Tag Archives: Conor Oberst

2017 July/August Concerts

Free Concert series

Enjoy an eclectic array of live music, including rock, R&B, blues, jazz, and county from local and national musicians. Located in some of Omaha’s most vibrant metro areas, these summer concert series are sure to get the whole family grooving.

• Bridge Beats (The Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge Plaza, 705 Riverfront Dr.): 6-9:30 p.m. Fridays, July 14 and 28.

• Jazz on the Green (Turner Park in Midtown Crossing, 3110 Farnam St.): starting at 6:30 p.m. Thursdays through July and Aug. 3, 10.

• Music in the Park (Bayliss Park, 100 Pearl St. Council Bluffs, IA): 6-8:30 p.m. Thursdays through July and Aug. 3.

• Playing with Fire Festival (Turner Park in Midtown Crossing, 3110 Farnam St.): 5:30 p.m. July 14 and 4:30 p.m. July 15.

• Rockbrook Village (2800 S. 110th Court): 7-8 p.m. Fridays, except July 7.

• Sounds of Summer (Nebraska Medicine Amphitheater, Shadow Lake Town Center, 72nd St. and Highway 370): 6:30-8:30 p.m. Fridays through Aug. 18.

• Stinson Concert Series (Aksarben Village, 2285 S. 67th St.): 7-10 p.m. Saturdays July 8, 22, 29; and Aug. 5, 12.

• Vibes (Village Pointe, 17305 Davenport St.): 6:30-8:30 p.m. Saturdays through Aug. 19.

Awolnation: July 7 at Stir Cove, 1 Harrah’s Blvd., Council Bluffs. Alt-rock band Awolnation comes to Council Bluffs as part of Stir Cove’s summer concert series. 8 p.m. Tickets: $35-$98. 712-329-6000.
ticketmaster.com

Queen + Adam Lambert: July 8 at CenturyLink Center Omaha, 455 N. 10th St. Queen and Lambert’s collaboration began in 2009 on American Idol followed by many joint performances. Next up is this highly-anticipated 25-city summer arena tour. 8 p.m. Tickets: $27.50-$137.50. 402-341-1500.
ticketmaster.com

Conor Oberst (CANCELLED)July 13 at The Waiting Room Outdoors, 6212 Maple St. The Waiting Room Lounge will move outdoors for a unique concert experience in the heart of Benson. Conor Oberst has partnered with Plus1 and will donate $1 to Planned Parenthood for every ticket sold. 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $30. 402-884-5353.
waitingroomlounge.com

AJR: July 16 at Slowdown, 729 N. 14th St. Three brothers, born and raised in New York City, make up AJR–the independent band who writes, records, and produces all content in their living room. Their electro-pop single “I’m Ready,” has over 1 million YouTube views. 8 p.m. Tickets: $15 in advance, $18 at the door. 402-345-7569.
theslowdown.com

Blondie and Garbage: July 19 at Stir Cove, 1 Harrah’s Blvd, Council Bluffs. New-wave/punk band Blondie and alt-rock band Garbage come together for their “Rage and Rapture Tour.” 7 p.m. Tickets: $50-$178. 712-329-6000.
ticketmaster.com

Cody Johnson: July 20 at Slowdown, 729 N. 14th St. A country singer from Texas, Cody Johnson has self-released six albums–the sixth, Gotta Be Me, debuted at No. 2 on Billboard’s country album chart. 8 p.m. Tickets: $18 in advance, $20 at the door. 402-345-7569.
theslowdown.com

Goo Goo Dolls: July 21 at Stir Cove, 1 Harrah’s Blvd, Council Bluffs. The grunge-rock icons behind “Iris” and “Give a Little Bit” are coming in promotion of the band’s latest album, Long Way Home. 8 p.m. Tickets: $45-$178. 712-329-6000.
ticketmaster.com

Nickelback: July 21 at CenturyLink Center Omaha, 455 N. 10th St. Join the Canadian multi-platinum rock band at their “Feed the Machine” tour with special guests Daughtry and Shaman’s Harvest. 7 p.m. Tickets: $27.50-$220. 402-341-1500.
ticketmaster.com

Dashboard Confessional & The All American Rejects: July 22 at Stir Cove, 1 Harrah’s Blvd, Council Bluffs. Want to know a “Dirty Little Secret”?  The All-American Rejects will let you in on one as they tour with Dashboard Confessional this summer. 8 p.m. Tickets: $39-$118. 712-329-6000.
ticketmaster.com

