By Karynn Brown, Angel Mai, Hailey Krueger and Ryan Evans
Photos by Kyle Gibson, Hailey Krueger and Stephanie Paul
Oct. 2, 2017
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.
Omaha natives Flowers Forever includes two guitarists, a bassist, drummer, trumpet and saxophonist. They kicked off Saturday night’s festivities with a lively singer-songwriter feel. Inspired by the Omaha music scene surrounding Salt Creek records and Conor Oberst, this band is likened to the upbeat album of Bright Eyes & Neva Dinova. The complexity and big band feel that comes from a brass section in a band like this encouraged the small crowd and fit well into the early Saturday night vibe. Flowers Forever has one self-titled album from 2008 available on Spotify.
David Nance Band:
Omaha-born touring artist David Nance stopped by Duffy’s Saturday night with the latest iteration of his growing collective of musicians. Full of classic rock influence, Nance and his band brought roots rock energy mixed with the funk of a well-used vibrato bar. Nance’s latest album is entitled Negative Boogie
A last-minute substitute for The Bad Ideas, Omaha’s FiFiNoNo took to The Bay for one of their first performances as a band. Fifi Nono filled the screamo, hard-rock sector for the night with their heavy sounds and sharp drops from highs to lows.
Lincoln emcee Sleep Sinatra drew a crowd to the Night Market stage Saturday with a performance that was empathetic and relaxed as he performed in front of the stage and interacted with the crowd. His “I say Lincoln, you say Calling” chant received enthusiastic replies. Sleep Sinatra’s lyrics are careful, steady, and enlightened, making the performance easy to be engrossed in. Working with DJ Kamakauzzy, the two offered an authentic, intimate performance.
Sweet, smooth and soulful, the artists of Mesonjixx are skilled and impressive. Appearing on Saturday after a recent EP release, Mesonjixx’s performance included many of the newly recorded songs. To a packed house of many local friends and supporters, the performance was empathetic and impassioned. Mary Elizabeth’s voice is smooth and inviting, mixing traditional blues and funk vibes with a modernist R&B feel. The band included a drummer, bassist and keyboard player, all who played with interest and dedication. When it came time for a verse of a song usually sung by a missing band member, audience member Jacoby stepped on stage to fill those shoes. The two sang together and it topped off the room with a beautiful, empowering energy between artists and audiences.
Nation of Language
Post-punk/new wave trio Nation of Language’s performance was full of privately intense moments. The three musicians played very independently of each other, but produced a well-orchestrated sound that incorporated operatic, echo-y vocals with progressive synth and electronica breakdowns. Nation of Language has one self-titled album and two singles released on Bandcamp.
John Freidel brought EDM jams to 1867 Bar on Saturday. 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’s music is ambient and intriguing, something that could be set within house music or dissected for the complex lines and influences. Freidel has a tape, “Entrancer” available on SoundCloud. One of Freidel’s best performances yet, the collection of disco-patterned lights in the background of his tower of synthesizers ties the whole performance together.
On their second visit to a Lincoln Calling stage after nearly five years, Ghost Foot’s Jacob and Dacoda of Shreveport, LA., came back to rock. One of the weekend’s final bands, Ghost Foot performed to a crowd of less than ten, but made more noise than anyone would have thought possible for a drummer and guitarist in a bar in Lincoln. From a two-person mosh pit, to outside passer-bys hanging in the doorway, to the one enthusiastic shout of “you play the hell out of those drums,” it was clear that Ghost Foot’s performance should not be overlooked. In the style of down-and-dirty, do-it-for-the-hell-of-it, old school garage band punk, Ghost Foot gave an impressive performance. After a year-old breakup, Lincoln Calling is an early stop on the band’s more or less revival tour through the Midwest. “Beast” is their latest two song release from September 16.
The Boner Killerz
The Bay opened up its last night of Lincoln Calling with Omaha band The Boner Killerz on Saturday. The trio warmed the crowd up with their short but animated set, encouraging the crowd to sing and dance with them. At one point the audience was shouting, “fuck your wall!” during a song written about the current political situation, and guitarist/vocalist Eris Koleszar shredded while spinning on the floor off the stage. They also announced they will be releasing their first EP and will host a Halloween costume release party at Brothers on Oct. 27.
