Ontario punk band PUP played in a crowded room at The BAY.

Lincoln Calling gives downtown memorable weekend

The 14th annual Lincoln Calling music festival showcased over 100 local and national acts at eight different venues, and Seeds Entertainment was there to cover all three nights. Ranging from indie pop to folk to rap, Lincoln Calling had something for everyone. Here’s a look at some of the standout performances.

Thursday (Sept. 28)

Philadelphia indie punk band, Cayetana
Philadelphia indie punk band Cayetana proved women can rock out just as hard as men.

Cayetana (Bourbon Theatre) by Nick Kuklinksi, staff writer

Performing at the Bourbon Theatre Thursday night, Cayetana drew a respectable crowd as the second of two openers for headliner Best Coast. In between every few songs, lead singer and guitarist, Augusta Koch, and bassist, Allegra Anka, would take time to not just talk at the crowd — as is so famous among other punk bands — but interact and engage with them. At one point, Koch joked how she had an ex with the same name as a Lincoln bar, and when asked if he was cool, she responded, “Fuck no, dude played Halo. I don’t wanna fuck with that.”

If you haven’t heard of Cayetana before, you should pop open Spotify right now and check them out. Based out of Philadelphia, this all-women indie punk band gave a passionate performance throughout their set. It was almost disappointing, to say the least, to see the emotion of the audience sputter to its pinnacle with the classic white hipster head nod and knee bend.

Lincoln folk band Artichoke Hearts
Lincoln folk band Artichoke Hearts filled the stage at Zoo Bar with all seven members.

Artichoke Hearts (Zoo Bar) by Efren Cortez, Seeds Entertainment editor

It was impressive the tiny stage at Zoo Bar was able to hold a seven-piece band, but this Lincoln folk band did not disappoint to engage the audience. One of the backup vocalists’ primary instruments was her tap shoes on a piece of wood with the face of KISS’ Gene Simmons. During their set, the Artichoke Hearts announced that they were going to play a “haunted song,” and joked that the doors to the Zoo Bar were locked, forcing the audience to face their fears. The band kept teasing for a few songs that the next song would be the haunted one they promised, but they saved it for their second-to-last song of their set. They joked with the audience once more that they were actually Best Coast, whose set was at the same time a few blocks over at the Bourbon Theatre. For those not into folk music, Artichoke Hearts is easy to enjoy and may open the world of folk music to newcomers.

Cult Play (1867 Bar) by Chris Bowling, designer

From Cult Play’s masked-idol vibe, down to the thick wall of sound he was able to produce from what seemed like such a minimal setup, this harsh electronic act left me wanting more than just a 40-minute set, and I definitely wasn’t alone in thinking that. By the time Cult Play had wrapped up the set there was a palpable sense of surprise and a little disappointment that his time was up. Going forward I’ll definitely take any opportunity I can to see him in a more immersive atmosphere.

Friday (Sept. 29)

Lincoln punk band Once A Pawn was not afraid to get political in front of their crowd at Bodega's.
Lincoln punk band Once A Pawn was not afraid to get political in front of their crowd at Bodega’s.

Once A Pawn (Bodega’s) by Efren Cortez

Not many bands have a drummer that doubles as the lead vocalist. Once A Pawn showed a lot of energy despite playing for a smaller crowd at Bodega’s. But the local punk trio caught the attention of people passing by on the street and at one point, a man recorded part of the set with his phone from the main door before walking away.

Once A Pawn was not afraid to go on political rants. “We have to stick up for one another,” frontman C Balta said. “Lincoln is a blue dot, but it won’t be forever as long as we take care of one another.” Their songs “XXY,” “Minimum Wage” and “Enough” discussed gender fluidity, low minimum wage and standing up to white supremacists.

El Ten Eleven bassist Kristian Dunn right before jumping off the stage.
El Ten Eleven bassist Kristian Dunn right before jumping off the stage.

