Lincoln Calling 2017
Matt Stansberry and The Romance perform during Lincoln Calling at Duffy’s Tavern’s backlot on Sept. 28, 2017. Photo by Kyle Gibson, KZUM.
The annual Lincoln Calling music festival took over multiple downtown stages Sept. 28-30 for the biggest event in its 14-year history. KZUM interns, volunteers and staff were there to capture as many sights and sounds as possible, presented here.
Check out our day-by-day coverage, including text, photo and video:
Charli XCX, CupcakKe, John Moreland, Flint Eastwood and more capped off three days of Lincoln Calling on Saturday. KZUM was there to bring you the sights and sounds.
October 2nd, 2017
Night two of Lincoln Calling on Friday included many local favorites — both veterans of the scene and performers that are just getting started — alongside the touring acts. Love for these locals drew big crowds and lots of energy.
October 2nd, 2017
Thursday was the first of three packed nights of local and national performers lighting up downtown for this week’s Lincoln Calling music festival, running through Saturday. KZUM interns and volunteers were on the ground to bring you the sights and sounds.
September 29th, 2017
Photos by Kyle Gibson, Stephanie Paul and Hailey Krueger. View all photos via KZUM’s flickr.
Reflecting On 3 Days of Music from Near and Far
by Karynn Brown, KZUM intern.
Since being taken over a year ago by music nonprofit Hear Nebraska, Lincoln Calling has continued to make a name for itself. While some growing pains were present and inevitable, it seems that Hear Nebraska truly thought of everything and worked to create as many partnerships as possible to get the festival off the ground. Lincoln Calling aimed to put this city on the map culturally by inviting artists from around the country to experience the best of Lincoln for three nights.
The whole thing went down a bit like this: hundreds of thriving artists, musicians, and audience members attending 50-plus musical, comedy, and drag performances, at eight stages across the city, inside three beer gardens serving up local brews, next to one block of live art and vendors. In a lot of ways, Lincoln Calling was something no one saw coming.
Things kicked off each night at the Night Market — one of the free and public areas of the festival- that featured artists all from Lincoln and Omaha, playing music from 5-10 each night. The Night Market also featured a variety of live art including an exhibition of silk aerials from Big Top Performance art, and artist from Omaha’s Benson First Friday community painting murals throughout the weekend. Maggie, one such artists with BFF decked out the side of Gomez Art Supply with a two-story tall surrealist meadow. The theme for this year’s art exhibition seemed to be the presence of doors. The blocked off road entrance on 14th and O depicted open doors and windows. Especially in this political climate, depicting barriers to community, art, music, and the ways we can break them down seemed more important than ever. Two cubical pillars stood across the street from each other, growing and changing from black boxes into murals of buffalos, meadowlarks, and koi fish. Vendors at the Night Market included Lincoln small businesses and artists such as Bohdi Imports, Sweet Minou, and henna artist Samantha McCulloch.
Let’s talk music. Lincoln Calling brought national artists to Lincoln and showcased Lincoln artists to their prime audience. This pairing is part of what made the festival such a fun and communal experience. Taking place at some of Lincoln’s already favorite venues, it was easy for national artists to see the sights, meet the locals, and really talk shop about the musical community. For many artists, this was their first time in Lincoln and it gave them the chance to know Lincoln in its own right, not as something associated with Omaha or the football team. Some of the larger national artists that came to town found a strong following here, and strong support from the audience even if their music wasn’t as well known. This sentiment surely struck in the second-tier headliners of the festival, artist such as Alex G, PUP, Cayetana, Post Animal, El Ten Eleven, and Wand. These performances were vivid, impassioned, and grateful as artist brought their mid-tour best and were surprised by the enthusiasm, support, and capacity of Lincoln Calling. These artists packed the venues of Duffy’s backlot, the Bourbon, and the Bay, even while the audience was split between overlapping performances. PUP, the Canadian indie-rock band, filled the Bay like never before and was greeted with a crowd that knew their lyrics and music. They joked with the crowd about being “a band of 20-somethings that just loves to complain,” and were thankful to play songs to a crowd that can understand their winter-driven angst noting, “It’s just not the same playing a song about how winter sucks in Florida. They don’t get it.”
