Wednesday, March 31, 2010

More SXSW Video: It's True, Mynabirds, Thunder Power

I know I promised no more SXSW posts, but my video from Austin finally got posted at I did interviews with several Omaha bands while I was down there. (Check out interviews with Greg from Little Brazil and Shawn from Digital Leather at this post.)

Here are the last three...

It's True

Laura Burhenn of The Mynabirds

Thunder Power

Review: Black Eyed Peas (live broadcast from LA to a theater near you)

On Tuesday night, the Black Eyed Peas performed in Los Angeles at the Staples Center. At the same time, the show was being broadcast to movie theaters all over the country, including three in Omaha.

Showing live events in movie theaters is a growing phenomenon, though it's only just moved into the pop music arena. Broadcasts from New York of the Metropolitan Opera have become really popular among that crowd. Once they catch on, I imagine broadcasts of pop shows will become just as big.

It was my first experience with a show of this sort. That even includes one like the recent Dave Matthews Band/Ben Harper/Gogol Bordello concert film that was filmed last year and aired for a week in US theaters.

It was a decent experience, other than some technical difficulties brought on by the Midtown Crossing staff, which I'll get into later.

Anyway, here are my thoughts, divided up into a few categories...

In general
• It wasn't as exciting as actually being at the concert. It was more like being in the nosebleed seats and watching the video monitors that they always put up at arena shows. Except you had a damn good view of the video monitors.

• The sound was just OK. I thought the mix wasn't quite right because the vocals were way to loud and you could barely hear the instruments. Also, the sound was pretty quiet in general and didn't quite have that pop you'd find at a live show. In the end, though, you kind of got used to it.

• I have to admit that the price is right. Tickets to the theater were only $15. According to Pollstar, an average Black Eyed Peas concert ticket is $63.34. Especially considering the Peas ain't headed to Omaha, the theater ticket is a steal.

• Since it was at Midtown Crossing, you get a waiter that will bring you anything you need. And having a waiter bring me a pulled pork sandwich, fries and a Pepsi in the middle of a concert was pretty nice. I've never had that happen before.

The Good
• It was one hell of a spectacle. The Black Eyed Peas' production is one of the largest and most elaborate I've ever seen, rivaling the ridiculousness of Miley Cyrus (and that's saying something). This would have been pretty awesome to see in person, if not for the music then the entertainment spectacle in general.

• The costumes were pretty ridiculous, but they fit right in. Everything was rhinestones, leather and glitter and pretty over the top, but it fit. Characters and other people that various band members looked like after certain costume changes: the Matrix (Taboo), futuristic punk (, Marvel Comics' Wonder Man (Taboo), Michael Jackson from "Thriller" (, a jogger from the '80s (Fergie).

•'s DJ/mashup minute, where he took the stage dressed as a robot and DJed for awhile. It was actually really good and he dropped stuff from Estelle, House of Pain, Michael Jackson, Nirvana, Journey and the Eurhythmics.

• played a keytar during one song.

• I have to admit that the Black Eyed Peas do make pretty good pop music. It might not be your thing (it's not mine, to be honest), but it's well done for pop music.

• If you are a Black Eyed Peas fan, it was a good set list. They covered all of the hits, a few b-sides and even some Fergie solo material ("Fergalicious," "Glamorous" and "Big Girls Don't Cry")

• There was a special cameo for one Chris Bridges, known better as Ludacris, during "Glamorous." He's actually on the the album version of that song, so having him pop out and do his part in person was pretty cool. Also, Luda apparently opened the show.

• Speaking of cool cameos, Slash showed up, kicking up the coolness factor for the whole show a few notches.

The Bad
• Unfortunately, Fergie couldn't sing "Sweet Child O Mine" very well at all, even with Slash playing lead guitar right next to her.

• Kinda worse was when they stopped that song and Slash and Fergie jumped into some song they "wrote together" (... when I think "songwriting duo," I immediately think of Slash and Fergie...). It was bad, reminding me of a cross between the "Wayne's World"/Tia Carrere version of "Ballroom Blitz" and the song "Take My Breath Away" from "Top Gun." I kid you not, it was that awful.

• Only about 20 people showed up. Pretty sparse crowd. Though everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, barely anyone (but the kids there with their parents... about 1/3 of the crowd, I'd say) really got into it or even got out of their seats.

• Because of the technical problems I'll get into in a second, several of those 20 or so folks got up and left early because the show was running so late.

• The thing must have been on a time delay, because occasional F bombs were silenced. It was pretty stupid though, considering that for every F bomb they were able to bleep out, they missed about 3 others. The Black Eyed Peas use the F word relatively frequently, but whoever was operating the censor console wasn't quite quick enough on the draw.

The Ugly
I spoke of technical difficulties and these were pretty egregious. The show was to begin at 9:30 p.m. Those terrible between-movie ads went down then, but we didn't see anything on the screen until 9:44 when scenes from mid-concert appeared onscreen. Midtown Crossing staff could be heard talking in the projection room saying stuff like "How do I cue it up?" They didn't appear to know what was going on.

Eventually, they managed to rewind the live footage (I guess it's recorded on something similar to a DVR for your TV). They rewound it too far, though, and there was suddenly a 50-minute countdown on the screen. Ugh.

After another 10 minutes or more, they finally fast-forwarded through the countdown to get to the show, except they skipped an entire 20-minute behind-the-scenes featurette that was supposed to be shown in the theater. Oh well, because they were now more than 30 minutes behind.

Anyway, the "live" show finally started at the theater at 10:10 p.m., a full 40 minutes after it was supposed to start. That pushed the end time of the nearly two-hour show just past midnight.

I was, and still am, kinda annoyed with the whole thing. And it was clearly the fault of Midtown Crossing employees who had no idea how to work the equipment.

Eventually, I'm sure they'll get the kinks worked out while they do more shows of this sort. But it was pretty frustrating.

* * *

Here's something else that I was trying to figure out (bear with me)...

The show was billed to start at 9:30 p.m. as a live broadcast. Not pre-recorded or anything. Live.

Remember when I mentioned that we got some of the live footage onscreen at 9:44 p.m.? Well, I figured out that specific part of the concert was a full 44 minutes into the show.

So, was it actually supposed to start at 9??? All the advertising said 9:30 central, 10:30 eastern. Something was therefore apparently f'd with the start time, but that must have been the fault of the broadcasters, not the theater people.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Little Brazil Guest Blog: Summing up the SXSW experience

During SXSW, the kind folks in Little Brazil did some blogging for me from an artist perspective. All the entries are great stuff.Read them at those links if you get a chance. Anyway, after sleeping Austin off, Greg Edds chimed in with his wrap up of the festival experience. Here it is, for your reading pleasure...

Greg Edds
Every year I come to the same conclusion that SXSW is something that can only really be enjoyed from the “fan” perspective. But after this past week of over analyzing every movement that I made (or didn’t make) during the festival, and catching up on some much needed rest, I’ve changed my mind. It truly was an enjoyable experience for Little Brazil and we all enjoyed the festivities in our very own ways.

The responsible reigns that I usually hold were tossed to the side, due to injury, and having a pleasurable experience was put to the forefront. None of us got to see as many performances as we planned on seeing, but that’s something that comes with the territory. One can never make a perfect schedule or outline of the acts you’d like to see. Most of the shows never start on time, somebody is always late, and the festival runs at its own pace. As an attendee, you have to be as flexible as possible and as a musician; you have to be as patient as possible.

We did however spend a good deal of time supporting many of the other Omaha acts that made the trip down to Austin. Omaha is truly lucky to have so many talented individuals creating music; it’s really something to be proud of.

Financially speaking, we individually didn’t spend as much as we’re normally used to, which could be a sign that we’ve become festival pros. Or that we’re just used to being broke the majority of the time and drink really cheap beer. Lonestar Beer is not the greatest adult beverage to consume to enjoy your evening, let alone all week during a music festival.

We ate somewhat decent food, even though most of time it was consumed at non-decent times; between 1am and 3am. Hot dogs stands and late night BBQ carts are the unofficial SXSW musician food of choice. Good luck if you’re vegan.

