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

Waiting Room memories (an HN special); Umm (Big Harp), Oquoa, Nashville Pussy, Bloodcow tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:31 pm April 13, 2017

Bloodcow at Reverb Lounge, March 7, 2015. The band opens for Nashville Pussy tonight at Lookout Lounge.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

A couple weeks ago Zack Visconti at Hear Nebraska contacted me asking a series of questions about The Waiting Room for a news feature he was writing for the website. Questions like ‘What’s your favorite show there?” and “Fondest TWR memory?” and so on. The story ran March 31 at Hear Nebraska, and you can read it here.

An excerpt:

What was your favorite show there?

Very hard to say since I’ve seen so many. The first one that jumps out is The Faint show held there just a couple days after they opened, March 11, 2007. Other favorites that stood out off the top of my head include St. Vincent, July 25, 2007 — Annie Clark on lead guitar fronting a punk band, she’s never sounded better; Monotonix 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; the first Future Islands show in November 2011 — no one had heard of them and only a handful of people were there, but frontman Sam Herring was at his flamboyant best; and Stephen Malmus & the Jicks Feb. 16, 2014 — where there was a special guest appearance by Bob Nastanovich, making it a mini Pavement reunion.

God, who remembers that Monotonix show? What ever happened to those guys?

* * *

A couple big shows tonight as we begin the holiday weekend…

As mentioned yesterday, Umm headlines tonight at Reverb Lounge. The band consists of Stef Drootin and Chris Senseney of Big Harp. They describe Umm’s sound as “vintage harmonies and shards of fuzz over grounded, primitive rhythms and simple, aching pop melodies.” Nice. Opening are BareBear and Oquoa. $7, 9 p.m.

The other big show tonight is hard rock act Nashville Pussy (SPV, Amphetamine Reptile) at Lookout Lounge. Somebody dubbed their music “sleaze rock” — it’s hard, fast and just right to kick off your Easter weekend. Opening are some of Omaha’s heaviest hitters Bloodcow, Ocean Black and Gallivant. $18, 8 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

Live Review: Conor Oberst; Closeness, High Up tonight; Sam Locke Ward, Simon Joyner, Growlers Saturday; Cold War Kids Sunday…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 1:50 pm March 10, 2017

Conor Oberst at The Waiting Room, March 9, 2017.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Conor Oberst was the main event of last night’s Waiting Room 10th Anniversary bash.

Oberst, with his wacky wild man, just-rolled-out-of-bed hairdo, took the stage at 9:30 and kicked through about 75 minutes of folk rock backed by The Felice Brothers. The set consisted mostly of songs off his new album Salutations, which to me, sounds like a soft-rock combination of Blood on the Tracks-era Dylan and Leonard Cohen. Conor’s lyrics have never been sharper, though his melodies have lost their edge, especially when laid beside older material like “Poison Oak” and “Cape Canaveral.”

That said, Salutations takes the stripped-down material from Ruminations and thoughtfully beefs it up to create his best album since his 2008 eponymous release. Last night’s set was heavily weighted with the new stuff — this definitely will not be a greatest hits tour.

From my vantage point, Oberst approached the performance with workmanlike precision, fueled by a well-oiled Felice machine. It left me wistfully dreaming about Bright Eyes shows gone by, where Oberst was a lit fuse ready to either explode or fizzle out on stage. Kevin Coffey of the Omaha World-Herald reported (second hand) that he did blow up on stage. I guess I missed it.

In fact, I was expecting (hoping for) some political diatribe between songs, but no. Maybe Conor let off on the anti-Trump rhetoric because it was the Waiting Room’s birthday, which he referenced numerous times throughout the night.

Oberst closed with a three-song encore that included a angst-fueled solo piano tune I didn’t recognize that was among the best songs of the night, and a scorching version of “Napalm” with the brothers Felice from the new album, a real Live Rust moment.

It was one of the most packed nights I can remember at The Waiting Room, a real crush mob, with more than a few lit patrons, one assumes from enjoying the pre-party over at Reverb before the show (which, sadly, I missed).

* * *

After the past few weekends with little to do, this weekend is chock full o’ shows.

It starts off tonight at fabulous O’Leaver’s where Closeness celebrates the release of their new EP, Personality Therapy, out today on Graveface. This is sort of a warm-up show as the duo of Orenda and Todd Fink get ready head to Austin for SXSW. Joining them tonight is the mighty High Up (Orenda’s pulling double duty!) and the provocatively named new act BareBear.  $10, 7 p.m.

