by Michael Todd
I’ve heard it said that humility is like underwear: essential, but indecent if it shows. Blind Pilot might have forgotten they were wearing any Tuesday night at The Waiting Room since what stands out is their cursory devotion to opener Brad Hoshaw and the Seven Deadlies. That and nearly perfect performances of their nearly perfect songs.
It’s true, though. Brad Hoshaw is something to behold, as those who have seen him know. He’s got a voice like summer rain in the midst of an afternoon thunderstorm, all warm and soft but belied by the thunder and lightning behind it. Then to mention he’s Omaha’s songwriter of the year three times over (with results for this year’s Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards on the way), well, we’ve got something to raise a fuss about ourselves.
He’s the kind of musician who has songs you would want to hang out with. They’re well-composed without any affectations, entirely true to themselves. And Brad seems to be captivated by their company, too. He has a wistful stare on stage right out of your favorite Vietnam novel, like he’s seen something he can tell you only through a certain chord progression and arrangement of words.
His guitarist might gesticulate like a Sims character slashing your concentration on that stare, but even so, the Seven Deadlies are likely to shoot down your heart. All together, it’s no surprise Israel Nebeker, lead singer of Blind Pilot, took the in-between-song opportunity to share a revelation, paraphrased here:
“When I was growing up and Saddle Creek was just getting big, I thought I had to move to Omaha. Turns out, I ended up in Portland, but after seeing that first band, I think I might have made the wrong choice.”
From the looks of it, Omaha would gladly take Blind Pilot in, too. Just a couple smoke-monster-like swells of feedback nuzzled their way into a great mix that cleared the way for Israel’s words that had the crowd swooning. Even his banjo- and dulcimer-laden backing vocalist Kati Claborn couldn’t help but steal a glance sideways and smile furtively on the best line from “Oviedo”: “But there were nights in bars that I recall / Your breath was courage laced with alcohol / You leaned in, and you said / ‘Make music with the chatter in here / Whisper all the notes in my ears.’”
Pop culture again dispelled some of the magic like it did with Brad Hoshaw, though. Dave Jorgensen couldn’t help but remind me of the ever-smiling Bob from Enzyte commercials. It was no fault of his, a musician just caught up in the joy of playing wonderful songs to a receptive audience.
Bassist Luke Ydstie once again praised Brad Hoshaw and the Seven Deadlies before the band closed out their set with a new song, “We Are The Tide.” It’s a new direction for a band with a new album dropping Sept. 13, a tribal drum-driven, sing-loud-and-joyfully tune. And after the encore, Blind Pilot ended the night with an intimate retelling of “Three Rounds and a Sound,” unplugged and sung on the floor with the crowd.
Here’s hoping Israel finds it within himself to take his own words without a grain of salt and move to Omaha. Wishful thinking maybe, but I can hope, can’t I?
Michael Todd is a summer intern for Hear Nebraska. Thanks to Brad Hoshaw for sharing the video of his own music embedded above. Reach Michael at firstname.lastname@example.org.