Live Review: the remodeled Reverb Lounge, Dead Letters, Las Cruxes…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 1:30 pm September 21, 2020
Dead Letters at Reverb Lounge Sept. 19, 2020.

As we all know, when the pandemic first emerged this past spring bars and music venues were forced to shut down. Many of them are still closed. Reverb Lounge in Benson took the downtime as an opportunity to remodel their club, and the changes they’ve made are pretty awesome.

The walls have been torn down that separated the performance space from the rest of the bar, turning the venue into one large open facility. Once you see it you’ll wonder why they didn’t do it in the first place. Reverb is now a single room with a bar on one end and a stage on the other. The sound and lighting (as before) are among the best in town, but now you can watch and hear while seated at the bar.

The view of the remodeled Reverb Lounge from the back of the room behind the bar near the restrooms. Sight lines are on point throughout the club.

This change would appear to broaden the options for the kind of performers One Percent books at Reverb. With the old, isolated performance room, they were limited because the capacity was only a little more than 100. Now the performance capacity is probably twice that (or more if they take out the tables), with great sight lines from anywhere in the bar. The possibilities are exciting… once we get past the pandemic.

Saturday night’s show required all patrons be seated. Three low-top tables were placed right below the stage while four high-top tables were placed further back. Were the tables six foot apart? Maybe, but the person sitting at the table behind us was definitely closer than six feet away. Everyone not on stage wore a mask when they weren’t seated. Once seated, the masks could come down, just like in restaurants. This was the first time I’ve felt a tad bit squeamish at a public space. You’d have to be pretty trusting to sit at one of those low-tops right below where the vocalist was belting out his songs without wearing a mask. The club was limited to 25 percent, so if you felt uncomfortable you could always move back to one of the booths or by the bar and see just fine.

First up was the debut of Dead Letters. The trio, consisting of two former members of Well-Aimed Arrows — drummer/vocalist Koly Walter and bassist Brian Byrd — along with guitarist/vocalist Mark Johnson (Places We Slept), is clearly influenced by the early R.E.M., if you didn’t catch that by their name. Byrd drives everything from his base, forming the backbone of the melodies while Walter and Johnson take turns on lead vocals. There’s some Well-Aimed overhang on a couple songs, but overall this is more tuneful than that band, less brittle and a lot more fun. They only played for about 20 minutes and left me wanting more. Watch for them.

Las Cruxes at Reverb Lounge, Sept. 19, 2020.

Las Cruxes was next. The last time I saw them play they crowded the stage with two drummers and two or three guitarists, but Saturday night they performed as a trio (a keyboard was set up but was left untouched all night). Having seen them in both big and small formats, my suggestion is to keep it as a trio. While frontman Ed Trujillo is the centerpoint with his great guitar work, the rhythm section keeps things rolling (no matter who’s playing drums). I may not understand a word he’s singing but punk is a universal language and Las Cruxes speaks it very well.

I was told the new business plan for Reverb is that it’ll only be open if it’s hosting live shows. That being the case, it’ll be awhile until you’re able to check it out. The next show is Oct. 3 featuring Norfolk band The Begats.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily (if there’s news) 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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Maha announces 2021 festival dates; Reverb to reopen Aug. 29…

Category: Blog — Tags: , — @ 12:52 pm August 3, 2020
The Maha Music Festival is back July 28-Aug. 1, 2021.

The folks behind the Maha Music Festival today announced the show will go on, July 28 through Aug. 1, 2021.

No location was mentioned in the press release except for “at multiple venues throughout the Omaha area.”

With social distancing and other safety measures in mind, holding the festival over five days will support our vision of offering an array of flexible programming so you really can ‘build your own adventure,’” said Maha Executive Director Lauren Martin. “It’s a whole year from now, but we’re so excited to share what we’ve been creating and hope it can be a highlight for the community to look forward to.” Locations, safety protocol, ticket prices, lineups, and all other details will be rolled out as the event gets closer, the press release concludes.

One would hope – hope – that COVID will be in our rear-view mirror by July 28, 2021, but who would have thought back in March that we’d be where we are now?

The multiple venue concept sounds intriguing, though I have to believe if they’re going to host a Lizzo-sized performer, they’re still going to need one large venue for that evening. It would be cool to see the festival become a hybrid of large-event concerts and small-venue SXSW-style gigs. But to do it effectively would require close proximity of venues, unless they intend to move the party all over the city from night to night. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

* * *

An Aug. 29 electronic/DJ show will mark the reopening of the newly remodeled Reverb Lounge, according to the gig’s Facebook invitation.

