Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tonight: Crooning for Kat

If I were you, I'd get to tonight's benefit at the Waiting Room Lounge.

Kat Smith of the Black Squirrels needs your help to pay for her medical bills. For only 10 bucks, you can see the Filter Kings, the Bruces, McCarthy Trenching, Outlaw Con Bandana, Adam Hawkins of It's True, Kyle Harvey and Whipkey-Zimmerman-Sing.

Frankly, those are some of the best names in local music. Even if it wasn't a good cause (and it certainly is), that's a helluva deal to see all these bands.

Have fun, folks.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Frightened Rabbit cover the National's "Fake Empire"

A few months ago, Frightened Rabbit's full set was filmed by Revision3, an "Internet television" channel. During the set, the band did a cool, quick cover of the National's "Fake Empire."

FR frontman Scott Hutchinson is known to sneak in lyrics from other artists from time to time, especially bits from the Hold Steady.

Video's below. Skip ahead to the 47:44 mark to see "Fake Empire."

Lincoln Calling lineup annouced

Now that the Lincoln bands have invaded Omaha, it's time for us to send our own forces west to the Star City.

It's time for Lincoln Calling.

But that ain't it. There's a lot of national talent on this list, which is a first as far as I remember. Sea Wolf, Those Darlins, the Hood Internet, Team Bayside High and Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers are just a few of the names I see popping out from the lineup.

Add local names including Little Brazil, Brad Hoshaw, the SPEED! roster, Bear Country, Capgun Coup and a host of others and you have a party.

Honestly, I'm impressed. Good work, folks.

The official lineup was sent out today, so get ready. Tickets for the weekend are $30 today. Tomorrow, they go up to $40.

Head over to Lincoln Calling to get all the details, get tickets and listen to music from the artists.

Lineup after the jump!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Headlines! Bright Eyes, Kanye, Folgers Coffee and more

I'm back in the office again after a three-day weekend off. Tonight, I'm going to review Counting Crows, but here's some headlines for you.


Bright Eyes is now on Facebook. Why now? Probably because the band has an album coming out and they want to start building buzz about the group via social networking. I bet you'll see a Twitter soon, too. And eventually some songs.

[Update: The Bright Eyes Facebook page has been taken down. Also removed was the tweet from Conor Oberst & the Mystic Valley Band announcing the page. That means a) it could have been a fake or b) they just weren't ready to go all out on FB yet. I'm going with option "b." It looked too professional to be fake, unlike that fake Conor Oberst twitter from awhile back.]

Kanye West is planning on releasing a free song every weekend until Christmas. It's unclear whether or not it will be new music and West said it could be stuff from other artists, too.

• There's a new EP out from Sufjan Stevens. You can listen to it for free and buy a copy for only $5.

• Out tomorrow, the new Land of Talk disc from Saddle Creek is streaming all week at Spinner. It's called "Cloak and Cipher."

Holy Fuck is having a new tour. It hits Lincoln on Oct. 21.

• On Nov. 2, Brian Eno is dropping a new album. It's name? "Small Craft On A Milk Sea," whatever the hell that means.

• Check out Conan O'Brien's spoken word track with Jack White.

• Spin offers up a list of 25 fall albums that matter most.

Weezer fans that have been bitching since the blue album and "Pinkerton" about how their new stuff isn't as good as their old stuff can no rejoice. Why? The band is planning a "Blue Album/'Pinkerton'" tour.

• Speaking of Weezer, Spinner asked people to submit their own album covers for "Hurley." They're pretty funny.

• At one point, Johnny Cash recorded a version of Folgers Coffee's "the best part of waking up" jingle. You can now download it as a ringtone, if that's your thing.

• I have absolutely no idea how or why it happened, but Bob Saget took some time to interview Ben Folds.

• Apparently, U2 has a few albums worth of material ready to go.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Headlines! Tim Kasher's new song, Juggalos, a cup of pee and more

Lots going on in the last two days.

The first item here is of biggest note to me. I'm really looking forward to a non-Cursive album from Cursive's Tim Kasher.

• Check out the first song from Tim Kasher's self-titled solo debut: "Cold Love."

"Mostly, (the it's about) really boring sex, couples who have run out of steam in their relationships, whose sex life is reduced to going through the motions," he said to Spin.com about the song.

Download below:

• If you hadn't heard yet, Wyclef Jean wants to be Haiti's president. Win Butler of Arcade Fire, who's raised a lot of money for the country's recovery, doesn't think that's a good idea.

