Smoking Popes (Acoustic), The Bigger Empty

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Lookout Lounge

320 South 72nd Street

Omaha, NE 68114

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Black Heart Booking & A-13 Punk Rock present...

The Smoking Popes (acoustic set)
with The Bigger Empty (Mike Felumlee's newest band!)

at Lookout Lounge

All ages show / $10 advance or $13 day of show / 7 PM doors

ALL AGES - Everyone must have a valid ID. Under 18 needs to be accompanied by a parent or guardian or have a notarized parental permission form: http://www.lookoutomaha.com/parental-consent-form


For show/venue info go to: www.lookoutomaha.com

“Ever wonder what a traditional lounge singer would sound like backed up by a punk band? The Smoking Popes take that concept one step further: They've created a unique kind of music that some listeners are describing as ‘hyperkinetic tear-jerkers’." Los Angeles Times

Bursting onto the Chicago punk scene in 1991, Smoking Popes built a relationship with their legion of fans by melding raw songs about bittersweet heartache with soaring melodies, power chords and infectious energy. From their early indie releases to their critically acclaimed major label albums, Smoking Popes developed a unique blend of buzzsaw guitars, caffeinated rhythms and heartfelt crooning vocals, combining the angst of punk with the smooth sophistication of Frank Sinatra, creating music both urgent and timeless, and influencing a generation of musicians in their wake.

These days, the Popes are tighter and more inspired than ever, having reunited with drummer Mike Felumlee, from the band’s seminal recordings of the ‘90s, to record their first new material with their original lineup since 1998, a powerful two-song single – “Simmer Down” and “Someday I’ll Smile Again” – now available on Asian Man Records. Lead singer Josh Caterer describes the reunion, “We’ve been fortunate to have some really great drummers over the years, they’ve all brought something unique to the band, but as soon as we started playing with Mike again, we felt like ‘This is how it’s supposed to be!’ Mike is the one who helped create our sound in the first place. Having him back in the band brings a lot of energy and excitement to what we’re doing.”

And that’s not their only reason to celebrate. 2017 marks the 20th anniversary of Destination Failure, the Popes’ pop-punk masterpiece, originally released on Capitol Records in 1997. To commemorate this milestone, they’re partnering with Side One Dummy Records to create a special 20th anniversary deluxe vinyl edition of the album, with select festival dates to support it. Caterer remarked, “It’s sort of hard to believe that Destination Failure is twenty years old! Listening back to the album, it doesn’t feel dated to me. I think there’s an immediacy to the music that still comes through. A lot of that has to do with Jerry Finn. He was such a brilliant producer. We were very lucky to work with him.”

The band is also hard at work writing and arranging new material for a full-length album to be released in early 2018. Look for some of those new songs to pop up in their live sets on the road this year. If their recent single is any indication, Smoking Popes are far from done making waves.

“Why are the Smoking Popes important? Because they’ve written your favorite song, whether you know it or not.” – Kyle Kinane, Comedian & Popes Fan


The Bigger Empty wasn't supposed to happen.

In 2014, Mike Felumlee went into the studio, joined by his longtime backing band, to record his new album--but this time, something was different. At some point, he realized, they'd stopped making a record, and had inadvertently started a new band.

After nearly ten years of serving as a live vehicle for Felumlee's solo material, the newly-minted group released its debut EP, The Bigger Empty Vs. The Cloud, via Artistic Integrity Records in 2015, with a full-length album to follow. However, the addition of singer/pianist Amanda Moudry fundamentally changed the group's sound, leading Felumlee, drummer Kevin Baschen and bassist Reuben Baird to scrap the album and start over. Guitarist Tom Counihan joined in 2016, as the quintet focused its energies and braced for the future.

Felumlee writes unconventionally conventional pop songs--sometimes the chords or melodies don't go quite where you expect them to, but once the song gets where it's going, you're glad to have been wrong. His voice is sincere and unaffected, his lyrics clever but without guile. The addition of Moudry brings a richness to the songs, her voice blending seamlessly with Felumlee's to reinforce existential musings, gentle admonitions and everything in between, her piano expanding the textural palette in directions never even hinted at on Vs. The Cloud. Counihan's playing style adds sophistication and a palpable sense of excitement to Felumlee's rhythm parts, while Baschen and Baird are a veritable machine, a rhythm section honed by a lifetime of working together, maintaining a level of workmanlike consistency while never sounding mechanical, never missing an opportunity for a well-timed flourish.

Musically, the band's influences are relatively unsurprising: big feelings, loud guitars, shameless hooks. Residing somewhere between the cynical sincerity of the Replacements and the dreamy melodicism of Nada Surf, with a sort of earnest cheekiness that falls somewhere between Superchunk and Superdrag, The Bigger Empty are part of the long power-pop tradition of endeavoring to make sure the feelings don't turn maudlin, the hooks don't get saccharine, that all elements remain balanced; and the group's remarkable success in this measure is no accident--it comes with experience.

While Baird and Baschen cut their teeth in Chicago power pop mainstays Sketch Middle before joining up with Felumlee, Moudry and Counihan are accomplished singer/songwriters, playing as Amanda Sena and Tom Daily, respectively. Felumlee, best known as the original and current drummer for Smoking Popes, was a member of Alkaline Trio and has been recording as a solo artist since 2001.

In pulling together and forging their input into something greater than any one member, the band is, perhaps unsurprisingly, a testament to the power of learning through experience. Tellingly, the name of the band comes from a song inspired by Felumlee's dog, Jet, who has a long history of running away. In the song, Jet finally gets to see the world, only to long for the world he knows. "Now that I've seen the bigger empty," as the chorus explains, "home feels like home."

While writing music is an inherently uncomfortable process, The Bigger Empty--the band that wasn't supposed to happen, the creative outlet none of them knew was missing, this collective of lifelong musicians who have seen that world and all it has to offer--feels like home, too.

Come. Listen. Get comfortable.

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Lookout Lounge

320 South 72nd Street

Omaha, NE 68114

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