Katy Guillen and The Drive, Night Market, 5:30 p.m.
By Emma Whaley
This four-piece girl group perfectly encapsulated local festival ambiance to kick off the Night Market’s Lincoln Calling 2021 debut. The Kansas City, Missouri band exhibited an extraordinary mix of indie, pop and folk music talents tied together with a bow at the blocked-off section of 14 Street between O and P streets.
Decked out in t-shirts, tank tops, black jeans and combat boots, frontwoman Katy Guillen, guitarist and keyboardist Kat King, bassist Claire Adams and drummer Stephanie Williams rocked the early birds in the crowd, both young and old.
Most of the group’s songs were gentle near-ballads about — what else? — love. Others were more reminiscent of country rock, jam packed with fast guitar riffs and loud drums. It was clear these were the songs Williams lived for; with every headbang, her light auburn hair more and more resembled Cousin Itt from “The Addams Family.”
The other ladies were moving just as much, strumming their instruments at each other and harmonizing into their microphones. Every few songs, King would put aside her teal guitar and move to the keyboard, where she toggled the settings to sound either like a bright and shiny glockenspiel or a deep, bass-ranged synthesizer.
During their final and new song “Battles,” Katy Guillen and The Drive left it all on the stage, digging into the fast riffs and breakdowns that made the show so entertaining. The band proved they had earned their spot on the Lincoln Calling lineup, as well as on power-walking playlists worldwide.
PEACHIE, Tower Square, 6:30
By Bailey Herrera
As the sun began to set, a quaint crowd gathered next to Blaze Pizza for the night two kickoff of Lincoln Calling at Tower Square. As they timidly entered the stage, PEACHIE, a self-declared pop-rock band from Lincoln, got the show going with a smooth first performance.
The set opened with a discreet start, but after the second song or so the band finally introduced themselves and the show felt like it had actually begun.
At first, the instruments overpowered their vocals, but once an audience member requested that the sound manager turn up the microphone, the singers’ voices could be heard to their full potential. The newly bigger audience swayed to the sound of what felt more like a soft pop-rock band with melancholy songs that conveyed pain and heartfelt emotion.
Down one band member — due to her conflicting performance with her other band — PEACHIE still rocked their adoring crowd. One audience member yelled, “I love you Seth,” revealing the identity of the entertaining drummer who continuously jammed to the sound of their own melodious music.
The lead singer, who later introduced herself as Sophia, had a breathy voice, but it fit the band’s gentle pop aesthetic. The group had a set full of mellow and airy tunes that made up the soothing performance as the clouds turned pink.
The group closed their performance with a joyful number, and it was apparent that their toe-tapping audience had enjoyed the peaceful golden hour set as they appreciated the view around them.
Raye Zaragoza, Night Market, 7 p.m.
By Emma Whaley
Before Zaragoza took the stage as the first of four acts in the Vision Maker Media Showcase, a representative from Lincoln Calling hopped on the mic to introduce the Native American-focused lineup planned for the rest of the night. She encouraged the audience to join the movement to take back Native land and water, and also to locate staff members wearing red “Sober” or “Sober Supporter” buttons if they felt their sobriety was in jeopardy surrounded by the alcohol being served.
With her wide-brim hat, gray blazer and pinstripe pants, Zaragoza had the crowd’s attention before she even opened her mouth. When the New York City native did begin strumming her acoustic guitar, her voice only entranced them further. Her tenor vibrato reverberated out of the speakers and into the audience’s soul.
All of her songs told stories, many of which had to do with her identity as a multicultural woman and her relationship with the Earth. One called “Driving to Standing Rock” was dedicated to someone she described as a lost community member and water protector.
“What do we do when the water is under attack,” she sang to the crowd. “Stand up, fight back.”
The emotion in Zaragoza’s voice was enough to bring some members of the audience to tears, and this emotion was matched on her face as she sang. She closed out her 45-minute set with another call to action against the oil polluting water on Native lands.
Las Cruxes, Tower Square, 7:45
By Bailey Herrera
As evening turned to night, street lights brightened and Las Cruxes brought excitement to the then quiet outdoor venue. The group from Los Angeles immediately showed the Lincoln crowd their Mexican-rock style as they sang in Spanish and heightened the energy with their significantly upbeat music.
From the start, it was bound to be an amusing show as it was the drummer Bill’s birthday. The lead singer went on to tell the audience that if they wanted to get Bill a gift, he likes weed and acid.
From there, they drew in a crowd that eagerly stood right in front of the band, jumping and dancing to their vibrant and electric sound. The lead singer viscously strummed his British flag guitar as he rocked the crowd with extremely fast-paced music.
The lead singer continued to tell bad jokes between songs, and the show began to feel more and more like Gabriel Iglesias meets hard rock. Eventually, he gave up on his comedy sketch and continued producing hardcore music from the aggressive strums of his guitar.
One band member really got the audience going when she left her post at the mic to go out and jump around with her new friends. The barrier between performer and audience was lifted, and soon enough almost the whole crowd was dancing into the end of their performance leaving the crowd wanting more Latinx experience.
Indigenous, Night Market, 8:30 p.m.
By Emma Whaley
The Vision Maker Media Showcase continued with this rock and blues band that spoke to the dancers in the crowd. The audience was the largest it had been all night, and many of them were dancing in place or spinning significant others to the group’s classic rock sound.
Frontman Mato Nanji stood alone on one side of the stage while the rest of his band occupied the other half, letting him have the spotlight. His tan sport coat offset his bandmate’s more casual looks, again making sure all eyes and ears were on him.
It was clear Nanji had studied the great guitarists of 70s rock and roll, because he shredded solos for a whole hour; Indigenous could easily fit on a classic rock revival playlist with Greta Van Fleet.