Xiu Xiu's Jamie Stewart is selling a cup of his own pee to benefit Graveface Records, which lost a ton of merch in a recent flood..

• When will the madness stop? Over the weekend, Insane Clown Posse hosted its annual Gathering of the Juggalos. It pretty much went down like you think it would (mayhem, violence, trashy people). Spin has a report. Rolling Stone has photos. Method Man says he'll sue. Tila Tequila's pretty upset, too.

Courtney Love settled a lawsuit over Nirvana royalties.

• There's a new video for of Montreal's "Coquet Coquette." What's featured? Cannibalism, of course. The band comes to Sokol Auditorium on Oct. 22. Get your tickets.

The National has a new song called "You Were A Kindness."

• Rivers Cuomo of Weezer, who was just in Omaha, talks about the band's upcoming album.

• You might not know Ben Shepherd's name, but you do know his band: Soundgarden. The bassist is now saying that, despite the band's reunion, he's broke and homeless. Maybe he'll be able to dry his eyes on the giant check Lollapalooza wrote the band for its headlining gig a couple weeks ago.

• One of the biggest record deals in music history was just signed by Coldplay. The band's haters will apparently have to endure them for awhile longer.

• Forbes recently named the top money-makers in hip-hop (earners, that is, not the other definition). Jay-Z tops the list.

Video: Concert For Equality

A few weeks ago at the Concert For Equality, someone from the Sound Strike produced a video documenting the event.

Watch it below. It's mostly a lot about the message of the day (anti-Fremont illegal immigration law), as well as footage of Bright Eyes, Cursive and Desaparecidos and a "backstage" interview with Conor Oberst.

The best part is Desaparecidos jamming out at the end of the band's set and Denver Dalley absolutely destroying his guitar.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

M. Ward: New Monsters of Folk record? 'Absolutely.'

M. Ward called this afternoon to talk about the upcoming Omaha show featuring She & Him, his indie folk project with actress Zooey Deschanel, and the duo's latest album, "Volume Two."

That performance will go down Aug. 28 at the Anchor Inn. Get your tickets, only $20, over at www.onepercentproductions.com.

While the bulk of the interview was about She & Him, Ward mentioned his solo project and the Monsters of Folk.

"I don't have any plans to put out a solo album now. Right now, I'm concentrating on these She & Him shows," he said. "Then the Monsters of Folk are going to perform at Austin City Limits, so I'm gearing up for that. I love working on that project as well.

When asked about whether or not Ward and the rest of the Monsters of Folk wanted to make a new album, he said, "Absolutely."

"We love working with each other," Ward said. "There's nothing on the calendar, but it's just a matter of time until our next record."

* * *

Look for a preview of the She & Him show here, on Omaha.com and in the World-Herald on Aug. 26.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Headlines! Watson Twins tonight, Green Day, Elvis and more

It's been awhile since I've done this, but here's the latest in music news for you, dear reader.


Mumford & Sons announced a fall tour that takes them all over the U.S., except Omaha. There's a date in between Denver and Minneapolis that they have nothing booked. Someone in Omaha should book them before someone in Kansas City or Des Moines does.

• Check out a review and setlist of Brandon Flowers' first solo show in Vegas. Did he do any Killers songs?

• Tonight at the Waiting Room is the Watson Twins, who got billing on Jenny Lewis' first solo album and tour and opened for M. Ward last year at Slowdown. I talked to Chandra, one of the twins to preview tonight's show.

• Saddle Creek Records band Land of Talk posted "making of" photos on Facebook for the video of "Quarry Hymns."

Outside Lands went down last weekend in San Francisco. Rolling Stone has some pretty sweet photos. And Spin names their favorite sets.

• Who's playing the New York Jets' home opener? Green Day and Slash. But not together. If they did, that would be a weird set.

• 33 years ago on this date, Elvis Presley kicked the bucket. CMT looks at their 10 favorite performances by the King.

YACHT explains how they got the name YACHT. (It's tough to begin and end a sentence with the same word.)

• Has anyone been aching for some Belle & Sebastian? Well, you're going to get plenty now that they've announced an album released date, album cover and TV show.

New music recommendations (a Lollapalooza list)

I saw a lot of good stuff at Lollapalooza and learned about some new music. Here's some recommendations for you to download (I recommend iTunes).

Jukebox The Ghost
Why? They're poppy rock, but pretty fun. The kind of band you can put on at a late-night, booze-fueled afterparty and dance to for awhile.
Start with "Empire," the band's new single. It's available for free on the band's website.
Then try out "Static To the Heart," which has a similar feel to "Empire," but a bit more depth. Also take a look at "Hold It In," which has a bit of a Killers feel to it, but a little goofier and more fun.