As far as the business end and showcase performances go, none of couldn’t be any happier. We drove 13 hours to promote as much as possible and perform our best. Sadly, one of our sets got cut short do to unforeseen sound circumstances. Supposedly, Little Brazil was a couple decibels too loud for the venue we were performing at. It’s situations like these that a band can never really prepare for. But it was what it was and we moved on. There is really no point at getting negative. It’s all a part of being an artist.

To sum it up, SXSW 2010 was an enjoyable 36 hours in the life of Little Brazil. Did we learn anything? Maybe. Did we accomplish anything? Maybe. Did we piss anybody off? Maybe. Will we be back? Yes.

Greg Edds - Little Brazil

Monday, March 29, 2010

Headlines! Maha, Hold Steady, tribute bands and more

Over the weekend, I didn't catch much music. I'm still in that SXSW overload mode, but that's started to wear off and I'm ready to see some shows. I got to O'Leaver's very late on Saturday and caught Little Black Stereo (picture), who was very good. At one point, Son of 76's Josh Hoyer and Matt Cox hopped onstage and sang Bob Dylan's "I Shall Be Released" with LBS. It was incredible.

But now the weekend is over, it's Monday and that means headlines!

Quickly, before we get to all of the rock music news, here's what I have coming down the pipeline this week: Black Eyed Peas concert broadcast review tomorrow night (read my concert films story), Three Days Grace concert and review on Wednesday evening AND Stir Concert Cove announces its lineup on Thursday evening (let's hope for a hipper lineup this year).

So, that's what you can expect from me, along with the usual random blog posts.

Onto the important stuff...

• If you didn't hear yet, Maha Music Festival announced its headliner for this year: Spoon. It's a good start, and much better than last year's headliner (Dashboard Confessional), but they're going to need to keep filling in the rest of the lineup with good names. Supposedly, we'll get the rest of those names announced next month.

• Today marked the release/leak of a new Hold Steady track, "Rock Problems."

• Spinner documents 20 outrageous tribute bands.

• Adept at graphic design? Local boys It's True need help designing a sticker. If they pick yours, you get a nifty prize.

• Hayley Williams of Paramore (coming to town May 8) covered Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance."

The Gorillaz dropped a video game for "Plastic Beach."

Ricky Martin is gay, apparently.

• Chris Bridges (you know him better as Ludacris) is headed door-to-door to help out the U.S. Census.

• Former Saddle Creek artists, Tokyo Police Club dropped a new mp3 today.

• Note to musicians: Skateboarding is a dangerous sport, especially right before you're about to go on tour. Ask Devendra Banhart, who broke his leg and had to cancel tour dates.

• Who likes drunk girls? LCD Soundsystem, that's who. Or at least, that's what they named their new track.

• Tom Morello from Rage Against The Machine makes an appearance in Cyprus Hill's new video.

• When Bono isn't singing for U2, he does a bunch of other crap, including world-saving and whatnot. He also, apparently, has an investment firm. And it's one of the worst around.

• Inspired by Matt & Kim baring all, Erykah Badu is another in a string of artists getting nekkid in their music videos. (Warning: Badu's video contains blurred out nudity.)

• Check out Weezer's new video for "I'm Your Daddy."

Friday, March 26, 2010

Headlines! Julian Casablancas, Lady Gaga, Beck and more

It's been a busy day of writing about concert films, writing about the Maha Music Festival, telling my SXSW story to more people at the office and clearing out about two months worth of newspapers from under my desk.

But I still found time for you, dear readers. Here are some music headlines for you...

Julian Casablancas (of The Strokes) started his tour last night in New York City. He's headed to Omaha on April 22 and I'm working on an interview.

Hole, who apparently had a great re-start at SXSW, released the track list and album art for their new record.

• A new single from LCD Soundsytem has leaked.

Lady Gaga is getting sued by her ex who claims he wrote her songs.

• Jack White's latest group, The Dead Weather, has a new video. Their sophomore record, "Sea of Cowards," was also announced today. It will be out in May.

• A band that I like very much, Gaslight Anthem, released their new single online. Good stuff and not as weird as I expected after hearing their interviews.

Sublime's new singer is getting compared to original singer Bradley Nowell (who died in 1996). Apparently, he's very flattered.

• Pitchfork reviewed the Bright Eyes/Neva Dinova re-release of "One Jug of Wine, Two Vessels" that has new material on it. They weren't too kind to the record, though they had good things to say about Jake Bellows. They also take a subtle dig at Saddle Creek.

• There's new music from Beck in the Scott Pilgrim trailer.

• Speaking of Beck, his record club is covering INXS. This should be interesting.

• The multi-talented Neko Case won the vote over at Adult Swim, so her pilot will air on Sunday at Cartoon Network.

Led Zeppelin (surprise!) isn't going out on tour. In other news, Robert Plant is headed out with another band.

Today in Rock History: Sun Records in Memphis releases its first single in 1952. Happy Birthday
to Elton John (63) and Aretha Franklin (68).

The Rock Candy Awards: SXSW edition (wrapping up my best, worst, favorites, etc.)

Is anyone else tired of hearing about SXSW? I kinda am and I was there. Well, here's my last post about the subject for awhile.

Here they are the awards for the best stuff I saw at South By.
(Note: no actual prizes or awards were given.)

Best Sets: Frightened Rabbit delivered the best set I saw all weekend. Great songwriting (although sad), and great layered musicianship. These guys are one of the most buzzed about bands leaving SXSW and for good reason. Someone called Sharon Jones a modern James Brown. I can't sum it up better than that. If they come near your town, run don't walk and get a ticket. Free Energy (Philly-based, '70s-ish bouncy rock) and Codeine Velvet Club (Scottish-based, '50s-ish driving rock, with horns!) tie for third. All bands mentioned here will go on to bigger and better things, I guarantee it.

Best Supporting Band: The group that takes this home is Broken Bells, which got things warmed up nicely for Spoon. Unfortunately, the whole thing practically got blown out by Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings.

Best Discovery: Centro-matic rocked out like a '70s classic rock band, except they were better than the '70s classic rock that came on the PA after their set. A lot better, in fact. Follow That Bird followed Little Brazil's official showcase set and their singer was incredible. She can wail and LB folks said some label people were looking at her that night. No surprise there.

Biggest Disappointment: They had a great album last year, one of my favorites, but The xx was kinda lame in a live setting. It was really, really mellow and not much different (no different at all) from the album. There wasn't even any pop or energy for performing it front of a few hundred people.

Bummed I Didn't Catch: I saw a lot, but I missed a few bans that were on my must-see list. I've been wanting to see Rogue Wave for awhile now. I heard of Le Loup through NPR's All Songs Considered. And Violent Soho was a discovery that I made right before I left for Austin. Here's hoping they all come through Omaha sometime.

People Were Talking About: I heard about a lot of stuff all weekend. Frightened Rabbit got rave reviews from everyone I talked to, which is actually what drove me to see them in the first place. People were jealous that I got to see She & Him. And Hole had a sort of reunion weekend. I heard the shows were great and every time I walked by a venue they were playing, the line was around the block (or two).

Best Food: I mentioned earlier that my favorite pizza was Hoek's Death Metal Pizza. Fresh, lots of cheese and a flavorful sauce. However, the best food was easily the free stuff served at Rachael Ray's party. No surprise there. She had free booze (didn't everybody) as well as mini-meatball subs covered in marinara, quesadillas with fancy cheese and an herb dipping sauce and, lastly, pulled pork sandwiches with feta cheese, jalapenos and a chopped, purplish vegetable (looked like onions, didn't taste like onions). Anyway, by far the best stuff I ate all week. Salt Lick Barbecue was a close second.

Best Beer: Oh, Lone Star, you temptress. I was introduced to it for the first time while in Austin. Some places gave it out for (gasp) free. It was quite delicious, though heavier than you'd probably like if you're going to be drinking all day (Thank you, Greg Edds, for warning me). I, personally, am headed to Beertopia after work today to see if they have any. Anyone know where else I can get it in town?

Best Mustache: There was close competition between Free Energy drummer Nicholas Shuminsky and Mynabirds bassist/McCarthy Trenching guy Dan McCarthy. In the end, McCarthy's handlebar edges out Shuminsky's fluffy, Selleck-like growth.

