The Holdup brings reggae beats to the Midwest

The Holdup performed their reggae-style music last Wednesday at the Waiting Room Lounge in Omaha’s Benson neighborhood. Photo by Dub Rock Records

By Ray Koch

When reggae music meets the Midwest, the crowd reaction may not be what you, or the band expects.

Last Wednesday,The Holdup, a reggae-style band based out of California, performed at the Waiting Room Lounge in Benson.Unbeknown To the band, Omaha is a hub for reggae music—specifically The Holdup.

For some odd reason, ever since the 2009 debut album, “Stay Gold” jumped to the top of the hip-hop charts, many Omaha natives have been a loyal and fervent fan base to the Santa Cruz band.

“I first heard of The Holdup when I was in middle school,” said Spencer Marxsen, an Omaha native who was present at the concert. “My brother showed me them and then I showed all my friends. When we would hang outwith other groups of people, they listened to the music too. I guess we just always thought they were super popular when we were younger.”

It turns out they really aren’t that popular. The Holdup is popular within the reggae community, but most of their following is on the West Coast and not in the great plains. Surely,the band hits the Midwest when they are touring, but the coasts are where the band expects the most-hype crowds to be. But when “The Holdup” came out and sang their first song, it seemed as if everyone in The Waiting Room crowd knew every word.

“Omaha, really? What the fu**. This is insane,” Mike Garmany, the lead singer of the group, said after ending the first song.“I had no idea you all were a little Holdup hub.”

The group took the stage at about 9:15p.m.and sang until about 11p.m. No matter the song—new or old, the entire crowd knew the lyrics and went crazy. They even left around 10p.m., but the crowd’s endless shouts of, “Encore!” brought back the band for another hour.

“I didn’t realize they were so small,” says Kaden Keplinger, another concert goer. “I thought they were huge because everyone listened to them.” However, there was one thing that some may have wanted a little more.

“I wish I could say there was a ton of crowd interaction, but there wasn’t,” Keplinger said. “But even still, you could tell he loved Omaha.”

It is true. Garmany never really talked to the crowd much except for the beginning and the end, but that could also because of the kind of person he is. Known for his whimsical lyricism about real life problems with fame and women is what he’s best known for. He gives off the impression of an introvert in extroverted environments in a lot of his songs. That’s why so many fans that know his music can connect with the feel-good beats of their songs.

The Holdup came in 2017 when they opened for Ballyhoo, but lifelong fans made it known they wanted a longer concert. That night half the crowd left before Ballyhoo ever made it on stage. They were only there to see The Holdup. 2018 brought fans that have been waiting to hear all their favorite songs live the best gift—a Jan.31 concert. It didn’t disappoint.