Monday, August 31, 2009
When I arrived at Maha, only a few hundred people were wandering around. To be honest, many I saw were industry people who were either involved in putting on the concert, were performing at it, worked for one of the sponsors or had covered it for one local publication or another. I'm assuming that many of these had free tickets.
Sadly, anyone who didn't show up until later missed the best stuff of the day. Sets from locals like Little Brazil, Noah's Ark Was a Spaceship and It's True were phenomenal.
One of them remarked (think it was Noah's John Svatos but I don't remember) that he hadn't ever played a show before 10 a.m. This was probably true.
Army Navy was my favorite of the day. It was their first show ever in Omaha and I hope they come back (though their next tour probably won't be for awhile).
At maximum, it appeared that between 2000 and 3000 people showed up. One of the concert's organizers said they guessed that total attendance was around 2500. They'll be sending me official numbers later this week, which I'll post when I get them.
I think the draw for the day was Big Head Todd & the Monsters, who easily had the biggest crowd in front of the stage for their set. Didn't realize how bluesy the band was, but I haven't ever seen them live before. Favorite part of their set wasn't even one of their songs, but a cover of "Tangerine" by Led Zeppelin.
After Big Head Todd, the crowd slowly evaporated through G. Love and Special Sauce's uninspired set and continued through the beginning of Dashboard Confessional's.
By the time Dashboard finished its set, I think about 300 people (at most) were left on the riverfront. A crowd that would have easily fit in Slowdown and maybe the Waiting Room.
Dashboard's set was actually really good (including an excellent cover of "El Scorcho" by Weezer). The rocker songs were rocking and the heartfelt acoustic ballads were sappy, just the way you like 'em. Hopefully the band does something good with it's supposedly upcoming album and a few more people come out when they come back to town.
I was actually kind of embarrassed by the lack of a crowd. There are plenty of reasons why turnout was light, but I have to imagine that the bands were pretty unimpressed. Especially if you're in Dashboard and you haven't done a tour date since the spring.
Here's looking forward to next year. Hopefully planners get on the ball a lot earlier and get some top-notch talent (and maybe a different, bigger, more dynamic venue... I don't like the riverfront much) for a kickass show next summer.
Friday, August 28, 2009
I'll be at Maha to check out the indies and locals in the afternoon. Haven't decided how late I'll stay. I'm interested in seeing Dashboard and G. Love in the context of "Why not?" but I don't know that I want to stand around all day and night to see either.
So, onto some headlines!
• I guess Five For Fighting (a.k.a. John Ondrasik) did an acoustic set in Omaha last night. Didn't even hear about that. He performed one new one called "Chances," (click the video on the top of the page to listen) although I heard complaints that he only played four songs. Weak.
• Warped Tour didn't make it to Omaha (again), but according to this article, that doesn't seem at all like a bad thing. I remember when I went to Warped about 7 or 8 years ago, it was still mohawks and ripped jeans, as the author mentioned. Guess it's not any more.
• ZZ Top expanded to a quintet the other night. Who joined them? Well, John Mayer and Slash, of course.
• I mentioned the Foo Fighters in an earlier post. Stereogum asks who else is due for one.
• Taylor Hollingsworth, a guitarist in Conor Oberst's Mystic Valley Band, is putting out a new album on Oberst's Team Love label. "Life With a Slow Ear" will be out on Nov. 6. Conor and the MVB performed a few of Hollingsworth's tunes on their various tours. My favorite was "Central City."
• New live material from Nirvana: Live from Reading CD/DVD
• Speaking of Nirvana, Kurt Cobain has a character built for Guitar Hero. He's wearing a Daniel Johnston "Hi, How Are You?" T-shirt. That's outstanding.
• This Onion story is about four years old, but it still cracks me up.
I don't feel like Foo Fighters have been around long enough to have a greatest hits album.
But then you think about it for a second and realize that the band has been around since 1994. And if you look at just the videos on their MTVmusic page, you realize that you know just about every one of those songs.
The album will have two new tracks — "Wheels" and "Word Forward" — and a bunch of the ones you know well, like "The Pretender," "All My Life," "Learn To Fly," "Best Of You," "Times Like These," "My Hero" and "Everlong."
Wonder if there will be any special features or a DVD or anything... We will see.
Look for the disc on Nov. 3.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
With one exception: There's a David Bowie song ("Cat People," I think) toward the end when Soshanna is getting ready for the premiere that totally took me out of the movie when I first heard it. As the song progressed, I got a little more into it, but it was a little jarring to hear a Bowie tune in the middle of a period movie about WWII.
But, let's see some headlines!
• MTV did a West Side Story parody to preview the VMAs with Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, Russell Brand, Ne-Yo and Cobra Starship. And it's actually pretty good. Naturally, Russell Brand steals the show (especially liked the line about Lady GaGa).
• If you've ever thought about getting a band to play your wedding (we're talking the actual Rolling Stones, not some local cover group), you may want to reconsider. It's probably more expensive than it would be to book them at the Qwest Center.
• I like the Kings of Leon, but enough with bands saying their songs sound like Radiohead. Somehow, I highly doubt that.
• Speaking of the Kings, they're getting their very own remix album. Count me excited for Timberlake and Pharrell versions of KoL songs. As for Linkin Park? Kill me now.
• What's with all of the Kings of Leon stuff today? They've got a DVD coming too. Sheesh.
