#TBT Stars at Slowdown Nov. 2007; Crushed Out, Hussies, Idlefox tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 12:46 pm September 21, 2017

#TBT: Stars play The Slowdown Nov. 5, 2007.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

I posted the above photo as a Throwback Thursday thing because I tripped into it while going through some old photos and was mesmerized by the sculpture that used to be wound among the rafters of The Slowdown. That sculpture was made out of buckets, if I remember correctly, and stayed up in the ceiling for a few months. They should have just kept it up there.

As for Stars, as I said in the review: “Nearly 400 diehard Stars fans got more than their money’s worth last night at Slowdown — a set that lasted nearly two hours. The whole time, you could tell that Torquil Campbell and the rest of the band were thrilled to be there. In fact, they told the crowd so, over and over throughout their set, saying such glowing things like Slowdown was a gem ‘built on music.’ All night, band members would make their way to the microphones and say how proud they were to be there. It was kind of sweet and charming.”

Whatever happened to Stars? They’re still going strong

* * *

Tonight The Brothers Lounge, Brooklyn NY duo Crushed Out rolls into town. “The husband-wife duo of Moselle Spiller and Frankie Sunswept (born and raised in Los Angeles) draw deep from their shared love of ‘atomic’ 50’s rock ‘n’ roll, slide guitar blues, and SoCal surf creating a sound that delivers on all those things rock ‘n’ roll promised us so long ago.” Hussies are the actual headliners. Idlefox opens. $5, 9 p.m.

* * *

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 © 2017 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

The Best of The Waiting Room and The Slowdown; Jake Bellows, Sun-Less Trio, Mitch Gettman tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 12:33 pm June 9, 2017

Jake Bellows at the Hear Nebraska Vol. 3 album release show at The Waiting Room, April 18, 2015. Jake plays at The Sydney tonight…

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

The following also appears in the current issue of The Reader. It’s part 2 of coverage of the 10-year anniversary of The Waiting Room and The Slowdown. You can also read it online at The Reader website, here (but you won’t see the following pics)…

The Best of The Waiting Room and The Slowdown

The clubs’ owners list their favorite shows over the past 10 years.

by Tim McMahan

And now, the fun part.

What’s an article that celebrates a music venue’s 10-year anniversary without a list of the best shows performed at said venue? Considering that The Slowdown and The Waiting Room each host in the neighborhood of 150 shows per year, it’s hard to pick favorites.

In fact, when put on the spot, the clubs’ owners struggled to list their stand-outs, but with some gentle prodding, they came up with some zingers.

Jason Kulbel, who co-owns The Slowdown with Robb Nansel, pointed to the first Atmosphere concert hosted at his club. “He’s got this song, ‘Trying to Find a Balance,’ one of his bigger songs,” Kulbel recalled. “I was standing side stage during that song and have never seen the room freak out like that. Everyone in the room was moving as much as they possibly could.”

Kulbel also cited the last time Against Me! played Slowdown this past February. “It was the best Against Me! show I’ve ever seen,” he said. “I’ve probably seen 20 Against Me! shows. I love that they can kick that much ass this far into their lives.”

But maybe the biggest standout evening was a Stephen Malkmus show at Slowdown in 2008 held the same night Barack Obama won his first presidential election. “That’s definitely one of the better memories I have,” Kulbel said. “We had a plan to have the screen down so people could check the election results, and before (Malkmus) even went on it was clear that Obama had won. The band just got really drunk and everyone was having a great time. It was a very joyous night.”

Nansel also pointed to that Malkmus show as being on top of his list of favorites.

“Other milestones, of course, were opening night with Bright Eyes,” Nansel said, “and the Slowdown Virginia reunion show” from December 2010. Another classic Nebraska band, Polecat, opened that night.

Nansel listed a last-minute Broken Social Scene show hosted in Slowdown’s front room that came together when he bumped into the band on a day off from their tour and asked if they wanted to play his club. A last-minute show by The Notwist in the front room is another favorite, along with St. Vincent and The National “and of course all the Saddle Creek band shows, parking lot shows and GOO nights.”

Ah, those GOO nights, now there’s something I don’t regret missing.

When it comes to The Waiting Room, co-owner Marc Leibowitz pointed to early shows from Dr. Dog and Brother Ali as among his favorites. “Then we’ve had some legends play at The Waiting Room, like Steve Earle,” he said.

“Lee Ranaldo was just so f—-ing phenomenal the night he played The Waiting Room,” Leibowitz added. “Built to Spill was a very memorable night. Built to Spill had been playing Slowdown all the time. We got them to play The Waiting Room, and it was a big deal for us.”

Jim Johnson, co-owner of The Waiting Room, pointed to the first reunion of golden age Omaha punk band Mousetrap, who played his club in late December 2010.

“The Jonathan Richman / Vic Chesnutt show (from March 2008) was really important to me,” Johnson said. It was the last show Chesnutt would play in Omaha before his death in December 2009. Johnson also pointed to that time The Waiting Room hosted Steve Earle.

Leibowitz added that as One Percent Productions, he and Johnson are proud to put on shows anywhere “whether it’s at Slowdown, Sokol, The Holland Center or wherever, but putting on a show at The Waiting Room means more than putting shows on in someone else’s facility. It’s where our heart is.”

What were my favorite shows? At The Waiting Room, the first that jumps out is The Faint show held there just a couple days after the club opened on March 11, 2007. It was an invitation-only break-in of The Waiting Room’s sound system. The sub-woofers definitely got a workout that night.

Other Waiting Room favorites include St. Vincent, July 25, 2007 — Annie Clark on lead guitar fronting a punk band, she’s never sounded better. After finishing her set, she returned alone to do a cover of “These Days” Nico-style, sitting on the edge of the stage with an acoustic guitar, surrounded by fans bent close to hear her quiet voice.

Monotonix opening for Silver Jews Oct. 7, 2008 — The band took the show outside when drummer Ran Shimoni banged on a snare while frontman Ami Shalev climbed a traffic signal pole along Maple Street.

Future Islands at The Waiting Room, Nov. 2, 2011.

Then there’s the first Future Islands show at The Waiting Room November 2, 2011 — no one had heard of them yet, and only a handful of people were there, but frontman Sam Herring was at his flamboyant best.

Bob Nastanovich shakes a fan’s hand during his guest appearance at the Feb. 15 Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks show at The Waiting Room.

Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks Feb. 16, 2014, at The Waiting Room was like a mini Pavement reunion for an over-the-top rendition of “Unfair” off Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain that featured special guest Bob Nastanovich contributing his classic yelling.

My favorite shows at The Slowdown include Daniel Johnston and the Rayguns, Feb. 9, 2008 – You never know what you’re going to get when crazed genius Johnston comes to town. The highlight: When the crowd serenaded an absent Johnston with “Devil Town.”

Mogwai at The Slowdown May 11, 2009.

Mogwai at The Slowdown May 11, 2009.

Mogwai, May 11, 2009 — During the encore, a woman nearby cringed and covered her eyes, cowering against the STROBES and the NOISE, waiting for it all to end. First she would have to endure 10 minutes of pain created by Mogwai’s arsenal of effects pedals “played” while the band kneeled on stage, covered in a shower of lightning. Epic.

St. Vincent at The Slowdown back in May 2012.

St. Vincent at Slowdown’s front room, June 3, 2009 — Backed by violin, bass, drums and a guy on woodwinds (flute, saxophone, clarinet), St. Vincent’s Annie Clark created dreamy, theatric, rocking sounds like the second coming of Kate Bush. That show was almost matched by a second St. Vincent show, this time on the big stage, May 14, 2012.

Finally, there was that very strange Cat Power show Nov. 22, 2013, and more recently Mark Kozelek on the front room stage Oct. 3, 2016.

No doubt our lists of favorite shows will only grow over the next 10 years.

Over The Edge is a monthly column by Reader senior contributing writer Tim McMahan focused on culture, society, music, the media and the arts. Email Tim at tim.mcmahan@gmail.com

* * *

Expect a crowd at The Sydney in Benson tonight. Everyone’s favorite musician raconteur Jake Bellows returns for a set as only he can. Joining Jake is Sam Martin and The Yonicks, and The Sun-Less Trio (Mike Saklar’s latest and greatest). The free show starts at 9 p.m.

Mitch Gettman and AllSortsOfGood play at fabulous O’Leaver’s. $5, 10 p.m.

Also tonight, Township & Range celebrates a CD release at Reverb Lounge. Joining them are Clarence Tilton and Matt Cox. $5, 9 p.m.

Meanwhile over at The Waiting Room it’s Alejandro Escovedo Band with Nicholas Tremulis. $20, 8 p.m.

Tomorrow night (Saturday) DSM-5 plays at Brothers Lounge with Gongfermour and Tienanmen Squares. This one’s free and starts at 9 p.m.

That’s all I got. If I left out 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 © 2017 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Ten Years Gone: A Brief History of The Slowdown and The Waiting Room…

Category: Blog,Interviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:39 pm June 8, 2017

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Today is the 10-year anniversary of the opening of The Slowdown.

The club’s public inaugural show,  Friday, June 8, featured Little Brazil, Domestica, Art in Manila, Now, Archimedes!, Flowers Forever and Cap Gun Coup. Neva Dinova headlined the Saturday, June 9 show, with Bear Country, Ladyfinger, The Terminals and Mal Madrigal. Ah, those were the days.

To mark the occasion — and to properly recognize the 10-year anniversary of The Waiting Room’s opening — I wrote the following article for The Reader that talks about the clubs’ origins and how they’ve managed to not only survive, but thrive, 10 years later. Maybe we should have done this story in March when The Waiting Room hosted a month-long celebration, because The Slowdown is doing nothing publicly to mark the occasion.  Oh well.

You can also read this read this in print in the latest issue of The Reader, on newsstands now or at The Reader website, but you’d miss out on all my sweet photos…

Ten Years Gone

Over the course of a decade, venues The Slowdown and The Waiting Room have transformed Omaha’s live music scene.

By Tim McMahan

Try to remember the way it was before The Slowdown and The Waiting Room opened 10 years ago.

Your choices for seeing an indie rock show were limited to Sokol Underground, the dark, smoky (remember, you could still smoke in clubs back then) basement of Sokol Auditorium located on South 13th Street. While somewhat large (its capacity was at least 400), the room felt strangely claustrophobic, with sight lines marred by metal support poles strategically placed in the most inopportune places. And while there was a decidedly punk-rock/DIY feel to the joint — and a surprisingly good sound system — Sokol Underground always felt temporary.

It didn’t stand alone. Shows also were hosted at The 49’r, O’Leaver’s, Mick’s and the odd west-Omaha bar, house or hall that splurged on a PA. BY 2007, rock destinations, like the all-ages punk club The Cog Factory and everyone’s favorite bowling alley, The Ranch Bowl, were long gone.

But folks in the scene knew things would change. They had to. In 2007, Omaha was still basking in the afterglow of national notoriety for its indie music scene, thanks in large part to One Percent Productions, who had a rep for booking the best touring indie acts, and Saddle Creek Records, home of indie superstars Bright Eyes, The Faint and Cursive (among others).

For Omaha to take that next step, it needed a first-class music venue (or two) for bands to show their stuff.

The Waiting Room, located in the heart of Benson, was the first to open in March 2007. The Slowdown, located in the yet-to-be-established North Downtown area, would follow in June of the same year. The clubs would grow to become focal points of their respective business districts, revitalizing the areas. But it didn’t happen over night.

Robb Nansel, left, and Jason Kulbel in front of The Slowdown, circa 2007.

The Slowdown

Jason Kulbel and Robb Nansel were more known for their record label — Saddle Creek Records — than their experience running music venues or promoting rock shows, though both had booked a handful of notable shows at Sokol Underground in the early part of the 2000s.

In 2005, Saddle Creek was enjoying what arguably was the height of its national fame, and likely the peak of its revenues, as all three of its crown jewels — Bright Eyes, Cursive and The Faint — were producing the best albums of their careers. For years, Kulbel and Nansel had a shared vision for opening their own music venue, but it was Kulbel who had been lured back from California in 2000 solely for the purpose.

“There was a hole in Omaha,” Kulbel said during an interview on the patio of The Trap Room, a tiny bar also owned by the duo that sits next to The Slowdown. “We’d been to countless good clubs in other cities, some cities a lot (smaller) than Omaha, population-wise. It just seemed like something that could do well here.”

Kulbel said they hoped a club would help keep people from relocating. “That was an early motivation, for sure,” he said. “A lot of people moved away, myself included, trying to find greener pastures or better places.”