RiverJam 17: July 21-23 at Riverwest Park, 23301 W. Maple Road. The fifth installment of the summertime classic will bring bands and DJ performances, with  local headliners to include Linear Symmetry, Funk Trek, and Peach Truck (an Allman Brothers tribute). Friday: 2 p.m., Saturday: 9 a.m. Admission (includes camping): $25 weekend pass, $15 day pass. 402-953-4731.
riverwestpark.com

Paul McCartney: July 23 at CenturyLink Center Omaha, 455 N. 10th St. The “One on One” tour features dozens of classics from one of the most beloved catalogs in popular music, spanning McCartney’s entire career as a solo artist, member of Wings, and of course, as a Beatle. 8 p.m. Tickets: $97.50-$250. 402-341-1500.
ticketmaster.com

Come Together: A Musical Celebration of the Beatles: July 29 at Village Pointe, 17305 Davenport St. Bring your lawn chair and arrive early to get a good seat. Come Together: A Musical Celebration of the Beatles plays non-stop to give the concertgoers as many of their favorite tunes from The Beatles as possible. Free. 6:30-8:30 p.m. 402-505-9773.
villagepointeshopping.com

Tempo of Twilight Concert Series: Through Aug. 1 at Lauritzen Gardens, 100 Bancroft St. This outdoor concert series brings a spectacular lineup of local entertainment to the garden for a harmonious blend of music and nature. 6-8 p.m. Admission: $10 adults, $5 children (6-12), free for under 6 and members. 402-346-4002.
lauritzengardens.org

Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo: Aug 4. at Stir Cove, 1 Harrah’s Blvd, Council Bluffs. The “Love is a Battlefield” singer teams up with longtime collaborator Neil Giraldo for a summer tour. 8 p.m. Tickets: $40-$128. 712-329-6000.
ticketmaster.com

Lady Antebellum: Aug. 4 at CenturyLink Center Omaha, 455 N. 10th St. The country music group is on the road again for their “You Look Good Tour 2017,” featuring special guests Kelsea Ballerini and Brett Young. 7:30 p.m. $28.50-$119. 402-341-1500.
ticketmaster.com

Shawn Mendes: Aug. 5 at CenturyLink Center Omaha, 455 N. 10th St. On his third concert tour, join the 18-year-old Canadian singer and songwriter in support of his second studio album, Illuminate, on his “Illuminate World Tour” with special guest Charlie Puth. 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $18-$65.50. 402-341-1500.
ticketmaster.com

Delta Rae: Aug. 8 at The Waiting Room, 6212 Maple St. From Durham, North Carolina, the six-piece American folk rock band has headlined more than 100 shows each year and are regulars on the festival circuit since forming in 2009. 8 p.m. Tickets: $16-$20. 402-884-5353.
waitingroomlounge.com

Sylvan Esso: Aug. 8 at Sokol Auditorium, 2234 S. 13th St. Sylvan Esso formed in 2013. From Durham, North Carolina, the duo is made up of singer Amelia Meath and producer Nick Sanborn. Their sophomore album, What Now, was released April 28. 8 p.m. Tickets: $21 in advance, $23 day of show. 402-346-9802.
sylvanesso.com

Young the Giant: Aug. 8 at SumTur Amphitheater, 11691 S. 108th St. After breaking out with their 2010 self-titled debut album, the Los Angeles quintet continues to brave new terrain with their wildly eclectic arrangements. Special guests will include Cold War Kids and Joywave. 7 p.m. Tickets: $33. 402-597-2065.
sumtur.org

Green Day: Aug. 12 at CenturyLink Center Omaha, 455 N. 10th St. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Grammy-winning rock band will kick off its summer tour in August, featuring their latest album Revolution Radio—which included the No. 1 single, “Bang Bang.” 7 p.m. Tickets: $27.50-$250. 402-341-1500.
ticketmaster.com

Blues Cruise with Swampboy Blues Band: Aug. 13 at River City Star, 151 Freedom Park Road. Soak up the local scenery along the Missouri River at a fun, lively pace with a drink in hand and live blues music as a soundtrack. 3-5 p.m. Tickets: $20. 402-342-7827.
rivercitystar.com

