Other Fest Photo No. 18

Omaha new wave band Thick Paint performs at Other Fest at ChezSoDo on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019, in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Ever since the fest’s conception, bettering the community has been at the forefront of the agenda of Other Fest. Uplifting marginalized musicians and promoting involvement are two key tenets of the two-day event. The fest’s second day, Sept. 14, saw all of these values and more come into fruition at the downtown event space Chez Sodo.

Saturday’s schedule began at noon with a run of workshops that lasted until 5 p.m.They  covered topics such as local-level grassroots organizing for collective action and the role of rifles within a socialist system. All of these panels were designed to educate and connect people before they rocked out with some of the hottest local bands around the state.

The first of those musical crews was Plastic Garbage. The noisy experimental duo of Emily Wynn and Maya Khasin kicked the night off with synth sounds and delay pedals that made the listener feel like they were caught in a haunting free-fall dream. At times, the band’s sonic envelope was tethered by a drum pad that had its signal skewed until the resulting noise sounded like a beat pounded on an electronic trash can and recorded on VHS.

Plastic Garbage warmed up the fest, but Houma lit it on fire. The three-piece band consisted of bass guitar, drums and a dedicated vocalist whose piercing screams were nothing short of incendiary. Houma’s brutal metal sound prompted the first earplug use of the night for many audience members. The band’s bass-heavy sound rarely hit anything considered a high note, save for when the bassist let the instrument feedback in a screeching fit of noise. 

In a beautiful contrast, singer Ria Gold took the stage next. Opting for a much smoother pop sound, Gold’s tunes fit in perfectly with the tracks that were playing over the speakers beforehand due to the impeccable quality of her backing tracks and astonishing vocal ability. She easily got the crowd swinging its hips in the warm breeze that was her voice. 

Up next was experimental space rock band Leaves Brown. Leaves Brown had a very interesting sound built up by a three-member lineup of piano, trumpet and drums. The instrumental compositions seemed rarely structured, but often switched from a loose jazz feel into a tight rock sound with impressive ease. 

No one band of the night captivated the entire venue like Hex Weaver. The Lincoln four-piece puts on a show like no other, essentially turning whatever venue they play into a church of cinematic prog rock. Its Other Fest set was no exception, as the band lit candles and burnt branches before inviting the audience to join them for its “last sonic ritual” as a band. The members of the band all passed around a vile of suspicious liquid labelled “Apocalypse Elixir” before tossing it into the crowd so that everyone could lay a drop into their mouth. The band’s sound fit the sanctity of the performance Hex Weaver brought with them. Its huge, progressive rock instrumental jams were nothing short of holy. The ominous, sometimes brutal chord changes made it feel like at any second a huge deer might bust through the window being chased by a shirtless man on all fours with a knife in his mouth.

In another stark contrast, Lincoln ska rulers Mad Dog and the 20/20s set up next. The band featured a three-piece horn section, off-beat guitar strumming and, most importantly, a black and white checkerboard guitar strap in classic ska fashion. 

Omaha new wave lords Thick Paint shredded their instruments like an unimportant piece of mail with a social security number on it. Guitarists Graham Ulicny and Ameen Wahba took turns pretending their hands were spiders, walking what seemed like eight fingers all around their fretboards in a frantic, yet precise fashion. 

Mesonjixx took command of the stage in the penultimate position, bringing a tight blend of jazz, blues and soul. Each member of the band was strikingly solid, as the band played through upbeat jams and slow dances with ease and effectiveness. 

Other Fest came to a flaming close as Lincoln punks Death Cow took the stage. After expressing the band’s three favorite things (eating, breathing and death), the band exploded into a song about frontman Connor Worden’s favorite rock, Plymouth Rock. The four rock n’ rollers pushed their amps as hard as they could go, propelling the impact of Other Fest throughout the whole city.