The Good Living Tour heads to Norfolk
When last year’s Good Living Tour concert series rolled into Norfolk during its second weekend, quite the party awaited. Food trucks, a beer garden and two stages lined the street and parking lot below the downtown Johnny Carson mural, which saw eight original Nebraska musical acts performing throughout the evening.
The 2017 edition of HN’s statewide concert tour returns to downtown Norfolk for the second-straight year, yet again staging a smorgasbord of original bands. The food trucks are back in force, as the GLT joins Riverpoint ‘Fork Fest and its “Hear Norfolk lineup” for a massive party in the street.
Omaha roots/rock outfit Kris Lager Band headlines the seven-band bill, which includes Lincoln acts Hakim and The Ambulanters; Omaha indie rock band Thick Paint; and locals The Begats, Baker Explosion and Tucker Hill Citizens Brigade. Music starts at 4 p.m.
As always, the concert is free and open to all ages. The beer garden begins serving at 4 p.m., food trucks at 5 p.m. RSVP here for more details.
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Concert Coverage: Jeff Rosenstock with Laura Stevenson and Uh Oh at Lookout Lounge
If by chance, some Lookout Lounge regular wandered into the venue Thursday night and paid the cover charge without knowing what kind of bands were playing, they would have gotten an idea from the rainbow-colored American flag parody hanging behind the stage with a “666” surrounded by pot leaves stamped in place of 50 stars. The Lookout generally books rock shows, so the wanderer could have guessed the bands’ genres. But it was the kind of rock that doesn’t take itself too seriously, opting for a playful energy that inspires nods to the devil’s number and the devil’s lettuce.
The flag came courtesy of Long Island punk singer-songwriter Jeff Rosenstock, who stopped in Omaha in support of his 2016 hit album, Worry., which topped USA Today’s list of the year’s best albums. The staunchly DIY rocker is coming off a lauded performance at July’s Pitchfork Music Festival, too, where he challenged the corporatization of music festivals with his anti-festival song, “Festival Song.”
At his Omaha stop, Rosenstock brought along fellow former Bomb the Music Industry! member Laura Stevenson with local support from unapologetic Rosenstock disciples Uh Oh, who took full advantage of their opportunity opening the show by establishing the night’s tone with seven songs of sincere yet raucous power pop.
Throughout their set, Uh Oh frontman Joe Champion balanced heartfelt lyrics, often describing the pains of transitioning from youth to adulthood, with vigorous thrashing and vein-popping shouts. “Keep Away” saw Champion reduce himself to just a forgettable memory in his lyrics before blurting “whoa” and emphatically sinking to his knees to nail a sharp, concise guitar solo on his cherry red Fender. And during “Try To Stay On My Side,” Champion mourned his constant cycle of uncertainty by screaming with so much force that the song would have fared just as well without guitarist Scott Ausdemore’s and bassist Erik Trent’s backing vocals.
Contrary to his dominating stage presence and his surname, Champion showed an obvious humility when he expressed gratitude for the chance to perform on the same stage that Rosenstock would later occupy. With a shaking voice, probably from a mix of fatigue and butterflies, Champion called the show a “dream come true,” before introducing Uh Oh’s next song, “T-Shirts.”
“This song’s about hanging out with your friends on a summer night; kind of like right now,” Champion said.
Then the band proceeded into that song, driven by Ausdemore’s swirling synth notes and Jay Jacobson’s primal drum beats, and Champion repeatedly belted the refrain: “It’s all we need.”
Perhaps it really is all Champion needs to erase his anxieties; to be up on stage, looking out into the audience with a guitar, three friends and an appreciative crowd nodding and staring right back at him.
Where Uh Oh’s set was a nonstop onslaught of crunchy guitars and roaring vocals, Laura Stevenson countered with a dozen songs ranging from blistering pop-punk (“Jellyfish”) to alt-country, fingerpicked ballads (“The Move”). While differing in structure and instrumentation, each of Stevenson’s songs were connected by overarching themes of isolation, self-loathing and fear.
She took the stage wearing a muted, unbuttoned flannel and black Vans with gum soles, grabbed her sunburst Telecaster and eased her way into the ballad “Out With A Whimper.” Drummer Kevin Higuchi and bassist John DeDominici gradually found their places in the song as Stevenson closed her eyes and crooned like she was singing by herself.
