Saved by Mad Nomad 

Duped at the Showcase.

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  • Brian Chilson
  • Mad Nomad

It was toward the end of the third round of the Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase that we realized we'd been had. Onstage were backup dancers, one in an orange fox costume with a hood and paw-gloves and the other in some demonic red and black get-up with a long horn protruding from her forehead. The bass player wore a sailor's cap, and the singer played an electric green guitar. He spoke occasionally in a jarring fake British accent and said things like "It is plainly obvious to me that y'all need to chill the fuck out." I was on my fourth or fifth beer and the whole thing was as awful as it sounds.

What we realized — or what others realized and then relayed to me — was that this band, The Flameing Daeth Fearies, shared exactly the same members (minus the colorful wigs and neon, mall-punk vibes) as a band that competed in the first round of this year's competition as The People's Republic of Casio Tones. They entered the contest twice and then lied about it. Apparently, they believed that some elements within the Arkansas Times editorial staff held a grudge against them, and in their defense, this is absolutely true. Anyway, neither band won.

The night started off strong with the Chris Alan Craig Band, which judge "Big" John Miller, in his notes, wrote, "sounds just like the Chris Alan Craig Band!" Judge Stacie Mack was reminded of Bon Jovi, which makes sense to me: Craig is an earnest performer who shuts his eyes during guitar solos and frequently points to the ceiling. At one point he held up his drink and said, "That's wine in a cocktail glass," which impressed me. The greatest moment of his set, though, came when he asked the crowd, "Who's getting laid?" as his girlfriend, out in the audience, started handing out Hawaiian leis. Craig then pulled out a ukulele and said, "I wrote this song on the beaches of Hawaii."

Fayetteville's Flight Machine was up next and led off their set by claiming, "We're from North Korea." I don't know what their deal is with North Korea, but they're consistent about it: Their online bio is cribbed from Kim Jong-il's Wikipedia page. Also, the lead singer wore goggles. Judge Bryan Frazier noted "obvious nods toward Devo & Talking Heads," and said they "could've been the live band at the 'Weird Science' house party," which I'm betting they would take as a huge compliment. They closed out with the announcement that "A clean Korea is a good Korea."

The night's winner was Little Rock band Mad Nomad, which looked angry and sounded angrier. They had to switch out guitars mid-set because, as singer Joe Holland mumbled into the mic, "Jesse broke a damn string." John Miller was serious about his endorsement: "This is your new rock show, people," he wrote. "As Grandpa used to say, 'Tight as Dick's Hatband.' " I don't know what Grandpa meant by that, but I can guess. "Mad Nomad walked into the Times Showcase," judge Stephen Neeper wrote, summing up the general sentiments of the crowd, "and said, 'This is how it's done!' "

The semifinals continue with round four at 9 p.m. Thursday at Stickyz. Here's a preview:

The Talking Liberties

Whatever else happens, there will be no better song titles Thursday night than those by Little Rock's The Talking Liberties, whose latest EP, "Don't Trust the Humans," includes tracks with names like "Between Some Lions" and, incredibly, "Paul Reubens Holding Wasps." The band, fronted by trippy-synth mastermind Wes Acklin, specializes in widescreen glow-stick rock indebted to MGMT or The Flaming Lips, and claims to exist "solely to groove your bones and melt your brain," a mission statement I don't think they mean to sound as threatening as it does.

Crash Meadows

Prepare to sober up a bit for the bluesy alt-rock group Crash Meadows, who hail from Hot Springs and, according to their Facebook page, have opened for The Spin Doctors and Joan Jett. More impressively, they were recently featured in a well-reviewed travel book called "Follow the Money," which started out as an article for The Guardian: Purely by chance, a couple of years ago, they hosted a British journalist named Steve Boggan as he attempted to track a single $10 bill across America for 30 days. They got the 10 bucks as payment for a gig and held on to the bill for a weekend before singer Dean Agus mailed it to a friend in Illinois to pay the dues for his fantasy football league.

The Machete With Love

Like a more laid-back Rage Against the Machine, The Machete With Love often open their rock-rap songs with samples of news broadcasts and rap about things like Syria and Scooter Libby. Rapping isn't quite the word though — what they do sounds more like R.E.M. on "It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)," impressively crowding fast-spoken syllables into a loud-quiet-loud rock structure. They are first and foremost a loud, gripping rock band, with harmonica and guitar solos (sometimes in the same song) and a righteous, mocking tone, something that comes through in lines like "everyone's guilty, just give me someone to fire at."


