Live Review: Titus Andronicus; Protomartyr, Healer tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 7:26 am March 29, 2023
Titus Andronicus at The Slowdown, March 28, 2023.

by Tim McMahan,

What to say about Patrick Stickles a.k.a. Patty Stax and his band, Titus Andronicus, who played a crushing set last night at Slowdown Jr.? In the four times or so that I’ve seen them, this was my favorite set. It also was their shortest set. Titus Andronicus sets used to be notoriously looooong; so long, in fact, after 90 minutes or more I would find myself hoping the next bludgeoning ballad was the last, but no, there was always another…

Performing last night as a five-piece, Titus Andronicus played a tight one-hour set that included a few new songs off their latest album along with a handful of their classics, which they packaged at the end in a sort of medley that included “Four Score and Seven,” “A More Perfect Union” and “Titus Andronicus Forever.” Those fist-pump almost-Celtic-flavored anthems were in stark contrast to the songs from their new album, The Will to Live, which had more in common with the Stones or Cheap Trick, complete with scorching guitar solos. 

And as much as I liked the three-song epic closer, my favorite moment was a rousing version of “Tumult Around the World” off 2019’s An Obelisk, which sounded like a hyper-active version of “Sweet Jane” played by Thin Lizzy.  Actually, every song felt like a high-voltage energy buzzsaw, with Stickles lighting the fuse from one explosive rocker to the next, backed by a rock solid band of brothers. I get a sense that, from one town to the next, whether playing in front of 50 like last night or 500 or 15, Stickles and Co. always bring the same manic perfection and will from now until the end of time. 

. 0 0 0 . 

Protomartyr at French Legation Park / Pitchfork Day Party at SXSW 2014. The band plays tonight at Slowdown Jr.

Tonight, it’s back to The Slowdown for the return of Detroit post-punk legends Protomartyr. Their last full length was 2020’s Ultimate Success Today (Domino Records), but they’ve got a new one waiting in the wings called Formal Growth in the Desert, slated for a June 2 release on Domino. 

According to the one-sheet, “Formal Growth In The Desert is a testament to conflicting realities — the inevitability of loss, the necessity of finding joy through it and persisting — that come with living longer and continuing to create. It begins with pain but endures through it, cracking itself open into a gently-sweeping torrent of sound that is, for Protomartyr, totally new.

I’m not sure what they’re talking about, although it might have something to do with frontman Joe Casey’s “period of colossal transition” that took place with the death of his mother.  The band just wrapped up four days at South by Southwest, where (like Titus Andronicus) I first saw them play in 2014, where I described them this way:

“The Detroit-based punk band is fronted by a guy who looks like an insurance salesman, complete with a sensible haircut and full-on business attire, but who has a singing style akin to Husker-era Mould or The Fall’s Mark E. Smith. Deadpan anger, straight-faced disgust, like an upset father with a controlled rage and a back-up band that is pure Gang of Four post punk.”

Hopefully nothing has changed. Opening tonight at Slowdown Jr. is Dan Brennan’s band Healer, a local supergroup that includes two members of Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship — Andrew Gustafson on guitar and John Svatos on bass — and two members of UUVVWWZ — David Ozinga on drums and Jim Schroeder on bass VI and Rhodes. Or at least it did the last time I saw them. 

Show starts at 8 p.m., $22, and you may want to get tickets now because this one could sell out. 

* * *

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.


Titus Andronicus, Country Westerns, Simon Joyner and the Echoes tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 6:31 am March 28, 2023
Titus Andronicus at SXSW 2009. The band plays at The Slowdown tonight.

by Tim McMahan,

The first time I saw Titus Andronicus live was at Habana Calle Annex 6 at the first South by Southwest Festival I ever attended way back in 2009. Of that performance, I said: “I liked their most recent album (The Airing of Grievances) enough to place it on my 2008 top-10 list — it’s rowdy and rough and young, with unbridled energy — and so was the band, bashing away on stage, the frontman sporting the new-hipster unibomber beardo look. It was loud, but forced — they never got into an angry groove or maybe it was just too early for that sort of thing.” It was a day show.

Fourteen years later, Titus Andronicus frontman Patrick Stickles still has that new-hipster unibomber beard look, but it ain’t so new anymore. I’ve seen Titus many times since that first gig, and have another chance tonight at The Slowdown. 

