To help assess the year in music, we asked more than a dozen musicians, journalists and scene figures for their favorite albums, songs, shows and events of the year. Check back each day over the next few days for more reflections and predictions.
Read on as our year-end list contributors tell us which venue and/or promoter booked 2015’s most interesting shows. Though choices span the scene, you’ll notice one organization caught the eye of an overwhelming majority.
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Marq Manner | OEAAs Chair
You never want to say “most”, as we are so lucky to have One Percent, Slowdown, Rad Kadilac, Chris Aponick (of Perpetual Nerves) and more. I would like to point out Midwest Elite Concerts and Dave Campbell. Through his New Music Monday shows at The Waiting Room, his dedication to Omaha’s hard rock scene and with him branching out into other genre’s he is making a big impact on the Omaha and regional music scene. He’s a true professional and works very hard and deserves some recognition in our scene.
The Impulsive at The Waiting Room | photo by Peter Barnes
Kelly Langin | Editorial Intern, Spring 2015
In my opinion, Perpetual Nerves was one of the most significant promoters in Omaha this year. The duo brings in notable touring bands of various genres (I was stoked for Fuzz, Ceremony, Creative Adult, and Screaming Females, among others) to several venues, like Sweatshop and Waiting Room. They always round out the bill with at least one local DIY band. Perpetual Nerves is also the same duo who opened Milk Run this year, which is set to be the cool new all-ages venue going into 2016.
No Thanks at Milk Run | photo by Lindsey Yoneda
Rebecca Lowry | All Young Girls Are Machine Guns
Perpetual Nerves. I’m stoked for the next year to see what Chris Aponick brings to the table from the other side of the editorial desk. This summer was just great lineup after great lineup. I completely expect Milk Run to be bangin.
Jeremy Wurst | Bud Heavy & the High Lifes/Giant’s Arrow
Folk and Roots – Mike Semrad/Marty Steinhausen/Spence Munson/Jeremy Buckley and more. Those guys don’t get enough credit in general. They think of everything. As a listener I was very impressed by the accomodations. There was plenty of parking, food, beer, friends, and music. As a performer (Bud Heavy and the High Life’s) we look forward to this festival year round. We met some great friends in Union Specific (TX) at last year’s Folk and Roots and we were happy to see them back again. And man can they tear it up. It was great to see the Kill County boys back on stage together. Joshua James was stellar as always. I know next year is going to be even better.
Kill County at Nebraska Folk & Roots Festival | photo by Andrew Dickinson
Sean Paul | Eric In Outerspace
Perpetual Nerves (Chris Aponik & Sam Parker) and Craig Dee have continually brought great touring bands such as Twin Peaks and together PANGEA. A close second would have to be Lucas Wright with what he’s doing at The Lookout Lounge.
Masked Intruder at Lookout Lounge | photo by Ben Semisch
Kait Berreckman | Kait Berreckman Band
I think I saw the most shows at Reverb Lounge (1%). I walk past their poster-plastered garage door almost every day and they put on so many good shows I found myself first glancing, then slowing down, then coming to a complete stop every time to double check that I didn’t miss a great but small national act like Peter Mulvey, Esme Patterson, or Delicate Steve. The room’s size is just right and it sounds like a dream with Jon Pitts at the helm. I love that they didn’t shy away from burlesque, comedy, or Bernie Sanders rallies either.
Esme Patterson at Reverb Lounge | photo by Chris Dinan
Ian Aeillo | Sound Engineer, O’Leaver’s
I’m extremely biased so I doubt you should publish this, but Craig D is a monster and add some of Aponik’s Perpetual Nerves shows and I can’t imagine getting a better selection of really great music than the club.
Dan McCarthy | McCarthy Trenching
One Percent continues to do great work, in their own clubs and in partnership with others.
Joyce Manor at The Waiting Room | photo by Bridget McQuillan
Bill Sharp | Twinsmith
Probably Chris Aponick and Sam Parker. either through Perpetual Nerves at various venues or at their new spot, Milk Run, they consistently brought in interesting and new artists and I hope they keep doing it.
Nathan Richardson | Lighthouses
Some of the best shows I saw this year were at The Bourbon. Seeing Basement back together and playing 10 minutes from my house was one of the best moments this last year.
Lincoln Exposed at The Bourbon | photo by Andrew Dickinson
Mary Lawson | Mesonjixx
Zoo Bar & The Bourbon
Sidewalk Chalk at Zoo Bar | photo by James Dean
James Dean | HN Contributor
Interesting? Definitely Vega. I got to see Moon Hooch for heaven’s sake. How often do you get to see brass-based electronic music?
Significant? Slowdown. Sleater-Kinney and The New Pornographers were bands I got to strike off my bucket list because of them being booked here.
Moon Hooch at Vega | photo by Peter Barnes
Sleater-Kinney at Slowdown | photo by Chris Dinan
Eli Mardock | Owner, Vega
In terms of significant, 1% Productions killed it this year and they really continue to set the standard in this market. Every round of announcements they make has something to get excited about.
In terms of interesting, I’m going to let my honesty get me in trouble by saying Vega/Astra Productions. We were just like…jumping over the moon to announce some of these artists/shows, many of whom had never been to LNK, or even NE, before: Mark Kozelek of Sun Kil Moon, Portland Cello Project, Brick + Mortar, Generationals & Disappears, Cymbals Eat Guitars, Craft Spells, Shlohmo, Clark & Nosaj Thing, Yonatan Gat, JD Samson of Le Tigre/Men, Moon Hooch, Diarrhea Planet, JMSN, Young Fathers, Black Tiger Sex Machine, Acid Mothers Temple, Low Roar, Frontier Ruckus and Sons of Bill, Conor Oberst & The Felice Brothers, Shonen Knife & CJ Ramone, Quintron & Miss Pussycat, Cherokee, Temples & Fever the Ghost, Natalie Prass, toe, Black Milk, Tanlines, Built to Spill, Epic Rap Battle of History Live, Brooks Wheelan of SNL, William Fitzsimmons, Cashmere Cat, Family of the Year, Blackbird Blackbird, King Dude, Oddisee, Giraffe & Slow Magic, Nikki Lane, Nick Warren plus many many more. Each one of these shows/artists was just world–class.
Radkey at Reverb Lounge | photo by Nickolai Hammar
Dominique Morgan | Singer/Songwriter
I would have to say the Waiting Room and 1% Productions. From Hip Hop to R&B to Vanessa Carlton I got my life at that venue.
Of Montreal at The Waiting Room | photo by Lindsey Yoneda
Dan Scheuerman | Big Slur
Oleavers/Chris Aponick tie
Cortney Kirby | Freakabout
The Bourbon… but I’m biased because I work there. But they had so many unique and awesome artists this year like Wanda Jackson, BB King, GWAR and so many other national acts.
Every Time I Die at The Bourbon | photo by Peter Barnes
Christine Fink | High Up
O’Leaver’s gets my vote for this one. Their booking is spot-on (great diversity in music and I’ve never been disappointed, even going in blind), they have a really neat residency program and I’ve even seen a comedy show or two there. But incredibly, they’re able to maintain a community atmosphere – between volleyball, cookouts and clever social media-ing. Anyway, they’re doing it right.
Speedy Ortiz at O’Leaver’s | photo by Molly Misek