2017 Lincoln Exposed | Thursday Night

[Editor’s note: Behold part two of our Lincoln Exposed coverage below. The festival rolls on Friday and Saturday, with our two-cents coming Monday. Check out words and photos from Wednesday here.]

The Bourbon’s Youth Lagoon

If 15 year-old Jadyn Keller’s soulful, exuberant vocal performance at Zoo Bar Wednesday night announced the youth movement at this year’s Lincoln Exposed, The Way Out kicked the door down last night.

The teenage pop-punk foursome led the charge Thursday on a Bourbon billing that featured a handful of gifted young bands. Their often snappy, clean songs scorched and exploded through the front room. They poured out at a quickened pace while maintaining the sprightly elements that spark pep in their songs.

Zoomed in, that balance played out between vocalist/guitarist Mari Crisler’s sharp wit and guitarist Levi Hagen’s bright lead work. Already a crack songwriter, Crisler proved her mettle as vocalist, too, in the midst of bassist Reed Tiwald and drummer Nick Ulrich’s rumblings.

The evening’s schedule worked out so The Wildwoods and Mad Dog & the 20/20s would play the same stage. The former immediately followed The Way Out, their wholesome, charming folk easing the gas pedal. Noah Gose and Chloe Pinkman perform with enchanting chemistry and the band subtly but effectively toy with country and indie rock elements.

Mad Dog seemed to experience the same jolt as The Way Out, the rhythm section seemingly swelling and bursting forth rather than sitting back. Trumpet player Wil Gleason and tenor sax player Hendrick Viljoen still shone warmly through, as did Madison Christensen voice, which punctured the wall of sound around her. The contrast with last weekend’s show at Duffy’s was interesting, as they seemed to mesh differently with each venue.

Overall, it was nice to see such skilled and varied performances from the younger crop and to expect them, too. While the novelty of “up-and-comers” is tired, Lincoln’s strong base of budding talent bodes well for the future of the scene.

— Andrew Stellmon

The Way Out | photo by Lauren Farris

The Wildwoods | photo by Connor Lepert

Mad Dog & the 20/20s | photo by Connor Lepert

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From Beyond The Veil

“I’m here for the Poobah,” a friend uttered excitedly as she whisked away from the Duffy’s Tavern patio and into dimmed concert room.

I followed to immediately find two large sheets hanging stagefront from a rod hoisted close to the ceiling. The newly-revamped stage lights shone green through the white cloth, casting a pair of silhouettes against it.

Suddenly, the lights darkened, the house music cut out and waves of heavy breathing slowly crescendoed through the speakers, accompanied by a dry, pattering snare drum. An echoing voice in the vein of Ebeneezer Scrooge harrowingly asked “Who’s that knocking at my door?” and gasped for breath. The hum grew louder and louder and a low, ghastly howl filled the room. Finally the voice broke.


Silence. Then, a gentle strumming, the first notes from art rock duo The Grand Poobah, an orienting, earthly rhythm to calm the anxious, tortured soul. The band’s name appeared on the screen in two frames, followed by flowery shapes on the stage right curtain and a winding purple design on the stage left curtain, both crafted by a pair of overhead projectionists. They ebbed and flowed with the set, one flowing rock composition of dynamic shifts from movement to movement. Tucked into that bed of aural stimulation lay a stream of emotions. Echoes of anxiety and spurts of emotional pain seemed to float by and dissolve to make way for the next.

Not once did the band emerge keeping the audience at enough of a distance to center its lush, atmospheric soundscapes. There’s a certain amount of reliance on song craft when stage presence amounts to a shadowy light show (and what later became a skull with eyeballs snaking out of its head). But the music intrigued from bouncy, Talking Heads-like pop to dark, sweeping rock. And the audience-artist barrier served rather than detracted from the performance. As a whole, it was a multi-faceted experience and a welcome change of pace, worthy of the pre-show whispers.