The band’s latest, The Will to Live, was release last year on Merge Records. It’s a departure from the Titus I remember all those years ago. On this new record, the band is “drawing on maximalist rock epics, from Who’s Next to Hysteria.” Big riffs and lots of guitar solos, it sounds like power pop from the Titan label, sort of. Actually, it reminds me of Butch Walker and The Let’s-Go-Out-Tonites, an album that came out two years before Titus Andronicus’ debut album.

At any rate, it’s change from massive, punk anthems like “Four Score and Seven” or “A More Perfect Union” from the band’s seminal 2010 album, The Monitor, which was remastered and rereleased in 2021. The band’s had a lot of personnel changes since 2008, but their latest line-up with Stickles, Liam Betson on guitar, R.J. Gordon on bass, and Chris Wilson on drums, has been the longest-running consistent lineup in their history. According to the one-sheet, The Will to Live was created in large part as an attempt to process the untimely 2021 death of Matt “Money” Miller, the band’s founding keyboardist and Stickles’ closest cousin. That’s a lot to process. Expect an epic performance because Stickles and Co. leave everything on stage every night. 

Opening band Country Westerns combines punk and classic rock and has the audacity to say their 2020 debut made Pitchfork’s list of the Top 35 rock albums of that year. But get this, the band includes Nashville underground legend Brian Kotzur. Prior to Country Westerns, Kotzur drummed for Silver Jews and Crooked Fingers and has played in bands with Duane Denison of The Jesus Lizard, and country legends Bobby Bare Jr. and Charlie Louvin. Soak it in.

You get both bands for a mere $20. Show starts at 8 p.m., in the front room. 

. 0 0 0 . 

Also tonight, it’s the tour kick-off for Simon Joyner and the Echoes at Grapefruit Records, 1125 Jackson St. The band released a new CD last month that features full-band reinterpretations of songs from across Simon’s catalog, including a cover of Loudon Wainwright III’s “Hospital Lady.” The Echoes are Mychal Marasco, drums; Sean Pratt on guitar, bass and keys; and Megan Siebe on strings, keys and vocals. Starts at 8 p.m., $10 suggested donation. Let’s send them off in style.

* * *

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.


Concert picks for October (Mark your calendars!); Titus Andronicus tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , — @ 12:37 pm October 2, 2019

Titus Andronicus at Sokol Underground, Nov. 21, 2012.

Titus Andronicus at Sokol Underground, Nov. 21, 2012. The band plays tonight at The Waiting Room.

by Tim McMahan,

Like last month, here’s the list of music “picks” I provided The Reader for their October issue. John Heaston, The Reader’s major domo, asked for some direction from my rather one-sided perspective. Someone at the paper will flesh these out with descriptions, etc.

Anyway, these are the shows that I’ll either be attending, writing about or dreaming about. October is not as big a month as September show-wise, but still, there’s plenty going on. Plan your calendars accordingly, and pick up the October issue of The Reader for more data. Note that this was submitted weeks ago, so a few more shows have popped up not included below.

— TONIGHT: Titus Andronicus at The Waiting Room. Titus has been pretty faithful in returning to our fair city whenever the band has a new album. Control Top is the red hot opener probably worth the $15 ticket price alone. 8 p.m.

— Indie No Wave band Plague Vender headlines at Slowdown Jr. Oct. 3. No Parents and Hussies open at 8 p.m. $12 Adv/$15 DOS.

GWAR plays The Slowdown Oct. 10. Sacred Reich, Toxic Holocaust, Against the Grain are the openers. $25 Adv/$30 DOS. 7:30 start time.

— Simi Valley band Strung Out (Fat Wreck Chords Records) plays The Waiting Room Oct. 12. Punk band The Casualties opens at 9 p.m. $18 Adv/$20 DOS.

— Dreamcore indie band Cigarettes After Sex play The Slowdown Oct. 12. $25.

— Omaha indie band Lodgings celebrates the LP release at The Brothers Lounge Oct. 12. The Sun-Less Trio and The Sunks open. $5, 10 p.m.

— Indie darling Lucy Dacus plays at The Slowdown Oct. 14. Liza Anne and Sun June open at 8 p.m. $15 Adv/$18 DOS.

— Glam-punk band Starcrawler (Rough Trade Records) plays Reverb Lounge Oct. 15. Poppy Jean Crawford opens at 8 p.m. $12.

— Lincoln legacy indie anthem rockers Domestica plays The Brothers Lounge Oct. 18. Bad Bad Men (John Wolf’s latest project) opens at 10 p.m. $5.

— Super fab indie yacht rock act Whitney plays The Slowdown Oct. 19. Lala Lala opens at 9 p.m. $25.

