Three Nebraska Bands to Watch: via Kyle Fertwagner and Lucas Kellison

The complexity and vastness of Nebraska’s robust music scene presents a unique conundrum. Often, acts that deserve attention — for hustle, quality, intrigue, whatever — fly under the radar, no matter if they’re wet behind the ears or grizzled veterans.

We polled musicians, promoters and venue owners to get a sense of which bands are killing it but for whatever reason haven’t received the requisite attention. Read on for the latest pair of responses, as Lookout Lounge co-owner Kyle Fertwagner and producer/musician Lucas Kellison each give three must-see Nebraska acts.

Which bands are on your list? Email explaining which ones and why.

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Kyle Fertwagner, Lookout Lounge

photo courtesy of Kyle Fertwagner

Band 1: The Beat Seekers

Full disclosure: Many moons ago, I played in this band, and my brother still does; however, I couldn’t make this list without including these guys. Their sound has evolved over the years to become a mix of Motörhead meets Bad Religion (or something approximating that). Perfectly written tunes, catchy hooks, great riffs, impeccable harmonies. Thrashy and aggressive, but with pop sensibilities that appeal to fans all over the rock and roll spectrum. The Beat Seekers are back and they’re definitely a band to keep an eye on.

Next show: Tuesday, May 17 at Shamrock’s Pub & Grill with Devour the Day, Waking the Neighbors, Rose Garden Funeral and Misgivings Fall. RSVP here.

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Band 2: Finch X Kovacs

There’s a lot of cool things going on in the hip hop scene, and these guys are one of the groups out there making a big name for themselves. They actually came up in the metal/hardcore scenes and it shows in their music. Gritty, aggressive and thoughtful songs bring in audiences from scenes as varied as hip hop, punk, hardcore and metal. Every time these guys perform, it’s a bonafide event.

photo courtesy of Finch X Kovacs

Next Show: Saturday, June 4 at Alchemy Bar with Prozak, Danny Che w/ DJ Madix, Third Eye Merchants and PsychB. RSVP here.

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Band 3: Super Moon

I’ve seen these guys open for a number of national touring acts at Lookout over the last year, and many times they’re just flat out better than the national act. It’s only a matter of time before they’re the big touring national act. Loud, riffy stoner metal done right, with a great live show to boot.

photo by Adam LaRose

Next show: Saturday, April 30 at Barley Street Tavern with The Decaturs and The Ambulanters. RSVP here.

Lucas Kellison, producer/musician

photo by Peter Barnes

Band 1: Andrea von Kampen

I think Andrea is a great young talent. It is rare to find people who can truly self-accompany. A lot great singers (and she is a great singer) can do just enough to chord around their vocals, but I think she’ll be the type of musician that can really do it all one day. She is very deliberate in her structure. Her sound is what most would refer to as “folk,” but I think she’s going to challenge convention a bit more moving forward and do some really interesting stuff. I already saw signs of this while working on her EP, Another Day. Clearly the attention of outlets like NPR and Spotify are indicators that others are taking notice as well.  

photo by Nickolai Hammar

Next Show: Saturday, April 30 at Night Owl for Sower Records Fundraiser. RSVP here

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Band 2:  Jens Lehman and the Time Cops

Of all the song writers I’ve worked with in the past few years, Jens is truly among the most interesting. His music is extremely eclectic, and his influences are molded in a way that are quite unconventional. I don’t typically hear artists who write in the “vein” of Dilla and Van Morrison, but it starts making sense when you listen to his stuff. This record is a narrative surrounding teen angst, and I can’t begin to tell you how well he has captured that theme in a parallel, uncomfortable musical universe. We are just wrapping his EP, so be on the lookout for that release (RSVP to the May 27 release show here). I know the Time Cops have been putting in some long hours to make it go live, so that’ll be awesome to watch.  

photo by James Dean

Next show: Sunday, May 8 at Duffy’s Tavern with Alli and I. RSVP here.

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Band 3: Saint Mic

If hip hop is about bravado of intellect (and if it’s not, then I’ll go ahead and say it isn’t hip hop), then Michael Porter, aka Saint Mic, is in a class by himself. Lyrically, I would put this guy up against any new emcee, as his talents go well beyond the local level. Saint Mic has preserved and perfected the art of the battle–often being flown out for national underground competitions.  I’ve personally watched him make lunch meat out of a few emcees. To me, if the ability to battle isn’t in your hip pocket, then you are only a fraction of a hip hop artist. It is this phenomenal ability that leads me to believe Saint Mic is the next big hip-hop recording artist out of the area.  

Next show: Saturday, April 30 at Alchemy Bar & Grill with Iso, opening for “Who’s All In?” rap battle presented by All N Battles.