The Hottman Sisters play KZUM’s What Is Rock? showcase at Duffy’s Tavern on Oct. 6, 2016.

Updated Oct. 11, 2016

Night One: Thursday, October 6

Lincoln Calling brought thousands of music fans to downtown venues the weekend of Oct. 6–8, 2016. KZUM interns were there to capture many of the performances in words and photos.

By Hannah Rivers

“To discovering new music,” chorused a group of festival goers as they clinked their glasses together. Drinks finished, they headed out the door of the Zoo Bar and onto another show.

It is safe to say that Lincoln Calling 2016 was a success. Whether it was toasting to musical discoveries, running across O Street to get to another show or having a massive outdoor dance party, people enjoyed the music they heard and the atmosphere that surrounded it all. Like Lincoln itself, the festival was a web of common connections and familiar faces. Even the band members that came from other states seemed like they had lived here their entire lives. It didn’t matter where anyone was from though. Or which genre they preferred. Everyone was there for the same reason: the music.

All Young Girls Are Machine Guns
Omaha, Neb.

I only saw the tail end of their set, but from what I saw AYGAMG knows how to rock a show. Harmonizing female vocals blended seamlessly into each other. The band switched effortlessly from faster-paced songs into a slower love song. It was music to sway to, music to sing to and music to clap your hands to.

Icky Blossoms
Omaha, Neb.

Although temperatures were reminiscent of winter, a big crowd turned out to Duffy’s backlot to see Icky Blossoms perform. The guitarist broke a string on his guitar and you could see your breath in the air, but the band played on. The bass shook every body in the audience and every body moved of its own accord to the hypnotic beats of “Perfect Vision” and “Babes.”

Domo Genesis
Los Angeles, Calif.

Walking into the Domo Genesis show was like walking into a veritable house party. Every single person was dancing—whether with slight shoulder sways or over exaggerated movements. Even the members of Icky Blossoms were amongst the crowd—hands raised in the air as the band played “Dapper.”

A Ferocious Jungle Cat
Lincoln, Neb.

Bodega’s was a hopping place on Thursday night, but the crowd grooved like no other when AFJC came on. Composed of four vocalists (one who rapped) and six instrumentalists, the band members managed to complement each other and stand on their own perfectly.

Austin, Texas

A four-piece band that packed mega sound, Megafauna was loud and proud. The crowd wasn’t super packed, but what they lacked in size they made up for in energy. Complete with female vocals and hard-rock instrumentals, Megafauna was intense and fiery.

By Doug Staggs

I saw a variety of groups tonight at a few different locations. Each was unique and talented in their own ways.
instrumentalists, the band members managed to complement each other and stand on their own perfectly.

Rothsteen (Duffy’s back stage)

Omaha-based R&B artist on the rise. Keep a lookout for this guy, his deep, energy-filled R&B harkens back to the days of Motown with modern production.
instrumentalists, the band members managed to complement each other and stand on their own perfectly.

Andrea Van Kampen (Vega)

Singer-songwriter, guitarist, future star. This Lincoln native’s set was a balance of original works and classics from Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash. Her haunting voice and guitar sets her apart. Somewhere between Jewel and Alessia Cara, her sound is familiar, but still uniquely her own. She is a must see.
instrumentalists, the band members managed to complement each other and stand on their own perfectly.

Gaelynn Lea (Vega)

Winner of NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert contest, Gaelynn uses a looping pedal in conjunction with her violin to create music with roots in classical and traditional folk fiddle tunes. Her beautiful voice easily matches the soothing tones she plays on her violin and makes for an alluring show.
instrumentalists, the band members managed to complement each other and stand on their own perfectly.

David Dondero (Vega)

A man and a guitar. A traveling troubadour who has a story for everything. Singing about San Francisco, Florida and everything in between, David has a perspective on life few of us will ever experience outside of his music.
instrumentalists, the band members managed to complement each other and stand on their own perfectly.

If I Fail (The Bay)

This Colorado quintet pulls from the likes of Fall Out Boy and Panic! At the Disco to pump out energy-filled sets that will leave you tapping your feet and bobbing your head along with the music. After being turned on to Lincoln Calling when doing a show in Omaha, they are excited to play in Nebraska, and look forward to chance at future gigs in the Lincoln area.
instrumentalists, the band members managed to complement each other and stand on their own perfectly.

Esme Patterson (Vega)

Nationally known Patterson was the headliner of a stacked Thursday night of music at Vega. Hearing similarities to Bonnie Raitt and Joan Jett, Patterson’s tunes are gritty and raw, like the emotions she pours into her songs.

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Photos by Cameron O’Brien, Jacoby Vann and Shannon Claire. View more.

Night Two: Friday, October 7

By Hannah Rivers

The Morbs (Zoo Bar)

Much like the band members themselves, The Morbs’ songs contain elements that clash with one another. The song “Smile” would seem like it would be happy, but with lyrics like “don’t walk away from me, you can’t get far,” it borders on the sinister. The three female band members are much the same. Clad in cute skirts and dresses, the explosive music emanating from their instruments is not what you’d expect. But the dichotomy of pretty outfits and synth garage sounds is what makes the Morbs so interesting.

