Run The Jewels, Belle and Sebastian, The Faint top Maha lineup; Staff, writers look back at a decade of The Waiting Room; A Q&A with comedian Kyle Dunnigan

Run The Jewels, Belle and Sebastian, The Faint top Maha lineup

Oh my. Maha has released its 2017 lineup and it’s a doozy.

Run The Jewels, Belle & Sebastian and The Faint topped the festival’s eagerly-awaited announcement, which it made Thursday night via video compilation for a packed and buzzing Reverb Lounge.

In all, eleven acts will perform at Maha’s ninth-annual day-long Stinson Park concert. The national assembly includes Sleigh Bells, The New Pornographers (editor’s note: *fist pump*), Built To Spill, Torres, Surfer Blood and Priests, while High Up and The Hottman Sisters comprise Omaha’s delegation.

As a headliner, Run The Jewels feels like one of the surest things in Maha history. The hip-hop superduo of El-P and Killer Mike exploded into the national consciousness in 2013 and have grown progressively more popular since. It’s most recent release, Run The Jewels 3, was critically heralded as its “manifesto” by Pitchfork, which also named it “best new music.” They’ve also spent time in the political spotlight, most visibly for their songs’ unabashed lyrical content and Killer Mike’s public meetings with and endorsement of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders during his Democratic primary campaign.

Local reaction has been strong thus far. The din of conversation at Reverb skipped a beat when the hip-hop duo’s name flashed across the screen, and the internet has been alight ever since. Down the card, there are certainly some legacy indie acts befitting of Maha’s style. And High Up and The Hottman Sisters certainly feel like obvious choices capable of holding their own on a stage with serious star power.

We’ll dive into Maha’s lineup again before the show goes on Saturday, Aug 19. RSVP here and find tickets here.

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Staff, writers look back at a decade of The Waiting Room

photo by Lauren Farris

My first show at The Waiting Room was Local Natives, September 30, 2010. It was pre-renovation, if I remember correctly, but that was never the kind of thing a college-aged concertgoer cared about (my home was in worse shape). I remember being surrounded by tons of people, many of them close friends, singing along and vocalist Taylor Rice’s honest look of surprise that anybody knew the words.

What’s nice about a venue like The Waiting Room, one at which I’ve experienced so many memorable and personally meaningful shows, is that it will always exist as their backdrop, inextricable from the experience itself.

But I am hardly the person to give insight into the venue’s strong 10 year run, the anniversary of which it has celebrated in kind all month long. From day one, it has brought a consistent stream of nationally touring acts and hosted countless great local shows. Along the way, it’s been a second home for those who run it, from top to bottom.

Read on as staff (and Lazy-i blogger Tim McMahan) share their fondest memories and favorite shows. Cheers to the next 10 years.

Dana Buchheit

What is your role/relation to TWR?
I have the penthouse office, and I’m pretty much always here. I handle the marketing, websites, ticketing, bookkeeping, payroll, & many other random things around the bar.

What was your first show at TWR?
The Faint – friends & family show. Opening weekend – 3/11/07.

What was your favorite show there?
I have so many great show memories here.. it’s hard to pick a favorite! The Cursive residency a couple of Decembers ago was rad. I didn’t grow up in Omaha, so I didn’t get into too many of the Omaha bands until later than most. I also loved the Taking Back Sunday show this past fall.

How about a fond moment or memory?
Meeting Bill Clinton. It was 3/4/16. He was there campaigning for Hillary … the day before the Nebraska Democratic Caucus. Someone from Hillary For America called the day before the event to see if we could possibly accommodate an event like this. About an hour after he called, he stopped by to check out the venue. A few hours later, secret service was here scoping out things and making their plan. The day of the event was hectic, but very interesting! We set up press risers in front of the bar, and we had to clear the building for a bomb dog to come through. Cecile Richards introduced him, and then he spoke for awhile. We ended up being full at The Waiting Room so we had an overflow room at Reverb. On his way out, he walked through our office to pop into Reverb to say a quick hello to the overflow guests. We got to exchange some quick hellos & grab a photo. Sometimes a show every day can be monotonous, but having a former President here was intense and so exciting. I was very interested in the entire process.

John Balkovic

What is your role/relation to TWR?
Production Manager

What was your first show at TWR?
The Faint on Sunday March 11, 2007

What was your favorite show there?
This was a really tough one for me cause Ive seen so many great shows at Waiting Room and its hard to remember them all. But my most recent favorite show would have to be Every Time I Die last weekend. The show was full of so much energy and watching the band feed off the energy was amazing plus the members of Every Time I Die where so humbling and nice.

How about a fond moment or memory?
This is another tough one for me since I’ve been working with Jim and Marc for so long. The one memory that keeps popping in my head is kind of before the waiting room opened. It was after the Shiny Toy Guns show, Jim had brought me and a friend to check out the future space location of the waiting room lounge. Its pretty crazy to remember what it looked like that night to what it looks like now.

