The High Ed / Tsumi - The Zoo Bar - 5/25/06
I generally try not to review bands I didn't like, because I think it's generally
better to say nothing at all then to say anything bad about bands. Taste is subjective,
and just because I don't like something, doesn't mean lots of other people won't love
it. I also don't do it because I want to give ANY band out there playing original music
credit just for doing it. A bad original band is still better than the best cover band.
I got to the Zoo bar moments after the first band kicked off their set. They may have
announced their band name before I got there, but they didn't announce it again until
the very end of the set, so I had no idea who I was listening to, or if they were local or not.
I asked Heather from Tsumi who they were, and although she knew some of the band
members, she didn't know what the band's name was.
They went along in their set, and I have to say, I didn't think there were still bands
out there that were playing music like this. It was really late'60's early '70's sounding.
It was jammy, jazzy, blues rock, and ENTIRELY too long and wanky. I love guitar solos
as much as the next guy, but these just seemed like directionless, mostly melody-less
meandering. I do want to note that this applies more to the lead singer's guitar playing,
the other guitar player was a bitt more consise with his solos, and was fairly well versed
in playing blues solos. I think these guys would have been a HUGE hit playing at The Fillmore
West in it's hippie heydays.
Periodically they'd hit somthing melodically that sounded awesome, and they really could
have gone somewhere with it, but never did. I found much of the lyrics that I could
understand pretty cliche. The songs weren't musically interesting enough to go on for a
long as they did, and I would venture to guess that their average song length was
probably about 6 minutes. On some songs where the soloing went on and on, the bass line
supporting it was just the same 3 or 4 notes repeated over and over for several minutes
of the song. It got really tedious, really fast. These guys were all good musicians, and
they obviously practice and know their songs, becuase they were right on all their
breaks together and everything, but much of the time what the two guitar players were
playing, supposedly together, wasn't complimenting each other very well.
Tsumi was up next, and although I wasn't able to see their whole set, what I did get
to see, say their first 5 or 6 songs, It was WAY better than the first band. They're
kind of jazzy,jammy folk-rock. Great musicianship, especially from guitarist Luke
Sticka. His guitar playing is extremely disciplined and he adds a lot of color, texture
and depth to the songs. Zip's drumming and Joel's bass playing suit the songs and the
band's sound very well. Unlike High Ed's sound which was pretty muddy just because of the
playing, Tsumi's sound was very clean. Rhythm guitarist and lead singer Heather Syren
has a great voice, and that also suits her songs well. The only thing that I considered a
drawback was that she uses the same rhythm strumming pattern on all the songs, and so it
starts making them sound the same after the 3rd song. Heather announced after the 2nd
song that the prevous two songs were written 12 years earlier, but that the next one was
only 2 years old. Stylistically they could have been written 10 minutes apart rather
than 10 years, as little difference as it seemed there was betwen them.
Tsumi will be going out on tour with The Kris Lager Band later this summer, and that can
only help make them a stronger, tighter unit. I think they'll win a lot of new fans on the road.
- Tery Daly
Brewdwitch / Kennedy Luck Club / The Bad Sects / Once A Pawn - The Chatterbox - 5/13/06
This show was loud, and that is good when your ears still function somewhere near their maximum sound-processing threshold. The all-female Brewdwitch played first. They have two guitars and drums. Most of their songs have vocals, but some are instrumental. Although in their infancy, Brewdwitch compensates for any incohesiveness by having a singular sound exemplifying the sum of parts creating a greater, dynamic whole. The drumming fills in space perfectly with beats that appear simultaneously chaotic and calculated. It's exciting for Lincoln to have an all-female band, let alone one with ingenuity. Obviously each member brings a unique perspective on making music. Somehow they connect their influences into a sound that's only theirs. I suppose it wouldn't be entirely inappropriate to compare them to The TunaHelpers, except Brewdwitch do not wear red boas and hold puppet shows on stage.
Kennedy Luck Club was a five-piece group from Topeka, Kansas, with only one female (on keyboard). Before they started, I deduced they were a younger set, maybe in the 18-20 age range. I enjoyed their melodic talents, and points where they built thick sound walls. The main vocalist had a very good voice.
