My Omaha Alternative Holiday Experience
Winter time in Omaha is generally not a great time for attending concerts. For one thing, many nationally touring acts avoid the Midwest at this time of year due to weather concerns. Another thing is that people are frankly so busy during the holiday season that hitting the club to see a good band is generally not really on their radar screen. This presumption is being seriously challenged this year, as Omaha is set for a pretty impressive December.
The month starts with the return of Japanese noise rockers, Melt Banana, Saturday, December 5 at Waiting Room. These guys are not for the soft at heart. The all-out insanity of the band’s albums is multiplied by its live show. Words can barely do justice to the experience. Opening the show are two strong locals: Beep Beep and The Show Is the Rainbow. Saddle Creek recording artists, Beep Beep, are winding down their short career (only two full length releases) with a series of shows this month before calling it quits. TSITR is a metro area concert staple that never fails to deliver the goods as eccentric and exciting performers.
The next weekend offers the kind of musical diversity that has made Omaha a mandatory tour stop for most touring bands. I mean, how’s this for range?! Legendary classic rockers, KISS, return for a concert at Council Bluff’s Mid America Center Friday, December 11. The band is on the road in support of its first new album in more than a decade, and despite losing original members Ace Frehley and Peter Criss a few years back, so far the reviews have been overwhelmingly positive. But, as any KISS fan will tell you, reviews are pretty much beside the point when dealing with KISS.
If KISS is not your thing, it might be a good idea to hit Slowdown instead. Denver, Colorado indie rockers, Flashbulb Fires, will be hitting the club’s front room stage along with three openers. To be honest, I have no idea who two of the groups – The Machete Archive and Down with the Ship – even are, but the third opener, Honey & Darling, is among the best up-and-coming indie bands in Omaha. The band’s new EP, What Became of What I Love, features some great pop that recalls early 90s indie darlings, The Blake Babies. Keep an eye on this band.
Saturday, December 12 offers a strong night of local music headlined by one of Omaha’s best, It’s True, at Waiting Room. If I were a betting man (which actually I am not), I’d put money down on It’s True having a very successful 2010. The band has already recorded a stellar (though as yet unreleased) debut album and the crowds have been getting larger each time the band performs. The sound of It’s True is hard to describe. I hear elements of noisy shoegaze rock mixed with quiet singer/songwriter type stuff. The individual members are all talented musicians, but collectively, they exceed the sum of their parts. Something magical happens once they really get going. After seeing It’s True only two times, I have already ranked them near the top of Omaha’s legendary indie music scene.
Which transitions easily to the next evening, Sunday, December 13, and a band that has sat atop the aforementioned Omaha scene for nearly a decade, Cursive. The international jet setters return home for the holidays, and to be a part of a special concert to benefit the children of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. The annual toy drive has been a community fixture since 2003. This year’s benefit show, at Waiting Room, features Cursive, along with Capgun Coup, Brad Hoshaw, and Vago. A great line-up for a great cause!
The next show that caught my attention featured Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship on Sunday, December 20 at Waiting Room. The group has been toiling away for years in Omaha, and building a strong reputation as a live band. Opening are The Stay Awake and At Land. Bring ear plugs if you value hearing retention.
It’s a good thing that many folks get time off from work during the Xmas season, otherwise it would be hard to catch the flurry of live music events taking place in the last week and a half or so of the year. Bright Eyes front man and leader of the Mystic Valley Band, Conor Oberst, will be playing a rare solo show at the Waiting Room on Tuesday, December 22. Both Simon Joyner and Renee Ledesma Hoover are opening, but if you don’t already have a ticket, you are S.O.L. The show sold out in a matter of minutes.
If you can’t swing a ticket for Oberst, then it is mandatory that you get one for the next night’s show at Waiting Room. Before Conor Oberst and Bright Eyes, before Cursive, and before The Faint, the kings of the Omaha music community were Mousetrap. These inventive punk rockers put Omaha’s underground scene on the national map with a series of strong recordings in the 90s. The guys eventually moved to Chicago before breaking up at some point in 1998. Many older scenesters have talked about the band’s incendiary live shows, but few people under the age of 35 actually witnessed one. That can now be rectified with a rare reunion show on the 23rd. Opening the show is another strong, recently reunited local band from the 90s, Mercy Rule. The aforementioned Beep Beep will also open in what will be their final show as a band. The Wagon Blasters are also on the bill.
Local folk rockers, Mal Madrigal, will be celebrating the release of its newest LP with a show at Slowdown on Saturday, December 26. Machineshop and Tin Kite round out the bill. The next night, Sunday the 27th, marks the return to the stage of The Good Life at Slowdown. TGL features Cursive leader Tim Kasher, and his often confessional and powerful songs take a different set of twists and turns when he plays with this group of talented locals.
The month ends on a very strong note with three nights in a row with The Faint. If you’ve read this far, then you no doubt know the story of The Faint. Fans of the dance punk band will be given the rare treat of seeing their heroes in the intimate setting of The Waiting Room on the 28th, 29th, and 30th. Each night offers different local support (including Honey & Darling and Lincoln’s UUVVWWZ). All three shows sold out quickly. I hope you got your tickets.
I’ll be hitting as many of these shows as my fragile hearing and aching bones will allow. Check back soon for reviews, photos, and more.