Cool Drug Music, Duffy’s Backlot, 6:15 p.m.

Recap_Cool Drug Music

Cool Drug Music performs in Duffy's Back Lot for Lincoln Calling on Friday, Sept. 20, 2019, in Lincoln, Nebraska.

By Johnna Sisneros

If one can imagine the carefree rhythms of ‘90s california rap conjoined with modern hip-hop beats and a twinge of psychedelic vibes, the finished product would be something similar to local Lincolnite hip-hop and rap group, Cool Drug Music. 

Consisting of three self-described “dope dudes who make music,” the laid back hip-hop group brings a relaxed easiness to the at-times intense headiness of the rap scene. Dressed in colorful T-shirts, fitted jeans and sunglasses, Cool Drug Music propagated an amusing, fun-loving atmosphere that energized the small crowd to participate. 

In the late afternoon at Duffy’s outdoor beer garden venue, the group mixed original music with enough energy to power the city of Lincoln in its entirety. The superb and individualistic style of the musicality combined with the chaotic and passionate beats and rhythms woven by the lead singers made for an entertaining performance — one that perfectly set the mellow, yet exciting, tune for the rest of the evening. 

As their set continued with original songs and creative music mixing, the carefree ambiance of this lively group was enhanced by interesting record scratches and sound manipulation that added a sprightly flare to the already exciting sound. 

Despite the sparse late afternoon crowd, Cool Drug Music managed to procure a few tentative dancers with their light demeanors. From the first bass-heavy song to the subtle transition into more blithe, easy-going melodies, this sporadic, dynamic music group created an ambiance that was reminiscent of a laid back afternoon on the Malibu coast. 

Verse and the Vices, Duffy’s Backlot, 7:15 p.m.

Recap_Verse and the Vices

Lead singer of Verse and the Vices, Emilio Meza, performs on stage in Duffy's back lot during Lincoln Calling on Friday, Sept. 20, 2019, in Lincoln, Nebraska.

By Johnna Sisneros

In the cool, late September air accented by the ever present scent of cigarette smoke and beer, Duffy’s Backlot was touched with the subtly western-influenced notes of Lincoln band Verse and The Vices. The rough and tough ambiance in the outside lot of Duffy’s seems like an unlikely place that one would find an indie rock performance garnished with subtle blue grass influences. Nevertheless, Lincolnite band Verse and the Vices did just that with the superb elegance of seasoned performers. 

From the first moment Verse and the Vices stepped so casually on stage, a clear decorum of confidence radiated out. The band performed with evocative emotion and tranquility that could only be produced by musicians who have honed their craft. With an alt-rock base influenced by subtle blue grass and a twinge of jazz, this seasoned band brought the rolling melodies of desert woes to the heart of Lincoln Calling. 

Fronted by lead vocalist and guitarist Emilio Meza, the band began with a relaxed demeanor. However, as the set progressed, Meza seemed to dig deep within himself to produce the raw emotion that superbly flowed in and through the crowd. As the music climbed to a raucous cacophony, the subtle longing exhibited in the first half of the show crescendoed into a rough crooning of scorned love and western-inspired melancholia. 

From the beginning to the end of the set, all four musicians moved with the confidence of seasoned performers. Between the moments of raw, screaming vocals and mad guitar riffs performed by Meza, Verse and the Vices did not disappoint. 

Histrionic, Duffy’s Backlot, 8:15 p.m.


Lead singer of Histrionic, Aramara Quintos Tapia, performs on stage in Duffy's back lot during Lincoln Calling on Friday, Sept. 20, 2019, in Lincoln, Nebraska.

By Johnna Sisneros

Imagine the energy of an ‘80s hair band but with the unabashed organized chaos of the ‘90s punk scene. As frenzied and borderline terrifying as this may sound, the strange combination has become a superb musical marriage for Lincoln garage punk group Histrionic. 

Fronted by the dynamic Aramara Quintos Tapia, the sheer electric magnitude of the band sends shock waves through any audience privileged enough to experience a Histrionic set. Quintos Tapia commands the stage as a born performer, while her guitarists Caleb Baugous and Dwight Miller along with drummer Seth Beem follow suit with similar reckless abandon. 

