Nebraska to reopen venues; Live Review: No Thanks; Mercy Rule / Sideshow panel tonight; Little Brazil, Noah’s Ark Saturday; RIP Kyle Tonniges…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:33 pm May 22, 2020
No Thanks streamed live from the Slowdown main stage May 21, 2020.

Well, what did I tell you yesterday? As if on cue a few hours after I posted, Ricketts announced bars and lounges can reopen June 1 with the same rules now applied to restaurants. That is: 25 people allowed in the venue, or 50 percent of the venue’s rated occupancy. Patrons have to be seated at tables that are located six feet apart with no more than six people per table. And there must be six feet between entertainers and patrons.

I got this backwards. See CLARIFICATION posted right here.

If it sounds confusing it’s because it is, but I’m sure it’ll all be spelled out before June 1. For example, does the 25-person cap include employees and bands? Do you include employee/band numbers in the 50 percent occupancy restriction? And so on…

So if I’m hearing this correctly, a venue like The Waiting Room or Slowdown could only host shows with a maximum of 25 people in the audience (if employees/bands are excluded from the overall venue count). and even though they’re much smaller, The Brothers and O’Leaver’s also could host the same body count since their capacity exceeds 100.

Any way you slice it, it’s going to be a giant pain in the ass for venue owners who will be responsible for monitoring all those numbers. Some of them might decide to just stay closed until restrictions are loosened even further, and I can’t blame them.

Would I go to a rock show at any of those venues the first week of June? Yeah, I would, but judging from what I’ve seen in social media, I’m in the minority.

For example, I would have loved to have been among the 25 allowed in to watch last night’s No Thanks / Marcey Yates show streamed live from The Slowdown.

It probably would have been like this: I’d have been seated at a table (probably by myself) and I’d would have worn a mask though I haven’t heard any stipulation saying that’s required. That said, I have no problem wearing a mask as long as I could pull down my gator to drink my Rolling Rock(s).

Last night’s show was outstanding. Technically it was next-level as far as streamed concerts are concerned — terrific sound (by Dan Brennan), and video (from Love Drunk’s Django Greenblatt-Seay and his crew) utilizing at least five cameras.

And the performances were terrific. But the one thing missing was an audience — something even more apparent during No Thanks’ set, which had silent pauses between songs where the crowd usually fills in the spaces. Toward the end of the stream, the crew threw in a few whoops and hollers, which was better than nothing.

Yates was accompanied by a DJ and keyboard player as well as a couple additional vocalists — all of them on point and smooth. You can see why he’s on top of Omaha’s hip-hop ladder.

No Thanks did their usual sweaty set, using the occasion to roll out a couple new red hot numbers from an upcoming album (which, yes, they might as well release right now instead of waiting).

Next up on the Slowdown streaming concert series (of which there are two gigs) is tomorrow night (Saturday), when Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship plays with Little Brazil. Any other time, this concert would be a sloppy, drunken good time. Can these bands deliver in an empty auditorium? Find out. Tickets are $5 (plus whatever tip you want to add). The show is scheduled to start at 8:15, though last night’s started at 8:30 (You really notice the extra time when you’re staring at a computer screen). Get your tickets here.

Also happening this weekend — tonight to be exact — is a virtual round table with members of Domestica, Mercy Rule and Sideshow. It’s called Nebraska Music History: Episode 1, presented by Nebraska Performing Arts Hall of Fame. I’m sure we’ll be hearing all about the golden age of Nebraska indie rock born in the early ‘90s from two of the bands that were there. Mercy Rule and Sideshow not only recorded and toured around the country, they often toured together. Expect to hear some gnarly war stories. The program starts at 7 p.m. and is being streamed via Facebook from here.

Finally, yesterday we lost a good one. Kyle Tonniges was a friend of mine who I met working at The Reader. He was one of the funniest, most acerbic, smartest people I ever met, and one hell of a great writer. His music criticism was always spot-on — I know he introduced a lot of readers to new sounds. He went on to write reviews for Publishers Weekly (focusing on cookbooks), where he also did a lot of interviews. He battled cancer like the hero he was, but it got him in the end, and we’re all the lesser for it. He will be missed.

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.