Best Free Item: An Ink Tank Merch coozie, which is the only free item I didn't get at some sponsored party. Well, I did, but it wasn't from the sponsor. I was drinking a crisp, refreshing Colt 45 when Laura Burhenn of the Mynabirds gave me her very own coozie to keep my beer cold and my hand warm. Nice people, those Mynabirds are.

Most Ridiculous Clothing: The guy I saw walking down the street dressed like an alien (or a superhero?) while walking on stilts. I think it were there to promote a band, but I honestly have no idea. It was very silly.

* * *

Didn't see my photos or video? Visit those links and let me know what you think.

Due to some kind of delay, three of my interviews from Austin were never posted. Apologies. I'll get them up as soon as I can.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

SXSW: Photos from Austin

I took a lot of photos while I was in Austin. Here are the best of what I took. Enjoy.

View full size versions and captions.

* * *

If you were in Austin and took some pictures, I would love to see them. Send them to and I'll publish some here.

SXSW: Video from Austin

I took some video from a few things while I was in Austin. A couple of them are interviews of local bands and the others were shots I took from shows. Enjoy...

1. Lucero live at Club DeVille (performing "Nights Like These")

2. Interview with Greg Edds on from Little Brazil

3. Interview with Digital Leather's Shawn Foree

4. Lucero live at Club DeVille (performing "Smoke")

* * *

Tomorrow, I'll have video interviews with It's True, Thunder Power and Laura Burhenn of The Mynabirds...
Update (03/31): You can now find those interviews here.

SXSW: Day four wrap-up

As mentioned before, my last day at SXSW was basically spent trying to catch as many of the bans on my must see list as I possibly could. It ended up being a day full of a lot of running around, but it was well worth it.

I last left off with Thunder Power. After that show, I headed over to the Red 7 Patio to catch Titus Andronicus. They were part of Fucked Up's showcase along with a bunch of other bands.

I've always liked what I've heard from Titus Andronicus. They remind me (especially the singer's style and lyricism) of Bright Eyes, but more punk and with a hell of a lot more oomph behind it. Let's put it this way, it's like if Bright Eyes played at the speed of "Road To Joy" at the end when they go absolutely nuts after Conor Oberst yells, "Let's fuck it up boys, make some noise!" Titus Andronicus is in that hyperdrive mode all the time.

"Thanks to Fucked Up for making the world safe for 15-minute punk songs, like this..." frontman Patrick Stickles said before launching into 15-minutes of noise, melody, chaos, a section of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" and a crowd that went nuts. It was a perfect way to end that set.

After that, I caught Rival Schools, who were hit and miss with me. The song "69 Guns" was cool, but other tunes sounded too generic rock. A lot of times they were emulating The Killers, which is something I've seen way too much of this weekend.

Next up was Dinosaur Jr.'s J. Mascis playing solo. He plugged in his acoustic guitar (soaked in distortion), sat down on a stool and began to play. His guitar work was incredible, but I honestly couldn't get into his singing or lyrics. It was just washing over me and nothing was sticking. It was about this time that I had an internal debate about waiting to see Fucked Up or heading up the street to see Japandroids.

The basic thought was this: Japandroids is a band that I really wanted to see all week and hadn't been able to catch at any of their nine shows. Fucked Up is a band I wanted to see and knew it was a good show, but I just wasn't very excited for it. Japandroids made one of my top 10 albums last year, so I made the call and exited for the Galaxy Room.

Oddly enough, it was the venue where I started my SXSW by watching Free Energy and it's where I would end my SXSW with Japandroids.

As previously mentioned, these guys played nine shows through the week. They could have been tired by the end of the week, but I didn't see more energy or frenzied playing all week long. Brian King was all over the stage, throwing himself into everything. It was everything I've heard about their performances.

It also through the crowd into an absolute frenzy. A legitimate mosh pit formed in front of the stage, which is an amazing feat considering the usual stoicism of SXSW crowds. A few people even went up and were crowd surfing, which was absolutely ridiculous in the little room.

* * *

That's it from Saturday. Today, I'm going to be doing a lot of writing for the paper and for this blog. I have photos, video and all kinds of stuff for you that will be posted today and tomorrow.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

SXSW Little Brazil guest blog: Final day at South By

It's a rough Saturday morning and I'm currently looking over my Friday notes trying to make sense of the craziness that was our final day in Austin.
As an artist, checking into the festival is one of the hardest things to do in world. Parking is always ridiculous and you have to wait in line like you're in a security checkpoint at JFK. But we have to accomlish this task in order to get our load-in information for later this evening.
After check-in we catch word that Superchunk is playing a free show at La Zona Rosa at 3:30PM. Somehow we confuse our show information and we end up at Stubbs and find out were about to see Hole? None of us really give a damn about her or her band so we head over to the Westword showcase to hear the Photo Atlas. Even with the weather being beautiful a ton of people come inside and check out the show. Then again, there was free beer. Rain or shine, free beer will always pack em in.
Around seven me and Oliver head over to BD Rileys to hear Its True while Dan and Landon head to check out Digital Leather at the Mohawk. Its True put on a damn good set attracting a large crowd on the strip. I'm pretty sure I saw one guy salute the band with the fish and chips he was eating. Guess that's a good sign?
Fast forward to after our showcase and I'm still somewhat frustrated with the outcome. Not that we didn't play our hearts out, its that the festival decided our sound was just a little too loud for the venue and city all together. Apparently we pushed the decibal level passed 120 and the city only allows 105. Thus we were asked to end our set after five songs. I will keep my personal feelings to myself, or atleast until tomorrow when make more sense of all this bulls&@t.
Greg Edds - Little Brazil

SXSW: Winding down

What a week...

Anyway, it took until the end of the week to see maybe the best band I've seen here at South By.
As previously mentioned, Frightened Rabbit has been getting rave reviews from everyone I know that's seen them. My experience earlier in the evening was no different.
I'd heard of Frightened Rabbit before, but never got much into them. You ever have the experience of seeing a band and then feel like rushing out and buying their ebtire back catalogue? That was my experience today.

I don't know how to describe them other than saying they're a rock band. FR's frontman said Craig Finn of the Hold Steady is his musical hero, so that's one place to start. But instead of lyrics about partying and people, drop in more emotional stuff and (gasp) feelings.

They also have very layered instrumentation, with a full four guitarists at one point. And their singer belts it out with the passion he might give if he knew he'd never get to do it again.

To sum up: I left with a new band to tell all of my friends about. And isn't that what SXSW is all about?
Moving on, I caught up with the fellas from It's True. They've been having a good time, not seeing a ton of shows and they're a bit tired of the hassle that goes with being a South By band.

I can't blame them. It's a hassle to find a parking spot, load in, load out and deal with SXSW organizers.
I then caught Thunder Power who delivered a solid set of happy guitar pop, as is their style.

(Side Note: Video interviews with both will be on tomorrow or Monday.)

Now I'm at Fucked Up's showcase, where I'll be seeing them, Titus Andronicus and J Mascis. Reviews later tonight...

SXSW: Getting things done

My phone just ate the post that I spent the last 20 or so minutes crafting. Since I don't have a ton more time, here's the short version...

I'm trying to see as many bands on my must see list today. It's meant a lot of running around Austin, but I'm seeing a lot of good stuff.

I caught Codeine Velvet Cub first, which is the new band from Fratellis frontman Jon Fratelli. They remind me of Buddy Holly, but if Buddy played faster and with distortion.

Next, I hoofed it to Stubb's to see She & Him, which was phenomenal. They even closed out the set with my two favorites of theirs: "Magic Trick" and "Why Do You Let Me Stay Here."

I then ran back to the same place that I saw Codeine Velvet Club to catch Frightened Rabbit, which several sources have told me have been knocking their SXSW shows out of the park. They're up soon.

* * *

I am currently wearing 4 wristbands. I suspect that I'll earn a few more by the end of the day. The record I've seen was Children Collide's lead singer, who had on about eight.

* * *

On the rest of the day's agenda: Thunder Power, Titus Andronicus, J Mascis, Fucked Up, Japandroids.

SXSW: Day three wrap-up

My apologies for not blogging much yesterday. I arrived downtown late and ended up getting denied entry to a show because I didn't RSVP for it (some shows you have to do that, but for most you don't). Then I had to hoof it about a mile to another show. Basically, my SXSW didn't get started until about 4 p.m. yesterday.