Coldplay: Aug. 14 at CenturyLink Center Omaha, 455 N. 10th St. Join the seven-time Grammy-winning, British alternative rock band on their seventh concert tour, the “A Head Full of Dreams Tour.” 7 p.m. Tickets: $67.50-$223. 402-341-1500.
ticketmaster.com

City and Colour: Aug. 16 at Slowdown, 729 N. 14th St. City and Colour, aka world-renowned singer, songwriter, and performer Dallas Green, has traveled the globe on tour and has released numerous successful albums. Most recently, he released his acclaimed fifth studio record, If I Should Go Before You, which debuted at No. 16 on the Billboard 200 Chart. Tickets: $35 in advance, $40 at the door. 8 p.m. 345-7569.
theslowdown.com

Lady Gaga: Aug. 19 at CenturyLink Center Omaha, 455 N. 10th St. Following her Super Bowl performance, the international superstar brings her world tour, “Joanne,” to Omaha. 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $86-$250. 402-341-1500.
ticketmaster.com

Maha Music Festival: Aug. 19 at Stinson Park in Aksarben Village, 2285 S. 67th St. Omaha’s one-of-a-kind, annual nonprofit indie music festival is back with headliners Run The Jewels and 10 other acts, including Belle and Sebastian, The Faint, Sleigh Bells, and more. Noon-midnight. Tickets: $55 general admission. 402-554-3689.
mahamusicfestival.com


This calendar is published as shown in the print edition.

We welcome you to submit events to our print calendar. Please email event details and a 300 ppi photograph three months in advance to: editintern@omahamagazine.com


*Times and details for any event may change. Check with venue or event organizer to confirm.

The Evolution 
of Pop Music

April 15, 2017 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Admittedly, 34-year-old Omaha native Jonathan Tvrdik doesn’t sleep much. Between co-owning Benson’s Krug Park, working as a consultant for his wife Sarah Lorsung Tvrdik’s business Hello Holiday, being a father to 2-year-old son Hugo, directing music videos and commercials, making music, and holding down a day job as both the executive creative director at Phenomblue and head of product design at Rova, there’s not a lot of room for much else. It’s a path he can trace back to childhood.

“When I was a little kid, I played by myself and was always building things,” Tvrdik recalls. “I’m an adult version of that kid who is constantly making new project—like a band, bar, new app, or music video. I’ve always been a goal-oriented person with lots of irons in the fire.”

Ironically, that’s where the inspiration behind the name of Tvrdik’s upcoming solo album came from. Titled Irons, it’s a project over two years in the making and one that took careful crafting with the help of longtime friend and drummer for The Faint Clark Baechle. Busting at the seams with heavy themes of introspection and emotional growth, Irons illustrates a tumultuous period in Tvrdik’s life.

“For better or for worse, that’s where I’ve always been—busy,” he says. “I don’t even know what that has created in me—like who am I as a person? I’ve always been a workhorse, but who am I really? Each song dissects a different thing I am doing or interested in, or a certain vice I have as a result of all the stuff I am working with. It’s a very self-analytical sort of record.”

Beginning with “Something Better” and culminating with “Star Stick,” the 11-track album is like Joy Division meets The Faint, or as Tvrdik describes it, “Frank Sinatra on top of electronica-goth.” It was a true labor of love and Tvrdik really trusted Baechle’s expertise. Some tracks he thought were polished and ready to go; Baechle would hear them and mistakingly refer to them as “demos.” It took the experience of his fine-tuned ear to sew up any loose ends.

“We’ve made a lot music together over the years from a musician and engineer standpoint,” Tvrdik explains. “For this one, we started working through the process of what it was going to look like. I always knew when I was done mixing and recording it on my own, I would take it to him to refine. My producorial technique is very raw. For songs I thought were done and perfect, Clark would be like, ‘I got your demos’ [laughs]. I’m very right brained and he’s very left. I wanted his brain to go through it with a fine-toothed comb and nit pick the hell out of it, which he did. I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out.”

Although Tvrdik’s music background goes back to The Cog Factory days, where Omaha staples like Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst, Cursive’s Tim Kasher, and The Faint’s Todd Fink (Baechle’s older brother) got their start in the early ’90s, naturally he’s experienced plenty of evolutionary changes in terms of his musical output. At one point, he was in a hardcore band, and later a noise-based outfit. While he felt he was still emotionally expressive in all of them, it’s with the forthcoming Irons he felt he was truly able to effectively communicate to the listener exactly what he was experiencing.