It would take years just to find the right location. Among those considered and discarded was an old creamery at 14th and Jones streets, a big, open room with lots of potential. Unfortunately, they couldn’t get the owners to sell. “We were ‘full steam ahead,'” Kulbel said. “The guys that owned it just decided we looked too young, though we were in our 30s. It was too hair-brained an idea for their tastes.”

The old Magic Theater on South 16th Street also was considered “pretty heavily,” Kulbel said. But by 2004, he and Nansel had gathered enough seed money from Saddle Creek’s success that they decided to build rather than renovate an older building. Their first location choice was a small commercial district just west of Radial Highway along North Saddle Creek Road, next to one of Omaha’s most iconic bars, The Homy Inn.

They acquired purchasing agreements for property where two car washes stood, but before they went through with the purchase, decided to announce their plans to the neighborhood. And that’s when all hell broke loose. A neighborhood meeting held in November 2004 was “a true nightmare,” Kulbel said. “The first woman that we called on for questions started crying. And it all went downhill from there.”

It would be Omaha City Councilman Dan Welch, who knew the neighborhood would never support them, that convinced Kulbel and Nansel to look elsewhere. He introduced them to City Planner Bob Peters who pointed out the property where The Slowdown now resides, an area just north of downtown Omaha.

Construction begins at The Slowdown complex, Sept. 25, 2006.

“There was nothing there at the time,” Kulbel said. “Everything was vacant. After you just went to war with a neighborhood, the most appealing thing is that there are no neighbors.”

It was Todd Heistand of NuStyle Development, who was redeveloping the nearby Tip-Top Building, that convinced the duo to build more than just a club and headquarters for their record label. Rachel Jacobsen, the genius behind Film Streams, came on board next.

With a sizable loan and some attractive tax incentives, Kulbel and Nansel bought the land from the city and began laying out their plans for their dream club.

“We cut no corner,” Kulbel said. “The way the venue functions, the way the stage is, the sound system, the balcony, we never swayed from our vision one bit. Anything built was because we thought that’s exactly how it should be built.”

About a year and a half after buying the land, The Slowdown opened on June 8, 2007.

With a capacity of around 700, The Slowdown’s large stage was always destined to be the club’s center point, but it’s the smaller front room, with a capacity of only a couple hundred, that has hosted the most shows. “The front room has worked out really well for smaller shows, which I didn’t envision in the beginning,” Kulbel said. “It was made to be way more of a bar than a show room.”

Of the roughly 150 events booked at The Slowdown each year, Kulbel said probably two-thirds are booked in the front room.

Kulbel said financially, the club’s early years were thin. “There were times in 2008 through 2010 when we were taking out loans to make payroll,” he said.

When the club first opened, Kulbel and Nansel had intended to book the kind of indie bands that historically had played at Sokol Underground. “That dream died rather quickly,” Kulbel said. “You figure out that it’s a business, and you begin going back to the people that you have to take care of and the staff that you have to pay. You’ve got to have a good steady volume of shows and people coming through the door.”

As a result, the Slowdown began to broaden the style of music it booked. That fact played into the three milestone events over the life of the club that Kulbel said radically changed his views of how the Slowdown was run.

The 2007 staff, from left, Slowdown sound engineer Dan Brennan, hospitality/event coordinator Val Nelson and bar manager Ryan Palmer.

The first milestone was losing the club’s “hospitality director” Val Nelson in February 2014. “Our technical title was ‘hospitality,’ but she ran the venue,” Kulbel said. “She was the point person for all the staff. She was basically the general manager.”

In addition to doing hospitality, Nelson, who had moved from Kalamazoo, Michigan, to take the job, also handled the club’s back office and dabbled in bookings. When she left Slowdown, Kulbel immediately took over her responsibilities, which he wasn’t ready for.

“I don’t think I’ve ever felt a weight like that. I didn’t know what to do,” Kulbel said, adding that the departure was so swift, he never had a chance to ask Nelson how things worked. “I had to figure out how to do everything that she did. It was a really rough few months; truly awful.”

But the trial by fire ended up being the best thing that could have happened to Kulbel. “It taught me a lot about the business that I own and run,” he said. It wasn’t until July of that year and after struggling through his first College World Series season without Nelson that Kulbel finally began getting his sea legs. “I felt so much better about everything because now I knew how it all worked.”

The second milestone was the shooting that took place Halloween night 2015. According to published reports, 28-year-old Jamar Fields was shot and killed inside the back door of The Slowdown after a brawl.

“It didn’t really change how we do business, but it changed some of the people that we do business with, and it just really changed my life,” Kulbel said. “It was devastating for me, for my wife and family and everything.”

The club closed for a few days following the incident. When it reopened, Kulbel said for the first few weeks, “you could cut the tension in the room.” Patrons returned to shows, but the possible after-effects of the incident didn’t hit Kulbel until he received a call from the mother of a bride who had planned to host a wedding reception at The Slowdown the following summer.

“She said she was nervous because they weren’t sure we’d still be open in July,” Kulbel said. “It just absolutely floored me because that had never crossed my mind, that one idiot could walk into your club and tear it all down with one stupid thing.”

Unfounded rumors of Slowdown’s possible demise due to lawsuits or the club’s perceived inability to acquire insurance rattled through the scene. But less than two years later, the incident is behind them.

The final of the three milestone was Slowdown’s decision in January of this year to sign a deal with Knitting Factory Entertainment to take over the lion’s share of the club’s booking.

“I’m 43, so I listen to less music, I go to less shows, I just don’t really have the best pulse on that sort of thing,” Kulbel said. “We talked to Knitting Factory for probably nine months before we actually had a deal with them. I had been been curating a lot of shows and there were pretty big misses just because I don’t do it for a living. I can run the club, I can run the property, but when I’ve got to really sit down and pick out what to do for a calendar or even pick out what to book locally, I’m not the best judge.”

Kulbel said Slowdown’s relationship with Knitting Factory goes beyond booking. “They can answer questions about anything that I can throw at them,” he said, “from the type of cash register to use to how many shows we should be booking a month and everything in between.”

The new relationship also frees up Kulbel to focus on he and Nansel’s real estate holdings. Their tenants include Blue Line Coffee, Urban Outfitters, Hook and Lime, Trap Room, Slowdown and the recently opened Zipline Brewery in the space that used to house Saddle Creek Records’ warehouse.

The Slowdown days before opening in 2007.

