Live Review Beck at Stir Cove; X, Spoon, Twin Peaks, Jay Som tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , , , — @ 12:54 pm September 11, 2017

Beck at Stir Cove, Sept. 9, 2017.

by Tim McMahan,

This is as much a review of Stir Cove as it is Saturday night’s Beck concert, though there’s plenty of Beck in this write-up. It’s actually a reaction to last week’s blog entry, wherein I asked for advice about attending my first Stir Cove concert after receiving a lot of warning about how much the venue and its “parking problem” suck.

Past horror stories about Stir were giving me anxiety about the show, and were the reason I’d never attended a Stir concert (along with the fact that Stir books mainly legacy, pop and country acts, which aren’t in my wheelhouse).

So, Saturday night came rolling around and we were off to Stir at 7 p.m., arriving at around 7:15. Prior to leaving, I’d studied a Google Earth map of Stir and the surrounding parking like a robber trying to case the joint for the quickest getaway. The two most common pieces of advice I’d been given: 1) Park on the Nebraska side of the river and walk or ride a bike over the Bob Kerrey Bridge, and 2) Park in the parking garage or use valet service.

I ignored both suggestions and instead parked in the second to last row of the surface parking. The plan: Leave during the last song, which, according to, would be “One Foot in the Grave,” which would lead into a reprise of “Where It’s At.” Beck has closed his sets with that combo all summer.

So we parked, and walked the massive half-full lot and entered the casino — the heavy door opening to reveal the smell of wet cigarettes and room deodorizer. We pushed through all the usual suspects: Big dudes in baggy cargo shorts and seed caps with their wives in colored print tops and bad hairdos, the elderly, the trailer park kids, all of them ready to Strike It Rich at the slots or tables.

In a VIP room off to the right a small, vacant-looking crowd of gamblers watched the Huskers lose —probably not the only losing they’d see that night.

We escaped out the back exit which led to the entrance to Stir Cove tucked behind the hotel. Getting in was easy, maybe because we were so early and the game was still going on. I bought a pair of $9 Blue Moons and we found a place to sit along the grassy ridge facing the stage while DJ Kethro — a.k.a. Keith Roger — spun sides to a small crowd up front. I figured since he was spinning at 7 the show probably would start at 8. Wrong.

My first impression: The Cove was much smaller than I thought it would be. In fact, it looked smaller than Stinson Park where Maha is held every year. Certainly the capacity was smaller

I liked the set up, with an area designated for lawn chairs, another astroturfed area for standing near the stage, and our grassy ridge. Off to the right was a strange VIP area, which looked like really lousy seating because of the bad angle to the stage.

One annoyance from where were were sitting was the whap! whap! whap! of the out-house doors slamming shut. Already people were lined up to use port-o-johns, and there would be a steady “stream” all night…

DJ Kethro at Stir Cove, Sept. 9, 2017.

As 8 p.m. rolled around the house turned up the sound on stage along with the lighting, which marked the beginning of Kethro’s formal set. In front of us, a girl in a hippie hat lit a hash pipe and within seconds a portly security guard in a fluorescent polo with SECURITY printed in black walked straight up to her and said, “Hope you’re having a good time.  There’s no smoking anything in here.” As he walked away, a hipster in glasses dressed like a life guard whined, “Come on, man!

Meanwhile, as the sun went down Kethro heated up, spinning “Do It” by Tuxedo, “My Girls,” by Animal Collective and closing the set with “Pardon my Freedom” by !!! (pronounced chk chk chk) one of my favorites, and a band I recently was told by one of our many local promoters that “no one listens to anymore.” Well, here were a few thousand people bouncing to it.

Actually, that wasn’t Kethro’s closing number. He ended with a classic: “Fame” by David Bowie, the spotlights and strobes from stage made the dancing crowd glow.

Beck came on at around 9:10 with “Devil’s Haircut.” By then the standing section was completely full, or so I thought. After I took a piss (the port-o-john lines had disappeared) I went to see how far I could get to the stage. It was surprisingly close. That giant crowd wasn’t densely packed, and you could easily walk through it.

Stir Cove at the height of the crowd, Sept. , 2017.

Navigation throughout that mammoth crowd was fast thanks to the security folks keeping people from standing on paved walk paths. I could walk from one end of the venue to the other in seconds.