— Indie dream-pop act The Japanese House plays The Waiting Room Oct. 21. 8 p.m., $18 Adv./$20 DOS.

Thick Paint plays at O’Leaver’s Oct. 24. Opening is InDreama (after a long hiatus) and Rogue Moon. $5, 9 p.m.

— Brooklyn indie band Bethelem Steel plays O’Leavers Oct. 29. Sean Pratt and Megan Siebe open at 9 p.m. $7.

* * *

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.


No questions with Protomartyr tonight; House Fest II, St. Patrick’s Day Saturday; Titus Andronicus, MilkShopFest Sunday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 1:02 pm March 16, 2018

Protomartyr at Slowdown Jr., Aug. 12, 2016. They return to Slowdown Jr. tonight.

by Tim McMahan,

I intended to do a Ten Questions interview with Joe Casey from Protomartyr, who plays tonight down at Slowdown Jr. I got in touch with the press people at Domino Records (Protomartyr’s label) and sent them the survey. The Domino guy immediately wrote back and said he could, indeed, send the questions but didn’t think I’d get the interview responses I was expecting.

He included a yet-to-be-published question-and-answer snippet with a reporter named “Leo.” Casey responded with about 100 words of pure venom.

I told Domino never mind. Fact is I don’t have time do a real interview with Casey — scheduling, research, writing the questions, doing the actual interview, transcribing then writing the story takes hours of time I don’t have for an endeavor that doesn’t pay a penny.

I don’t know who Leo works for but I’m guessing he’s not getting paid for being lambasted by Casey. He was just trying to help out the band, which is what I’m trying to do when I do Ten Questions interviews. They’re relatively painless, take little time to write, but at least give readers 1) a head’s up that the band’s coming through town, 2) a brief description of their sound/music/style, and 3) some feedback from a musician about some very basic questions: What do you like, what don’t you like, what’s it like to be a musician, how do you manage to make it happen in the era of a decomposing music industry.

A few days ago I had a brief discussion about music with a 21-year-old. I asked her what kind of music she buys. Her response: She’s never bought music in her life. She listens to everything on YouTube. “Why would anyone buy music?” That’s where we are, or certainly where we’re going.

In retrospect, I should have told Domino to go ahead and send Casey the questions and damn the torpedoes. But I wasn’t in the mood at the time, so…

That said, I’m planning on heading down to The Slowdown tonight for Protomartyr. I’ve seen these guys about a half-dozen times — they put on a good show. It’s worth it just to see Casey do his thing, in a sportcoat, looking like an insurance salesman, spitting out the words to their latest awesome album, Relatives in Descent. Check out some tracks below. Detroit proto-punk instrumental band Hydropark opens at 9 p.m. $15.

Also tonight, Brad Hoshaw is hosting a benefit for NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) at fabulous O’Leaver’s. Joining him are Jack Hotel and Clarence Tilton. Bring your cowboy hat. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Also starting tonight and going on tomorrow is We’re Trying Records Presents: House Fest II. The location is Lucy’s Public House, 8932 Blondo St. They’ll have two stages going, with bands from all over the midwest and beyond. Ten bands slated for tonight starting at 6:30 p.m.; 19 bands starting tomorrow at 1:40 p.m.  $10 per day. This is a pretty big deal. Get details and set times right here.

Dicey Riley Band at The Dubliner, March 17, 2013. They’re back this St. Patty’s Day.

Tomorrow, of course, is St. Patrick’s Day — never a good day for live indie music. Everyone has their own traditions; many just stay home and avoid the amateurs. We always go to The Dubliner for St. Patrick’s Day, and have for years. This year, Dicey Riley (ex-Turfmen) is handling the music, which makes the Dubliner the only place to be. Music starts at 2 p.m. and runs til 6, then an hour break, and then they’re back from 7 to 11 p.m. See you there.

Sunday night is the Titus Andronicus show at Slowdown Jr. I wrote about a couple days ago. Again, this is an acoustic-duo version of Titus, which is promised to be more laid-back. We’ll see. Opening is Rick McGuire from Pile. Tickets are $13 Adv/$15 DOS. Show start at 8 p.m.

Also Sunday is MilkShopFest at Petshop Gallery in Benson. We’re talking five touring bands (including Kid Chrome) and two locals, including the mighty BIB. $5, 7 p.m. Full line-up and other details here.

That’s all I got. If I missed your show, put it in the comments section. Have a great weekend.