Reverb Lounge opens its newly renovated venue with an intriguing look, offering a freshly created airy, open space, with DOUBLE the sound and DOUBLE the lighting,” says the post, adding that capacity for the event is 60 people, which I assume is due to COVID restrictions. Artists listed for this $5 show are Grim Ether, String Theory, DJ Super Paul and Loveland.

The first national touring indie act slated for Reverb is Minnesota’s Night Moves Sept. 19, whose album, Can You Really Find Me, was produced by Spoon’s Jim Eno and released on Domino Records last year. Let’s hope this one doesn’t get rescheduled.

* * *

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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Reverb Lounge remodels before reopening; RESTART venue support legislation gets final push before August recess…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:00 pm July 22, 2020
Reverb Lounge: Under Construction

The above picture was posted on the Reverb Lounge Facebook page last week and shows that there no longer is a wall separating the venue’s music performance space from the bar. The remodel is one of the reasons why Reverb hasn’t reopened yet.

Marc Leibowitz, who runs Reverb along with business partner Jim Johnson, said the wall coming down is the biggest part of the venue’s remodel. “We are doubling the PA that covers the whole space, but not many other changes really,” he said. “Reverb will now be a full-time venue. It will only be open when there is an event.”

While Reverb’s separate performance room was unique, it was also strangely antiseptic, almost clinical in nature, as if you were entering an examination room, whereas the rest of Reverb felt like a (clean) lived-in corner bar. Making the venue one large room will be as dramatic a change as when The Waiting Room “opened up” its stage area a few years back — a huge improvement. With the wall down, Reverb’s performance-space capacity will increase, which could mean larger, more popular bands playing its stage.

Leibowitz said Reverb will reopen sometime in August. Now what about The Slowdown?

Jason Kulbel, who runs The Slowdown, said the reopening date for the downtown venue is still up in the air, as the club is in the process of moving all its scheduled August shows. “The two touring shows we had postponed late last week, so that forced the hand,” he said.

Touring appears to be dead. Just glancing at band promo materials in my in-box, there are no national tours going on this year; in fact, I’m not seeing anything for 2021, either.

And beginning late last week I finally began seeing a few impassioned pleas by artists for people to write Congress to get on board with the RESTART Act (S. 3814), legislation being pushed by the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA). I was going to write a column about it for next month’s issue of The Reader, until I found out from NIVA that would probably be too late.

“We need to have legislation passed by the August recess or we can expect hundreds of independent venues across the country to fold,” said Audrey Fix Schaefer, NIVA’s communications director. The Senate’s August recess begins Aug. 7, and the weasels aren’t scheduled to return until Sept. 8. Never mind that the country is suffering from a 100-year pandemic.

Schaefer said the list of co-sponsors “grows every day,” which is another reason for an all-out push to send a letter to our congressmen. Unfortunately, we live in Nebraska, where our red politicians could give a shit about art, culture and the future of live music.

But that shouldn’t stop you from going to the NIVA “Take Action page” and adding your name to the list of those who sent a letter urging Fischer, Sasse and Bacon to support and cosponsor S. 3814/H.R. 7481, the RESTART Act. If you’re gonna do it, do it now. It takes less than a minute to fill out the form.

You may get back the same form letter I got from Deb Fischer, which boasts about the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll.

But PPP loans are only fully forgivable if companies keep all of their employees on the payroll or rehire them within eight weeks of receiving the loan, which most venues can’t do.

Fischer, Sasse and Bacon know this, but do they care?

Every year, more and more talented people, musicians, artists and young professionals are moving out of Nebraska to places like LA, Portland, Seattle and New York, and politicians are left scratching their heads wondering why-why-why?

You have efforts like Blueprint Nebraska, whose “vision” is: “Our people, land, and location will propel Nebraska to be the most welcoming Midwest state for youth, talent, investment, and commerce and a national model for continuous growth and prosperity.

What a joke. The number one reason young people are leaving this state is its political and social environment. They’re tired of living in a red state that doesn’t care about anything but its perceived “family values,” and which views the arts as some sort of frivolous, childish novelty that has no intrinsic value. The lack of support by our representatives for the RESTART Act is proof of this. Once the young artists, musicians and professionals begin to realize that things will never change, they start looking for a better place to live, a place that values what they can offer. And who can blame them?

