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Premonitions: Glimpses of 2005

by Tim McMahan











It's getting to the point where people are beginning to fear my predictions! "Tim, please don't mention me this year in your predictions column. I tremble beneath your precognitive powers!" Ah, fear not. I do not have the power to change the future, mortals; only the power to foresee it (at least where the music industry is concerned).

But before we get to this year's predictions, let's review last year's prophecies.

LY (last year's) Prediction: Madison Avenue is the music industry's new proving ground, with big-label marketing plans not only including making a video, but insuring proper song placement in an uptrend television commercial.

Reality: After years of turning their back on Madison Avenue, U2 embraced it in all their glory by becoming pitchmen for Apple in exchange for having their first single, "Vertigo," grafted into every i-Pod and i-Tunes commercial. Who needs radio airplay or MTV? The result: U2's latest, the watered-down How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb is No. 2 on the Billboard charts.

LY Prediction: Independently owned music stores will turn into music boutiques, handling music fan "gift items."

Reality: Homer's now carries so much non-music-related junk that it's beginning to look like Spencer gifts. They still haven't turned their back on their bread-and-butter -- CD sales… yet.

LY Prediction: Coast-to-coast subscriber-based digital satellite radio services such as XM and Sirius will fail to draw the subscriptions they need to stay afloat.

Reality: Both have survived, barely, but have begun competing furiously for exclusive programming rights, beginning with Howard Stern. It's only a matter of time until the two services are forced to merge.

LY Prediction: Saddle Creek will lose one major band to a break-up, but will gain an unlikely new act to its roster, a well-respected '90s-era underground singer-songwriter.

Reality: 2004 saw the end of Desaparecidos (for now) and Cursive appears to be on the rocks. But where's that '90s rock star?

LY Prediction: Saddle Creek will get a taste of competition when a new label is launched by one of its own artists.

Reality: We said hello to Team Love Records, co-run by Conor Oberst a.k.a. Bright Eyes. Its relationship to Saddle Creek, however, is more like a sister label than competition.

LY Prediction: Alternative weekly newspapers will see new competition from yet another weekly newspaper; The Omaha World-Herald will drop its weekly entertainment supplement, Go!

Reality: You can't get more of an attempt at direct competition than Omaha City Weekly, launched last year; but Go! is still going, though music coverage is hardly its focus these days.

LY Prediction: Questions will begin to surface about the wisdom of building the new multi-million-dollar Qwest Center after it fails to attract promised top-drawer entertainment.

Reality: How can you not call Bette Midler, Dolly Parton and The Gaither Family Reunion anything but top-drawer? That ol' white elephant is getting dustier by the minute. Who's going to see Kool & The Gang in March?

LY Prediction: Internal band strife, questionable record sales and a fall from sobriety will combine for the downfall of Metallica.

Reality: All right, that one was more of a wish than a prediction.

LY Prediction: While all the national music magazines are crowing for the rise of emo to levels last reached by Nirvana, the hot new music trend will continue to be no trend at all.

Reality: If there was a trend last year, it was toward invented pop stars, such as Lindsay Lohan, Hillary Duff, the Simpson sisters and bland American Idol zombies like Clay Aiken and Kelly Clarkson. I would have preferred no trend at all.

LY Prediction: Child molestation charges against Michael Jackson will be dropped before a jury ever delivers a verdict.

Reality: Jocko's trial is scheduled to begin in January.

LY Prediction: Arnold Schwarzenegger will enter the recording studio with a superstar hip-hop producer and illusionist David Blaine.

Reality: Who do you think that is behind those Slipknot masks?

LY Prediction: A major hip-hop artist will be shot to death while on tour.

Reality: While hip-hop had its losses (goodbye ODB), none of them were caused by a bullet. Wish I could say the same for the metal world (R.I.P. Dimebag Darrell).

LY Prediction: Classical music will become the new prog rock.

Reality: We can still dream, can't we?

LY Prediction: We'll be talking about The Pixies, Beck, Nine Inch Nails, Prince, Bright Eyes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Her Space Holiday, The Good Life, Fugazi, The Faint, Built to Spill, Les Savy Fav and Grasshopper Takeover this time next year, and not talking about Britney Spears, Metallica, Michael Jackson, The Strokes, Red Hot Chili Peppers, 50 Cent, Eminem, Madonna, Jessica Simpson, Linkin Park and Outcast.

Reality: Hey, for the most part, that was right on.

LY Prediction: The next "breakthrough" artist with Omaha roots will come from the hip-hop community.

Reality: Mars Black anyone? (Though we're still waiting for the actual CD release.)

LY Prediction: The stage is set for a showdown between The Ranch Bowl and One Percent Productions for local music dominance. The Bowl will begin to subtly shift its direction by booking more influential and adult (i.e. better) touring bands; while One Percent will focus on bigger, higher-grossing shows at a variety of venues including Sokol Auditorium, outdoor festivals, and once again, The Rose.

Reality: The Bowl went the other direction, toward metal and pop-punk, while One Percent has been content with Sokol and even smaller clubs, such as O'Leaver's. The recent Mayday/'89 Cubs show at The Bowl could be a sign that the two parties will begin working together in the future.

LY Prediction: Look for a format change from one of Omaha's top radio stations -- Z-92, The Dam or The River -- from rock to urban.