Frightened Rabbit
Why? Because lead singer Scott Hutchinson has been through what you're going through now and it was probably worse for him and he got more depressed about it than you did. Then he wrote a song about it. Then he wrote a happy song to make it all better and everyone left happy.
Start with something like "Keep Yourself Warm" because it's got a great chorus or "Living in Colour" because it sounds like a folky Coldplay.
Then try out a tune like "Poke," which laments the end of a relationship with brilliant imagery, or "Old Old Fashioned," which talks about turning off the TV and doing it like they used to.

Mumford & Sons
Why? Because these four guys are good rockers and British. That formula has worked in the past and it's working for them, too.
Start with "Little Lion Man" because the chorus of "It was not your fault but mine/and it was your heart on the line/I really fucked it up this time" is impeccable. So's the fast, bluegrassy guitar and banjo.
Then try out the tune "Awake My Soul." It has an anthemic feel and also features bandleader Marcus Mumford's vocals.

Why? Because after all these years, and a long hiatus, they can still rock.
Start with "Spoonman" or "Black Hole Sun" because it's comfortable and you know it.
Then try out something a bit more obscure like "My Wave" or "Loud Love" and relish in the heavy licks and Chris Cornell's wild voice.

The Black Keys
Why? Because it's rare when a guitar-drums duo can be this down and dirty.
Start with the bluesy rocker "I Got Mine," which is a three minute, 59 second seminar on what's to like about the Black Keys.
Then try out "Everlasting Light," where they get funky, or "Your Touch," where they rock out a little.

Jimmy Cliff
Why? You've undoubtedly heard his songs before, but it's time to revisit them.
Start with "I Can See Clearly Now" or "You Can Get It If You Really Want" and then realize, "Oh, that's who sings this."
Then try out "Wonderful World, Beautiful People" and realize how positive and hopeful one man can be or keep on fighting the good fight with "Many Rivers To Cross."

The New Pornographers
Why? Because the combination of all of these indie talents is, obviously, just as great as its individual parts.
Start with "Use It" or "Challengers," two songs that really show off the individual talents of members of the bands.
Then try out "Moves," the best song on the band's new album or "Hey, Snow White," an obscure tune that was on the "Dark Was The Night" compilation (and you can get on iTunes). And when you're done with those, do yourself a favor and check out music from the New Pornographers' band members, such as A.C. Newman or Neko Case.

* * *

Last week was busy back at the OWH since I was gone for five days in Chicago.

Read my quick wrapup of the festival after the jump...

Friday, August 13, 2010

Video: Jukebox the Ghost, "I Love You Always Forever" live at Lollapalooza

This is a pretty sweet cover, if I do say so myself. One of the best of the fest.

Apparently, they do it relatively often.

Photos: Lady Gaga, The Strokes and tons more at Lollapalooza

Here are those photos that I promised. Sadly, my camera broke right before Green Day came on, so I have nothing of them or of day three (Frightened Rabbit, Mumford & Sons, Sound Garden, etc.).

I recommend checking out Lollapalooza's flickr page for tons more photos. They have some of every single band.

Video: B.o.B., "Airplanes" live at Lollapalooza

B.o.B. was the first act I saw at Lollapalooza this year and got things kicked off nicely. Here's my shaky video of his performance of "Airplanes."

More video and photos are coming today. It's taken me awhile to get them off of my camera. If you can recall, I had a lot of difficulties with it while I was in Chicago and I just now got it figured out.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Conor Oberst announces tour WITHOUT the Mystic Valley Band

Conor Oberst has been a busy dude. Making a Bright Eyes album, speaking out against illegal immigration laws in Fremont and Arizona, reuniting the Desaparecidos. So, what next?

A four-date swing through California. Why not, right?

Coolest news about this is that Oberst will have the Felice Brothers open the dates AND serve as his backing band. So, no Mystic Valley Band for this one.

The dates:
Sept. 28 - Pioneertown, CA at Pappy & Harriet’s
Sept. 30 - Santa Barbara, CA at Soho
Oct. 1 - Big Sur, CA at Fernwood
Oct. 2 - San Francisco, CA at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass

Thanks to Consequence of Sound for the info.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Lolla: Day three wrapup

Note: Apologies for this being so late. I've had a lot to do since I got back. Anyway, here goes...

On Sunday, I saw a lot more than just Mumford & Sons and Frightened Rabbit.