The Bad Sects also contained one female (on drums). I think this three-piece is a completely appropriate band to play with Brewdwitch, because both employ a minimalist approach to guitar rock that hinges on well-timed shifts in mood, volume, and tempo. I've seen many Bad Sects shows, but this time I hardly recognized any of the songs. I deduced they've been working hard on an album's worth of new material, which is very good news. I was also excited about the enthusiastic audience response. I particularly enjoyed the part where The Bad Sects followed a low-key number with a tune best described as hellacious.
Unfortunately I had to miss the end of The Bad Sects' set and all of Once A Pawn's because I had to go to work. Overall, it was awesome to discover a new band from Kansas and witness local music prospering. - Joe Younglove
The Gov't / Awesome Dirtbike / Brewed Witch - Knickerbockers - 5/04/06
Really good show tonight! The first band up tonight was Brewed Witch, and this was their first show. It's always exciting to see a bands first show, because it's nice to catch them from the get-go and watch them develop musically over time, and also because they generally have a level of first time excitement that you don't see again. I was disappointed to find out they weren't actually called Brood Witch, an Aqua Teen Hunger Force reference, cause I love ATHF, and it would have earned them extra "cool points" in my book. Given Knickerbockers penchant for getting band names wrong on their website about 1/3 of the time, I'm not surprised they had their name listed wrong on their calendar. By the way, those cool-points I issue are redeemable for any bag of fertilizer 5 lbs or under at any Ace Hardware store in Lincoln.
Brewed Witch is made up of Marissa on guitar and lead vocals, Jenny on guitar and backing vocals, and Sierra on drums, and while a few of the songs would have benefited from the inclusion of a bass, for the most part, it wasn’t too noticeably absent. What these girls have going in their favor, and it's a big one, is that their music is very original for Lincoln, there's not really anyone else out there at the moment who's playing the type of stuff they are, and their sound is a nice addition to what's available in Lincoln.
Marissa has a great voice, and when Jenny joins in on harmonies, the band sounds even better, but Sierra is the real spark on stage. While the two out front were a bit static, Sierra seemed comfortable on stage and looked like she was having a lot of fun.
Occasionally punky, occasionally poppy, occasionally emo-ish, and more than occasionally indie, but I wouldn't really apply any of those tags to their sound in an overall way. Some of the guitar interplay sounded a bit like Pavement at times, but they don't really sound like Pavement at all. I guess that's the good part about being original, is that it's hard to define the sound; you just have to go check it out for yourself. Personally I would have suggested they practice for about another 3 to 6 months before playing their first show because they didn't seem quite ready. I'm sure first-show nerves might have been a factor, but they would have made a better first impression had they been a bit more polished. A feedback strewn and muddy mix in the house prevented me from being able to hear the lyrics very well, but musically I like what they’re doing.
That aside, when they DO get more solid, they'll definitely make a name for themselves on the Lincoln scene.
Tonight marked the debut of Awesome Dirtbike, and although this was their first show also, it's only a first show under their new name. Of Course, Awesome Dirtbike had been playing for several years as Bear Eats Fish, and as Thieving Winona before that. They've been through a few lineup changes during that time, and now Michael Decatur has taken over guitar duties from Mat Kister, who's focusing on his film making career, in fact Mat was there filming the show last night.
If there was one thing we'd come to expect from a Bear Eats Fish show, it was the unexpected, but that usually came in the form of things like singer Jeff Gustafson making up lyrics to his songs on the spot, or taking a "phone call" between songs (on his wallet) and making fun of the audience during the course of the fake call. Tonight in addition to their kick ass set, they had a puppet show and they cooked corn dogs in a toaster oven on stage and handed them out to the audience. The puppet, Chester (puppeteered and voiced by Madison Vetter), was a leather-clad biker with issues which he and Jeff worked out together during the show. Madison also helped out with a lo-fi "video" during one of their new songs by holding up illustrations of what they lyrics were saying, ala Bob Dylan in the Subterranean Homesick Blues video.
