Story and Photos: Linsey Gividen
Editor: Spencer Fleming
On Saturday evening (3/12) I found myself walking into the front of the 1867 bar in downtown Lincoln. The look of the interior was intimidating and I wasn’t sure I would leave the same after that night. Luckily, I didn’t. I had done my research for Blacktop Mojo, but man, I was not prepared for what the full lineup of bands had in store for me.
Now I had expected this show to have a blues-rock sound, and with this expectation, I invited my 65-year-old dad. While we did get the blues, we got more rock than I anticipated. Lincoln locals Till Hell opened the night with “The Devil Made Me Do It”, and to my surprise, my dad wanted to dance.
Their lively sound and booming lyrics resonated in your soul as you felt each word ripple through your skin. The band had charming humor as the bass guitarist danced through the crowd and stayed the whole night to cheer on the other bands.
I believe my favorite moment had to be when Till Hell put their very own morbid spin on a Partridge Family classic. Their rendition of “I Think I Love You” felt eerie and obsessive, their darker chords looming, adding a wonderfully possessive sound to the song. I remember my dad telling me how pleased he was with their cover and that the song reminded him of his sisters’ adoration for Keith Partridge.
The next band, Evil Shadows, had a very intriguing theme, and their lead singer, Gary Carr, summed it up well when introducing the band. He gestured over to the bass guitarist, Rob Shields, who had a horned skull perching upon his bass, and said “And here’s Rob, with the thing.”
Evil Shadows opened with a blast of energy and fast-paced rifts from their guitarist, Blake Gordon. Their music gives the classic rock genre a dark twist as the music flowed so smoothly. Gary had his signature glowing skull mic stand which captivated my eye as well. Off to the side, Gary’s wife yelled her support and chatted up a storm with the crowd.
The band's second song was nostalgic and sweet. It carried a softer tone, with a message about people you’ve lost. I loved the friendly atmosphere and overall tight-knit feeling of the band as well. I also must say, I couldn't help but notice the godly head-bangs from the drummer.
As Tides Rise is a Lincoln band that has recently popped up. I was fortunate enough to chat with the dad of the lead singer. He was one of the sweetest people I had talked to that night, and he showed me their music video, Facebook page, and website. It was truly sweet to see the support he had for his son. He told me he was new to the rock scene and was still learning about the music. He explained that his son was a drummer before becoming the band’s screamer and vocalist. As soon as I heard his dad refer to him as a screamer, I tried to mentally prepare myself for the intensity of the next set.
Luckily, the band did not disappoint. I've seen professional bands who have millions of listens on Spotify who would've been outshined by As Tides Rise. The band was extremely interactive with the crowd and had amazing energy. I had so much fun listening to the music, and as I watched the whole crowd headbanging along, you could feel the band pulling them in with their charm.
As Tides Rise did an awesome job warming up the crowd for Blacktop Mojo and gave a humble show of gratitude for everyone rocking out with them.
Blacktop Mojo was an experience. I was lucky enough to have a sweet lady named Amanda save me a spot next to the stage for pictures. She promised to clear out a space and she did. She and her partner don’t follow many bands, but they always make sure to catch Blacktop Mojo. While waiting for BTM's set to begin Amanda started chatting with a tall man next to us who happened to be a part of a band called Evandale. Apparently, Amanda’s 4-year-old daughter loves their music and demands they play it all the time. Evandale just announced a surprise show at Maloney's Pub in Omaha next Saturday 3/19. Check out more info HERE!
Blacktop Mojo appeared and they did not waste time. The first song had girls screaming! So many bodies were packed into the venue I couldn’t see an end to the sea of people. I was smashed up against the stage and I had no choice but to listen and feel the music vibrate through me. Their lively sound and incredible talent brought this infectious energy that caused people to lose their minds. One of their guitarists loved to show off and decided to run and jump around the stage throughout their whole set.
The lead singer, Matt James, had everyone captivated as he leaned against an amp to serenade the crowd. I could see his interestingly textured cowboy boots peeping from under his jeans as he danced on stage with the rest of his bandmates. The second song rolls around, and he asks the crowd “Anyone here like serial killers?” to which the man next to me responds “Sure, right now, for you, we’ll like serial killers.” He got a laugh from surrounding attendees before the lights went red and Matt James began his song.
Blacktop Mojo's sound is so unique and smooth. Matt James' amazing range, combined with the amazing talent of the rest of the band just puts them over the top. Even though I walked into the bar a pop-punk girl at heart, I felt like I found a new family in the crowd of hard rock and metal fans.
Driving home that night, I had a newfound appreciation for more blues-inspired rock and metalcore. Being in the middle of the jampacked 1867 bar with the music vibrating through me changed me as a person and changed me for the better.
Blacktop Mojo has some more dates left on their tour! You can find them here next:
Tuesday, March 15, Minot, ND
Wednesday, March 16, Fargo, ND
Friday, March 18, Sioux City, IA
Saturday, March 19, Minneapolis, MN
Sunday, March 20, Iowa City, IA
Tuesday, March 22, Westland, MI
Wednesday, March 23, Battle Creek, MI
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As Tides Rise
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