Review: Sleigh Bells rip through blistering but short set

Derek E. Miller and and Alexis Krauss of Sleigh Bells perform at Slowdown. (Photo by Kevin Coffey/The World-Herald)

Derek E. Miller and and Alexis Krauss of Sleigh Bells perform at Slowdown. (Photo by Kevin Coffey/The World-Herald)
View a photo gallery below.

They came hard, they came loud, but they came up short.

Sleigh Bells hit the stage at Slowdown on Tuesday at 10:15 p.m., and they were gone an hour later.

Backed by four stacks of Marshall speakers and a ton of lights, Alexis Krauss took the stage in a “BELLS” hat and studded denim with her bandmate Derek E. Miller rocking a yellow, tiger-striped guitar like the one on the cover of the noise rock band’s latest album, “Bitter Rivals.”

After some “Inception”-style horn blasts, they tore into a version of “Minnie” that was so loud that I could feel it buzz in my chest.

Krauss flitted around the stage and belted out lyrics such as “you’re gone away/but you’ll come back someday,” “how sorry life is like a Hollywood sequel” and “set, set that crown on the ground” while striking a few diva/signer poses. Sleigh Bells’ songs are just the sort of thing to get people moving, but Krauss’ indefatigable attitude pushed the dance party vibe even harder.

Though people jammed out with their hands in the air — a sweaty, frantic dance party that reminded me of old shows by The Faint — Krauss was having more fun than anyone.

For his part, Miller never stopped moving while he busted through the head-bobbing punky riffs the band is known for. Krauss and Miller were joined by a drummer and second guitarist who tore into the songs just as frantically.

Between songs, Krauss talked a lot about how great it was to be back in Omaha even identifying a fan who she did shots with last time. (And then she asked shots to be brought to the stage.)

“Thank you so much,” Krauss said later. “You guys are a … pleasure or perform to. We love you.”

After 12 songs and a short break, they came back for a short and loud encore of the strummy, acoustic “Young Legends,” the punchy “Sing Like a Wire” and a gut-rumbling “A/B Machines” that had the audience jumping up and down together like a singular unit.

“Holy (crap),” Krauss said. “You guys have been so fun. We seriously love you. Thank you so much for coming back.”

It was a rocking show and the sort of show that people will remember for its electric feel and the songs commanding you to move. But it was simply too short.

Could they have played more than an hour? You bet they could. Where were “Rill Rill,” “Tell ‘Em,” “End of the Line,” “24″ and “True Shred Guitar?” I would have loved to hear all those those songs, which could have easily fit into the set to pad it out 16 minutes.

That’s not a lot to ask, and it would have made the show feel much more complete, especially considering the $20 ticket price.

Can’t see the photo gallery? Check out all the photos on my Flickr page.


Comeback Kid
Tiger Kit
Crown on the Ground
Bitter Rivals
Love Sick
Born to Lose
You Don’t Get Me Twice
Riot Rhythm
Infinity Guitars

Young Legends
Sing Like a Wire
A/B Machines

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Coachella: Best of day three including Arcade Fire, Beck, Neutral Milk Hotel

Win Butler of Arcade Fire performs at Coachella on Sunday, April 20. (Photo by The Associated Press)

Win Butler of Arcade Fire performs at Coachella on Sunday, April 20. (Photo by The Associated Press)

Rock Candy correspondents Joel Henriksen and Keith Finn spent the weekend in Indio for Coachella.

Every day, they told us about the best sets from the godfather of indie rock festivals.

The following were the top sets from the festival’s last day, Sunday.

* * *

The Naked and Famous

One of my summer anthems of all time is “Young Blood” and I couldn’t resist the urge to check their set out mid-day on the main stage. Hailing from New Zealand, this electronic alt pop band has spent the last couple months opening for Imagine Dragons, and you could tell they had no problems creating that huge arena sound. They opened the set with “A Stillness” which then led into “Punching In A Dream,” a fantastic song of their debut album. They ended the set with “Young Blood” and the crowd lost their minds. The chorus’ “yeah yeah yeah yeahs” likely could have been heard from other stages near the main stage. The Naked and Famous left a very great taste in my mouth.

