Turquoise, Duffy’s Tavern, 6:40 p.m.
By Bailey Herrera
A glowing, technicolored cube filled the stage of Duffy’s Tavern as audience members awaited the music of the rock trio Turquoise. The room was soon filled with a haunting, inaudible whisper from the PA, along with a robotic beeping as the waiting continued. It wasn’t until the lead guitarist screamed into the mic, “What’s up motherf***ers? We’re Turquoise from Lincoln, f***ing Nebraska,” that the ominous feeling was lifted and the audience began to relish in the ceaseless rock music echoing from the strums of their electric guitars. The audience raised their phones to record as more people trickled into the bar and the band continued to produce its eerie electric sound with soft rock undertones. The glowing cube on stage continued to bring light to the dark room as it changed colors to the rhythm of their music.
Despite the small crowd, the strobing box and headbang-inducing riffs kept the energy high. The fervor, however, was cut short as Turquoise announced its third and final song, cutting the allotted 40-minute set time in half.
Its last song was instrumental and produced a sound identical to the two that preceded it. As the act quickly finished, the stage was cleared and the audience trickled out of the bar as swiftly as they came in.
Fascinus Rex, Duffy’s Tavern, 7:40 p.m.
By Bailey Herrera
Shaking the room with an abrupt and early start to their set, Fascinus Rex quickly drew in a large crowd to experience the grunge of their heavy metal set. The band fiercely clawed at their instruments as the audience emulated their wrathful energy, jumping and screaming along to their music.
After the first song, the lead singer introduced the band and enlightened the audience on the meaning behind the entrancing band name. He told the story of the group’s interest in the fascinus amulet, worn in ancient Roman times to keep away sickness, that closely resembled “little wee-wees” around their necks.
In addition to the amusing origin story, both the band and audience found humor in racy jokes made between songs.
“Are you ready to hear a party song?” the lead singer exclaimed as the audience erupted in excitement and the intense music began to rattle the ears of the crowd once again. The party song, “Piss or Beer” had a questionable game to go along with its loud, fast-paced tones. An audience member was selected at random and joined the band on stage and handed a vessel of mysterious fluid. His challenge was toidentify whether this liquid was in fact piss or beer — luckily for him, it was beer.
Throughout the rest of the performance, the quartet continued to thrash along with the audience as ear-splitting music emitted from their brutal-sounding instruments. The guitarists shredded their guitars almost as fast as the drummer pounded the batter heads of his drum set.
The thrilling songs and explosive energy in the room somehow allowed for a therapeutic experience — the cathartic metal music left the audience with wide smiles.
After Arizona, Duffy’s Tavern, 8:40 p.m.
By Bailey Herrera
As the below-zero windchill froze the streets of Downtown Lincoln, the pop-punk band After Arizona brought the heat to Duffy’s Tavern on the opening night of Lincoln Exposed. The lead singer, Ryan O’Neel, led the energetic crowd while sporting his half-shaved head and ripped T-shirt.
Accompanied by his spastic dance moves, O’Neel passionately screamed the lyrics to original songs like “I Can’t Do This on My Own” and “The Room” alongside his bandmates Seth Wortman, Platte Gruber and Andrew Standley. The large crowd was easily drawn in toward the stage as each member's performance was so full of life, appearing as if they loved every second on stage, made apparent through the joy in the members’ eyes.
Hidden behind the upbeat instrumentation of the music, many of the band’s lyrics held a sentimental message. The song “800 Miles” exemplified this sentimentality as O’Neel explained the meaning behind the song, as he is currently living about 800 miles from his hometown in Texas. “I remember when you moved away/I stood there and watched you fade away from me … And I’d drive 800 miles/Just to see those angel eyes/looking back at me,” O’Neel belted out.
The catchy chorus and distorted electric guitar of After Arizona held great resemblance to the emotionally-charged pop-rock songs generally found in the background of many angsty teen movies from the early 2000s.
As the tired crowd members began to sit and enjoy their drinks, only the most energetic of fans were left near the front of the stage, continuing to sing and dance their hearts out along with the band till the performance ended.
Powerful Science, Zoo Bar, 7 p.m.
By Jack Price
Powerful Science opened the Zoo Bar for the first night of Lincoln Exposed 2020. The psychedelic group is comprised of a guitarist, a drummer and two keyboard players, Josh Miller and Emma Lyness, who both act as vocalists. The band crafts its techno-pop sound using deep synthesized bass, playful electric pianos and bubbly melodies, all brought to life through the electric funk instruments.
The group also makes good use of the electric guitar and drum kit, fusing the techno with a grunge-inspired alternative rock sound. This musical palette is compounded on by the vocalists, who use a crooning vocal technique to pair beautifully with the band’s sonic aesthetic. Frontman, Miller, has a brilliant ear for when to use vocals to fill the space and when to step back and allow the instruments to do the talking, as displayed by a powerful drum solo at the middle of their set.
The group’s set was short — likely because the band started 15 minutes late, but they still managed to make the most of the time they had on stage.