• Eminem, Kanye, Weezy and Drake team up. This is like a hip-hop episode of Superfriends, with Kanye and Eminem as Superman and Batman and Lil Wayne as Green Lantern. While Drake gets top billing on the song, I still see him as one of the Wonder Twins or something. Enjoyed the scenery (ahem) in his "Best I Ever Had" video, but the song is kind of lacking. Repeating "You da best" and "Best I ever had" is not a great refrain (hip hop or otherwise), in my opinion.
Today's paper has a copy of the go section. Pick up a copy of the World-Herald today, or look for free copies of GO at bars and restaurants tomorrow.
You may also check it out online, also for free. Here's what we got this week:
• The Maha Music Festival is an all-day concert on Saturday. Headliners are Dashboard Confessional and G. Love & Special Sauce. I also have interviews with Appleseed Cast's Chris Crisci and Justin Kennedy of Army Navy.
In the Appleseed Cast article, Crisci also told me about his new project, Old Canes, which is releasing through Saddle Creek in October. He's "dying" to tour, and I'm pretty excited to see Old Canes when the band finally hits the road.
• Also this weekend (starting tonight, I believe) is the Nebraska Pop Festival, which has a bunch of indie bands from Omaha and Lincoln and around the country. A few bands are also stopping by from overseas.
• I know you're all dying to see Hall & Oates, so I also wrote a little something about the bands at the Nebraska State Fair. I probably wouldn't drive to Lincoln to see any of these bands, but maybe you live there. Or maybe you got dragged to the fair and seeing Steppenwolf is better than going on the Ferris wheel again. Or maybe you're just a huge Tony Orlando fan. Whatever floats your boat, dude. I won't judge.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
I will be spending part of the evening with the revered Tim Wildsmith of Tim Wildsmith fame. I'm following him into the studio tonight for a story that I'm working on. If you haven't heard of Tim's new project, I suggest you check out his site called Finance My Album. For just a buck, you can help a local artist and get your name in the liner notes of a rock album, where you've always wanted to read it. Cool.
Check out Tim's video:
• Patrick Stump from Fall Out Boy got arrested yesterday.
• YouTube will be streaming this weekend's Outside Lands festival in San Francisco. The festival has quite the lineup going over three days. Starting Friday, check out youtube.com/outsidelands to watch performances.
• This is the one you've been waiting for: Madonna is releasing a massive greatest hits compilation thing.
• Always wanted to listen to Jingle Bells, but not understand the lyrics? Bob Dylan's got a Christmas album. At least he's clearer than Van Morrison these days.
• Not music related, but Scrubs is coming back with new characters. This should be interesting.
• Massive Attack has some new stuff.
• Beat up Rihanna, stay out of jail. Chris Brown was sentenced.
• "I hope I die before I get old." Well, now The Who's Pete Townshend is writing a musical about the subject. Getting old, that is.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Today, I had a great interview with Brian Aubert of Silversun Pickups, who, like many other traveling musicians, loves the Slowdown. This time, though, they'll be at Sokol for a much larger show. Aubert hopes to have more time to hang out in Omaha on this trip. I also spoke to Matt Johnson from the duo Matt & Kim. Look for stories on both in the coming weeks.
Between that and several other stories I'm working on (check out the stolen band gear thing, maybe you can help), it's been a busy day.
• "Indie rock" was a category on college Jeopardy during the last few weeks, causing this article to declare "it's over." Ha!
• If you don't read TextsFromLastNight.com, you should. Here's a funny one about MGMT.
• O+S' video for "We Do What We Want To" is up over at stereogum. The new single is also available at iTunes. O+S is Orenda Fink (of Azure Ray and Art in Manila) and The Scalpelist (a.k.a. Cedric Lemoyne from Remy Zero), one of this year's new Saddle Creek groups.
• Them Crooked Vultures (that's the supergroup of Dave Grohl, Josh Homme and John Paul Jones) has another new video.
• Cameron Crowe directed Pearl Jam's new video for "The Fixer." Do you think the "Almost Famous" director did a good job?
• Speaking of Pearl Jam, a new song leaked.
• After the Rural Alberta Advantage show at Slowdown a few months ago, I got to talk to lead singer Nils Edenloff again. One of the nicest band guys that I've ever met. Here's an interview he did with Culture Bully.
• Canadian sisters Tegan & Sara are doing a new album and a few NY and Cali tour dates. Great show last year in Omaha at Sokol. I'd definitely see them again, even just to hear them talk in between songs.
• I'm all for girls in rock bands, but some ladies feel a lot of resistance. A new book should help out a bit.
“I woke up for work this morning, looked out my window and sat there in stunned silence,” Stonebraker said. “I immediately called 911 and stared at the empty space in my parking lot.”
The Broadcast has only been together for about nine months, Stonebreaker said, but between band members, they had amassed quite a bit of equipment. He estimates that the missing trailer and gear is worth more than $10,000.
In January, Omaha police recovered $30,000 worth of equipment stolen from the band Blue House nearly two years after it had gone missing. Police were pretty surprised to find it after all that time, and to find it all in one place.
Usually stored at the band’s practice space in Honey Creek, Iowa, The Broadcast's trailer was brought back to Omaha for a gig scheduled for Tuesday night, where Stonebraker parked it near 84th and Harrison Streets on Monday night.
Inside the trailer was a drum kit, four guitars, guitar amps, pedals, cables, cymbals, cases and other equipment.
The trailer is a 4 foot by 6 foot black trailer with a silver-colored top and the back door of the trailer is covered in stickers from other bands. The trailer’s license plate is Nebraska XBC 705.
The band asks that anyone who has seen the trailer to report it to police. They also asked anyone with information to send them messages through the band’s Web site, www.wearethebroadcast.com.