Beck sounded great. I saw a few people on my social channels complaining about the sound. Not me. Way in the back was as good as up front, and you didn’t need earplugs, the sound was so clean.

His performance was flawless. Beck’s band is loaded with seasoned pros. The set list (read it here) followed closely what he’s been playing on tour all year. Highlights included a slower section with “Lost Cause” from Sea Change (my favorite Beck album), “Qué Onda Güero,” which turned the place into a party, and a smokin’ version of “Dreams” (soon to be rereleased on his upcoming album).

And then there was “Loser.” I remember first hearing that song way back in ’93, thinking it was a trash rap track with an infectious hook. A year or so later it ended up on MTV, but Beck still managed to retain a sort of subversive, outsider tone. Though he was 22 or 23 at the time, he looked like a 16-year-old stoner. Quite a contrast to the 47-year-old dude Saturday night playing a song that has turned into a shopping-mall anthem for the dad-rock set, coaxing the crowd to sing the verse (which they did with gusto).

Finally at around 10:15 Beck got to his encore and rolled out “Where It’s At,” which he used as an intro to a pseudo medley that highlighted each member of his band. Among the song snippet covers were Gary Numan’s “Cars,” B-52’s “Rock Lobster,” The Rolling Stones’ “Miss You” and Phil Collins “In The Air Tonight,” complete with drum solo.

And then he got out his harmonica and began playing “One Foot in the Grave,” which was my cue to skedaddle. We headed to the exit, pretty much alone, heard Beck say “Good night” and walked to our car and drove straight out of the lot. The only hitch in our getaway plan was not being allowed to get back on I-29 North, as they forced everyone to turn right. No matter, we got on at the next exit.

Later that evening I heard from a number of people who said they had no issues leaving Stir, but not everyone. One dude texted me at midnight, saying he was still trying to get out of the back parking lot, 90 minutes after the concert ended.

The bottom line for me: It was one of the most well-run outdoor events I’ve attended. Was it an anomaly? A friend told me the Darius Rucker show last month (also a sell-out) was a complete and total cluster-f***. Maybe Stir learned from that mistake. Regardless, I’ll be paying more attention to their calendar announcements in the future…

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Three huge shows on the same Monday night, and surprisingly, none of them have sold out.

Top of the list is X at The Waiting Room. Skating Polly opens. $30, 8 p.m.

Meanwhile, down at Sokol Auditorium, Spoon headlines. I’ve heard a lot of people complain about their latest album, Hot Thoughts. I love it. There’s no question it’s a departure from their older sound, a stab at dance rock that hits the mark, though there’s a lot of overhang from bands that came before (For example, single “Can I Sit Next to You” sounds like the Cure’s “Fascination Street,” with synths from The Cars’ Heartbeat City, and so on). Opening is Twin Peaks, who just keep getting bigger. This one’s $35 and starts at 8:30.

Finally, indie act Jay Som plays at Reverb tonight with Stef Chura and Soccer Mommy. $14, 9 p.m

And I will miss all three.

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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.


Trying to figure out Stir Cove for Saturday’s Beck concert; O’Leaversfest weekend…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 12:43 pm September 8, 2017

Oquoa at Reverb Lounge, April 13, 2017. They play tonight at O’Leaversfest.

by Tim McMahan,

Saturday night’s Beck concert at Stir Cove will be my first time going to a show at the casino’s outdoor lawn stage, and I’m nervous.

I’ve heard nothing but horror stories about Stir Cove, specifically the parking situation — getting in, and especially getting out — has been described to me as the 9th Ring of Hell, an hour (or more) of my life that I will never get back.

With this in mind, I’ve been asking for advice about how best to get to Stir, and the majority of people are telling me to hoof it over Bob Kerrey Bridge because Harrah’s parking situation is so fucked I’ll want to kill someone by the end of the evening.

I’ve also been told that the facility itself is somewhat seedy (hey, it’s a casino), has sight-line limitations, and can be torturous when hot (though the weather should be pretty nice Saturday night). I’m all ears for advice from any past Stir Cove victims…

The only reason I’m going is because Beck is something of a bucket-list band; I doubt he’ll ever return to our area, so this is it. Of course a full recap of the evening will be online here Monday. This one’s sold out, but aftermarket tickets are still listed at Ticketmaster starting at $76. Show starts at 8 p.m.

What else is happening this weekend?