The first thing that I hit up was The Mynabirds' show at a place called Design Within Reach. It's basically a home design boutique that tries to pass itself off as "affordable" even though a designer chair I saw cost over $1,000. This isn't a recliner, mind you, but a simple wood and aluminum chair you'd find in someone's kitchen or something.

Anyway... The Mynabirds put on another great performance. I've been enjoying the hell out of their record, "What We Lose In The Fire We Gain In The Flood," and seeing them perform it live has been a treat. The folks that were there chugging down free Colt 45 and eating free ice cream bars didn't seem to get too into it though.

I talked to Dan McCarthy (of McCarthy Trenching and various other Omaha projects, currently playing bass in The Mynabirds) and we were talking about how no one in Austin gets into the performance very much. Sometimes there's not even the obligatory clapping after a song. It probably comes down to two things: the hipsters are sometimes too cool for school and everyone's seen so many shows through the week that they just don't get that into it. (Side note: I've mentioned McCarthy's mustache before, but I must say that it's one of the very best around.)

After that, I headed back to downtown because I wanted to catch Lucero (the show I didn't RSVP to earlier was a solo show from Lucero frontman Ben Nichols). The bands were running late at Club Deville, but I was pleased to hear Centromatic on the stage. They sounded like classic rock and when Steve Miller Band's "Rock'N Me" came on after their set, it was in the same vein, but Centromatic was above and beyond.

Lucero came on next and killed it. Nichols' voice is like sandpaper on gravel and it has a booze-soaked and sorry quality that makes it sound like the hard nights and heartbreaks that he sings about are real experiences. Lucero is one of the few bands that I've seen (Free Energy comes to mind as well) that broke through to fans. Quite a few folks were dancing, jumping, singing and generally rocking out during their set. (Note: I think I got decent video of "Nights Like These," which I'll be sure to post at the end of the weekend.)

I moved on to It's True, who were playing in BD Riley's, which is more of an Irish pub than a music venue. In fact, the stage in the corner of the room that they played from is probably used to host bands playing traditional Irish music. Still, the people eating their fish 'n chips were converted into fans. Marc Leibowitz and I started laughing when a man in is 60s or 70s started whistling, "woo"-ing and generally going nuts. The band also had a big group hanging outside the bar listening through the open windows, which is something that I haven't seen anyone do all weekend.

After, I quickly ran over to see Digital Leather again, who knocked out another loud, punky, synthy set, this time without Shawn Foree breaking any of his equipment. Unfortunately, there wasn't a big crowd, even though a line stretched down the block outside the venue. Why they weren't letting these people in more quickly is beyond me.

Next, it was on to Little Brazil, who pretty much got screwed by venue they were playing in. It went down like this: I could tell it was going to be a loud show because the band that was on before LB was basically not a loud band, but however the sound blasting through the venue made them sound about as loud as Metallica.

LB took the stage after and decided not to mike any of their equipment because, by then, they realized that if the band before them was loud, they were going to blow the place up. In simple terms, they did. Fans were going nuts and the place was louder than hell. Then, in the middle of a song, the sound engineer interrupted and asked them to turn down their guitars. One, that is kind of a ridiculous request. Two, it was in the middle of their song.

Landon Hedges looked like he was going to eat the sound guy, but held it together. In the end, they didn't turn their equipment down one notch and kept chugging along. The crowd loved it, and even bought shots of RumpleMinze for them while they were still onstage.

Unfortunately for LB, their reluctance to tone down resulted in their set being cut painfully short. Folks in the crowd yelled for "one more song."

"We don't pussyfoot. We play rock music," Hedges told me afterward. "I almost had to break a bottle over someone's head."

The mood lightened afterwards as LB consumed a few more beers and Hedges jumped on the bar and began to pole dance. He was nearly kicked out after that one.

After that debacle, Follow That Bird went onstage and their lead singer can really wail. I don't know her name or much else about the band (other than them being from Austin), but Greg Edds told me they don't have a label and a couple different label people were in the crowd and trying to sign them.

To cap off the night, I headed back to the Mohawk Patio, where Digital Leather played to a tiny crowd. There was still a huge line outside, but the place filled up to see Miike Snow, the Swedes whose members include producers who have made megahits for Britney Spears, Madonna and Kiley Minogue.

They don't sound anything like Britney, so don't worry. They came on stage wearing white masks, dressed otherwise in all black and proceeded to make the place shake. The crowd was grooving to songs like "Funeral" and "Animal" and part of it has to do with them having a couple guys DJing as part of their live performance. They were dropping in samples and record scratches as the rest of the band played their instruments. It was pretty awesome.

After that, it was nearly 2 a.m. and I needed some sleep.

Day four should be fun...

Friday, March 19, 2010

Little Brazil SXSW guest blog: Parking and playing

Day three begins by trying to find parking some where near the venue we have to play later tonight. For most people who don't know, trying to find a parking spot at sxsw is like trying to score a sweet deal at walmart on black friday.
With the parking problem solved we make our way down 6th street in search of the Jackalope. Its only noon and the majority of the people on the street are already intoxicated. Music is blasting into the street from every venue and its somewhat overwhelming. I expect an anxiety attack to happen very soon.
It's around 3PM and the Anodyne Records showcase is in full swing. Cappybara has just finished their set and our good friends Cowboy Indian Bear are up next. They put on a killer 30 minute set and upped the bar pretty high for us as we play next.
Little Brazil's set had to be cut a little short but we put everything we could into the eight song set. The crowd was warm and receptive and it's always great to see familar faces. The gimp limp made it through the set with only a few minor slip ups. I think I accidently smashed everybodys beer that was on my side of the stage.
Me, Danny and Landon headed over to the Canvas Bar and Grill to check out It's True and take a quick listen to other bands from Kansas City, MO. Oliver hauled balls to Jaime's to hear Brimstone Howl. Omaha is alive and well in Austin. Our city should be very proud of itself.
Fast forward four hours and 77 beers later and we are all way to drunk to talk and or listen to any music. At this point we don't even know what good music sounds like. We somehow make it back to our home base and pass out with cheeseburgers in our hands. Sadly, we lost Oliver in the drunken rage. Its cool as he will most likely show up in the morning. Another day down, one more to go.
Greg Edds - Little Brazil

SXSW: Getting around town

In a nutshell: getting around Austin sucks.
Cabs are nearly nonexistant. A Scottish guy I ran into last night said he's been all over the world and never had the trouble he's had here.
"Other cities, you just stick out you arm and you have one. Here, it's terrible," he said.
Shuttles are nice, but they get packed beyond capacity and take awhile to get anywhere because of traffic.
Having a car would be nice, but there's nowhere to park. I think the people riding bikes around have the right idea.
While it's an annoyance for me, traveling as a band has to be a real pain. Carrying around equipment, finding a place to park and unload. Ugh. I'm glad I don't have to deal with that.

SXSW: Day two wrap up

After a long ordeal trying to catch a cab, I'm finally back to my hotel. My feet hurt enough that I kinda want to cut them off. Oh well... I'll live.

I was at Maggie Mae's for most of the night for the Saddle Creek Records showcase, which was split with the Nicodemus Agency. Nicodemus bands went on first and I didn't much care for them. The last band, Pomegranates, had some decent stuff, but I wouldn't rush out to buy their album.

It was a fun atmosphere when the SC bands started: the room was loaded with SC folks, a few Omaha fans and a bunch of Omaha "scenesters." Everyone was talking and hanging out like an old family reunion.

Mynabirds started everything off and they sounded better even than when I saw them at the Haiti benefit at Slowdown recently. Laura Burhenn's voice has a soulful energy to it that really lends itself to the country-folk kind of stuff that they do. (Side note: She got some laughs from talking about Dan McCarthy's mustache: "It's made from 100 percent pure mustache.") The small crowd enjoyed the Mynabirds, but I have a sneaking suspicion that they would have drawn better if their album came out before SXSW rather than after (April 27).

UUVVWWZ was up next. I don't really know what to say about them. If you've seen their show before, you've seen its avant rock-ness in all its glory. This was pretty much like any set I've seen them do.

Up third was the one I was looking forward to the most. Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson produced the album that was at the top of my top 10 of 2009, so I was very excited to see him live. He set up with two guitars and a keyboard for what turned out to be a solo show (no band). Apparently, his band couldn't/wouldn't/didn't come with him on this tour, so his choice was either to cancel all the shows or do it solo. He decided on doing them all solo.