El Ten Eleven (Duffy’s outdoor) by Chris Goering, staff writer

Los Angeles rock duo El Ten Eleven uses only instruments to create ceaseless songs that brought the electronic atmosphere to Duffy’s outdoor stage Friday night. This was my first experience attending a concert that was just instrumentals, but it was nothing short of rocking. El Ten Eleven started off the show with “I Like Van Halen Because My Sister Says They’re Cool,” with bassist Kristian Dunn rocking his signature double-neck bass guitar. Concertgoers were dancing and head-banging to the rock band’s ambient rhythms. The multi-colored arrangement of lights throughout the show visually complemented the band’s in-depth sound. The night ended with a crowd vote between “Connie” and “Transitions” for the final song, and Dunn had to break the tie by flipping his guitar pick, which gave the nod to “Transitions.” El Ten Eleven kept the crowd rocking the entire set, and it made for an awesome night at Lincoln Calling.

Cakes Da Killa (The BAY) by Nick Kuklinski

Cakes Da Killa owned The BAY during his Friday night show. Embracing the tragically low turnout, he immediately pulled the scattered crowd to the front, ditched the stage and became a member of the audience.

Not only delivering the exceptional vocals his dedicated fans have come to love, Cakes Da Killa also riffed improvised jokes during songs, danced with seemingly every member of the crowd and occasionally bantered with jaunty DJ, Plack Blague; turning every aspect of his performance into a focal point. Life beat throughout Cakes Da Killa’s 45-minute set, and, by the end, he stuck himself in the middle of the audience and turned The BAY into one of the most interactive venues of Lincoln Calling.

New York band Beach Fossils talking about parsley.
New York band Beach Fossils talking to the audience about parsley.

Beach Fossils (Duffy’s outdoor) by Chris Goering

New York-based alternative rock band Beach Fossils, filling the spot of the late Charles Bradley, had the crowd dancing during their entire set as Duffy’s outdoor stage headliner Friday night. The shaggy-haired boy band entertained the crowd with head-banging tunes and charming banter from frontman Dustin Payseur in between songs about parsley and peanut butter. The band played songs such as “Be Nothing,” from their release “Somersault” in 2016, and “Vacation,” off of their self-titled debut album. The stage was lit orange for most of the set, which then transitioned to a multi-colored array over half-way through. During their song “Careless,” three members of the crowd took turns crowd surfing, adding to the craziness and camaraderie of the atmosphere.

Saturday (Sept. 30)

Scott playing his last show with Omaha band Uh Oh.
Scott Ausdemore playing his last show with Omaha band Uh Oh.

Uh Oh (The BAY) by Efren Cortez

Omaha band Uh Oh’s set did not start on the right foot, mostly because drummer Jay Jacobson broke his kick pedal about 20 seconds in. But luckily fellow drummer Anna Schmidt, whose band the Boner Killerz had played right before, was there to offer Jacobson her kick pedal. Frontman Joe Champion joked that the band will start from the exact note they left on. Champion encouraged audience participation by inviting more people to dance and handing a tambourine to a fan in the front row. The tambourine ended up being passed around to four different people who each improvised for a song. Uh Oh’s set was a memorable one, and also happened to be guitarist and keyboardist Scott Ausdemore’s last show with the band.

Ontario punk band PUP played in a crowded room at The BAY.
Ontario punk band PUP played in a crowded room at The BAY.

PUP (The BAY) by Efren Cortez

Most every punk fan in Lincoln was in attendance to see the Ontario punk rock band, and couples even brought their infants to check out PUP’s debut in Lincoln. There was plenty of crowd surfing and moshing within the confined space during the set that almost reached capacity. Halfway through, lead guitarist Steve Sladkowski complimented the sense of community and support seen at The BAY.

“It’s so great to have a place that brings people together and builds them up, but we also need to bring what we have in here out to the greater community,” Sladkowski said. “Places like this have like-minded people, but if we want to create a better world, we also need to bring this peace and love outside.”

CupcakKe (Duffy’s outdoor) by Chris Bowling

20-year-old rapper CupcakKe, known for her lewd lyrics and uninhibited sexuality, took Duffy’s backlot by force Saturday night. With songs like “LGBT,” “Deepthroat” and “Spider-Man Dick,” the Chicago artist had the crowd rocking, grinding and screaming her lyrics for the entirety of the hour-long set. And it wasn’t all prerecorded beats and vocals like some hip-hop shows devolve into; she had electric stage presence and a vice grip on the mic all night. She also knew how to play to the crowd, pantomiming masturbating and telling stories of having just had sex at her hotel before the show. With a description like that it might be easy to write CupcakKe off as a shock artist, but to do so would ignore her infectious aura of freedom, inclusivity and pride. And that’s something that has to be experienced, because she’s truly one of a kind.