Well, there’s O’Leaversfest. The two-day event has been split into an indie/garage night and a metal/noise night. Tonight is indie/garage with Sean Pratt and the Sweats, Oquoa, Miwi La Lupa, Midnight Opera, BareBear and Tyrone Storm in the beer garden.

Saturday’s O’Leaverfest line-up is powerhouse noise-punk act Bib, Plack Blague, Cult Play, Satanic Abortion and Dilute. Both of these start at 9 p.m. and cost $7.

Also Saturday night, The Waiting Room is hosting the Daisy Jones’ Locker Summer Spectacular, which involves a car show, pinup pageant and performances by Huge Fucking Waves and The Electroliners. $10, 5 p.m.

And that’s it for the weekend.

All the massive shows (beyond Beck) are happening Monday night, with X at Waiting Room, Spoon/Twin Peaks at Sokol Auditorium and Jay Som at Reverb, but we’ll get to all that next week.

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.


Contemplating summer days (Stir, Decemberists, etc.); New Jake Bellows videos; Orenda Fink tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 1:49 pm February 11, 2015
Orenda Fink plays tonight at Reverb Lounge in Benson.

Orenda Fink plays tonight at Reverb Lounge in Benson.

by Tim McMahan,

The news lull continues, which explains why updates have been spotty lately. When I don’t have something to write about, I’m not going to post an update, and lately there hasn’t been much to write about regarding local indie music. At least nothing definitive.

From a national indie perspective, one of the bigger announcements was the continuation of The Replacements reunion tour, with shows now slated for Denver April 19 and Chicago April 29 and 30. Why not Maha in August? You never know, though I don’t see it happening. I suspect we’ll be getting a Maha headliner announcement in the very near future.

I was a tad bit disappointed that Replacements won’t be in Austin for South by Southwest this year, mainly because I will, once again, be attending the annual confab / endurance test. Expect the usual coverage at and (of course) right here.

And there very likely also will be a podcast from Austin, but more about podcasting later (I still have to figure out how to do it).

In other outdoor festival news, Stir Cove announced a slew of lackluster summer dates including Barenaked Ladies, Violent Femmes, Colin Hay of Men at Work, the godawful Hozier and novelty star Weird Al. Looks like my string of avoiding Stir Concert Cover shows will continue in 2015.

One outdoor concert I will be attending (in addition to Maha) is The Decemberists at Sumtur Amphitheater May 29.  Where the f*** is Sumtur? Way out in Papillion out by Walnut Creek Lake. Where’s that? It’s 20-some miles south of Dodge on 108th St. No opener named, yet. Decemberists have been touring with Alvvays, and two days before the Omaha date Decemberists are playing at Red Rocks with Courtney Barnett. Barnett alone is worth the 8-hour drive to Denver.

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Hey, here’s some news: Mouser just posted three new videos by Jake Bellows. You can see them all here or check out the YouTube embed below (which connects to the full playlist). Good ol’ Jake.

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Tonight at Reverb Lounge in Benson it’s Orenda Fink live and in concert. She is, in my opinion, the kind of artist perfectly suited for this very intimate venue. Expect a special performance. Opening is Thayer Sarrano & Mike Schlesinger. $8, 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 © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


One word to describe Stir’s Summer Concert Series: Creed; House of Loom, Nada Surf, An Horse tonight; UUVVWWZ, Noah’s Ark; Lost in the Trees Saturday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 12:41 pm March 30, 2012

by Tim McMahan,

So I’ve come to the conclusion that no one is going to show up at my DJ thing at House of Loom from 5 to 8 tonight except Teresa, a couple stylish friends of mine, Brent and Dr. Sheehan and that’s fine. It’ll be a chill way to kick off the evening. If you’re looking for something to do after work and you’re dying to hear dance and/or rock music from the ’80s to the present in a finely decorated, uncrowded lounge or outside on the patio, at a place where you can enjoy some of the best craft drinks in the area or great beer on tap, then come on by. It’s free. The weather is supposed to be spectacular and you can join in on the conversation, which likely will center around yesterday’s announcement of the Stir Cove Summer Concert Series and how very lame it is.

creedIf you haven’t seen the announcement, it’s right here. The highlights are The Shins May 31 and The Avett Brothers July 3. Let’s be honest, the new Shins album is somewhat…lacking, and the band couldn’t be more boring live. Then there’s the Avett Brothers, who would be amazing in an intimate venue like Slowdown or even The Holland, but outside of a casino? No. The rest of the acts are a mish-mash of has-beens (Creed? Really? Michael Bolton? Well, they do need to cater to the high rollers who are throwing away their retirement checks one penny at a time). Acts like Chicago and George Thorogood just make sense when you consider the best thing your typical casino patron can hope for is to somehow make time stand still, or better yet, go backward. We’re talking about an audience who would enjoy nothing more than to relive their glory days driving around West Broadway in that fourth-hand Camaro with “Bad to the Bone” pounding out of the ol’ Spark-o-Matic 6 x 9s, smoking and drinking and waiting to die.

