Last night, Lincoln Calling fans were treated to whimsical performances at Tower Square, thrashing metal at Knickerbockers, hard rock at Duffy’s Tavern and an eclectic hodge podge at Zoo Bar. Read on for photos of all 25 bands, plus thoughts from our writers’ notebook.
* * *
Walk By Sea at Tower Square
I Forgot to Love My Father
Zoo Bar- KZUM Showcase
All Young Girls Are Machine Guns
Did you all know Marty Steinhausen could rip like that? His bass work is all over the scene, and in the same way he usually appears to be tearing the guts out of his standup, his fretwork last night was stunningly deft. I know that Tijuana Gigolos play Zoo Bar all of the time, so this probably comes as a surprise to no one, especially not the early evening crowd seated in front of them. And it’s not to dismiss the musicianship of the rest of the band, sharp and relaxed.
— Andrew Stellmon
photos by James Dean
Kekeli Dawes’s snare rang out like a bell. Driving in from Omaha at 6 p.m., from the street, I could hear them at their spot in Parrish Studios. Night three of Lincoln Calling was on–and Mesonjixx were going to ascend on the Zoo Bar like lightning. To that end, Mary Lawson and the crew stepped out on the Zoo stage a blazing fire. Filling in for Joshua Bargar (on tour with Soul Colossal), James Fleege brought an unrestrained rock energy to the three polished performers and their brand of neo-soul–allowing Mary’s usual understated performance to reach a fierce pitch–aggressive, bolder, and more pointed. Newer song “Hard Kill” was ferocious, addressing an awakening to the Black Lives Matter movement. It hit close after hearing the story of Sandra Bland, if the audience could reach past the groove. Addressing the band, Mary approached a verse a second time to try to educate her audience and spit fire directly into the bones of those intent on hearing the message.
— Rebecca Lowry
Bud Heavy and the High Lifes
Give Bud Heavy & The High Lifes 45 minutes, and they’ll take you back nearly a century, reviving moth-eaten numbers like “I Wish I Was a Mole in the Ground.” They’ll zoom forward to the end of the dot-com bubble with Blink-182’s “Adam’s Song.” And they’ll land squarely on stage, but it still won’t be today, as they rip through “No More Straight Life Blues,” an original by fellow Sower Records band Jack Hotel, which played the Zoo Bar one night before and shared mandolin player Casey Hollingsworth.
Acolytes of Lincoln folk luminaries like Jerry Spahn, Bud Heavy carries on a tradition of honoring musical ancestors and brethren by covering them. But it’s a thumbs-in-your-belt-loops, holler-your-head-off brand of old-time Americana they purvey. Mix in a few crude jokes, and throw out guitarist Jeremy Wurst’s shirt, and you have a couple dozen crowd members belting hallelujahs to set-closer “Night Train.” Only in Lincoln can you go to Memphis and back in under five minutes.
— Michael Todd
Once A Pawn
Better Friend’s set was the cathartic explosion at the end of an extremely diverse KZUM showcase, the kind of hodgepodge billing that injects flavor into Lincoln Calling. It seems like every time Better Friend plays, their crowds get larger and the band feels sharper. The post-hardcore fivesome has played with increasing frequency since releasing standout Safe House EP in July, and the extent to which they’ve powered up showed last night. They’ve probably played “Turning Into Numbers” more than a hundred times, but it was as crisp and emotional as ever.
Gerardo Meza Band
The Minneapolis band grows every time they perform in Nebraska, with the apparent intent on getting their live show closer to their pitch perfect recordings. It was a slow start, but Johnny Solomon’s and Molly Moore’s complementary harmonies held the audience for the first two songs until a ruckus performance of “Oceans” brought the band to life. The show then found it’s legs. The audience caught on, making for lively banter and a responsive, celebratory crowd.
– Rebecca Lowry
Walk By Sea
A Different Breed
I’ll be the first to admit that metal isn’t really my bag. But it was tough to pry myself away from A Different Breed’s unrelenting thrash. Bass pounded heavy in the heart, guitar riffs screamed and jetted from the stage. I wrote last night that Knickerbockers was a welcome re-addition to Lincoln Calling and its Cortney Kirby-curated stage impressed again.
— Andrew Stellmon
The Dancing Dead