Kevin Morgan

What is your role/relation to TWR?
I have been a bartender at TWR since we opened in 2007

What was your first show at TWR?
Art In Manila 3/9/2007

What was your favorite show there?
He’s My Brother She’s My Sister. It was a middle of the week show that no one really knew about. There was maybe 75 people or so in attendance. Probably disheartening for a touring band from LA, but they killed it anyway. Also there were only 2 bartenders working, myself and Dave Syslo who has since passed away. We had a good time together as coworkers, and friends and got paid to see a great show. Not a bad deal.

How about a fond moment or memory?
It has been and continues to be a privilege to work for a place that has had such a positive impact on Benson. I grew up in Benson and always knew it had the potential to become what it has. The Waiting Room gave new life to a neighborhood that needed it. I am proud to be a part of that.

Joel Henriksen

What is your role/relation to TWR?
I am a man of many roles at The Waiting Room. I handle booking, box office, and stagehand / production assistant roles as well.

What was your first show at TWR?
The first show I ever saw at The Waiting Room was The New Pornographers in 2011.

What was your favorite show there?
My favorite show was probably The Head and The Heart in October 2011. Pretty cool to see a band like that grew from a sold out show at The Waiting Room to selling out large theaters across the country.

How about a fond moment or memory?
They are a lot of work but I’ve enjoyed working our larger outdoor events like Memorial Day Massive and the Food Truck Rodeo. Great to see our small team collaborate to put on events for thousands of people.

Tim McMahan

What is your role/relation to TWR?
I have no relation other than as a patron and music journalist who has covered the Omaha music scene since the early ’90s. I’ve interviewed a lot of artists who have played on the Waiting Room’s stage since it opened a decade ago for The Reader. I’ve also reviewed every show I’ve attended for Lazy-i.com.

What was your first show at The Waiting Room?
The first show they hosted, on March 9, 2007.

What was your favorite show there?
Very hard to say since I’ve seen so many. The first one that jumps out is The Faint show held there just a couple days after they opened, March 11, 2007. Other favorites that stood out off the top of my head include St. Vincent, July 25, 2007 — Annie Clark on lead guitar fronting a punk band, she’s never sounded better; Monotonix Oct. 7, 2008 — the band took the show outside when drummer Ran Shimoni banged on a snare while frontman Ami Shalev climbed a traffic signal pole along Maple Street; the first Future Islands show in November 2011 — no one had heard of them and only a handful of people were there, but frontman Sam Herring was at his flamboyant best; and Stephen Malmus & the Jicks Feb. 16, 2014 — where there was a special guest appearance by Bob Nastanovich, making it a mini Pavement reunion.

How about a fond moment or memory?
The Waiting Room seamlessly replaced Sokol Underground as the place to see indie rock shows in Omaha, thanks in part to the fact that Marc and Jim booked both venues. That said, TWR was a huge step up in quality of venue, bar and sound system over Sokol Underground, while managing to keep a “lived in” feel (vs. The Slowdown, which was shiny and new).

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Photo Coverage: Johnathan Richman at The Waiting Room

Speaking of The Waiting Room, HN contributor Harrison Martin stopped by the venue Thursday to catch singer/songwriter Jonathan Richman. Richman is the founder of 1970s proto-punk band The Modern Lovers, under which he released seven studio albums before going solo and dishing out 15 more. His most recent is 2016 album Ishkode! Ishkode!

See Martin’s photos

Photos by Harrison Martin

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Ryan de la Garza interviews comedian Kyle Dunnigan

[Editor’s note: the following interview, conducted by Omaha comedian Ryan de la Garza, previews Kyle Dunnigan’s Omaha show Tuesday, April 4 at Slowdown. 7 p.m. doors, $10, RSVP here.]

My first exposure to Kyle Dunnigan was through his character Craig Pullin AKA “The Truckee River Killer” on Comedy Central’s police lampoon “Reno 911!” As the serial killer boyfriend of Deputy Trudy Wiegel (Kerri Kenney), Dunnigan’s Pullin managed to be both creepy and charming at the same time, a dynamic he maintains in a number of his artistic efforts to a great degree of comedic success.

The multi-talented Dunnigan is not only an actor, but also a musician, Emmy Award-winning writer for “Inside Amy Schumer,” and as he will display at the Slowdown on April 4th, a very funny stand up comedian.

I had the opportunity to interview Kyle Dunnigan about his life and career with mostly softball questions and a little “gotcha” journalism to spice things up. My aimless interrogation and his thoughtful answers are below.


RdlG: Hi Kyle, I decided not to call you for this interview because I didn’t want to figure out how to record a phone call. What’s the worst interview you’ve ever had besides this one?