Obligatory concert note: go see The Naked and Famous at The Slowdown on May 28th. You will be so glad that you did.

Neutral Milk Hotel

After seeing Neutral Milk Hotel’s performance at Sokol Auditorium last month, I decided to check them out at Coachella. They did not disappoint. A relatively small crowd gathered to watch the band perform, which was probably due to the mass amounts of EDM fans attending the festival. After performing “King of Carrot Flowers,” Jeff Mangum politely asked the crowd the keep their camera phones in their pockets for the remainder of the show. The sun set on the band as they performed songs such as “Two-Headed Boy,” “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea,” “Songs Against Sex” and “Holland, 1945.” The ambiance of this rare moment in music was uncanny, and the only people who could have witnessed it were the ones that were in attendance.


This English electronic duo was one of very few acts to play the festival for a second year in a row. Since April 2013, Disclosure, consisting of brothers Guy and Howard Lawrence, has exploded in the United States thanks to their song “Latch” and their platinum album “Setttle.” While they had to compete against Arcade Fire, Motorhead and Adventure Club, Disclosure still drew one of the most massive crowds I saw surrounding the Outdoor Theatre. Rather than simply mixing using turntables, Disclosure themselves play many instruments, creating a much better live feel to their performance. At the end of the set, they brought out Mary J Blige for “F For You” and vocalist Sam Smith for the final song of the night; “Latch.” While being an electronic dance group, Disclosure truly sets themselves apart from the rest.


Towards the back end of Sunday, everyone in the crowd was starting to get a little worn out. However, everybody perked up once Beck took over the Coachella main stage. He busted out with “E-Pro” which made the crowd exceedingly active. He continued with some of his other popular songs, including “Loser,” “Devil’s Haircut” and “Black Tambourine.” Beck incorporated some of his mellow, acoustic songs in his set when he performed “Blue Moon” and “Lost Cause.” While he was eventually cut off at the end of his set for going over his time limit, Beck’s performance was stellar in every sense.

Arcade Fire

Coachella’s finale was one of the best performances of the weekend. Arcade Fire decided to trick everyone in the crowd by immediately bringing out some Daft Punk impersonators. Win Butler said the group was called “Paft Dunk” and the crowd would have to wait until next year for the real thing. Arcade Fire then tore through “Normal Person,” “The Suburbs” and “Ready to Start.” Beck came on and joined the band in covering Prince’s “Controversy” while wearing a Pope bobblehead, who Butler declared was “Pope Beck.” After performing their final song “Wake Up,” Arcade Fire were joined by the Preservation Hall Jazz Band in marching through the crowd in an unplugged version of the “Wake Up,” and continued to do so for about fifteen minutes. Arcade Fire’s performance was the absolute perfect way to finish off an amazing weekend

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Coachella: Best of day two including Pharrell, The Head and The Heart, Nas and more

Crowd surfing at Coachella (Photo by The Associated Press)

Crowd surfing at Coachella (Photo by The Associated Press)

Rock Candy correspondents Joel Henriksen and Keith Finn are in Indio this weekend for Coachella.

Every day, they’ll tell you about the best sets from the godfather of indie rock festivals.

The following were the top sets from Saturday.

* * *


The Head and The Heart

I have seen The Head and The Heart perform many times. They have always been able to captivate an audience in small clubs and theaters but I have always been skeptical how they could handle a crowd of thousands. To say the least, they handled it well, and ended up putting on my favorite  performance of festival so far. Listening to more than 10,000 people sing along with favorites like “Shake,” “Lost in my Mind” and “Rivers and Roads” really helped me define this as the best set of the festival and truly left me with goose bumps throughout. There is a reason they headline Red Rocks and join the lineup of Maha Music Festival this summer. This band is going somewhere.