Los Angeles lo-fi electronic duo, El Ten Eleven fed off the crowd Friday night, entertaining the possibility of a crowd request for their song, “Connie”. Lead bassist Kristian Dunn lead an old-school applause test for the crowd to choose between “Connie” and “Transitions”, for the last song of the set. They ended the night with a, “Thanks for having us, and thanks for knowing our songs!”
The love for live music didn’t stop at touring artists. Lincoln’s hometown heroes showed up with strong crowds and even stronger performances. From soul to ska and every kind of rock or hip-hop in between longtime favorite bands of Lincoln and Omaha really worked to make Lincoln Calling what it was. Known for their dramatic and intense performances, I Forgot To Love My Father and Universe Contest more than delivered on their reputations Friday night. Their crowds were high energy groups of friends, falling over one another in the name of dance and drama. JP Davis, frontman for I Forgot To Love My Father called to the crowd multiple times, “Are you there Lincoln?” and stepped into the audience to perform and be supported by the crowd with a shout of, “Do you have me?”
On the hard rock side of things, Bogusman closed 1867 Bar Friday night with a performance full of carefree, anything goes music. Guitarist/vocalist Nate started to thank the crowd and Lincoln Calling, “…from the bottom of my heart, I just want to tell you all. Everyone one you…” and was instantly drowned out by his bandmates starting the next song. Friday night, Histrionic opened up the Night Market stage by introducing some new songs and drawing a crowd with their garage grunge sound. Omaha’s screamo-hard rock band, FiFiNoNo joined the ranks of Bogusman at the Bay Saturday night as a last-minute substitute for The Bad Ideas. Lincoln Calling was one of their first five performances as a band.
Other local favorites included Omaha’s Twinsmith, Jacob James Wilton, Crease, and the Boner Killerz. Twinsmith hit Lincoln Calling between summer and fall tours of their latest and second album “Stay Cool.” This band’s airy, upbeat sound started things off the the Bourbon Theatre Thursday night, opening for Cayetana and Best Coast. Jacob James Wilton relaxed and introspective sounds came to Bodgea’s Alley Friday night with a new collection of musicians. A solo project spearheaded by Jake, the artists rely on improvisation and experimentation to work well together, as every iteration of the band is a bit different. The next album, “Distance”, about all kinds of love and understanding is set to release January 18th, 2018.
While the festival thrived among indie, psychedelic, and hard rock genres, that was by no means the extent to the musical variety at Lincoln Calling. Progressive electronica, EDM, house music, and hip hop had a more than welcome place among the festivities. Omaha’s Cult Play and Lincoln’s John Freidel brought EDM jams to 1867 Bar Thursday and Friday nights. Freidel’s performances are unique and poignant vignettes of well-balanced synth sounds. Waves of bass hit the crowd in relatable and dance-worthy rises and falls. Freidel has a tape, “Entrancer” available on SoundCloud. Local hip hop artists Indigenous AK and Sleep Sinatra also drew crowds at the Night Market. Sleep Sinatra’s Saturday night performance was empathetic and relaxed as he performed off stage and interacted with the crowd. Working with DJ Kamakauzzy, the two performed authentically and were grateful for the exposure.
Plenty of artists brought surprises to the stages with their progressive and unusual sounds that no one expected to see in Lincoln. These included the nihilistic, industrial, heart-racing performance of Austin’s duo Street Sects. Filling the venue room of 1867 Bar with fog-machine smoke, these performancers raced through the crowd solely by strobe light, making their sounds of feedback loops, chainsaw sound effects, and unearthly screeches feel very real. Other surprises included electonica-pop bands such as Nation of Language and Future Punx, both playing Bodega’s. With music not unlike the Talking Heads and Arcade Fire, both bands were unique, fun, and brought a synth pop revival feel to the festival. Surprising rock and roll out-of-towners included the ironic and shameless garage-rock noise of Lawerance’s Stiff Middle Fingers, and the no-holds-barred, down-and-dirty, do-it-for-the-hell-of-it, impressive volume and intense performance of Louisiana’s two-person band, Ghostfoot. While both Stiff Middle Fingers and Ghost Foot performed for smaller crowds, it was clear the artist loved what they were doing, and would have put on the same erratic and radical shows for a crowd of five or five hundred.
All in all, 2017’s Lincoln Calling Music festival brought old and new faces to the downtown scene, made strides in both community and sustainability, and will surely be around for many more years.