Beyond #TBT: Sideshow’s Eggplants and Sunspots remastered…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 1:36 pm January 10, 2019

Lincoln band Sideshow back in the day…

by Tim McMahan,

Now here’s some welcome Throwback Thursday news…

Yesterday former Caufield Records label executive Bernie McGinn posted a link to a newly remastered (by Eric Medley no less) version of the seminal 1993 album Eggplants and Sunspots by Nebraska golden age Lincoln band Sideshow.

When first released, the album made quite a splash down at the old Antiquarium and throughout the world as the trio of frontman/bassist McGinn, guitarist Rich Higgins and drummer Pawl Tisdale barnstormed parts of the great Midwest touring their unique brand of punk. 

Who remembers this, circa Nov. 1994?

I’ve heard this record described as emo; to me it had more in common with Seattle grunge, thanks to its overall bombastic quality. Sideshow were always a good compliment to Lincoln band Mercy Rule, who had a similar anthemic style to their music. No doubt the two bands often performed together, including one memorable trip to Des Moines that was documented in a story published in The Note back in ’93 (One day I’ll put that story online… or in a book). 

These days Tisdale plays drums for Domestica (a new incarnation of Mercy Rule), McGinn lives somewhere in San Francisco and I have no idea of the whereabouts of Rich Higgins. Here’s hoping he’s alive and well and open to doing a national tour in support of this Sideshow “rerelease”… or at least a reunion show at The Waiting Room.

Listening to the album again this morning, it’s held up quite well. Give it a spin and buy a download.

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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.


Simon Joyner and The Ghosts (new lineup), Delta Spirit tonight; Mitch Gettman, Magnolias, Almost Music festival Saturday; Sideshow Sunday…

Category: Blog,Column — Tags: , , , — @ 12:16 pm October 17, 2014

Brad Smith of Almost Music enjoys a Coke sometime in the late '60s. His record store celebrates its one-year anniversary Saturday with an all-day music festival.

Brad Smith of Almost Music enjoys a Coke sometime in the late ’60s. His record store celebrates its one-year anniversary Saturday with an all-day music festival.

by Tim McMahan,

It’s already the weekend, believe it or not. Let’s get to the shows, shall we?

Tonight at fabulous O’Leaver’s Simon Joyner unveils a new line-up for his band, The Ghosts.  Jim Schroeder of UUVVWWZ has taken over lead guitar, Mike Friedman has shifted to organ and pedal steel. Meanwhile, Alec Erickson of Subtropics is handling bass. Rounding out the band is Megan Siebe on viola and organ, and Kevin Donahue on drums. Whew!

Simon says the band will be playing songs from his new record, Grass, Branch, and Bone, which comes out on Brooklyn label Woodsist Records (Kurt Vile, Real Estate, Eat Skull) in January or February. Also on the bill is Lincoln folk-rock band Kill County. This one is $7 and starts at 9 p.m., and it’s a Hear Nebraska presentation.

Meanwhile, Delta Spirit headlines tonight at The Waiting Room. Their new album, Into the Wide (Dualtone Records), subtly shifts the band’s sound away from Americana to something that blends indie with mainstream anthem rock. Big sound, big breaks, big choruses, the band is reaching for a bigger audience and will likely find it with this one. Opening is NYC band SACCO and SF band Waters. $15, 9 p.m.

Also tonight, the obtusely named Empire! Empire! (I Was a Lonely Estate) plays at Slowdown Jr. with Free Throw and Super Ghost. $10, 9 p.m.

And The Doneofits headline at The Barley Street with Baberaham Lincolns, DL Diedrich and thoughts. $5, 9 p.m.

Tomorrow night (Saturday) is another Cornhusker game night, which usually limits music options. Not this time.

Mitch Gettman is celebrating the release of his new EP, Nothing Stays the Same, at Reverb. Opening is Brad Hoshaw and the Seven Deadlies along with Edem. $5, 9 p.m.

Over at The Brothers Lounge Minneapolis legends The Magnolias crowd into the pool table room. They’ve been playing the hard shit for almost 30 years. Opening is Bullet Proof Hearts. No price listed for this one, but it’s probably less than $10 (and closer to $5), 9 p.m.