Twin Peaks (Bourbon Theatre)

Hailing from Chicago, Twin Peaks seems to have amassed a following here in Lincoln — if the fist-pumping and head-bobbing at their Friday night show is any indication. And for good reason. Four of the five band members sang in some capacity — all while playing at least one instrument. This talent bled into their song writing skills as well. The lyrics “flavor your heart and your soul” instantly got stuck in my head.

Real Estate (Bourbon Theatre)

A crowd had been gathered in front of the Bourbon’s stage since the last band ended their set. Instead of going to see other bands in the interim, they waited for Real Estate. One of the two headliners performing on Saturday night, this was the first time the New Jersey-based group played in Lincoln and they did not disappoint. More swaying music than thrashing music, the energy in the room was nonetheless palpable. Perhaps that was what bassist Alex Bleeker was referring to when he described the atmosphere as “very rock ‘n’ roll.” During “It’s Real,” an obvious crowd favorite, voices from the audience joined in to sing the lyrics — creating a harmony that reverberated through the night.

BOTH (Bodega’s Alley)

Walking into Bodega’s, I was instantly lacking in personal space. BOTH was on stage and the crowd was going insane. Lighters were raised in the air and arms bounced up and down as the Omaha hip-hop duo performed “Toothpaste.” Emcee and singer Scky Rei urged everyone to turn up for the next song. Those who were most energetic pushed to the front and started jumping up and down. The floor shook as limbs swung about recklessly — forming a calmer sort of mosh pit.

Cloud Nothings (Duffy’s)

On another frigid night in Lincoln, Cloud Nothings did not fail in bringing a hefty crowd to Duffy’s backlot. More from the music than the cold, everyone in the audience bobbed from side to side. A few even crowd surfed. The music was that infectious and so were their lyrics. “No future, no past” will be stuck in many heads come tomorrow.

Allan Kingdom (Bodega’s Alley)

Peace signs were lifted into the air at Allan Kingdom’s request—effectively and peacefully beginning his set. But the calmness ended there. Though not a huge crowd at first, it steadily grew in both size and vivacity. Soon it was a mass of jumping bodies. People rapped along with Kingdom, threw their hands in the air and bounced along to the beat.

Twinsmith (Zoo Bar)

With a 12:40 a.m. start time, you’d think people’s energy would be lagging at the Twinsmith show. But the crowd was wired, only becoming more so as the set went on. It seemed all the energy had been building up to the final song. Twinsmith had saved the best for last: “Alligator Years.” The crowd recognized it from the very beginning, throwing their bodies around to the beat. It was a fantastic feel-good song to end with and a perfect memory to complete the second night of Lincoln Calling.

By Doug Staggs

Her Flyaway Manner (Duffy’s back stage)

Twenty-year veterans of Lincoln’s music scene, Her Flyaway Manner brought their brand of loud, fast rock to the backlot of Duffy’s and shows they aren’t slowing down anytime soon. Most noticeable about their performance is their calm. But there is an intensity in that calm that is palpable and energizing to the crowd.

Eros and the Eschaton (Duffy’s back stage)

Colorado up-and-comers Eros and the Eschaton brought their powerful, soulful harmonies, fast beats and intense riffs to Duffy’s backstage. Their performance bubbled with lo-fi intensity and beautiful lyrics.

A Giant Dog (Bourbon)

“A Rocky Horror Picture Show” meets The Rolling Stones as played by Florence & The Machine, A Giant Dog features it all. Dancing, screaming, flailing, headbanging and nearly every other human movement gets involved in their performance which draws the crowd into their manic excitement.

BOTH (Bodega’s)

Energy, Energy, Energy. BOTH’s blend of flowing rhymes and chill beats get turned up to ten when they hit the stage. Crowd participation, surfing, and jumping with the beats are all standard fare for this Omaha duo.

Cloud Nothings (Duffy’s back stage)

A pop-punk sound shaped from broken glass and grit, Cleveland’s Cloud Nothings has a style that is all their own. Reminiscent of the band “Thursday”, Cloud Nothings brings energy and distortion to quick, catchy tunes that the crowd at Duffy’s devoured.

Plack Blague (Duffy’s-inside)

Lincoln’s own Plack Blague brought his own kind of “Satanic Disco” to a full crowd at Duffy’s Friday night. Electronic industrial metal wrapped in leather entertained the audience with flashing strobes and a show uniquely its own.

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Photos by Cameron O’Brien, Jacoby Vann and Shannon Claire. View more.

Night Three: Saturday, October 8

By Hannah Rivers

High Up (Bourbon Theatre)

Every member of High Up was wearing black and white, except the drummer, who was wearing plaid. And that one kink in normality seems to be characteristic of their sound. They could be the usual soul-inspired indie rock band, but there is a certain fierceness that sets them apart. Their sound is the type that demands to be heard.

Mesonjixx (The Bay)

Mary Lawson, lead singer of Mesonjixx, didn’t have a hard time convincing the crowd to clap along to the beat. They were up for anything — even singing a part of the song.

“We now how to fly,” sang Lawson.

“How to fly, how to fly,” chorused the audience.