Police have issued a bulletin for businesses that buy and sell trailers, Stonebraker said. He and the other members of the band made the rounds to pawn shops on Tuesday to give shop owners a list of their stolen gear, should any turn up.
While the band had a gig scheduled for Tuesday night, Stonebraker said the show must go on.
“We’re going to play an acoustic set or see if we can borrow some equipment,” he said. “We’re not going to let it stop us.”
I don't know how well the equipment was locked up. It seems like this happens about once a year, which is pretty tragic. Especially so for young bands who haven't been around too long.
How discouraged would you be if you started a band and shortly thereafter your guitar got stolen? Yeah, you'd go be an accountant and never pick up an axe again.
Monday, August 24, 2009
I've taken far too long to write about this, but here it is:
Inspired by their time living at Hotel Frank (the Farnam Street house where half of the town's indie rock scene has lived), Omaha's own Capgun Coup will release a new album on Nov. 3.
Released through Conor Oberst’s label Team Love Records, the 14-track “Maudlin” was born from performances at Hotel Frank, where members of the band lived for a time.
Cover art for the CD (above) features four members of the band tarred and feathered and sitting in one of the front rooms of the house.
Don't know what this means for the group's relationship with Omaha label Slumber Party Records. Slumber Party's site and label-runner Aaron Markley (who I talked to today for an unrelated thing) still list Capgun Coup as part of the roster.
"Maudlin" track listing:
1. Computer Screens And TVs
2. Sitting On The Sidewalk
3. Ari Are We
4. Got Alot of Gull
5. Only The Times Are Changing
7. Wish I Was A Fag
8. Now That I’m Home
9. Farnam Street
10. Pretty City
11. Bad Bands
12. For Fish
13. When I’m Gone
14. Breaks No Heart Of Mine
This week, I might go see goofy/terrible comedian Neil Hamburger at the Waiting Room on Wednesday. The weekend brings the Nebraska Pop Festival in Benson and the Maha Music Festival on the riverfront. I'll probably hit up Maha in the afternoon for the locals as well as Army Navy and Appleseed Cast.
Now, I bring you headlines!
• Andrew from MGMT talked to NME about working on the band's new album while hanging out at V Festival.
• Speaking of V Festival, Katy Perry donned more fruit-inspired clothing. Must say, I'm surprised and impressed that she can play guitar.
• Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs did the soundtrack to "Where the Wild Things Are." Check out "All is Love" by Karen O & the Kids over at MySpace.
• Daniel Johnston (a great performance at Slowdown recently) is putting out a new album, "Is And Always Was," on Oct. 6. Listen to a new track:
"Freedom" by Daniel Johnston
• Saddle Creek's Orenda Fink (half of Azure Ray, half of O+S, part of Art in Manila and spouse of The Faint's Todd Fink) is putting out a new album in October.
• If you want a cool internship, Paste Magazine is taking applications.
Today's Mail: Colin Hay, Brakes Brakes Brakes, Chris Young, Mutemath, Chevelle, Port O'Brien. A weird day for mail. Why? I've actually heard of all of these bands. To be honest, most of the time I get really, really obscure crap.
Things that I think would make a good...
Band name: Toxic Shock Syndrome, Me With You Too, Egyptian Suitcase
Album or song title: "Modus Operandi"
On Saturday night at the Waiting Room, he was just plain Matt Whipkey.
The guitarist/songwriter/singer was celebrating the release of his home-recorded, all-analog solo album, "Instant Heart." He performed the nine-song album in its entirety before doing a few more rockin' solo numbers.
After Whipkey's solo set, they traded drummer Scott "Zip" Zimmerman for Wayne Brekke to do a full set as Anonymous American.
Unfortunately, a big crowd didn't appear. A decent amount of people attended, but it certainly wasn't one that Whipkey deserved for his effort.
Favorite moment of the night was when a woman in her 40s/50s came up to Whipkey after his solo set and declared, "You're going to make it. Your music is so good and I'm sure of it, you're going to make it big."
Whipkey laughed, said thanks and signed her CD.
A note: If you're ever at the Waiting Room, don't park in that seemingly vacant lot just off of Maple on 63rd St. Turns out it's a private lot and cars got towed from there on Saturday night (one of which was mine) and it cost $200 to get it back. First time I've seen that even though myself and several of my friends have parked there on numerous occasions.
Kind of ridiculous considering whomever owns that lot probably wasn't in need of the parking at 12:30 a.m. Just my guess. Also, the guy at the towing company assured me that the owner of the lot was "trying to shut that place down," and by "that place," he meant the Waiting Room. Once it's shut down, the lot "wouldn't be a problem any more." Right. Good luck with that one, chief.
Photo from Matt Whipkey's facebook page.
Friday, August 21, 2009
This afternoon, I rapped with Justin Kennedy of Army Navy and Chris Crisci of Appleseed Cast. Army Navy is a great pop-rock group and Kennedy was a member of Pinwheel with Ben Gibbard before Gibbard started Death Cab For Cutie and Postal Service. Crisci talked about Appleseed and Old Canes, his folk side project that's being released through Saddle Creek in October.
And now, headlines:
• Big Boi (one half of Outkast) lays it all out for Paste. Will Outkast come back from hiatus?
• Phil Spector talks about his life in prison. The wall of sound producer is spending 19 years in the clink for murdering Lana Clarkson.
• Frontman Jim Lindberg is leaving Pennywise. Apparently the other three members are continuing with the band.
• Pitchfork finished off their 500 best songs of the decade. I like their top 20 for the most part, but Animal Collective in at #9? Please. Might be jumping the gun there a little bit.