I can see how much better he'd be fleshed out with a few fellas behind him. But he made do, rocking his guitar with both rhythm and melody. He also dropped pre-programmed drum beats that fit surprisingly well into his songs. Still, someday I'd like to see him come through Omaha with a full band,

Then Rural Alberta Advantage came onstage. They are a great live band and I was also looking very forward to seeing them again.  They delivered once again and this time included several new songs that weren't on last year's release through Saddle Creek. Good stuff, all around. Now, I must get to bed if I'm to have any energy tomorrow.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

SXSW: Moving on to Maggie Mae's

After I hoofed it to see The xx and waited in line, I found it wasn't really worth it.
it's not really that they had a bad set. It was actually good music, but it's the kind of thing that would be better for listening to while sitting down and sipping a Rolling Rock at Slowdown. Middle of the day, outside and in front of about 1,000 people' the mellow music kinda washed over me and didn't really stick with me.
I was one of the few that thought so, I guess. Everyone went nuts when thei set ended and a bunch of people were dancing their hearts out.
I made it back to 6th Street and into Maggie Mae's Gibson Room, where Saddle Creek has its showcase. They share it with the Nicodemus Agency whose bands, so far, have been lackluster.
I'm excited to see Mynabirds at 10 and then Rural Alberta Advantage and Miles BA Robinson. I mean no offense to UUVVWWZ by leaving them off that list. I just see them a lot, so it's not like I'm "pumped" to see them. I'm sure they'll put on a good show, as usual.
I'll have a final update for the day and photos when I get back to the hotel.

SXSW: Play like it's your last

I got a late start today because of some issues with my hotel (note: if you ever come down here, stay as close to downtown as you can).
I write this as I stand in an epic line to see The xx. They sounds decent from outside.
Anyway, I caught Digital Leather this afternoon at Beerland, which looks like someone's garage, complete with cinder block walls, faded paint and manga comics lining the stage wall.
They were good, blasting out synthy punk and Shawn Foree writhing all over the stage. They played some new stuff, which Foree said is on a completed new album. Foree hopes (he used more colorful language) the Fat Possum will release it, but he's confident that it will see the light of day with or without them.
I ran into Chris Aponik there (he writes for The Reader) and also local singer-songwriter Brad Hoshaw, who is in town as a fan, not a performer. Most Omahans that I've seen in one place.
Next, I headed to The Jackalope where I caught the tail end of Little Brazil. They're busting their asses this year, handing out download cards and recruiting for their shows. Guitarist Greg Edds (who is playing on a broken foot) talked about how they treat these shows like any other - "play like it's your last," he said.
At the same time, Edds talked about how it's important to get people to watch you - you never know when someone important is watching (booking agents, equipment reps, bloggers, record label people). That's why it's good, he said, to play your ass off. You never know when the right person is watching.

SXSW Little Brazil guest blog: Still getting to Austin

Another update from the gentlemen (and I stress that word) in Little Brazil, who finally got to Austin last night around midnight...

* * *

In true Little Brazil form we've slept through our wake up call and are now are four hours behind schedule. Its okay we've got Dan "Nascar" Maxwell behind the wheel and there are no such things as "speed limits" in his vocabulary.

We are about three hours into a ten hour drive and we have the Tom Cruise set at Jerry Rice and the time is slowly passing by.

To get through the boredom we've picked up our usual Penis Game. Just add the word "penis" to any Omaha sxsw band name and you're a pro. This not only makes time fly by, but it keeps us young and immature at heart. Some of the best we've come up with are; It's Penis, Thunder Penis, and we wish they were playing in Austin, Little Black Penis. Ohhh maturity.

It's hour five and we've come to the conclusion that Oklahoma City has the most break lights per capita. Hour six and we've just finished changing our first flat tire in about two years. Something about driving down to Austin and pieces of our vehicle not wanting to come with.

We roll into Austin around midnight and head to the Longbranch Inn, a staple for Little Brazil. This place also turns into the Omaha meet and greet as friends and other bands make their way to our location because I'm a gimp. We check out Jeff and The Brotherhood and a couple other acts at the Impose showcase, pound a couple more beers and head back to the casa for some rest.

It's gonna be a long day tomorrow.

Greg - Little Brazil

SXSW: Day one wrap-up

I'm finally back in my hotel, safe from the chaos that is 6th St. after midnight. That place turns into a madhouse with all the SXSWers and college-age kids running around. And you're about as likely to find a taxi to get home as you are to see Haley's Comet.

Anyway... I left off with Everybody Is In The French Resistance... Now! It's Eddie Argos of Art Brut's funny little project where he created responses to pop songs including "Gold Digger" by Kanye West, "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright" by Bob Dylan and "Vaseline" by Elastica. They're funny, poppy and Argos spruced up the set by telling stories about each one and where it came from.

Apparently, we were lucky enough to see the first set the band had ever performed in the U.S.  and they did a great job. Argos even jumped into the crowd and sang at people.

My next quandary was to decide whether I wanted to see Broken Bells (Brian Burton/Danger Mouse of Gnarls Barkley with James Mercer of The Shins) or Codeine Velvet Club (Scottish rock band). Broken Bells won that fight because, performing at the same venue (Stubb's) was Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings and Spoon.

Over at Stubb's, after waiting for nearly an hour to get in, we got some music presented by NPR (two things: 1. you can re-broadcast the whole show at and 2. I kind of nerded out when I saw Bob Boylan from NPR's All Songs Considered). If you've never been to Stubb's, it's basically a sloping dirt lot surrounded by beer booths. At the low end of the hill is a stage. It sounded surprisingly great, which apparently differs from how it was last year (according to some folks I talked to).

The first two artists were Visqueen (female-fronted alternative) and Walkmen (mellow, Modest Mouse-esque stuff), who both did OK.

Sharon Jones proceeded to knock the roof off of the joint. I was never impressed with what I saw of her and the Dap Kings when they performed on TV. But the band was solid while she rocked, rolled, strutted and danced all over the place.

Broken Bells were also fantastic. No surprise here, but it basically sounds like Danger Mouse producing a bunch of Shins songs (which is kind of what it is). On that note though, the songs had much more layered instrumentation and much quirkier melodies and sounds than would probably ever make it on a Shins record. Most everyone was very impressed and I loved them. Their album came out last week and I wouldn't be surprised if they began a slow roll to big things.

Spoon was really good, although I have to admit that I didn't stay for the whole time. SXSW takes a lot out of you and I had to call it a day. More to do tomorrow... Stay tuned.

* * *

In addition to this blog, check and The World-Herald every day for summaries of each day.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

SXSW: Finding my way around

What a day. I'm finally starting to get my bearings around this place. I've made my way up and down 6th St., had some pizza from a street vendor, seen several bands, found places like Emo's and Stubb's and listened to a bunch of bands.
Free Energy was my first taste of the day, a band whose members looke like they were transported here from 1974 (via a Delorean traveling 88 mph, no doubt).
Really, though... Their drummer has the best mustache I've seen in a long time. Not to mention that they're a good band. They do really bouncy rock songs that are a mix of blues riffs and power chords. They really remind me of Thin Lizzy, both in appearance and sound. And I mean that, wholeheartedly, as a compliment.
Next, I wandered around downtown Austin, wherein I located those landmarks and ate that pizza.
Eventually, I made my way to Creekside, a venue that (surprise!) is right by a creek. Basically, I wanted to see Everybody Is In the French Resistance... Now! and ended up watching a bunch of other bands.
The best of those was Ezra Furman and the Harpoons. Furman either sounds high or slightly unstable (maybe both?) and his songs channel the honesty and vulnerability of that disposition. It's good stuff. (This might be random, but it makes me think of what Ben Kweller would sound like fronting a garage rock band.)
EWITFR...N! is onstage now. More later...