* * *

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 Titus Andronicus (@ Slowdown Jr. March 18); They Might Be Giants tonight…

Category: Blog,Interviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:38 pm March 14, 2018

Titus Andronicus plays March 18 at Slowdown Jr. Photo by Ray Concepcion.

by Tim McMahan,

Since 2008 Titus Andronicus music has swayed from one style to the next, from bombastic, fist-in-the-air punk to soaring, swaying sing-along waltzes dense enough to keep a sea barge afloat.

The rock continues on the latest Titus Andronicus collection, A Productive Cough (2017, Merge), that finds singer/songwriter Patrick Stickles flexing his metaphoric pen on music that would sound good next to Exile-era Rolling Stones.

Sunday’s Titus Andronicus show at Slowdown will be an acoustic-only take on this new material, plus some Titus chestnuts. Stickles will be joined by Omaha native, pianist Alex Molini. “No drums, no ‘mosh pit’ every song pretty slow and not as loud,” Stickles said of this current tour.

I caught up with Stickles and asked him to take the Ten Questions survey. Here’s his answers:

1. What is your favorite album?

Patrick Stickles: It has been a long time since I declared an album to be my “favorite,” as I don’t much care these days to turn art into any kind of competition. When I did make such lists, I used to say that the self-titled debut of Violent Femmes was my personal number one, though it has been a while since I revisited it, and the adolescent frustration which the album so effectively embodies has slightly faded within me over time. Over the last five years or so, the album I have listened to most is probably Supreme Clientele by Ghostface Killah, which is so lyrically dense that I can hear it a hundred times and always find new wonders — what a powerful pen.

2. What is your least favorite song?

I try not to give too much emotional energy to the music that I don’t like so when I hear a song that irritates me, I don’t tend to learn its name, but I often find myself getting very frustrated when I am at the grocery store and they play that sort of acoustic, “whoa-oh” music that sounds like the band is wearing suspenders. That music must make some people happy though so I shouldn’t put it down.

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

The most rewarding aspect of my career is meeting people who testify that the music has had a positive effect in their life, that it has helped them endure their difficult times. Many people in the audience have gone through struggles similar to my own and I know the power that art has to validate the sufferer and fortify their spirit. It is a great honor to be a part of that exchange and to pay my debt to the artists who have helped me to carry on.

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

I adopted two baby cats last year and, of course, they can’t come on tour with me. Leaving them at home was difficult and I miss them very much.

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

I smoke a lot of cigarettes, though I do not recommend them.

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

Performing in New York City is always special, as that is mostly where we all live. As I write this, we are gearing up to play in Toronto, which is a rocking town. Really though, any town with a stage where people are willing to show up and receive the music is fine by me.

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

In terms of the quality of the performance, the worst Titus Andronicus gig I can remember was in Oxford, UK, which was marred by extensive equipment malfunctions, out-of-tune guitars, general sloppiness and all those sorts of things which plagued Titus Andronicus for the first five years or so of the career. As far as shows which I enjoyed the least, our last show in Akron, OH was ruined by a certain contingent of drunk bros who took it upon themselves to create and enforce an overly violent, macho vibe on the dance floor, which bothers me to no end. This sort of thing happens more often than I would like, but it is usually the fault of a few bad apples and I try not to let it sour my impression of the whole town, Akron or anyplace else.

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?

I am very blessed that music has been my solitary occupation since 2008, shortly after the first Titus Andronicus album was released. My needs are fairly modest, and it’s not as though I am raking in the dough or figuring that I can retire off this rock and roll thing one day, but I am very grateful that I am able to make my art the focus of my life. There’s no way to know how long that will last, but every day that I get to live the life of the artist is a great gift and I measure my success in those increments.

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

The last “regular job” I had before pursuing music full-time was in delivering pizza, so I suppose that if I wasn’t rocking, I would be doing that. Unfortunately, that’s another one of those jobs that is going to be done entirely by robots in a few years. Before that first album came out, I was studying to become a schoolteacher, but I can hardly even imagine doing anything like that now — young people are crazy, especially with those phones they’ve got these days.

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

The pianist accompanying me on this tour is a fellow named Alex Molini and he is a native of Omaha. He speaks very fondly of his childhood years and he makes it sound as though Omaha is full of a lot of decent, good-hearted people with strong values. Of course, I have been to Omaha several times myself, always enjoying it thoroughly, and I am sure that our show at Slowdown will be a worthy addition to my expanding book of Nebraskan memories.