“Owning our own building and the surrounding real estate helps a ton,” Kulbel said. “It’s not to the point anymore where Slowdown borrows from the property, but it was in the past. There were times when Saddle Creek floated the property, and times when Slowdown floated Saddle Creek. I think everything now has set sail and looks pretty good, but the property is the future. I don’t have a retirement account, and I wouldn’t consider Slowdown to be my retirement account. It’s the property and the buildings.”

Today, the once vacant lots that surround their property are now filled with hotels, apartments, restaurants and the massive TD Ameritrade Park, home of the NCAA Men’s College World Series.

If you wonder why Nansel isn’t quoted in this article, it’s because he currently lives in Los Angeles, where Saddle Creek Records has additional label operations. A little over three years ago Kulbel separated himself from label operations, which is Nansel’s full-time focus. Why the split?

‘It just became a drag once the club opened and the property was a concern as well,” Kulbel said. “For years I had three full-time jobs — the property, Slowdown and Saddle Creek. Then three years ago my wife and I had a little girl to join my two step-kids, and something had to give.”

Slowdown was always Kulbel’s labor of love. “It’s mine and Robb’s thing, but it was always way more of my thing and the label was way more Robb’s thing.”

Though neither are involved in the other’s day-to-day operations, the two touch base every Tuesday via phone, though Kulbel says he knows more about what’s happening at the label from talking to Omaha-based Saddle Creek personnel, who still have offices above Slowdown.

For Nansel, the challenge for Slowdown’s next decade is staying relevant and staying open. He now knows that an unexpected catastrophe could spell the end. Still, “I think the club business is a good thing to be in,” he said. “I think people are always going to want to go to shows and have a couple drinks and go home. If you were going to place your bets on a portion of the music industry, I think running a club is a pretty safe place to bet.

“I hope The Slowdown is open 30, 40, 50 years from now. That would be fantastic, but it’s really hard to say.”

Marc Leibowitz, left, and Jim Johnson a few days before the March 9, 2007, grand opening of The Waiting Room Lounge.

The Waiting Room

The Waiting Room’s origin story goes back well beyond 2007.

Working under the moniker One Percent Productions, Marc Leibowitz and Jim Johnson have booked the best indie shows in Omaha for more than 20 years. Remember that amazing Arcade Fire show in November 2004? It was a One Percent Production. Or that time when Sufjan Stevens played at Sokol Underground with his cheerleader orchestra during his Illinois Tour in September 2005? A One Percent Production. How about when Interpol played at Sokol Underground during a blizzard in January 2005? Again, a One Percent Production.

Those and thousands more shows earned Johnson and Leibowitz the reputation as the best indie rock bookers in the area, playing a pivotal role in exposing an entire generation of future Omaha musicians to the music that would influence their careers.

The duo put on so many shows at Sokol Underground some thought they owned the place, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. “At the time, we just wanted a place of our own,” Leibowitz said. “Sokol Underground was the basement of a 100-year-old building. The shows we were getting at that point couldn’t be in that venue anymore; they deserved something nicer.”

Like Kulbel and Nansel, Leibowitz and Johnson spent years looking for the right location. But unlike the Saddle Creek Records duo, who had visions and resources to spend millions to build their dream club, “we were looking for something very cheap,” Leibowitz said. “That’s why Benson became attractive.”

In 2006, when The Waiting Room project began, Benson’s business district was comprised mostly of thrift stores and empty store fronts, with a few legacy shops still hanging on. “Benson seemed very old, and there were a lot of old businesses,” Leibowitz recalled, “and old-timey bars. We were different.”

Leibowitz said their needed investment to open in Benson was minuscule compared to what it would have cost to go into a new development, like Midtown Crossing. But the gamble was whether they could get people to come to this forgotten district of Omaha.

“We figured if people were willing to come to our shows at Sokol Underground and go down into that basement and deal with what we were dealing with — the neighborhood and the parking — then we were pretty sure if we booked the right shows, they would follow us to wherever the club was, as long as it was centrally located.”

Forcing their hand was the fact that Johnson had just quit his full-time job and Leibowitz had gotten laid off from his. It was ‘Try it now or never try it,'” Leibowitz said.

The financing was straight-forward — the duo used their life savings as collateral to get a loan to cover the balance of the $100,000 needed to remodel what had once been a biker bar called Marnie’s Place, and years before that, the legendary Lifticket Lounge where Nirvana once played.

“It wasn’t turnkey,” Leibowitz said, “but it was turnkey enough that we could go in for a cheap amount of money and make do until we made enough money to fix the place up, build nicer dressing rooms, open the ceiling, buy better air conditioning, buy a better sound system, do all the things that we could have done from the beginning if we would have borrowed all the money we needed, sort of in the style that Slowdown did. That wasn’t a position we were in.”

Instead, those improvements would come over time as The Waiting Room quickly began to build its rep one of the hottest clubs in town shortly after opening on March 9, 2007.

“Our dream was to own a club,” Leibowitz said. “Our dream wasn’t to open this club necessarily, but our dream was to have our own spot to do the music that we liked, that we had been doing at Sokol Underground and O’Leaver’s and other people’s places.”

At the same time, One Percent Productions was still very much a going entity. “One Percent Productions rents The Waiting Room for shows, similar to how it would rent Slowdown,” Leibowitz said. “The Waiting Room isn’t the entity taking a risk on shows. If a show loses money, it’s not The Waiting Room’s money. Now, Jim and I own both, so it’s all the same, really, but mentally, it’s different.”

In fact, Leibowitz said, in 2011 when he and Johnson found partners to open Krug Park, a craft beer bar located across the street from The Waiting Room, dollar-for-dollar it made more money than The Waiting Room “because it’s really hard to make money in the music industry.”

“The bar business is a great place to make money, but you have to figure out how to get people to come and drink at your establishment,” Leibowitz said. “For other places, that could be whatever shot special they can come up with. Our way happens to be through live music.”

That means booking shows that draw crowds. Leibowitz said staying relevant in terms of the acts it books is one of their biggest challenges, especially as they get older and music changes. “The music’s not the same in your 40s as it was in your 30s or 20s,” he said.

He also admitted there have been “politics” they’ve had to deal with in that One Percent also booked shows at Slowdown. “That’s been a strain for the eight years we’ve booked at Slowdown, and it’s been a strain for the two years that we really haven’t been doing much booking there,” Leibowitz said. “There is still a small pie that we’re all trying to feed off, and there is still a limited amount of business that can come through Omaha and be successful.”

Leibowitz says booking shows isn’t difficult; booking successful shows is.

