* Omaha's musical history will be the focus of a talk sponsored by the Douglas County Historical Society Sunday, June 9th at the Mule Barn on Metropolitan Community College's Fort Omaha campus, 5300 North 30th St. Dan Cervent, pianist and secretary/treasurer of the Omaha Musicians' Association, will present Music Town: Omaha's Roots, covering the beginnings of local music performance at the 1898 Trans-Mississippi Exposition to today. The 2 p.m. talk will cover local musicians such as Preston Love, Luigi Waites, Dave Stryker, Arno Lucas and Matt Wallace. Historic Fort Omaha. Reservations are required and can be obtained by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 402-455-9990, ext. 103.
* Judging by the numerous Facebook status updates and comments, I was in the minority when it came to my tepid reaction to Bloc Party's set Monday, May 28th at the Slowdown, 729 North 14th St. The English band plays emotion-packed post-Brit pop guitar rock with a heavy post-punk influence. Bloc Party has honed their sound over years of playing primo slots in front on huge crowds on the European festival circuit. Their oldest songs like "Helicopter" and "Banquet" went the best, pairing memorably big singalong moments with taut, blood-quickening arrangements. It's the bulk of the material played between these tentpost moments that fell flat for me. In Bloc Party's case, the fault lies mostly within the songs and not the performance. The tunes just ran flat without any magical melodic moments to raise them to the old standard. Meanwhile, Canadian opener Bear Mountain went more towards the vibe-centric indie dance-pop route, stretching their clever, head-bopping numbers into undeniable grooves that at times ranked up their with the likes of MGMT or Phoenix.
* Danish songwriter Søren Løkke Juul has created a layered, atmospheric and at times harrowing persona when he fronts his bedroom electronic pop project Indians. On Thursday, May 30th, Juul and his two female band mates presented a low-key set of songs from his 4AD debut, Somewhere Else, to a sparse Slowdown crowd. It's when Juul's songs stepped into a steady beat and direct pleading choruses that his potential seemed most obvious.
* River City Extension and Hockey took up the middle of a Friday, May 31st bill at the Waiting Room Lounge, 6212 Maple St. New Jersey folk-rock collective brought an energetic spirit to a set of songs that hung somewhere between the Arcade Fire and Mumford & Sons. They packed big singalong moments with baroque pop twists that kept the songs from becoming too cloying and cheesy. Hockey's material promised a dance-rock set, but the band was never able to deliver on it with memorable enough songs. It was enough to make me check out before headliner the Hush Sound, who most of the late teen/early 20s suburban crowd seemed eager to see.