I also caught MGMT, a band I've been wanting to see for years. They've only played in Omaha one time and it was an opening spot for, I believe, LCD Soundsystem back before MGMT had even put out a full-length.

I wandered over to where they were playing to discover the largest non-headliner crowd I met with all weekend. At least 20,000 were packed in there to watch, if not more. I honestly had an easier time finding a spot close to the stage for that night's headliner, Arcade Fire, but more on that later.

It was cool to hear songs like "Electric Feel" and "Time To Pretend," but the songs from the band's latest album were absolute crap. I've expressed my distaste for the songs on "Congratulations" before, but hearing them played right next to the band's excellent previous efforts made the contrast that much more apparent.

Later in the afternoon, I caught a bit of the Temper Trap. I like the song "Sweet Disposition," which is on the "(500) Days of Summer" soundtrack. A lot of the band's music sounds like that, but not quite as good, I thought. They also played some slow songs, which, by that point in the festival, really made me lose my desire to see them. Slow songs at the end of a three-day festival just make you lose about any interest you had in a band. Your energy is draining, so you need music that pushes you through, not slows you down.

I headed back to the media area to grab my bag. I saw Erykah Badu (she's really short), noticed the place was all but empty, grabbed my bad and headed back out to the fest.

Cypress Hill was finishing up their set with "Rock Superstar" and "Insane In The Brain," which definitely brought me back.

I found a decent spot near the other stage on that field and waited. Shortly after, the lights came on and the last band took the stage.

It was Soundgarden and they were playing their first big show in 12 years. Chris Cornell had longer hair than he did 20 years ago and sounded even better. Plus the band was easily the most hard-rocking of the festival. If not that, then the heaviest. I mean, grunge is pretty heavy when you've been listening to garage rock, indie pop and folk rock for three days.

While listening, I realized that Cornell has one of those singular voices in rock 'n roll. It's powerful, it's distinct, it's instantly recognizable. It's the kind of voice that Creed or Nickelback guys are trying for, but they fall flat on their faces. There's no comparison.

It was fun to watch. I heard a ton of longs that I love, including "Spoonman," "Fell On Black Days," "Black Hole Sun" and a whole bunch of others. They even played a lot of old, pre-mainstream breakthrough songs, which was cool. There were a lot of Soundgarden diehards around.

I picked Soundgarden over Arcade Fire, the night's other headliner, because I've never really liked Arcade Fire. Soundgarden, however, I practically grew up on.

But at a certain point, I realized that I heard every Soundgarden song that I knew and there wasn't much else they could do that would leave me excited. With a little time left in the night, and despite my previously stated opinion of the band, I hoofed it to the other end of the festival to catch the end of Arcade Fire.

Now, I still don't like them that much, but they did play three pretty cool songs. "Month of May" was going when I got there and they played "Keep the Car Running" and then an encore of "Wake Up." I enjoyed "Keep The Car Running" the most and would probably listen to it again.

There's something about that band that bugs me and I think it's that they use a lot of weird instruments and strange melodies for simply the sake of being weird or strange. It doesn't add anything to the music for me and, frankly, it's pretty distracting. I know I'm in the minority on this one, but that's what I think.

By the end of the night, I was ready to just collapse in a heap and sleep for a few days. But it was a great show.

* * *

A full weekend wrapup is coming soon...

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Lolla: New discoveries and a favorite

Up until this afternoon, my best Lollapalooza discovery had been Jukebox the Ghost. They were fun and poppy and pretty rockin'.

My friend Bekaah recommended the band Mumford & Sons, who I had never heard of. But I had nothing else going on during that hour of the show, so I decided to hit them up.

I was very pleasantly surprised considering every other recommendation that I followed over the weekend fell flat (Wavves, Soft Pack, others).

Mumford & Sons were great, a driving, up-tempo style of folky Americana. The London band managed to stir up a frenzied state that rivaled Green Day's reaction yesterday (and, a few times, surpassed it).

I was pleasantly surprised. So thanks, Bekaah.

After that, I headed over to get a good spot for Frightened Rabbit, the band I've been most anticipating. As mentioned before, the Scots blew me away at South By Southwest.

Their songs have not only emotive, colorful lyrics, but I'm impressed by the musicianship as well. A sometimes three-pronged guitar attack is backed up by keyboards and driving drums. Plus the four-part harmonies are exquisite.

And they do it all without sounding overwrought (even if my praise of the band may be...).
It was, once again, incredible. And frontman Scott Hutchinson was funny and affable for a guy singing about his heart being stomped on.

* * *

I guess every hipster here wanted to see MGMT.