• Spin talks to Rivers Cuomo about Weezer's new album title, "Raditude." Pitchfork was a little more critical.
• Finally, this has nothing to do with music, but hilariously combines two things I love: Batman and Muppets.
Things I Think Would Make Good...
Band Names: The Slutty Bones, Drunken Impalement
Song or Album Titles: "Clink of Whiskey Drinks"
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Anyway, I wrote a bunch of stories for the World-Herald's GO section.
I hung out at the Interlude Lounge last week and talked to Matt Whipkey about his new album, recording on a four-track and his favorite guitar (a Fender Custom Shop No-Caster, "a man's guitar," he said).
I talked Eli Mardock of Eagle Seagull about his band's label trouble and its show on Friday.
Last, but not least, I did a story on the four shows I'm most looking forward to in September. Three of the four I actually caught at Lollapalooza, but I was pretty pumped about all of them before I went to Chicago.
And now, headlines!
• Monsters of Folk (ya know, with Conor Oberst, Mike Mogis, Jim James and M. Ward?) has put out a series of "teaser" videos for its new album, which is out Sept. 22. Check 'em out. They include video of the guys hanging out (normal), James giving weird looks (surprise) and Oberst sitting on James' lap (funny). The trailers give a better look at the album outside of the three songs already released, though the longest clip is only 30 seconds.
• Not that this should come as a surprise to anyone, but Andrew W. K. is a weird guy.
• What's Paula Abdul going to do with "American Idol?" This piece compares her to Brett Favre and the rest of "Idol" to more NFL-ers.
• Robert Zemeckis (the guy who directed Back to the Future) is going to remake Yellow Submarine. Don't know how I feel about this.
• Pitchfork continues with its top 500 songs of the decade. Today: 50-21. Tomorrow, the list will be published in full.
• Have you heard of Them Crooked Vultures? Well, it's Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters, Josh Homme Queens of the Stoneage and John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin. Yeah, now you're interested. Well, here's some footage of them performing.
Today's Mail: "Red Right Return" by Janus. Once again, never heard of them.
Saddle Creek will be releasing another effort from Land of Talk, this time a 4-track, 3 video EP.
The band has been out of commission for a year, apparently, as frontwoman Elizabeth Powell had a "vocal ailment."
A west-coast tour corresponds with the release, though all the dates are far away from old Omaha.
The CD will be available at landoftalk.com and saddle-creek.com.
May You Never (1996)
A Series Of Small Flames
The Man Who Breaks Things (Dark Shuffle) - Video
Troubled - Video
Some Are Lakes - Video
Check out the video for "The Man Who Breaks Things (Dark Shuffle)":
Missed out on Green Day last week? Or want to re-live the experience?
A friend acquired a great recording of Green Day's "Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)," every graduating class' song since 1998.
For the record, this was from Green Day's performance Aug. 13, 2009, at Qwest Center Omaha.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
In the meantime, headlines!
• Thom Yorke from Radiohead releases a limited edition 7" single.
• Did you hear about Weezer's new album title? Check it out.
• Speaking of album titles, Spin.com did the 20 worst album titles of 2009. For Omaha folks, you'll find a familiar one on there.
• R.E.M. is putting out a new live album.
• Vince Neil of Motley Crue apparently has some issues remembering lyrics to songs he's been singing for 20 years.
• Pitchfork revealed more of its top songs of the decade. Today, 100-51. Tomorrow, we'll get 50-21 and on Friday, we'll see 20-1.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Pitchfork has released it's top 500 songs of the decade (slightly premature, in my opinion, but I guess they want to be first).
Anyhoo, I figured Conor Oberst and maybe some other locals would make it on the list. So far, Oberst and his band Bright Eyes clocked in at No. 266 with "First Day of My Life" and No. 252 with "The Calendar Hung Itself"
Bright Eyes' "Road to Joy" and "The Calendar Hung Itself" made it into "The Pitchfork 500," the website's top 500 songs from "punk to the present."
Does that mean we'll see "Road to Joy" somewhere in the top 100? We'll have to see. The last 100 on the list will be revealed in pieces over the next three days.
I'll also be listing "today's mail," the new albums and other things I get in the mail, and "things I think would make good band names," an ongoing list of... well, it's pretty self-explanatory.
One problem. I'd like to keep this as a standard feature and would like to come up with a title for these regular posts. Any suggestions would be much appreciated. Help me out?
• Sub Pop will reissue Nirvana's "Bleach."
• Weezer has another new song out: "(If You're Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To". Spin.com reviewed it.
• Kiss is releasing its new album through Wal-Mart.
• The Smashing Pumpkins picked a new drummer. He's only 19.
• Pitchfork is releasing its Top 500 tracks of the decade. Here's 500-201 and 200-101. The rest will be released tomorrow through Friday.
• The Flaming Lips debuted some new songs during last night's performance.
Today's mail: Today, I received a copy of Seth James' "That Kind of Man." Never heard of the guy.
Things I think could make good band names: Sorry About Strasburg (thanks to my friend Dane).
Monday, August 17, 2009
I forgot to mention this earlier, but a few guys were working on a Blink-182 documentary at yesterday's show.
The card one guy handed me said their company was called HND$M*RND$M (pronounced "handsome ransom") and the movie is titled "The Blinkumentary." Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to talk to the guy because it was louder than hell at the show. When the noise died down in between bands, he was nowhere to be found.
They were also asking for people to submit any footage they had at their YouTube page.
If you were there, it's possible that you'll end up in Blink's movie. I'll find out more info when I can.
