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SXSW unplugged: Laughing Falcon brings stoner rock to Austin from Nebraska

SXSW unplugged: Laughing Falcon brings stoner rock to Austin from Nebraska

SXSW unplugged: Laughing Falcon brings stoner rock to Austin from Nebraska
March 21
14:12 2018

Not many people think of Nebraska as being a hub for a new wave of heavy stoner metal, but the guys in the band Laughing Falcon are trying to change that.

“Most people think of corn when they think of Nebraska,” said Kyle Gibson, bassist in Laughing Falcon. “Don’t get me wrong — we do love our corn, and as important as that is to us, it’s not the only thing we have to offer.”

Laughing Falcon has its roots in Lincoln, Nebraska, and is comprised of Gibson, vocalist Kevin Chasek, guitarist Nate Christiancy and drummer Jordan Elfers. The band played as part of Nebraska Exposed, an unofficial South by Southwest showcase headed by Gibson, as well as two other SXSW showcases.

Gibson said the band is heavily influenced by heavy metal bands of the ‘70s and ‘80s — namely Black Sabbath — and other psychedelic heavy metal bands of the past decade — like German power metal band Horizont.

“We make music you can listen to in the car without making anyone uncomfortable — grandma and grandchild can listen to it,” Gibson said. “But we still keep it heavy, we keep it fun, we keep it with a lot of energy. It’s that way by design.”

Laughing Falcon, a heavy stoner rock band hailing from Lincoln, Nebraska, plays one of their songs off their "Sonic Possession" album at an unofficial South by Southwest showcase, Nebraska Exposed on March 14. Video by Kaitlin Pennell

Laughing Falcon formed in 2011 in response to a collective desire to pursue a more serious music project, as all members are vying to become professional musicians.

“We’ve always been in and out of bands, but we want to be bigger than hometown heroes,” Gibson said. “We wanted to be on tour more and wanted to be on the road more. The end goal is to make it our jobs.”

When they’re not busy booking and playing gigs, Laughing Falcon band members work other jobs. Christiancy works as a county clerk for the Lancaster County Court, Chasek is a tattoo artist, Elfers is a bartender and Gibson works at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln as an assistant director and research assistant.

“This is definitely more fun for me,” Chritsitancy said.

Laughing Falcon band members are no strangers to SXSW or to touring — they have all played in various shows with different bands across the country. Though each city they’ve played at is sometimes separated by hundreds of miles, Gibson said the crowds seem to stay the same — they stay fun.

“There’s different feelings in different towns, for sure,” Gibson said. “Austin is such a crapshoot — if you’re playing the right show … you can always find friends and fans there. People are generally here to see music, so it’s always fun to play at South by. Navigating the crowds is not fun. Getting the gear anywhere is not fun. But the people are always fun.”

Christiancy said that although his friends who live in Austin dip out for the week of South by to avoid the crowds, he still enjoys the festival every year when it comes around.

“I really like Austin,” Chritiancy said. “I’d like to see it when it’s not South by, though. It’s really not all that different than [Lincoln] — it’s not as spread out over there.”

Laughing Falcon has one album out now called “Sonic Possession,” available on all music-buying outlets. The band is set to start a new two-week Midwest tour starting at the end of April. For the summer, Laughing Falcon will be in the studio recording a new album.

Nebraska artists get the spotlight at SXSW

The Nebraska Exposed showcase is in its third year since its inception and highlights various artists based in Nebraska, all of whom fall under a wide range of music genres. The showcase was held at the Cheers Shot Bar rooftop on Wednesday, March 14.

Laughing Falcon’s bassist Gibson played a pivotal role in organizing the event by working with sponsors, the Cheers owners and other bands to help give an opportunity for Nebraska-natives to have some time under the spotlight.

Gibson said when he was scouting for new talent to play at the showcase, he was looking for more than just the “hometown hero” element.

“It’s not a group of people who are only hometown heroes — that’s not what we’re concerned about,” Gibson said. “We ask the people who we know are already touring and who are already on the road, ‘Can you build a tour around coming to South by?’ If they can, they have a spot with us at Nebraska Exposed. If not, oh well.

“We use this as a stepping stone for people so they know they have at least one solid show in Austin they can then build off of,” Gibson added.

A few names on the Nebraska Exposed lineup included rapper HAKIM, comedians Joey Zimmerman and Audrey Farnham, post-hardcore band Better Friend, indie dance rock band State Disco and Hip-Hop/soul duo Khari the Duo.

Featured Image: Members of Nebraska’s Laughing Falcon band, from left to right: vocalist Kevin Chasek, bassist Kyle Gibson, guitarist Nate Christiancy and drummer Jordan Elfers. The Laughing Falcon played at South by Southwest as part of Nebraska Exposed, an unofficial showcase on March 14 at Cheers Shot Bar. Photo courtesy of Kyle Gibson

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Kaitlin Pennell

Kaitlin Pennell

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