Photos by Karynn Brown
April 2, 2019

Local legends Universe Contest have made Lincoln- and the Zoo Bar- their home for blasting and crashing through complex rock music since 2010. Nine years of music and a rotating cast of band members later, Universe Contest has set out on another short tour run of the country, bringing with them all of their signature bells and whistles as well as some good friends.

This year’s tour pairs Universe Contest’s five-piece act alongside the stripped rock and roll duo from Shreveport, Louisiana: Ghost Foot. Together these two acts are set to travel over the next eighteen days, hitting sixteen states and just as many venues. The tour list includes a mix of do-it-yourself and bar-style venues, much of the tour was booked by Ghost Foot’s Dacoda Montana, who originally reached out to Universe Contest with the idea of touring.

“We had been thinking about touring with them for a few years and it just finally happened” said Montana on Thursday night.

After playing on several Lincoln Calling bills and touring through Lincoln on their own journeys, the boys from Ghost Foot made fast friends with the Universe Contest crew, no doubt the similarities in their music style founded a great friendship and tour group.

“This is our first full tour with another band,” said Ghost Foot’s Jacob Disedare. “We are hoping having another band helps break the ice a bit in these new towns.”

Thursday night’s show at the Zoo Bar was the first official tour show as Ghost Foot had made their way up from Louisiana. A kind of grateful and hopeful energy ran through the place during last week’s show, as the small army of fans came out to support these bands. In many ways, Jacob and Dacoda felt like locals while playing alongside Universe Contest.

Ghost Foot’s music is simple and straightforward, reminiscent of 90’s rock groups but hailing towards the DIY culture and punk revival of today. Their songs layer voices of guitar, drums, and voice together to create something driving and punctuative. Disedare’s vocals are drawing and airy with a hollow high-register quality that gives them a unique feeling. Together, the restrictive stage presence of both Disedare and Montana’s work makes it all about the music.

Universe Contest brings a sense of well-curated compare and contrast to the stripped down Ghost Foot set. The five-piece group performs in color-coordinated Dickies jumpsuits and amongst harsh and precisely controlled flood lights.  All fundamentally talented musicians, Universe Contest has the foundation of to be an experimental group keen on exploring noise, soundscape and emotion. This energy takes them into the world of layered pop and rock music, building melody and lyricism from bass, drums, violin and guitar. But for all of their depth and musicality, Universe Contest refuses to take themselves too seriously. At its core their performance is dramatically playful with its lights, dancing and screeching into the night.  Many of their lyrics sit with a kind of storied irony. One such song was introduced as “This next song is about hot dogs, and Terminator 2.”

Both of these bands have had a long history as live acts in their hometowns and around the national DIY scene, grating them experience and promise in this year’s upcoming run.  Universe Contest released their third full-length album on Halloween 2017, entitled Get Cot Living, which will compose most of the tour sets. Ghost Foot has released two EP’s and several singles since beginning their band in 2013.

“The most important thing to remember about touring is to savor it, because it’ll be over so fast.” says Disedare.  

Karynn Brown is an editorial intern with KZUM.