photos by Lindsay Trapnell | story Andrew Norman
The concert Satuday, Jan. 28 at DP Muller Photography formed simply: The women fronting UUVVWWZ, The Wayward Little Satan Daughters and Howard came together to “make a show.” They produced a kick-ass zine and T-shirts specifically for the night. And they were kind enough to let Hear Nebraska call it a birthday celebration, as well, after we (really, I) had neglected to actually book a concert to commemorate our first year in existence. With paper chains hanging from the studio’s track lighting and giant Nebraska-shaped cookies, the space felt intimate, personal and familial.
It was also packed.
People crammed into every inch of the space — especially for young Omaha trio Howard, whose keyboard-driven dance rock and blunt-banged frontwoman Anna McClellan made me excited that we may be starting to see some of the next-next-next generation of Nebraska bands, those influenced by the crème of today’s crop. And, though I was running the door and never got a chance to cut through the horde to see how they performed, I was impressed by the band’s surprisingly mature sound, and quickly understood why I’ve been hearing so much about Howard recently. I recommend downloading the band’s eight-track debut immediately.
Next up was The Wayward Little Satan Daughters — Melissa Amstutz and Rachel Tomlinson Dick from Honeybee & Hers. I’m not sure what made me think this was going to be a rather mellow band — perhaps I was thinking of Tomlinson Dick’s other side project, Horse Feather. Either way, the song I made my way up to the front of the crowd to see reminded me more of X-Ray Spex. It was a raw, emotional, pithy punk song featuring Amstutz on drums and Tomlinson on electric guitar, both sharing screaming vocals. Nebraska music needs more confident frontwomen like these two.
But closing the show was perhaps the state’s best frontperson: UUVVWWZ’s Teal Gardner. I’ve seen the new incarnation of UU a few times since Dave Ozinga replaced now-Australian explorer Tom Ambroz on drums. And this was the first time I thought they’d reached the point they were at with their music in 2010 when they went on about a year’s hiatus. The new songs — and they only play new songs — are fantastic. They’re the same kind of weird, poppy rockers you’d find on their 2009 self-titled album. But they seem catchier and even more dynamic. Word is Saddle Creek is putting out their next album, too. That can’t come soon enough.
During maybe the second-to-last song, a guy pushed his way to the of the floor stage, shoved a few people around, dropped his head and started working up a one-man mosh as people standing near him began pointing their elbows at him in defense. Gardner saw this happening and moved toward him, putting her hand to his face to get his attention before starting to sway and coax and lull him into submission. I couldn’t help but smile as she charmed this snake, putting her head next to his while singing into the mic as if she were playing a flute, never once missing a beat. It was no doubt comforting to the people standing near this guy, who quickly lost whatever aggression he’d approached her with.
If this performance was any indication, UUVVWWZ clearly is ready to hypnotize the country’s indie scene.
Andrew Norman is Hear Nebraska's editor. He's been listening to X-Ray Spex all day. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.