Six Must-See Showcases at Lincoln Calling Music Festival

[This feature previews Lincoln Calling music festival, the annual live music event that features 120-plus acts in eight downtown Lincoln venues Oct 6-8. View the full lineup and purchase tickets here.]

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Lincoln Calling has long made a name for itself through mixing and matching bright local talent with rising regional and national acts. This year is no different, with a number of themed lineups and specially-curated nightly showcases. Here, we spotlight six of them, featuring the annual, locally-flavored KZUM showcase, hip-hop night at Bodega’s and a Charles Bradley-topped soul sensational. Read on for more.

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KZUM Local Showcase at Duffy’s Tavern Indoor

Thirst Things First | Peter Barnes

Lincoln’s community radio station returns for what has become an annual tradition, curating this showcase which will give festival goers a sample of what the city has to offer, from the nonstop hard rock in Freakabout and Laughing Falcon to hip-hop-infused rock of AZP to the outlandish (and ultra-fun) electro-pop-punk of Thirst Things First. It also features two relative newcomers in Walk By Sea and The Hottman Sisters, both of which have quickly gained traction locally. And what can be said about Ron Wax, the house show staple and veteran of Lincoln legends Mercy Rule. If you’re looking to immerse yourself in the downtown Capital City scene, this is the place to start.

7 p.m., Thursday, Oct 6 at Duffy’s Tavern, 1410 O St, 21-plus

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Singer/songwriter Showcase at Vega

Simon Joyner & the Ghosts | Samuel Bennett

Those looking to go the pensive, poetic route Thursday might find themselves at Vega. Esmé Patterson tops this medley of local and national singer/songwriters, all with a knack for weaving their own unique threads. Simon Joyner is considered a forefather of the Omaha music scene, gaining a cult national following through thoughtful, clever songwriting, a steady stream of independent releases and the occasional tour. David Dondero’s material is as perennially road-tested as its maker. Gaelynn Lea captivated NPR Music audiences with her winning Tiny Desk entry, and locals will recognize Andrea von Kampen for her enchanting voice and earnestly longing folk.

7:30 p.m., Thursday, Oct 6 at Vega, 350 Canopy St, All-ages

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Hip Hop Showcase at Bodega’s Alley

Both | JP Davis

At first glance, the obvious draw here is Allan Kingdom, who enjoyed perhaps his most notable moment with a feature on Kanye West’s “All Day.” The St. Paul-based Canadian rapper and producer has been listed on Complex’s top 25 watch list, following it up with debut LP Thestand4rd, which induced Minneapolis’ City Pages to name him “Best Hip Hop Artist of 2014.”

Look closer and find a pair of hard-hitting Omaha collectives represented in the The Dilla Kids (Marcy Yates, Xoboi) and Make Believe Studios. The latter released Omaha duo Both’s breakout Bothsucks EP last year, part of a flurry of activity for emcee Scky Rei and producer INFNTLP that included appearances at Maha Music Festival and SXSW. Lawrence hip-hop trio Ebony Tusks and Chicago multimedia collective SlumpGang777 round out the billing.

6:40 p.m., Friday, Oct 7 at Bodega’s Alley, 1418 O St, 21-plus

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Plack Blague Showcase at Duffy’s Indoor

Plack Blague | Lindsey Yoneda

The mere mention of Lincoln erotic industrial-electronic act Plack Blague evokes dark venues, flashing lights, thrusting cod-pieces and desire. The artist has gained national clout within underground electronic scenes, and has put together some of the area’s most captivating lineups in that regard. Chicago’s Hide falls into a similarly category, trading in the entrancing and the terrifying. Colorado acts Echo Beds and Of Earth and Sun make use of eclectic and often salvaged instrumentation and layered looping to create separate and equally distinct brands of the genre. Omaha bummer music/power drone solo act CBN leads the way. This culturally subversive billing is not for the faint of heart.

9:20 p.m., Friday, Oct 7 at Duffy’s Tavern, 1410 O St, 21-plus

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Women-Fronted Showcase at The Bay

The Way Out | Lauren Farris

Lincoln indoor skatepark-turned all-ages venue will be an all-ages hotspot all weekend. On the festival’s final day, it stages a variety of woman-fronted acts, bookended by two highlighted earlier this week in Omaha songwriter/pianist Anna McClellan and Chicago-based White Mystery. Between them are Nebraska punk rock’s past and future in the aural onslaught of Domestica and the smart, catchy teenage group The Way Out. Lincoln soul act Mesonjixx is fronted by the incredibly vocally talented Mary Lawson, and has quickly entrenched itself in the local scene. And Nebraska native Anna Gebhardt fronts Des Moines indie rock project Annalibera, which has traversed the beautiful and the experimental.

7:45 p.m., Saturday, Oct 8 at The Bay, 2005 Y St, All-ages

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Soul Showcase at The Bourbon

High Up | Lindsey Yoneda

The Bourbon’s de-facto soul lineup Saturday night features Lincoln Calling headliner Charles Bradley and a bevy of local heavy-hitting vocalists. The consummate live performer, Bradley has captivated festival audiences across the globe, earning the top spot on Paste Magazine’s Best Live Acts of 2015. Changes, Bradley’s third album which dropped April 1, cemented him as one of the best contemporary vocalists of the genre. Josh Hoyer immediately precedes him, and with his band Soul Colossal, should serve formidably as a thunderous appetizer. Representing Omaha are CJ Mills and High Up, both of which have quickly taken the city by storm. High Up has earned local renown behind vocalist Christine Fink’s boundless energy and the band’s indie-rock infused sound. And CJ Mills, who joined Hoyer at this year’s Maha Music Festival, topped a year-long coming out party with that brief-yet-“all-killer” appearance and the headlining spot at Omaha’s Benson First Friday Femme Fest. DJ Relic brings Soul Club to Lincoln Calling, kicking things off here with an hour-long set.

6 p.m., Saturday, Oct 8 at The Bourbon, 1415 O St, All-ages