Queens of the Stone Age

Saturday’s set was a homecoming for Queens of the Stone Age leader Josh Homme. He was born in the area and wasn’t going to give his hometown crowd a boring performance. The clock struck 9:30 p.m. and Queens of the Stone Age took the stage and proceeded to snarl through 12 songs including many off of their fantastic 2013 album, “Like Clockwork.” We had the opportunity to see them at The Metro in Chicago last summer, but on Saturday, QOTSA proved that they are truly one of America’s best rock bands and can harness a tired crowd into a festival set that is truly hard to compete with. The ball is in your court, Foo Fighters.

Pharrell Williams

The hit-master, Pharrell Williams, utilized his celebrity status for his evening set. A slew of celebrites came out to perform with Pharrell, including Jay Z, T.I., Busta Rhymes, Pusha T and Usher. Pharrell also sang  the hit Daft Punk songs “Get Lucky” and “Lose Yourself to Dance.” Believe it or not, Pharrell also played some of his solo songs. “Happy” and “Come Get It Bae” were included on the star-studded setlist. Pharrell’s performance was a bit random, but entertaining. The crowd could not help but enjoy themselves.


The hot midday was worth waiting in the sun to grab a spot at the set of electronic band Chvrches. Though their performance started late due to technical difficulties, band members powered through with drum machines and synthesizers at their sides. “Recover,” “The Mother We Share” and “We Sink” were a few notable tracks performed by the group. Chvrches is another Coachella band I hope makes it to the Omaha area very, very soon.


Nas put on a very special performance for those at the Outdoor stage. On the exact 20th anniversary of his debut album “Illmatic” (released April 19, 1994), he performed the album in its entirety. Up against Muse and Skrillex, Nasty Nas had no problem packing a large field for his headlining set. Nas had the crowd in his palm by performing songs like “One Love” and “New York State of Mind.” The album performance was great by itself, but at the end of his set he had one more trick up his sleeve. He introduced Ms. Lauryn Hill and together they performed “If I Ruled the World.” The unique aspects of Nas’ set was the perfect way to end Saturday at Coachella.


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Record Store Day draws long lines, record collectors, good tunes

Anna McClellan performs for those gathered for Record Store Day outside Almost Music and Solid Jackson Books. (Photo by Kevin Coffey/The World-Herald)

At Homer’s Music in the Old Market, the first person in line arrived at 4:30 a.m. Saturday.

John Shartrand (follow his awesome Instagram) was the first guy there. He wouldn’t tell me what in particular he was after for Record Store Day, but he carried out a stack of vinyl at least six inches tall.

When store manager Eric Ziegler (after explaining the rules: “no fighting, no biting”) took to the sidewalk at 10 a.m. and shouted, “Are you ready?,” cheers erupted from about 300 people lined up down the block.

Before that, Matt Whipkey and Brad Hoshaw entertained the audience with their respective solo material that included tunes such as “Cliff Burton” and “Delta King.”

Matt Whipkey performs outside of Homer’s Music on Record Store Day. (Photo by Kevin Coffey/The World-Herald)

My spot in line was almost a block away from the shop, and while I was inside Homer’s within a few minutes, it took me almost 90 minutes to snake through the shop, pick up my vinyl and get checked out.

It wasn’t so bad. I ended up scoring almost everything I was after (including Bruce Springsteen, Frightened Rabbit, Death Cab, Conor Oberst, Haim, PUJOL, Joe Strummer & the Pogues and a Green Day cassette).

The only two things I really missed? The Muppet Movie soundtrack and the Ghostbusters 10″ picture disc. (Yeah, I’m weird. I know.)

Across the street at Drastic Plastic, quite a few folks lined up. By the time I made it over there, much of their Record Store Day product was gone, and employees said they’d been busy all morning.

Saddle Creek Records employees told me that the shop was full of customers from when its doors opened to when I arrived close to noon. The shop had the least expensive prices, so that’s no surprise.