During the early evening in the Duffy’s Backlot, this electrifying Lincolnite band asserted itself over the stage and the audience in a way that only self-assured and established musicians could. 

Quintos Tapia began by expressing gratitude to the previous performers and the venue with a certain cool distance of one who is holding back a wildfire. Seeing as how the entirety of Friday night’s performances at Duffy’s were to showcase Latinx artistry, Quintos Tapia began with a collection of songs written completely in spanish. 

Despite the language barrier in the beginning, the sheer emotion that Histrionic drummed up with its electric movements and unabashed decorum compensated for anyone not able to understand the words of their first few songs. 

Eventually, the band did finish out the set with a handful of songs in english, each with a sound so raucous that it feels like a punch to the face in the best way possible. With the kinetic frivolousness of this wildly talented band, the spacious open air venue behind Duffy’s felt less like an outdoor concert and more like a concentrated, welcome dose of youthful angst.

Tatiana Hazel, Duffy’s Backlot, 9:15 p.m.

Recap_Tatiana Hazel

Tatiana Hazel performs during Lincoln Calling on Duffy's Backlot stage on Friday, Sept. 20, 2019, in Lincoln, Nebraska.

By Lisa van Donk

Chicago native Tatiana Hazel wore a patterned bodysuit, high ponytail and bangs as she wowed at the Duffy's Backlot stage. Throughout her performance, her name was displayed on black and white animated backgrounds behind her on a large projector screen. 

As she sang, she moved around on stage along with the beat. Her musical style is a fusion of pop, EDM and electronic. As an extremely talented artist, Tatiana Hazel revealed on stage that she produces most of the songs she performs. She performed some fan favorites alongside several unreleased songs and shouted out an audience member who was already singing along. 

Many of the audience members swayed their hips to the music and cheered during her performance. One very notable quirk that Tatiana Hazel incorporated into her performance was that before every song, she introduced each track by name. It gave a personal touch to her performance and allowed her to connect with her responsive audience. 

Her performance was complete with bright, color-changing stage lights, flickering and flashing with each new song performance. All the songs were upbeat and sent vibrations throughout the open-air venue. Not only did she sing songs in English, but she also sang in Spanish, as she is fluent in both languages. Though she sang in two different languages, the songs still embodied her signature electronic style. 

With each new song, the crowd multiplied in people who enjoyed listening to her perform. By the end of the performance, the place was packed with listeners. She was definitely a fan-favorite and was able to get the crowd excited.

Dave Nada and Tittsworth, Duffy’s Backlot, 10:00 p.m.

By Lisa van Donk

From LA, talented DJ duo Dave Nada and Tittsworth created the record label Hermanito Label that houses their musical projects, along with numerous other artists who also performed in the Hermanito Label Showcase Friday night on the Duffy’s Backlot stage.

The duo brought the audience members to their feet as soon as the performance began at the start of the night. The set was extremely colorful, with vibrant graphics and visuals on the electronic screen behind them displaying blues, yellows and reds. The lights on their set were strobing the whole night and fit with the atmosphere of the music. 

The lively pair performed a culmination of EDM and dubstep, which had the crowd moving their bodies for the entirety of the set. People were loose, free and eager to dance around. Not only was the audience moving, the duo were swaying back and forth behind their switchboards. 

Nada and Tittworth showed they understand electronic music and knew how to work build-ups and drops in songs. They seemed to have had as much fun as the crowd, as they were dancing the night away. The two would engage the crowd by occasionally asking how everyone was doing. 

This was another performance that the audience loved as there was never a dull moment. Whether with friends or a partner, it was an enjoyable time for all. The music filled people’s bodies and got them moving along with the music.

With Duffy’s Back Lot being an open, outdoor venue, people got a bit wet towards the middle of the performance as a sprinkle of rain set in. However, the weather didn’t dampen the movement and excitement from the audience. No matter the next song that played, the dancing never ceased. 

Zazuka Poderosa, Duffy’s Back Lot, 11:00 p.m.