Not to mention that when they had appeared together in photos and at the Grammys, DeLonge and Hoppus didn't look to happy with each other.
Not so on Sunday night. They babbled back and forth. They pushed each other around and got in the other guy's face while he was doing lead vocals. Hoppus stole DeLonge's microphone and threw it to the other side of the stage, so DeLonge retaliated by throwing Hoppus' on the floor. Hoppus then laid on the ground to sing.
It made for a fun, entertaining show, much like the Blink of old. (Has anyone heard their live album? Just as much cursing, stage banter and changing lyrics to reflect inappropriate actions towards one's mother.)
The band was tight and one thing I noticed was that they seemed to play every song at a slightly faster tempo live than on their albums. That made the show more intense kept up the tempo, especially with a few of their "slow" songs like "Stay Together For The Kids."
Hoppus interacted with the crowd a ton, talking and yelling while he played his bass. DeLonge kept a habit of screwing with Hoppus, but also made it to each corner of the stage to play for fans. Travis Barker was intense. He didn't say a word or seem to acknowledge the crowd, but just hammered and bashed his kit from the beginning to end.
Fall Out Boy performed just before Blink, playing songs from every album. They didn't seem to favor their new disc, which was good (not because I don't like the new one, but because I want to hear their old stuff too).
Highlight of their set was when they brought out Brendon Urie from Panic! At the Disco to sing a cover of Journey's "Don't Stop Believin.'" ("If you don't know the words to this song, you've never been to New Jersey, you've never been to a bar mitzvah or you don't have a pulse in your body," bassist Pete Wentz said. It appears that everyone in the crowd had at least one of those things because the thousands in attendance easily drowned out Urie.)
As for the rest of the show, I wasn't too impressed. Bands like Dirty Little Rabbits and Chester French just weren't very good. Maybe they have a following on 89.7 The River that I'm not aware of.
A sold out crowd of 16,000 people filled up Westfair to take in the concert, according to The River's Sophia John.
And wow, what a young crowd. These kids (I'm talking mostly from 12 to 18) filled up the place. Most folks sat on the lawn during the day, but as the sun went down Fall Out Boy, then Blink-182, took the stage, everyone stood up and crowded close to the stage.
During the begginning of each set, kids who were concert virgins flooded toward the front of the stage. Each time, about two songs in, a flood of them came back out. One girl retreating from the stage told everyone that looked at her, "Don't go up there. Don't go up there. Don't go up there."
That led to a few problems. Kids kept getting knocked down and couldn't get back up because of the crushing crowd. That stopped Fall Out Boy's set once and Blink's set at least twice so people could make room and help people back up. Thank goodness no one was hurt.
It wasn't a crowd control issue or an issue with the venue, but probably with the lack of concert-going experience among much of the crowd (many of whom looked to be accompanied by parents).
Why? I was watching a band from my high school days perform in a venue that I went to a LOT of times in the same era.
I'm kinda talking about Blink-182, but I specifically mean Pomeroy. It seems like every show I went to back in the day had Pomeroy as an opener, some as a headliner and a few of those performances were at Westfair.
Other than some new songs, the guys haven't changed much. They still play the same funky rap-rock they did 10 years ago, and performed the songs "Summer Night" and "Roboflow."
Anyway, it brought me back to special time and place for the 30 minutes or so that they were onstage. Memories...
Friday, August 14, 2009
Yeah, they're a little dated, but I figured there was no reason not to share them. I took a look at native Omahans 311 and their latest, "Uplifter," as well as Green Day (whose live show I reviewed yesterday).
I'll be doing more reviews soon. Enjoy:
The Omaha natives in 311 are back with “Uplifter,” their ninth major studio album. And, once again, it’s another album full of the rap-reggae-rock music and uplifting lyrics about peace and unity that the quintet have become known for.
311 fans kept asking me to compare it to a previous release (after hearing I got the album through Twitter). But it’s impossible. “Uplifter” is an eclectic mix, a sort of appetizer sampler platter from the band that contains a little of everything.
“Something Out of Nothing” is a heavy, hard and full of driving guitar. “Two Drops In the Ocean” is a chilled out, melodic tune about relationships.
Singers Nick Hexum and S.A. Martinez alternate rapping and singing as much as guitarist Tim Mahoney switches between his wah-wah and distortion pedals.
“It’s Alright” is driven by a funky bassline from bassist P-Nut and Chad Sexton’s solid drumming backs the entire album.
“Uplifter” was produced by Bob Rock — the man behind the biggest hits from Metallica and Motley Crue — and his influence can be heard all over. Heavy guitars dominate all but a few songs. Pop hooks stick out in every refrain, making most tunes incredibly radio-friendly. Even a sitar comes in at one point, reminding me of Metallica’s Rock-produced track “Wherever I May Roam.”
All in all, it’s a solid album from a band that consistently puts out solid albums. Albums that always get gobbled up by its fans. What “Uplifter” lacks is a standout track — or a handful of them — that will bring on a new generation of 311 fans.
Green Day, “21st Century Breakdown”
It’s amazing that after delivering an epic rock opera like “American Idiot” (one that I’m not alone in saying we weren’t sure they could do in the first place), Green Day can do it again. But this time, it’s somehow better, more grandiose and even more listenable.
With the exception of one song, the record sounds like the poppy punk we all fell in love with from the band’s major-label debut, “Dookie.” (An aside: Can anyone believe that album came out 15 years ago?). But these kids from Berkeley have grown up, both in their instrumental chops and frontman Billie Joe Armstrong’s writing.
