Live Review: Horse Jumper of Love at The Sydney…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , — @ 9:48 am May 13, 2024
Horse Jumper of Love at The Sydney, May 12, 2024.

by Tim McMahan,

After last night’s Horse Jumper of Love show at The Sydney, it made perfect sense why the band selected Old Ramon by Red House Painters as their favorite album. 

Horse Jumper of Love has a similar overcast, mid-tempo, slowcore style as RHP and frontman/guitarist Dimitri Giannopoulos even has a Kozelek-esque voice. And while both bands’ music is wonderfully moody, unlike RHP songs that can go on for eight minutes or more, HJoL’s songs quickly get to the point – three times through and out. 

Their first time in Omaha, Giannopoulos squinted through most of the set. “We’ve been in the van for a long time and these lights are very bright,” he said. The crowd of around 40 didn’t mind, clearly mesmerized by the low-key splendor. 

I’ve only recently been introduced to this band because of this tour date, so I’m not familiar with many song titles. Not that it would have mattered as Giannopoulos said they were playing a number of new songs last night. I did recognize slower, gorgeous versions of the title song from 2023’s Heartbreak Rules album and “Spaceman” from their self-titled 2017 debut.

The band held a quiet intensity throughout the 30-minute set, and I was reminded of the great, dreamy, post-rock bands I grew up listening to, like Bedhead, Low, Sun Kil Moon and Mark Eitzel/American Music Club. Last night’s Horse Jumper set fit right in, though their recordings are typically more upbeat (and faster). Who can blame them for sounding so lonely – after all, it had been raining all day, and they were in that van for a long time.

The Dirts at The Sydney, May 12, 2024.

I caught most of The Dirts’ opening set sitting back in one of the broken booths by the front door, and thought to myself, ‘these folks may be onto something if they can get their vocals figured out.’ Once again, whether it was the frontman or one of the women singing, the vocals were lost/buried in amidst the chiming guitars. But maybe that’s how they want it…

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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.


Live Review: Blanky, Virga, The Dirts and Garst…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 8:32 am April 4, 2024

Blanky at Reverb Lounge, April 3, 2024.

by Tim McMahan,

The Dirts have been playing out for at least a couple years and I still don’t know who’s in this band. Other than an Instagram page, there virtually was nothing I could find out about this intense 5-piece act that consists of four women and one of the guys who also plays in Garst (who we’ll get to later).

Last night’s set at Reverb Lounge was the second time round seeing them and they’re becoming one of my favorite new Nebraska bands thanks to their dense, atmospheric style of shoegaze. In addition to singing well (his voice kind of reminded me of the guy in Pardoner), he did a nice job balancing songs with his relaxed guitar solos. The band’s two women vocalists could barely be heard above the roar, though what I could hear sounded good. Their lack of presence in the mix was likely more due to the fact they didn’t appear to be singing very loudly or very close to their microphones. 

To my knowledge, there are no recordings of The Dirts on the internet or streaming services, and since I don’t know who’s in the band, I don’t know who to ask. I guess I could have asked one of them while I was in the club, but I’ve startled more than my share of young musicians over the years (it’s the cop thing) and was in no mood to do so last night. Short set! Done by 8:30.

Virga at Reverb Lounge, April 3, 2024.

Maybe the women of The Dirts could take a clue from Faith Maddox of Virga, who played next. Fronting a fourpiece with guitar in hand, Maddox’s gorgeous, lonesome voice was a perfect match for Virga’s two chord verses, minor-key, heavy, and at times dirgy downer rock that had a way of exploding before the end of each song. Later, Virga rolled out a few very ’90s-style post-grunge songs reminscent of Lawrence bands from back in the day. 

Maddox said last night was the first stop on their tour, which will take them to Chicago tonight, and was very appreciative of the crowd response. The band closed out with another uptempo number but then, in the end, reverted back to its downer-core as if to say “This is who we really are.” 

As they cleared their gear from the stage, I thought, “For the love of god, please let Blanky play next.” I didn’t want them to get Omaha’d by Garst. 

Thankfully, Blanky did go on next. The trio played in a more upbeat style than what’s heard on their Blood Harmony album, and likely is a sign of where their sound is headed. Frontman Anthony Cunard was the showpiece, a fantastic guitarist who played in an echoing, slow-pulse surf style a la early Pixies or Breeders and sometimes sounded like Jon Spencer on Valium. They had an intensely cool sound and Cunard’s solos were eye-popping. . 

Then came Garst a little after 10:30. These guys are, indeed, ferociously good at what they do, which is play ’80s-style riff rock at a breakneck pace. All four dudes are super talented and mega-tight shredding fast, intricate riffs like a ’70s prog band with fun-loving ’80s hair metal charm. The frontman/guitarist began the set sporting a sort of affected growl that thankfully faded halfway through. I recognized Cat Piss/Pagan Athletes drummer Nate Wolf behind the drum kit, who I assumed was a new addition as the frontman went out of his way to introduce him early in the set. Wolf is one of the city’s brightest new talents. 