Also tonight, dark wave leather-fetish dance sensation Plack Blague headlines at Reverb Lounge with Cult Play and Solid Goldberg. $6, 9 p.m.

Satchel Grande and Carson City Heat also take The Waiting Room stage tonight. 9 p.m., $8.

Saturday night Almost Music is hosting Sam Locke Ward with Simon Joyner and the return of L. Eugene (Methe) Group. $5, 9 p.m.

Meanwhile, over at O’Leaver’s, Sean Pratt headlines with Landon Hedges (of Little Brazil, Desaparecidos, Wrong Pets and Fine, Fine Automobiles). $5, 9:30 p.m.  This show has been CANCELLED.

Also Saturday night, The Growlers return to The Waiting Room. $15, 9 p.m.

El Ten Eleven returns to The Slowdown Saturday night with Mylets and Fontenelle. $12, 8 p.m.

Then Sunday night Long Beach indie rockers Cold War Kids headline at Sokol Auditorium. Middle Kids open the 8 p.m. show. $26.

Also Sunday night, Vancouver art rock band Bad Pop headlines at Reverb Lounge. Relax, It’s Science and Low Long Signal open. $7, 8 p.m.

And that’s all I got. If I missed your show, put it on 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

#TBT: The Waiting Room: Book It and They Will Come; Conor Oberst (SOLD OUT), Har Mar Superstar headline anniversary show…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 11:35 am March 9, 2017

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

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Has it really been 10 years? Guess it has, though it doesn’t seem like it.

When the venue opened March 9, 2007, there was never any doubt in my mind that The Waiting Room would still be in operation a decade later. And sure enough, here we are. The club is bigger and better than ever, and arguably was the keystone on which the Benson revitalization was built upon.

I’m not going to get all maudlin and nostalgic about the club or the people behind it (I’ll save that for The Reader article, which I’m hoping to write for the June issue). Instead, here’s the original interview with Waiting Room founders Marc Leibowitz and Jim Johnson from the March 8 2007 issue of The Reader (and entry on Lazy-i.com) where the dynamic duo explain why they built the club and their plans for the future.

Actually, before we get to that, tonight is the official 10th Anniversary show featuring Conor Oberst and The Felice Brothers. This one has been sold out for a long time. The club is having an invitation only celebration prior to that show, though everyone is invited to the 10th Anniversary After Party featuring Har Mar Superstar at Reverb Lounge. Tickets are still available for that one for $10, but I suggest you buy them before it, too, is sold out. Har Mar starts at 11 p.m.

Now let’s step into the Wayback machine to March 8, 2007…

The Waiting Room: Book It and They Will Come
from Lazy-i.com, March 8, 2007

A mere month after taking possession of the building that used to house Marnie’s Place, D Dubs and the legendary Lifticket Lounge, The Waiting Room in the heart of Benson is ready for business.

Its owners — Jim Johnson and Marc Leibowitz — are ready for business as well.

Since getting the keys from the landlord, a visibly worn but excited Johnson has spent 12 hours a day every day cleaning, painting and repairing the facility, from building a gorgeous new bar to upgrading the stage to remodeling the bathrooms, and he’s not through yet. One week prior to its grand opening more work still needed to be done. The Pepsi guy was scheduled to show up the next morning, more tables and chairs were on the way, a collection of posters from past One Percent Productions shows (what the duo is known for) had yet to be hung and the booze hadn’t arrived yet (nor had their liquor license).

But the most important element — the venue’s monster stage, sound and lighting system — was in place and ready for lift-off. Using an iPod plugged into the soundboard, Johnson and Leibowitz ran a brief test of the system, playing tracks by Red House Painters, The Replacements and Frontier Trust, finally settling on Beck’s Sea Change. Even with one of the large stage speakers still yet to be hooked up, the sound was pristine — huge and full-bodied — and very loud.

“It’ll be even louder when the bands are playing,” Leibowitz said. “It’s basically a supped-up version of Sokol Underground’s PA in a room half the size. It has the same speakers, but the amps are better. The monitors are the same, the board is a lot better and there are twice as many stage lights.”

