review by Michael Todd | photos by Matt Masin
It was time to kill time. After speaking to the good folks of the Friends of KRNU at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Andersen Hall, and after wings with family in town, I headed to UNL's City Union to knock out the audio portion of The Lepers' performance at Lincoln Calling, which will be featured in a video to be published next week.
Then I found Satchel Grande. Yes, I'd seen the posters marking Oct. 18 as the day Omaha's funkiest band of white guys in BluBlockers would play a ballroom at the City Union. But I failed to mark it down on the schedule for reference. Back then, I was pleasantly surprised that the University Program Council had booked the group, and last night, I was pleasantly reminded of their reaching out to local music as I walked in to see this:
A little empty, and those two standing at the back toward the left look a little stiff, huh? (Those are cardboard cutouts of Mitt Romney and Barack Obama.) UPC is a bit notorious for booking acts and planning events that don't draw enough students to make the money spent worth them. Going back a few years, about nine to be exact, it was UPC that led in part to the first Lincoln Calling, as the festival's organizer, Jeremy Buckley, explains here:
Just today, the Daily Nebraskan reported on the disappointment of UPC's Headphone Disco at the Bourbon Theatre on Oct. 5 and the larger story of low student engagement with events. While UPC deserves to be held accountable as it handles a large budget that this academic year totals $200,729 and next year increases to $205,734, the booking of Satchel Grande — and the small but receptive crowd that attended — is a step in the right direction.
More of an opinion piece than a concert review, this serves as a digital high five to those working for UPC. It's admirable to host an event that also welcomes both senatorial candidates — with Bob Kerrey speaking, and Lt. Gov. Rick Sheehy representing the Deb Fischer campaign — in an attempt to raise awareness for state elections, especially as voter registration deadlines approach: Today for mail-in voters and next Friday, Oct. 26 at 6 p.m. for in-person voters.
But equally if not more important to us at Hear Nebraska is the attempt to book local acts that deserve students' attention. If you haven't heard, HN is a nonprofit organization seeking to cultivate, document and disseminate the state's thriving music community and creative class across digital platforms. And to see 50 or so students clapping along to Satchel Grande, with some singing along, is good indication that with proper promotion and a gradually rising interest for local music within the student body, UPC can help HN achieve our mission.
Chances are, too, that both Satchel Grande and opening act Solid Gold didn't charge anything exorbitant for their performances. While bigger name acts should still be booked to appeal to a mainstream audience — and hopefully make the approximately $4-$5 per-semester fees worth it for a good percentage of UNL students — work toward supporting local music as well will benefit both students and UPC's budget.
Thank you, UPC, for bringing the funk.
Michael Todd is Hear Nebraska's managing editor. He wonders what great Nebraska band he'll come across by chance next. Reach him at email@example.com.