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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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Waiting Room/Reverb possible mid-June reopening; Live (stream) Review: Little Brazil, NAWAS…

Landon Hedges belts out a high note during Little Brazil’s live streamed concerted from The Slowdown last Saturday night.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Yet another great live streaming event from The Slowdown Saturday night with Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship and Little Brazil.

As with last Thursday’s Slowdown show, everything looked and sounded like a network television concert production. Both bands were on point. The COVID shutdown apparently hasn’t dulling these musicians’ chops, as they sounded as good as ever.

Anecdotally — i.e., based on what I saw from the view counter on the screen — just under 100 people were concurrently watching Saturday night’s NAWAS/Little Brazil stream concert vs. around 60 for Thursday’s No Thanks/Marcey Yates stream show. Will we ever get to see these two concerts uploaded to the internet for replay? Who knows.

It’s unlikely that The Slowdown will host any more live stream concerts in the foreseeable future, especially when they’re trying to get the place ready for a (hopefully) late-June reopening.

If you didn’t read the comments from Slowdown’s Jason Kulbel last Saturday about what’s involved in reopening his club, go take a look.

One Percent Productions major domo Marc Leibowitz says Reverb and The Waiting Room also won’t be reopening on June 1, but rather sometime mid-June. He said keep your eyes peeled for a new show announcement that will mark The Waiting Room’s reopening, with Reverb possibly reopening at the same time or soon after.

Obviously all the capacity rules outlined Saturday also will apply to Waiting Room/Reverb unless Ricketts changes rules before they reopen. Again, we’re talking bars at a 50 percent capacity, venues at 25 percent capacity, all with 6-foot spacing between groups, limited numbers allowed in bathrooms, all kinds of fun rules that will be a pain in everyone’s ass but necessary until the pandemic is under control or there’s a vaccine.

I’m still waiting to hear O’Leaver’s plans (maybe we’ll find out later this week?) and also when The Brothers will reopen. You’ll know when I know.

No doubt masks will be part of the dress code anywhere you go. I like to think folks around here are smarter than, say, the idiots in that swimming pool in Branson, MO. Yes, wearing a mask is a drag, but it’s what’s going to get us through this pandemic while a vaccine is developed.


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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Live Review: Low; Stardeath & White Dwarfs, State Disco tonight; HN legal workshop, Christopher the Conquered Saturday; Mason Jennings Sunday…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 2:21 pm November 13, 2015

Low111215
by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Walking into Reverb at just after 9:30 the show still wasn’t sold out, but it was close. Only a few tickets remained, and they likely got sold before Low took the stage at 10 p.m. So yes, it was a sold-out show (probably). And easily the most crowded show I’ve attended at Reverb.

Once through the sound-room door I was met by a dense crowd watching as opening singer/songwriter Andy Shauf was seated performing his set with an acoustic guitar. His singing style was a cross between Elliott Smith and a hearing-impaired Russian sailor. At first I thought Shauf was singing in a different language, until I listened more closely and picked out a few familiar words in English, words like “love” and “death.”

Still, I figured Shauf must be a visitor in our country, until he spoke between songs with a clear North American accent, which quickly disappeared as he began his next song, returning again to his affected, foreign, nasal croon. His songs were pretty, and I’ll be checking out Shauf’s recordings later (hopefully they’re in English).

Low came on right at 10 — Alan Sparhawk standing with guitar stage right, bassist Steve Garrington stage left seated behind a keyboard, and Mimi Parker seated behind a trap set. Sparhawk and Parker have aged only a little since the last time I saw them play, about 10 years ago at Sokol Underground. Their pitch-perfect intertwining vocals still carry the same amount of heart-break and dread as they ever did.

The set-list was identical to what they played at First Ave. the night before (where they kicked off this leg of their current tour). “Monkey” from The Great Destroyer was an early set highlight, only surpassed by a dark, ominous version of “Pissing” (also off Great Destroyer) that built from Low’s usual quiet stance to a crashing sonic nightmare that ended with Sparhawk screaming into his guitar pushed overhead against his face. Intense.

