What mysteries will be revealed as I gaze into my magic Fender Squire Strat and see the future of Omaha’s (and the nation’s) indie music scene? Ah, but before we get to 2023, let’s see how I did with my predictions for 2022:
2022 Prediction: COVID-19 will have its last ugly gasp this winter and then will quickly fade away (except from our memories). By late summer, music venues’ mask-and-vax mandates will be a thing of the past.
Reality: Mask-and-vax mandates are distant memories, but COVID is still very much with us.
2022 Prediction: With TikTok creating the next generation of pop stars, more indie acts will take advantage of the platform.
Reality: TikTok remains a potent talent incubator … for pop stars, not indie stars.
2022 Prediction: The Maha Music Festival will be back and at full capacity. But it won’t be alone. Another Nebraska-based, indie-flavored, day-long music festival will be announced in ’22 that will be in direct competition.
Reality: The Outlandia Festival, with headliners Wilco and The National, was launched at Falconwood Park in Bellevue.
2022 Prediction: With two small music venues closing in ’21, watch as a new, small live-music venue opens to help fill the void.
Reality: There have been new venues in the past year, but nothing could replace The Brothers.
2022 Prediction: Helping fill those small-venue stages will be an army of next-generation indie bands created during the pandemic, many consisting of children of the aught-era indie bands that made Omaha famous.
Reality: Only a couple come to mind: Cat Piss and Pagan Athletes, both bands featuring the progeny of local music legend John Wolf.
2022 Prediction: Unfortunately, when it comes to popular national indie acts, we’ll continue to be “NOmaha” for national tours.
Reality: See my year in review story, published here last month. Pretty much dead-on target.
2022 Prediction: Look for another big-time indie music name to be taken down by a #metoo-style scandal.
Reality: In August, Arcade Fire’s Win Butler was accused of sexual misconduct.
2022 Prediction: After opening offices in Los Angeles and New York City, Saddle Creek Records will make a major announcement that will impact the label’s Omaha legacy.
Reality: Nothing new here, though is their Omaha staff shrinking?
2022 Prediction: Bands and performers we’ll be talking about this time next year: David Nance, Little Brazil, Modest Mouse, Christian Lee Hutson, DIIV, Spoon, Desaparecidos, Yo La Tengo, Jenny Lewis and (once again) Phoebe Bridgers.
Reality: Nance, Little Brazil, CLH, Spoon, Hutson, Desa, YLT and Bridgers all had new releases in 2022.
2022 Prediction: No Filter 2021 will be the last Rolling Stones tour.
Reality: The Stones are immortal.
2022 Prediction: A certain music journalist will begin compiling information for an oral history of the Omaha/Nebraska music scene.
Reality: Not yet, but soon.
2022 Prediction: After years of being shut out, a Saddle Creek Records act will finally perform on “Saturday Night Live.”
Reality: Ugh! I’m giving up!
So, six out of 12 – 50%? Bah, I can do better than that! Let’s take a look at what will happen in 2023:
Prediction: For a majority of young indie music acts, recording and releasing entire albums is costly and almost always a money loser. Beginning this year, we’ll begin to see a new focus on bands (and labels) promoting individual tracks rather than full albums. Is the album era beginning to wane?
Prediction: With inflation through the roof and the erosion of album revenues, touring also has become a money-losing proposition for new bands. Watch as more artists join Santigold, who cancelled her tour in September stating the current tour model is not sustainable. For many bands, touring will be limited to close-to-home markets.
Prediction: Big music festivals and national indie tours will be dominated almost solely by legacy bands in ’23 — acts whose heydays were one, two, even three decades ago. OK Boomer.
Prediction: Also in the bummer category, despite the vinyl explosion, downtown Omaha will not be able to sustain so many record stores. Watch as one of them closes its doors in ’23.
Prediction: In a shrewd, money-making move, a number of large local stages once known for hosting indie rock shows will begin booking full weekends of cover bands, Ranch Bowl-style.
Prediction: Omaha Performing Arts’ new Steelhouse music venue will open in May. Booked by Live Nation, it won’t be afraid to take chances (partially because it’s a funded nonprofit) and will pump new life into Omaha’s waning indie music scene.
Prediction: The Maha Festival will make a huge announcement after it enjoys yet another successful year in 2023. Don’t worry, great things are on its horizon.
Prediction: Meanwhile, Outlandia Festival will be bigger and better in Year 2, adding on-site camping and a broader array of artists, including new breakthrough indie acts.
Prediction: So, does Omaha have room for a third music festival? You better believe it. Watch for the announcement.
Prediction: The band with the longest-running original lineup, U2, will finally come to an end.
Prediction: Bands we’ll be talking about this time next year: David Nance, Lewsberg, Phoebe Bridgers (again), The Faint, Courtney Barnett, The Smiths, Parquet Courts, Hand Habits, Orville Peck, Matt Whipkey, Cactus Nerve Thang, Icky Blossoms and Car Seat Headrest.
Prediction: A huge movie crew will arrive here in River City in ’23 to begin filming a Netflix/Amazon/Hulu docu-drama series about the music scene during the early 2000s. Omaha, get ready for your closeup!
Over The Edge is a monthly column by Reader senior contributing writer Tim McMahan focused on culture, society, music, the media and the arts. Email Tim at firstname.lastname@example.org.