"There must be about 2,000 of you here," MGMT's Andrew VanWyngarden just said.

Uh, might wanna check your eyes, chief. There's more people here than there were for the Strokes the other day. 20 to 30k maybe? There's no way to tell.

* * *

The food here is good. I've never had better at this kind of event. And other than for beer, the prices are pretty standard.

So far, my favorites have been deeep dish sausage pizza from Lou Malnati's and a chipotle chicken burger from Goose Island.

I'll let you know my final decision later.

Lolla: Rain, rain go away

The forecast for today is not great. Showers are forecast for the day and maybe even thunderstorms for this evening.

It's kind of annoying to do this stuff in the rain, so I wouldn't mind if it went away. But it also thins out most of the people, so the crowds are less of a hassle, which is nice.

I kinda wanted to see the Miniature Tigers today, but they start in a minute and I'm not even on the train yet. Oh well.

I'll be hitting up either the Dodos or Company of Thieves when I arrive and then heading over to Blitzen Trapper and then Mumford & Sons on the recommendation of my friend Bekaah.

After that, it will be a few songs of Yeasayer and then camping out for a good spot for Frightened Rabbit. Then it will be MGMT and the Temper Trap.

Finally, I'll be heading over to see Soundgarden to cap off the night (and the whole fest).

Wish me luck!

Lolla: Green Day rocks it

I have to say that Green Day is one of the most entertaining bands that I've ever seen. Billie Joe Armstrong and the boys really know to work a crowd and the stage.

I'm not the hugest Green Day fan (not like my friend John, whom I watched the concert with). I mean, I like them a lot. They were popular during my formative years and I also put their latest album on my "best of 2009" list. But I don't own a T-shirt or anything.

Still, it was a helluva fun show. And since I've been listening to their music for years, I know pretty much every word to every song. It was a blast and I'm glad I got to see them again.

With bleached hair and wearing a black shirt, white tie and red pinstriped pants, Armstrong was flying all over the place leading the crowd in chants of "Whoa-oh-oh-oh-oh" and "hey, hey hey..."

Not to mention they ran through about every good song they've ever made. The show was heavy on the band's latest two albums, "American Idiot" and (in my opinion, the far superior) "21st Century Breakdown."

But they also ran through all the old hits, even dropping into "Going to Pasalacqua" and "2,000 Light Years Away." They did a healthy selection off of "Dookie" and the hits since ("Minority," "Warning," etc.).

It was much the same show they did about a year ago in Omaha. The stage setup was the same and they even brought people onstage to sing "Longview" and help with other parts of other songs.

The show ended with Armstrong singing "Wake Me Up When September Ends" on acoustic guitar and the obligatory "Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)."

In all, the show went two and a half hours, a full 15 minutes past the city-mandated shutdown time of 10 p.m. They've been threatening to pull the plug on artists after 10, but I guess that's bull.

It was a huge crowd, too. I was pretty close to the stage, but when I looked back, I couldn't see where the sea of people ended. Crazyness.

* * *

I heard Phoenix was pretty good. That's about all I could get out of anyone.

* * *

So, my camera is kinda broken. The battery won't recharge and I can't get the pictures off of it and onto my laptop. So, I guess I'll get you those pictures on Monday when I'm back in civilization. Apologies.

Lolla: Grizzly Bear, Royal Bangs, Social D

Once again, I couldn't really get into Grizzly Bear. It's another of those bands that everyone seems to love that I just don't like. Arcade Fire, one of the headliners Sunday night, falls in that same category.

So, I didn't stay for Grizzly Bear long, instead venturing over to see a band called the Royal Bangs. I honestly went to see them because a) they were close and b) I liked their name.

I was pleasantly surprised to listen to them. A three-piece (drums, guitar, keys), the band punky and loud with some melody and thump. Reminded me of a punk version of Manchester Orchestra.

After that, I got some chicken fingers and bounced over to secure a good spot for Social Distortion (and later Green Day). In that commotion, I listened to a bit of AFI and only really liked the two songs I know from that band.

Social Distortion put on a good show. They're a punk band, but it's like slow punk. It was pretty much the same show I saw at Sokol several months ago. But still good.

The cover songs kept rolling in (never seen this many at a festival) with Social D playing "Under My Thumb" by the Rolling Stones and then their usual version of Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire."

Then it was time to wait for Green Day. I could hear Slightly Stoopid in the background, but nothing really stood out. For me, it was a time to sit on the grass and rest for an hour.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Lolla: A special treat

I was lucky enough to catch a special little show a little while ago.