That’s probably where Stevenson would have preferred to be, too. After a month of touring, she made her weariness clear, lamenting the distance from one city to the next, which she said has been especially taxing because she’s driven herself to each show. Between “Happier, Etc.” and “Runner,” Stevenson summarized her set in a few words:
“This song’s about depression … and so was the last one.”
Of course, a depressing set doesn’t inherently translate to a disappointing set. And Stevenson’s didn’t. She pushed through each song, reaching for the top of her lungs on “Master of Art,” and, boy, was there a long way to the top. In just split-seconds, her lips transitioned from curling smiles as she sang, to mournful howls that echoed through the concrete walls of the Lookout.
Higuchi and DeDominici left the stage mid-set to let Stevenson play a pair of songs, “The Move” and “Ticker Tape,” on her own. Both were somber, finger-picked tunes that saw Stevenson reach into the pits of her soul to grab whatever was left, and, fortunately, she found something when Rosenstock joined her on stage as a second guitarist for the last three songs.
“Welcome to the set,” Stevenson said.
“Good to be here,” Rosenstock said.
During the three songs, with Rosenstock reaching into the upper sections of his vocal register for harmonies and pulling out song-enhancing guitar leads, Stevenson’s mood picked up, driving her to jump around the stage. And after “Jellyfish” ended the set, the first person Stevenson looked to was Rosenstock. His presence seemed to naturally enliven the stage, and his energy continued into his own unruly, no-holds-barred performance.
As soon as he jumped into the piano intro of “We Begged 2 Explode,” an audience singalong called back to every word. And by the end of the track, a pool of sweat had begun to form on Rosenstock’s T-shirt, above his guitar strap.
Of course, that wasn’t the only sweaty place at Lookout, because as soon as Rosenstock played the lead intro of “Wave Goodnight to Me,” the night’s first mosh pit erupted in the center of the floor. And during the 3rd wave ska throwback song, “Rainbow,” yes, there was some skanking.
“We can’t tell you how great it feels, in 2017, to see people skanking,” Rosenstock said to the crowd.
Then he challenged the audience to show their other dance moves, and through some discourse with the pit, a stocky, bearded kid, Ryne Grenier, climbed up on stage to perform interpretive dance, pretending to chug a bottle of wine along to the lyrics of Rosenstock’s “Nausea.”
It was that kind of set, where anything goes as long as what you’re doing isn’t bothering your neighbor. It was the kind of set you would expect from someone with the on-record energy of Jeff Rosenstock, burning through each song like it had to be played before the roof collapsed.
The band closed with “You, In Weird Cities,” and when the song collapsed to just Rosenstock’s voice, he led a pair of choirs of “Ah ah ah ah ahhh.” Then the song built back up, with restless bass pulses from DeDominici, ceaseless drums from Higuchi and Rosenstock’s electric tremolo picking. After one more chorus, the band left the stage, but it wasn’t a couple of minutes before the band was prompted back on stage by the steady clapping of an audience begging for an encore.
“Which one of our songs would you like to hear?” Rosenstock asked the yearning fans crowding the front of the stage.
After some deliberation and the concession that he had “no idea how this is gonna sound,” he and his band played one last song, “Polar Bear or Africa.” Even though it’s a deeper cut from Rosenstock’s 2015 LP We Cool?, the cluster of devout fans still, like every other song, knew each word.
At the end of the song, Rosenstock left the guitar part one chord away from resolving the chord progression, earning quizzical looks in the crowd. He couldn’t just leave the night there. No, a show like this needed to have a proper conclusion. And it did. The whole band landed on the same chord, marking a decisive ending to the set. Whether the audience was ready to leave when the show ended at 11 p.m. or not, Rosenstock had satisfied this weird city, and he was off to do it again.
Photos by Morgan Kazanjian
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Photo Coverage: Hullabaloo Music Festival 2017
Hullabaloo Music Festival kicked off last night with some of its headliners hitting the stage on night one. HN contributor James Dean hit Falconwood Park to catch Kris Lager Band, The Wailers, Tank and the Bangas and El Dub, and he snapped some photos of their performances and the scene around Hullabaloo. Check them out below. The festival continues today and on Saturday; find more information here.
