To help assess the year in music, we asked more than a dozens musicians, journalists and scene figures for their favorite albums, songs, shows and events of the year. Today, they tell us which venues and promoters brought the most interesting/significant acts to Nebraska in 2016. Their answers run the gamut, and we are honored to be mentioned among some great, groundbreaking work being done throughout the state.
Read the answers below and check out more from our 2016 year in review here. Tomorrow: up-and-coming acts to watch for in 2017.
Amanda Deboer Bartlett, Omaha Under the Radar
I love what Project Project is doing. Joel Damon is an artist’s artist and he’s comfortable with just a touch (or a lot) of chaos. I look to him whenever I want to do something totally out. He’s so unflappable. It’s great. I’m planning to host more Omaha Under the Radar events there in 2017.
Sleep Sinatra, Lincoln emecee
Bourbon Theatre. Hands down most eclectic line up of various hip-hop shows thus far,from The DJ Abilities show to Freddie Gibbs.
Ginuwine at The Bourbon | photo by James Dean
Salt Creek, Lincoln indie rock
Jacob Darling with Overturn booked our first show. He also continually has supported the underdogs of the DIY touring community, along with running a charity that donates to many local organizations. Very excited that The Commons exists and that some of the best Lincoln shows I’ve seen in a basement this year.
Patrick Nolan, HN editorial contributor
Outside of HN, I think this one has to go to Milk Run for 2016. I mean, they brought Pinegrove, SPORTS and Half Waif in one show to Omaha. Those bands are getting serious traction out here in DC, and we were in at the ground-floor to these bands rise thanks to Milk Run. I look at the calendar and Facebook and everything and it always seems like scrappy Milk Run is pulling the next big thing to their way-too-hot-or-way-too-cold christmas tree light room. (Honorable mentions: MAHA FOR SURE! and Waiting Room because I went to a lot of shows there.)
Sara Bertuldo, See Through Dresses
I saw a lot of great diverse acts amongst so many different venues. Yuck at Lookout, Mild High Club at Reverb, Mumblr at O’Leaver’s, Lucy Dacus at Milk Run.
Lucas Wright, Black Heart Booking
I like what Lookout Lounge and Milk Run are doing to bring good “underground” acts to venues in Omaha. Also, what Kate/Sam have going on at Hi-Fi house is extremely exciting as well.
Magrudergrind at Lookout Lounge | photo by Ben Semisch
Eli Mardock, Vega
1% Percent Productions. They set and raise the bar every year in this market. Joel Henriksen, One Percent Productions/Maha Music Festival
Joel Henriksen, One Percent Productions/Maha Music Festival
I’m slightly biased but the 1% Productions team really killed it this year. Most who know me know I love hip-hop (both good and “bad”) and we had shows from big hip hop acts like Tyler the Creator, Mac Miller, Tory Lanez, A$AP Ferg, Danny Brown, Del the Funky Homosapien, Kool Keith, EPMD, among others. We’ve got some great partners like Rad Kadillac, First Fleet Concerts and Eleven Productions that continue to help bring great shows of any size and genre to the area. We all really brought something for everyone this year.
Mike Huber, HN editorial contributor
Sam Parker, Perpetual Nerves. Dude books all the rockers™ to Omaha, and bless him for it. He also helped book Lincoln Calling, which had great line-ups and generally ruled. He set Guerilla Toss at the Milk Run big room – crazy stuff. Nobody else but Sam brings bands that are on the weird scale.
Jacob Zlomke, Fly Over Media
I never made it there because I’m a boring homebody who groans about driving to Omaha, but Milk Run was probably the most exciting venue in 2016. I’m also really bad about checking out up-and-coming acts, but bands would be recommended to me by my cool friends, then appear at Milk Run a couple weeks later, which seems like a good thing. It also feels like Milk Run is really active about principles that are important in an arts scene — inclusivity, diversity, experimentation.
Crypt Kid at Milk Run | photo by Cruise Curtis
Marq Manner, Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards
Kate Dussault and the Hi-Fi House is easily doing the most interesting booking. From intimate shows with legends to local listening parties-this has been the unique get for our scene in 2016.
Andrew Samson, HN editorial contributor
The Hi-Fi House hosted Tommy Stinson in August. I stood in a room with approximately 85-100 people listening to him play. It was such an emotional, intimate, religious experience for me. Standing next to Tommy Stinson as he played songs that I had been listening to for years was amazing. Usually, the mythos gets taken when you meet some of your heroes. Tommy Stinson was a rare exception. Hi-Fi house is doing some amazing things and bringing in some big names for intimate events. Kate Dussault is really putting her entire being into that place and the love and warmth that comes out is so evidently a part of the people that put those events together.