While I was updating my blog, a couple people ran by saying something about going to see Phoenix. The band is one of the headliners, so I figured they were talking about later tonight until someone muttered something about an acoustic set and they ran off.

Back in the media area, MTV, Spin, Fuse and a bunch of others have tents set up. Fuse, the music cable network, has done a few live shows. Phoenix was set to do one next.

I arrived to find Thomas Mars, Deck D'Arcy, Laurent Brancowitz and Christian Mazzali setting up intstruments and sound checking in a small grass area.

Once everything was a go, a good-looking "rock chick" walked up with a Fuse-branded microphone and introduced the band.

They did only two songs: "1901" and "Lisztomania." It was pretty awesome to see, considering they're not really an acoustic group and there were only about 50 people standing around to watch. Maybe less.

So far, that's the coolest thing I've seen today.

* * *

Sitting and listening to Grizzly Bear right now. I'm going to head to Social Distortion a little later and try to secure a good spot for Green Day.

I'm skipping Spoon because I saw them two weeks ago and skipping Phoenix because I'll be seeing them next Friday (and that little thing earlier).

Lolla: Some kind of '90s vortex

I just got done watching Blues Traveler. I picked them because (this is weird to admit) the band's album, "Four," was the first album that I ever bought. I've listened to it countless times and I could probably draw the cat smoking a doobie from the cover by memory.

Anyway, I'd never seen them live before, so it was pretty cool. They also drew an enormous crowd, the largest I've seen for a non-headliner so far.

Here's where it got very cool, but very weird. After starting with "Run Around," the band went into a cover of Sublime's "What I Got." It was actually pretty faithful to the original, but John Popper added plenty of harmonica.

They worked through a bunch more originals replete with a lot of jamming and solos. Then they started playing something familiar, but I couldn't place it. A few words in, I realize it's Radiohead's "Creep," except with Popper's soaring vocals and a kind of reggae jam beat fueling the song.

Then they ended with "Hook."

Frankly, I felt kind of like a teenager. Every one of those songs made me want to check my phone and make sure I hadn't stumbled into some weird '90s wormhole. It was very cool.

Before that, I caught the Soft Pack, who made the kind of slacker/surf rock you might have heard in a '50s movie with the title "Super Beach Summer" or something equally cheesy. Not bad, but not great.

Then I saw Rogue Wave, who I saw a few weeks ago in Omaha at the Waiting Room. It was pretty much the same sunny, poppy rock with thoughtful lyrics that they did in O-town. Except this time it was in front of 10 times more people.

* * *

I missed the Morning Benders earlier. Oh well. I'm going to head across the fest to see The xx right now. Hopefully they're a little more lively than the last time I saw them.

Lolla: The day has begun; Omaha represents at Lolla

I'm back in the park, but it's early enough that not a lot is really going on. I've checked into the media area really quick to log into my computer and prepare for the day.

I'm planning on hitting up the Morning Benders in a little bit. Then I'll check out the Soft Pack on another festival-goers recommendation (one of the best ways to find a good, new group). After, I'm going to run over to see Rogue Wave and then Blues Traveler.

Then I'm going to trek across the fest for The xx and maybe Grizzly Bear. Then it's a mile back to the other end to hit up Social Distortion and then Green Day. I'm skipping Phoenix (the day's other headliner) because the Frenchies are playing at Stir Concert Cove on Friday and I'm going to that.

It's going to be a fun day. Any recommendations? Drop me a line at kevin.coffey@owh.com.

* * *

Yesterday, I wore my red "Omaha" T-shirt that I bought at Drastic Plastic awhile back.

I got a ton of reaction from it, mostly from random Omaha folks that spotted me. I also ran into a few friends that saw a guy in an Omaha shirt and then realized it was me. Pretty funny.

Today, I'm rocking a Little Brazil shirt. Let's see if anyone recognizes that one. that would be cool.

* * *

Speaking of Omahans, I spotted Dan Brennan onstage yesterday. If you're a regular patron at Slowdown or have seen Cursive before, you've seen Brennan ambling around onstage, hooking up microphones, amps and the like.

Brennan is Slowdown's house sound guy when he's not out doing sound for Cursive. He also played bass in the 1989 Cubs around Omaha.

So what was he doing onstage at Lollapalooza? Doing sound for the New Pornographers. I thought it was pretty cool to see an Omaha guy doing something on that large of a scale. The NPs played to several thousand people yesterday afternoon and Brennan was the guy who made it all sound right.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Lolla: Wrapping up day one

I'm in that post-festival day pain where I kinda want to chop off my own feet. But it was worth it for day one.