Relax, Harrah’s, I keed. In fact, Avett Bros. is a definite maybe. I think it might even sell out. And there’s a very good chance that I’ll end up getting loaded at Heart. Let it ride, baby…

* * *

So, the weekend.

After you finish your hand-crafted cocktails at House of Loom tonight — and if you should decide to not stay there all night — there’s a  live music opportunity to consider — Nada Surf at The Waiting Room. Get there early to catch opening band, Brisbane’s An Horse (Mom + Pop Records). $18, 9 p.m.

Saturday night, our friends at are hosting Saddle Creek band UUVVWWZ at The Barley Street Tavern with the return of Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship and Brother’s Family Temple. $5, 9 p.m.

The lucky-if-you’re-there performance of the weekend, however, is Lost in the Trees at Slowdown Jr. Saturday night. The band, who releases music on Anti-, is the epitome of intelligent, lush pop, and I mean lush. Check out the tunes in the soundcloud below and see why they’re compared to Sufjan Stevens by many and Tears for Fears by me. Gorgeous stuff. And get this — opening the show is Sub Pop artist Poor Moon. Poor Moon is Christian Wargo (Fleet Foxes, Crystal Skulls) and brothers Ian and Peter Murray (The Christmas Cards). Their new album, Illusion, was released this past Tuesday. Both bands, $10, small stage. What more could you want, except for maybe Michael Bolton?

Lost in the Trees, “Golden Eyelids”

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Lost in the Trees, “Red”

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Poor Moon, “People In Her Mind”:

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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 © 2012 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


March Blandness; Stir Cove summer series announcement pending…

Category: Blog — Tags: , — @ 2:25 pm March 29, 2012

by Tim McMahan,


So is this the most boring week ever? There have been very few shows to speak of, and virtually no national shows scheduled. I took a look back at the last week of March 2011 just to see if this is an annual trend and discovered that we were: enjoying the return of It’s True, Lincoln Exposed was happening, a new band called New Lungs was debuting at O’Leaver’s, Landing on the Moon was playing at the Waiting Room and Old ’97s were playing at The Slowdown. Not a bad way to close out a March, and a helluva lot better that what we’ve been seeing here lately.

Ah, but despite yet another night of no shows, things are looking up for the weekend. And based on Stir Cove’s twitter feed, we’ll be hearing about this year’s Stir lineup this evening at 6:40 p.m. We already know that The Shins are playing at Harrah’s May 31 with The Antlers *yawn*. And the nightmarish “Last Summer On Earth Tour” takes over the Stir Cove Aug. 9, featuring soccer mom bands Barenaked Ladies, Blues Traveler, Big Head Todd & the Monsters and Cracker. Ugh. I’ve got a sad, sick feeling that the Shins date may be the highlight of Stir schedule. Let’s hope not.

Think about how challenging it is to book a mid-level or higher indie band in Omaha these days, especially in the summer. There’s practically a different huge festival going on every week/weekend somewhere in the U.S., including our own MAHA Festival and Red Sky (though RS’s focus seems to be in the pop/country/legacy/shit realm rather than indie, so far). The casinos, who used to be more concerned about booking Vegas-style schlock, are now turning their attention to indie in a big way, with Black Keys last year and now The Shins and who knows who else. It would seem to put more pressure on our very own 1% Productions, who can already boast booking upcoming festival-worthy shows featuring Death Cab and Low (April 11, Music Hall), Heartless Bastards (May 27, TWR), St. Vincent (May 14, Slowdown), Best Coast (May 29, Slowdown), Son Volt (May 24, TWR), Deer Tick (May 20, TWR) and Sleigh Bells (April 14, Slowdown), among others. I’ll be surprised if Stir announces a date with any indie band of that caliber…

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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 © 2012 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.