Next on the ticket for The Bay was another Omaha band called Uh Oh. The rock n roll group was very talkative and interactive with their audience, and gave out a tambourine for the crowd to play during their set. It was a special show for Uh Oh as it was Scott’s (keys/guitar) last show with them. It was a short and sweet performance, and a great send off for their fellow band mate.
Andrea Von Kampen
The Zoo Bar started its last night with Lincoln Calling with Lincoln singer/songwriter Andrea von Kampen. The bar was packed as people waited attentively for the show. Kampen’s voice was as smooth as her guitar picking, and she also welcomed to the stage a cellist to round her sound even more. She announced in between songs that her record Desdemona is out and is available on her website and other main distributors like Spotify.
The Night Market welcomed to the stage The Ambulanters, a popular local new wave band Saturday evening. Their first song was just instrumentals, and attracted a sizable crowd who were curious about their style. After a hypnotic few minutes of music, they brought in the vocals for an even tighter sound. The band was anticipated by Lincoln fans, who showed up and rocked out to their favorite songs.
Opening for the highly anticipated Charli XCX show at Bourbon Theatre was Flint Eastwood, an up and coming pop artist from Detroit. Front woman Jax Anderson dominated the stage, constantly dancing and pumping up the crowd. Fans showed up with signs and memorized lyrics as Anderson encouraged them to belt out the words of each song. At one point, she commanded everyone to be silent and listen. “I want you to forget about all of your troubles for the next three and a half minutes,” she said sincerely before singing her next song. The audience was receptive to her message of caring less of what others think and just dance, and the whole room was booming.
All the way from New York, indie-rock band Crumb took the stage at 1867 Bar for the last night of Lincoln Calling. The smaller venue was full of fest enthusiasts happy to see Crumb so up close and personal. Their sound is laidback and easygoing, but it didn’t stop the crowd from moving to the beat. Crumb has a new EP out called Locket that is available on Spotify and as a cassette for those who like to keep it old school.
Sandy (Alex G)
Opening for famous rapper CupcakKe was the indie-rock band Sandy (Alex G). Promoting their new album, Rocket, the band is touring all over the states and soon will head to Europe as well. They performed on the outdoor stage of Duffy’s, a great late night setting for the folksy-rock group.
Closing Duffy’s outdoor stage was CupcakKe, a rapper who found stardom on YouTube. She’s currently on tour with Charli XCX and she is one of the contributing artists on her new album, so most people caught her surprise appearance during Charli’s show at Bourbon Theatre and were eager to hear more. Known for her raunchy and unapologetic lyrics and style, fans were thrilled to catch her perform live in Lincoln, although it was only an hour long set. She was joined by Lincoln’s own $pencelove, former co-host on KZUM’s The Message and festival organizer, on the ones and twos. Her loud and provocative set was an ending like not other to Lincoln Calling as festival goers stayed well past her show to keep the party going.
The biggest name at Lincoln Calling was no doubt London pop star Charli XCX. Currently on tour promoting her new album, Number 1 Angel, The Bourbon Theatre was completely packed. It was just Charli, her DJ and flashing lights, which proved plenty for the appreciative audience. She skipped across the stage, singing into the faces of audience members, grabbing their hands, and even being held up to get closer to them. For one of the songs, famed rapper CupcakKe (who performed her own set later that night), joined Charli on the stage to perform “Lipgloss” as a surprise for the fans, making them go even crazier. The set was only an hour long, but it was enough to pump up festival goers for the rest of the night.
Local band Briner kicked off the third and final day of Lincoln Calling’s Night Market on 14th and P with their mixture of alternative and Indie rock. This four-member group has been regularly performing in Lincoln, Omaha, Aurora and Grand Island since 2015. Their music is original and energetic with influences rooted in the 90s indie/alternative rock and grunge era. Each song is filled with a wide dynamic range with frequent time and tempo changes. They released their EP, Smile at How the Tail Wags,, in January 2015.
The second set on the Night Market stage was performed by The Inbetweens from Lincoln. Formed in May 2013, the group’s instrumentation includes a ukulele, accordion and a 20-inch DeWalt hand saw, played by Mackenzie Sanford with a violin bow. It creates a waving sound and an ethereal effect for their music which has primitive cerebral roots. Lead vocalist Kristen Bailey also writes their songs, which are full of ominous, haunting and hopeful lyrics.
