Lincoln Calling 2010 underway

Lincoln, NE – A couple watches the third installment of Pecha Kucha at the Bourbon Theatre, the first event of Lincoln Calling 2010, on September 28th, 2010.

Story and Photos By Chris Barker, News Net Nebraska

Lincoln Calling, the musical extravaganza that is quickly becoming a signature event for the city, kicked off last night at the Bourbon Theatre. Over five days (Sept. 28th-Oct. 2nd) and 11 venues in downtown Lincoln, citizens will have the chance to see over 100 musical performances.

“The whole goal is to see how much fun we can create,” said Jeremy Buckley, the 32-year-old behind the five-day art and music festival taking over Lincoln’s downtown. The recent University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate is currently in his seventh year coordinating Lincoln Calling.

Buckley, who books, promotes and works with all the venues said, “This isn’t real work, this is like fantasy work and on top of that, it keeps getting more successful.” Attendance has steadily increased since the first year, giving Buckley no reason to stop. In Lincoln Calling’s first year, the 25 bands that played brought in around 900 people. The concert continued to grow over the years until last year when it reached a startling 100+ bands, drawing some 3,600 people.

Always looking to make Lincoln Calling bigger and better, Buckley is expanding beyond just live bands. Numerous DJ’s, a film festival, a photography event, an ongoing music video project, screen printing and Pecha Kucha, where people riff on whatever moves them for an allotted amount of time, are in the works for this year.

Also new to Lincoln Calling, is the presence of sponsors, both downtown establishments and Toyota Scion. “Having sponsors this year is helping in taking some of the pressure off,” said Andrew Norman, a friend of Buckley’s. Norman is also a contributing editor of The Reader and coordinates, a music-based website aimed to promote the music culture in Nebraska.

Norman, who met Buckley when the pair worked at the Daily Nebraskan several years ago, has been promoting Lincoln Calling through and Twitter. “I am just a fan,” Norman said. “This is (Buckley’s) baby and he deserves the credit, or complaints.”

Lincoln, NE – Jeremy Buckley, the ring leader of Lincoln Calling with an handbill for the five day music event occurring Sept. 28-Oct. 2, 2010.

Another new spin on this year’s Lincoln Calling is the boost in DJs and dance music. Local DJ Spencer Munson said, “Bands like Somasphere and The Show is the Rainbow have paved the way for the indie scene to embrace electronic sounds.” More than any year previous, more DJs have been booked to perform.

When Buckley was younger, he played video games such as SimCity and Rail Road Tycoon, and he compares that experience to organizing Lincoln Calling. “They’re all city building games, and this is like building something, hitting play and then watching to see how it turns out,” he said.
Lincoln Calling goes back over seven years ago when Buckley was writing for the Daily Nebraskan. He was a self-proclaimed “cocky freshman” who criticized the UPC (University Program Council) for its use of money. Buckley thought it wasteful to spend large sums on one big name act to perform when you get could numerous, smaller acts to play for a lot less. “The idea was Lincoln Calling, which I didn’t know then,” Buckley said, admitting it was a long-shot idea at the time.

Nick Waggoner, of the band Brimstone Howl (formerly The Zyklon Bees), remembers playing the first Lincoln Calling. Waggoner was 18 and it was his second show with the band. Waggoner said, “The diverse mix of music and bands,” is what he remembers about playing the first year. Waggoner and Brimstone Howl will be playing this year’s Lincoln Calling and he attributes experiencing new music and reuniting with old friends as his main reasons for coming back.

“It takes people like Buckley who are willing to put in really thankless hours to put something like this on,” Norman said. “Everybody’s doing it because they love art and love making art, and that to me is the coolest part.”

Lincoln, NE – Pecha Kucha and the film festival that followed drew crowds to help fill the Bourbon Theatre Tuesday night, Sept. 28, 2010.

All of the people involved with Lincoln Calling have dreams for bigger and better things, including more venues, more bands and more diverse activities. Comparisons and admiration to be more like Austin, Texas’ 23 year strong festival of music and art, South by Southwest (SXSW), are very apparent throughout the close group of friends that have banded together to insure Lincoln Calling happens year after year.

“While I’m there (SXSW), I’m researching. What works well at this venue, parking, volunteers, tickets, what else is going on in town at the same time, how the newspapers cover it,” Buckley said. “They do it better than anybody else. How do I take what I like from this and leave behind what I don’t?”

Buckley points to one edge that Lincoln has over other music-minded communities. The clubs and bars mostly work together to promote the events. “Something that we have that is missing in probably most other music communities is the camaradie between music venues and making sure we’re all healthy,” Buckley said.

Jeremy Wardlaw, a worker at Duffy’s in Lincoln, believes Lincoln Calling could draw crowds from outside Nebraska. “This event can be the next big festival that people around the country want to go to,” Wardlaw said.

Promoters of the event believe it is a key to putting Lincoln on the cultural map for something other than sports and cows.

“If you want to see a really strong art culture develop and thrive, you have to support it,” said Norman. “You have to go to these shows and buy merchandise from bands. Otherwise, we’re going to be left with Husker football, agriculture and Warren Buffet. Lincoln to me is about more than that.”

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