— Andrew Stellmon

photos by Lauren Farris

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Swing Fever at The Zoo Bar

Swing Fever took the Zoo Bar stage at about 7:00, greeting early concertgoers with agreeably smooth sounds emanating from the stage. Pance Zaev’s melodious saxophone waltzed about the room during the band’s opener, “French Kisses.” Zaev was staged front and center, just as it should have been, as the saxophonist’s melodies stood out among the mix as the lead. Mid-song he switched to clarinet, and as tonally different as it may have been, it still elicited imagery of a 1950s dance hall in uptown New York.
Swing Fever’s long musical interludes could have lasted forever were it not for bassist Gene Davis’ impressively controlled singing voice. The band held a loose rhythm beneath Davis’ vocals during “Nearly Jazz,” while Davis sat comfortably in his baritone range. During the band’s romantic ballad, “Let Me Go,” drummer Eric Toombs pulled the tempo way back and gave guitarist Jerry Renaud free reign to bleed through the band’s soft, sultry rhythm. The ensuing lead guitar came through boldly, and remained through the final parts of the song.

— Zach Visconti


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Andrea von Kampen’s quiet reprieve

Andrea von Kampen’s Lincoln Exposed set was a calm repose preceding a loud and eventful night of local music. Bodega’s Alley became a momentary resting spot for festival-goers, and those who walked in remained the whole set to hear von Kampen’s voice fill the room.

With a background in vocal jazz and its complex, progressive songwriting, the Seward-native produces a compelling brand of folk music, led by her satin voice that floated coyly throughout Bodega’s on Thursday night. The singer-songwriter was accompanied by cellist Addie Hotchkiss, who, during “See It Through,” proved her vocal harmonies to be equally calming as her gentle cello-playing. It almost felt improper to clap between songs for the quiet duo, as if they had been hymns meant for quiet reflection. Still, a robust applause emerged for each song. A cover of classic folk tune “Dink’s Song” closed the set, featuring a cello solo mimicking the song’s simple melody. And finally, as von Kampen sang “Fare thee well, my honey, fare thee well,” it was time to move on to the next set.

—Zach Visconti

Addie Hotchkiss, left, and Andrea von Kampen | photo by Connor Lepert

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The Comfort of an Old Friend

Tie These Hands felt like an old friend, eagerly welcomed by a full Bodega’s. “Lay down your head, just go to sleep,” sang vocalist/guitarist Aram Stauffer, lulling listeners into a proverbial sleep.

Melancholy and quirky in texture, the Lincoln band’s set coated Bodega’s with a mature angst. In a past life, “Lay Down” may have been featured on Death Cab’s record Plans in a past life, due to its tender coming of age subjects and sonically diverse chord progressions. The quartet has been around town for years, and for those who missed them during a few years of sparsely scattered shows, it’s a mighty privilege to see them now. Through each of the band’s songs ran a thread of sorrow, and even upbeat ones like “Body Language” evoked feelings of unease. Some comedic relief came when Aram announced, “This song is about New Year’s Eve and kissing girls. Wow, all these songs are about kissing girls and I never kiss girls.” Before long, laughter faded back into attentive gloom as the band played the emotionally gripping ballad “Trampoline.” About three minutes into the ascending melody, guitarist Naum Stauffer’s trebly guitar ripped through the soft façade, and the band tore through a cathartic outro to end the set.

photo by Connor Lepert

From the Notebook

I wrote briefly about compositions earlier, but MRMC$ is something else entirely. It might have been hard to decide whether to call the trio a jam band or not, until you realize that everything is composed and precise, from the astonishing digital acrobatics to quick-shifting rhythms to vocals that complemented rather than controlled. I found myself thinking the same things about MRMC$ that I used to about prog rock mavens The Mars Volta: How in the hell did they write that? But man, were they also fun to watch fly through a bunch of self-set instrumental traps and come flaming out the other side, double bass pedal and fretboards ablaze. Andrew Stellmon