Enormous subwoofers are mounted beneath the stage, surrounded by 5,000 pounds of sand used to dampen vibration. Running the board will be soundman Jason Churchill from the Satellite Blues Band, who has been working sound at One Percent shows for the past couple years. “We thought he had a good sound from the get-go,” Leibowitz said. “He’s used to working with large bands. We bought his PA, he sold his cube truck and now this is his home.”

It’s a first-class set-up that will quickly be recognized as one of the best performance rooms in the city. And unlike Sokol Underground, where large metal poles always block your view, all sight lines are unobstructed.

Beyond the stage and sound, the lounge itself sports a clean, comfortable, lived-in feel, from the booths along the south wall to the pinball-machine room in the back. The place even boasts two sets of restrooms — one by the pinball room, the other to the right of the stage. Johnson will get to know them intimately as he’ll be the guy cleaning them every morning after what he hopes will be plenty of use.

Although lifted from a Fugazi song, the club’s name — The Waiting Room — is appropriate for reasons beyond sheer tribute. Leibowitz and Johnson waited 11 years to open the club.

“We thought in 1996 that we’d find the right place within a year,” Johnson said. “We figured we could do shows as One Percent Productions for awhile and prove that we could make enough money to convince a bank to give us a loan. Eleven years later, and we realized it wasn’t that easy.”

Part of the reason for the delay was that they were too “picky.” Over the years they considered venues in the Old Market, along Farnam St., in South Omaha and even the building that currently houses Sullivan’s. Then this last December Johnson stepped into Marnie’s Place at 6212 Maple St. and talked with the building’s owner. Within weeks, he was handed the keys.

“One reason we chose this location was because it was affordable,” Leibowitz said. “Every other place we looked at cost too much money. And we like Benson. A lot of people that go to our shows live around here.”

Friday night’s opening will feature Art in Manila (a new band fronted by Orenda Fink, who has released albums on Saddle Creek Records), Lawrence band 4th of July and folk band Black Squirrels. The following night, punk bands Bombardment Society, Now Archimedes!, and The Stay Awake take the stage. Sunday night’s show is a special invitation-only affair that will feature one of the area’s biggest acts.

That’s three nights of indie and punk bands, and although One Percent built its rep on indie music, Johnson and Leibowitz know that they’ll have to reach beyond that genre to keep the bar open, especially with Saddle Creek Records’ mammoth Slowdown entertainment complex opening downtown in just a few months.

“We’re not indie music promoters; we’re independent promoters,” Leibowitz said. “Indie music got us where we are today, but we now book more metal and hardcore than anyone in town.”

“These days, I’m really getting into country music,” Johnson said, adding that had someone stepped into the building anytime over the past month, they would have heard plenty of pedal steel along with the hammers and saws.

“We want to book whatever people want to come see,” Leibowitz said. “Yes, the indie shows that can fit into this room will be here. But there also will be some bands that we would have booked at Mick’s — like Jolie Holland and Dave Dondero. We want to do the Americana stuff that the Sunday Roadhouse series is known for. We’ve been offered jazz and reggae shows in the past and had no room for them. Now we do. It’ll be all across the board.”

Which begs the question how One Percent will be able to book Sokol, Slowdown and their own club without an obvious conflict of interest. Leibowitz said The Waiting Room isn’t in those venues’ league.

“The competition will be between Sokol, Scottish Rite Hall and Slowdown. All really cater to the same size shows,” he said, adding that economics differentiate the three. Sokol is cheap to operate. “From what we’ve been told, Slowdown could be more expensive, and Scottish Rite is very expensive.”

Where an artist plays will depend on what the artist wants out of a show. “They may want to play a less expensive room that allows them to walk out with more cash,” Leibowitz said. “On the other hand, from a production standpoint, nothing will touch Slowdown. It’ll have the nicest stuff in town. It comes down to expenses, availability and capacity, and I can push artists only so far in one direction.”

For example, Leibowitz said he would prefer to have the upcoming Andrew Bird show at The Scottish Rite Hall. “It would have been amazing,” he said, “but the economics of Sokol Underground made more sense to them.”

As you can tell, despite the new bar Leibowitz’s focus will remain on growing One Percent Productions. Johnson will be dedicated to running The Waiting Room full-time. “You won’t see the two of us running around everywhere like before. We want hands-on control of this bar.”