Kris Lager Band
Photos by James Dean
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Porchfest expands to Omaha this September
Summer 2016 saw the extension of Porchfest, the DIY music festival originating in Ithaca, New York, to Goodhue Boulevard in Lincoln, where twenty bands set up shop to perform on the street’s porches. Hundreds of music fans attended the event, and after witnessing its success, Omaha-based organizers are bringing their own version of the festival to the Big O this fall.
On Sept. 29, Omaha’s Gifford Park neighborhood near 33rd and California streets will host the city’s first Porchfest. Because of the area’s diverse, tightly knit community ‒ fostered by its farmer’s market, community garden and neighborhood association ‒ festival coordinator Emily Engles says Gifford Park was an easy choice to introduce Omaha to the event.
“It’s absolutely perfect for a front porch festival with its large, old homes and mature trees,” Engles says. “I wanted this in Omaha in order to expose a neighborhood without music venues ‒ not Benson, not Downtown, not Dundee ‒ to the local music scene we have here.”
Porchfest began in 2010 in Ithaca, New York, with a goal of showcasing the local creative community. In the seven years since the festival launched, it has spread to 87 cities (and counting) in the U.S. and Canada.
The lineup and schedule of Omaha’s Porchfest are yet to be announced, but the event takes place from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on five porches. RSVP to Porchfest here.
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Nebraska labels and artists donate Bandcamp sales to Trans Law Center today
Last week, President Donald Trump issued a statement through a series of tweets banning transgender people from serving in his administration’s military. In response to the ban, Bandcamp is donating all of its sales to the Transgender Law Center (TLC) in support of the trans and LGBTQ communities, and hundreds of bands and record labels are following suit.
A few Nebraska bands and labels are joining the cause, with Saddle Creek Records and indie rock band Umm donating all of their sales to TLC, and Simon Joyner donating half of his proceeds to TLC and half to Omaha’s Heartland Pride.
“It’s important to us to support our transgender friends, family and fellow citizens,” said Jeff Tafolla, Saddle Creek’s head of licensing and new media. “We’re happy to join Bandcamp and hundreds of labels/artists in helping the Trans Law Center stand up against discrimination based on gender identity or expression.”
All three Nebraska-based participants have new material out to boot. Umm just released its debut full-length, Double Worshipper, last week on Portland-based Majestic Litter. Saddle Creek has dropped a trio of LP’s this year: Land of Talk’s Life After Youth, Big Thief’s Capacity and Twinsmith’s Stay Cool. Joyner officially released his Last Stand Blues: Live at the Barn Deluxxe today specifically for the TLC donations.
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Spreetail and The Bay host FoodStock to benefit Food Bank of Lincoln
This Sunday, food trucks will take over The Bay parking lot, where Spreetail hosts FoodStock as a benefit for the Food Bank of Lincoln and for at-risk youth in Lincoln Public Schools.
Food trucks such as Nitro Burger, Taco Loco and Motorfood will be present at FoodStock, where attendees are encouraged to make a free-will donation to the Food Bank of Lincoln. Spreetail will then match each donation, giving that money to The Bay’s All-Access Pass food fund. With the All-Access Pass, at-risk youth are offered free entry to The Bay’s skate park, a mentor and a nightly meal.
“We want to create and execute a unique event in Lincoln that helps the Food Bank continue to feed hungry families and alleviate hunger in Southeast Nebraska,” says Spreetail’s Kate Meyer. “And we want to help The Bay establish a fund for food so the kids on the All-Access Pass program can have a meal every night starting in 2018.”
In addition to the food truck offerings, FoodStock will host live music from The Wildwoods, Risky Clique, Domestic Blend and Josh Stephens. Find more information on FoodStock and RSVP here.
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See Through Dresses drop intense video for “Lucy’s Arm,” announce West Coast tour
See Through Dresses have kept busy since releasing sophomore LP Horse of the Other World last month, announcing a supporting tour with Beach Slang and now unleashing a music video for Other World track “Lucy’s Arm” along with September West Coast tour dates.