Titus Andronicus plays with Rick Maguire (Pile) Sunday, March 18 at Slowdown Front Room, 729 No. 14th St. Tickets are $13 Adv/ $15 DOS. Showtime is 8 p.m. For more information, go to

* * *

They Might Be Giants returns to The Slowdown tonight. From the promo: “They’re back on the road with a new show with an expanded line-up of musicians. This new set will include all-time favorites, fresh rarities spanning their epic career, and spur-of-the-moment improvisations that will delight even their exhausted road crew.”

They have a new 15-track album called I Like Fun that sounds like everything they’ve ever done over their 37-year career. Check out the setlist from last night’s show in KC. $25, 8 p.m., no opening act.

* * *

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.


Craig Finn, Titus Andronicus, Hottman Sisters tonight; Travel Guide, Mitch Gettman, Super Ghost Saturday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 1:27 pm March 11, 2016

Titus Andronicus at Sokol Underground, Nov. 21, 2012.

Titus Andronicus at Sokol Underground, Nov. 21, 2012.

by Tim McMahan,

Is this the biggest indie-rock show The Lookout Lounge has ever hosted?

Craig Finn is the lead dude from The Hold Steady striking out on his own for a solo tour. Titus Andronicus, known for the long, drawn-out waltz-time punk rock songs, is one of the more interesting indie bands to emerge from Matador Records in the past half decade. You get both tonight at Lookout Lounge, along with Lincoln’s Universe Contest (on their way to SXSW) and Omaha band Gordon (get there early, you don’t want to miss them) for one price of $18. Tickets available at the door. I have yet to venture into the Lookout Lounge. This could be the night.

Also tonight, Americana/folk band Ragged Company headlines at fabulous O’Leaver’s. Joining them is Justin Ready & the Echo Prairie and Omaha buzz band The Hottman Sisters. For whatever reason, I thought the Hottmans were a country & western band, then Ian sent me a link to the following Live at O’Leaver’s. Check it. $5, 9:30 p.m. And pssst… the back patio is open!

Also tonight, Chicago is invading Milk Run. Chi-town bands Ratboy and Coaster headline, with locals Bed Rest and Crypt Kid. $7, 9 p.m.

Tomorrow night Mitch Gettman and The Way Out open for Wichita band The Travel Guide.  $7, 9 p.m.

While down at Slowdown Jr. Omaha emo band Super Ghost headlines a show with Blét, This Machine Kills Vibes and Intergalactic Star Hero. $8, 9 p.m.

By the way, my favorite time of year begins Sunday morning at 2 a.m. — that’s when Daylight Savings Time kicks in. Does that mean we lose an hour of drinking or gain an hour of drinking?

One more thing: The Brigadiers are headlining a show at Reverb Lounge Sunday night with Glen Hollow and Polka Police. The event is a fundraiser for art/photography startup Copper Collective. They’re trying to construct a dark room. The 7:30 p.m. show is $7. Find out more here.

That’s it for shows. If I missed your, put it in the comments section. Have a great weekend.

* * *

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 © 2016 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Conor Oberst returns in Dolores Diaz and the Standby Club; Titus Andronicus/Craig Finn March 12…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 6:47 pm December 15, 2015

Conor Oberst at Sokol Auditorium, June 4, 2014.

Conor Oberst, left, at Sokol Auditorium, June 4, 2014.

by Tim McMahan,

Well, I guess Conor Oberst is feeling better.

Today our friends at fabulous O’Leaver’s announced a very special show for Jan. 3 at the club. The featured act: Dolores Diaz and the Standby Club. The country cover band’s all-star line-up includes Dolores Diaz (of course), Matt Maginn (Cursive), Dan McCarthy (McCarthy Trenching), Ben Brodin, Phil Schaffart (Con Dios), Miwi La Lupa, Roger Lewis (The Good Life), Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes) and Conor Oberst. If that weren’t enough, opening the show is good ol’ Johnathan Rice.

With the usual O’Leaver’s door price of just $5, something tells me this show will sell out. Better get on the guest list (which will be a mile long). To my knowledge, this is the first show Oberst has scheduled since Desaparecidos cancelled its fall tour Oct. 28 after Oberst fell ill in Jacksonville, Florida, and was briefly hospitalized due to laryngitis, exhaustion and anxiety.

* * *

That’s not the only interesting show announced today.

