Sokol Auditorium / Omaha, Nebraska / September 28, 2017
Written by: Pat Douglas / Photo by: Pollieography
Being unfamiliar with all the bands, we weren’t too sure of what to expect on this Thursday night at Sokol. We knew a little of BoomBox, so we knew the basic style of music to expect, but by and large we went in blind. That, however, turned out to be a good thing as it let us be surprised at what was in store for us. Sokol is an interesting venue in Omaha, as it has a lot of history, always has a wide variety of acts coming through to perform and, like this show itself, you never really know what the night has in store for you. The surprises started early and kept coming throughout the night.
Surprise one was the fact that we got there early (only about 5 minutes before doors open), but there was hardly any line. At Sokol, it usually doesn’t matter what bands are playing, there is almost always a decent sized line before the doors open. The lack of a line can’t be blamed on the weather either as it was beautiful out. So much so that Hollie & I rode the Harley to the show. There were only about 6 people in line when we got there and the doors opened up shortly after that. I guess tonight was a night when people planned things out perfectly, as the small crowd filled up very fast. The music started about 30 minutes after we got in and the crowd had grown from about 10 to about 200 by this time.
First up, according to all the information I had, was Late Night Radio out of Denver, CO. From the research I had done, they are a two piece band with a decidedly electronic funk vibe going on. I was fairly excited for this as it is along the lines of BoomBox and lines up nicely with my own musical background. However, what ended up happening was one guy with a laptop. I’m not sure if the full band will be there for other shows on this tour (this was the first night of this tour I think) or this is just how the tour is playing out and not be advertised as such. Many people around me were heard remarking what a great DJ this guy was. I will say, he did have a fantastic track selection and I really enjoyed the music he was playing, however I don’t think it was really DJ’ing. You can call me old school if you want, but I grew up on old school DJs. Guys and gals who would lug around bags and boxes of actual records, they’d put on a set of headphones and they would actually manually beat match records along with picking out the tracks to play. This guy didn’t even have headphones…it seemed he was just picking a track and pressing his spacebar – letting his software beat match and mix for him. I’m not trying to take away from the guy, as my research did tell me he is a popular DJ in the Colorado scene. I just didn’t really see any evidence of actual DJ’ing.
Next up was who we were both really looking forward to – BoomBox. They are a two piece band out of Muscle Shoals, Alabama. BoomBox has a very unique a cultured sound that has been born of the popularity of the EDM scene and laced with loads of Grateful Dead influence – not to mention some decidedly hip-hop influences thrown in for good measure. Founding member Zion Godchaux, son of Keith and Donna Jean Godchaux (who both performed in the Grateful Dead) has had a very varied upbringing in the music scene and it really shows in his song writing. Writing catchy hooks on his guitar and layering it all with his catchy lyrics, the only thing that stands out more are the grooves laid down by DJ Harry. Using drum machines, sequencers, samplers and a full on DJ setup – the groove behind Zion’s magic is enough to keep a dance floor packed and sweaty. This duo has really put together something unique and catchy enough to hit the airwaves, the dancehall or just something to bounce to at the bar. From tunes like (my favorite) Mr. Boogie Man, Stereo and Midnight on the Run – the beats were fresh and it kept the now near capacity crowd captivated from start to finish.
Closers for the night were the Midwest’s own The Floozies. Hailing from Lawrence, Kansas – the Floozies really packed them in. With Sokol hall now packed to the gills, the lights went down and the show really began. These guys are true performers. Also a two piece, you’d never really know just from the sound of things. Comprised of brothers Mark & Matt Hill, the sound these guys produce if full, intricate and fully engaging. With Mark on the drum kit, that leaves most everything else up to Matt. His setup was mind blowing. He stands on stage surrounded by guitars, bass, samplers, drum machines, keyboards, microphones and even a talk box. All this, mixed with an amazing light show really put a nice cap on the evening. The Floozies are truly original and are a sight to behold. Close your eyes and take a listen or keep them peeled and take it all in - these guys really are not only talented musicians, but also talented performers. They bring it all on this tour and if you weren’t there for it…shame on you. You should have been.