At the end of the day, I caught the Black Keys, a few songs from Jimmy Cliff, a few more from Lady Gaga and the Strokes' full headlining set. It meant a ton of walking around (hence the sore feet), but I'll live.

The Black Keys were spectacular, putting on a bluesy, fun, energetic performance with two guys that the Wavves, for one, failed to get even close to with three dudes and a lot of buzz.

Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney whizzed through several songs before bringing in a bassist and keyboard player for some extra thump for new songs including "Everlasting Light" and "My Next Girl." A few songs later, the other dudes left the stage for Auerbach and Carney to finish up.

I marched over to catch Jimmy Cliff, the rock and roll hall of famer that has countless hits. Backed by an 8-piece band, the 62-year-old Cliff has more energy than most of the 20-somethings running around on other stages during the day. Clad in a white jumpsuit, Cliff pushed through a bunch of reggae tunes while he danced, jigged and kicked like a wildman.

I peaced out after a few songs (and before my favorite Cliff tune, "Many Rivers To Cross") to head to the other end of the festival to catch Lady Gaga. One crazy thing going on at Lolla is the seven or so stages, meaning that at any given time, up to four or five groups could be performing at once. It means you really have to pick and choose who you want to see.

For me, it meant skipping the rest of Cliff's set to catch a glimpse of Gaga. She's not exactly my thing, but I do enjoy her and she's really talented. The folks at the fest were all ready for Gaga, covered in spandex, paint, masks, headdresses and all sorts of other weird garb.

Her show was an interesting one for Lolla. Most headliners have a pretty straight up set, the kind of big production with lights and such you'd see at an arena. Gaga's performance was more like a theater production with tons of dancers, stages and set pieces and even a car whose hood opened up and contained a piano.

I caught about four songs, which included "Just Dance" and "I'm A Free Bitch, Baby." It was entertaining, but once again, not really my thing.

The Strokes were a complete contrast. Instead of weird speeches about being a "superfreak," Strokes frontman Julian Casablancas went on about being at Lollapalooza and how excited he was to play their first gig in the States in quite awhile.

They played the usual bouncy Strokes songs, but it was a treat for me because I had never seen them before. Even though they're supposedly making a new album, I didn't notice any new tracks. Then again, I'm not an expert on the band's catalog.

It was a good end to the day and I'm looking forward to tomorrow.

Bands on my list tomorrow: Rogue Wave, Blues Traveler, The xx, Social Distortion, Green Day and a few others.

* * *

I regret saying that I don't have any photos for you. I've been taking a lot of pictures (and video), but having technical difficulties getting them onto my computer from the camera.

Hopefully I can work up a solution tomorrow.

Lolla: Good and not good

As with any music festival, there's been great stuff today, but there's also not-so-good, too.

I just got done seeing the New Pornographers, which was fantastic. The talented ninesome delivered songs from its new album, my favorite being "Moves."

Neko Case looked pretty hilarious with her firey red curls spilling out of a giant, black and white striped floppy hat.

The music is layered and there's plenty of nuance. The harmonies are impeccable. But I feel like, as with any good song, they'd stand solid if it was just a guy (A.C. Newman in this case) and a guitar.

On the other hand, you haveea group like the Fuck Buttons, who are on stage right now. A guy next to me just said "They're good as hell," but I beg to differ. It's synth noise and samples without any real direction. Ugh.

An earlier treat was Jukebox the Ghost. They played Beatles-esque pop rock with a tinge of dancey, Killers to them. They were fun and upbeat and a little bit quirky.

They also did a cover of that '90s pop song that goes thusly: "I love you, always, forever, near and far, close and together..." As I said before, weird, but good.

I also caught the Drive By Truckers. They were solid, but unremarkable. I know people that swear by the band, but I was unimpressed.

Black Keys, Jimmy Cliff, Lady Gaga and The Strokes coming up...

Lolla: First impressions

It's nice to finally be here and I hit up B.O.B. first thing. He's one of the only hip-hop artists on the lineup, really. And he's pretty damn good.

I wasn't as familiar with the first several songs he did, but the end of the set was fabulous.

"Beautiful Girls" was the first one and the crowd knew the whole refrain. After that, Hayley Williams' voice chimed in for "Airplanes," and the crowd went nuts (I might have some video later). B.O.B. had his arms straight out from his sides doing the airplane dance.

I thought that would be it. But a roadie brought B.O.B. an acoustic guitar and he said he wanted to end it woth one of his favorite songs. The first few notes to MGMT's "Kids" came from the stage and the hipsters went batty for it. I'm wondering if MGMT will be able to top it when they play Sunday (or if they'll even do it).