Little Brazil SXSW guest blog: On the road to Austin

The first of several updates from Omaha band Little Brazil during their trip to Austin. Without further ado, I turn it over to LB's Greg Edds...
* * *
Not even 15 minutes before leaving Omaha we are already heading in the wrong direction. Seems Oliver, our drummer, wants to go to North to the colder climate instead of i35 south. Problem solved and we are on our way to the first show in Kansas City, Mo.
During the drive we got stuck in an extensive argument about what car manufacturer makes the most police vehicles and how big the worlds largest vaccum cleaner is. These conversations last about an hour before we decide to stop for some of grandpa's road sodas and cookies. We actually run into another Nebraska band, the Lepers, at a random gas station in Missouri. They buy beef jerky and make fun of me for wearing a very non-fashionable foot cast.
The foot cast is whole other story that I will get into at a later date and coffee break.
Fast forward to the Czar Bar where we just finished our first set warming up for SXSW. We keep the songs short and sweet and somehow manage to stay sober for most of the set. The other touring bands killed it on stage and the pre-festival excitement is definitely in the air.
We buy a couple more road sodas and head over to a friends house for a late night pizza party. Before we fall asleep Landon has awkward sexual encounter with a puggle that crashed our pajama jam.
Night one is in the books and we are one day closer to Austin.
Greg - Little Brazil

SXSW: I finally made it

One thing that I've noticed about everything here is the wait. My plane touched down about 3.5 hours ago, but I just now got to a show (Paste Magazine's day party, for the record).
Lines are everywhere and I only expect it to get worse as the day wears on amd more and more people get here.
Oh well... I'm not going to complain much. It's a beautiful day here and I'm surrounded by live music.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

SXSW: I'll be there

If you'd like, check my SXSW preview that I did for the paper. It has features and schedules for every local band headed to Austin, an explanation of the coverage I'll be doing there and, for those headed to SXSW, some advice from past attendees.

Well, I start my journey to Austin tomorrow at 6 a.m. It will be my first time at SXSW and, I have to admit, it's a bit overwhelming (and not just the fact that I'll be waking up around 4 a.m. tomorrow... or the fact that I haven't packed yet... crap!).

Reviewing my schedule today and yesterday, I feel a little lost. There are hundreds (many estimate around 2,000) of bands there, hundreds of parties and showcases and just one of me. I have no idea how I'm going to pull this off. It's quite daunting. What if I miss someone? How early do I have to get in line to make it into a showcase?

On the other hand, the advice I'm getting from SXSW veterans is not to worry. Most everyone plays more than once, so if you miss someone, you'll be able to see them later. And everyone says that some of the best stuff you'll see all week are bands that you stumble upon, hearing their tones waft out onto Sixth Street or seeing a band at a day party while you wait for another to go onstage.

I wonder how many fans that I'll encounter during the festivities. The whole thing was really created so bands and other music industry folks could get together, so it doesn't really seem like it's for fans, or ever was. But I feel like there should be more access to this kind of stuff from fans. Your options are either a) watch all the coverage on the Web b) get a wristband as a resident of Austin c) buy a badge for $750 d) go down there without anything and hope you stumble on/into some cool stuff.

Here's hoping that I make at least some of the stuff that I want to see. Speaking of, I checked out a SXSW scheduling site to try to plan out my week on the recommendation of Tim McMahan.

You can check out my schedule, if you want. You'll notice that a lot of it is overlapping and it doesn't really cover a ton of groups. But it's more of a list of stuff I want to see, pointing me in several directions, should I need it. I basically don't expect to get into every party that I want to go to.

One of my goals is to go see as many non-Omaha bands as I can. It's not a slight against the area groups, but of the eight going (UUVVWWZ, Mynabirds, Little Brazil, Thunder Power, Brimstone Howl, Eagle Seagull, It's True, Digital Leather), they all play pretty actively around here and Lincoln. It's also my chance to see a lot of groups that don't/won't/haven't come to town.

Of those, here are some that I'm looking forward to seeing:
Free Energy
The xx
Miles B.A. Robinson
Titus Andronicus
Codeine Velvet Club
Miike Snow
Rogue Wave
Le Loup
Violent Soho
Broken Bells
Everybody Was In The French Resistance... Now!

I am tasked by the World-Herald with checking in with the local bands, so I will still be seeing a lot of them and doing some video interviews with groups while they're in Texas. You'll see those videos here and on

A feature I'm really excited about is some guest blogs from Little Brazil. They'll be hitting me up with stuff while they do a little tour on their way down to Austin and while playing their SXSW showcases.

During this whole thing, I guess that I'll have to keep repeating a mantra: "It's going to be OK. You're in Austin surrounded by people like you. It's going to be OK. You're in Austin surrounded by people like you. It's going to be OK..."

* * *

In a nutshell, here's what you can expect from me while I'm down there:

Those video interviews with local bands I mentioned earlier.

Observations, stories and reviews from me AND guest blogs from Little Brazil throughout the week right here on Rock Candy
Nearly constant updates through my Twitter
A daily update in the World-Herald and, which will be different from what you see on the blog

* * *

Down in Austin this week? Want to meet up?

Not in Austin? Want to send me a band/taco stand recommendation?

Best way to get to me is by sending an e-mail: I'll be checking it periodically while I'm at SXSW.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Best thing I've seen all week

In the midst of figuring out my schedule for SXSW (Yes, I'll be in Austin later this week), I was looking through Twitter. That's when I ran across this post:

bradhoshaw: A friend at the bar challenged me to cover TiK ToK by KE$HA.

He did. And it was awesome. Well played, Hoshaw. Well played indeed.

Here it is, folks, for your enjoyment...

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Happy 311 Day!

 Every year on this day, the former Omahans in 311 celebrate their band and their fans ( today is 3-11, after all).

Tonight, they're playing one of their legendary 5-hour concerts in Las Vegas. Usually, they play nearly every song in their arsenal and a whole bunch of covers. If you're a fan, it's a pretty cool spectacle.

If you aren't in Las Vegas for the show tonight, the concert is streaming via their site. Head over there for details. It's only $11.99 for the live show, which includes the ability to watch it for 30 days on demand.

In addition, the band has a big sale on their merchandise today. Head to their store and check it out.

Eddie Money's jokes

I spoke to Eddie Money ("Two Tickets to Paradise," "Take Me Home Tonight") this morning to preview his upcoming show at Harrah's on March 26.

He told me two jokes:

1. I went to the doctor and the doctor looked and me and said, "Sit down. You look really sick." After he took a look at me and ran all the tests, he said, "I've got good news and bad news." I said, "Doc, give me the good news first." The doctor says, "Well, we're naming a disease after you."

2. A patient sits down to talk to his doctor. The doctor looks at his chart and says, "Well, you have two diseases. The first is terminal cancer. The second is Alzheimer's." The patient sits there for a moment to think about it. Then, he looks at the doctor and says, "Well, at least I don't have cancer."

The story on Doom Town Records

Have you heard of Doom Town Records? Maybe. Maybe not.

If you follow local music, you may have heard of Perry H. Matthews (that's a band, not a guy), Baby Tears and Church of Gravitron, all of which will have releases on the label.

The label is run by Ethan Jones and Justin O'Connor, both of whom have been in several local groups. As O'Connor put it in an e-mail, "In a time when recorded music is worthless and live music is nothing more than a excuse to see and be seen, Ethan Jones and I decided to end 2009 with #15 on Newsweek's Top 100 Ways to Waste Your Money and Your Time: Start your own record label."

Basically, the label is a vehicle to put out small run releases with cool, unique, special packaging. Every release will be between 100 and 200 copies and will be hand printed and packaged for "maximum textile pleasure," they said.

Jones also explained where they had the idea for the label: "Over the years some of our favorite recordings have been DIY/handmade releases from bands that we purchased at shows or mailorder underground music distros. Justin and I have both been heavily influenced by the '80s do it yourself punk and hardcore movement and have been reading books like: Our Band Could Be Your Life, American Hardcore and Rip It Up and Start Again. Those books definitely had something to do with starting the fire under Doom Town."

They started out by releasing their own music, Baby Tears' EP (Jones) and some out-of-print recordings by Church of Gravitron (O'Connor). Both are available now.

They're following those up with Perry H. Matthew's CD, which will be out soon. This weekend, they'll be screen printing the CD covers, inserts and CDRs and assembling them. They're making them using an Arigato Pak, which is basically a cardboard sleeve that you can screen print and assemble into a CD package. If you haven't seen one before, they're pretty cool. Last year's release by locals Race For Titles spring to mind.

Head to Doom Town Records to check out and download music from each band (click "Media") and purchase a copy for yourself (click "Releases").