Lookout Lounge keeps hosting bigger indie shows. This time it’s Titus Andronicus with Craig Finn of The Hold Steady March 12. Also on the bill are Universe Contest and Gordon. I’m told Lookout Lounge will sell around 300 tickets to this show. How will the bar handle such a large crowd? $16 advance tickets go on sale this Friday at 10 a.m.

Then there’s Wolf Alice April 12 at The Waiting Room. Winter hasn’t even started and it feels like spring is almost here.

* * *

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.


Titus Andronicus, Brother Ali tonight; Yo La Tengo, Hotlines (debut) Saturday; Eros & Eschaton Sunday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , — @ 12:55 pm September 20, 2013

by Tim McMahan,

Titus Andronicus is playing tonight at the Sweatshop Gallery, the space next door (south) of The Barley Street Tavern. Sweatshop’s performance space looks like it has a capacity of around 50 (including the band) which could make for tight quarters, especially if Titus draws the 75-100 or so who came to see them play at Sokol Underground last November.

I asked someone who went to the Parquet Courts show at Sweatshop this past June if the venue opened the overhead door in the back of the performance space. He said they didn’t, and as a result, the show was a tightly packed, sweaty mess, but he felt lucky to be there. I’m told Titus purposely booked small, non-traditional venues for this tour, which supports Local Business (2012, Matador), the same album they were supporting at that Sokol show. It’s worth the effort. Opening is NYC band “Lost Boy?” $10, 9 p.m.

Just up the street tonight Brother Ali returns to The Waiting Room. Ali is co-headlining with Immortal Technique. Also on the bill is Hasan Salaam & I Self Devine. $20, 9 p.m.

Also tonight over at fabulous O’Leaver’s Millions of Boys headlines with Kansas City’s The ACB’s and The SuperBytes. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Check out The ACB’s, below:

Lastly tonight, Hot Water Music frontman Chuck Ragan is doing a solo set at Slowdown Jr. with Matt Whipkey. $20, 9 p.m.

Saturday’s marquee event is the weekend’s marquee event: An Evening with Yo La Tengo at The Waiting Room. No opener, just Ira, Georgia and James (and co.) for an evening of music by one of the most influential indie bands in the last 20 years. $18, 9 p.m. See you there.

Also Saturday night, new band Hotlines has its stage debut at O’Leaver’s. Hotlines consists of heavy hitters from a number of local bands: Dereck Higgins, Amanda DeBoer Bartlett, Javid Dabistani and Luke Polipnick. Flamethrower opens. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Finally Sunday is a homecoming of sorts down at Slowdown Jr. Eros and Eschaton is the new project by Adam Hawkins of It’s True that also features his wife, Katey Sleeveless. I’ve heard the new album, Home Address for Civil War (2012 Bar/None), and can tell you if you loved It’s True, you’ll love this new incarnation that takes the same rich songwriting and covers it in dollops of shoe-gaze feedback. Opening is hot newcomers Twinsmith and the Omaha’s heartbreak king John Klemmensen and the The Party. This is an early show — 7 p.m. $8. Go!

Did I miss anything? Put it in the comments section. Have a fantastic weekend.

* * *

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.


Live Review: Titus Andronicus, Ceremony; Who is Gordon?; Criteria, Domestica Saturday…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 1:01 pm November 23, 2012

Ceremony at Sokol Underground, Nov. 21, 2012.

Ceremony at Sokol Underground, Nov. 21, 2012.

by Tim McMahan,

I’m guessing by the size of the crowd that in the battle between Tilly and Titus, Tilly won. One of my music cohorts blamed indie slacker girlfriends for the poor turnout at Sokol Underground Friday night — maybe 75 tops for a band that packed The Waiting Room the last time they came through. His contention was that the girlfriends insisted on going to Tilly and the Wall at The Slowdown rather than Titus Andronicus at Sokol — girls’ music versus guys’ music — and that the girls will always win that argument. What a goddamn sexist thing to say, Chris! There were a few girls in the crowd at Titus, but something tells me there were a heckuva lot more at Tilly. Sometimes stereotypes are right on.

A little after 10 the warm-up band, Ceremony, took the stage and began playing their brand of post hardcore hardcore music to a tiny mob in front of the stage intent on moshing even if no one else wanted to. Three or four guys bounced around before eventually giving up and maintaining a metal-esque headbob routine. The S.F. four-piece isn’t a hardcore band, at least not anymore, not like they were before they signed with Matador Records. Still, their brutal post-punk sound crossed into hardcore territory during more intense moments or when frontman Ross Farrar introduced a song as “an old one.”

