Weekend coverage: The Good Living Tour in Red Cloud, Omaha Girls Rock, Nance/Sterba/Pratt at Reverb Lounge & more

[Editor’s note: news comes in two parts today, starting here with photo coverage and review notes from the weekend. Part two comes later today, and will contain the newsier side of coverage.]

The Good Living Tour returns to Red Cloud

The 2017 Good Living Tour continued this weekend in Red Cloud, Nebraska as fans gathered for a second-straight year in the shadow of the historic Starke Round Barn. Headliner Brad Hoshaw and the Seven Deadlies, hometown rock band Lester Junction, singer/songwriter Edem Soul Music and Omaha punks The Ramparts performed to an enthusiastic audience splayed across the lawn just east of Red Cloud proper.

The concert marked the midway point in HN’s free, all-ages summer series, which continues Saturday, July 29 in McCook. While we’re headed back to the southwestern Nebraska community for a second year (as with all remaining stops), this year we have partnered with its annual Prairie Roots Festival. The lineup features Omaha delegates Jagaja, High Up and J Crum with Scottsbluff-nativeAll We Seem. RSVP here.

Below, check out HN multimedia intern Lauren Farris’s photos from the Red Cloud concert.

Lester Junction

Concert Views

Edem Soul Music

The Ramparts

Brad Hoshaw & the Seven Deadlies

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Omaha Girls Rock showcase at Slowdown

The first Omaha Girls Rock summer session went down last week, culminating in its showcase celebrating the creativity, hard work and progress of its aspiring young musicians. Campers engaged in a week’s worth of activities designed to encourage collaboration, confidence, self-reliance and original thinking, all through music education and performance. Session two begins Monday, with its accompanying showcase Saturday at The Waiting Room (RSVP here).

HN contributor Lindsey Yoneda went to Slowdown on Saturday to catch the Week One showcase. See her photos below:

photos by Lindsey Yoneda

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Review: David Nance, Noah Sterba, Sean Pratt & the Sweats at Reverb Lounge

review by Sam Crisler | photos by Emma Petersen

Usually, there’s an aura at album release shows that make them feel like a party, a celebration of an artist who every audience member is there to see. Usually, the artists tout their brand new LP and kindly ask the crowd to consider picking up a copy. Usually, the fans comply and form a disorderly line or two by the merch table.

That atmosphere was largely absent on Friday night at Reverb Lounge, where lo-fi rocker David Nance and experimental songwriter/poet Noah Sterba dropped their latest full-lengths, Negative Boogie and 13 Bar Blues, respectively. Instead, an understatedness floated between each band’s set. Maybe it was the fact each band shared at least one member. Maybe it was the fact that before the show, Nance just drifted around Reverb accompanied by no one except for the beer in his hand. Or that in the rare moments when one of the performers addressed the audience, the new albums were only mentioned once.

No, Nance and Sterba didn’t seem to be at Reverb to do any celebrating. They were content with playing a few new songs and seeing what their crowd thought.

Sean Pratt and the Sweats kicked things off, but the Omaha singer-songwriter and his band didn’t really kick any doors open — it was more like a few knocks on the door and slowly turning the knob. Without a word, Pratt climbed onto his chair on the stage, grabbed his Gibson acoustic guitar and began strumming a two-chord progression with just his fingers. But where some hushed alt-country songs transitioning from A to E chords might sound too simple, the densely textured climaxes — built from Pratt’s emphatically soaring vocals, chiming guitar leads and rhythmic cello — proved that even a two-chord progression can still sound fresh.

Aside from the lyrics of his effortlessly echoing voice that filled the room through his barely open mouth, Pratt avoided much talking. He thanked the crowd once and returned to his somber, meditative country music, tip-toeing one foot at a time between measures, as if the only way to keep time. Then, just as quietly as the set started, Pratt and company wrapped their fifth and final song and left the stage.

It wasn’t long after Pratt’s set when Noah Sterba and his seven-person band, wielding a steel guitar, tambourine, synth, and with Nance on guitar, crowded the Reverb stage and began hitting clashing notes held together only by a sliding bassline. Megan Siebe’s cello groaned louder and louder, as did Kevin Donahue’s driving kick drum and Nance’s tangled power chords and ruthless bends, until scattered noise rebounded from wall to wall. After five minutes, it all cut out, leaving just Siebe’s cello and Donahue’s light cymbal riding. And Sterba, wearing loose-fitting jean shorts and mismatched socks, finally approached the microphone and read the first words of a three-page poem that closes the Omaha singer-songwriter’s new record 13 Bar Blues (Unread Records).