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Headlines! SXSW, MGMT and indie rock sandwiches

I missed the blog early this week, so I apologize for that. Today, I've got some headlines for you.

On the blog tomorrow, I'll have a Q&A with the Flobots. They canceled an Omaha show from December because of one of our epic snowstorms. The show was rescheduled for tomorrow night at the Waiting Room. Marc Leibowitz of One Percent Productions told me that tickets to canceled December show were refunded, so you have to buy new tickets tomorrow.

• The lineup of local bands performing at SXSW has increased to eight with the addition of Brimstone Howl. The rest: Digital Leather, Eagle Seagull, It's True, Little Brazil, UUVVWWZ, Thunder Power and The Mynabirds. For those of you headed to Austin, I'll be doing a SXSW preview piece in the paper next week that will include all of their performance times. I'll also be in Austin, so hit me up if you're going to be there.

• An industry report says that new artists have $1 million spent on them (everything from creating the album to promoting it). The report also says bands still need labels.

MGMT has a new song out, "Flash Delirium," which you can download over at their site. It's good, not great.

Omaha news: Brooks & Dunn are booked at the Qwest in July for part of their farewell tour.

Unrelated to music: They want to cast John Krasinski (Jim from "The Office") as Captain America. While he may seem like an All-America boy, Krasinski doesn't exactly scream "action hero" to me. I think this could be terrible.

Nik Freitas and Nate Walcott (both of Conor Oberst's Mystic Valley Band and Walcott of Bright Eyes) are playing with Broken Bells. That band is James Mercer of The Shins and Danger Mouse, half of Gnarls Barkley, producer extraordinaire and creator of Jay-Z/Beatles mashup "The Grey Album." Check out Broken Bells on Letterman.

• Music from the Bright Eyes/Neva Dinova collab is leaking out. Check out "Happy Accident," the first new Bright Eyes stuff since "Cassadaga."

• Wayne Coyne says The Flaming Lips are thinking of coming up with a new movie. Did anyone else see "Christmas on Mars?" It was weird. Like, way weird.

• Once again, Smashing Pumpkins are holding open auditions for new members. This time, it's bass and keyboards. Billy Corgan hired a 20-year-old drummer the same way last year.

• Someone opened a Wilco-themed restaurant called "Sky Blue Sky Sandwiches" (or something like that) and now another place has Ryan Adams-themed meals. Another site gives its suggested names for indie rock-themed food, from Codfish Kwassa Kwassa to Clap Your Hands and Say Yams. The original post is only a few things, but the best stuff is in the comments. Great stuff.

• Supposedly, Muse is going to show up at SXSW.

1020 Lounge offering music

1020 Lounge, the former Trovato's in Dundee, is offering music again, according to a press release I got this morning.

"The music will mainly feature local singer/songwriters with an emphasis on acoustic offerings," said the release, sent from Rad Kadillac Productions, who I assume will be booking the shows.

I was wondering when 1020 would start offering music again as Trovato's used to have acoustic nights and open mic nights pretty often. For being an Italian restaurant, I always thought that place was a pretty fun bar when people came out at night. Folks such as Brad Hoshaw, who you usually have to pay good money to see now, used to play there for free.

The fun starts this Saturday, March 13, at 8:30 p.m. with Diane Guilquist. No cover.

Friday, March 5, 2010

List: 7 cool musical tattoos

Tattoos are cool. Except, of course, when they aren't. Lots of people get music-related tattoos, including a lot of my friends and my girlfriend. Here, we have seven cool music tattoos with everything from music to lyrics to logos.

Check 'em out.

Arm tattoo

One of my absolute favorites and it doesn't actually have any specific reference to a band or genre of music. The design is great, only two colors and is pretty freaking fantastic.
From sylvie LS on Flickr

Punk Rock sleeve

This is an awesome start to a sleeve. I like the all-black designs of Rancid, Ramones and Misfits and it appears like the guy has others on the same sleeve.
From jfravel1 on

Electric Mayhem

Quite possibly one of the best bands ever, Dr. Teeth & the Electric Mayhem is the Muppet band made up of Dr. Teeth, Animal, Zoot, Floyd and Janice (and occasionally a few others) and they rock. It's ballsy to get Muppets tattooed on you, but these are probably the most badass (that is, if Muppets can be badass).
From Opetron3030 on Photobucket

Rock bands sleeve

This guy has ink all up and down his arm with a bunch of logos and, erm, a picture of Elton John. On his arm: The Stones, The Beatles, The Who, Sir Elton, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, The Doors and a bunch of others. This one was probably expensive.

From loganc169 on

This guy's back

I wonder if this guy still has his ripped jeans, feathered hair or a bad neck from head banging back in the '80s so much. I would never get this tattoo because I'm not a huge Tuff or Warrant fan, but this guy sure is committed to his dream.

Sharp as a razor - Soft as a prayer

From a Tom Waits lyric, this is a pretty excellent tattoo from a great artist. I like tattoos that stand well enough alone, but get even better with some explanation.
Via Contrariwise

Ashes to ashes, funk to funky

A cool couple lines from "Ashes to Ashes" by David Bowie. Good thing this guy didn't get "Ziggy really sang, screwed up eyes and screwed down hairdo" from "Ziggy Stardust" on his arms.
Via Contrariwise

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Rock Candy Mailbag: Answering your questions

Occasionally, readers call or e-mail to ask me a question. Often, it's to tell me what they think of a review (or my knowledge of music) - good or bad - or tell me about a band or whatever.

But I get a lot of questions, everything from "when are tickets on sale?" to "what do you think of (insert band name here)?"

Here are some of the questions that I've been asked, be it through phone, e-mail or Twitter. I'd like to do future versions of the mailbag, so send your questions to, send them via Twitter or give me a call (402-444-1557).

Here goes nothing... 

Who was the best artist/band to interview? (From CapslockBenny)
Good interviews are when someone is engaging and answers your questions well. Hopefully they don't give you canned crap that they say to everyone or their publicist taught them to say. Bonus points if they're funny, quirky, have good stories or things like that.

There are a ton of great interviews, but these have been some of my favorite people for various reasons (I intentionally left out local people... those are usually the best interviews anyway):
• Nicko McBrain, drummer of Iron Maiden (Gracious, engaged and very, very funny)
• Chris Crisci of Appleseed Cast and Old Canes (Has a good take on life and music)
• Robert Trujillo of Metallica (Great talk about what it's like to go from being practically nobody to being in one of the biggest bands in the world. Also, he's one of the nicest guys I've ever talked to.)
• Anthony Daniels (He's C-3PO. 'Nuff said.)
• Brian Aubert of Silversun Pickups (Very talented and answered all of my questions very well.)
• Nikki Sixx of Motley Crue (Delivered one of the funniest quotes that I've ever gotten.)
• Matt Nathanson (For a guy that sings that poppy "Come On Get Higher" song, he sure curses a lot. I thought it was funny.)
• Dane Cook (He wasn't in funny guy mode, but he was incredibly interesting to talk to, even if you don't like his comedy.)
• Greg Gillis of Girl Talk (Guy knows his music and it had some great stories.)
• Ben Kweller (Loves Omaha. Loves it. And he dropped some great stuff about his music and MTV.)
• Richard Lloyd of Television (Great guitarist who gave insight into his craft. I was sad I couldn't fit the whole interview into the paper.)

Do you think Omaha really has a great Music scene or do you think people confuse the Saddle Creek bands for the Omaha music scene? (From CapslockBenny)
I think both things are happening at the same time. On one hand, we have a large group of quality bands from multiple genres along with many venues (including a few very good ones) where they can perform. Go to other cities of similar size and you'll find a few bands of  wide-ranging quality who play in a couple of bars with crappy stages and PAs (i.e. places not designed to have music). So yes, we do have a good music scene. On any night of the week (weekends especially), you have your pick of locals shows to go check out, and all the touring bands/artists that you can stomach. It's good stuff.

On the other hand, I think a lot of people confuse the presence of Saddle Creek Records with having a good music scene. It was birthed from that scene and certainly plays a part in it (a. It's stellar venue, Slowdown. b. It's bands, several of who still have a presence here. c. It's mere presence is good for our scene.). But it's not all there is.