While not a style of music I listen to often anymore (Hey, I grew up on bands like Fastway and Van Halen) these guys were impressive, jumping from one riff-fueled groove to another. You could argue Garst was an odd way to end a night of touring indie rock bands (and one great local shoegaze opener), but they also helped bring a crowd. Garst’s fans – many of them young ladies — patiently waited in the back during the early sets, but once their dudes came on stage were went right up front dancing. 

Funniest moment of the Garst set was between songs when the frontman said (and I’m paraphrasing): “There’s a lot of slow core coming out of Lawrence these days. I’ve got a question: Are you guys OK?

To which one of the Blanky guys sitting next to me at the bar responded by yelling, “No, we’re not.”

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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.


Lawrence invasion: Blanky, Virga with The Dirts, Garst at Reverb tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 7:49 am April 3, 2024

Lawrence band Blanky plays tonight at Reverb Lounge.

by Tim McMahan,

Two Lawrence, Kansas, bands make the long trip up I-29 today to play at Reverb Lounge tonight.

Blanky has been described as an “alt-country shoegaze” band. Alt-country? Um, nah. Shoegaze? Maybe. Languid, distorted, feedback-fueled, drunken, surf-guitar songs that feel like a morning-after hangover? Sure, especially on their latest album, 2022’s Blood Harmony

Blanky frontman Anthony Cunard has a deep, dry, low voice that sings sordid tales of cautionary love with lines like, “You fell to your death in your baby’s arms / I guess that’s one way to get away,” that sound like a distorted funeral procession… but in a good way. Cinematic murder films shot in black-and-white. 

Very likely driving to Omaha in the same van as Blanky is Virga, who according to The Pitch, classify themselves as “gothic Americana,” which for me sort of misses the mark. Their sound is reminiscent of ‘90s acts like Madder Rose, Lisa Germano, Cowboy Junkies and Kristen Hersh. Stark, slow, indie rock songs that build over their four-minute lifespans, guided by frontwoman Faith Maddox’s gorgeous voice that recalls Margo Timmins. 

T’was a time in the early ‘90s when LinOma and Lawrence swapped bands on a regular basis, almost as if the two regions were part of one post-punk alt-indie scene. Maybe we should get back to that?

Like all the best shows, tonight’s is a study in contrasts considering the Omaha bands that are also on the bill. Garst plays a more straight-forward, riff-fueled indie that borders on alt-rock. The Dirts includes a member of Garst, but the band, who I saw open for Hotline TNT, is something completely different. You’ll see. 

Four acts on a Wednesday? It’s going to be a long night. Bands take the Reverb stage at 8 p.m. — and please be prompt! Those Lawrence folks have a long way to drive back home. $12.  

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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.


Live Review: Hotline TNT, The Dirts at Reverb…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , — @ 12:24 pm November 23, 2023

Hotline TNT at Reverb Lounge, Nov. 22, 2023.

by Tim McMahan,

A quick review on this holiest of Turkey Days.

Reverb Lounge was semi-packed (not jam-packed, not cram-full) for last night’s Hotline TNT show. Pushing through the crowd to get my Rolling Rock, I noticed the booths toward the back were full of very young people stacked up around the tables, looking tired and annoyed. I’m sure there’s an interesting back story to this that involves the two opening band, which I missed.

I had no idea who was on stage – a five piece dominated by a dude playing a Flying V, surrounded by an all-female backing band. This obviously wasn’t Hotline TNT, but who was it? I was pleasantly surprised at how good they were. Especially the dude on the V who had a decent voice. He shared vocals with a woefully under-amped lead guitarist, who, when she sang, could barely be heard. 

The Dirts at Reverb Lounge, Nov. 22, 2023.

The guy, however… an interesting voice. It almost sounded like he was singing with an accent. It wouldn’t be until the end of their set, while the guitarist was looking for a capo, that he said (without an accent), “We’re The Dirts and this is ‘High Flying Bird,’” — their last song of their set. I ran into MarQ Manner in the crowd, who said they were, indeed, local and that the guy also was in Garst. The only “Dirts” band I could find online was the Swedish punk act by the same name. TIme for a name change, folks, and please let me know when you play out again…

Hotline TNT came on at around 10:30. Their style — very ‘90s wall-of-guitars — thanks to having three guitarists. Very much a Sugar/Bob Mould/Teenage Fanclub vibe – just a pure ’90s post-punk sound that was even better live than on their much-lauded, overblown (recording-wise) debut album. The only drawback to the live renditions were frontman Will Anderson’s lackluster vocals, but in the end, it didn’t matter when the night’s theme was, “How can we build on this guitar riff?”

Throughout the set, the third guitarist kept breaking strings. When he broke the first one, the lead guitarist handed him his guitar and picked up another. Then when he broke a string on that one, it looked like he borrowed a guitar from the Dirts (though I’m not certain — though it looked like same SG). 

This guitar swapping required much between-song tuning, where Anderson asked the crowd if anyone was taking part in tomorrow’s Turkey Trot. No response. He kicked off the next song with, “Let’s see your Turkey Trot right here,” pointing at the area in front of the stage. Not from this crowd. Instead, he just got more fervent head nods.

I liked listening to these guys if only for the sheer guitar-riff power and the wayback-machine quality of their post-punk songs. Not a bad way to spend a Wednesday night before Thanksgiving…

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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 © 2023 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.