“It’s hard to pick which ones are going to be a financial success, because there’s not a lack of shows to be booked, there’s a lack of potentially successful shows to be booked,” he said. “You’re still dealing with the same thing people dealt with 10, 20 or 30 years ago. If something’s not super popular or not on the radio, how are people hearing about it, and how do you get the word out? How do you pick which show to buy?”

At the same time, tickets prices have risen, along with the costs associated with running a live music venue. Agents now have assistants marketing the bands, which means more demands on the venues and local promoters. “There’s a lot more work per show than I think there ever has been,” Leibowitz said.

But the risks involved with booking a show haven’t changed. “I still consider myself a professional gambler,” Leibowitz said. “I”m gambling on every show I buy. There’s no guarantees in this business.”

Leibowitz and Johnson balanced their risks by diversifying their business in the form of real estate. Since opening The Waiting Room, the duo have bought the building that houses the club, as well as the building across the street that houses Krug Park and restaurant Lot 2. They also own the building that houses restaurant Au Courant and are closing on yet another building in the area.

Buying property allows Leibowitz and Johnson to have more control over who comes into the area. “It really does matter what these businesses are,” Leibowitz said. “Getting the right businesses that are going to succeed brings everybody else up.”

There’s little doubt that 10 years after The Waiting Room opened, Benson has evolved into one of the city’s most robust entertainment districts. Those once empty storefronts are now filled with new bars, restaurants and other businesses that may not have taken a gamble on Benson if Leibowitz and Johnson hadn’t.

“Benson is a thriving community and still has a long ways to go,” Johnson said. “There’s a lot that’s changed in 10 years. I think we sparked it and got people to the area, along with (cigar bar) Jake’s and others. Everybody’s had a little piece of it; every little bit that’s opened has helped.”

Yet another property Leibowitz and Johnson purchased houses Reverb Lounge, a new bar and music venue that the duo opened in September 2014, just around the corner from The Waiting Room on Military Ave. The space provides a high-quality venue for shows too small for The Waiting Room.

Despite diversification, The Waiting Room remains Johnson’s and Leibowitz’s first love. And though it’s renowned for the national touring shows One Percent books on its stage, Leibowitz pointed to another factor.

“A good amount of The Waiting Room’s success is because of local music,” he said. “We host a lot of local shows. There’s big support for local music here. People like to see their friends’ bands play.”

From a national booking standpoint, Leibowitz recognizes they need to give the people what they want.

“There’s a lot of shows that you have to do in order to fill your calendar,” Leibowitz said. “We’re in the concession business. We need to get people in to drink, and that’s the ultimate part of running the venue — striking that balance between booking what people want to see and what you want to put on.

“We still buy shows we absolutely know we’re going to lose money on because we think the show’s cool or it’s an artist we really like,” he added. “We’ve got to book the stuff that we really like, or else this business could become a drag.”

So does Leibowitz think The Waiting Room will be around for its 20th anniversary?

“Boy, I hope it’s still around in 10 years. I expect it will be,” he said. “I mean, 10 years from now I’ll be 53. Do I expect to be doing the same role at The Waiting Room that I do now? No, I don’t think I can, but I think it’ll be there.”

* * *

Tomorrow: Pt. 2 — Leibowitz, Johnson, Nansel, Kulbel and your fearless reporter talk about our favorite shows at The Slowdown and The Waiting Room over the past 10 years…

* * *

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 © 2017 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

TBT: June 24, 2005, Slowdown officially announced; Ten Questions with Peter Bjorn and John…

Category: Blog,Interviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:49 pm June 23, 2016

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

On this #TBT, a brief memory from the Lazy-i blog, circa 2005…

Briefly noted, Slowdown… If you turned on your TV or picked up a Lincoln Journal Star than you know that the Saddle Creek folks held a press conference yesterday officially announcing the Slowdown project in downtown Omaha between 13th and 14th and Webster and Cuming, which means I’ll be able to watch its progress daily from the vantage point of my office at UP. No real earth-shaking news, though I figured the club would be larger than the 400-capacity space described in the Associated Press story. Time frame has the venue opening in a about a year. I know just as many people psyched about the facility’s two-screen indie/arthouse cinema as the club. I’m sure we’re gonna hear a lot more about the project as time goes by, like the club’s booking philosophy and how it could impact Sokol Underground. And what’s going on with that venture slated for the old Club Joy space? — Lazy-i, June 24, 2005

What did ever happen to that Club Joy space? Slowdown, btw, ended up opening the first week of June 2007, a year later than announced (and its capacity also is much larger than 400). Jason Kulbel and Co. should begin planning for the 10 year celebration concert right now…

* * *

Peter Bjorn and John play The Waiting Room Sunday night.

Peter Bjorn and John play The Waiting Room Sunday night.

Ten Questions with Peter Bjorn and John

You might know Swedish indie pop musicians Peter Moren, Bjorn Yttling and John Eriksson — Peter Bjorn and John —  from their 2006 whistle-hook classic “Young Folks.” The song has more than 66 million spins in Spotify alone and was a hit in Europe and the U.S. before Spotify existed. Believe me, you’d recognize the song if you heard it. After a five-year recording hiatus, the band is back with self-released LP Breakin’ Point (2016, INGRID), a collection of bouncing pop songs that sounds like what you’d get if Belle and Sebastian cross-pollinated with ABBA.

I asked the band to take our Ten Questions survey, and here’s how the trio collectively responded, presumably in unison:

1. What is your favorite album?

Peter Bjorn and John: Tropical Moonlight. A reader’s digest vinyl compilation album with tropical easy listening highlights.

2. What is your least favorite song?

More bubbles with Peter Bjorn and John.

3. What do you enjoy most about being in a band?

Good question.

4. What do you hate about being in a band?

Loud noises.

5. What is your favorite substance (legal or illegal)?

Coriander.

6. In what city or town do you love to perform?

Mexico City.

7. What city or town did you have your worst gig (and why)?

In Stockholm, Sweden 2002. We were booked as the opening act on an outdoor festival and when we got there they told us we had to build the stage ourselves. When we, after two hours, played the first song it was totally out of tune since Peter had forgotten the tuning pedal in our rehearsal studio. Then it started to rain.

8. How do you pay your bills?

With a twisted smile.

9. What one profession other than music would you like to attempt; what one profession would you absolutely hate to do?

I would like to try to be the writer of a very short book.

I would not like to be a bee keeper.