This article was printed in the March/April 2017 edition of Encounter.

Keeping Up With Kasher

February 3, 2017 by
Illustration by Derek Joy

Anyone who went to dances or homecoming festivities at Creighton Prep, Marian, Duchesne Academy, Cathedral, or other Omaha high schools from late-1989 through the early ’90s probably bounced their head to the beat of a cover band called The March Hares. At the time, no one realized they were witnessing one of the most original talents ever to come out of Omaha.

Tim Kasher,  “like most ragged teenage guitar players,” had already been bitten by the underground bug when he and four Prep mates, including Matt Maginn and Matt Oberst, older brother of future indie singer-songwriter Conor Oberst, formed the group. They performed covers of bands like The Clash, The Cure, and R.E.M. in public, while playing original music in one another’s basements.

“It was a good little business,” recalls Kasher fondly, from his home in Los Angeles. “We found what got us most excited and, instead of baseball, it was music.”

tim-kasherMore than 25 years later, music still gets the indie rocker excited and “out of bed every morning.”  He’s writing and recording original songs for his current bands, Cursive and The Good Life. He’s also using his degree in English from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to write screenplays and, as always, testing the limits of his vocal cords.

“It’s definitely getting tougher to push the voice,” admits Kasher, 42, whose nasal and sometimes pitchy cries of anguish make his voice unmistakable. “I long to be 20 again, when I could scream as much as I wanted to. I can’t mistreat it now.”

Kasher will have to pace himself this spring when he goes on tour promoting a new solo album, his third. Titled No Resolution, the album comes out in March and, according to Kasher, features the lush sounds of strings, which he helped arrange.

True to form, Kasher wrote and directed a low-budget, feature-length film of the same name that uses all the songs from the album. “The film No Resolution is about a couple in their 30s who get engaged because she’s pregnant,” Kasher explains. “It’s set over New Year’s Eve, an appropriate backdrop to expose that the guy isn’t quite ready.”

Omahans saw an early edit of the film during the Omaha Film Festival last March. The final cut comes out this summer. Unlike many of his lyrics, the movie contains no autobiographical details. A happy and devoted Kasher married an editor at L.A. Weekly about one year ago. The couple live in the Silver Lake neighborhood, where they mingle with a sizeable group of Omaha transplants.
The musician’s private contentment hasn’t tempered his desire for professional independence. With the new year comes an announcement sure to send tremors through Omaha’s indie sphere: Kasher now has his own record label called 15 Passenger, a nod to an old touring van.

“The new album is on it. We also have all our master reels for Cursive, so we’re going to be releasing our back catalog, along with new stuff” he says. “We’re not planning on getting into the game of taking big gambles on new artists. Just self-releasing.”

What about Omaha-based Saddle Creek Records, the label formed and grown, in part, from Kasher’s talent? “Saddle Creek is alive and well. We’re just transitioning over.”

With a new album, new film, and a new record label, the beat goes on for Tim Kasher.

Visit timkasher.com for more information.

The Faint

October 9, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Perhaps we’re spoiled in Omaha. While mainstream America suckles on pop-tart music offerings, we’ve grown fat on a steady diet of indie rock.

thefaintFor goodness sake, independent record label Saddle Creek Records is in our backyard. Indie rock star Conor Oberst considers Nebraska home. And hometown music legends The Faint continue to release new music for fans to devour.

In fact, the Omaha-based and internationally touring band, The Faint, just released a career retrospective, CAPSULE: 1999-2016, featuring 17 years of hits along with two brand-new tracks. The band currently consists of Clark Baechle, Dapose, Graham Ulicny (in place of long-time keyboard player Jacob Thiele), and Todd Fink.

“The new release is a collection of songs from the time when we started making music until now,” says Fink, the band’s lead singer, in a recent phone interview while on tour.

The new album, CAPSULE: 1999-2016, is filled with heavy, punky, electronic, pulsating, dark dance music of the past. The two new songs are titled “Skylab1979” and “ESP.” After a September digital release, the vinyl double LP was scheduled to debut on Oct. 28.

The Faint’s newest album signals a return to a familiar label, Saddle Creek. (That’s right, after briefly breaking away to start their own label, The Faint has returned to Saddle Creek.) In August, Saddle Creek shared a video for the band’s second new track, “Skylab1979,” which compiles old footage from outer space missions into a static-laden supercut.

