by Jeremy Buckley | photos by Andrew Lamberson
I like The Machete Archive as a promoter because it’s easy to promote them. You put their name on a poster, people will be at the show. I like The Machete Archive as a music fan because when I watch them play, they make performing look so easy that they intimidate me like a pretty girl would. I like them as friends because they’ve always made me think that they’re nothing less than completely appreciative that they can share their talents wiith the public at large.
Thanks for the good times, Ian, Saber and Ryan. I will chat with you more in person about my memories of house shows, not getting iced and Roman numerals. For the rest of you, get your ass to their last show on Saturday, Aug. 25 with UUVVWWZ and Jodie Loves Hinckley. Duffy's Tavern, no cover. History will be made and a lot of Instagram action will take place. Here's some thoughts from friends and family:
Timothy Perry Carr:
I'll never forget the house show they played years ago where Matt Hova and the boys rigged up a system where they all had headphones and were wired up so that each member played on a different level of the house. It was awesome to watch how they all were still able to kill it without being in the same room let alone the same floor to feed off of each other.
I have played with, and seen these dudes play dozens of times but this house show was especially memorable. It reminded me of how truly talented they are as musicians, and how fun they are to watch. It's not easy being in an instrumental band and be able to keep people's attention and stay fresh, but this was super innovative in my eyes. Plus, they are all so darn cute. Can't wait for the reunion shows in a few years.
They're one of those bands that you're still excited to see no matter how many of their sets you've been to in the past. Even those who don't get as into prog rock can appreciate a Machete set, if only just to see the tornado of hair (since cut), legs and bass that is Saber Blazek, flying around the stage like a wild-man.
One thing that's impossible to deny is how tight their onstage dynamic is. I'm not sure how many times I've seen them play, but I can tell you that IF they ever missed a beat, I didn't notice. The energy of their set is palpable in the air and more than makes up for any want of lyrics listeners may have. I was saddened to hear they won't be playing anymore.
After I saw Saber Blazek spaz out playing bass at Maha, I knew that playing bass and standing still would never be enough for me. Doubtful I'll ever achieve his level of weirdness, but I'll keep on trying.
I met Ian Francis over 10 years ago. We sat together in the back of a history class at UNL. I remember the moment like it was yesterday. He sat, rapping sticks off the course book with headphones on and a Phish logo emblazoned across his black shirt. He didn't care that I was trying to make small talk; he was just doing his own thing. I thought he was the coolest motherfucker I ever met (besides the Phish thing). A few months passed and we became friends. I asked him to join a band I was in, one which you have never heard of, and while I don't remember how he responded, I do remember the tone of it. "Yeah, sure. I don't have much of anything else going on," or something like that.
Ryan Thomas was introduced to me by my future brother-in-law when I was asked to play in another one of those bands-you've-never-heard-of type things around 2002. Quiet and complicated, Ryan Thomas was absolutely the most impressive musician I had met to that point. Watching RT play his PRS (which I often mocked due to my association of his guitar with Creed or other NuMetal bands) makes me happy. I don't know why this is. At it's root, it's simply a musician playing guitar. Yet I know that RT emotes better when he's holding his guitar than he ever could without.
I feel like I have a pretty good grasp on what people are thinking and can react accordingly. I have to hand it to RT, I'm always slightly uncomfortable around him. I never know what he's going to say.
At a particular moment in time, I was playing in The Golden Age and wanted to play a more aggressive style of music. I asked Ian and RT to join my new band, which got its name from the changeable letter sign outside The Q. Everytime I went to practice, I felt like the luckiest person in the world. Their professional musicianship (and my thorough lack thereof) and incredible ability to transform the terrible music I had been writing into something listenable inspired me to compare them to Keith Moon and John Entwistle in an unprinted interview with The Daily Nebraskan. I honestly think I kept that band going as long as I did solely because I just wanted to hear those two play together as long as possible.
A few months after I moved to Omaha, I was told they had started a new band together. I heard they were playing in Omaha, so I went and saw it. Oh my Gawd. It was unlike anything I had ever heard. Adding to the band the most musical and ungodly talented bassist in America was the icing on the cake. I was stunned at how amazing it was.
A few months ago, we were scrambling to find a drummer to head to SXSW. I've often said that if I could play with any drummer, it would be Ian Francis, and I finally was able to put my money where my mouth is.
I'm bummed they're calling it a day. I think Nebraska needs them. There's going to be a pretty massive void left by the three of the most technical, nuanced and dynamic musicians in the Midwest. All three are in such demand to play in other bands that as time wore on, I'm sure their practice and writing schedule suffered. But their live shows never did. That's how good they are.
But hey, A Farewell Show For Megan never officially broke up. Maybe we could play one last show, you know?
My favorite part of being in Machete was getting to be in a group where we challenged each other. We would work through pieces a few measures at a time and work on how our parts correlated with each other. RT would often ask me to explain why I was doing what I was doing and we would think logically about what was the most appropriate thing to do for that section. We tried to be logical and deliberate in what we were doing and not just making noise... most of the time.
I enjoyed a lot of aspects of being in Machete. I guess, though, I would have to say performing. I feel so free and alive when I play. The energy that I felt from the music and the people watching was indescribable and through that experience, I've met a lot of amazing people and traveled all over the country. It's been a very important part of my life that I will never be able to replace. I'm really going to miss it.