The whole point of having their own club was to be able to do it their way. Every time they started booking shows at a new venue, they’ve brought a list of suggestions to improve its business. “We asked Sokol to repaint, put in some lighting in the room adjacent to the main room and add seating so people could sit down and drink. No one listened,” Leibowitz said. “We went into the Saddle Creek Bar and said ‘Make it sound right. Don’t add more speakers, make it better. ‘ At O’Leaver’s I walked out of one show (a performance by the band Bella Lea) embarrassed. I can’t put a delicate sounding band in there.”

“We never held any of our own cards at those other bars,” Johnson said. “Here, we have control of our own destiny. We can make it the way we want to make it. After doing 800 shows, we think we’ve determined what this town needs.”

With that level of control, a risky proposition like opening a bar is a chance they’re willing to take. “We’ve proven with Sokol that people will come if you book the right shows,” Leibowitz said. “O’Leaver’s has proven that, too. We know if we bring in bands people want to see, they’ll come. — Lazy-i.com, March 8, 2007

* * *

More trivia: That was a busy night back in 2007 even if you weren’t at The Waiting Room. Kite Pilot, Razz the Kid and Or Does It Explode played at The Saddle Creek Bar. Or Does It Explode was a band that featured Robert Little and Matt Stamp from Mariannes, Tim from Latitude Longitude, and Pat D from RTO and Cactus Nerve Thang. $5, 9 p.m. The Terminals were playing the Black Shoe Bash and Dance Party at the Bemis Underground with Brimstone Howl and Denver’s The Machine Gun Blues, and The Take Action! Tour was happening down at Sokol Auditorium with The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Emery, Scary Kids Scaring Kids, A Static Lullaby, and Kaddisfly… Ah, those were the days…

* * *

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: Jan. 31, 2007: The Wait Is Over; Turnpike Troubadours tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 3:02 pm January 26, 2017

In beautiful Downtown Benson..

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

This truly is a landmark year for Omaha’s music scene as two of its prominent music venues are celebrating 10-year anniversaries.

When The Waiting Room was announced a decade ago this month it was a surprise to many. We knew the dudes at One Percent Productions were looking for a place to call their own rather than to continue renting Sokol Underground; but few people knew where they were looking. There had been rumors that the Sokol facility was in their cross hairs along with the Saddle Creek Bar (can you believe at one time both The Slowdown and One Percent were looking at the Metcalf Park area for their locations?).

I wonder how The Waiting Room and The Slowdown will celebrate their anniversaries… We’ll just have to wait and see. For now, step back into the Lazy-i vaults and relieve this announcement all over again…

Column 112: The Wait Is Over
One Percent to Open Music Venue
Lazy-i, Jan. 31, 2007

For the guys at One Percent Productions, a long-held dream is about to become a reality.

That dream is called The Waiting Room, a new venue slated for an early March launch at 6212 Maple St., the location of the now-defunct Marnie’s Place. The impending opening is bound to send shockwaves throughout the Omaha music scene, sending askew the delicate balance that exists among a handful of clubs that also host indie rock shows.

Why all the hoo-ha? Because The Waiting Room is owned and operated by Jim Johnson and Marc Leibowitz, the dynamic duo behind what is arguably the city’s most important promotion company, One Percent Productions — the folks who, along with Saddle Creek Records, helped forge this city’s reputation as a national indie music Mecca.

Anyone who’s known Johnson and Leibowitz over the past decade knows that they’ve spent almost as much time looking for a suitable location to open their own club as they have booking shows. Now they’ve found it in the heart of Benson.

Though it’s been talked about in hushed voices for weeks, Johnson officially confirmed the rumor a few days ago after negotiations with the landlord were signed, sealed and delivered. Details are still sketchy since he and Leibowitz only received the keys on Monday, but here’s what Johnson knows for sure:

The estimated 250-capacity club will book a wide range of music in a variety of genres, not just the indie fare that One Percent is known for. Johnson said in addition to local and national indie bands, look for more adult-oriented music, including rockabilly, country, folk, reggae, blues, and yes, even cover bands. Plans call for live music five days a week, with Leibowitz doing the lion’s share of booking.

Facility-wise, look for the usual bar accoutrements, including pool tables, pinball machines, a good jukebox, even those stupid bar-top videogames. The establishment will have a full liquor license, but no food will be served, which means — you guessed it — smoking will be permitted.

That’s all fine and dandy, but what about parking? Johnson said there’s plenty of street parking and also some parking to the south of the building, behind the hardware store.

