Omaha Rocks Unplugged 3 was a major success! Representatives from over 20 Omaha bands were on hand to dish out acoustic originals and plenty of fun covers.
In addition to all the awesome music, it was so much fun connecting with all of the fans! Thanks so much to all those who took a business card and gave a like or Instagram follow. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Omaha’s music scene is truly something special. There’s so much love between bands, venues, and fans it feels like one big family. Being at this show really helped me appreciate the opportunity I have to share all of these stories with you!
The first act of the night was Blake Jones from Desiato. He did some great covers including Slipknot’s “Snuff”, Coheed & Cambria’s “Blood Red Summer”, and “Shallow” from “A Star is Born”. During “Shallow” Blake was joined by Kate Prokop from Through the Stone. Everyone on the bill had pipes and Blake was no exception! It was a fun set.
After Blake was Brian Adams from Before I Burn. Brian made a funny joke about his name by starting to play the “Bryan Adams” song “Summer of 69′.” He didn’t get far before letting everyone know his name is spelled differently, etc.
Before I Burn superfan pictured above.
Brian played a couple of originals before busting out a cover of “Badfish” by Sublime. The crowd had fun with it singing along, including the “Pew!” noise before the guitar solo.
Up next was my favorite Omaha hip hop artist J. Crum featuring Anthony Flakus on acoustic guitar. J did all originals including the title track to his new album “Villains” and one of my personal favorites “Hearts Collide”. Once again, J absolutely destroyed the stage with his soulful melodies and spitfire flow. If you haven’t heard “Villains” yet, do yourself a favor and look it up on Spotify, or better yet, download it on iTunes. If you’re a fan of positive lyrics over fresh beats then you’re in for a massive treat.
After J. Crum was Ricky Szablowski from We Be Lions and Mike Wholhutter from Born on Leap Year. Ricky and friends played an original before a sweet cover of “All Apologies” by Nirvana. The last song the set was a cover, but instead of playing a huge hit they did a song by local band Dummy Head Torpedo. One fan mentioned DHT was having an album release party at the Lookout Lounge that night. It was a solid song and a cool move of respect. I’ll definitely check out Dummy Head Torpedo now.
The next group was Sean Thomas and Aaron Koenig from Devil in the Details. These guys did all originals. Singer Sean mentioned that all the songs performed were new as they have a new album in the works. I really enjoyed the mixture of clean and heavy, almost scream vocals. This was the first time I noticed it, and it would come up again later in the show, but give these guys some electronics and I bet their tunes are absolutely brutal! Even with acoustic guitar the riffs were shredding. I can’t wait to see what they do with a full band. You can check out Devil in the Details at the Waiting Room on May 4.
After Sean and Aaron were Omaha rockers Save the Hero. I got to catch Save the Hero when they opened for Sevendust last year so I was excited to see them again. They had a nice bluesy sound with stripped down guitars and drummer Gauge playing a small box drum. They did a couple originals before playing a slowed down soulful cover of Imagine Dragon’s “Believer”. Save the Hero has the honor of opening for Light the Torch featuring Howard Jones (former Kill Switch Engage) on May 23 at Waiting Room. I’ll be in Kansas City that night covering one of my favorite bands, the up-and-coming Fever 333. But do yourself a favor and grab tickets to that one, it very possibly could sell out. Plus, there’s a good chance you can get a picture with Howard being he’s a super nice dude.
Following Save the Hero was Omaha’s Arson City. These guys were by far the most recognized name on the bill and the size of the crowd showed. It really started to fill in as soon as Arson City took the stage. Though Arson City has been playing since 2013 their live set somehow eluded me. I’m glad I was finally able to catch their show. Even with a low-key acoustic set these guys tore the stage up! They started with a cover of “Too Close” by Alex Clare. This got the place pretty pumped, but the energy jumped to another level when the band played singles “One of These Days” and “Not Coming Home”. They had everyone in the place singing along and raising drinks. Finally, the set ended with a smooth cover of Nine Inch Nails “Closer”. It was cool to hear the heavy synth bass swapped out for the little box drum and some good old fashioned stage stomping. I saw a ton of Arson City shirts and hoodies so it’s clear they were the hometown heroes. This was a really neat show in that it made me super excited to see a lot of these bands in their true form, fully electric, etc. You can catch Arson City at the Waiting Room on May 4 with Devil in the Details.
After Arson City was Shane Vogel and Jake Loehr from The Impulsive. I have to say I think I had the most fun with this set just because they played “Hands Down” by Dashboard Confessional. This transported me back to 2003 and I was loving every minute of it. I was singing along to every word just having the best time. I didn’t even care about the weird stares ( I think I was the only one singing). I made sure to shout “So we can get some!” and Shane said “That guy got some!” I laughed so hard. It was just the thing to lift me up after a busy week. I talked to Shane after the set about their big show coming up. If you don’t know, The Impulsive will be kicking things off for River Riot on May 10. Shane said their normal show is super heavy with influences of Breaking Benjamin and Killswitch Engage. I said they’ll fit in perfectly with the River Riot Crowd. I’m excited to see what they do with this opportunity. It could definitely set them on a path for bigger shows and more opening slots when national bands come through.
Next was Jesse Dean from Narcotic Self. Unlike many of the other acts, Jesse was riding solo. Just a dude and his guitar baring his soul. Jesse mentioned that the songs he would play were brand new and that was the first time anyone would ever hear them. Jesse proceeded to rock out with brooding dark riffs. After a couple originals Jesse did a heartfelt cover of “Heart Shaped Box” by Nirvana. Narcotic Self will also be playing with Light the Torch on May 23 at the Waiting Room.
After Jesse was Benn Sieff, Erika Hall-Sieff, and Randy Cotton from Bennie and the Gents. These guys had a great set full of bluesy originals and a fantastic Peter Murphy cover. I was able to cover Bennie and the Gents back in January and I was blown away at the level of production and talent from the band. I was so stoked when Benn announced that Bennie will be doing Bennie Does Bowie on June 8. If you didn’t catch Bennie back in January make sure you are there this time! You will not be disappointed. Keep rockin Bennie!
Following Benn was Mike Kruger, Cory Pawloaki, and Matt Korz from Achilles Last Band and Fools n Roses. This trio had rockin Guns N’ Roses covers.
Next was a Tom Petty tribute Ventura Blvd. These guys did the late Tom Petty proud with fun covers that got the crowd moving. My personal favorite was “You Wreck Me”.
After Ventura Blvd Ally Peeler graced us with beautiful, soulful songs of positivity and harmony. The crowd was definitely feeling the good vibes by the end of the set.
The last band I was able to catch was Omaha metal pros The Clincher. I was really impressed by their set. Singer Lori Piper had amazing range from soaring clean vocals to deep screams. I was blown away! As I mentioned earlier, this is another band that I’m excited to see with a full electric setup. The drums had such an insane tribal beat reminiscent of Soulfly. I mentioned that to Lori after the set and she said they had opened for Soulfly a while back at Sokol underground. Way cool! Lori said they’ll be opening for the legendary Nile at the Royal Grove in November. Hopefully I’ll be able to catch a show before then, but I’m definitely going to add that to my upcoming shows list.
A huge congratulations to Midwest Elite Concerts and 1% Productions for making this show such a success. A lot of people came out and it showed how strong the Omaha music scene is. So many connections were made, I’m really glad I could come out. Next up is the Punk Rock Prom featuring Graveyard Smash on Saturday 3/23 at The Waiting Room. Put on your spikes and black boots and come rock out!
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