Live Reviews: The Feelies in DC, Sunflower Bean, Public Access T.V.; Cold War Kids tonight (SOLD OUT)…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 2:15 pm June 26, 2018

The Feelies at 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C., June 22, 2018.

by Tim McMahan,

Back from a long weekend in Washington D.C., where last Friday night I got to see The Feelies perform at the 9:30 Club. The venue been located a couple places around town since opening in 1980. The current location feels as if someone took Sokol Auditorium and sliced it in half, added a great stage and sound system as well as a kitchen and numerous bars, which I guess makes it nothing like Sokol Auditorium. It’s sort of like an old, lived-in high school gymnasium with a balcony that circles outward from either side of the stage. A small room in back is filled with CDs from every band that’s performed at the club — thousands and thousands lined up in floor-to-ceiling book cases.

The show was “An evening with The Feelies” which meant no opening act. The band went on around 9:30, sounding exactly like the band I’ve been listening to for ages. Frontman Glenn Mercer sounds no different than he did on albums that came out 30 years ago, a low mumbling voice that’s more spoken murmur than singing. Alongside him guitarist Bill Million and bass player Brenda Sauter were on point.

But what really fueled the performance was drummer Stan Demeski and percussionist Dave Weckerman looking like a couple accountants on leave pounding out the crazy rhythms. Anyone even vaguely familiar with The Feelies knows that their music is sort of a formula — a simple chopping guitar riff, followed by another, followed by crisp, tasty backbeat drums and rhythms. It’s a style that’s unmistakable and that’s influenced an array of bands from R.E.M to Luna to The New Year.

The first set was dedicated to newer stuff — or at least stuff I wasn’t familiar with that sounded like all their other stuff. The second set was dedicated to the “hits” — tunes off my favorite albums, the crowd erupting with every opening rhythm and chord. For the uninitiated, the songs can all sound very similar, but to those who’ve followed them for years, the favorites stand out.

I realized while watching the show that chances that this band will ever come to Omaha is nearly zero, and that the only way I’d ever have gotten to see them was to travel. The fact that the show was happening while I happened to be in D.C. was a stroke of luck, but now I’m starting to get the itch to go to other towns to see bands I know will never come here. Where will I go next?

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Sunflower Bean at Reverb Lounge, June 25, 2018.

A crowd of less than 50 showed up at Reverb last night for Sunflower Bean. The band is riding high on an Sirius XMU hit, the easy-listening indie rocker “I Was a Fool” on heavy rotation and, as I mentioned the other day, sounds like a track from The Sundays.

Frontwoman Julia Cummings’ voice comes in two flavors — a sweet, clear coo a la Harriet Wheeler (of the Sundays) and a pronounced Joan Jett snarl which I wasn’t ready for. Cummings rolled out her Jett growl throughout the set, mostly on songs from their new album, Twentytwo in Blue, which is a more straight-forward pop record than their debut, 2016’s Human Ceremony. The debut is darker and fueled by a post-punk shoe-gaze sound. Whenever the band lit into one of the earlier tracks, like standouts “2013” and “Easier Said,” they shifted into a blue-toned gear.  Kudos to Nick Kivlen’s clever guitar solos throughout the set.

Cummings tried about as hard as any performer I’ve ever seen (outside of a cover band) to get the crowd into the spirit, coaxing call-and-response fist-shake audience choruses, leading overhead hand-claps, and pleading (a number of times) for people to please come closer to the stage. Just another Monday night in Omaha.

Sunflower Bean is a band in transition. I liked where they were headed on their first album; but was less enthusiastic about the pop rock of their sophomore effort. The division between couldn’t be more stark. Where they end up on their third record could make all the difference.


Public Access T.V. at Reverb Lounge, June 25, 2018.

Last night’s opener, Public Access T.V., was a fun-loving indie-pop trio that reminded me of early Strokes or The Fratellis. Fun, young and fashionable, I could see them catching fire with the kids.

