Live Review: Minneapolis Uranium Club, Sucettes, Dilute at Pet Shop Gallery…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , , — @ 1:43 pm December 11, 2017

Minneapolis Uranium Club at Pet Shop Gallery Dec. 9, 2017.

by Tim McMahan,

Minnesota Uranium Club is what would happen if a mad computer scientist digitally combined Devo, The Dismemberment Plan and Wall of Voodoo into one diabolic sound file — quirky, jittery, precise (and fast) post-punk guitar rock combined with smart, ironic observations about our devolving society and the world around us.

And they freakin’ rock. A two-guitar four-piece, they’ve got their sound honed to a razor’s edge. If you were at Pet Shop Saturday night you marveled at the layered guitar lines, or maybe you got caught up in the friendly mosh pit in front of the band (I was safely off to the side with the other oldsters).

The guitarist right in front of me (no idea what these guys’ names are, they have no web presence other than a Bandcamp page) robotically jerked into position throughout songs in a classic Devo fashion, adding his own chicken-neck groove-move when the time was right. Yeah, there’s a Devo flair, but these guys are not over-the-top theatricians, this is no novelty act. It’s a tight, intricate punk band with a bagful of catchy tunes that will make your heart pulse well above a safe threshold.

I have Brad Smith at Almost Music to thank for even knowing about Uranium Club, as he sold me their latest EP on a cold recommendation. Brad’s got a good batting average. Last year he handed me a Tenement album that became one of my favorites of 2016.

Dilute at Pet Shop Gallery Dec. 9, 2017.

I got to Pet Shop (which, btw, is the old Sweatshop performance space — the garage you enter from the back of the building) a little after 10 figuring I’d missed the opener (show was scheduled for 9) but was just in time to see Dilute’s entire set. I’m happy I caught it.

Dilute is a four-piece fronted by Alex Heller (according to their Bandcamp page) that plays brutal post-punk bordering on hardcore. Thick slabs of guitar, lots of vocal delay, random acts of chaos. Gorgeous sheets of noise and pounding rhythms got the kids smashing into each other.

Check out the tracks below and get the cassette at Almost Music.

Sucettes at Pet Shop Gallery Dec. 9, 2017.

Tucked in the middle was Sucettes boasting a different line-up than the last time I saw them. Todd and Jen are gone and new vocalist Michaela Favara has been added. The result is a more stripped down, more straight-forward approach to their classic ’60’s style psych pop that’s as playful as it is rocking (anytime you can get a couple guys doing harmonies on pennywhistles, well, you’re in for something special).

It was a packed crowd throughout the night and Pet Shop lived up to the old Sweatshop namesake — it was sweaty. I had a feeling it was going to be a crush mob (Uranium Club shows are a rarity) but it was never uncomfortable. The sound was surprisingly great and the vibe was chill. I love this venue for DIY shows. You never feel out of place. Here’s hoping Pet Shop shows become a regular thing.

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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.


Sweatshop’s back (sort of); HN’s ‘How to Get Covered’ overtime; The Renderers, Vegetable Deluxe tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:54 pm September 29, 2015
The Renderers are playing tonight at fabulous O'Leaver's.

The Renderers are playing tonight at fabulous O’Leaver’s.

by Tim McMahan,

When The Sweatshop announced it was closing its doors, I was told that a new owner was taking over the venue who had no interest in continuing the gallery’s live performances that were held in the garage out back.

Whoever told me that was wrong.

Last week the folks who run Petshop, the gallery right next door to Sweatshop at 2725 N 62nd Street, announced that “Starting Oct. 1, the Sweatshop space at 2727 will become one with the Petshop space at 2725, all under the name Petshop.”

In addition, the newly merged gallery will continue to book live music. From the Petshop statement:

“Although the well-associated name Sweatshop will be leaving, Petshop will continue to honor the name’s legacy and role in the local and national music and art scenes.  Local musician and artist, Nick Holden will be taking over the music calendar for Petshop, with plans to curate shows for the space.  Expect the return of live music to the space starting on Benson First Friday Nov. 6.  Details TBA. For booking inquiries, please email

“Sam Parker and partner Chris Aponick, of Perpetual Nerves, have also been long-time contributors on the music side of the space, most notably for their role in organizing Sweatfest (July 2015).  They will continue to book music for the space, working through Holden.”

Aponick confirmed the above. It’s great news as Sweatshop has become a go-to venue for all-ages “house show”-type indie and punk shows featuring notable national touring bands.

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A week or so ago, Andrew Stellmon of Hear Nebraska reached out via email asking for an interview on the topic of what bands and musicians need to do to get covered in the press. The article went online last Thursday and includes comments from Kevin Coffey of the Omaha World-Herald, Caroline Borolla of press agent Riot Act Media and local music manager Emily Engles, who in addition to managing Rock Paper Dynamite and Matt Cox (among others) also is the President of the Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards Board of Directors.

