lazyhome         reviews         hype         webboard                interviews

Glimpses of 2007

Uncanny visions of the future of music (local and otherwise).

by Tim McMahan











I don't know if "predictions" is the right word to describe what I'm about to tell you. "Prophecy" may be a better word. "Truth" is another. And yet, there are those who still doubt my "powers," my "abilities"... until they see the evidence and then realize it's real, and it's happening right in front of their eyes. Let's take a look at the evidence from last year's predictions:


LY (last year's) Prediction: A new all-ages performance space will open that caters to high-school kids, resurrecting the Cog Factory name.

Reality: I couldn't have been more wrong, or naïve. No one is going to fork over the cash to open a club guaranteed to lose money. Robb Rathe, the guy who invented The Cog Factory, never intended it to make a dime. Such selfless, non-materialistic dreamers are a thing of the past.

LY Prediction: Living rooms will be introduced to Omaha music via a new weekly television program on one of the local affiliates.

Reality: KVXO began featuring local bands' videos as filler between programming, and even interviewed bands as part of their nightly "news" broadcast. The Alister Banister Show, dedicated to local musicians, was launched on Cox Channel 23.

LY Prediction: A couple new stores will open that sell new and used CDs, collectables and Urban Outfitter-style apparel.

Reality: I'm telling you, it's a great idea. Let's get on it, venture capitalists!

LY Prediction: National box chains (Best Buy, Target) will get out of the music biz after the major labels drop CD prices below $10.

Reality: Box stores are still in the game, using CDs as loss leaders to lure you in to buy more profitable merchandise. That said, below-$10 sale CDs are commonplace in many chain stores.

LY Prediction: Apple's iTunes will be forced into a tiered pricing scheme. Oldies will still cost 99 cents to download, while new tracks will run $1.29 or more.

Reality: Steve Jobs has managed to weather pressure from labels to create a tiered pricing system. How long can he hold out? As long as iTunes dominates the legitimate download market.

LY Prediction: We're going to have to keep waiting for the next important music trend to emerge -- nothing new will happen in '06, though more indie bands will sign to majors.

Reality: The "next big thing" in fact never emerged last year. And while few indie bands made the jump to majors, another popular way to "sell out" -- selling songs to Madison Ave. -- never has been more pervasive. Just ask Of Montreal, Spoon, M Ward...

LY Prediction: Bands we'll be talking about this time next year: Morrissey, New Order/Joy Division, Radiohead, Modest Mouse, The Postal Service, Prince, Tilly and the Wall, Ladyfinger, Cursive, Sarah Benck, The Cure, The Who, David Bowie and Simon Joyner.

Reality: A new Joy Division bio-pic has been filmed, with the help of members of New Order. Prince's "Black Sweat" is perhaps his best song since "Kiss." Tilly were on Letterman Oct. 27. Ladyfinger released their debut on Saddle Creek. Cursive released their best album ever, as did Simon Joyner. And no one (but me) saw that Who concert coming.

LY Prediction: Bands we won't be talking about: Clap Your Hands and Say Yeah, Bright Eyes, U2, Kanye West, The White Stripes, Fitty, Fall Out Boy, Franz Ferdinand, Wilco and Ryan Adams.

Reality: Except for U2's singles comp, those bands were mostly AWOL in '06.

LY Prediction: All of Michael Jackson's personal and legal troubles will come to an end.

Reality: No, he didn't die. Instead he fled to Bahrain, where he's exulted as a God. Now the "King of Pop" could be headed back to the U.S. to headline the place where has-beens go to die: Las Vegas.

LY Prediction: One Percent Productions will enter partnerships with large venues in markets outside of Omaha and Lincoln. Marc and Jim in business suits? Unfortunately, yes.

Reality: I've yet to see either of them in anything but jeans and T-shirts.

LY Prediction: Slowdown, the highly anticipated downtown Saddle Creek Records office/music venue/bar/retail space/condos/movie theater/pizza place, won't open in the fall of 2006, as had been announced. But look out 2007.

Reality: Construction on Slowdown was delayed until late this summer. The new target date: summer '07.

LY Prediction: Technology will take a breather in '06. The division won't be between Sirius and XM radio users, but between those who listen to satellite radio and the rest of us.

Reality: Other than YouTube, no new groundbreaking technology emerged last year. And while satellite radio got a boost from Howard Stern, I've yet to find a compelling reason to make the investment.

LY Prediction: A non-Saddle Creek act from Omaha or Lincoln will make an appearance on a late-night chat show. Meanwhile, Bright Eyes will be a "special musical guest" on an episode of Saturday Night Live.

Reality: As mentioned, Tilly and the Wall were on Letterman Oct. 27. As for SNL, well that sort of happened, too. Toward the end of the May 20 SNL broadcast, host Kevin Spacey did a skit as Neil Young promoting his new album I Do Not Agree With Many Of This Administration's Policies. Among his backing band, Adam Samberg (famous for the "Lazy Sunday" vid) dressed up and introduced as Conor Oberst.


