Hear Nebraska: Criteria plays past and present


November 19th, 2012

Omaha, NE – Omaha band Criteria plays The Waiting Room this Saturday night. As Michael Todd from Hear Nebraska reports, the band brings with them front man Steve Pedersen’s past and a life today that bears little resemblance to who he once was.

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Here’s a question: Who were you in 2001?

For Steve Pedersen, front man and songwriter of the Omaha band Criteria, 2001 means no job, no house and no family. It means the end of a relationship and the end of a band, a simpler life and a life far less fulfilling than the one he lives now.

As Pedersen’s toddler son John worked his way onto the coffee table in his gorgeous house in Omaha’s Fairacres neighborhood, he described a song written in 2001 that locked the year and its memories in time, a song called “The Coincidence.” “It was one of the first songs I started writing for whatever it was I was going to do after that band, and for whatever my life was going to be after that girlfriend,” Pedersen said, talking as his son struggled to get on the table. “OK, all right, you get up there, buddy,” he continued, helping him up.

Criteria in concert with front man Steve Pedersen. (Photo by Hear Nebraska)

After standing on the coffee table, John, “As cute and as cuddly as he is,” Pedersen said, was taken to the kitchen as Pedersen continued. “The song’s just kind of about liberating myself and maybe even making up some excuses for why the relationship with the band and the relationship with the woman ended,” he said.

Before moving to North Carolina for law school, Pedersen had helped build the Omaha music scene that was slowly beginning to surface on a national stage at the time. In 2001, he was graduating as his friends and former band mates in Cursive were becoming one of the Omaha music scene’s main ambassadors.

When he returned to Omaha, Pedersen helped form his band Criteria, which enjoyed about five years of regular releases and touring. Then life changed course yet again. “In about 2007, I changed my focus,” Pedersen said. “And because I was the songwriter and the singer, it forced everyone to change their focus. So I focused on my work, and worked a lot, and just tried to be as good at that as I was as a musician.”

“I put music to the side, and probably still do,” he continued. “Music is now a hobby for me. But in the last probably six months I’ve started writing songs again for the first time in about five years, and it just happened.”

Now, while Pedersen rekindles his craft of songwriting, he and the band also revisit the past in songs such as “The Coincidence.” He and his three band mates and friends in Criteria play the past and the present this Saturday at The Waiting Room with Landing on the Moon and Ideal Cleaners.

WEB EXTRA: Criteria calls itself “loud no matter the volume” and “big rock,” but classical music listeners might be surprised to learn that front man Pedersen listens to more classical than anything. Listen below to an explanation of how Pedersen’s traditional music leanings find their way into his songs.

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Hear Nebraska is a nonprofit cultural organization that cultivates the state’s vibrant, fertile music and arts community.

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