening are a couple lonesome cowpokes by the name of CJ Mills and Fizzle Like a Flood. $7, 9 p.m.

If that weren’t enough, Low Long Signal headlines at The Barley Street Tavern tonight. Joining them are Port Nocturnal and The Sleeperhits. $5, 9 p.m.

Tomorrow night (Saturday) it’s back to O’Leaver’s for indie wunderkind Anna McClellan. See her while you can on a tiny stage. Joining her are McCarthy Trenching and Alcools (ex-Dead Flower Preservation Society (What happened, guys?)). $5, 9:30 p.m.

Down at little ol’ Milk Run it’s the big ol’ sound of Domestica from Lincoln Nebraska. They’re opening for Red City Radio. Russian Girlfriends opens. $10, 9 p.m.

And a surprise show: Shannon and the Clams are playing at The Brothers Lounge Saturday night with Vegetable Deluxe and Skull Fight. $10, 10 p.m.

Finally Sunday a couple very special engagements.

The first is the big Sailin’ and Wailin’ Boat Cruise on the River City Star featuring Shannon and the Clams with opener Nathan Ma and the Rosettes. This one’s been sold out since the day it was announced. For those who are going, I’m told if you’re not aboard at 6:55  you’re being left behind.

Also Sunday night ’90s psych-rock superstars The Brian Jonestown Massacre perform at The Waiting Room. Check out this review of their May 12 show in New Orleans. From the review: “The show continued for a full 3 hours and 20 minutes until it abruptly ended, the band left the stage, leaving behind only the instruments and a pile of maracas.” Needless to say, there’s no opening act. Tickets are $16 Adv/$18 DOS. I’m surprised this hasn’t sold out yet. Starts at 9 p.m.

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 © 2016 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.