The album, divided into three arcs, takes on growing up and living in America. Armstrong laments where he was born and when in “21st Century Breakdown,” criticizes modern culture in “The Static Age” and questions war and fighting in “21 Guns.”
Rest assured that while radio is going to beat the listening public over the head (if it hasn’t already) with the single “Know Your Enemy,” that song isn’t nearly the best on the record. It’s probably not in the top three. The single is best listened to in the context of the rest of the album. After all, the record was written as one epic movement.
Green Day was even better this time around than when I saw them three years ago for "American Idiot."
Their show was electric, the music was great and the boys in the band band were being total goofs.
Check out my full review.
My concert-going companion got some great audio of the last song of the night, "Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)." I'll post when he sends over the clip.
Associated Press photo
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Daniel Johnston brought on a decent turnout last night at Slowdown.
The enigmatic singer/songwriter brought in a few hundred people, but it was far from packed. If you wanted to be close to the action, fine. If you wanted a seat in the back, no problem. Also the first time I've ever seen the balcony closed when it wasn't a front-room show.
If you want to learn more about Johnston, read the World-Herald article I wrote from last week.
Johnston performed by himself for awhile on acoustic guitar. Then he was joined by another guitarist for a few songs. He left the stage and came back with a full band (Omaha's Rayguns) to back him up.
Each part of the set showed different sides of Johnston. The first showed how simple and honest he could be with his rhyming words and shoddy guitar playing. The second phase showed how his songs can be turned into acoustic ballads with another, more skilled guitar player behind him.
The third phase had Johnston rocking out, grabbing the mic with two hands and sometimes screaming the lyrics. The band was with him for one night, but they had practiced and sounded like they'd been doing Johnston's songs for years.
Favorite moments were Johnston singing a rocking version of "Casper" with the full band and him doing a cover of the Beatles' "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away."
Here is some crappy cell phone video that I took of the Beatles cover. Video is OK, audio could be better, but you can still hear. Enjoy:
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
What a weekend.
Despite a sore back and feet, I survived Lollapalooza.
By my count, I caught 24 or 25 bands (not counting bands I listened to as I walked past their stage... that happened a lot) among 130 performing throughout the three-day festival.
I (obviously) wasn't the only one there. The fest was attended by 75,000 people a day over three days (though I have to mention that Friday's attendance was very light because of the rain). The whole weekend was a sellout.
I got to catch bands that I've never seen, some unknown ones and some that will be heading to town in the next few months. I saw bands I liked and some that didn't impress me. But overall, the experience was fantastic.
That leads to one question: Would I go again? You can bet on it. I'll almost certainly be there next year as long as the lineup doesn't disappoint - which it hasn't for the last several years.
Here are my thoughts on the fest, including my top five sets, highlights and a few disappointments.
MY TOP FIVE
Photos from Lollapalooza.com
1. Kings of Leon
2. Silversun Pickups
3. Vampire Weekend
4. Jane's Addiction
5. Gaslight Anthem
Honorable Mentions: Ra Ra Riot; Peter, Bjorn & John; Ben Harper & the Relentless7, Fleet Foxes, Ben Folds
As I mentioned in the blog, Kings of Leon had the tightest set of any band I had seen at the festival. That distinction held up for the rest of the weekend. No one else got the crowd going (and kept them going) like the Kings. That band played memorable song after memorable song. (Look a few up on YouTube if you want to check... some videos have already been posted.)
Kings of Leon were amazing to see headlining the show because only a few years ago they weren't that big or popular. Two years ago, they played in the afternoon at some side stage at Lollapalooza. On Thursday night, one end of Grant Park was wall-to-wall with people stretching on their tip-toes to catch a glimpse of the stage.
On Sunday evening as the sun went down, the Silversun Pickups were absolutely electric. Songs like “Panic Switch” had the intensity amped way up and songs like “Lazy Eye” sent the crowd into a frenzy.
It helped that the band was so smiling and grateful that lead singer Brian Aubert repeated “Thank you” into the microphone at least 30 times. I think he was trying to personally thank everyone in the audience (that would have taken awhile, considering there were thousands gathered).
Vampire Weekend had a memorable set, playing every song from its eponymous album, as well as a few new ones. They also changed up quite a few of the songs from their repetoire, picking up the tempo or subbing keyboards for violin and other instruments.
They get an A+ for crowd participation, having everyone in the crowd singing along. And while I wouldn't consider it makeout music, the band caused one sweaty couple to start making out (behavior I didn't see anywhere else in the fest before or after).
As for Jane's Addiction, they were, well, Jane's Addiction. Perry Farrell ran around spastically dancing, singing and shouting expletives while Dave Navarro ripped into his guitar. I have to be honest in saying I didn't remember a lot of the songs (when was the band last together?), but I loved every minute of it.
Best parts were Farrell's weird and lewd story about meeting a woman (he used a several different euphamisms) during a jam on “Been Caught Stealing” and Joe Perry joining Jane's for the festival-closing “Jane Says.”
Last in my top five is Gaslight Anthem, a band you may or may not have heard of. They were high on the list for me to see and I'm glad I stood in the rain and watched the band for an hour. The New Jersey-based band sounds like what Bruce Springsteen would if he were 25 today instead of in 1974. The Springsteen comparison is one they'll never live down, and I'm not sure they ever want to.
Check them out when they come to Omaha on Sept. 11. You won't be disapointed.
Airborne Toxic Event
Walking from one end of Grant Park to another, you will walk past all eight stages. You will inevitably hear from four bands. And, it's such a long walk across the park that you'll probably end up catching one or two songs as you pass each stage.