Beyond that, Powerful Science put on an engaging set. The group often used sounds akin to UFO sound effects from a 70s flick, and the techno vibes and alternative rock lyrics led to some truly engaging songs.
The Credentials, Zoo Bar, 8 p.m.
By Jack Price
The Credentials opened its set by acknowledging that this was its first time performing at Lincoln Exposed, and used the first song to establish that the band didn’t come to mess around. The group of teenagers was charismatic and energetic on stage. The band was comprised of lead singer and guitarist Everest Studevant, bass player Ronaldo Carcamo and drummer Seth Beem. The group is a rock band through and through, taking heavy inspiration from bands like The Pixies and Green Day in their composition.
Studevant is charismatic and relaxed on stage, working the crowd through constant banter and regularly communicating with the members of the group. It’s clear the band members are all close friends who have fun on stage. Studevant implements heavy metal screaming on several songs and shredded a guitar solo on the second song of the set. The Credentials also brought several fans, crowding around the stage for the entire set, many singing along to the lyrics.
This all culminated in an incredibly high-energy set, complete with a short jam session between songs that had the entire venue grooving along with speedy guitar plucking and rapid-fire drum slams.
The Credentials are a rock band with a clear sound that, despite stemming from a variety of inspirations, remains sonically cohesive, fresh and 100% them.
Shit Flowers, Zoo Bar, 9 p.m.
By Jack Price
Shit Flowers is a two-person band comprised of guitarist Kaylee Schmutte and drummer Kalib Faltys, both of whom double as vocalists. The band’s size doesn’t stop it from crafting complex and layered soundscapes. The group relies heavily on a vocal modulator and synthesizer to lend echo and depth to its minimal instrumentation as well as a healthy dose of vocal distortion. The lyrics themselves are simplistic and repetitive, and not in a bad way. The simplicity lends itself well to the strained and belted lyrics of Faltys, as well as the smooth, almost seductive lounge-singer voice from Schmutte. The songs are concise and short, never overstaying their welcome.
Shit Flowers glides through a variety of styles and musical stylings, from Red Hot Chili Peppers-inspired alternative rock to traditional death metal and even channeling late 2000s Kanye West with hip-hop high hat and bass drum patterns, often letting the thundering drums do the heavy lifting on many of the instrumentals.
The group shot the breeze with the audience at length between songs, discussing the weather and seemingly any other thoughts that came to their mind. The crowd remained engaged and involved until letting loose a resounding cheer at the conclusion of the set. Despite the instruments drowning out the vocals at times, Shit Flowers was impressive as it created vast and varied sonic palettes with its few members.
Sapien Sounds, Zoo Bar, 10 p.m.
By Jack Price
Sapien Sounds described themselves as “music to wash your back to,” and don’t ask me to explain why, but it fits. The band is groovy and psychedelic while simultaneously acid rock. Equal parts Jack White and MGMT, the three-person group is comprised of bassist Katja Duerig, drummer Alex Steinke and guitarist Hank Peppe, who doubles as a vocalist.
The songs performed were diverse, but the band retained its sense of identity on every song. Peppe’s vocal range is varied and can shift from low octive intensity to high pitched and glittery at the drop of a hat. Cerebral rock at times can sound chaotic and messy, but the group ties the mess together through intonations that flow into one another and weave sonic tapestries that allow the band to groove, rock and laugh together through its entire set.
Beyond the music, the band exudes personality on stage, with all members wearing steampunk-style goggles throughout its set. The bassist and guitarist frequently stand back to back to shred during the high energy set. Armed with a Telecaster electric guitar, Peppe is wild and eccentric on stage. His shoeless leg maneuvers embody the mushroom trip the band’s music invokes. This energy couples nicely with the paper mache, oversized glowing mushrooms the group brought on stage.
Duerig and Steinke share the stage with just as much finesse and charisma, ranging from simply grooving on the bass guitar to heavily headbanging on the drums. No matter the stage antic, the connection the group members have with one another is palpable and had the entire audience jamming along from the band’s introduction to its closing love ballad “Matt Damon.”
Mental Disturbance, Zoo Bar, 11 p.m.
By Jack Price
Mental Disturbance is a female duo hailing from West Africa. Through the use of digital instrumentation, the group orchestrates atmospheric and spacey soundscapes that blend the sounds of techno-pop and hip-hop. This buttery smooth musical conglomerate made for the night’s smoothest set. The bass hit hard while the synthesizers dance between the drum claps, fading in and out of one another.
The lack of lyrics doesn’t take away from the music’s quality. The instruments and on-the-fly production done by the duo is filled with personality and subtle nuance in the way that it’s arranged. This leads to head-nodding, foot-tapping beats that transcend into deep, floor-shaking musical acid trips.
The band unfortunately suffered technical difficulties, which was jokingly attributed to the group being “cursed,” but used the limited time to showcase its engaging production. The result was an ethereal musical adventure through an eclectic barrage of dizzying tones tied together by shattering bass and swallowing synthesizers.