Though it sported the least amount of Record Store Day exclusives, Almost Music in Benson was the place to party.

Almost Music kicked off with live music at 11:30 a.m., and almost a dozen bands were slated to play for Record Store Day. A pretty decent crowd that featured a good number of local musicians gathered outside to watch Anna McClellan while I was there. The Lupines took the sidewalk stage shortly thereafter.

Almost Music owner Brad Smith told me that his shop had been busy all day even though he didn’t get nearly any of the Record Store Day product that he ordered. Still, a lot of people flipped through the bins.

For all the stores in Omaha, it seemed to be a successful Record Store Day.

And for those of us that dropped a lot of cash on vinyl (and cassettes, too!), it was a successful day for adding to our collections.

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Coachella: Best of day one including The Replacements, Outkast

A couple hangs out at Coachella. Photo by The Associated Press

A couple relaxes during Coachella. (Photo by The Associated Press)

Rock Candy correspondents Joel Henriksen and Keith Finn are in Indio this weekend for Coachella.

Every day, they’ll tell you about the best sets from the godfather of indie rock festivals. 

The following were the top sets from Friday.

* * *

A$AP Ferg

Arousing, yet performing alone in front of an early main stage audience is no easy task. Ferg came out with his signature dog barks and a tunic to symbolize his “Trap Lord” status. From there, he performed many songs off his latest album, including “Dump Dump,” “Hood Pope,” and “Work.” The high energy of his performance and crowdwork kept the audience rowdy the entire set.


Three words came out of my mouth when Haim took the stage; “These sisters rule!” Este, Danielle and Alana Haim announced to the crowd that they had be frequent attendees to Coachella before their music careers took off. (They then apologized to Goldenvoice, the promoter, for sneaking in most of those years). They took off with their song “Falling” and never looked back. They played through the majority of their debut album including “The Wire” and had the crowd in the palm of their hands with their signature dancey, ethereal guitar rock. We forsee big time things from these ladies.

The Replacements

You never quite know what to expect in a set from Paul Westerberg and company. “We are the world’s greatest Replacements cover band; The Cements” Westerberg said. This “cover band” just so happened to include Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong. Westerberg had suffered from a back injury earlier in the week; so he asked Armstrong to join him, help him with guitar and vocal parts while he laid across a large couch on stage. The band tore through their signature punk rock songs including “Left of the Dial,” “Bastards of Young” and “Alex Chilton.” It left us wanting more; maybe we will see them at Maha Music Festival 2015?

Ellie Goulding

One of the largest crowds of the day was that surrounding the main stage in anticipation for Ellie Goulding’s mid-evening main stage set. While in secretly in love with most of her albums, we had always been a bit skeptical about her live performances. That skepticism was turned into another secret (well not so secret anymore) for her festival set. It was easily one of the highest energy, intriguing and simply fun live performances we had seen in a long time. She packed in hits like “Lights,” “Starry-Eyed,” “Burn” and “Anything Can Happen into a full hour of festival fun. We now consider her British royalty.

Girl Talk

Gregg Gillis, better known as Girl Talk, brought the party to the Coachella main stage as he performed over an hour of his signature mash-ups and digital samples; a combination of a eclectic variety of music of anything from Aerosmith to Snoop Dogg. Fifty plus festivalgoers partied with Gillis on stage; dancing around his large stage set that looked to have a lay out of a giant basketball player. Toilet paper, balloons, confetti constantly shot off the stage; adding to the party and excitement of his set. A few surprise guest appearances occurred, including Waka Flocka Flame and Busta Rhymes performing alternate renditions of “Hard in Da Paint” and “Look At Me Now” respectively.


Earlier in the year, Andre 3000 and Big Boi announced they would headline a festival tour in celebration of the 20th anniversary of Outkast. This tour started Friday at Coachella. The duo came out with a bang, performing “Stankonia” standout song “B.O.B.” From then on, the set included a career spanning setlist, which included tracks from “Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik” all the way to “Speakerboxxx/The Love Below.” Outkast’s set was the perfect way to cap off an already fantastic day of music as well as start off Joel’s 21st birthday.