Though most of the music was fast-paced, there were a few slower jams that showcased his guitar skill without it being muddied by the surrounding instrumentation. The rest of the band chimed in with heavy basslines and reverb. The ghosts all the way in Temple Theatre probably felt it in their hearts just as much as the audience felt it in theirs.
Halfway through Indigenous’s last song, all power to the stage disappeared, speakers going silent and lights blinking out. The show was so suddenly finished, and it was unclear if the band would continue playing until they went ahead and packed up while the tech crew was trying to fix the problem for the night’s next bands. Despite this, Indigenous stuck in everyone’s minds. They never even mentioned their band’s name during their set, but it was impossible to forget to look them up after the impression they left.
Better Friend, Duffy’s Back Lot, 8:45 p.m.
By Nick Finan
As the last rays of sun dipped under the horizon, a crowd gathered in the back lot of Duffy’s Tavern to hear some live rock and roll. Most of the audience was standing, while a few sat in the back near the bars.
The night opened with the vocalist for Better Friend asking the crowd to let all their frustration out and get into the music. The Lincoln-based post-hardcore band brought a familiarity to the stage with their headbanging performances. Save for their drummer, each member of Better Friend sported long hair that they flipped back and forth to match their set.
Between songs the lead vocalist was humorous and jovial, cracking jokes about her job at ZipLine Brewery Co. that set up a small bar in Duffy’s Back Lot. For their final number, the frontwoman said, “This song goes out to Red Lobster,” referencing the closing of Lincoln’s only Red Lobster. She went on to say that she didn’t trust seafood in Nebraska.
The music was hard hitting and filled with a righteous anger that, after more than a year of a pandemic, seemed to resonate with the crowd. Each song dealt with different topics such as smoking weed, waking up on the wrong side of the bed, betrayal and lies, and all carried an intense, defiant tone.
One of the most enjoyable throughlines of their performance was the degree to which the whole band seemed to earnestly fuse into the music. In a fitting send off to the perils of seafood in an incredibly landlocked city, the final song was about duplicity and deception, effectively portraying the message of the strange feeling of losing something you’re probably better off without.
FEA, Tower Square, 9:15
By Bailey Herrera
The night grew colder, but a group of Chicana rockers wouldn’t let that stop them from bringing the heat. Upon the first strums of their electric guitars, FEA immediately drew in a crowd that was jumping and ready to rock.
The San Antonio-based band was a group of professional rocker chicks, and it was apparent this was not their first rodeo with their amount of confidence. Percussion kept the backbone of the quick-paced, aggressive beat as the drummer rapidly slammed her drumsticks throughout the set. The guitarist immediately drew eyes with her hot pink guitar and kept them there as she slayed the strings producing a hardcore sound that got the crowd moving their bodies to the beat.
The lead singer thrashed her purple hair back and forth as the smell of cigarette smoke grew in the air. Soon enough, the crowd joined in on her head banging and helped to build the explosive energy along with the band’s raw electronic music.
FEA finished out their set continuing to fill the streets of downtown Lincoln with their punk rock sound, but not before they played one more song at the crowd’s request, ending the performance with a rock-bang that shook the town.
FREAKABOUT, Duffy’s Back Lot, 10:15
By Nick Finan
Despite an initial bout of technical difficulties at soundcheck, Lincoln-based indie-rock band FREAKABOUT persevered and delivered a thoroughly enjoyable performance in the brisk night air of downtown.
Each member of the band was given the opportunity to shine without any one person hogging the stage, and their combined talents blended perfectly to create a truly heart pounding and exciting set. FREAKABOUT commanded the stage every second they were up there.
Their brand of rock music was very much in the vein of classic rock but with a modern punch of its own, strengthened by the stellar vocals of singer and songwriter Cortney Kirby. FREAKABOUT epitomizes the very essence of everything rock and roll should be, radiating confidence and exuberance and delivering non-stop bangers. To top it all off, they seemed to be having a genuinely good time. Bassist Chuck Fleming sported some truly rad facial hair that forked into two braids, as well as a denim jacket, playing one song with a lit cigarette in his mouth.
The highlight of the performance was when Kirby crowd surfed. In her own words, “I’ve crowd surfed many times, but never at my own show.” Bringing an amped up confidence to the stage, the band ended their performance with the killer song “Queen of the Dust.” The anthem was a thrilling romp that displayed the individual and combined talents of the whole band.
Slothrust, Duffy’s Back Lot, 11:30 p.m.
By Nick Finan
All the way from Boston, rock band Slothrust had their Lincoln debut on night two of Lincoln Calling. Slothrust brought a groovy, rocking and contemplative mood to the stage. Due to the pandemic, much of the material that Slothrust performed had only ever been played live once before. Lead singer and guitarist Leah Wellbaum gave a strong performance of steely vocals that paired well with the drumming and bass performances of Will Gorin and Brooks Allison respectively.
The alternative rock band took the crowd on a groovy, jam-filled journey of highs, lows and everything in between displaying the width and depth of their range. One moment they’re mournful, and the next they're defiant, loud and confident.
In a tribute to pop star Britney Spears, the band performed a grungy rendition of “...Baby One More Time.” The ode to Wellbaum’s favorite artist brought a more overt air of social consciousness in light of the recent #FreeBritney campaign.
The guitar riffs and vocals of the band merged to give an interesting blend between grunge, hippie aesthetics and alternative rock.
Full of tributes to the ocean and the moon, the songs gave an impression of being both deeply connected to the human and natural worlds.
Toward the end of the night, Wellbaum expressed gratitude and appreciation for the warm welcome from Lincoln. As they ended their set, energy remained high among the band members as the last notes rang out and the crowd was left thoroughly content.
Editor's Note: This article was updated on Sept. 27 at 5 p.m. to correct the name of the bassist for FREAKABOUT.