Omaha's music scene continues to thrive, even in a year where the momentum appeared to slow down some compared to a busy 2011. Here's betting that 2013 outpaces the last two years combined.
* The Metropolitan Entertainment and Convention Authority and Live Nation gave up the ghost on booking a successful multi-day music event at the TD Ameritrade Park. The downtown baseball stadium hosted two years of the Red Sky Music Festival, which relied on a heavy diet of country-pop acts, mixed in with Kid Rock, hair metal showcases and classic rock. While the stadium shows drew steady crowds, the rest of the bill failed to draw decent numbers to the sizzling pavement parking lot stages around the park. Organizers cited the difficulty of booking enough high-caliber acts to the event's set dates before chambering a round and sending this Old Yeller of a music festival to its end. Still, expect a few concerts to come back to the park in 2013, but this time scattered throughout the summer months.
* Cheers to the Maha Music Festival, who continue to push their event up and up. In 2012, the indie music leaning one-day concert returned to Stinson Park at Aksarben Village, near 67 and Center streets. Co-headliners Desaparecidos and Garbage roped in the crowd, but the rest of the bill featuring Delta Spirit, the Dum Dum Girls and Josh Rouse really shined. The event plans to return to Stinson again Saturday, August 17th. Let's hope 2013 brings an even bigger boost to the line-up and ultimately, the success of Maha.
* Antiquarium became one of the Old Market's staples, but in the last decade the book store relocated to Brownville, Neb. and the record store moved from their basement beneath the books to a ground-floor space on 13th Street. Then earlier this year, the record store closed its doors. At the time, owner Joseph Tingley said the store planned to reopen in a new location at a later date, but no new details have emerged since the store's fall closing. Meanwhile, the original Antiquarium space at 1215 Harney St. is now actively advertising for living and commercial space in its remodeled interior.
* The Faint's return to the stage looked bleak at one time, especially in light of the departure of Joel Petersen. But the band did return in 2012, with a four-piece line-up that has refined and focused the band's electro-dance-indie sound. Now the band is even unveiling new material on stage and its holding up to some of the band's strongest work.
* Meanwhile, Omaha has birthed a kindred spirit to the Faint in the form of Icky Blossoms. The trio of Sarah Bohling, Nik Fackler and Derek Pressnall have made the biggest splash any indie band in Omaha has made in several years. The indie-rockers mix psychedelic pop with a dancefloor-ready vibe that culminated with tons of touring and the Saddle Creek Records release of their self-titled debut album.
* Stir Cove at Harrah's Casino continues to lead the way with outdoor shows, but 2013 may bring Papillion's Sumtur Amphitheater fully into the picture. One Percent Productions booked two shows at this gorgeous outdoor venue in 2012, highlighted by an excellent early fall show by the Silversun Pickups. Meanwhile, Lincoln's Pinewood Bowl also hosted some big events, including a sold-out Mumford & Sons performance.
Five Albums I Listened To Tons
Making a top ten list has become a chore and always seems to include considering artistic importance and some sort of perceived cool factor. So instead, here's five albums that I actually listened to and enjoyed on a regular basis.
Trust - TRST (Arts & Crafts): Robert Alfons and Austra's Maya Postepski worked together on these darkwave synth-pop songs dreamt up by Alfons, resulting in a gorgeous, stark, dramatic and strange album that boasts one of the year's best songs, "Bulbform".
Alejandro Escovedo - Big Station (Fantasy): This Texas icon taps into a Stonesy vibe, combining strong songs with an energetic verve and loose, fun playing throughout.
Cloud Nothings - Attack on Memory (Carpark): Dylan Baldi grew a great band around him as his earlier material gained a quick following. The band has allowed him to rough up his messy bedroom pop into a snarling guitar-rock phenomenon.
Grizzly Bear - Shields (Warp): I had never really connected with Grizzly Bear's previous work. For the most part, the Brooklyn's band devotion to process and detailed craftmanship seemed to leave their work a little dry. This time, the band taps into something more vital and emotionally resonant.
The Intelligence - Everybody's Got It Easy But Me (In the Red): Lars Finberg revels in creating angular, weirdo pop based on his comprehensive understanding of synth-punk, post-punk and garage rock. This time he upgrades sound fidelity slightly to complement a batch of subtly poppy rockers.