We’re always looking for what’s going to happen next. We never quite get the momentum of other trends. That might hurt us, but we make music that we like and hope that fans like.”

-Todd Fink

While on tour, lead singer Fink shared his thoughts about the recording process, the band’s live shows, and his 17-year career with The Faint.

Although the band was conceived in 1994, and performed under the name “Norman Bailor” with a young Oberst, it grew into something much more. Songs faded. Faces changed (other former members included Matt Bowen and Joel Petersen). But the band’s insatiable desire for perfecting their sounds never wavered.

The Faint was electro-dance-punk before there was such a genre. “We were trying to push something futuristic, trying to find something that felt beyond guitars and traditional (rock) sounds,” Fink says.

In 1997, the band was renamed as The Faint. Two years and a lot of experimenting with synthesizers later, The Faint nailed its signature sound—throbbing and moody. CAPSULE: 1999-2016 takes fans on the band’s musical journey.

“That whole time we were figuring out what we were doing,” Fink says. “We waited. We were waiting to find out who we were as musicians, what our vision for music was going to be.”

Being visionary helped The Faint quickly find their audience. With Blank-Wave Arcade in 1999, the band began to enjoy breakout success, and people took notice.

Throughout the new release of CAPSULE: 1999-2016, The Faint continues to keep their die-hard fans in mind. “We’re always looking for what’s going to happen next,” Fink says. “We never quite get the momentum of other trends. That might hurt us, but we make music that we like and hope that
fans like.”

Visit thefaint.com for more information. Omaha

thefaint3

Girl on Fire

August 13, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Haunting melodies float on a summer breeze. Anna McClellan is practicing on the grand piano;  her melancholy lyrics and precise keystrokes are muffled by walls of her friend’s house in the Dundee neighborhood. Step inside the house and it becomes clear: the calm singer-songwriter with oversized eyeglasses is on fire.

AnnaMcClellan2McClellan, 23, is preparing for several shows scheduled across town in the coming days and weeks. She is also preparing for a two-week, cross-country tour to California. Her destination: Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, a free festival on the first weekend of October at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. She is booking her own gigs for the trip there and back.

The Omaha-born musician will take the stage with another famous local singer-songwriter, Conor Oberst. One of the festival’s seven stages is called “Conor Brings Friends.”

Oberst contributed vocals to McClellan’s most successful single, “Fire Flames,” also the title of her 2015 album (Fire Flames was a cassette tape released simultaneously in digital format by Majestic Litter).

McClellan has played several times at Oberst’s Pageturners Lounge in Dundee. “He’s very supportive of a lot of people around town,” she says. “It’s nice in Omaha, because it’s such a tight-knit community of people (making music). It’s really easy to get help.”

She wrote the song “Fire Flames” in a single sitting, which McClellan says is unusual for her. The lyrics exemplify a recurring theme in her music: “It is such a universal idea to want to be a part of what’s going on, and what the world is, and also being scared of it. But knowing that even though you’re scared of it, if you don’t jump in and try to be a part of it, you won’t be satisfied.”

In conversation, her demeanor is so chill. But she’s a hustler behind the scenes. She works two jobs (one at Joslyn Art Museum, another at The Blackstone Meatball) and plays shows around town by night. She’s speaking to Omaha Magazine on her day off.

AnnaMcClellan3McClellan began studying piano at age 8 through the Omaha Conservatory of Music. She credits the tutelage of Anne Madison for inspiring her passion for piano. Playing the saxophone in jazz band, concert band, and marching band (while a student at Central High School) helped her break out of her comfort zone: “I tend toward structure, where everything’s pre-planned and you know what you are going to do. To be taken out of that comfort zone, and then pushed into solos, made me better, more daring.”

Her mother, former KETV newscaster Carol Kloss, also provided crucial encouragement. They performed together in church musicals, and Kloss included McClellan—the younger of her two daughters—in several Omaha Press Club Show performances.

McClellan first began experimenting with songwriting while studying abroad in Denmark during her junior year of high school. She was in a band called Howard after returning to Omaha, then went solo in 2013. Last year she moved to New York City for three months, working and performing, eventually catching a break to go on tour as the opener for the band Frankie Cosmos. 