Check out the story here. It became pretty obvious after reading the story and seeing who else was interviewed that I blew the assignment. I thought the article was targeting bands trying to get national press, not local bands trying to get local press — in that instance, everything will work, from press releases to sending Soundcloud links, etc.

Anyway, as result, a lot of (actually most) of what I sent Stellmon didn’t make it into the article, but being a completest and because I hate seeing anything I’ve written go unread, here are the comments I sent Stellmon, for the record:

Q: Why is it important for the press and musicians/bands to understand their relationship with each other?

Lazy-i: Not sure I understand the question. I’m not sure it is important from the standpoint of a musician as an artist or the standpoint of a journalist trying to get a story. The way they act toward each other is how they define their relationship.

Q: For an aspiring musician/band, what comprises an effective approach to seeking coverage?

Lazy-i: Depends on what the musician/band is trying to accomplish. If the goal is to create art, the musician will continue to create art regardless of the coverage s/he receives. If you believe in your music — and you’re making quality music — the press will find you.

Q: When approaching a media outlet for coverage, especially by email, what are three things that a band should include in its communication? Alternatively, if you receive communication from a band seeking coverage, what three things do you look for in an email, etc?

Lazy-i: The answers to both questions are likely the same. I don’t have time to listen to all the Soundcloud/Bandcamp links that I receive via email. However, if the band sends me a complete download of their recording, I’m more apt to listen to it because I can add it to my iTunes for listening wherever I’m at. If the band sends me a CD in the mail, I’m even more likely to listen to it; and if they send me a vinyl copy of their record I feel almost obligated to listen to it and comment.

These days time permits me to only listen to submissions from local bands I’m already familiar with or national bands that are either signed to a known label or are associated with a band that’s I’ve heard of or is signed to a known label. If I’ve never heard of the band or its label, the odds of me listening to or even finishing reading their email is remote.

An exception is made for touring bands that are playing at venues that I like or respect and that book the style of music I listen to. Clubs like The Waiting Room, Reverb, Slowdown, O’Leaver’s, MAS, Sweatshop (now defunct) are prime examples. I’m apt to listen to the music just to see if it’s something I might want to cover.

Q: Is there anything else you would add?

Lazy-i: On one hand, technology has made it easy and cheap for bands to record and distribute their music. On the other hand, because almost anyone can record their own music on a laptop and upload it to a website, there literally are thousands of people trying to get their music heard and written about. That glut of online music is making it nearly impossible for bands to get their music heard beyond their circle of friends and family. Just like it’s always been, the only way to break through is by touring and live performances because no one has time to listen to all the anonymous music being uploaded to Soundcloud/Bandcamp/Youtube, especially in an era when all music is virtually free via Spotify/Apple Music.

That being said, because of the enormous glut of available music, the role of the music critic has never been more important. Sure, anyone can listen to anything online at any time virtually for free, but that doesn’t mean they have the TIME to listen to it. Critics help listeners decide what they should spend their time listening to.

An addendum to the above: Just this past weekend I discussed this very topic with a couple musicians who have toured nationally at some point in their careers, and they agreed that –despite the advent of technology — touring is the only effective way to get your music heard by an audience outside of your community. It’s common sense.

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There’s another big show tonight at fabulous O’Leaver’s. The Renderers will be in the house. The band from Christchurch, New Zealand, was formed in 1989 by Maryrose Crook and her husband Brian (of The Terminals). They have released records on Flying Nun Records, Merge Records, Ajax Records, Siltbreeze Records, among others. Simon Joyner has toured with The Renderers. As Joe Biden would say, this is a big fucking deal. Hopefully Ian will have the tapes rolling, as I’d love to see this band represented in Live at O’Leaver’s.  Headlining the show is a reunion of The Subtropics. Also on the bill is Vegetable Deluxe, a new project by ex-Brimstone Howl guitarist Nick Waggoner. $5, 9:30 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.



Live Review: Ceremony, Tony Molina, Gramps, Mint Wad Willy; Sun-less Trio tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:45 pm July 13, 2015
Ceremony at The Sweatshop Gallery, July 11, 2015.

Ceremony at The Sweatshop Gallery, July 11, 2015.

by Tim McMahan,

They don’t call it The Sweatshop Gallery for nothing. Saturday night’s show in the converted garage behind Sweatshop’s art gallery in Benson was easily the most uncomfortable concert experience in memory. If you thought it was hot outside Saturday, you should have stepped foot into that concrete stink oven Saturday night. I felt like a chicken in a rotisserie or a hippie in Southwestern sweat lodge. Within minutes after stepping inside the bunker sweat dripped off my elbows and ran down my legs in salty streams. My shirt, my shorts were drenched, stuck in a layer of warm moisture against my skin, sweat broiling off my forehead and into my eyes. Stifling, suffocating. It was awful, but it was worth it.

