by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com
Following up on yesterday’s blog entry about the demolition of the Omaha Civic Auditorium, it brings up the question: Why doesn’t Omaha get arena shows like it used to, or at least any good arena shows?
In fact, the term “Nomaha” has become a thing lately — the word signifies another fantastic tour that has been announced with no Omaha date, i.e., Nomaha. In the old days, back in the ’70s and ’80s, Omaha was known as a rock town and was a recognized tour stop for most arena-rock tours. Styx, Van Halen, Aerosmith, Yes, Boston all those classic rock bands they now play on Z-92 played at the Civic Auditorium. There’s a reason why Grand Funk name-checked Omaha in “We’re an American Band.”
When was the last time you saw a good concert at CenturyLink? The most recent arena rock show that comes to mind was that Ozzy Osborne tour kick-off. No one plays CenturyLink except shiny, crappy children’s acts like Bieber and Taylor Swift, pick-up truck country stars or has-been legacy acts. If you want to see a “larger-drawing” quality modern rock band, you’re very likely going to have to drive to Kansas City, Denver or Minneapolis because they rarely stop in Omaha any more.
Part of it is a change in rock music styles — music just ain’t the same as it was 30 years ago and probably never will be again. That said, there are plenty of arena acts still out there I’d like to see. Off the top of my head: LCD Sound System, Arcade Fire, Radiohead, Beck, Tame Impala, add your favorite to the list. A quick check shows that through the balance of the year CenturyLink has two concerts scheduled: Jimmy Buffett and Def Leppard. That’s it.
So why, when it comes to arena shows, has Omaha become fly-over (or drive-by) country? I haven’t a clue. Could it be that MECA doesn’t know what its doing? Could it be the cost and/or hassle associated with CenturyLink? Could it be the prominence of the festival circuit cuts down on available dates? Could it be that Omaha simply can’t draw a crowd large enough to justify booking these high-dollar ticket acts?
Look, we’re lucky we get the small- and mid-sized indie shows we do get, thanks to 1% Productions and Perpetual Nerves. And some larger shows do make it to Stir Cove and Sumter. I guess I’m just nostalgic about the old Civic Auditorium days…
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Speaking of arena-quality rock bands, tonight an act that would have been right at home at the Civic Auditorium is taking the stage at fabulous O’Leaver’s. Of course I’m talking about Pro-Magnum, who tonight celebrates the release of their new single, “Desinfectar” b/w “Black Iron Tongue” (which you can hear and buy digitally right here). Also on the bill is Des Moines psych-metal band Druids (described as being influenced by metal behemoths such as Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath and Mastodon). Local doom rockers Super Moon opens. $5, 9:30 p.m. Pick up the vinyl while you can.
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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2016 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.