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Coachella: We’re covering it


Coachella descends on Indio, Calif., for the second time this weekend.

And during the next three days, Rock Candy correspondents Joel Henriksen and Keith Finn will be there.

Joel is on Maha Music Festival’s production team, and he’s vice president of Creighton’s student program board and is responsible for booking bands such as American Authors and Ben Kweller to play for Creighton students. Keith is a business major at UNL, but he’s a live music junkie and writes about music for the Daily Nebraskan.

Every day, they’ll have posts on Rock Candy detailing their favorite bands playing Coachella. Check back often!

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Maha Music Festival 2014 to feature Death Cab, The Head and The Heart, Local Natives in its best lineup yet


With Death Cab For Cutie, The Head and The Heart, Local Natives, The Both and lots of others, Maha Music Festival has its best lineup yet.

Death Cab will headline when Omaha’s indie rock festival returns to Stinson Park on Aug. 16, and it’s hard to beat the introspective indie rock of Ben Gibbard & Co., the harmony-heavy and pretty folk of The Head and The Heart and the indie blog favorites in Local Natives.

Paired with a stacked undercard of The Both (Aimee Mann and Ted Leo performing together), Minneapolis underground hip-hop collective Doomtree, area alt rock heroes The Envy Corps and much-praised Missouri punk trio Radkey, and you have one helluva lineup for any festival lover.

Why go somewhere else this summer?

Kudos to the Maha Music Festival board and to 1% Productions for pulling this one together. I have to imagine that any one of these groups would do well on their own, and I know several have sold out shows at local clubs. Put them together and $50 is a very fair price to see them all at once.

Ticket prices are higher than in past years, I’m told, because Maha spent a lot more money on talent for this year’s festival. Still worth it.

By my estimation, you would spend about $145 to see all those bands separately. (Death Cab tickets alone were priced $30 to $45 last time the group came to town.) With tickets to Maha only $50, you’ll pay a mere $7 per band (and that’s without factoring in the locals).

The local stage is shaping up nicely. Twinsmith, a rock band with major potential, recently put out an album with Saddle Creek Records. Matt Whipkey’s latest album is excellent and earned him both a best album and artist of the year awards from the Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards. Then there’s M34N STR33T, a local hip-hop collective featuring smart rapper Conchance.

Those are excellent choices, and any outside observer would find it difficult to tell these “locals” are in any way local at all.

This lineup is exactly the sort of thing that the festival’s founders envisioned when they sat at a kitchen table and hashed out their vision for an Omaha music festival.

Saying that this is the best lineup ever shouldn’t discount past years, which featured bands such as Spoon, Superchunk, The Flaming Lips, Desaparecidos, Guided By Voices, Garbage and Matt and Kim.

There were strong lineups, but each had weak spots. Top-to-tails, no previous year’s festival had such a good set of artists.

After boasting record attendance last year (5,100 for the daylong festival), Maha has only two things left to do: 1) Sell out. 2) Expand to a second day.

With Death Cab and friends this year, it might just accomplish the first. And then the second can’t be far off.

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List: The 15 best Record Store Day releases for 2014


On Saturday, more than 500 exclusive vinyl (and some CD and cassette) releases will hit the shelves at your favorite independent record stores for Record Store Day.

(For information on all of the Record Store Day happenings in Omaha, head to

We combed the list’s 10-plus printed pages to find the coolest, best, most interesting releases. We just ask that you leave some for us on Saturday.

Matt Whipkey and Brad Hoshaw, “I Miss You”/”Sorry” 7” split — You won’t get this anywhere outside of Omaha or Lincoln. The local songwriters are putting out an exclusive Record Store Day release featuring two gorgeous and sad songs.

311 — The Omaha-bred rock band will re-release its 1995 self-titled album and 2003’s “Evolver.”