This leads to discovering some music that you've never heard of, for better or worse. Some made me stick around and others made me keep on truckin'.
My favorite catches were Hey Champ, Airborne Toxic Event and Davy Knowles. Hey Champ was performing when I first arrived at the festival and I like what I heard from them. Airborne Toxic Event was a recommendation from a reader, which I really enjoyed (especially their cover of “Goodbye Horses”). And Davy Knowles jammed on some outstanding blues rock. I'd see all three if they came through Omaha.
Ones I was not as impressed by were Gomez and Dan Deacon. Deacon had some serious sound issues that screwed up his weird noise jam orchestra. And while I like Gomez, I didn't hear anything to make me want to stick around the band's stage.
Manchester Orchestra at the autograph tent
I didn't partake, but there was an autograph tent near one of the headliner stages where you could wait in line. Now, big boys like the Killers or Kings of Leon weren't at the tent, but a lot of the indies were. Bands like Animal Collective, Vampire Weekend, Blind Pilot, Ra Ra Riot and the Silversun Pickups did spend about 30 minutes each there.
Whenever I walked by, lines didn't seem to be that long. It was a cool thing for a lot of people who never get to meet the bands and people that they sheel out their hard-earned cash to go see.
I mentioned eating a gyro in the blog, but I must mention that the food was pretty excellent. It was not carnival, deep-fat-fry-everything-and-put-it-on-a-stick food. Food areas were catered by local Chicago eateries that had everything from Thai to Mexican and vegetarian to burgers.
And, all things considered, it wasn't that expensive. Five bucks for a burger. Six bucks for a heap of delicious guacamole and some chips. Two bucks for a Coke. Considering it was that big of a festival, they could have charged a lot more money for a lot less.
Favorite foods were the aforementioned gyro and guacamole as well as pot stickers, an Italian beef sandwich and Pad Thai.
Ray Ban red Colorize Wayfarers, $109
I also mentioned fashion in the blog. There were some interesting choices, but my favorite thing was the multi-colored sunglasses that people were sporting.
I now want a pair of red, Ray Ban Wayfarers. I just need to find a way to round up about $110 to buy a pair.
As entertaining as the music and the art and the food are the people that attend the festival.
From the interesting ponchos people created to stay out of the rain on Friday to the mini-Great Pyramids built in one of the mud pits (see above), folks at the fest did some fantastic stuff. People had hilarious T-shirts and costumes and did some creative stuff in the mud.
It was also entertaining to watch people watch a band. Some would dance while others sat on the ground next to them staring into the distance. People formed mosh pits during bands like Vampire Weekend (a band whose set is wholly inappropriate to be moshing to) and beach balls came out during every set I saw over the weekend.
Rock festival attendees have to be some of the kindest people on the planet. Fights and the like tend to be rare. But at this fest, folks took it to a whole new level. At the end of the festival, some people made signs asking for rides to various parts of the country or for donations to help pay for gas money. Twice I saw people say something like, "You need a ride to Columbia, MO? We're from Columbia. You can come with us."
The guy who created Lollapalooza is ever-present at his festival. There's a dance/DJ area that bears his namesake and the guy put on three different performances over the weekend. He did a DJ set at Perry's, a short set at the for-children Kidzapalooza stage and the festival-ending Jane's Addiction set.
The enigmatic Jane's Addiction frontman appears to be more than just a name associated with the fest and an active part of it's creation.
The day in general was not as exciting as Friday or Sunday. Without the thought of the Beastie Boys waiting there at the end of the day, it wasn't as fun.
Also, some of the pairings were weird. At the festival, there could be as many as five bands performing on any of eight stages at any given time. Therefore, there is a lot of picking and choosing that one must do.
On Saturday, one had to choose (at various points) between Santigold and Glasvegas, TV on the Radio and Rise Against, Ben Harper and Animal Collective and Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Tool. While I know where my heart lies on all of those, I know it wasn't as easy for other people.
The most popular bands that day seemed to all be pitted against one another, which was weird. Other days, it seemed like there would be an obviously popular choice at one stage with some other more niche or indie groups elsewhere.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs
My chief complaint would be that the Yeah Yeah Yeahs are not the Beastie Boys. But, there's nothing the band can do about that. Beastie Boy Adam Yauch (aka MCA) was diagnosed with cancer and the Beasties cancelled their performance. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs were stuck in there to replace them.
My complaint would instead lie with the festival organizers. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs were the best you could get to replace the Beasties? The YYYs are great for Lollapalooza and would have been a great afternoon/evening band (also kind of begs the question why they weren't booked for one of those spots in the first place). But a headliner? Not so sure.
Other artists like Ben Harper or even Ben Folds (yeah, not as popular as he once was, but still entertaining) would have been better to move up from an early spot into the headliner spot.
My other problem lied with the YYYs themselves. Frontwoman Karen O, at least, didn't seem to realize how lucky they were to be performing as a headliner at the festival. At one point, she even said, “We weren't even supposed to be here.”
The set was also all over the place and Karen O even forgot the words to one song. I know, I know. It happens to the best of them. But the best of them laugh it off or start the song over or just make up new words. Miss O stood there with a blank look on her face, trying to remember the words to “Maps.” For the record, “Maps” has about 10 (very short) lines, (four of which are repeated about 10 times). Not a lot there to remember.
I'm sure I'm not the only one that doesn't like this, but the layout of the fest is frustrating. Want to watch The Decemberists and then catch a good spot for Of Montreal? Tough.