Think, though, what it's like to explain to your mom why the Omaha music scene is great. This isn't a dig at your mom or anyone else's, but people our parents' age don't always have a grasp on it (my mom doesn't). It's hard to explain our music scene without mentioning SC. Your mom may not really understand how it works or why it's great, but when you say, "Well, we have this kinda famous indie label," they kind of get it. Unfortunately, some of those same people then mistake SC as the one big thing we have going for us, which isn't really the case.

I've been listening online to The Current from Minn Public Radio. Why doesn't Omaha have a good radio station like this? (From OmahaNE)
For those of you that don't know, The Current is a radio station in Minnesota that plays a variety of music. Most people would dub it indie, but it really does play a variety, which it's website suggests: "The Current brings listeners the best authentic new music alongside the music that inspired it, from local to legendary, indie to influential, new to nostalgic."

You can stream the station, which I highly suggest, from

Listening to it Wednesday afternoon, I heard The Beatles, She & Him, Junior Senior, Billy Bragg, Kings of Leon, Mumford and Songs and a whole bunch of other stuff. On their website, they had features on Laura Veirs and Alec Ounsworth of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah (two folks that, oddly enough, performed in Omaha over the last week or so). It's very good stuff and it's the kind of radio station I like: they play good music whether it's new, old, obscure or superbly popular.

The problem is that I'm not sure that a radio station of this kind is really viable in a commercial sense. You don't see a commercial radio station picking up this kind of format like public radio stations do, which are usually funded by the government and "listeners like you."

Minnesota Public Radio, where The Current is from, is a huge organization with 38 radio stations and its listenership (is that a word?) is the highest of its kind in the country. By contrast, NET in Nebraska has nine transmitters for programming that is based in Lincoln. Sadly, the broadcast radius of none of them even reach Omaha (according to NET's site). Not to mention, a pop music-focused station isn't really what they're after. "We are committed to bringing you the best in public radio and work around the clock to broadcast news and classical music that will educate, challenge and inspire," their site reads.

The River is the closest to The Current you're going to get in town because it is an independent college station funded mostly by donations. But they're not much like The Current for two main reasons. One, they appeal to many of us who don't often listen to commercial radio and, among this group, our tastes vary wildly, so you're going to hear everything from Phoenix to Three Days Grace on The River. Two, they're a college station whose job (partly) is to educate people, so they have a lot of programming that is created or hosted by students, from their late-night techno show to the local music show to their sports broadcasts.

Your other option is community-focused radio stations that are run by a dedicated person or persons and usually have a tiny transmitter and therefore a small broadcast radio. In theory, these can be cool, but it takes a lot to run a radio station. (Try coming up with 24 hours of music and other programming and deal with licensing and trying to keep the whole operation afloat financially. It's a ton of work.) These kinds of efforts that I've heard of have failed to get off the ground around here (at least, I haven't heard much from them).

In order to get something similar to The Current, you'd have to get a dedicate base of people that would 1) Create, program and work damn hard for the station AND 2) Fund it through advertising and donations. Until then, hit up The River, stream The Current online or check out NPR's All Songs Considered.

How do you find an address to mail a fan letter? (From Amy Sliefert)
Your best bet is to scour their websites and try to contact them through some listed form. Some bands have contact info listed on their websites or MySpace pages, be it an e-mail or physical address. Fan clubs are also good sources for the same information.

If you can't find something on their site, it's probably best to mail something to their record label. You can usually find that on their site, MySpace, Wikipedia or by looking up one of their albums on

A few other tips... The smaller the artist, the more likely they are to respond to your letter/e-mail message. Many indie bands book their own shows, do their own publicity and definitely check their own e-mail addresses. If you're sending something and want a response (or something signed or whatever), remember to include a self addressed stamped envelope with enough postage and your full address on it. Also, some folks don't even respond to fan mail, so it's possible that you won't get your package back.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Rob Thomas called me a douche today, sort of

This is why I love Twitter.

Today, Rob Thomas of Matchbox Twenty sent the following message via Twitter: "Tweeting from the car. Having a beer. ROCKSTARS DON'T DRIVE THEMSELVES TO SHOWS." I basically re-broadcast the message saying that he was a douchebag.

A Twitter follower of mine then re-tweeted my message because he agreed. (For those of you who don't use Twitter, it's like forwarding an e-mail to everyone who subscribes to your Twitter page)

Rob Thomas called him a "douche" for it.

So in conclusion, in a roundabout way, I got called a douche by Rob Thomas today. Sort of ironic, right?

I love Twitter.

Weekend Roundup (early edition): Laura Veirs, Qwest stuff, Underwater Dream Machine and more

I'm heading out of the O this weekend, making my yearly trek to St. Louis to watch Creighton play in their conference tournament. Most years, we have hope in our hearts, but this year, our chances are pretty slim. We shall see.

Anyway, I'm posting the weekend roundup early both because I'm headed out of town and there are some good shows starting tonight.

You should also know that I've prepared a few posts for you while I'm out: Thursday brings a mailbag column where I answer your questions. On Friday, you'll get a list of seven excellent rock 'n roll tattoos.

Laura Veirs is tonight at the Waiting Room. $10. Check her out live in the studio at The Current, Minnesota Public Radio's music station.

You have your big-name acts at the Qwest and Orpheum. John Mayer hits the Qwest stage tomorrow night (I'd love to see him just play guitar and not his pop music). Norah Jones does the Orpheum on Sunday. Bon Jovi takes you back to 1988 on Tuesday next week at the Qwest. Stories on all three on Thursday morning and in GO (free on the streets on Friday).

A lot of folks are very excited for The English Beat and Fishbone on Friday. If you don't have tickets for the Slowdown show, it's sold out. So, tough cookies, unless you know someone with an extra ticket.

Local bluegrassers Southpaw Bluegrass Band gets your toes tapping with fiddle and banjo and all that good stuff at 9 p.m. Saturday at Louis Bar. No cover.

There's a good lineup Sunday at O'Leaver's. Underwater Dream Machine, a showcase for Bret Vovk's vulnerable songwriting that drifts between slow, acoustic pop ballads and loud, guitar-driven rock, plays with Thunder Power, Icarus Himself and Spiders For Love. $5, as always.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Headlines! Rolling Stones, top earners and more

Today, I finally listened to the latest John Mayer record that came out in November (he plays in town Thursday) and finally read the full Playboy interview that he got in a lot of trouble for. Other than those few controversial paragraphs, it was a great interview and a very interesting insight into a hugely popular artist and how he deals with it.

Is he kind of a jerk? Yeah. Is he a good musician? Yeah. He's a great guitarist and, depending on your view, a good pop singer/songwriter. I'm more a fan of his guitar work, but that's me.

I also listened to The Mynabirds' new record (out April 27 on Saddle Creek) and enjoyed the first listen quite a bit (full review later).

I tried to listen to She & Him's new record, "Volume Two," (out March 23 on Merge) but was thwarted by some anti-piracy thing that won't allow me to listen to it on my computer. I guess I'm going to have to try my car stereo or my actual stereo at home. I wonder if they realize how few people (press people especially) listen to music on a stereo any more. (Again, full review later.)

Onto headlines... It's not a crazy day, but there is some interesting stuff and good music going down today. Check it out:

The Rolling Stones issued "Exile On Main Street" with a few new tracks.

• Billboard released their list of the top 40 money makers in music last year. U2 tops the list and Metallica, Kenny Chesney, the Jonas Brothers and Madonna are all in the top 10.

• Producer Brian Eno is talking about the new Coldplay album.

Pavement is officially back. The group played their first show in 10 years in New Zealand last night. Spin has photos, a setlist and a review. The closest they'll get to Omaha on their tour is Kansas City on Sept. 11. (dates here)

• Bass player and band leader for Hall & Oates, Tom "T-Bone" Wolk died over the weekend. They were set to perform on Jimmy Fallon for his 1-year anniversary, but canceled.

Paramore is making a new video (they're also in town in May). Check out some behind the scenes stuff.

• Have you listened to the stream of the Gorillaz new record yet? You should check it out. It comes out next Tuesday.

Today in Rock History: Patti Smith marries Fred "Sonic" Smith of the MC5 in 1980. Jim Morrison is arrested onstage in Miami in 1969. Happy Birthday to Roger Daltrey (66).