  Eight out of 13? Not bad. Actually, making last year's predictions was shooting fish in a barrel. You're probably saying, "Sure, everyone knew that was going to happen" or "He had inside information. No one is that accurate." Tsk-tsk... When will they ever learn? Now I know how Jesus felt. Looks like I'm going to have to keep providing the miracles. Let's take a look at '07:

  • The Return of Dance. Think about it: It's the mid-1970s all over again. Back then, the U.S. was just coming out a long, drawn-out war. An evil empire commandeered by a Republican president was brought to its knees. And the go-go economy of the past decade had begun to sag. On the radio, heavy metal had devolved to prog rock and disco was about to explode. Without a war to rail against, the only thing anyone wanted to do was dance.

    History repeating itself? After years of war in Iraq a sleepy American public finally woke up and said, "We've had enough," unseating a GOP-led Congress and leaving a president with a "What me worry?" look on his face as he tries to figure out how to get out of Dodge without looking like a pussy. Meanwhile, despite a stock market at record highs, all signs point to an inevitable economic downturn. And that can only mean one thing: It's time to dance again.

    It won't be disco, but it'll be something very close that emerges as the dominant sound heard both on the radio and in the clubs. A dance craze will sweep the nation as horny singles tire of staring at the Internet and return to the sweaty, Brut-soaked dance floors. God help us all.

  • The Second Coming of the Next Big Thing. Could indie music be any more creatively stagnant than it was in '06? With jangle-pop, mope-rock, post-punk and goofy ensemble chamber pop all used up, a new sound will finally emerge that redefines indie music as we know it for the next couple years. Let's hope it doesn't involve the accordion.
  • The end of The iPod. Apple's iPod wasn't the first portable mp3 player. It was the coolest. The only piece of technology that became more pervasive was the cell phone. Steve Jobs being the enterprising guy that he is, will merge the two in a new device this summer that will be a new Dick Tracy-style video communication tool, and at the same time, signal the end of the old-fashioned iPod.


  • Reemergence of vinyl and the death of the CD. The rise of the Compact Disc signaled the decline -- and many thought -- demise of the vinyl record. Who would have thought more than 20 years later that vinyl would still be around. Now with the advent of digital downloading, the sun is beginning to set on the CD, while new value is being placed on vinyl records as a musical document that provides the personal touch that downloading will never have.

  • Venues Wars. After literally years of delays, Slowdown, the highly anticipated downtown Saddle Creek Records office/music venue/bar/retail space/condos/movie theater/pizza parlor/coffee shop will open its doors in late summer, sparking brutal competition in a market that's already overcrowded with live music venues. Its huge initial success will prompt the Saddle Creek guys to get fitted for suits sewn out of crisp 20-dollar bills. To top it off, two new venues will open -- one in mid-town, the other near the Old Market -- that will target the same music-going audience. The casualties won't be the Sokol, which has weathered competition for decades. No, the fall-out will be felt by the smaller clubs, which likely will either get out of the live music business or close their doors.
  • Radio, radio. Omaha has grown up both business-wise and music-wise, arguably holding the crown for the past few years as the king of the national indie music scene. The only thing missing -- a decent radio station. Finally, all those prayers for a CMJ-style indie station will be answered. How? As mentioned on, in early 2007 the FCC will open a window to allow for application of new, full-power non-commercial educational (NCE) radio frequencies. Omaha will get one. Expect a successful local business to step up with the seed money.

  • Musicians we'll be talking about this time next year: Radiohead, Bright Eyes, The Faint, Sarah Benck, Desaparecidos, U2, Husker Dü, Pavement, Sufjan Stevens, Neil Young, Rilo Kiley, The Good Life, David Bowie, Madonna, Brimstone Howl, Eagle*Seagull and Blue Moon Ghetto.

  • Musicians we won't be talking about: Bob Dylan, Cursive, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Beck, Tenacious D, Tool, Dave Matthews Band, Springsteen, Incubus, Evanescence, My Chemical Romance, Blue October, Hinder and Michael Jackson.

  • Britney breeds. Again.


  • Radiohead at the Qwest. The expansion of the arena will make way for Radiohead in a concert that will sell out (but not in 27 seconds, as expected). Other huge shows for '07: Pearl Jam, Van Halen and the return of U2.


  • American Idol -- The Decline. Like any other game show, the American public will finally tire of the annual talent contest, but only because an even more hideous entertainment-based reality game show will emerge.


  • Saddle Creek reinvented. With one of the holy triad leaving the nest, Saddle Creek will sign an already-established act that no one will expect, leading the label's direction as it enters its second decade. Don't cry for their loss. They'll be helped along next year by their first gold record.


  • Rock City, USA. With the new Mogis Studios opening this year, expect some high-flying musicians walking around Dundee, and I'm not just talking about indie acts. Like the Gillian Welch gigs earlier this year, these bands will be booking "secret shows" in some unexpected locations. Keep your ear to the ground.
  • Major label star. Forget about the indies, one of Omaha's premier singer-songwriters will be signed to a major label and will get all the attention that comes with it. You'll be saying "I knew her when…"

  • The Book. A local music journalist will announce that he's been secretly working on a book that chronicles his experiences with the local music scene, but instead of just focusing on Saddle Creek, the book will include almost every band and musician he's ever covered over the past 20 years. It'll make a great Christmas gift.
  • SNL. I've been predicting for years that Bright Eyes will be a special musical guest on Saturday Night Live, and though his personage was featured on the show last season, we'll get the real thing in '07.

Back to

Published in The Omaha Reader Jan. 3, 2007. Copyright 2007 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.