Kelly Langin, Milk Run
I might be pretty biased but Milk Run (which I now help manage) hosts such a variety of large and smaller touring acts while also keeping the focus on local music. Milk Run keeps a steady schedule of exciting performers and it’s all thanks to the community of DIY promoters and Sam Parker with Perpetual Nerves (who also owns Milk Run). I also enjoyed Reverb Lounge a lot this year. I got to see hardcore bands, like Bent Life and Show Me the Body, and the Weezer, Queens of the Stone Age, and No Doubt cover show with Salt Creek, Timecat, and MadDog and the 20/20s was so much fun.
Mark Hayden, HN editorial contributor
I could always count on The Waiting Room for shows in 2016. There was good variety, too. I caught everything from hip-hop, alt-country, hard rock, to folk. My favorite show there this year was Black Pistol Fire, from Canada. The guitar-drums duo puts on an entertaining, high-energy show.
Edem Soul Music
The Slowdown brought the son of the famous and Late Fela Kuti to Omaha Nebraska! Femi Kuti was a killer show, and I was so honored to have opened for him!
Rebecca Lowry, All Young Girls Are Machine Guns
I think Hear Nebraska, in conjunction with Sam Parker, Spencer Munson, and a number of others wins that honor this year. Lincoln Calling, from beginning to end, was hands down one of the best large scale events this state has seen in the last decade. Better Friend was paired with Screaming Females, Black Jonny Quest with Allan Kingdom (hell, Friday night’s whole hip hop lineup was mind blowing), Anna McClellan with Annalibera with White Mystery, someone gave Raws Schlesinger (Plack Blague) his own showcase, and there wasn’t a boring bill the entirety of the three nights in Lincoln, Nebraska. I tip my hat. Way to gamble. (That’s not even digging into the Good Living Tour lineup, Hear Grand Island, or any of the smaller events like Beer Nebraska.)
Dan McCarthy, McCarthy Trenching
Lincoln Calling. (I’m not just kissing your ass, HN. Look at all those interesting and significant acts!)
Domo Genesis at Lincoln Calling | photo by Andrew Dickinson
Graham Ulicny, Thick Paint/The Faint
Absolutely without a doubt Sam Parker and the Milk Run folks. I wish i was more in the loop because I know there are more folks there who deserve lots of credit. They are definitely bringing interesting music to Omaha. Also big shout out to Brothers Lounge for hosting many an incredible show this year!
Wagon Blasters perform at Brothers Lounge for Speed! Nebraska’s 20th anniversary | photo by Tarah Dawdy
Jason Steady, Wolf Dealer
Milk Run. I’m old and I came up in that golden era of the Cog Factory. Pre-internet, all-ages, hands-on DIY, and Milk Run is basically that. Scenes aren’t built on bars or different combinations of the same cool kids. As long as it’s open, any cool shit that happens is going to start right there.
Miwi LaLupa, Omaha singer/songwriter
Milk Run/O’Leaver’s – There are always bands and artists that are off my radar. I get turned on to music I never would have heard. That’s cool.
Mothers plays O’Leaver’s | photo by Adam LaRose
Marcey Yates, Raleigh Science Project
I would say between Maha and Hear Nebraska they had the most interesting and significant. Maha Music Festival brings so many together and has a balance of high level indie artist. And Hear Nebraska puts on amazing event,tours and festivals like Lincoln Calling which had some heavy hitters.
Jacob Darling, The Commons LNK
This is such a difficult question for me to answer because there are so many hardworking individuals who really killed it with booking this year to make the Nebraska scene pop in such an awesome way this year! I would have to say Milk Run did a lot to continue the good work of strengthening the Nebraska scene on the national map. There were some truly incredible acts that came through the doors of Milk Run this year and I know how incredibly hard all the people that help there work.
James Dean, HN photo contributor
I can’t really pick one particular venue. I’ve seen great acts all over the place. Highlights would include Bonnie Raitt and Paul SImon at Pinewood Bowl, PWR BTTM at Milk Run, David Bazan at Reverb, and Basia Bulat at The Waiting Room.
PWR BTTM at Milk Run | photo by Lauren Farris