Last up is the new project by Dangerous Idiots founder Aaron Sarlo and his fellow Laundry for the Apocalypse member (and expert washboard player) Adrian Brigman, and with a name like Duckstronaut I predict great things. They are committed to this duck thing, too: At their first show, at White Water Tavern in October, drummer Bryan Baker wore an eerie duck mask and Brigman occasionally set aside his washboard for a duck call. In their own words, the band sounds like a "haboob-force zydegasm with pearly electric dulcimer beauty." That's a lot to parse, I know. Two things it might help to know: One, a haboob is an enormous dust storm; two, Duckstronaut frequently features an electric dulcimer.


Speaking of...

  • A Q&A with Aaron Sarlo of Duckstronaut

    January 28, 2015
    With a name like Duckstronaut your brain may not want to take this band seriously but when you sink your ears into their debut album, "Tabanid Camisade," you'll quickly get it over it. This Little Rock four-piece has the rhythmic attack of The Talking Heads, hooks and dynamics reminiscent of The Pixies, and the biting wit and humor of Primus or Frank Zappa. The album plays like a lingering dreamscape in a post-apocalyptic world. They have originality and honesty. /more/
  • Stream the new Glittercore album (or even buy it)

    May 1, 2014
    Little Rock trio Glittercore has a new album out today. One of the tags on Bandcamp is "90's," which I guess means they aim to sound like a band from the `90s, which they arguably do, like tuneful, drop-d, Dinosaur Jr.-era indie rock or like a band that might be on Merge or Rough Trade. You can find it at iTunes or at Bandcamp, or you can wait and see them live with Mad Nomad at White Water on June 10. But then June 10 seems like a long time to wait, maybe you'd better go ahead and listen. /more/
  • Stage Dives and Skeleton Heads: Diarrhea Planet with Mad Nomad live at Stickyz

    April 25, 2014
    “It’s quiet in here. Really quiet.” This declaration from the frontman of local favorites (and this year's Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase victors) Mad Nomad last night at Stickyz was, as I heard it, a gauntlet thrown, a provocation, an incitement to the twenty or so assembled to leave the cozy confines of their votive-lit tables and come forth to get visceral — to shimmy, sweat or at the very least stand in front of stage. There was a hopeful pause. Alas, instead of some reassuring hollering or an obliging congregation of receptive fans who just needed to gulp down a few more before getting loose, there was a silence that one could stretch out and nap in. It was cringe-inducing. /more/
  • Vote for the headliners of this year's Legends of Arkansas Festival

    March 19, 2014
    With a name like Legends of Arkansas, you're putting a fair amount of pressure on your music festival to deliver a memorable lineup. Cleverly, the Legends of Arkansas folks have decided to outsource the programming decisions to you, the audience. Through April 20, you can vote, from a pre-selected list, for your picks, and the three bands with the most votes will headline the festival, which will be held May 31 at Riverfront Park. /more/
  • Mad Nomad for the win

    March 13, 2014
    Of the 2014 Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase. /more/
  • Mad Nomad wins 2014 Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase

    March 10, 2014
    There is a new, reigning Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase winner, and it is Mad Nomad, who were brutally great at the Finals Friday night, dominating a pretty impressively competitive field that also included Peckerwolf, John Willis, Duckstronaut and John Neal Rock 'n' Roll. /more/
  • Here come the Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase finals

    March 6, 2014
    John Neal Rock & Roll win last semifinal round. /more/
  • Duckstronaut wins Round 4 of the Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase

    February 21, 2014
    Little Rock's Duckstronaut took Round 4 of the Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase last night with washboard and dulcimer in tow. They'll go on to the finals with Peckerwolf, John Willis, Mad Nomad and next week's winner. /more/
  • Mad Nomad wins Round 3 of the Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase

    February 14, 2014
    Little Rock's Mad Nomad swept Round 3 of the Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase last night. /more/
  • John Willis' good cheer, hooks carry him to finals

    February 13, 2014
    Round three coming Thursday. /more/
  • More »


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