The majority of the set consisted of songs from new album Ones and Sixes (Sub Pop, 2015), including a rich take on album favorite “Lies.” The new stuff sits seamlessly with the old stuff. Over the course of two decades Low has added more noise, more guitar, even pop-fueled moments (How else to describe the uptempo rock of “Part of Me,” also off the new album?), but ultimately retained their patented “slowcore” style — stripped down, simple, stark and at times beautifully dreadful.

The only deviation from the First Ave. set was the encore. After a crashing version of “Landslide” (also from the new album), the band left the stage and came back for a two-song encore (instead of four the night prior) that included a gorgeous take on “Sunflower” (from Things We Lost in the Fire) and favorite “When I Go Deaf.”

Startling stuff, enhanced by the fact that it was performed in such a small space. Maybe too small, as I spent the evening crushed against one of Reverb’s new drink rails that are mounted along the stage-left wall, forced to shift from one foot to the other to see around a fat-headed dude standing in front me. Whattaya gonna do? Last night also was the first time that I noticed noise bleed coming from The Waiting Room, where Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers were playing — a steady thump-thump-thump that cut into the silent moments of Low’s set. Sparhawk and Co. struck back as only they could — with the full force of their instruments during the encore, leaving me wondering if the poor saps at the Clyne show were getting a taste of what we were hearing…

* * *

After a couple solid shows this week, we’re left with a pretty quiet weekend.

Tonight Stardeath and White Dwarfs headlines at The Sydney. The four-piece psych-rock band from Norman, Oklahoma, includes none other than Wayne Coyne’s nephew Dennis Coyne on lead vox. Surf-rockers Sub-Vectors open. $10, 9 p.m.

Also tonight State Disco headlines at Reverb Lounge with AZP and Rothsteen. $10, 9 p.m. BTW, Reverb now hosts all-ages shows, if you didn’t know (I didn’t until last night).

Meanwhile, at fabulous O’Leaver’s, it’s Fitness 000010, featuring Bus Gas, Big Slur and Ridgelines. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Tomorrow night (Saturday) it’s back to O’Leaver’s for Christopher the Conquered, with Bazile Mills and Tenenbaums. $7, 9:30 p.m.

Also worth mentioning for you musicians , Hear Nebraska is hosting a free workshop called Protect Yourself and Your Music: Legal Advice for Musicians, Saturday afternoon from 1 to 2:15 p.m at the TipTop Building. U of N Law students will talk and take questions about such things as copyright law, licensing, contracts, streaming services, performance rights, in other words, all the things you should know if you’re going to be a working musician. If friggin’ free, so go! More info here.

Finally, indie-folk singer/songwriter Mason Jennings headlines at The Slowdown Sunday night. S. Carey opens. $27 Adv/$30 DOS. Starts at 8 p.m

And O’Leaver’s ends the weekend with Fort Collins dream-pop band Sound of Ceres, along with The Sunks, Chalant and Little Ripple Sunday night at 9. $7.

That’s all I got. If I missed your show, put it in the comments section. Have a great weekend.

* * *

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 © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Live Review: Sucettes, Simon Joyner & the Ghosts, Skeleton Man; let the holiday week begin…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 1:49 pm November 24, 2014

The Sucettes at Reverb Lounge Nov. 22, 2014.

The Sucettes at Reverb Lounge Nov. 22, 2014.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Someone asked me if Saturday night’s Simon Joyner and the Ghosts show at Reverb was a “top-5 Joyner set.” I’m not sure what that’s supposed to mean. Every Joyner set is different and interesting in its own way. How you compare them, I don’t know.

Over the years I’ve gotten as much out of Joyner’s various solo acoustic sets as I have his wonky-bordering-on-experimental band sets performed at Sokol Underground and O’Leaver’s as I did his more “polished” sets, like when he opened for Bright Eyes at The Rose Theater way back when. The beauty and wonder of Joyner performances is that you never know what you’re going to get, though over the past few years, Simon and the Ghosts have become more predictable, more musically confident and (perhaps) less experimental. His music also feels more upbeat, more rocking, especially the handful of new songs from his forthcoming record, Grass, Branch, and Bone, out on Woodsist next year. I’m looking forward that album as much or more than any of his past efforts.

Ghosts bassist Alec Erickson was AWOL Saturday night. Megan Siebe, who usually handles organ and violin, filled in, though pedal-steel/keyboardist Mike Friedman also handled bass chores on a few numbers.  I won’t say it was a top-5 show, but it was in the upper third of the 50 or so Joyner shows I’ve witnessed over the years.

