Lincoln Calling Day 3: Masses; The Whipkey Three; Oqua; Tie These Hands

Thursday, Oct 17 – Duffy’s Tavern:

  • Tie These Hands
  • Oquoa
  • The Whipkey Three
  • Masses

Seeds does not take credit for the above photo of The Whipkey Three.

Review by Corey Oldenhuis | Seeds Entertainment

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After battling through technical difficulties that forced the lead singer to awkwardly tell bad stories and play a song from his sister’s wedding, Tie These Hands went on to play a decent show at Duffy’s Tavern Thursday.

The Lincoln natives are apparent connoisseurs of love-related songs, and they certainly play them with a zealous alt-rock heart. Though they kept a cheery stage presence, a lot of their material was saturated in deep emotional connotations which were expressed either through lyrical content or the slow, soul-searching melodies themselves. The contrasting styles of Naum and Aram Stauffner’s guitars and their choice to rotate between guitar effects really helped the band establish musical motifs.

One such recurring theme throughout the show was lead vocalist Aram’s tendency to pair soft clean guitar with tender vocals for soothing verses, then switch to a firmer electric sound for passionate choruses and bridges. The nostalgic and often reflective sound of Tie These Hands lends itself so naturally to being the soundtrack of the one who got away, the one who can’t seem to leave the mind, and even the one yet to come.

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The following band Oquoa marched into Duffy’s strutting a distant disposition and an undeniably melancholy ambience. The local band (which began as a side project) is partial to minor chord tonalities and slow-flowing beats, which helps set up an extremely mellow milieu. The eerie echoes of guitarist J.J Idt’s chimes over those dragging rhythms produced a sound similar to a sullen lullaby. Had the band not periodically played more buoyant tunes like “Move Your Body,” many of the intoxicated audience members would have ended up fighting off the advances of sleep or embracing a relaxed, meditative state.

Love it or loathe it, Oqoua proudly possesses a tranquilizing solemnity.

Vocalist Max Holmquist’s songwriting is mysterious and intriguing, and his voice is shaky, yet passable—perhaps even preferable–for this kind of music. Holmquist reminisced aloud to the tavern about how years ago, Jeremy Buckley had called upon Holmquist (at the time a Husker freshman heading an “assy” new metal band) to play at some new festival called ‘Lincoln Calling;’ Oquoa is just one of many awesome examples of Lincoln Calling coming full circle in its ten year history.

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Matt Whipkey parked his time-traveling Delorean outside of Duffy’s Thursday night, and as the third act, brought to stage some upbeat classic rock.

The very first song he busted out sounded like the Allman Brother’s “Jessica” on steroids, mixed up with a mainstream Rush song. At a very quick listen, one might accidently diagnose The Whipkey Three as a cover band of some sort. That’s not an invalidation of Matt’s creativity, but rather a testament to how well he nails a genre.

In fairness, Whipkey did give nice modern revisions to the hot rock he dishes out by taking bridges and break-downs into unforeseen musical directions. With his furious spurts of energetic soloing, eager showiness in the presence of photographers, and self-centered stage mannerisms, the Omaha musician made it clear that he wants to be a rock star.

Without a doubt, the man has talent, and is currently playing with a remarkable band that includes bassist Travis Sing and excellent axe man Corey Anderson. That being said, Whipkey’s voice isn’t the strongest Lincoln Calling has to offer, and his act should commit to wilder trademark antics if he is to solidify his reputation as rock n’ roll revivalist. All nitpicking aside, any classic rock fan appreciated it the performance Matt and his mates gave Duffy’s.

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Thursday was wrapped up in transcendental fashion by Masses, another local band whose sometimes bizarre sounds launch listeners on an odyssey that extends past their comfort zone.

Their melodies can get rough around the edges, and there is simply no way to predict when their songs will suddenly endeavor into heavier territory or resolve into something lighter or slower, but these factors make the abstract artists all the more interesting to ears.

They have mastered the art of flirting with dissonance but never fully subjecting to it, and these Lincolnites belt out loud screeching tones that are (for the most part) more engrossing than unpleasant. Some of their songs can drift off into longs hypnotic sequences before experiencing a shift, which assists the band in their efforts to be otherworldly. The up-and-comers Masses, composed of Jon Augustine, Shane Brandt, Eric Nyffeler, and Mike Vandenberg, are a sure prescription for all who prefer odd melodic journeys over traditional catchiness.