The music video is textbook See Through, favoring effectiveness over flashiness. The band performs the song next to a wall-covering bookshelf in a black-and-white filter with visual effects distorting Matt Carroll and Sara Bertuldo’s faces as they lean into their microphones.
See the “Lucy’s Arm” video, and check out the band’s tour dates below.
Sept. 1 – Omaha, NE at Femme Fest
Sept. 2 – Colorado Springs, CO at Triple Nickel
Sept. 4 – Flagstaff, AZ at Firecreek Coffee Company
Sept. 5 – San Diego, CA at Soda Bar
Sept. 7 – Los Angeles, CA at The Satellite
Sept. 8 – San Luis Obispo, CA at SLO Donut Co.
Sept. 10 – Sacramento, CA at Cafe Colonial
Sept. 11 – Grants Pass, OR at Eaden Ballroom
Sept. 13 – Portland, OR at Holocene
Sept. 14 – Seattle, WA at Sunset Tavern
Sept. 15 – Boise, ID at Neurolux
Sept. 17 – Denver, CO at Larimer Lounge
Sept. 20 – Omaha, NE at Reverb Lounge
Sept. 30 – Lincoln, NE at Lincoln Calling
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Make the most of the weekend by checking out a few shows, and there are plenty to choose from. Take a look at our picks below, and head over to our events page for a more comprehensive list of concerts. If the events page is missing a show, add it using our contribute feature here.
Spit Seeds for Proceeds: The Official Kickoff for Hear Lincoln with Jack Hotel and Risky Clique at Tower Square – Hear Lincoln is back tonight, and it’s kicking off with the Spit Seeds for Proceeds competition, in which contestants clash to see who can spit watermelon seeds the farthest. A $5 donation is suggested, and all proceeds go to Hear Nebraska and The Bay. Meanwhile, Lincoln roots band Jack Hotel and rock band Risky Clique perform at Tower Square. Read an interview Jack Hotel recently did with HN discussing storytelling in songs and roots music’s importance, here. 4 p.m., $5 suggested donation. RSVP here.
Hear Grand Island: The James Lee Band with Cruz Control, Skyloft and DJ Flykuts –Hear Grand Island closes out 2017 tonight with country rock five-piece The James Lee Band, Kearney funk band Cruz Control and Omaha indie pop duo Skyloft. DJ Flykuts will be there to keep people dancing between sets. HN recently interviewed The James Lee Band on their approach to creating their “red dirt country,” which you can read here. As always, food trucks and drink options will be stationed on the north end of Railside Plaza. 7 p.m. RSVP here.
New American Arts Festival on Benson’s Military Ave. – Benson First Friday and Lutheran Family Services come together to present the fourth annual New American Arts Festival, which highlights the artistic output of immigrants and refugees. From music to spoken word to textiles on sale, NAAF casts a wide net and takes place Friday night just off Maple Street on Military Ave. Read our preview of the event here. RSVP and get more info here.
Power and Progress Festival in Columbus at Camp Pawnee – For the sixth year, the Power and Progress Festival returns to Columbus featuring two nights of music, art and food. 24 bands, including The Midland Band, The Grand Poobah and Slow Stoics, hit Columbus for the festival. Find the full lineup and ticket information here.
Cracker with Clarence Tilton at The Slowdown – Although best known as the band behind the 1993 hit single, “Low,” alt-rock band Cracker have been quietly putting out quality albums in the years since their breakout. Their last full-length, Berkeley to Bakersfield, came in 2014, and the band is back on tour, stopping in Omaha tonight. Omaha alternative country outfit Clarence Tilton opens the show. Check HN’s interview with Clarence Tilton from earlier this summer here, in which they discuss finding their sound and developing their song structures. 8 p.m., $32, all ages. RSVP here.
Third Annual In The Market For Blues Festival – In The Market For Blues Festival returns to The Old Market for its third year on Saturday, and this time, it’s bigger than ever, expanding to eight venues and 26 artists. Nashville’s The Scott Holt Band, New York’s Tas Cru and Arkansas’ Brick Fields each play the festival. $10 gets attendees admittance to each venue, and $5 gets you into one venue for the whole day. Check out the full lineup and RSVP here.