OK, now lets talk about the music. One thing I always loved about Bear Eats Fish was their complete rawness, The fact that none of the members actually played the instrument they play in the band before starting this band lent them a bit of that early punk DIY sloppiness. With Michael in the band, that element is mostly gone, bit his experienced guitar sheen adds a very different element to the band's sound, and I have to say I like it even more. The band is way more solid than they ever were, the old songs rock even more than they used to, and the new songs are incredible!
Jeff Gustafson, wearing jack-boots, torn jeans with holes strategically placed to proudly display his boxers underneath and trademark flannel shirt, is a far more confident front man, and his fat-Elvis crossed with an insane lumberjack antics on stage get better and better with every show. Bear Eats Fish was always kind of an on-again, off-again band due to band member’s schedules. On several occasions Mat Kister had declared that "Bear Eats Fish is dead", only to start hinting about reunion shows soon after, and thankfully they kept coming back. Now that their lineup appears to be a bit more solid, I hope we see a LOT more of Awesome Dirtbike. It WAS awesome!
I had to be up early the next day, so I had to skip out early on Da Gubagub, but I did catch their first 4 or 5 songs of their set, and while the set was all over the place in the early stages, going from their bluesy side to their metal side to their Ween cover side to their country side all in the course of those few songs, it was still really good. One thing that stood out is their BIG new sound. Both Shaun & Scott have switched from Fenders to Gibsons, and it's a noticeable change to their sound. I was talking to Scott before the show and asked if they sounded different because of it, and he said he wasn't sure. Well it definitely is a much bigger sound, and it suits their songs very well.
- Tery Daly
Ideal Cleaners / The Pomonas / Crush The Clown - Knickerbockers - 4/27/06
Tonight's show was a lot of fun. It was kind of like the unofficial start of Rock & Roll season in Lincoln, cause there was a whole bunch of people, including some old timers who you don't usually see out at too many shows, who all ended up out at this one, as well as all the usual suspects, so everywhere you turned was someone you knew...well someone I knew anyway. Not even including the members of the bands who were there to play, there were a ton of Lincoln musicians at the show. Members of The Bad Sects, The Killigans, Westside Proletariat, The Static Octopus, The Terminals, Strawberry Burns. The Mezcal Brothers, Tangelo/Amalgamators, Marianas, Sad Old Lady, Producers of the Word, J.V. Allstars, Good With Guns, The Thielgoods, Humland, The Goddamn Rights (if you count Fujan working behind the bar), and probably a whole bunch more I'm forgetting right now, as well as a bunch of musicians who aren't currently in bands, It was a big party! In a way better for me than last weekend Scenefest show, cause I'm kind of working then.
Crush the Clown kicked off the show, and started their set with a string of older songs. like "Where God Can't Find Me" "Her Lovely Brainwaves", and a few others before moving on to newer greats like Barabbas, and some other newer ones. I loved everything they played!
The Pomonas from Lawrence, KS were next. I liked most of their set. Indie pop leaning a bit more to the indie side than the pop side for these guys. It was pretty interesting, about 2/3rds of the way through the set, the lead singer announced here's where we do that wussy indie part where we trade instruments, or something to that effect, and the bass player switched to guitar and sang several lead vocals after this, and the guitar player switche to bass.
After they made this switch, I liked all the songs they did a lot better. I don't know if the guy who was singing them (bassist switched to guitar) wrote them, since he was singing them, but they were all just better songs, they had a bit more harmonies on them, and were a bit more melodic. I'd definitely check these guys out again.
Tonight was Ideal Cleaners 7" release shwo for their new release "Tag, Your Ick!" on SPEED! Nebraska Records. A really good set by Dan & Co, the highlights of which, for me, were "Marvin, Call Me Tom" and the surprise encore "History of Jenkins". Ted mentioned being a little under the weather with some bug or other, so it was kind of cruel of the band to give him that kind of workout at the end of the night, but he pulled it off with great aplomb. - Tery Daly
See Reviews from 2003 here.
See Reviews from 2004 here.
See Reviews from 2005 here.