10. What are the stories you’ve heard about Omaha, Nebraska?

I have heard that Bruce Springsteen was there at some point. Don’t know what he did though.

Peter Bjorn and John play with All Young Girls Are Machine Guns Sunday, June 26, at The Waiting Room, 6212 Maple St. Tickets are $20, showtime is 8 p.m. For more information, go to onepercentproductions.com.

* * *

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.

 

Lazy-i

What does Knitting Factory booking Slowdown really mean? Buvette super show tonight (M’s benefit)…

Category: Blog,Interviews — Tags: , , — @ 1:34 pm January 21, 2016
The Slowdown's booking will now be partially handled by Knitting Factory Entertainment.

The Slowdown’s booking will now be handled in part by Knitting Factory Entertainment.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Yesterday Pollstar reported that Knitting Factory Entertainment has signed a deal to book The Slowdown. The article doesn’t say much more than that.

I asked Jason Kulbel, who runs The Slowdown, it if means KF will be routing acts through the venue, and if Jason or someone will be filling in the gaps with local promotions/shows. “You got it,” he said.

So, is he psyched or freaked out by the change?

“A little of both… I mean, it’s change right?,” he said. “In the long run I think it will be a great thing for us.” Kulbel went on to mention that former booker Joe Teplitsky no longer is employed by Slowdown, something Teplitsky announced on Facebook a couple weeks ago.

Knitting Factory appears to book eight other clubs in addition to Slowdown, judging by their website. It’s hard to say what kind of bands they book, though. If you go to the site and click the KF Presents dropdown you’ll see bookings for Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn, Beatles cover band 1964 The Tribute, comedian Lewis Black, Joanna Newsom, piano dude Ethan Bortnick and so on.

Having glanced at the Knitting Factory NYC calendars over the years, they’ve never focused on any single genre. I suspect their bookings at Slowdown will be all over the board, from pop to blues to R&B to rock and even some indie.

“I wouldn’t really tag them with any genre or type of band,” Kulbel said. “If anything, they take more of a ‘book the bands that people want to come out to see’ (approach). We, of course, have taken more of that approach over the years as well.”

Who knows how many actual dates KF will fill on the Slowdown calendar. What will continue is the usual assortment of local bands and events that Slowdown has historically booked to fill out their calendar. And yes, 1% Productions will have access to booking Slowdown just like any other local promoter or band.

“(Slowdown is) still available for outside promoters as before,” Kulbel said. “This is really just an uptick in in-house booking.” As for who gets first dibs on the rooms: “There’s not a preference per se. First one to finalize a date with booking agents, bands, etc., gets it. Same way our calendar has always worked.”

* * *

Tonight La Buvette is hosting a very special show — a fundraiser for former staff at M’s Pub, which burned down last week. Performing is Orenda Fink, Ted Stevens, Sean Pratt & the Sweats, and Simply Jake. Show starts at 9 and suggested donation is $10. La Buvette is located at 511 So. 11th in the heart of the Old Market.

* * *

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.

 

Lazy-i

New concert venue Milk Run, first show Nov. 7; Here We Go Magic still on tonight at The Slowdown…

Category: Blog,Interviews — Tags: , , , — @ 2:19 pm November 2, 2015
Future home of new all-ages music venue and art gallery Milk Run, right next door to Shucks Fish House on 1907 Leavenworth St.

Future home of new all-ages music venue and art gallery Milk Run, right next door to Shucks Fish House on 1907 Leavenworth St.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

The dynamic duo behind concert promotion company Perpetual Nerves — Chris Aponick and Sam Parker — are opening their own music venue and art gallery near downtown Omaha.

Milk Run is located at 1907 Leavenworth St., right next door to Shucks Fish House & Oyster Bar in the same turn-of-the-last-century building. The concert room will be rather cozy, about the same size as The Sweatshop Gallery; while the art gallery space is much more open. The two rooms are connected via a fenced-in patio in the back of the buildings, which also will act as the venue’s main entrance located right off a parking lot shared with Shucks.

Here’s what the duo had to say about the new music venue:

Why are you opening an all-ages club?

Chris Aponick: We wanted a spot that we could run with consistent standard, a space that put music in the forefront of its mission and one that would be an ideal spot for smaller scale bands. We wanted a room that makes a crowd of 30 to 50 people feel like an event instead of a bummer. It’s an incubator for bands that are on the way up or bands that are looking to reconnect with the immediacy found in house shows or DIY spots. We want bands to have a good experience playing in Omaha, so that they make Omaha a regular stop as their fanbase grows. We want a place that is approachable for everyone that wants to see a band. We don’t want the term “all ages” to mean just for those under 30. We also want to provide a reliable venue for others bringing bands to town.

How did you settle on the location?

Aponick: Shuck’s crab legs led me to the spot. I hit up their Monday happy hour with my friend (and now our neighbor Greg Sechser of Howlin’ Hounds coffee shop) and I peeked in at the two bays. I inquired about them the next day and they were perfect for what Sam & I had discussed for an ideal all-ages space.

What kind of shows will you be booking?

Aponick: Our shows will continue to be more of what has already been booked under the Perpetual Nerves banner, though we’re hoping to dabble in a little bit more variety. The goal is to get bands we and others like into town. We want to bring stuff to Omaha that would not play in town without our involvement. We’re still hoping to do shows with venues like O’Leaver’s Pub, Lookout Lounge, Slowdown and the Waiting Room Lounge when those rooms are good fits. We also want others to use our space, too. It’s available for shows that others put together.

How will you curate and operate the art gallery?

Sam Parker: We intend to have a monthly rotation of various artists in the gallery. Particularly trying to focus on musicians who are also artists in the visual arts aspect as well. Ideally, they would display their artwork, make a playlist of songs that influences their work and that list would be played during the showings. Gives the viewer a more in-depth feel to the artist.

Who’s involved other than Chris and Sam?

Aponick: Sara Bertuldo and Matthew Carroll of See Through Dresses are responsible for sound. The equipment, the ongoing management & hopefully upgrading of the system and running live sound will all be spearheaded by these two. Sara Bertuldo will be the main sound engineer for shows. Mike Zimmerman (DWNR, Chalant) will also be helping with projects both aural and visual. We hope to include others in what we hope is a collaborative space for shows, performance, art and more.

When is your first show and who are the bands performing?

Aponick: American Cream, David Nance, Robust Worlds, and Church of Gravitron — it’s a show organized by Church of Gravitron’s Justin O’Connor. It’s November 7 and it’s only $5. Even Lazy-i readers have $5.