Conor Oberst — Oberst will release two pieces: A 7” split with indie band Dawes and a 7” singles featuring two songs from his upcoming album, “Upside Down Mountain.”

PUJOL, “Circles” 7” — The Nashville garage rockers signed to Saddle Creek put out the single from upcoming album, “KLUDGE.”

Side by Side series — Rhino continues its series of 7” split singles where two bands play the same song. This year’s series features The Cure and Dinosaur Jr.; Devo and The Flaming Lips; Poison Idea and Pantera; and a mystery duo of artists that hasn’t been announced yet.

Death Cab For Cutie featuring the Magik*Magik Orchestra, “Live 2012” double vinyl — A live recording of the tour that came to Omaha in 2012. (It was a great one.)

Frightened Rabbit, “Live From Criminal records” — A live recording of the fantastic Scottish rock band.

Green Day, “Demolicious” — CD, vinyl and cassette(!) release of Green Day’s demos for “¡Uno!,” “¡Dos!” and “¡Tré!”

Nirvana, “Pennyroyal Tea”/”I Hate Myself and Want to Die” 7” split — There’s some history here. “I Hate Myself” was intended for “In Utero,” but it was eventually left off. This very split single was intended for release after Cobain’s death, but was withdrawn.

Skrillex, “Recess” cassette — Skrillex’s new album on an exclusive, retro format.

Soundgarden, “Superunknown: The Singles” box set — Five 10” singles come in this pretty-looking box set.

††† (Crosses) 10” vinyl — The indie band releases three super-limited pieces: “†” on red/pink vinyl, “††” on blue vinyl and “†††” on yellow vinyl.

Radkey, “9 Lives at the 100 Club” cassette — More than 10 songs recorded live on the punk band’s U.K. tour.

Ray Parker Jr, “Ghostbusters” — A 10” picture disc displaying the red and white “Ghostbusters” logo.

LCD Soundsystem, “The Long Goodbye” box set — Get it on Record Store Day before its wide release. A five-piece vinyl box set features the entirety of LCD Soundsystems farewell show at Madison Square Garden.

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80/35 announces Conor Oberst, Best Coast, Dr. Dog, Ziggy Marley and more


Conor Oberst will headline 80/35 music festival in Des Moines, and the Bright Eyes frontman will be joined by Ziggy Marley, Best Coast, Dawes, Dr. Dog, Xavier Rudd, Caroline Smith, the Envy Corps and lots more when the annual festival comes back July 4 and 5.

Only 21 of about 50 artists were announced today. The rest of the artists, including July 5′s headliner, will be announced at a later date. (The full lineup, as it stands now, is below.)

The seventh annual festival expects more than 30,000 people to watch bands on three stages in downtown Des Moines.

Two-day tickets, $49, and one-day tickets, $29, are available now at


July 4
Conor Oberst (headliner)
Ziggy Marley
Best Coast
Chicago Farmer
Max Jury
Bum Rap
Brother Trucker
Bonne Finken
Quick Piss

July 5
Dr. Dog
Xavier Rudd
The Envy Corps
Caroline Smith
Shy Boys
Holy White Hounds
Aquamarine Dream Machine
Kris Adams

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Maha Music Festival will announce lineup April 17

Maha Music Festival logo

Maha Music Festival will announce its lineup April 17.

The indie rock-focused festival will return to Stinson Park at Aksarben Village this year on Aug. 16.

Join the Maha Music Festival crew for a lineup announcement party and kickoff video that begins 7 p.m. on April 17 at O’Leaver’s Pub. You can RSVP to the event on Facebook.

If an announcement event isn’t your style, you can also check in right here at Rock Candy to get the lineup announcement.

This year’s event will be the sixth annual Maha Music Festival, which has hosted bands including Spoon, The Flaming Lips, Matt and Kim, Desaparecidos, Superchunk, Garbage and Matisyahu, among many others.

Who do you hope is on this year’s lineup?

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