Andrew Stellmon

Lincoln Exposed in Review

The following is a guest post by Andrew Stellmon. Andrew is a Team Member at Vinnie Krikac State Farm, and a frequent contributor to Originally from Lee's Summit, MO, a suburb of Kansas City, he has lived in Lincoln since Fall 2007, when he began attending UNL. Andrew graduated in May 2011 with a Bachelor of Arts in both History and Sociology. Andrew has contributed to since April 2014, and what began as an outlet for his passion for music turned into a position as an editorial intern for the Fall 2014 semester, covering local and national music in concert and album reviews and artist-focused interviews. Andrew also loves movies, coffee, craft-beer, tries to find time to read, and is a rabid Kansas City sports fan.

Thoughts On Big Crowds, Bandleaders, and Genre Diversity

After 61 bands, four nights, three venues, and after one awesome local music fan base turned out in droves, Lincoln Exposed ended with a bang early Sunday morning.

It seems too neatly linear, and maybe a bit cliché, to say that Lincoln Exposed ramped up as the weekend progressed. It's still true in a lot of ways. Wednesday night opened with seven bands, and even with a bone-chilling freeze outside, drew a nice turnout.

After expanding to the full complement of venues - the Zoo Bar, Duffy’s Tavern, and The Bourbon Theater - for Thursday onward, the number of bands increased, as did the attendance.

Twenty bands played on Saturday, starting with Tupelo Springfield at 6pm at the Zoo Bar. The energy of Saturday itself intensified as the regular bar crowd showed (especially at Duffy’s, where it was at capacity for part of the night). The festival hit it's last crescendo with pop punk quartet Thirst Things First at 12:40am at Duffy’s to close the weekend.

Whew. What an awesome whirlwind of a weekend.

I helped cover Thursday’s festivities for Hear Nebraska, which is part of why I wasn't able to make it to every band. Visit these links for their comprehensive coverage of Lincoln Exposed Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. There was still plenty to digest from the weekend. I’ve listed my thoughts below, based on my favorite things that I saw, sought out, and experienced randomly.

  • I wrote a bit last week about how diverse, genre-wise, these billings were at first glance. For my money, that is when Lincoln Exposed, Lincoln Calling, or music festival is at its best: a wide variety of acts playing one after another on the same billing or throughout the same night. It gives musician and audience member a chance to sample something completely different from their particular musical tastes.

  • Lincoln Exposed delivered on this in spades each night, beginning right away with Wednesday’s billing. Soul/R&B trio Xion played first at the Zoo Bar. Their three-part vocal harmonies blended expertly together with VJ Herbert’s robust piano chords. It was nice to ease into the festival in this way, gently and with music that would probably be unlike anything else over the next few nights.

  • The crowds would be different for Orion Walsh and the Rambling Hearts later in the evening, and around the corner at Duffy’s. Folk act Jack Hotel played with indie bands blet and Oketo. It would be redundant to list every single example of this, but there are few highlights that help drive the point home: Thursday’s entire night at the Zoo Bar, from Root Marm Chicken Farm Jug band to avant garde electronic Omni Arms to prog-punk band Universe Contest; two country bands - Dylan Bloom Band and Emmett Bower Band preceding Laughing Falcon and Bogusman, two of the loudest rock/punk bands in Lincoln; and Saturday, where Americana (Gerardo Meza) and alt-rock (the Renfields) shared the stage with trumpet-accented garage rock (the Crayons).

  • Lincoln Exposed offers a unique opportunity to see not only a wide array of musical acts, but ones across the spectrum of experience. This year saw a number of rising young talents play alongside veteran Nebraska musicians, some of which were also testing new material.

  • I kept thinking all weekend about the idea of a “bandleader,” what that can mean, and how its embodied differently by different artists. There were plenty of candidates for emerging bandleaders: Stuart McKay of funk band Melon Company, who held together a tight brass ensemble and funky rhythm section; JP Davis, who led a mini-orchestra-sized band with droning lead vocals and subtle charm; Steven DeLair of Oketo, who shifted skillfully between cooing tenor and guttural screaming.