How do you guys line up your bands? Who do you work with?

Aponick: People email booking@perpetualnerves.com or booking@perpetualnerves.com. (We) email some band or booking agents and pray for a positive reply. Some bands have been pointed in our direction by local friends, which is always appreciated. Booking Pile really jump-started things. Pile is everything.

How do you keep up with new bands that are awesome? You pretty much hit the nail on the head with all your PN shows.

Aponick: Mike Kronberger, who designed the PN logo, turned me on to Exploding In Sound Records. That’s been a big one. I love getting recommendations on things to check out. Others have just been from listening and making gut calls on stuff that ends up in the inbox. Some of it, like All Dogs, is just obvious on a first listen that they’re something special.

Is there a club that you’re trying to emulate or that will influence your club? i.e., “We’re trying to do what the Cog Factory did.” or “We really like how they do things at Jackpot down in KC”, etc.

Aponick: Mostly we just wanted to keep going with the positive momentum that was flowing at the Sweatshop Gallery between Craig Dee’s Eyeball Promotions shows and our shows there. We felt the best route was to give ourselves a home base that we curated and organized.

Why did you call it Milk Run? What’s the origin of that name?

Aponick: It’s called Milk Run, as a playful nod to the area’s gay history. A milk run was an innocuous excuse to get out of the house and go downtown in the ’80s and ’90s for gay men. We want people to be open and be themselves in our space. By embracing a part of the area that was once secretive, we’re saying that your identity is welcome here.

Are you concerned that the name could alienate some people and/or parents?

Aponick: If it’s alienating for any other reason than homophobia, I’d be surprised, but willing to discuss those feelings.

What’s your definition of success when it comes to the club? What are you trying to accomplish?

Aponick: Paying our rent and paying touring and local bands well. We want to make sure touring bands have the ability to leave Omaha with a good experience and a good payday. We want to make Omaha a spot worth stopping for more bands. And we want to add to the idea that Omaha is a vibrant, artistically progressive city.

Do you think you could fill a niche that all the other venues aren’t filling? What’s that niche?

Parker: Let’s leave that for the people to decide. Our goal is strong in bringing touring acts that people as well as ourselves, want to see. But, at the same time, highly focusing on the great local scene that’s constantly growing and forever evolving. Bigger show. Little show. Doesn’t matter, hit us up. Our venue is yours.

Keep track of the Milk Run concert and art show schedule at the venue’s Facebook page.

* *

Despite the tragic murder that took place Halloween night at Slowdown Jr., tonight’s Here We Go Magic show is still happening, according to Slowdown booker Joe Teplitsky.

For those who live out of town (or in a cave), details about the crime are reported here by the Omaha World-Herald. The shooters reportedly are still at large.

* * *

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

The Reader’s 2015 Top Music Venues / Top Bands stories (in link form)…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 1:37 pm October 13, 2015
The interior of The Slowdown, photo taken waaay back in 2007 when the club opened.

The interior of The Slowdown, photo taken waaay back in 2007 when the club opened.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Let’s assume you haven’t picked up a copy of the printed version of The Reader, which is (obviously) the most convenient way to read all the content included in the Reader‘s 2015 Music Issue.

Trying to read all the Music Issue information online can be a bit frustrating. It would have been nice for The Reader to place all the info into one “package” that flows from one piece to the next.

Fear not, that package is right here.

This morning my feature on The Waiting Room and The Slowdown went online at The Reader‘s website. It joins Wayne Brekke’s piece on the Harney Street Tavern and BJ Huchtemann’s picks of favorite venues including the 21st Saloon, and my feature on O’Leaver’s, which went online last week. Here’s the index:

The Reader‘s Music Issue — The Venues:

While were at it, here are the Reader‘s Best Bands lists:

Of course, you can always just grab your copy of The Reader at your local bar, coffee house or bookstore.

* * *

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

Back from NYC (and a night with Hedwig); The Slowdown in The Washington Post…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 1:42 pm September 8, 2014
The set for Hedwig and the Angry Inch at the Belasco on Broadway. Getting a shot during the performance was impossible as vultures were circling, warning people that photos were not allowed...

The set for Hedwig and the Angry Inch at the Belasco on Broadway. Getting a shot during the performance was impossible as vultures were circling, warning people that photos were not allowed. I still managed to sneak this one.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

I have nothing of a music-related nature to report from Manhattan, as I spent the long weekend going to the US Open, The Yankees and seeing the revival of Hedwig and the Angry Inch on Broadway, which I guess could count.

(Hedwig, btw, was pretty awesome. Former Omahan and Creighton Prep grad Andrew Rannells starred. Rannells made his name in the original version of Book of Mormon on Broadway (in which he won a Grammy) and is sometimes featured as the character Elijah on the HBO series Girls. He took over the lead from Neil Patrick Harris a few weeks ago. We had amazing second-row aisle seats and I came this close to being the subject of the lap dance during the infamous “Sugar Daddy” number.)

* * *

Sounds like I missed one heckuva an Afghan Whigs show while I was gone. I guess you can’t have everything.

* * *

Interesting piece in today’s The Washington Post about The Slowdown and urban renewal. Read it here. The story relies heavily on the work of Michael Seman of Shiny Around the Edges, who wrote an academic paper about the same subject published in 2010 (which you can read here).

The Post doesn’t add much new to the discussion, other than centering the story on local band Lot Walks, who I’ve never heard of prior to the booking mentioned in the story. Needless to say, the Post article should bring some attention to this rather new band. Wonder how they got picked to be the centerpiece?

The story seems to imply that The Slowdown complex saved the NoDo area from decay, and mentions almost as an aside the $131 million ballpark that now overshadows everything down there, and, one could argue, was the real reason, along with the CenturyLink Arena (which isn’t mentioned in the article at all) for the majority of the development in that area, specifically all the freakin’ hotels.

From the article:

In 2006, the city partnered with the Chamber of Commerce to draft a full-scale redevelopment plan: “North Downtown should evolve into Omaha’s newest and most exciting neighborhood…”

The anchor, all parties agreed, should be the greatest music venue in Nebraska. The young and hip would ideally flock there, dine at nearby restaurants and rent loft spaces in old factories.