Simon Joyner and the Ghosts at Reverb, Nov. 22, 2014.

Simon Joyner and the Ghosts at Reverb, Nov. 22, 2014.

The Sucettes, who opened Saturday night, is the most “realized” Dave Goldberg-fueled band since his Carsinogents days. The lineup is Goldberg switching between keyboards and drums, Jeremiah McIntyre on bass and vocals, Genie Molkentine on vocals, drums and keyboards, Todd VonStup on guitar and CJ Olson on guitar. The band’s music sounds like an extension of what Goldberg and McIntyre were doing in Box Elders, though the arrangements are more filled out. This is a fun band to watch, centered on Goldberg, who is the preeminent stage performer — you can’t keep your eyes off him. Joyner joined Sucettes for their set closer, a scorching cover of the Minutemen’s “Jesus and Tequila.”

In the center slot was Skeleton Man, a droning psychedelic band fronted by Kevin Donahue (Ghosts drummer) on guitar/vocals that also featured fellow Ghost Megan Siebe, who might be the hardest working musician in Omaha these days. Now when someone asks me what “drug music” sounds like, I can point to this band, whose trippy drone felt like Pink Floyd on acid (Is there any other kind of Pink Floyd?). They only played four songs, but their set closer rolled on for 20 minutes of rhythmic noise, capped by Donahue’s undecipherable vocals/wailing.

This was the largest crowd I’ve seen at Reverb, and with the collection of local musicians in the audience, it felt like a coming out party for the club. The room’s sound gets better with every visit. It’s only been open for a few months and it already is getting a rep for being one of the city’s best music venues.

* * *

No shows tonight, but it’s going to be a busy week. It always is during the holidays. You may want to get tickets to tomorrow night’s Desa show in advance…

* * *

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 © 2014 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Reverb: Omaha’s Mid-Century live music lounge (in the column); and how many bars are in Benson, anyway?

Category: Blog,Interviews — Tags: , , — @ 1:01 pm October 2, 2014

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

A look inside the new Reverb Lounge as well as some Q&A with one of its owners, Jim Johnson, is the subject of my column this week. Jim talks about his vision for the club and why One Percent decided to open another bar literally feet away from two other bars they own. It’s in this week’s issue of The Reader and online right here.

As I say in the column, I foresee that I’ll be spending a lot of time at Reverb. As Omaha continues to get bigger and bigger, I’m spending more and more time in a smaller geographical location — i.e., Benson. Back in the old days, going to shows would mean driving to way south to Sokol, to downtown Omaha, out to The Asylum on West Center, and so on. These days most of my time is spent on Maple Street, with the occasional trek to O’Leaver’s. I haven’t been to The Slowdown in a few months (due to a combination of factors including 1) going to fewer mid-week shows, 2) Slowdown booking more private functions on weekends, along with 3) Slowdown booking fewer indie shows).

My coverage is definitely becoming too Benson focused, both in this blog and in my column. There is a world west of 72nd Street, though these days, I rarely step foot in it. And with clubs like Reverb opening, I’m less apt to.

So what’s the current bar count in Benson? Let’s see (not counting restaurants that serve booze): Jerry’s, Full House, Beercade, Krug Park, The Waiting Room, Burke’s, 1912, The Sydney, The Musette, St. Andrews, Benson Brewery, Infusion, Jake’s, The Barley Street and now Reverb. That’s 15 (and I’m probably missing something). That’s a lot of bars in about a half-mile stretch of road.

You have to ask yourself if there’s enough people to keep them all afloat.

BTW, news to me (though probably news to no one else), Jim told me that The Waiting Room is only open when an event or show is booked. Did not know that.

Some other comments that didn’t make it into the column:

— There will be tables and chairs added to Reverb’s concert space when appropriate. Jim is even considering adding row seating for some performances.

— There are no TVs in Reverb, nor video games or pinball.

— Jim said they’ll be adding some “sound treatment” to the concert room in the near future.

Again, you really need to check it out, whether there’s a show scheduled (check out their website to see) or not. And man, they make a potent mai tai.

* * *

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 © 2014 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Live Review: Sebadoh and the debut of Reverb’s concert space…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:54 pm September 29, 2014

Sebadoh at Reverb Lounge, Sept. 28, 2014.

