Story and Photos: Spencer Fleming
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Now back to the story....
Wednesday night (8/31) Omaha was served a heaping plate of Indie Rock deliciousness as the "Welcome to Hellvetica" tour made stop at the Admiral Theater (formerly Sokol Auditorium).
The tour is a co-headline effort between I Don't Know How But They Found Me (iDKHOW) and Joywave. After catching iDKHOW at The Slowdown last year I fell in love and will now be covering them anytime they come back through Omaha or Lincoln. Heck, I might even drive to KC or Des Moines, the band is that good.
A few months after last year's Slowdown show iDKHOW's merch company approached Stories from the Crowd and asked if they could purchase one of our photos for a shirt. Such a proud moment! They sent some prints of it so I decided to wear it to the show as an easy way to promote our brand.
When I arrived the merch booth had a different variant (white shirt with red lettering) but it was still my photo! I stood there in awe while contemplating how long I could keep the shirt white and unstained. I figured not long, so I ultimately went with a signed vinyl (limited to five copies per show) and a tour poster instead. There's too much barbecue in my life for white shirts.
As I was at the merch booth I noticed a table set up for Savannah Conley. I love going to shows and seeing there's a bonus band I know nothing about. It's like opening presents on Christmas morning. It could either be the most precious, thoughtful gift or tube socks. To be honest, after covering hundreds of shows I've sat through a lot of tube sock sets. But let me tell you folks, Savannah and her band definitely fell into the amazing gift category.
Savannah's powerful voice had me floored! Everyone has their own musical interpretations but to me there was a feeling of Lana Del Ray meets Sheryl Crow meets The Cure? Savannah's laid back lyrics and almost twangy drawl mixed with reverb jangly guitars hit me right in the feels. After shooting the first three songs I went to the balcony for some different angles. Looking down I noticed they had several setlists and thought I should probably see if I can snag one.
After the set, I snuck back into the photo pit and secured a setlist for Savannah to sign and I picked up a CD. On the way home I was joking with Stories Co-Founder Virginia that I should've bought a signed CD that didn't have my name on it so I can hawk it on Ebay when Savannah is famous! As soon as you get a second give Savannah a look on Spotify or wherever you stream music.
After Savannah rocked the stage and got the crowd warmed up it was time for Joywave. I'll be honest, I went to a mini-festival one time and instead of taking the whole day off I arrived late and missed Joywave, boy what a terrible mistake. Joywave absolutely crushed their set and had the crowd going wild.
I was only familiar with one or two Joywave songs previously, but I'm definitely putting them on my radar now. The band's stage production and swagger was top notch. As the house lights went down the stage revealed the back of a white corvette with a Nebraska Joywave license plate. The tail lights began to flash as an intro track played. The band stormed the stage in mechanic suits with reflective stripes. It played really well with the stage lighting and the crowd ate it up.
Joywave's dark synths and beep bop loops turned the energy up another level. Lead singer Daniel is a born showman and had the room cracking up with his little quips in between songs. He mentioned that he really liked Omaha but his girlfriend liked the city even more. "My girlfriend chose Omaha out of all the cities on tour to come out and visit, you're her number one spot!" He also talked about visiting Hollywood Candy downtown and when they make the list of most famous people to visit the store all the members of Joywave would be right below Ariana Grande and Warren Buffett.
Towards the end of the set Daniel mentioned that before this tour their song "Dangerous" hadn't been played live before. He said NASA put it on a playlist that was being played in space. "If the song is being played in outer freaking space we should probably play it here on earth". What a cool accomplishment having your song played in space.
After slaying the crowd for a good hour Joywave announced the end of their set which was met with "one more song!" Daniel hyped up the crowd raising his hands for more applause before flipping a huge floor switch and launching into "Destruction" from their 2015 release How Do You Feel Now? The crowd bounced along with the pulsing beat practically making the walls shake. It was an awesome way to close the set. Joywave has a new fan over here.
In between Joywave and iDKHOW I talked to some kids in the front who said they were freezing. I asked if they had ever been to the venue before the remodel and they said this was their first time. These kids have no idea about the crazy nights spent in that sweltering room sweaty grinding to The Faint or Cursive. I explained how back in the Sokol days they only had a few industrial fans placed at the front of the room (which who knows if that even helped). It was so hot the mirrors on the walls would sweat! Still, I wouldn't trade those awesome memories for anything. Back to back sold out Friday and Saturday Faint shows? Chef's kiss.
Alright enough of my old man yammering about the "good old days". With LED screens shining a scripty iDKHOW logo across the top and some neon color blocking things were fairly bare bones for iDKHOW's setup. But when you're packing that much canned heat you don't need a fancy stage.
Ryan and Anthony stepped out in their best Hawaiian shirts and swoopy hair. Dallon soon followed effortlessly strutting to the mic with his lanky walk and shaggy hair. The room quickly exploded with cheers for these glam-pop masters. For a fairly modest crowd (It was a Wednesday after all) it was crazy how loud things got. You could instantly feel the energy had been turned up to 11.
iDKHOW kicked things off with one of their biggest hits "Choke" right out of the gate. When I saw them last "Choke" was the closer so this threw me off in a good way. I stalked from side to side trying to get the best shots I could as the lights flashed and faded. Dallon and the guys are always so fun to capture. I ended up bringing home quite a few shots since they said I could shoot from the room after the first three songs.
After "Choke" they played my favorite song "Cluster Hug". It's such a cinematic dreamy number. I had a blast feeling the bass and drums hit while I was in the photo pit, like that extra few feet let me be the first to hear the notes. After another banger or two the band pulled out a Brobecks (iDKHOW's former iteration) song "A Letter". Before the song Dallon mentioned that his voice was feeling a bit rough and we'd have to help him out. He turned the room into his own personal choir lifting his hands and taking the crowd higher with the "Ah ahhhhh", quieting things down, only to lift them back up with an "Oooo ohhhhh". We were like putty in his hands.
Several times throughout the set Dallon mentioned how grateful he was for everyone who came out, getting visibly emotional. "My family means so much to me and without you guys showing up and supporting us I'm really not sure how I would take care of them". He jokingly said he had allergies when wiping away some tears, but just a short time later Dallon said "It's time to be honest, it wasn't allergies, it was emotions bringing me to tears. Let's be honest with each other starting right now". It was quite a beautiful moment. With all the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic it was great to see that artists are getting a chance to once again thrive and have the ability to support their families.
Dallon related that when he was a kid growing up they would do chores on Saturdays and listen to Top 40 radio. "I looked up from scrubbing the tile with a tooth brush and said "who is this angel performing this wonderful heavenly music?" "And that angel was Belinda Carlisle" "If you're over 40 you'll know this one, if you're under 40 you might still know it" As soon as the band started their cover of "Heaven Is A Place On Earth" the room sang along loudly. I guarantee the majority of folks in the room were under 40 but the song remains a classic.
Towards the end of the set during "No One Likes The Opening Band" Daniel from Joywave made an appearance and changed the lyrics to "Everyone likes the Joywave band", what a trickster. iDKHOW closed the night with the heartfelt "Kiss Goodnight". As the crowd swooned I stood in awe of this amazing band and the passion they put into every performance.
If you get the chance, make sure to catch iDKHOW the next time they come through. Hopefully they'll have a new album by then, but even if they don't it's totally worth the price of admission.
Thanks for reading!
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