Their more recent streamlined sound is compared to early Wire, some have called it an homage. I wouldn’t go that far for, among other reasons, how much they lean on their guitars. On their new record, they remind me more of Bad Religion than any proto-post-harcore band. I would argue that they’re better live because they’re willing to blur the lines between the old and new as much as they want to, the yelling sounds more genuine.

Titus Andronicus at Sokol Underground, Nov. 21, 2012.

Titus Andronicus at Sokol Underground, Nov. 21, 2012.

We had a bet going on how long Titus would play. The consensus was an hour and 15 minutes. They went about a half our over that (with no encore). Patrick Stickles and company came on in a matter-of-fact fashion and barreled through a set that included the best off the new album (including “Tried to Quit Smoking” “My Eating Disorder” and “Titus Andronicus Vs. The Absurd Universe (3rd Round KO),” and a handful of the classics from the past couple of albums, including “A More Perfect Union,” “Titus Andronicus Forever” and “No Future Part Three: Escape from No Future” with the rousing chorus “You will always be a loser.” Big, anthemic fun without the nasty filler.

Before I left a member of one of the opening bands, called Gordon (the band’s name, not the guy’s name), gave me a copy of their six-song demo EP, I guess they were just handing them out. After listening to it this morning, I’m sorry I got to the show late.

Pretty fantastic stuff, especially opening track “No Masters, No War,” a soulless, dark little counter-argument to the neon-colored youth-freedom anthems that Tilly was singing just a few miles away to a much cuter audience, an audience who would blanch at lines like “And there were piss stains on the carpet / Where I laid my head and slept / There was a memory that I lost / Couldn’t remember when I woke up.” Ew, gross! There is something bracing and honest about a chorus that goes “It was love / It was death / There were no masters / There was no war.”

That goes right into a straight-up indie pop number called “I Don’t Mind” whose guitar lines and rhythms owe a lot to The Cure and Dinosaur Jr., with scratch vocals that are a direct nod to J. Mascis. Short and sweet.

Track three, “Down Goes Red” is a buzzsaw guitar and a droll mumble and a shout chorus of “Bang, Bang, Bang / Goes my gun.” Kind of an RFTC vibe, minus the candy coating. The last few songs are cleaned up garage songs that rock. The whole thing’s good and at times borders on brilliant.

On these recordings (according to the lyrics sheet included in the unlabeled heavy-black plastic CD case) Gordon is Austin Mayer, guitar/vox; Nick Sortino, drums/vox; Josh French, bass/vox, and Aaron Parker, guitar/vox. I don’t know anything about these guys, other than that French is in Snake Island, and that Mayer and Parker are in a project called Scratch Howl.

Don’t know where you can find a copy of these recordings, but they’re worth finding.  The note scratched on the lyrics sheet next to the recording credits says “We suck, we know.” Do you?

* * *

Looking at the sched, it’s going to be a quiet Friday night EXCEPT at The Barley Street Tavern, where Lincoln DIY punk legend Jim Jacobi and the Crap Detectors take the stage with The Shidiots and Never Trust the Living (Rob Rutar, Troy Garrison, Chad Roles and Dave Carnaby). Look, this is the only thing of substance going on tonight, you have no excuses. $5, 9 p.m.

Tomorrow night is the long-awaited (annual) return of Criteria. And when I say return, I mean with new material. Sayeth Criteria frontman Stephen Pedersen “Criteria is writing new material (for the first time in 6 years).  Should be 3 or 4 new ones for the show. I am excited to perform them live.” Oh, and we’re excited to hear them, Steve. Opening is Landing on the Moon and Lincoln post-punk strategists Ideal Cleaners. $8, 9 p.m. Expect a crowd.

Just down the street, Lincoln anthem rockers Domestica take the stage with The Lupines (Frontman John Ziegler, Mike Friedman (ex-Movies, member of Simon Joyner and the Fallen Men), Mike Tulis (Monroes, Fullblown, Sons of ___, The Third Men),  Javid Dabestani (Ghost Runners, among others)). $5, 9 p.m.

Have a good weekend…

* * *

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.


Little Brazil’s new lineup; Tilly and the Wall Vs. Titus Andronicus tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — @ 2:49 pm November 21, 2012

Little Brazil, circa now.

Little Brazil, circa now.

by Tim McMahan.

You might have wondered the same thing I did when you saw the sexy new band photo for Little Brazil (above) posted yesterday: Where’s the rest of the band?

