It was a hot, crowded night at O’Leaver’s Saturday for Box Elders and Iowa City’s Bent Scepters. I missed BE, but squeezed in just in time for the Scepters. The five-piece takes the garage rock stuff to a cleaner, more professional level. Translated: They sound like they practice, whether they do or not. Or maybe it’s because they’ve been around the block longer than most local garage bands and they know these songs like the back of their hands. Some might call them “slick.” I call it catchy and clean and right-on from the moment they launched into their set. There’s no “warming up,” just spot-on Zombies’-style punk-and-roll that gets the girls dancing from the first song forward (guys too). And you rarely see dancing at O’Leaver’s.
It’s been a few weeks since I stepped into Omaha’s favorite stink-hole. Construction is most certainly under way. I didn’t get any specifics, but it looks like they’re creating a door that will connect to Mach’s new sandwich shop next door. Part of the wall that divides the “stage” area from the bathrooms looked like it was gone, too. Outside, the concrete has been poured for the new beer garden and is waiting for fencing — not just cyclone fencing, but apparently something a bit more… artistic. O’Leaver’s must have foreseen the upcoming change in Omaha’s public smoking laws announced last week, and should be ready to react when the (anticipated) hammer drops on smoking later this month. Can you imagine O’Leaver’s smoke-free? I can’t, either, though I talked to one person who said the ban will mark his return to the venue.
We’ll now find out sooner rather than later if there’s any truth to the old saw that a smoking ban will hurt — if not kill — tavern business. I’m skeptical that it will have any impact at all on music venues, as long as those venues have created an option that considers smoking — such as an outdoor smoking area or a way for people to leave their drinks somewhere so they can smoke on the sidewalk outside (TWR comes to mind, as I don’t know how they’ll be able to create an outdoor beer garden). The only taverns who will be crippled by the ban are the so-called “regulars bars” that cater to those folks who come in every night for smokes and booze. With no place to go, they’ll be staying home with a bottle and an ashtray heaped with dead butts — now isn’t that a lovely image?
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What better way to kick off the week than with an evening of brain-frying punk by a handful of Omaha’s best post-core rock bands? Tonight at The Waiting Room it’s a last-minute show featuring the mind-fuck stylings of Perry H. Matthews, the intricate prog-math genius of Fromanhole and hot new act The Yuppies. 9 p.m., $7.
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