Now, she’s working on a new album with Ben Brodin (the Omaha producer of Fire Flames). “We recorded new demos last Sunday for the new record,” McClellan says in July. “It’s going to be a little different. All of the songs that were in Fire Flames were written over this long period (some dating back to high school) more like a collection, but this will be more cohesive.”

“A lot of it is about relationships of two people…and romantic relationships in general, and then, fear,” she says, laughing. “I think it’s easy to get worked up over being scared, so I tend to do that a lot, even for the sake of the song.”

Visit annamcclellan.bandcamp.com for more information. Omaha Magazine

AnnaMcClellan1

Dan Brennan

May 6, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Dan Brennan, 37, has long understood how important the sound system is during a live music performance.

“I’m a musician. I was always fascinated by watching other engineers do what they do,” he says. “I understood at a young age that the soundman can really make a difference in the performance of the band or the artist.”

Brennan is the production manager at Slowdown in north downtown. In layman’s terms, he’s the guy in charge of the sound system. That’s an important job for a venue like Slowdown, which hosts live music three to four nights a week.

He says, “I started getting interested in running sound when I was volunteering at The Cog Factory,” an all-ages music venue for punk rock bands that closed in 2002. “That would have been in the late ’90s.” From there he attended recording school and worked at several recording studios. After that, he transitioned from making records to working in live sound.

Brennan has been a long-time friend of Slowdown owners Jason Kulbel and Robb Nansel. His wife, Jenny Zimmer, is an architect who, coincidentally, designed Slowdown’s building.

“It was the right fit for the venue,” he says about taking the job he has held for nine years. It involves working nights and weekends, but that’s a small price to pay to do what he loves. “I get to see a lot of good music [and] be around other musicians and engineers.”

Of course, it doesn’t always go quite as smoothly as he would like. Every performance comes with its own unique challenges.

“I think having a basic, general knowledge of music is vital to the job,” he says. Having a good ear is, of course, essential. Even more important, though, is being able to communicate with the artists. Working with the performers to create just the right sound is a skill itself. Sometimes the shows are so big as to strain the venue’s capacity, as was the case when the Smashing Pumpkins came and brought two semi-trucks’ worth of equipment.

“Being able to communicate with the bands or their crew is the biggest challenge of the job,” he says. “It’s a lot more than just pushing knobs and buttons.”

But sometimes, everything comes together. Brennan fondly remembers a 2008 show that served as a rally for Barack Obama’s campaign for president. The show included a solo performance by Conor Oberst. Jim James, the lead singer and guitarist for My Morning Jacket, played a set.

“There was just something about [James’] performance with just an acoustic guitar and his voice,” he says. “It literally made the hair on the back of my neck stand up.”

Ultimately, the goal is to make sure the fans have the best possible experience. And Brennan clearly doesn’t take that responsibility for granted.

“I feel very fortunate to have a career in music,” he says. “Not very many people get to have that opportunity.” Encounter

Visit theslowdown.com to learn more.

DanBrennan

The Essential Conor Oberst

October 15, 2015 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Conor Oberst, since age 13, has released one of the strongest catalogs in modern American music. His unmistakable voice and penetrating lyrics stand front and center, whether under his own name; the adolescent, yet strangely adult Commander Venus; the defining work of Bright Eyes; the all star Monsters of Folk; or the topical rock of Desaparecidos.

Do You Feel At Home – The title track from Commander Venus’s 1994 debut presents many Oberst signatures: wise-beyond-years lyrics; a controlled, yet shaky delivery; catharsis; and hooks that set the singer-songwriter apart.

Touch – Bright Eyes’ Jan. 1998 debut A Collection of Songs presented the lo-fi blueprint of the confessional songwriting to come, yet their September release, Letting Off the Happiness, is where the magic happened. “Touch” blends the manic vocals of Oberst’s acoustic songs without acoustic: blitzed out drums and “broken” keyboards make “Touch” an amazingly honest, fractured gem.

Something Vague – 2000’s Fevers and Mirrors solidifies the eclectic instrumentation of modern Bright Eyes. “Something Vague” perfectly expresses the confusion and passing of adolescence to early independent adulthood.

You Will. You? Will. You? Will. You? – 2002’s Lifted is the album that placed Oberst in the national spotlight, with ambition bursting from everywhere. “You Will …,” is a simple message and melody that not only sticks in one’s head but practically signs a lease on the place.

