Benson First Friday Femme Fest releases schedule; Coverage: Conor Oberst plays downtown Grand Island; Eros and the Eschaton’s ‘Weight Of Matter’ out today; Maha this weekend, Hear Grand Island rescheduled

Benson First Friday Femme Fest releases schedule

Benson First Friday Femme Fest has released the performance schedule for its second year of celebrating inclusivity.

CJ Mills headlines the sophomore festival, which takes place in eight venues throughout Omaha’s Benson neighborhood Friday, Sept. 2. More than 50 acts will perform, all of which feature at least one female performer. It is organized by Rebecca Lowry (Beckstraodinary Productions), Emily Cox (E3 Music Management) and Molly Welsh (Boombox Productions).

The evening begins and ends at The Waiting Room, where Omaha Girls Rock group Lions, Tigers and Babes will kick things off at 6:30 p.m. with All Young Girls Are Machine Guns. Music runs throughout the neighborhood until 12:35 a.m., when Mills will close the night on The Waiting Room stage.

While not without some precedent, Femme Fest is the first in-state festival of its kind on this scale. Other festivals have hosted venue lineups or individual showcases featuring women in music, but not throughout their entirety.

New this year, one nonprofit organization will host each venue. They include Omaha Girls Rock, Hear Nebraska, Nebraska Writers Collective, 89.3 KZUM, Planned Parenthood and Benson First Friday. The trio of Omaha Zine Fest, League of Women Voters and Girls Rock Pine Ridge set up shop at The Waiting Room, while The Badland Girls host Barley Street Tavern.

Advance tickets are available for $10 here. View the entire schedule below (asterisks denote all-ages venues) and RSVP here.

The Waiting Room Lounge*

6:30 – 7:20: OPENING CEREMONY :: All Young Girls Are Machine Guns/Omaha Girls Rock
7:30 – 8:05: KMK
8:15 – 8:50: Mary Ruth McLeay
9:00 – 9:35: The Hottman Sisters
9:45 – 10:20: Dani Cleveland
10:30 – 11:05: Lexi Robles
11:15 – 11:50: La Guerre (Lawrence, KS)
12:00 – 12:35: High Up
12:45 – 1:30: CJ Mills

Reverb Lounge*

7:30 – 8:05: Blue Bird
8:15 – 8:50: Field Club
9:00 – 9:35: Edem Soul Music
9:45 – 10:20: Keiria Marsha’
10:30 – 11:05: Lady Scientist
11:15 – 11:50: DJ P2K
12:00 – 12:35: SharkWeek

The Barley Street Tavern

7:30 – 8:05: The Shineys
8:15 – 8:50: Badland Girls
9:00 – 9:35: Annie Dilocker
9:45 – 10:20: White Bee (Detroit, MI)
10:30 – 11:05: Tara Vaughan
11:15 – 11:50: Briner
12:00 – 12:35: Kait Berreckman Music


9:00 – 9:35: PYRATE
9:45 – 10:20: The Clocks
10:30 – 11:05: The Morbs
11:15 – 11:50: Muscle Cousins
12:00 – 12:35: Universe Contest

SoundCheck Rehearsal Studio*

7:30 – 8:05: Soul Tree
8:15 – 8:50: The Ronnys
9:00 – 9:35: Calling Cody
9:45 – 10:20: Molly Gaughan & The Dustbunnies
10:30 – 11:05: Tiny Monsters
11:15 – 11:50: Edge Of Arbor
12:00 – 12:35: Pleiades & the Bear

Burke’s Pub

7:30 – 8:05: Ragged Company
8:15 – 8:50: The Toppings
9:00 – 9:35: The Ragabonds
9:45 – 10:20: 24 Hour Cardlock
10:30 – 11:05: Dammit Daniel
11:15 – 11:50: Wagon Blasters
12:00 – 12:35: The Electroliners

Pizza Shoppe Collective*

7:30 – 8:05: Aly Peeler
8:15 – 8:50: Emily Ward
9:00 – 9:35: Cat Deluca
9:45 – 10:20: Wendy & The Lost Boys
10:30 – 11:05: Virginia Tanous
11:15 – 11:50: Belles & Whistles

The Sydney

7:30 – 8:05: DOOM BLADE
8:15 – 8:50: Shen Teh Music (La Crosse, WI)
9:00 – 9:35: No Thanks
9:45 – 10:20: Better Friend
10:30 – 11:05: Screaming Plastic
11:15 – 11:50: Domestica
12:00 – 12:35: The Clincher

* * *


Coverage: Conor Oberst plays downtown Grand Island

After a familiar rendition of “At The Bottom of Everything” and a Corina Escamilla-led Loretta Lynn cover, Conor Oberst stepped back up to the microphone. Enveloped by a cast of close friends, he dedicated the last song to (and I paraphrase) anyone who is feeling sick, whether mentally, physically, emotionally.

“I know I do,” he concluded.

Keyboard player Dan McCarthy lit up the first few piano notes of a rollicking “I Don’t Wanna Die (In The Hospital)” and it all somehow felt so cathartic, considering recent history. I’m with my former coworker in saying the interest in Oberst’s end of year hospitalization isn’t voyeuristic; it simply makes for a traceable storyline, which seems to have informed not only the singer/songwriter’s forthcoming solo album but last night’s overall vibe.

Buy it or not, there were certainly therapeutic elements of Oberst’s first Grand Island show, which he performed with all eight members of the Standby Club. In a way, we knew coming in this was to be a kind of warm-up before heading out to Rocky Mountain Folk Festival. But with a crowd far-exceeding 500 people on a cool summer evening and a relaxed energy from the stage, it really felt like a long time coming.

