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Omaha Magazine

Let’s Make Some Sound!

Dec 21, 2023 03:32PM ● By Claudia Moomey
gallivant ac music january february 2024

Photo by Bill Sitzmann.

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Fans might say it’s the tube socks and tattered jean shorts. Others will argue it’s the frenzied hair flips and frenetic moshing. Whatever the allure, Gallivant has established itself as an Omaha rock band that doesn’t just shred; it also connects to audiences in a way that keeps crowds chanting, “One more song!” at the end of every performance.

Gallivant, simply put, likes to get loud—and so, too, does its fanbase.

The trio, consisting of Sam Hayes, Josh Craig, and Joe Donnelly, styles itself as “a three-piece, party style, riff-based rock band that sets a high bar for the new age of rock and roll music.” 

Gallivant has an extensive repertoire, which includes covers from head-banging favorites like Led Zeppelin, Van Halen, and Black Sabbath, among others. The band  also boasts two original albums, with a third on the horizon. Their debut record, 2017’s "Leavenworth," served as a tribute to one of downtown Omaha’s main drags with lyrics referencing the sights, sounds, and people common along Leavenworth Street. 

And it's here I make my way around. From 30th to downtown. And It's here I like to get down. The party's happening, so lets make some sound. 

Two years later, the triple threat continued making sound and added new listeners with "Celestials," an album that showcased more of the band members’ vocal and multi-instrumental abilities. 

Gallivant’s origins trace to when the founding members were still college students. Hayes remembered, “Josh and I met through our guitar teacher, Guy Somers; we were his teacher’s assistants.” The two rapidly became friends, playing music to advertise for their instructor. “We met Joe in our second year of college at Iowa Western in 2014. He knew how to play, like, every instrument, so our band teacher called him ‘Flex,’” Hayes laughed. 
Joe joined.

“The rest is history,” Hayes reflected. “2015 is when we really started rolling.”

Roll they do, or more precisely, rock and roll. Gallivant’s live performances have developed a cult following due, in part, to the band members’ habit of switching instruments. Each of the three plays drums, bass guitar, and electric guitar, with Hayes, Craig, and Donnelly fluidly rotating among themselves on stage. 

Gallivant performs widely in Omaha, including at popular live music venues like Barnato, the Slowdown, the Waiting Room, and the Reverb Lounge. They also play nationally with recent shows in California, Arizona, and Colorado, among other states.

During road trips that sometimes span as long as 26 hours, the band finds ways to unwind. “I like to go find record stores,” shared Hayes, who has a proclivity for 70s vinyl. “Sometimes we get enough time to go skating,” Craig commented, while Donnelly wryly added, “We went tandem biking, which was a first in life. We jump off rocks into water. Go hiking, then fall down the mountain.” 

This grueling tour schedule doesn’t come easily. “It’s a lot of work,” Donnelly admitted. “I basically created a template of who we are, and what I do is basically meet people, and I coordinate from there. Then it’s kind of going down a rabbit hole of who to talk to for scheduling.” 

Gallivant is seeing this strategy pay dividends, with shows already on the band’s calendar for the fall. “We get a lot of offers for shows that we have to turn down, because we’ve already been booked for three months,” Hayes said.

The trio’s favorite audience engagement tactic, aside from accepting fan offerings of free beer, involves jumping into the crowd while playing. Craig, often stationed behind the drums when Hayes and Donnelly join the fray, enjoys the spectacle. “I like it,” he confessed. “It’s always fun to see them go out in the crowd and see people getting hyped. I get to people watch a little bit; I feel like they’re watching me the whole night, but then I get to watch them.”

Gallivant has teased some new songs during recent shows. “It has been too long, but when it [the new album] comes out, it will be really worth it. This next run of music is going to be our most thought-out, put-together music that we’ve ever done, so we’re taking our time,” Donnelly said.

“With our new music, we’re actually going to have a whole new show,” he continued. “We’re going to have even more professional elements to our show that you’re not going to see a lot of around. New, exciting stuff. It’s not going to be just what you think it will. It’s going to be sweet.” 

For more information, follow Gallivant’s social media @gallivantomaha. Their music can be found on most streaming platforms.

This article originally appeared in the January/February 2024 issue of Omaha Magazine. To subscribe, click here. 
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