Poison Oak – Bright Eyes most popular album, 2005’s I’m Wide Awake it’s Morning, is a classic. “Lua” and “First Day of My Life” are Oberst staples; however, his work is rarely more personal than on “Poison Oak.” The humanity and pure emotion Oberst displays across this track is staggering.

Easy/Lucky/Free Digital Ash in a Digital Urn, also released in 2005, explored Oberst’s electronic inclinations. Digital Ash brought a new sheen and darkness to Bright Eyes’ take on electro rock. “Easy/ Lucky/ Free” closes this underrated collection with a meditation on an apocalyptic mortality.

Cape Canaveral– Oberst returned to the stripped down leanings of earlier releases for his 2008 self-titled solo album. Weaving vivid imagery and mysticism, Oberst achieves a new sense of universality on “Cape Canaveral.” Using acoustic guitar as accompaniment, Oberst wisely sings: “Victory’s sweet even deep in the cheap seats.”

Time Forgot – Oberst entered the major label world in 2014 with the well-polished Upside Down Mountain. “Time Forgot” presents us with a familiar Oberst landscape, though with a new sense that with fight and dedication, the tunnel may just have some light.

City on the Hill – Desaparecidos have become one of America’s more relevant rock bands. Despite a 13-year gap between their debut and the 2015 release Payola, Denver Dalley, Matt Baum, Landon Hedges, Ian McElroy, and Oberst have only gained strength. “City on The Hill” exhibits one of the strongest-ever Oberst vocals as he joins the body count of a nation needing, hoping, and fighting for something more.

Oberst will headline the Holland Stages Festival on Saturday, Oct. 17. The free, all-day event celebrates the 10th anniversary of Omaha Performing Arts and the Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas St., and will be held on five stages inside and outside the building.

Oberst1

A Frank Look at Hotel Frank

February 18, 2015 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Between adolescence and adulthood, is chaos. No single Omaha building embodies one’s formative years of 18 to 22 more than a dilapidated mansion on 38th and Farnam streets. Although you may not remember the party, you probably partied there. Farnam House, Jerkstore, Gunboat, Lifeboat, and Power Pad: all names affectionately affixed to this broke- down palace of music, art, and madness. All names precursors to the legend of a hotel known as Frank.

From 2006 to 2008, Hotel Frank was ground zero for myriad musical artists and performances. Capgun Coup, Bear Country, Conchance, Dim Light, FTL Drive all called Hotel Frank home. While they were far from the first bands the house on Farnam had seen (previous residents include Conor Oberst and The Faint), figuratively they made the most noise. With Capgun Coup concerts packing in upwards of 200 people, literally the house rocked.

“When everyone was pogoing in unison the floor would give a couple feet,” said Capgun Coup front man Sam Martin. “If you went to the basement you could see cracks in the beams opening and closing.”

While most individuals would not willingly place their residence in such jeopardy, Hotel Frank’s recklessness was equal parts youth and the product of constant home disrepair.

“It was a wretched place to live,” said Martin. “It was February of 2007 and the heat quit working. It was not fixed until March. It would have been a much better house if it was kept up by the owners.”

Capgun Coup, with all of its members one time residing in the west wing of the Farnam triplex, have come to define the Hotel Frank era. With their danceable yet artistic approach to brash spastic rock, the building and the band fed off each other.

While Capgun’s time at Hotel Frank was a relatively small window, Dim Light front man Cooper Lakota Moon resided in the triplex on four separate occasions from 2000 to 2008.

“No one has ever lived there as many times as I have,” Moon said. “In 2008, at 28, I think I was the oldest person to ever live there.”

Moon, with his perspective of seeing the house throughout the last decade and prior, felt the national spotlight that romanticized the Hotel Frank experience around 2009, left some cracks unnoticed.

“You live in that place for a reason, it’s cheap. You don’t live there because it’s cool, it’s not cool,” Moon said. “People tend to romanticize it. People are there because we are broke.”

For every frozen winter afternoon and sweltering summer day, cracked wall, and bucking floorboard, the camaraderie throughout Hotel Frank seemingly trumped all opposing forces. A spirit that exists to this day: with all three wings occupied, vibrant and hosting live, uninhibited rock and roll.

“It was no parents,” said Martin. “The essence of it was hope of not jumping into the same thing you see everyone do. Not jumping into the work force but trying to do something real with your music.”

“I love that triplex,” Moon said. “It was a special time, an amazing creative energy and flow. We certainly had our fun, but we were getting things done.”

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