Reviews

Icky Blossoms at The Waiting Room

Author: Tim McMahan
07/25/2011 | Hear Nebraska | hearnebraska.org | Live Show Review
I strongly suggested that the MAHA guys book Icky Blossoms for this year’s festival. Strongly suggested. But for whatever reason, they passed. Maybe they didn’t know who they were. Maybe they were afraid the band wouldn’t “draw.” Probably they never heard their music. Pity. Because Icky Blossoms is now poised to take The Faint’s place as the premiere show-stopping dance, prance, throb-rock psychedelic must-see band in Omaha (and beyond).

They galvanized their position Friday night at The Waiting Room with a crush-mob set that had the dance floor bouncing with its hands in the air. Sweaty, orgiastic. They are no longer “emerging.” They have arrived. And maybe there is a reason that three members of The Faint were in the audience along with a large contingent of Saddle Creek Records “management” (though I have no doubt that The Creek will pass on this one, too).

That Icky Blossoms has something going on is undeniable. They are sitting on a launch pad with the countdown clock ticking down down down. The thing that could light that candle is a full-length record consisting of each of the 8 or 9 songs they performed Friday night. In this sad time in the music industry where there no longer is a “sure thing;” they are a sure thing (probably).

In a lot of ways they remind me of The Faint, circa 1999. Right after that band changed its sound and began investing in lighting gear. Imagine if the Baechle boys (one now a Fink) were to take Icky Blossoms under their wing and produce their record. The problem with that fantasy is that at the rate the Faint gets things done, the record wouldn’t be released until 2015. And the band needs a record other than its singles collection. Then there’s the question of frontman Derek Pressnall who is about to have another baby with his wife and co-hort in Tilly in the Wall, Jamie Pressnall. Babies have a way of taking precedence things like rock music and touring. And then there’s Tilly, the Pressnalls’ other band, which rumor has it is working on a new recording.

But you labels out there, put all that aside and consider what you’re getting with this band. Pressnall, a natural frontman who knows how to get asses shaking. A frontwoman in Sarah Bohling who is his perfect match (or foil). A madman/genius in the form of writhing Nik Fackler on guitar. A rhythm section that had every internal organ in my body shaken to guava jelly, and a keyboard guy who looks like he could be the second coming of Greg Hawkes.

But at their core are their songs — modern dance numbers that combine house beats and sonic stylings influenced by bands like Jesus and Mary Chain, The Happy Mondays, Depeche Mode, The B-52s, The Cure, Brian Jonestown Massacre, and, yes, The Faint. Pressnall and Co. know what buttons to push, and gleefully jam them down as hard as they can. Live, they’re stellar, but they’re as good on their recordings, where they pull back enough to keep everything in perfect focus.

So yeah, this is just the kind of act that MAHA needed, and MAHA was just the type of coming out party that Icky Blossoms needs, though I don’t know how well their set would go over if they had been scheduled to play at 3 p.m. on a 100-degree day in Stinson Park in the middle of an all-male revue headlined by a legendary ’90s-era power pop band in GBV. Even though they don’t have the light show, like The Faint, Icky Blossoms seems like a night band, an androgynous hedonistic dream with a style and lilt that women can’t seem to resist. They were just what MAHA needed, but that ship has, sadly, sailed, even though the boat doesn’t leave the dock until Aug. 13.

Talking Mountain at The Waiting Room, 7/22/11.
Talking Mountain at The Waiting Room, 7/22/11.

Walking to the club at around 10:30, I noticed smoke billowing out of the front doors of The Waiting Room. Smokers? No, way too much for that. A fire? No, this smoke didn’t have that burnt smell. I peered through the front window and figured it out. It was Talking Mountain’s new(ish) stage show that involves blaring multi-color LED panels, lasers and way too much stage smoke.

No longer wearing their lovable fake-fur handmade masks, the Mountains play their fun-pop dance songs in rainbow hatchet light, figures cut from the fog. It is an impressive thing to see, each light perfectly choreographed, but that smoke, gag. Fifteen minutes after their set a member if Icky Blossoms had propped open the exit door in a vain attempt at clearing out the air in The Waiting Room. It was hopeless.