Sebadoh at Reverb Lounge, Sept. 28, 2014.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

First off, there will be a full write-up about Reverb in this week’s column, a detailed look at the place and what it means in the larger picture of the Omaha music scene. That’s out Thursday. This is a review of last night’s kick-off show, and man, it was a bumpy ride.

The problems with the vocal PA seemed obvious during See Through Dresses’ opening set. Instrumentally, the band sounded great, you just couldn’t hear the vocals, they were dead or gone from the first note. Who to blame — was it something the band was doing wrong on stage or was it the sound guy? The vocals were simply buried in the mix and stayed that way.

Then came Sebadoh. Let’s not make more out of the incident than it was. By the second song, Lou Barlow was clearly irritated. “Can you hear me?” About a dozen hands went up with thumbs pointed at the ceiling, indicating more vocals. Barlow apologized, saying it was the first show for the club, that it “sounded like shit,” and mentioned something about giving the crowd its money back.

Then he left took off his guitar and left the stage. Jason Loewenstein, sporting a bass at this point in the set, looked up and said, “What did you guys say?” A few moments later, Barlow returned to a smattering of applause before kicking into their next song, which had virtually non-existent vocals. Then they went right into “On Fire” and things got noticeably better as two sound guys poured over the digital sound board trying to figure out what was wrong.

Next, Barlow’s amp broke. “I guess this room doesn’t like guitars.” Loewenstein came to the rescue with a spare guitar pedal and the show went on, and by the next song or two, the vocals gradually got better. By the end of the first Barlow-sung portion of the set, Lou could be heard fairly clearly, but the PA never had the necessary heft to really cut through the rest of the band’s equipment.

After Loewenstein’s set, Barlow apologized again. “Sorry I was so pouty earlier. I ran off stage to drink some wine and when I got back the sound was better.

I assume the band did a sound check earlier in the afternoon. If they had, they would have noticed the problem (It wasn’t one of those deals where “the crowd muffled the mix” — Reverb is way too small for that). Did something happen between sound check and the first set? Who knows.

A look at the crowd from the edge of the stage during See Through Dresses' set.

A look at the crowd from the edge of the stage during See Through Dresses’ set.

It was an inauspicious start for a new club with lots of promise. Located through the main lounge, entering the performance room is like walking into a sound stage, albeit a tiny sound stage. I couldn’t believe how small the room looked. It is, in essence, a gray box with a stage raised about four feet off the ground built into the wall. Maybe it was the high ceilings or the lack of tables and chairs, but the room seemed downright microscopic. The performance space is definitely bigger than The Barley Street’s or Sweatshop’s, but is it bigger than O’Leaver’s? I don’t know.

With its poured concrete floors, gray paint, no windows and exposed ceiling, the room is austere. The only decoration is a series of black-and-white concert photos that line the room at eye level, further accentuating the high ceiling. Then there’s the stage itself. Small, back-curtained with LED spotlight racks mounted on the ceiling in front of and behind the band. The only outcrop in the room is the sound board in the back directly facing the stage.

With all that concrete, featureless walls and high ceiling, I expected the sound to be brash and bouncy and was pleasantly surprised at how well directed it sounded. No doubt it was loud — bands aren’t going to need much to fill the space, which will help keep the sound down in the main lounge (where, no surprise, you could clearly hear the band during the set).

I’m no audio engineer, but the flaw seems to be the vocal PA. (From what I could see) the system has two smallish overhead arrays and a couple subs built under the stage. I didn’t have a chance to check out the stage monitors. As Barlow said himself a couple times from stage, hey, this is the first show. Give it time and this is going to be a great room.

The performance itself was solid. Barlow’s getting shaggy in his old age, with a big head of hair and a massive beard. His voice was as good as ever (when I could hear it). Loewenstein also was in fine form (especial on his personal anthem, “My Drugs”), despite suffering from a tooth ache (They’ll be looking for an oral surgeon today). Ouch.

One Percent said they sold 115 tickets and purposely kept the number at that level to make for a comfortable show, and comfortable it was. Moving around the room was easy, with plenty of space against the back wall and good sight lines throughout. I guess the room is bigger than I thought.

Having a second exit along the opposite side of the soundboard makes exiting easy. I’d like to see the room “warmed up” a bit aesthetically – it’s rather sterile and barren now. That said, it is indeed an intimate experience. It definitely felt like a private show. Someone said “I’d pay $200 to see Sonic Youth in this room.” Now wouldn’t that be killer?

* * *

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 © 2014 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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