Wavves was next for me and they were pretty lackluster. It"s like the garage rock a surfer would make with lots of "ooooOOOoooo"s going on. All the songs sounded the same to me.

I think I'll go see Jukebox the Ghost now and then Drive-By Truckers.

The only letdown so far is the promised free, park-wide wifi is down. That sucks.

Interesting are the apparent Lady Gaga fans walking around in spandex and masks and stuff. That or they're just weird festival people. Either option is quite possible.

Lollapalooza preview... The action starts today

(To those of you that are new to the blog, welcome. Some of you are new from the recent Conor Oberst/Concert For Equality coverage. Others may have been directed from the World-Herald or Omaha.com. Anyway, I'm happy you're here. I'm in Chicago for Lollapalooza right now, so you're going to hear a lot about that for a few days. Stick around, leave a comment or drop me an e-mail...)

I made it. After some frustrating traffic on I-80 (yes, I drove to Chicago), I arrived in the city last night for Lollapalooza. After seeing a friend perform at Second City, a few beers and some sleep, I'm ready to take on the day.

There are a number of things that I'm excited about, from seeing friends to the food (I hope that Thai stand is open again) to the music.

(Can't make it? Watch a live webcast of acts at the fest starting at 2 p.m. today.)

The Strokes - I've never had the pleasure of seeing the band before, but I've always liked them a lot. I'm hoping they'll drop a little preview of the new album they've been working on.

Food - No, not a band called "Food." I'm actually excited for the food. Vendors here actually have good grub and it's not crazy expensive.

Frightened Rabbit - I gushed so much about these guys during SxSw that they quoted me alongside USA Today in a press release for the band's summer tour. The Scottish band's folk rock has a simplicity to it that allows its distinctly male insecurity and emotion connect with you on quite a real level. Best band I saw at South By and their touring isn't taking them through Omaha. A shame. Good thing I'm seeing them Saturday.

MGMT - But I hope they don't go too heavy on "Congratulations."

New Pornographers - Not a ton of people seemed to like their new album, but I thought it was a helluva lot more accessible than previous efforts. 

Blues Traveler - This is a weird admission, but one of their albums was the first CD that I ever bought. Never seen them live, so I want to catch them this time.

Raybans - I want a pair of Wayfarers, but not enough to spend that much  money on them. Lolla is practically a Rayban convention, so I'm hoping staring at other people wearing them will be enough to satiate my hunger for a pair.

Running into Ben Folds - Seriously, last year I nearly knocked the guy down (on accident) before I realized who it was. Don't think he's playing this year, so maybe I'll have to settle for Julian Casablancas or something.

B.O.B. - One of the few hip-hop acts this year, B.O.B. should be fun to watch. And maybe Eminem will show up for that "Airplanes" song. (But he probably won't.)

Blitzen Trapper - These guys have been to Omaha about five times in the last four years and they're headed to Lincoln next week. But they're really good, especially live.

Expanded grounds - The fest took over even more area at Grant Park and has three entrances (as opposed to two last year, one of which was only open for the first day). It will be nice for things to (hopefully) be less congested.

Photo from Lollapalooza.com.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Lollapalooza: I'm going (again)

Tomorrow morning sometime, I'll be east bound and down, loaded up and truckin', as the song goes. Where am I headed? Chicago for a three-day stint at Lollapalooza.

As usual, I'll have my trusty laptop, camera and phone with me, so you can expect updates via the blog and Twitter. And I'll be posting as many photos as I can each day.

Here's my planned schedule. Take a look at all three days and make suggestions as to who you think I should see. There's more than 100 artists on the full lineup, so I haven't had time to listen to everybody. Drop me a line via e-mail (kevin.coffey@owh.com) or Twitter.

As with any show, if you're going and you see me walking around, please stop me and say "hello."

It's my second year at the fest, so I'm glad I know my way around the grounds and the format. And it will be my third festival weekend in a row after Maha and ConorFest.

It's gonna be fun.

* * *

If you can't make it, there's still a few ways to join in on the fun:

• Watch some of the performances from home. Lollapalooza.com will offer live webcasts of some performances. Check out the site Friday through Sunday to catch those performances.

• Listen to 10 songs from some of the Lolla artists. iTunes is offering a free download of a Lolla sampler featuring Company Of Thieves, Jukebox The Ghost, Minus The Bear, Rogue Wave, Semi Precious Weapons and others. Dig it.