KD: Nothing jumps out. I usually get the same questions: How did you get into comedy? What’s it like dating Sarah Silverman? Do you guys joke all the time? I can’t wait to find out if you ask me those!

RdlG: This is a publication dedicated mostly to music so I feel compelled to ask if you have any favorite musical acts from Omaha? If your answer is Conor Oberst, how do you feel about the fact that he hates Chipotle?

KD: My answer is in fact Conor Oberst. He’s entitled to his opinion on Chipotle, although I would add … has he tried the chicken bowl?

RdlG: You wrote and directed a pilot called “Shit Kids” which is about the effects of “boundaryless parenting.” How different was the parenting style you experienced from that of the “Shit Kids” themselves and if you had to murder your parents how would you do it?

KD: I was raised with boundary full parenting.  I love my parents so if I were to murder them (dad already dead so hard to re-murder), but I would do it humanely. Probably pills and gentle whispers in their ears.

RdlG: You won an Emmy for your song “Girl, You Don’t Need Makeup” which you wrote for “Inside Amy Schumer.” There’s a part during the song where one of the boy band boys mentions being high when his niece was born. Is this based on personal experience? What’s your greatest “being high” regret?

KD: The lyrics were written by the whole writing staff and I believe that line was from Tammy Sagher. My biggest high regret was in NYC. I was given chocolate and ended up face down on the sidewalk for 20 minutes unable to move. Fun!

RdlG: You were on Pete Holmes podcast “You Made It Weird” in 2015 and stated that you agree with everything Bill Maher says. Since then, has your opinion shifted in regard to Maher’s statements? If you had to officiate his and Milo’s wedding, what advice would you give them for marital success?

KD: Oh, I didn’t know he was getting married. Mazel tov. My advice is don’t have sex with other people. And yes, I still unfortunately agree with pretty much everything he says.  

RdlG: You’re known for your Donald Trump impersonation on the Howard Stern show. If you had to fight Anthony Atamanuik and Alec Baldwin to the death in order to perform as Trump at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, who do you think would win and why?

KD: I’m pretty squirrely. Very cat-like which I think they would have trouble with. So me.

RdlG: Craig is one of your most notable characters and was portrayed as a serial killer on “Reno 911.” Did he keep trophies from his kills? If you yourself were a serial murderer, what kind of trophies would you keep?

KD: Hmmm. Tough one. Probably keep hair. I think at one point we’ll be able to clone someone with hair DNA, so I could clone them and then re-kill them which would be cool.

RdlG: You’ve stated that you like to be goofy in your act even though it’s “not in” right now and have cited Dana Carvey as one of your inspirations in this regard. Are there any newer comics you’ve seen who you feel embody this same sense of goofiness? Is one of them Josh Fadem? If not, WHY NOT?

KD: I don’t know Josh Fadem, but if he’s goofy I’d probably like him. I like Brian Reagan a lot.

RdlG: I found a review of a performance you did in Omaha several years ago that was positive but had even more to say about the venue’s chicken fingers than your stand up. What is the most useless feedback you’ve been given after a show? Also, did you try the chicken fingers? Were they good?

KD: In terms of feedback, I remember someone once told me to be more like Jim Carey. That didn’t really help me. In terms of chicken fingers, yes they were excellent!

RdlG: Thank you for answering my questions. I look forward to seeing you live and am wondering lastly if you have any advice for the aspiring local comedians in Omaha, most of whom aren’t as terrible as you would imagine.

KD: I wish someone told me to keep doing what I found funny. It’s easy to get off track. byyyyeeee!

Ryan de la Garza (@ofthegarza) is a stand-up comedian living in Omaha. He is a member of OK Party Comedy and hosts the monthly interactive chat show “You Had to Be There” (@Had2BeThereShow). It was recently featured at the Bridgetown Comedy Festival in Portland, Oregon.

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Concert Round-Up

Milk Run reopens tonight in its new location, the basement of Midtown Art Supply. Denver band Atlas plays with locals Mint Wad Willy, the Dereck Higgins Experience and Jack McLaughlin. 9 p.m., $7, RSVP here.

Also tonight, Omaha singer/songwriter Electricradbolt releases her debut EP at The Down Under Lounge with Dr Webb, Aly Peeler and Kristen Taylor. 7 p.m. $5, 21-plus, RSVP here.

 

Tomorrow, Voodoo Glow Skulls comes to Lookout Lounge with Omaha acts The Shidiots, HeatWaves, Graveyard Smash and Noizewave. The Riverside, California ska-punk band has been at it since 1988, releasing 10 studio albums with the likes of Victory and Epitaph. 7 p.m., $10, all-ages, RSVP here.

View a fuller listing of the weekend shows at our statewide calendar here. Email us with news tips, story ideas and new music. Follow us on Twitter/Instagram @hearnebraska.

Andrew Stellmon is Hear Nebraska's managing editor. Reach him with news tips and story ideas at news@hearnebraska.org.