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Tonight it’s the return of Cold War Kids, this time to The Waiting Room. The band has a new album called Audience (Live) recorded on stage in Athens. Thomas Abban opens. This one is SOLD OUT and starts at 8 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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Ten Questions with Sunflower Bean (at Reverb 6/25); Whipkey tonight; Eric in Outerspace Saturday; Bambara Sunday…

Category: Interviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:00 pm June 22, 2018

Sunflower Bean plays Reverb Monday, June 25.

by Tim McMahan,

Few bands have taken indie stardom by storm quite like Brooklyn’s Sunflower Bean. The trio of Nick Kivlen (lead guitar and vocals), Jacob Faber (drums) and Julia Cumming (bass and lead vocals) exploded onto the scene with the critically lauded Human Ceremony (2016, Fat Possum), a compilation of songs the trio wrote while still in their teens.

Their new maturity is apparent on Twentytwo in Blue (2018, Mom + Pop), released this past March. The band takes on a more rock-fueled tone while Cumming, who handles the lion’s share of vocals, comes off like a modern-day Harriet Wheeler but without the acoustic lilt of The Sundays.

I caught up with the band and gave them the Ten Questions treatment. Here’s what they had to say:

1. What is your favorite album?

Julia Cumming: Transformer – Lou Reed

2. What is your least favorite song?

Cumming: Anything by the Chainsmokers.

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

Cumming: It’s a dream come true. I love being on a team with people I trust and care about, and making art with them. We get to travel the world, and no show we play is the same as any other. Each show has improvisation and is kept super live so that we can create these special moments every night. Creating those moments is the best part of being in a band.

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

Nick Kivlen: There’s nothing we really hate about being in a band but sometimes when you’re on a 4-week tour you really start missing your own bed.

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

Kivlen: Coffee

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

Jacob Faber: NYC will forever be the best.

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

Faber: Not sure of the worst gig but one that stands out is when we played a frat house and fight broke out and everyone went to watch the fight instead of our show.

8. Are you able to support yourself through your music? If so, how long did it take to get there; if not, how do you pay your bills?

Faber: We are lucky enough that we can support ourselves through music, nothing is ever guaranteed, but we work really hard and are able to do it full time.

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

Faber: Would love to be a traveling food critic; would hate to be a car salesman.

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

Faber: All I know about Omaha is that Nick’s old dog, Casey, was from Omaha and he was a great guy RIP.

Sunflower Bean plays with Public Access T.V. Monday, June 25, at Reverb Lounge, 6121 Military Ave. Showtime is 8 p.m., tickets are $12 Adv./$14 DOS. For more information, go to

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OK, but what about this weekend?

Tonight Matt Whipkey is playing a free show at Harney Street Tavern. Whipkey has grabbed some national attention lately when his cover of The Beatles’ “Drive My Car,” which appears on his new album Driver, was played on both Little Steven’s Underground Garage and Breakfast with the Beatles, a show hosted by Chris Carter, founding member of Dramarama. Both shows are on Sirius XM satellite radio. Driver also received a positive nod from roots music journal No Depression. See what the buzz is about starting at 9 p.m.

Also tonight (Friday) Denver’s Slow Caves (Old Flame Records) plays at O’Leaver’s with Ojai and Win/Win. $7, 10 p.m.

Saturday night Eric in Outerspace celebrates the release of their new album Later Days at Brothers Lounge. Joining them are Chicago’s The Sueves and The Cassowaries (Andrew Gustafson). $5, 9 p.m.

Also Saturday night Montee Men opens for Jump the Tiger at O’Leaver’s. Living Conditions kicks it off at 10 p.m. $5.

A busy weekend for O’Leaver’s ends with a special Sunday matinee featuring Brooklyn’s Bambara (Wharfcat Records). FiFi NoNo and The Show Is the Rainbow opens at 6 p.m. $5.

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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.