Recap_Zazuka Poderosa

Zazuka Poderosa performs at Duffy's Bar back lot during Lincoln Calling on Friday, Sept. 20, 2019, in Lincoln, Nebraska.

By Lisa van Donk

Hailing from Brazil, Zazuka Poderosa had a confident energy and sound as soon they began. 

Zazuka Poderosa consists of a duo, but the main singer/rapper is Brazilian-Indonesian, giving the group’s music more of a southern hemisphere flair. One half of the duo riled up the crowd by asking if any audience members were Brazilian and was surprised by the overwhelming response. 

Zazuka’s Pederosa’s genre could be considered as being hard EDM and rap, which is an interesting combination, but somehow they make it work. Each member has both swagger and pride in their background and music. Zazuka Poderosa is said to have introduced a style of music to the U.S. called baile funk, which comes from Rio de Janeiro. 

The pair’s music was entirely different from the rest of the acts earlier in the night, but that’s what made it stand out from the rest. The crowd thinned as the night went on, but the ones who stayed were passionate about the music. The audience members were moving to the beat of the music and the duo were lively on stage. The main rapper bounced around and never lost her pep. Listeners could see in her eyes the sense of pride in her performance, her music and where she comes from. 

Like many of the other sets, the performance was very colorful, with yellows and pinks on the electronic signs. All throughout the night, the energy from both Zazuka Poderosa and the audience never died down. 

TT the Artist, Duffy’s Backlot, 12:30 a.m.

Recap_TT The Artist

TT The Artist performs at Duffy's Bar during Lincoln Calling on Friday, Sept. 20, 2019, in Lincoln, Nebraska.

By Mark Champion

After making the trek from her home city of Baltimore, TT the Artist wasted exactly zero seconds before plunging the crowd into a total frenzy of electronic dance rap bangers. From the moment her set began, it was drum-machine fueled testament of the power of dance music.

TT the Artist was dressed completely head to toe in neon yellow with a sky blue bucket hat perched on top of her neon yellow braids. It was like someone took a yellow highlighter and popped a blue cap on top of it and taught that highlighter to destroy some hot rhymes. 

As the penultimate act in the Hermanito Label Showcase, TT brought an energy and music style characteristic of the finale of a show. Her songs were huge, bumping boogie promoters, and anyone left in the alley behind Duffy’s could hardly control their movements. People drinking inside the Lincoln tavern seemed to be flowing out of the bright red back door to join the crowd of people already grooving with their hands in the air.

TT the Artist even came with her own dance to teach people mid song. The instructions, which included sliding to the side and jumping in place, were barked out “Cha-Cha Slide” style until the whole crowd had the move down.

A Tribe Called Red, Duffy’s Backlot, 12:45 a.m.

Recap_A Tribe Called Red

A Tribe Called Red performs at Duffy's Bar during Lincoln Calling on Friday, Sept. 20, 2019, in Lincoln, Nebraska.

By Johnna Sisneros

In 2007, Canadian disc jockeys and long time friends Ian Campeau and Thomas Ramon conjoined traditional First Nation drum music with modern techno and dubstep beats. The original group was known as Electric Pow Wow and debuted at Ottawa’s Babylon Nightclub. 

Over a decade later, Electric Pow Wow has evolved into the popular techno duo known as A Tribe Called Red. Currently consisting of First Nation DJs Tim Hill and Tomas Ramon, this dynamic and heavily politicized group graced Lincoln Calling’s staple outdoor venue, Duffy’s Backlot. 

As the final act at Duffy’s Backlot on Friday night of Lincoln Calling, the previous acts had already preened the audience to a crackling stuper. The duo took the stage with a calm demeanor, the instant thrum of the DJ turntable enriched the already riotous crowd to the point of complete and utter reckless abandon. 

From tribal-influenced renditions of current pop hits to original music mixes, A Tribe Called Red truly brought an intriguing conclusion to the crazed ambience that was Duffy’s Backlot past midnight. With the collective cigarette smoke rising to the heavens and the sporadic strobe lights painting the world neon, Duffy’s felt less like a back door lot and more like a seedy corner of a high profile music festivals. 