What the writer left out (or didn’t know) was that The Slowdown’s eventual location was the second choice. The original choice was just a few blocks from Sgt. Peffer’s, at 1528 N. Saddle Creek Rd., but that Robb Nansel and Jason Kulbel were driven away by the Metcalfe Park Neighborhood Association and a couple local businesses who didn’t want the noise and traffic and congestion. You can read about that bit of forgotten history (including thumbnails of the original blueprints) here. That area is now a blight of rental storage units, run-down car washes and hole-in-the-wall auto garages, while NoDo has become the subject of national articles in The Washington Post. In the end, everyone got what they wanted.

Speaking of The Slowdown, it’s been a looooong time since I’ve seen a show down there. My next stop might be PUJOL Sept. 14 or the amazing Jessica Lea Mayfield Sept. 15.

* * *

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.

Lazy-i

The CWS, Slowdown and the ‘myth’ of no parking; that goddamn Morrissey; Matthew Sweet news…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — @ 1:00 pm June 11, 2014

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Screen Shot 2014-06-11 at 12.58.43 PM

Since when did they start calling it ‘The College World Series of Omaha”?

Well, the College World Series kicks off Friday with an opening concert extravaganza by Young the Giant, marking the last time many of us will be stepping foot in downtown Omaha until the series wraps up June 25. The tents already are starting to dot the NoDo landscape like big white blisters atop the usually empty parking lots.

For Slowdown, this is the harvest season, the time of year when they can’t count their money fast enough. In support of the CWS, Slowdown turns into a pseudo sports bar, featuring the finest local cover bands (Secret Weapon) and this year, a special performance by Criteria right in the heart of the action.

Thinking about going to Criteria but are afraid there will be nowhere to park? Slowdown’s Jason Kulbel says that lack of street parking during CWS is a “myth” and that parking is, in fact, plentiful. We shall see.

It’s been awhile since I’ve been down to Slowdown. Checking out their calendar, they’ve got a lot of heavy shows coming up. There’s that Criteria show June 21, The Felice Brothers June 28, Ceremony July 13, Jolie Holland Aug. 8, Kopecky Family Band Sept. 5, Mike Watt’s latest project Sept. 25 and New Pornographers/Pains of Being Pure at Heart Nov. 11.

That New Pornographers show was one of slew of gigs One Percent just announced, including J Mascis Oct. 8 (TWR); Ty Segall Sept. 25 (TWR); and most controversial at all, CHVRCHES Sept. 24 at Sokol Aud. It’s controversial in that CHVRCHES is the same night as The War on Drugs at The Waiting Room. The decision as to which show you choose to attend that night will define you. I’m trying to figure out a way to see both…

* * *

If you haven’t already heard, Morrissey cancelled the remaining dates of his current North American Tour, citing health reasons. Specifically, Morrissey said opening act Kristeen Young doused him with some sort of respiratory plague that he can’t seen to shake. Details on his unofficial website, True to You, where Moz also lists shows from the past tours he and his band consider to be “their best-ever.” For whatever reason, the Lincoln Rococo show wasn’t on the list…

* * *

Omahan Matthew Sweet (that’s right, he lives here now) announced today that he’s working on his first studio album in three years and will be launching a Kickstarter campaign to fund the project sometime this month.

He also said among the material he’ll be playing on the tour that brings him to O’Leaver’s July 30 (sorry, already sold out) are “his 90s releases, with such hits as ‘Girlfriend,’ ‘Sick of Myself,’ ‘I’ve Been Waiting’ and ‘Devil With the Green Eyes’ through his most recent release, Modern Art.

* * *

Tomorrow: The Faint.

* * *

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.

 

Lazy-i

Mynabirds CD release and Slowdown celebrates five years tonight; OEAA showcase tonight and tomorrow; Jewel Beast Saturday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 1:11 pm June 8, 2012
Robb Nansel, left, and Jason Kulbel stand in front of Slowdown waaay back in June 2007.

Robb Nansel, left, and Jason Kulbel stand in front of Slowdown waaay back in June 2007.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

The weekend’s hottest ticket is The Mynabirds CD release show tonight at The Slowdown. Joining Laura Burhenn and Co. are Jake Bellows and Honeybee & Hers. And it’s also Slowdown’s fifth birthday. Has it really been five years since Jason and Robb opened the doors to this esteemed club? I guess it has been.

It’s fun to reread this article and see how far the bar has come since opening day. But in all honesty, not much has changed. The club is still primarily a music-themed bar (Though its Science Cafe and Pub Quiz nights have become popular). It beat the rest of Omaha to the punch as a smoke-free facility (Can you even remember what it was like to smoke in a bar?). Dan Brennan and Val Nelson are still there (Well, Dan’s there when he isn’t on the road doing sound for Cursive or another big-name national act). There are still no TVs in the bar (Except, of course, for College World Series weeks and other major sporting events, such as Husker Saturdays). And it’s still all-ages (As long as you have a note from your parents). Slowdown is recognized as one of the best live music venues in the Midwest, hosting some of the best touring indie bands in the country. We’re lucky to have it here in Omaha.

Slowdown’s birthday celebration continues tomorrow night in Slowdown Jr. (i.e., the front room) with Howard, Lightning Bug and Family Picnic. Cover is $5 both nights, and both shows have the usual 9 p.m. start time. Drop down and help the Slowdown crew blow out the candles.

The Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards (OEAA) Summer Showcase (oddly named, as summer doesn’t start for a couple more weeks) also is happening tonight and tomorrow. Showcases are being held throughout Benson at The Sydney, The Waiting Room, The Barley Street Tavern and the DP Muller Photography Studio, 6066 Maple St. (one of Saddle Creek Records’ former HQ locations). Tomorrow night PS Collective also is participating. The full band schedule is here. A one-day pass gets you into all the clubs for $10; a two-day pass is $15. As in years past, attendees will be able to vote for their favorite band, and the band with the most votes gets to open the local stage at this year’s Maha Music Festival. Always a good time.

Celebrating nothing but the ability to continue to pour alcohol down people’s throats is O’Leaver’s, who tonight is hosting Snake Island with Across Tundras and Dim Light. Snake Island has been showing off their boss new band T-shirts on Facebook. I might have to swing down there to buy one. $5, 9:30 p.m. This show has been CANCELLED.

Saturday night, Millions of Boys is playing at Studio Gallery, 50th and Dodge, with Jewel Beast, a new band comprised of members from InDreama, Human Pudding, New Lungs, Kathleen Turner Overdrive, and Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship. Also on the bill is Ian Douglas Terry. 9 p.m., $5, 21+, BYOB, more info here.

* * *

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 © 2012 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i