It’s why we got a loose band reviving Bright Eyes favorites, testing new material and breaking out its cover chest for Loretta Lynn, Randy Newman and Tammy Wynette. Oberst essentially acknowledged the non-seriousness of it all; before “Jolly Coppers On Parade,” he asked in a playful tone “You guys like Randy Newman?” to the shared confusion of the younger crowd packed stagefront.

The setlist as a whole felt so precisely curated, littered with songs from I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning and a poignant resurrection of “Sunrise, Sunset.” He touched on the oft-cited Midwestern dream of moving west in “Sausalito,” seemingly addressing the same young crowd. A roar went up when Oberst announced “Nikorette,” a Mystic Valley Band song he said hadn’t been played since he was with the band. Combined with the covers and couple more solo tracks, it marked most of the demographic boxes.

The nine-piece also gave what I’ll guess was a more upbeat sneak-peek into Oberst’s forthcoming solo album Ruminations. The new songs were “more elaborate versions” according to Oberst, given the fully fleshed-out band. They packed potent commentary: “A Little Uncanny” ripped on a young “Ronnie” Reagan (“tan enough, rich enough, handsome like John Wayne/everyone at the country club felt the same”) in a dagger that might also strike the current Republican presidential candidate. “You All Loved Him Once” was the sparsest of the bunch (played only with guitarist Miwi La Lupa) and a scathing indictment of hero worship.

Other parts of the setlist seemed devoted to breaking the nine-piece ensemble into its live chemistry. They had of course all performed together as the Standby Club, but only twice. All are accomplished musicians, but surely the practice hours logged all together weren’t an ideal amount (McCarthy joked to me during this interview they originally called themselves “The Five to Nine Club” because of how irregular attendance had been).

Look right past the Disney soundtrack, though, and like Oberst’s reach back into his catalogue, the covers seemed lovingly chosen. Oberst remarked that Newman’s style was subtly ironic, which appeals to him in all the ways a fan can imagine. Even the set’s first song hit close to home, a Felice Brothers cover of “Rockefeller Druglaw Blues” that streamed gently like tear drops.

The ultimately predictable, yet well-deserved encore-call came just seconds after Oberst and company had finished the main set. A mix of Bright Eyes favorites, covers and some tested new material kept things light, but up until the end, they hadn’t been as intimate. “I Don’t Wanna Die” connected all of the dots, an upbeat admission of vulnerability which bordered on celebration. Verses were drawn out. Oberst went back up for a second harmonica solo; Escamilla laughed. What could be better for the soul?

See photos from last night’s show, which also saw McCarthy Trenching, Miwi La Lupa and Phil “Meatball” Schaffart.

Phillip “Meatball” Schaffart

Miwi La Lupa

McCarthy Trenching

Conor Oberst

photos by Lauren Farris

* * *

Eros and the Eschaton’s ‘Weight Of Matter’ out today

Three songs into Eros and the Eschaton’s new full-length album, amidst the drifting breakdown in “Center of the World,” the band’s shift in direction starts to take shape.

The Colorado Springs-based band released that sophomore record Weight Of Matter today on Bar/None Records. In expanding from the duo of Nebraska ex-pats Katey Perdoni and Adam Hawkins to a five-piece rock outfit, the band has pitched a more “…Crazy Horse guitar-inspired…” sound.

Opening track “OMG I AM” reintroduces the wavy shoegaze of debut album Home Address For Civil War before “The Way I Feel Tonight” zooms in to the most chaotic ends of its guitar-centric sound. By track three, the two have melded for good, a result of Perdoni and Hawkins having more colors with which to paint.

Get Weight Of Matter through Bar/None Records here. Eros and the Eschaton plays Reverb Lounge Friday, Sept. 16 with Lonely Estates and Edison & the Elephant (RSVP here). The band returns to Nebraska in short order for Lincoln Calling Music Festival, during which it will play the Duffy’s Tavern backlot Friday night (RSVP here and get tickets here).

* * *

Concert Round-Up: Weekend Edition

This weekend’s concert round-up begins with an unfortunate announcement. Due to rain, tonight’s Hear Grand Island concert has been postponed. It will be rescheduled for September. The next performance is Friday, Aug. 26 at Railside Plaza, featuring The Killigans and E Rawq. RSVP here (and watch for details on the series’ rescheduled finale).

There are a couple of-interest shows in Lincoln tonight. Night Owl, 3233 S 13th St, hosts a benefit for Voices of Hope, which provides aid and advocacy to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. The lineup features Karen Choi, The Wildwoods, Andrea von Kampen and more. The cover is $10, with all proceeds going to Voices of Hope. RSVP here.

Over at Vega, Lincoln rock band Strawberry Burns pays tribute to its former bassist Pat Clinch, who lost his battle with cancer in May 2015. It will play its first and last show as a trio, releasing full-length album Mothawk, which it recorded in the weeks leading up to Clinch’s passing. Read the Lincoln Journal Star story behind the album here, and listen to this interview with drummer Brock Beckman and Journal Star reporter Cory Matteson on KZUM’s Hear Nebraska FM here. The Bottle Tops and Nick Westra open the $5, 9 p.m. show. RSVP here.

And it’s Maha Music Festival weekend. The eighth-annual one-day Omaha festival features Passion Pit, Grimes, Vince Staples, Matthew Sweet and much more. View our guide to the festival here, which includes artist bios, links and Community Village participants. Tickets are $55 today, $65 at the gate tomorrow. RSVP here.

(And don’t forget the free, 21-plus after party at Reverb Lounge with Maha artists Diet Cig and See Through Dresses along with Anna McClellan, Bien Fang. RSVP here.)

There’s plenty else going on in Nebraska music this weekend. Head to our statewide calendar here for a fuller listing. Email all news tips, story ideas, song submissions and anything we’ve missed to And if you’re at Maha, stop by our Community Village booth and say hello. Have a great weekend.