Ceremony is a West Coast band that made their nut playing what has been described as “power violence” music, which is a form of hardcore punk. What made them stand out may have been their guitar work or frontman Ross Farrar’s vocal approach, which was a bit more “arty” than the usual hardcore screaming. Anyway, the band started as a hardcore act in ’05. Then slowly eased off and became more post-punk-ish after their album Rohnert Park came out in 2011. Then they signed with Matador and turned their back on hardcore altogether with the release of the somewhat boring Zoo in 2012.

Now comes The L-Shaped Man, which was released earlier this year on Matador and sounds like an Interpol/Joy Division tribute album. Farrar’s vocals went completely Ian Curtis/Paul Banks on top of music that feels like it was developed in a Joy Division/New Order sound incubator. Pitchfork hated it. I love it because I love that style of music, though at times the record is so derivative it’s chuckle-inducing.

How many of the 70 or so kids jammed into Sweatshop were there to see the old hardcore Ceremony vs. the new post-punk version, I do not know, though it didn’t matter when they launched into their Joy Division-fueled set opener that got the sweat-slick crowd jumping. In the heat and darkness, Farrar was in his element saying before he started that the gig already was the best show he’d played in Omaha, and telling the crowd to step right up, which they did. The band fed off the heat and energy, and the set boiled with a goth-dance-punk intensity that Bauhaus would appreciate.

While there were plenty of Factory Records moments during the set, the band — and Farrar — did something wholly unique live, pulling in abstract elements from their past to create a new sound that melded post-punk with something much darker. The crowd loved it and the room became a pit, with youth hanging from the rafters. If Ceremony could tap into this hybrid sound/energy not heard on their album, they’d be onto something that is entirely their own.

Tony Molina at Sweatshop Gallery, July 11, 2015.

Tony Molina at Sweatshop Gallery, July 11, 2015.

It was a varied night of music at ol’ Sweatshop. North Bay punk band Creative Adult was among the openers playing a heavy, rhythmic punk that was brittle and fun. Then came Tony Molina, another Bay-area guy I’d never heard of but who was nothing less than amazing playing pure power-pop influenced by ’70s icon bands like Thin Lizzy and Cheap Trick, but with more than a nod to J Mascis and Teenage Fanclub. Molina and a second guitarist weaved intricate harmonies that were Thin Lizzy taken to an extreme backed by a solid rhythm section on songs that rarely lasted more than two minutes. As badly as I wanted to get outside for some relief I couldn’t get myself to miss any of it. Utterly exhausting and exhilarating.

Yes, this will be in my top-10 (maybe top 5?) favorite shows of ’15, despite losing at least five pounds in water weight.

Gramps at Barley Street Tavern, July 11, 2015.

Gramps at Barley Street Tavern, July 11, 2015.

Between sets I slipped into the Barley Street for Rolling Rock and AC and to catch Gramps, the new-ish band fronted by Django Greenblatt-Seay of Love Drunk Studio fame. A solid four-piece, Gramps’ style of indie sounds influenced by the local scene, specifically acts like Little Brazil and Criteria, but every song has a twist, whether it’s a unique guitar solo or an unfamiliar time sequence. Django and Co. play with a no-shit attitude that says “come along for the ride if, if you want to.”

Another local act seen for the first time this weekend was Mint Wad Willy. Here’s a band I’ve never made an effort to see because of their name. Mint Wad Willy? Sounds like a cover band or a white-guy blues band. Well I wasn’t going to miss them Saturday morning because they played at The Indie 5K/10K run, which benefitted Benson/Ames, and I must say I dug what I heard. Their style wasn’t straight-up rock as much as mainstream garage a la The Black Keys, though something about their sound also reminded me of heavier Big Star or even Silkworm with some Creedance thrown in. That sounds like a mess, but I can’t put my finger on a key influence.

By the way, the band’s name is an old-school reference to a Mary Jane cigarette (a mint-wad willy). And also BTW, I won my age bracket in the 5K (which isn’t so impressive when you realize I was the only one entered).

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Sun-less Trio is a new project that features Mike Saklar (No Blood Orphan, Ritual Device), Marc Phillips (Carsinogents) and Cricket Kirk (Paper Owls). They’re playing tonight at Pageturners Lounge with A Great Disturbance. 9 p.m. and FREE. Great way to start your week…

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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.