They play back to back and one stage is about a mile away from the other. There's no way you can catch all of both sets because it will take you 20 minutes to wade through the crowds and make it to the other end of the park. Better plan on having a good spot on the lawn for one and getting to the other a little late.
I do, however, realize that there's nothing much organizers can do about the layout of the fest without moving it to another place. The park is long and thin.
For the record, they shouldn't move it anywhere. One of the coolest things about the fest is that it's in Grant Park, which is in Chicago. It's not in the suburbs or just out of town. It's in the middle of downtown, right on the lake.
That means in front of you, you can watch the Silversun Pickups while behind you, you can watch the sun go down behind the Chicago skyline. Fantastic.
Monday, August 10, 2009
Jane's Addiction blew the roof off the joint to end the night. Frontman Perry Ferrell - clad in a gold lamé tuxedo sans shirt - was a ball of fire, running and jumping around the stage.
"What the **** is this?" Ferrell yelled at the crowd. "We've been having this festival for 1, 2, 3 days. Have you slept yet?"
While burlesque dancers did their thing, Ferrell ran around singing and telling stories while Dave Navarro shredded and jammed. It's been 20 years since the original lineup was together, but none of them have lost their abilities.
They jammed out on most songs, including "Been Caught Stealing." Not expected, but it was pretty sweet. Navarro would solo over and over while Ferrell told some weird stream-of-consciousness stories. Awesome.
For the encore, the group busted out the acoustic guitars and did what everyone expected: they played "Jane Says." What was not expected was Ferrell inviting out a special guest to perform the song with them: Aerosmith's Joe Perry.
Perry didn't add anything special to the mix, other than some serious cool points. Pretty sweet to see him up there with Jane's.
All in all, it's weird that the festival is over. It was a total blur and a complete blast.
I'll post a wrap-up blog soon with my favorite festival moments and a list of my top five sets from the weekend.
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Silversun was spectacular. They played while the sun went down, giving the band a perfect, ethereal glow that matched their fuzzed-out guitars and singer Brian Aubert's otherworldy, Billy Corgan-esque voice.
They closed out with "Panic Switch" and "Lazy Eye." Both were loud and both were wild. Mosh pits formed and I saw more crowd surfers than I had with any other band yet this weekend.
With "Lazy Eye," the band did an extended noise jam at the end that made the whole crowd go nuts. One of the best bands I've seen all weekend.
Alright... headed to Jane's Addiction after this next Killers song. Will update when the show is over.
I'm about to go camp out in front of the stage for Silversun Pickups, which means I'll be missing MSTRKRFT. Not a big deal, since I only would have had a few minutes to spend there anyway.
Which leads me to the decision of the day: I think I'm going to go see Jane's Addiction.
Why? Well, it's because of what I said earlier. I think the Killers will keep touring for awhile and I'll inevitably see them in Omaha or KC or somewhere else close. Who knows what might happen with Jane's Addiction? I think it's best to hit them up now.
However, due to the proximity of the Silversun Pickups' stage, I'll still catch the beginning of the Killers' set before and while I head over to Jane's Addiction's stage. So, I'll still be catching part of each.
When it came to weighing in on who I should see, it was about even from you, my faithful readers. Thanks for the e-mails, Facebook messages and Tweets!
I caught a few songs from avant-electronic noise guy Dan Deacon. There were some stops and starts because of the sound, which can be blamed on Deacon having himself plus at least 15 other musicians onstage with him.
Highlight of the day (so far) has been Vampire Weekend. The band performed every song from it's eponymous debut album and worked in a few new songs from a forthcoming release.
Vampire Weekend really got the crowd going: Clapping to the beat, singing along to "Oxford Comma," screaming "whoaaaaaaaaaa" during "M79" and yelling out the refrain for "Blake's Got A New Face."
Lead singer Ezra Koenig dedicated "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa" to director John Hughes, who just died. Koenig also saluted the crowd for sticking with it after three days of mixed up weather (cold rain and hot sun).
"You were rained on, baked, fried and you're still so beautiful," he said.
First was Ra Ra Riot, a band that's been to Omaha quite a bit in the past year or so. Kind of like Vampire Weekend, but sub the guitars for keyboards, cello and violin.
The guy standing next to me said they were one of his top three bands to see all weekend. They're not that high on the list for me, but still excellent stuff.
Let me also say that one of the things that I love about festivals like this is seeing bands you've never heard of. Discovering new and hidden talent, we could say. One such group was Davy Knowles and Back Door Slam, a British blues-rock group.
I was heading over to catch Portugal. The Man (more on them in a second) when I heard these guys jamming out on one of the smaller stages. The group had tight, slick blues riffs and solos mixed in with an electric organ while their singer (the aforementioned Mr. Knowles) had a deep voice dripping with blues and emotion.
Knowles said he's writing songs and co-producing a new album with Peter Frampton (of "Frampton Comes Alive" fame). I caught one of his Frampton co-written tunes, a CCR cover and a few other songs.
Then I was onto Portugal. The Man, which looked like a band right out of 1975. Sounded like one too. Long hair, beards, thrift store clothes and the most enormous White Falcon guitar made the band's images on the big screen next to the stage look like a scene from the movie "Almost Famous."
They played tripped out guitar jams while their singer belted out sosme high-pitched lyrics. Check them out in Omaha on Wednesday at the Waiting Room.
Currently listening to the Airborne Toxic Event (thanks Julie in Boston for the suggestion). Right now they're doing a version of "Goodbye Horses" by Q Lazzarus (the song that Buffalo Bill dances to in "Silence of the Lambs"). Love it!