  • There were plenty of accomplished frontman as well, including Meza, backed on Saturday night by the new band he unveiled at Lincoln Calling in October. Evan Bartles and the Stoney Lonesomes played the Zoo Bar Friday, Bartles himself a strong, intense bandleader. Then there’s Mikey Elfers of the aforementioned Thirst Things First, who closed down the festival with pop punk explosion. He is that band’s “leader” insofar as he its lead singer. But he also plays Boot, the overlord-subject of their sci-fi backstory, in videos that play onstage. He also assembles and customizes each show beforehand, splicing Sonic the Hedgehog-style bleeps and bloops into the track of each show.

  • Speaking of that band: what one must have thought upon walking in on them for the first time if they had never seen or heard of them before. Its such a bizarre gimmick, even as its one of the most fleshed out concept bands around. That awkward feeling is blown away as soon as they begin, as it did on Saturday. Their sound is too infectious, which is why they draw some of the biggest crowds of any local band.

  • Two other crowd pleasers (and two of my favorites) played back to back nights at the Zoo Bar. Universe Contest played Thursday night as what has become an all-star lineup behind frontmen/guitarists Tim Carr and Joe Humpel. Festival-goers packed the room as beer cans flew into and past the band. With violin and Moog synth replacing atmospheric keys, they brought a punkier vibe to both their old songs and new material. Friday night overflowed again as garage punk foursome Halfwit played what will be its last show for a brief hiatus. The two bands share bassist Saber Blazek, whose presence brings precise, rhythmic notes and one of the most noted stage personalities for a non-frontperson. Unsurprisingly, the energy was in the stratosphere for both shows.

Lincoln Exposed can seem like a huge blur of memories, with ones that stick out like cottages dotting the countryside outside of a speeding train’s window. Whatever you remember, it's likely been demonstrated that the musicians, songwriters, and bands of Lincoln possess such creativity and talent. It's nice to see such support from fans. Art is an essential component of any city with a vibrant culture; Lincoln’s music scene is important in that regard. It remains strong and diverse, and Lincoln Exposed was yet more proof of that.

Lincoln Exposed Preview

The following is a guest post by Andrew Stellmon. Andrew is a Team Member at Vinnie Krikac State Farm, and a frequent contributor to Originally from Lee's Summit, MO, a suburb of Kansas City, he has lived in Lincoln since Fall 2007, when he began attending UNL. Andrew graduated in May 2011 with a Bachelor of Arts in both History and Sociology. Andrew has contributed to since April 2014, and what began as an outlet for his passion for music turned into a position as an editorial intern for the Fall 2014 semester, covering local and national music in concert and album reviews and artist-focused interviews. Andrew also loves movies, coffee, craft-beer, tries to find time to read, and is a rabid Kansas City sports fan.

Lincoln Exposed Preview

Whether you’re a diehard fan of local music, or you’re interested in becoming one, its no exaggeration to say that the upcoming weekend is one of the most exciting of the year.

Beginning tonight, and running through Saturday, more than 60 local bands and hundreds of fans will converge on downtown Lincoln for Lincoln Exposed. The tenth annual local music showcase will feature everything from Lincoln music veterans to bands breaking into the scene and looking to make their mark. 

The four night event stands apart from its autumnal counterpart, Lincoln Calling, in a lot of ways. This past October, as it has in previous years, Lincoln Calling mixed bands from across the state with touring acts on eight stages around downtown. A few of those bands were Lincoln regulars like The Kickback and Sidewalk Chalk, both from Chicago.

With Lincoln Exposed, the festival is confined to three venues in close proximity - The Zoo Bar, Duffy’s Tavern, and The Bourbon Theatre - and will feature only bands which have Lincoln origins or close ties. The lineups are diverse in term of genre; if a festival-goer chose to remain at just one venue each night, they might hear a jug band, electronic rock, and progressive rock all on the same stage. However, the schedule is staggered, with a band starting every 20 minutes. With enough planning and hustle, the same patron could see every single act of the weekend.