A few times during the set, Lawson came off the stage to interact with the crowd. It was just that type of show: familiar, intimate and full of feeling.

See Through Dresses (Duffy’s)

As soon as I walked into the backlot of Duffy’s I was sure I knew the song that See Through Dresses was playing. Or maybe I didn’t and it was just that catchy. Self-described as dream punk, the band’s sound is the perfect blend of hard-core and harmoniously ethereal.

The Mynabirds (Bourbon Theatre)

“This is a love song about getting your heart torn apart, because that’s what makes us real.” That is how Laura Burhenn, lead singer and pianist of the Mynabirds, prefaced the song. And that’s exactly how I would describe their music: real. It’s honesty that cuts you to your core, an aspect that was only reinforced by the in-between-songs discourse. Before the song “Generals,” Burhenn talked about fixing the world, and the crowd was in full support of the message. They were also fully enthusiastic about the music, which should make the genre of indie pop very proud indeed. 

White Mystery (The Bay)

A girl on stage playing a guitar and hitting the kick drum with her foot was the image you were greeted with when White Mystery took the stage. Hearing it from outside, the music sounded like it was being played by four people. But in reality it was just Alex White, who lacked the company of her brother and band member, Francis. It was different from their first Lincoln Calling show, just a day prior, but it was equally as powerful.

Anna McClellan (The Bay)

Most in the crowd were sitting for Anna McClellan’s show at The Bay, but while energy was lagging, interest was not. All who watched were entranced by the haunting voice of lead singer and pianist McClellan. Her music is not exactly soft. It easily could be, but there is something that takes it beyond that and into the territory of compelling. The eerily sad yet beautiful quality was hypnotizing. Like The Bay itself, her show was a wonderful kind of escape. 

Ceremony (Duffy’s)

Ceremony played with so much enthusiasm that it was impossible to take a clear picture of them. And from the crowd’s tendency to form a mosh pit, it was impossible for them to stand still as well. The band performed with relentless passion, all blaring sound and screeching guitar riffs. 

By Doug Staggs

Little Brazil (Duffy’s inside)

Rocking inside Duffy’s Tavern with their 90s alternative rock sound, Little Brazil showed they can still bring it. A high energy show coupled with their tight sound developed over years of playing together, these Omaha rockers gave festival-goers a great set Saturday night.

Little Better Friend (Duffy’s backlot)

Duffy’s backlot stage got a treat Saturday night, in a box of emotional angst, wrapped in paper of driving beats and soaring guitars, and tied off with a bow of beautifully poignant vocals. The tag read “Better Friend” and we were better for the gift. A beautiful blend of emo and hardcore, Better Friend leads Lincoln’s up-and-coming hardcore scene with a sound similar to Saosin.

High Up (Bourbon Theater)

On a night with a stacked lineup, High Up showed up to the Bourbon Theater with their “A game.” Behind Christine Fink’s deep, soulful sound, High Up brought an energy-filled indie rock-soul performance that kept the theater rocking. Even on the slower tunes, they draw on a well of emotion that drove the heartbeat of their show.

Verse and The Vices (Duffy’s inside)

Conoley Ospovat (Bodega’s Alley)

Bodega’s Alley played host to international producer Conoley Ospovat. Performing his signature deep electronic music, Ospovat kept the crowd dancing to his rich beats and progressive rhythms.

Bien Fang (Duffy’s backlot)

Who says grunge is dead? Bien Fang showed Saturday night that it is still alive and going strong. Playing their kind of dirty pop rock, the Lincoln trio held their own on Duffy’s backlot stage and giving the concertgoers a great performance.

Unmanned (Duffy’s inside)

Unmanned’s fast driving melodies rocked the stage inside Duffy’s Saturday night. If the Foo Fighters had a younger, punk-edged little brother, it would be Unmanned. Formerly called Powers, the quartet brought their raw energy to one of the better performances of Lincoln Calling.

Mad Dog and the 20/20s (Bodega’s Alley)

One of the most raucous and exciting acts of Lincoln Calling, Mad Dog and the 20/20s brought their blend of ska to the stage at Bodega’s Alley and rocked the roof off. Playing a mix of popular covers and their own pieces, MD & the 20/20s got the party started and stoked the flames the rest of the night.

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Photos by Cameron O’Brien, Jacoby Vann and Shannon Claire. View more.

Closing time came too soon on the last night of Lincoln Calling. All the bands had finished their sets, but the people were still dancing. In front of the outdoor stage at Duffy’s, a small group swayed to music from the early 2000s. Steadily, the group grew bigger and bigger, until it became a full-on dance party. For song after song, the crowd moved to the music of their youth. After three nights of performances — some bands new, some familiar — it was nice to reminisce for a moment. But if there is one thing to take away from Lincoln Calling, it’s that there is always more music to listen to. More bands to discover, more shows to go to, more opportunities to hear a song and forever be changed.

Produced by Hear Nebraska, Lincoln Calling was in its 13th year in downtown Lincoln. You can find our more about the festival

Cameron O’Brien, Hannah Rivers, Doug Staggs and Jacoby Vann are part of KZUM’s fall internship program.