The majority of the poem used the recurring device “This is for the ___(fill-in-the-blank identifier) ___,” which allowed Sterba to detail his seemingly stream-of-consciousness observations. The poem lacked any biting statements until one stanza, which marked the evening’s most stark tone change through Sterba’s startling use of ethnic, racial and gender-related slurs in rapid succession. (We won’t print the words Sterba used, but you can find them here.)

The poem seemed an attempt at both provocation and reclamation, as Sterba argued that relieving those words of their power is required to allow for unimpeded discourse. For this reviewer, only the former happened. Perhaps, as a white man, those words don’t offend Sterba, but no doubt for people for whom the slurs were created to offend and oppress, erasing their meaning is impossible. At best, the poem — which also exists in print and on the new record — missed the mark, and, at the very least, will likely offend a significant portion of his intended audience.

To someone unfamiliar with Nance, they may have thought the guy with shaggy blonde hair and dark gray Asics linking guitar pedals on stage by himself was just a sound tech setting up. Without a word, that guy kept to himself, plugged in a Delta King hollow-body and commenced ripping dirty, bass-heavy guitar chords until they washed over the Reverb show room, forcing everyone to pay attention. What at first whiffed of standard pre-show soundchecking twisted into a performance as Nance was joined by bassist Tom May. One by one, the band grew, with guitarist Jim Schroeder emerging from backstage and grabbing his guitar while Nance kept building tension with his wah-wah antics. Finally, drummer Kevin Donahue returned to his throne, and Nance shouted “1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3,” launching the band into the plodding anthem “Give It Some Time.”

The band’s entire set went that way, playing songs from the new Negative Boogie LP (Ba Da Bing Records) with forceful, gritty power chords dominating the mix and Nance leading the way with his mighty guitar bends and authoritative roaring in songs like “River With No Color.” He didn’t just sing the hook of the Negative Boogie title track, he commanded the audience to partake in his anti-dance.

Following that song, he surprisingly revealed his nervousness to play in front of his in-laws for the first time. But any jitters were shaken off almost immediately, as Nance oozed a humble confidence throughout the set, thrashing as he bent his guitar’s strings into submission. blasting the room with his imposing rasp while his hair blinded his eyes.

The band’s energy subsided only once, during the second half of the set, when Nance broke out the Merle Haggard cover “Silver Wings” and invited Icky Blossoms’ Sarah Bohling out of the audience and onto the stage for the duet. But with a new face on stage and with Benson’s resident flower salesman pacing through the crowd, enough quirkiness remained to maintain the eccentric mood of the enigma that is David Nance.

And, boy, did it return when Nance closed the set with the unrelenting “5, 2 and 4,” which thumped so heavily that the absence of an impromptu mosh pit boggled the mind. The track plodded and grooved, forcing the mostly stationary crowd to at least tap some feet. As the song met its climax, Nance ripped off a feedback-and-wah-drenched solo with so much assuredness that the barrage of noise didn’t even matter. It was a performance from a man at the top of his game, with a radiating confidence that left the audience more than satisfied, even when the house lights returned while they plead for an encore.

photos by Emma Petersen

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See Through Dresses release ‘Horse of the Other World’ at The Waiting Room

Rounding out our weekend photo coverage, See Through Dresses performed to a packed house at The Waiting Room Saturday, in celebration of its sophomore LP Horse of the Other World. The Omaha indie rock band released that album, its second on punk label Tiny Engines, just the day before. It marks a directional shift for the Omaha indie rock band toward a more synth-infused yet still guitar-driven sound. Fellow Omaha band Bokr Tov and Kansas City quartet Fullbloods.

See photos by HN intern Marti Vaughan below:

See Through Dresses


Bokr Tov

Photos by Marti Vaughan

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Watch for part two of Monday’s HN News — on a new Tymbal Tapes release, Simon Joyner tour and more — later today.

Questions, concerns or comments? News tips and story ideas to share? Email us at news@hearnebraska.org.