The intensity exhibited by this capricious musical group made for an appropriate conclusion to this Friday evening. Everything from the lighting to the scintillating musicality exhibited by A Tribe Called Red made for a memorable experience and a masterful musical performance. 

Oatmeal 97 ∞, Bodega’s, 7:30 p.m.

Recap_Oatmeal '97

Oatmeal 97 ∞ perform on stage at Bodega's Alley on Friday, Sept. 20, 2019, in Lincoln, Nebraska.

By Mark Champion

The cloth wristbands of three-day festival goers survived the showers and made it back out to Lincoln Calling for Friday night’s assortment of bands and artists. 

The trip to the downtown festival grounds, while possibly weighed down by a soggy bracelet, was made well worthwhile by the Lincoln-local jam band extraordinaires in Oatmeal 97 ∞. The band’s beautiful psych rock arrangements picked listeners up with a mighty gust as they walked in the door of Bodega’s.

While the band played Duffy’s last year with a much fuller lineup, it’s Bodega’s set featured a four-person crew. One guitarist, one shredder of both the guitar and bass, a drummer and a saxophonist all combined efforts to jam out one of the most radical sets of the festival thus far.

Neither guitarist opted to use a pick, but rather decided to use their adept fingers to pick each and every note specifically, in order to perform each chord change to best serve the song. The resulting complexity of the guitar parts sandwiched the saxophone sound in a musical hoagie so tasty that the Jimmy John’s next door would be jealous.

Musically, the band touched on the sound of an early, “I’m In Your Mind Fuzz” version of Australian psych-rockers King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, minus the chaos that accompanies the Gizz’s extra drum kit, three guitars and harmonica. 

Not one of the band members were wearing any sort of foot covering, reflecting the free spirit that was literally breathed into the performance of Oatmeal 97 ∞. Bassist and guitarist Jeremy Beuthe, at several times throughout the set, opted to replace lyrics with deep breaths, which had no business being as therapeutic as it was. Not to mention, the band’s riffs were so powerfully composed that it was near impossible to leave the venue without somehow feeling more whole.

Salt Creek, Duffy’s Tavern, 7:30 p.m.


Zach Chrastil, the bassist of Lincoln indie rock band Salt Creek, performs during Lincoln Calling at Duffy's Tavern on Friday, Sept. 20, 2019, in Lincoln, Nebraska.

By Lisa van Donk

Salt Creek started the night at Duffy’s indoor stage with their musical stylings consisting of both soft indie and heavy rock. The local band opened with its hit song “Phase” reverberating against a Duffy's backdrop stationed against the wall in the corner. 

The stage lights faded from purple to blue to pink, illuminating the stage and band members. Salt Creek frontman Chase Thompson, who sported a neon orange beanie, brought passion with his vocals in every song. A few onlookers gathered around in front of the stage as soon as the band’s set started.

Not before long, Duffy's Tavern was filled up as a crowd quickly drew around the five-member band on the stage. Thompson was joined by guitarist Nathan Richardson, drummer Nate Skinner and bassist Zach Chrastil. The band’s usual guitarist Cam Penner was absent Friday night, but local record producer Jeremy Wurst strapped on a six string to complete the band’s full sound.

The crowd appeared to vibe with the music, as the patrons in the audience moved their bodies, bobbed their heads and tapped their heels along with Skinner’s pummeling drum fills. Some of Salt Creek’s tracks were mild and toned down, while other songs built up to a forceful crescendo like in “What You Would Hear,” from the bands 2019 EP “If You Were There.” It was evident on the band members' faces that they were getting into their own songs through their intense facial expressions. 

Thompson kept his eyes shut for most of the songs as he passionately sang introspective tracks. At several points, Richardson and Chrastil were so into songs, they were head banging — long hair whipping around to the beat. All of Salt Creek’s songs had rock incorporated in them, but some songs were more mild than others. Salt Creek was an enthralling and entertaining band to experience. It's evident that each member individually, and as a whole band, cares greatly about their collective craft.

Universe Contest, Duffy’s Tavern, 10:30 p.m.

Recap_Universe Contest

Universe Contest performs at Duffy's Bar during Lincoln Calling on Friday, Sept. 20, 2019, in Lincoln, Nebraska.

