Sunshine, The Carsinogents, Sound of Rails
The Sokol Underground, Omaha
Nov. 19, 2000
With a sound that was a blend of Sonic
Temple-era Cult, Flock of Seagulls, U2 and PiL, Czech band Sunshine played
the loudest set my bleeding ears have endured in recent memory at the
Sokol Underground Nov. 19.
Maybe it was the 30 mph Arctic-blast winds or the fact that it was a
school night, but fewer than 100 were on hand to take in the night of
high-energy rock 'n' roll.
Sound of Rails started things off with a set of tight, rhythmic, almost
mathy indie-style songs that featured a surprisingly dense sound for a
three-piece. The combo takes an intense but tuneful tact, with spare
vocals and constantly building dynamics that emphasize the instrumental
side of their music that creates a dramatic vibe.
Their stage presence consisted of the bassist and guitarist basically
standing to either side of the drum kit -- not much of a show, but
maybe my opinion was tainted because what followed them is arguably
the best live performing band in Omaha. The Carsinogents know how
to make the most of any stage. Missing from their normal set-up
Sunday was their film/video that features a mix of Spanish masked
wrestlers, bodybuilders and '60s-era strippers. The projector apparently
got busted at a 49'r show earlier in the week, but it didn't matter,
it just made for a cleaner stage.
I've seen the band four times now and this was probably their best sounding
set -- big, chunky guitars, horror-movie keyboards and a tight-as-a-tick
rhythm section playing blazing, electrified punk with a tinge of
vintage surf rock underlying all of it. Intense.
No Carsinogents set is complete without pyro effects. Sunday's show
included a blazing, rotating trashcan and drummer Eldon Vampola blowing
alcohol into a flaming skull (a privilege usually handled by lead vocalist
Dave Electro). The Sokol's elevated stage kept the band far removed (maybe
too far) from the audience, making it safer for onlookers as Electro swung
the microphone stand over his head. Electro, a.k.a. Dave Goldberg, is the first
frontman from an Omaha band since Ritual Device's Tim Moss to bring a show's energy all the
way to the brink of the stage, and then into the crowd. The band is always
better when nothing separates them from the audience.
Then came Sunshine. Only about 50 people remained to see the headliner
tear through an ear-splitting set of classic-tinged '80s-style head-bobbing
New Wave-meets-punk anthems. Lead singer Kay was a tall, lanky,
black-maned thyroid case swinging a guitar around like an electric
necklace. The sound was rife with delay and feedback, chiming guitars
and either a thick rolling bass or keyboards. The guitar effects
were sheer '80s echo-chamber stuff that brought back memories of
a kinder, gentler, post-big-hair time when U2 still hadn't played
Red Rocks and MTV still played rock videos. Kay's shrill, atonal,
Johnny Rotten-esque vocals, however, took away from the effect and
was an acquired taste. By the end of the set, you could hardly tell
he was from a former Soviet Block country.
At one point in their set, chunks of something were falling from the
Underground ceiling. Before the final song, I decided take out my earplugs
(a must at all Sokol shows) at the back of the room to see just how loud
it was and almost passed out from the sheer volume. Tinnitus, here we
Published in The Omaha Weekly November 22, 2000. Copyright 2000 Tim McMahan.
All rights reserved.