Review: Jake Bellows & Friends with Simon Joyner at O’Leaver’s

Jake Bellows performs with his band at O'Leaver's.

Wednesday’s show was not well-publicized because, well, the headlining band didn’t have a name yet.

Jake Bellows has been recording since he moved to Los Angeles in recent years and has released entire songs as well as little snippets. Those that have joined him in the studio include his Neva Dinova bandmate Heath Koontz, Todd Fink (The Faint, Depressed Buttons), Ben Brodin (Our Fox), Ryan Fox (Our Fox) and Matt Amandus.

After finishing his tour with Whispertown, Bellows came back to Omaha on his way to LA and decided to play two shows: One Wednesday and another at The Mynabirds’ CD release show on Friday. I’m told they kind of frantically practiced these songs, which they’ve probably only played as a band a few times, if ever.

On Wednesday, O’Leaver’s Pub was full with people anticipating the new music to be played at the late show.

The night started with a set from Simon Joyner and his band, The Ghosts. I don’t recognize any of the players in the group, but they were all young folks. Joyner made reference to the band having just learned some songs, but they didn’t mess up.

A lot of the songs sounded like new tracks possibly coming from his Kickstarter-fueled double album sessions (though, to be honest, I don’t have an encyclopedic knowledge of the SJ catalog).

The nameless Bellows band came on shortly after. Fox and Brodin switched between guitar and drums while Amandus manned the keys, Koontz played bass and Fink did backup vocals, tambourines, melodica and some kind of effects board thingy. (That’s a technical term. I swear.)

The first song had a folk vibe, the second had a ’50s pop-rock feel and, by the fourth song, the band was fully rocking out.

The whole set had an electric singer-songwriter feel to it with all but a few of the songs escalating from quiet tunes to loud rock jams. (In case you want to listen to some song samples, head to Bellows’ website.) Many are love songs, some forlorn and bittersweet (“I miss you/No god ever gave me answers that I could tell/I’m runnin’ through these dancers/I wanna yell”) and other just plain sweet (“I know you with no makeup/I know you with no clothes on”).

Orenda Fink of Azure Ray and Morgan Nagler, Bellows’ Whispertown bandmate, took the stage to sing backup a couple times. Another pair of females (I only know their first names: Tabitha and Kendall) also sang on a couple tracks.

I loved the 10-song set, and I wasn’t the only one. Folks in O’Leaver’s yelled for more songs, but Bellows quickly started tearing down his rig.

He seemed to enjoy the opportunity to play these songs, with his band, for the people, which included music press, record label employees and tons of musicians.

“Well, this has been a special treat for me,” he said. “So, thanks.”

* * *

Since Bellows and his mates don’t have a band name, I thought of some suggestions from my “that would be a good band name” file. Feel free to use one of these, fellas. Just be sure to thank me in the liner notes.

The Good Shepherds
Other Eye
The Spill Magnets
Alabama Spitfire
The Bumps
Notorious Cohabitation
Electric Fish Barrier
The Crows

(These aren’t even that good, but I have pages of them.)

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