Reality: There was plenty of shake-up in the Omaha radio market, with The City and The Dam changing formats.

LY Prediction: Now that Bright Eyes has already done it, a non-Saddle Creek act from Omaha will make an appearance on a late-night chat show.

Reality: We're still waiting.

So, using my slightly skewed math, I'm something like 10 out of 18. Not too bad. But enough of this reminiscing. What's in store for 2005?

  • Now that i-Pods and other mp3 players are an essential accessory for any music lover, "Podcasting" will begin to replace traditional radio broadcasting. Podcasting essentially is the recording of internet radio or similar web-based audio programs direct to your i-Pod for playback later, sort of like an audio version of TiVo. Already websites like are turning into Podcast hubs, offering programs as diverse as Air America, ShitFM and the GodCast Network.
  • Watch out for Mash-Ups -- a new music craze where DJs/remixers take two songs by two different artists and combine them, creating a strange hybrid that sounds a little like both, but different. For example, combine The Beatles' "Fool on the Hill" with Queen's "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" and you get Mark Vidler's "Crazy Little Fool" mash-up. It's all illegal, of course, which makes it even more subversive. Regardless, artists such as Madonna have been downright flattered to have their music combined with The Sex Pistols (and who can blame her?). Hot in the UK, mash-ups will maintain their rebellious status until Madison Avenue figures out a way to use them to sell European cars and Gap clothes.


  • The first mix-and-burn custom CD kiosks will begin popping up at local coffee shops and music stores. The technology lets consumers download music from a catalog of more than 200,000 songs spread among 200 genres, and then burn their own CD in about four minutes. While popular as a personalized gift, it won't put a dent in regular CD sales.


  • The break-out indie artist in '05 will likely be Mastodon, who's brutal, grinding, dark metal (heard on '04's Leviathan) could spark a grisly new trend in underground music. In other words, watch indie become less pop and more grim in the hopeless era of George W.

  • Strangely, the rumors will be proven true and U2, Bruce Springsteen and one other mega-band will be booked at the Qwest Center by year end.
  • All of Courtney Love's personal and legal troubles will end in '05.

  • Bands we'll be talking about this time next year: Beck, Yo La Tengo, Nine Inch Nails, Cat Power, M Ward, Bob Dylan, Lou Barlow, Crooked Fingers, Ladyfinger, Anonymous American, Bright Eyes, The Monroes, Neva Dinova, Desaparecidos and The Golden Age.
  • Bands we won't be talking about this time next year: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Gwen Stefani, Eminem, Switchfoot, the Simpson sisters, Modest Mouse, Interpol, 50 Cent, Green Day, Avril Lavigne and U2.

  • Carrying on the storyline that began late last year when Saddle Creek Records' gave up on building its dream complex, Slowdown -- a combination office/bar/music hall -- look for The Creek to cut a lucrative deal with the city allowing them to build Slowdown downtown, somewhere north of the Old Market.


  • Slowdown won't be the only new live music venue that'll hit the Omaha scene in '05. A couple new clubs will open their doors next year as well, catering to everything from jazz/blues to country, but none (other than Slowdown) will have the impact of the already established venues of Sokol, Ranch Bowl, O'Leaver's and Mick's.


  • With woefully few releases slated for '05, Saddle Creek will add not one but two new local bands to their roster, including their heaviest band yet. Meanwhile, sister label Team Love will out-release Saddle Creek almost two to one.


  • Saddle Creek mainstay, Bright Eyes, will boast the label's first gold record this year when Lifted breaks the 500k mark in sales, pushed forward by the success of duo releases I'm Wide Away, It's Morning and Digital Ash in a Digital Urn.




  • With Saddle Creek's continued success, watch as camera crews from a national TV news magazine -- either 20/20, 60 Minutes, 48 Hours or Dateline -- attempt to blow the lid off the burgeoning Omaha music scene. I foresee a worried John Stossel gasping for air inside the bowels of Sokol Underground. An interesting by-product will be a non-Creek band reaping surprising national attention -- and a big-time record deal.
  • Following suit, local television news will finally get into the act. KM3 will replace talentless blowhole Travis Justice's "For What It's Worth" segment with a new nightly arts & entertainment segment that will focus on theater, movies, art and, you guessed it, local music. Who will be the next Peter Citron?


  • Scheduling conflicts will take their toll on one of the area's most successful recording studios, causing it to close its doors in '05. The parties involved will continue their winning ways… solo.


  • Two local video producers/film makers will gain national attention for their rock video work. Don't be surprised to see a camera crew filming a superstar along Leavenworth St.


  • This is the year that the record label feeding frenzy finally hits Omaha with as many as six local bands signing either to national indie or major labels, prompting some enterprising individual to organize an Omaha music showcase, where label execs will fly in for three days of shows at all the local venues.




  • And finally, as always, a non-Saddle Creek act from Omaha will make an appearance on a late-night chat show -- Conan, Carson Daly, Letterman, etc. Meanwhile, Bright Eyes will be a "special musical guest" on an episode of Saturday Night Live. It's gonna happen this year, folks.

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Posted Jan. 5, 2005. Published in The Omaha Reader January 5, 2005. Copyright 2005 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.