The festival is important locally on a number of levels. Not only does genre diversity echo the wide variety of talent that resides in Lincoln and the rest of the state, its a celebration of the city's vibrant music scene. The fact that it happens to coincide with First Friday is an excellent reason to catch both art exhibit and rock show, but also speaks to the strength of the arts and culture in Lincoln. Simply put, it's an opportunity to enjoy the wealth of musical talent Lincoln has to offer.

In overwhelming anticipation, I have poured through the schedule (which you can find here) an unreasonable amount of times. I have noted some of the bands and scheduling quirks that peaked my interest, plus I have included some links to help us brush up:

  • Wednesday, the Bourbon is hosting a different event, so the action is confined to The Zoo Bar and Duffy’s. Fast rising indie rock six-piece Oketo will close the night at Duffy’s. They released an EP in October 2014 and are gearing up for a midwest/west coast tour that will stretch from February through May.
  • Orion Walsh has often played as a solo act over the last few years. After returning home from cross-country touring and travels, he has lately performed with a full band, the Rambling Hearts. He will do so at the Zoo Bar Wednesday, adding a little kick to his Americana.
  • I mentioned the jug band/electronic/progressive rock billing? That would be Thursday night at the Zoo Bar, with Root Marm Chicken Farm Jug Band, Omni Arms, Powers, Red Cities, and Universe Contest. Aside from its identity crisis, there’s a lot to love about this lineup. Root Marm is undeniably quirky and fun roots music. Universe Contest is a scene favorite and, with a newly shuffled lineup, look to unveil new songs and shed the spacey electronic layer of their prog rock sound for a more punky edge. Watch for flying beer cans (from crowd to stage, a staple at UC shows), and any combination of costumes, glitter, and balloons.
  • A musician of note: Powers and Universe Contest share drummer Jordan Elfers, and he should be one of the most exciting to watch all weekend. In fact, you can also catch him late Saturday night playing for pop punk band Thirst Things First.
  • Friday night at the Bourbon features Tie These Hands and Once A Pawn, both of which have long been active in Lincoln. Sputnik Kaputnik, which released a double album in November, will play in between them. As will Bud Heavy & the High Lifes, who I saw for the first time in October for Lincoln Calling (their set is reviewed as part of this coverage from Hear Nebraska). Bud Heavy plays punk infused folk rock at breakneck speeds, and will also engage in plenty of crowd interaction.
  • The Zoo Bar again looks to be the most diverse on Friday, traversing California garage rock, folk rock, and hard rock. Halfwit, which typically draws a large crowd, will close the night at the Zoo. The energy, dexterity, and myriad facial expressions of bassist Saber Blazek are alone worth hanging for the midnight start time. Hear Nebraska also reports that it will be the band’s last show for awhile, as they break to write and record (and as their Facebook page notes, enjoy “chillin’, frisbee, [and] band lunches.”)
  • That Hear Nebraska link above also features photos of sludge punk band Bogusman, which will perform at Duffy’s Friday as part of an extremely loud couple of hours. They have been playing around Lincoln and Omaha quite often as of late, and are starting to hit their stride (read a review of their November performance at Urban Outfitters here).
  • Saturday is jam packed; if I already didn’t wish I had a Time-Turner for the entire weekend, it would be great to have that night. If I had to highlight a few can’t-miss options: Gerardo Meza (for his beautiful songwriting and charismatic stage presence); The Crayons (for their primary-colored outfits and trumpeter David Tysdal hopping about the stage); The Renfields (for their sunny early 2000’s indie sound); A Ferocious Jungle Cat (for dance-inducing grooves); and the aforementioned Thirst Things First (for their energetic pop punk and accompanying video transmissions).
  • Lastly, note on the schedule that Wednesday and Thursday are ages 18+, and Friday and Saturday are 21+. All access passes are $20, but you can also pay by the night. Wednesday tickets are $5, Thursday tickets are $6, and both Friday and Saturday tickets are $8.

If it seems like I’m trying to sell you on this, you’re right! But it promises to be an entertaining weekend for any music lover. If it would be your first Lincoln Exposed, I am highly recommending it. If it’s your first ever foray into local music, I’m practically begging you to go (but only because you’d be doing yourself a favor, and because the idea of introducing more people to Lincoln music thoroughly excites me). Regardless, I look forward to seeing you there!