By Phil Brown, Contributor
Wednesday, Sept. 24th
The Scottish trio CHVRCHES – veritable infants in the indie pop game having only been around since 2011 – somehow take all the familiar elements of modern synthpop, the heavy production, the tangle of bright, catchy synths and sampled drums, the emphasis on warm, catchy hooks and three-minute songs, and execute them with such a degree of precision that the result is completely irresistible. The ethereal, crystal-clear voice of Lauren Mayberry is perfectly offset against the flowing bass and synth and the the chugging, infinitely danceable drums. Hipsters may decry their lack of originality or lyrical weight, but those people are bad and should feel bad. If you’re into feeling good, on the other hand, CHVRCHES is a great choice for a midweek show full of positive vibes and unparalleled arpeggiation. You can vibe along with them at Sokol Auditorium.
Sample Tracks: Recover, The Mother We Share
The War on Drugs
At first listen, Adam Granduciel’s The War On Drugs seems to draw its influences (and instruments) from a typical Americana canon. The omnipresent, slightly jangly guitars, dusty-sounding drums and Granduciel’s best Springsteen impressions feel like old comfortable friends, albeit perhaps not the most interesting on the surface. But The War On Drugs is not everything it seems to be on the outside. The music is performed in a distinctly modern way, with hints of present-day shoegazing indie rock poking through. Listening to The War On Drugs is like listening to a retelling of future events, a group of time-travelers returned to tell of the way things will be, but in a way we all understand. What they have to say is sometimes a little unsettling, but it’s comforting to know they made it out alive. Criminally, concertgoers are being forced to choose between taking in The War On Drugs at the Waiting Room Lounge and CHVRCHES on the same night.
Sample Tracks: “Under The Pressure,” “Red Eyes”
Saturday, Sept. 27th
While you definitely didn’t completely escape the approach of Lorde season, heralded by the massive single “Royals”, if you aren’t even a little bit pumped about seeing her live, then maybe you haven’t listened to her debut album, “Pure Heroine.” Though admittedly slight, it’s pretty much the best modern mainstream pop has to offer. Lorde’s songs may be a bit juvenile and could be accused of being overproduced, but they are much more lyrical and compelling than any of her competition. Even if her performances have room to mature, she is definitely the future, if not the present, of mainstream pop, and should be taken seriously. If you can find tickets, you can watch her perform at Stir Cove in Council Bluffs.
Sample Tracks: Glory And Gore, Buzzcut Season, White Teeth Teens
Tuesday, Sept. 30th
In the land of trip-hop, somewhere between the deceptively minimal sound of Massive Attack and the lushly overexposed, relaxed vibe of chillwave acts such as Washed Out, New York’s Phantogram can be found. Their sharp hip hop backbeats are slathered with layers of soft texture and airy vocals, and the duo categorize themselves as “street beat, psych pop.” Whatever those things are, Phantogram is a compelling, groovy act. You can catch them at the Sokol Auditorium.
Sample Tracks: Fall In Love, Don’t Move
Sunday, Oct. 5th
Discovered at age 15 on YouTube, Joey Bada$$ has become one of the most successful young independent rappers on the East Coast. He’s made a name for himself with smooth, creative lyrics and a classic, confident flow. He’s released four more mixtapes since his first, the critically acclaimed 1999; collaborated with some of the greatest established and upcoming names in modern hip-hop (Kendrick Lamar, A$AP Rocky, Hit-Boy, Q-Tip); and at the ripe old age of 19, is embarking on an extensive world tour in support of his upcoming debut studio album: “B4.DA.A$$.” You can catch the phenomenon at Slowdown.
Sample Tracks: Unorthodox, 95 Till Infinity
Tuesday, Oct. 21st
Dum Dum Girls
The effortlessly cool Dum Dum Girls, a no-boys-allowed group hailing from LA via New York, is anchored by the incredible Dee Dee Penny (Kristin Welchez), whose timeless voice and stage presence transforms the group from a totally decent indie rock outfit into something truly Special. This writer may or may not have completely fallen in love with Dee Dee Penny at a show in Chicago earlier this year. The Girls will be playing at The Waiting Room.
Sample Tracks: Coming Down, Rimbaud Eyes
Wednesday, Oct. 22nd
Flatbrush Zombies & The Underachievers
One of the downsides of living in Omaha is that the town is often bypassed by musical acts who have already made it big,and aren’t on a giant world tour, especially when it comes to hip-hop. However, for smaller acts on their way up, acts with something to prove, Omaha is hard to pass up. Flatbush Zombies & The Underachievers, two separate groups who grew up in Flatbush, Brooklyn on a joint tour, represent the second wave of Brooklyn hip-hop’s Omaha invasion that will begin with Joey Bada$$, whose Pro Era collective along with both the Zombies and The Underachievers make up the “Beast Coast” movement. Both groups heavily use trippy instrumentals, visuals and subject matter. While Zombies seem to be the slightly more assured group, the two acts have only one full album between them, The Underacheivers’ debut that was released only last month. With copious amounts of talent and a truckload of hype behind them, both groups are a force to reckon with. The show will be at The Waiting Room Lounge.
Sample Tracks: Herb Shuttles (The Underachievers), Palm Trees (Flatbush Zombies)