By Mark Champion

Duffy’s Tavern was full of lively and drunk festival attendees who were thirsty for the huge musical escapades of Universe Contest. The one sole light in the venue portion of the bar was pointed at the disco ball, creating the illusion that the whole room was spinning in a frenzy of little bright dots. Suddenly, the room began to rumble, and at the strike of a jarring chord, Universe Contest was illuminated on stage from a dramatic, ground-up lighting setup.

Each member of the band wore different colored tattered mechanic jumpsuits. It was like the Wiggles had gotten really good at their instruments and moved from their children’s music phase into an industrial punk one. 

The band featured a lineup of two guitarists, a bassist, an electric violinist and a drummer, all of which pounded away at their instruments to build a wall of sound so huge that the crowd would’ve blown away had the fans not been squeezed in tight enough to keep everyone secure.

Screeching guitar leads were juxtaposed with brooding bass parts that seemed to wallow in their own melancholy. Violin solos were tossed over huge choruses. The band’s intense brand of psychedelic, almost shoegaze-sounding rock ‘n’ roll made for an absolutely thrilling and entrancing performance.

See Through Dresses, The Bourbon (main room), 8:30 p.m.

Recap_See Through Dresses

See Through Dresses performs at the Bourbon for Lincoln Calling on Friday, Sept. 20, 2019, in Lincoln, Nebraska.

By Mark Champion

Omaha four-piece indie pop crew See Through Dresses hopped on the Bourbon’s big stage Friday night to play its bubbly tunes for all to hear. The band has made a name for itself in and out of Omaha by releasing music since 2013 and scoring fairly big-time gigs along the way.

See Through Dresses played mellow rock ‘n’ roll that was drenched in enough warmth and romance that it could have been featured in a commercial for a Sandals all-inclusive Carribean resort. It was like the band was on an early morning kayak cruise over crystal clear ocean water. 

The band’s sound was definitely shoegaze at some parts, as guitarist Mathew Carroll would often turn his hand into a speed-picking machine — ripping solos at the speed of light and letting the sound bounce throughout the huge Bourbon room while the rest of the band made built an airy texture around it. 

The band played cuts from its first EP, 2013’s “End of Days,” which has harder, more punk sounding songs like “Drag Scene.” However, that didn’t stop them from playing some unreleased material, which seemed to almost combine the more powerful attitude of yesteryear with the catchy pop-rock sensibilities of their latest record, “Horse of the Other World,” which came out in 2017.

Freakabout, The Bourbon (main room), 10:00 p.m. 


FREAKABOUT performs in the Bourbon for Lincoln Calling on Friday, Sept. 20, 2019, in Lincoln, Nebraska.

By Johnna Sisneros

The wide black expanse of the Bourbon Theatre can seem like an insurmountable venue that may or may not swallow up all who dare enter. However, for local four piece dirty rock band Freakabout, it is a welcome space for a dynamic and mystifying performance. Originating from the streets of Lincoln, this interesting fuzz-influenced rock blend of southern folk and indie managed to raise the roof off the popular local venue with raw vocals and deafening instrumental breaks. 

Mainly driven by the powerful voice of lead vocalist Courtney Kirby and the electrifyingly dynamic performance of lead guitarist Aaron Galvin, the drawn out set remained attention-grabbing and seductive in the best way possible. Throughout the performance, the pure frenetic energy of all four band members kept the energy strong, alluring and jubilant. 

Even going so far as toss mini maracas at the audience near the end of the set, Freakabout’s unconventional approach to performance produced a memorable show. 

The heady voice, guitar riffs and roaring drum solos maintained a tonal difference throughout the all songs performed. Among some of the favorites, Freakabout performed a cover of the Beatles’ “Helter Skelter” and a handful of popular songs from its 2018 studio album “Babezooka.” 

The unabashed rapture encapsulated by each band member, coupled with the dry ice haze and ethereal concert lighting, made for an atmosphere of magic and enigma. From the callous toss of Kirby’s long hair to the never ending screams of praise from the audience, it was clear that Freakabout produced the superb performance of magnetically talented artists.