O’Leaver’s is hosting Des Moines band Holy White Hounds along with local dudes Sidewalkers. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Also Saturday (during the day) Almost Music and Solid Jackson Books celebrates its one-year anniversary. My, how time flies when you’re selling quality vinyl and books! To mark the occasion, the Benson shop at 6569 Maple is hosting live music from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. The line-up:

Twin – 11:00-11:30
Nathaniel Hoier – 11:45-12:15
Sean Pratt and the Sweats – 12:30-1:00
Brendan Hagberg – 1:15-1:45
Matthew Theim – 2:00-2:30
MS/MM – 2:45-3:15
Rachel Tomlinson Dick – 3:30-4:00
Lvrk Late- 4:15-4:45
Marcey Yates – 5:00-5:30
Telepathy Problems- 5:45-6:15
Sucettes – 6:30-7:00

Expect food, albums, books, prizes and lots of fun.

The weekend doesn’t stop there. I usually don’t write about Lincoln shows, but this one is special. Legendary Lincoln band Sideshow reforms for a gig Sunday night at Duffy’s. We’re talking the trio of Pawl Tisdale (now of Domestica), Rich Higgins (now of Nanahara) and Bernie McGinn (now of California). Both Domestica and Nanahara are opening. $5, 8 p.m.

Also Sunday, Millions of Boys headlines at Slowdown Jr. with Outer Spaces and Relax, It’s Science. $5 now, $7 DOS. 9 p.m.

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In this week’s column, television, sex, parenting and Viagra (but not necessarily in that order). You can read it in this weeks issue of The Reader or online right here.

That’s what 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 © 2014 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Live Review: Domestica; Travelling Mercies launches Kickstarter for Motel…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , , , , — @ 1:49 pm February 25, 2013

Domestica at The Sydney, Feb. 22, 2013.

Domestica at The Sydney, Feb. 22, 2013.

by Tim McMahan,

Who remembers this, circa Nov. 1994?

Who remembers these guys, circa Nov. 1994? Tisdale is the one in the hat.

Domestica unveiled a lineup change at the Sydney Friday night with the addition of Paul Tisdale on drums. The last time I saw Tisdale play live was way back in ’93 with his classic band, Sideshow. Back then, Tisdale became a slashing, violent blur every time the guitars kicked in. Twenty years later and time hasn’t diminished Tisdale’s insane percussion skills. Not in the least.

In fact, Tisdale is the first drummer (including Ron Albertson) whose drumming was so big that it drowned out Jon Taylor’s and Heidi Ore’s usual mammoth roar… at least during the first part of Friday night’s set. Tisdale hits those friggin’ drums hard hard hard, and as a result, they’re loud loud loud. So loud that two songs in, the sound guy passed a message to Taylor, who responded with: “Those are the words I love to hear.” The “words” (I think) were “turn your guitar up,” because that’s exactly what Taylor did, and would again a couple songs later.

Does any band really need to be that loud. The answer, of course, is yes. With Taylor pushing it to 11, the earth’s tilt was restored and all was right with the world once again.  Now if only the Sydney could have turned up Heidi’s vocals, which were lost where I stood on the opposite side of the room from the stacked PA and on the other side of Tisdale. It’s a balancing act that’s been around as long as I can remember seeing Heidi and Jon play. Add Tisdale and the equation becomes that much more difficult. Something tells me that over time, they’ll work it out. So is Tisdale a permanent part of Domestica? Let’s hope so.

* * *

Last week the folks in Travelling Mercies launched a Kickstarter campaign for their sophomore full-length album Motel. They’re trying to raise $4,000 to help cover their recording and production costs. After one weekend, they’re already 1/4 of the way there.

I’m trying to remember the last time I saw this band perform and think it had to have been years and years ago, way back in the old Saddle Creek Bar days. Back then, the band was sort of a laidback Americana/Folk band. That, apparently, no longer is the case, based on the couple demos that frontman Jeremy Holan passed along. We’re talking breakneck buzzsaw rock with a hint of Americana to give it a rural tilt. Holan sees Kickstarter as a simple way to presale the record, and to me, that’s the best way to use Kickstarter (if you’re a musician). Check it out.

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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 © 2013 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.