Guitarist Greg Edds (the guy on the left) confirmed that drummer Oliver Morgan and wife Megan have left the band to focus on their other band, Landing on the Moon.

Edds characterized the line-up change this way: “Obviously, we all are still close friends and you’ll most likely find us in Benson shooting Rumplemintz and tossing Busch Light cans at each other. It’s all good.”

So who’s playing drums now? None other than Desaparecidos drummer Matt Baum. Edds said Baum is filling in for the band’s next show — Dec. 27 at The Waiting Room with The Sons of The Waiting Room, John Klemmensen and the Party, and The Brigadiers (more about them in a sec).

Oliver’s technical, intricate drumming style with lots o’ cymbals has always been a core element of the band’s sound. “Bombastic” might be the best way to describe Baum’s style (Edds referred to Baum’s “Hulk Smash” skills — quite appropriate). The only thing more signature than Baum’s booming style is his habit of getting up from behind the kit between songs and yelling at the crowd.

One of the few other local drummers that hits the toms as hard as Baum is former Cursive drummer Clint Schnase, who put away the sticks back in 2007, returning for a one-shot performance at the August 2011 Maha Festival. Well, Schnase’s back, this time as drummer of The Brigadiers, a band that includes Shane Lamson, guitar, vocals; Mark Weber (ex-Box), lead guitar, vocals; and Vic Padios (ex-Calico, ex-Gymnastics), bass, vocals. This Dec. 27 show is looking pretty hot…

* * *

In this week’s column, random notes written a week ago (due to pushed-up holiday deadlines) about Lance Armstrong, Bob Kerrey and the new Ralston Arena. You can read it in the current issue of The Reader (which I’m told is already on news stands) or online right here.

* * *

We all have the day off tomorrow, so there’s no excuse for not going to a show (unless the show sells out), and there are some doozies to choose from.

Tonight at The Slowdown it’s the return of Tilly and the Wall. The band has been on the road for a few weeks supporting their most recent Team Love release, Heavy Mood. For me, Tilly’s always been a sweet little tap-dancing-fueled combo tailor made for the little girl in all of us — cute and fun, with rarely noticed sinister lyrics lying just beneath the covers.

That changed with Heavy Mood, which, after you get past the B-52’s-flavored opening tracks, is as good of an indie rock album as I’ve heard this year. For me, the best part is that the band has finally learned to harmonize. In the old days, everyone sang the same note at the same time, which while sounding “youthful” also sounded very amateurish. Harmony rich tracks like “Hey Rainbow” and “I Believe in You” give Azure Ray a fun for their money. “Echo My Love” is flat-out one of the best tracks I’ve heard this year. Opening tonight’s show is Saddle Creek Records act UUVVWWZ and Sun Settings. $13, 9 p.m. In her weekly email, Val kinda/sorta warned that this one could sell out, so if you’re into it, get your tickets online now.

Also tonight, down where Omaha indie rock was born — Sokol Underground — it’s the return of Titus Andronicus. Their new album, Local Business (XL Records) takes a few steps back from their last two epic-strewn releases to more stripped-down territory. Heck, there are even a few songs in the 3- to 5-minute-long category. But ol’ Pat Stickles just can’t help himself and thus, right in the middle is the 8-plus-minute “My Eating Disorder” while the nearly 10-minute “Tried to Quit Smoking” closes out the record.

Those long songs just seem to meander, especially when played live. I’ve seen these guys a number of  times and their best sets have been at SXSW, where they were forced to keep it simple and keep it quick. As a headliner, expect another epic (and long) performance. Opening this four-band bill are local boys Gordon, Iowa City’s Slut River, and Matador Records band Ceremony, who by themselves would be a decent draw. $15, 9 p.m. Slowburn Productions kinda/sorta warned that this one might sell out, too. You might want to get your tickets right now right here.

Also tonight, the 3rd Annual Benson Canned Food Drive is happening at the Barley Street Tavern. Performers include Brad Hoshaw, Kyle Harvey (I guess he’s in town for the holidays), Matt Cox, John Klemmenson, Nick Carl, Bret Vovk, Rebecca Lowry and Matt Whipkey. Admission is two cans of food. Show starts at 9.

And The Waiting Room is hosting a slew of “tribute” (more like cover) bands including REModeled doing their version of Reckoning, Surfer Rosa and Rock and Roll Suicide doing Talking Heads’ Stop Making Sense. $7, 9 p.m.

Better get it in tonight, folks, because there ain’t shit going on tomorrow or Friday night.

Happy Turkey Day…

* * *

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.