photo by Lauren Farris

At this point, Hakim seems to command pretty much any audience he encounters. “Put your hands up!” Done. “Repeat this hook with me!” They’ve learned it in seconds. “Pull your phones out!” Without hesitation. The show was full, of course, and with a polished delivery and a well-oiled concert to boot, the emcee is essentially can’t-miss. Andrew Stellmon

photo by Alex Durrant

The Wondermonds played a funky, bluesy set at The Bourbon at 9:20, and guitarist Ben Kushner lead the band with his lead guitar, backed by a synthy-organ coming from the keys, groovy bass rhythms, and loose drumming. While Kushner’s guitar playing seemed to be the focal point of the set, the band shared solos generously, each taking a turn in guiding songs forward. As if it were an inevitability, the energetic music inspired an impromptu dance party in front of the stage. The band sounded like a single joyful voice encouraging partiers, and I think Kushner felt the same, because he constantly and passionately shouted over the music. Zach Visconti

photo by Connor Lepert

If you thought Powerful Science had a ton of keyboards before, the electro-pop band’s set last night was a sight to behold. Stage left, right next to vocalist/keyboard player Emma Lyness, stood John Freidel; at his waist, a pair of keyboards. “The Steve Jobs of Synthesizers!” frontman Joshua Miller exclaimed at one point. While all this had the intimidating look of a starship’s command deck, it played well with the band’s space-operatic piano pop. The anchoring element? Lyness’s smooth, Regina Spektor-like voice and Miller’s lyrical retreat from an overbearing other. — Andrew Stellmon

1867’s back room seemed almost empty around 11:45 pm, but it filled up almost immediately as Evan Bartels and the Stoney Lonesomes began playing. The Americana outfit opened the show with “The Dark,” a loud anthem in which Bartels sang “If you love me like you say you do, why’d you have to leave me alone in the dark?” As Bartels’ lyrics cried out for answers, guitarist Jake Brandt inserted quippy leads on his guitar, asserting the band’s bold rock and roll sound alongside a distinctly American rhythm section. The song is to be on the band’s upcoming album, as recently announced on Bartels’ website. Between Bartels’ sorrowfully breaking vocals and Brandt’s dynamic work on the fretboard, The Devil, God, & Me is poised to be a moving piece of art. —Zach Visconti

photo by Lauren Farris

Cynge’s set at the Zoo Bar was a lively, almost fear-inducing production. At one point, the vocalist began striking himself in the forehead with the microphone, which induced profuse bleeding. It was a gruesome sight, establishing Cynge as a deep, dark metal band in more than just sound. Full with vocal pig squeals, high-pitched screaming, and a short explanation of the band’s beginnings as a manifestation of life’s anger, Cynge put on an artful display of metal. —Zach Visconti

photo by Lauren Farris

I have seen A Ferocious Jungle Cat play Zoo Bar at least 10 times, and each time it seems like its members are arranged in a different configuration. Last night’s iteration was definitely to make room for new keyboard player Jack Rodenburg, but I mused that it was quite like a creative college football offense, rearranging looks on a situational basis to maximize potential outcomes. Which, of course, is language far too mechanical for how wicked the feline got last night, which was as wicked as ever. — Andrew Stellmon

crude illustration by Andrew Stellmon

photo by Connor Lepert

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Photo Coverage, Night Two

Lucas Kellison Duo at Zoo Bar | photo by Lauren Farris

Magma Melodier at Bodega’s Alley | photos by Lauren Farris

Tim Budig Band at 1867 Bar | photos by Lauren Farris

Brazen Throats at Zoo Bar | photo by Lauren Farris

Ro Hempel Band at 1867 Bar | photo by Connor Lepert

Rift at Duffy’s Tavern | photo by Connor Lepert

Halfsies on a Bastard at 1867 Bar | photo by Lauren Farris

Emmett Bower Band at Bodega’s Alley | photo by Connor Lepert

Manslaughterer at Bodega’s Alley | photos by Lauren Farris