Omaha’s Bokr Tov performed third at the Night Market on Saturday, providing a show with lots of dynamic and rhythmic variety. Many of their songs portrayed a frantic mood. Behind their guitar and bass melodies were synthetic sounds which added an electronic effect to their heavy tunes.
Yana from Minneapolis played at The Bay at 8 p.m., providing a show of heavy rock and songs that didn’t always have lyrics. In the meeting room area, they set up a table where they had T-shirts, stickers and download cards with three songs that they released on Sept. 27. Their songs had spontaneous tempo changes and, at times, they played multiple songs without a pause in between.
The music was so loud that a young boy shouted, “Oh my god, my ears are about to fall off!”
Before the last songs, Yana expressed their excitement for being a part of Lincoln Calling. “This is such a cool festival. We want to come back the next year and the next year and the next year. We’ll just keep coming back.”
Ending the night at The Bay was punk rock band Pup, all the way from Toronto. This was their first time in Lincoln, but they had plenty of fan support. The audience sang along to each song, pounded their fists in the air, clapped, jumped and danced. The energy spread further and further back with each song, stimulating the entire audience by the end of their show. Some fans were so moved by the music that the jumped up and surfed the crowd to the front of the stage. Their latest album is called The Dream is Over, which was released in May 2016.
The leaders of the band, Stefan and Steve, both thought The Bay was a cool venue. Steve said, “It’s amazing for a community to have a place to share music, art and support. It’s nice to gather all this energy and love, but don’t let it stop here. Take the love from here and spread it everywhere you go.”
Tulsa, Okla., songwriter John Moreland made his Nebraska debut during Lincoln Calling on Saturday at The Zoo Bar. His strong, workmanlike set drew equally from this year’s Big Bad Luv and his 2013 breakthrough, In the Throes.
With a couple added in from his excellent 2015 album, High On Tulsa Heat, the show offered a well-rounded hour of Moreland’s material ranging from the heartbreaking beauty of his earlier work to the defiant hope that permeates Big Bad Luv. As he sang Saturday in “Love Is Not an Answer,” from that album: “don’t let me meet the devil that I sang those songs about.”
Accompanied by John Calvin Abney on guitar, piano and harmonica, the duo delivered faithful and impassioned performances of songs that showcased why the 32-year-old Moreland is considered to be one of today’s best writers. Having earned praise from artists like Jason Isbell, Miranda Lambert, Ryan Adams and others — he opened for John Prine in Salina the night before — the 32-year-old Moreland seemed to have a devoted following that showed up early Saturday, by festival standards.
The crowd up front packed in toward the stage, hanging on Moreland’s well-crafted words and enthusiastically making requests (he obliged one — replying “OK” before going into the suggested “Cherokee”). Even the disappointingly familiar sounds of loud conversations coming from the other end of the club — something that seems to happen all too often at Lincoln venues for performers who don’t always turn it up to 11 — didn’t seem to ruin anything for the majority of the appreciative audience. Moreland certainly wasn’t affected, delivering each song with the tender strength that has defined his recordings. Abney’s contributions were the perfect complement, filling things out with a sound that seemed as if it were coming from more than a duo at times.
It was fitting that Moreland closed the set with what became a crowd-accompanied version of “Nobody Gives a Damn About Songs Anymore,” from In the Throes.
To be sure, there were far more people who gave a damn than those who didn’t on Saturday and many were already buzzing about Moreland’s next Lincoln date in just a couple of weeks, opening for Iron & Wine at The Rococo Theatre on Oct. 15.
Kudos to Lincoln Calling for bringing in a songwriter of Moreland’s caliber. Several in attendance said that he drew them to attend the festival in the first place. Here’s hoping he makes his way back again, many times.
For more on the festival, visit lincolncalling.com.
Hailey Krueger, Bassey Arikpo, Angel Mai, Karynn Brown and Stephanie Paul are KZUM interns. Kyle Gibson is a KZUM board member. Ryan Evans hosts Tree with Roots every Wednesday from 8 to 10 a.m. on KZUM.