He said the venue’s premium sound system will set it apart from all the other clubs in Omaha. “We’re spending a lot of money on the sound system,” Johnson said. “Jason Churchill, who does sound for us at Sokol Underground, is designing the system, and it will be among the best.”

But Johnson said The Waiting Room’s edge over the other guys comes from the duo’s decade of experience successfully booking bands in rooms all over town. One Percent Productions’ rep is renowned among national agents who handle the highest quality touring bands. “We’ve shown what we can do at the clubs we’ve worked with over the years,” Johnson said. “That’s really our advantage.”

So what about that name, The Waiting Room? Johnson said it’s derived from the opening track off Fugazi’s classic 1989 album, 13 Songs. The throbbing post-punk anthem sports the line: “I won’t make the same mistakes / Because I know how much time that wastes / Function is the key / In the waiting room.” It’s kind of like how the promotion company’s name came from a Jane’s Addiction song, “1%,” which has the inspiring lyric, “I’m tired of living the bosses’ dream.” The duo was toying with the idea of renaming the club The Liftticket Lounge since it’s the site of the fabled venue that hosted, among others, Nirvana and Soundgarden.

“The room has a legacy,” Johnson said. “It’s kind of cool.” In the end, they preferred to leave that legacy as part of Benson’s history.

The other burning question is how the club will impact One Percent’s ongoing promotion operations. Over the past decade, One Percent has booked nearly 1,000 shows primarily at Sokol Underground and Sokol Auditorium, but also at O’Leaver’s, The Saddle Creek Bar, The 49’r and nearby Mick’s.

Johnson said their promotion efforts won’t be affected at all, and in fact “it should allow us to do more shows at other places in town,” he said. “By offering another room, we’ll hopefully be able to get bigger and better shows. We still need Sokol and Slowdown and The Mid America Center and The Orpheum and The Rococo in Lincoln.”

In fact, tucked away in the back of the new venue will be the first official offices of One Percent Productions. “It’s going to be nice for Marc and I to be able to sit in an office together,” Johnson said. “Maybe it’ll give me the opportunity to be more involved with the live booking than I’ve been in the past. We already discuss every show over the phone, but now we’ll be able to do it face to face.” — Lazy-i, Jan. 31, 2007

* * *

So what’s going on at The Waiting Room tonight? So-called “dirt country” band Turnpike Troubadours plays TWR tonight with Dalton Domino. $30, 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 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

The Reader Interview — The Return: Ritual Device, Cellophane Ceiling and Main Vein Productions…

The cover of this week's issue of The Reader featuring a profile on Ritual Device, Cellophane Ceiling and Main Vein Productions.

The cover of this week’s issue of The Reader featuring a profile on Ritual Device, Cellophane Ceiling and Main Vein Productions.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

That cover story in support of the Dec. 26 Ritual Device / Cellophane Ceiling reunion show at The Waiting Room is now online at TheReader.com (right here).

The story covers the history of both bands as well as the rise and fall of Main Vein Productions — the concert promotion company run by Ritual Device’s Tim Moss and Cellophane Ceiling’s John Wolf.

The story also talks about the Omaha music scene circa the early ’90s when a handful of bands (including the ones mentioned above) attracted national attention thanks to recording and touring outside of the state. It was those bands that set the stage for what would come later in that decade — the rise of Saddle Creek Records’ bands and Nebraska’s notoriety as an indie music Mecca.

Check it out and try to pick up a printed copy. It contains a ton of photos including old Main Vein show posters from back in the day. And get your $10 tickets to the show (while you can) — Dec. 26, 9 p.m. The Waiting Room. Nightbird (also performing Cactus Nerve Thang songs) opens.

* * *

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

Random Notes (Lupines, Waiting Room, Brad Hoshaw); Whipkey goes trackside tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 1:45 pm January 29, 2014

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

A few people asked where they can pick up copies of the new Lupines EP Over the Moon, especially when the title isn’t available on the the Speed! Nebraska website (yet). The answer: The EP is available at Almost Music in Benson and Homer’s downtown, and of course, at Lupines shows, though I’m not aware of any currently scheduled. Pick up your copy today.

* * *

The new Waiting Room website on an iPhone.

The new Waiting Room website on an iPhone.

The Waiting Room launched a new website yesterday (at waitingroomlounge.com). To me the most notable quality is that it looks as awesome on your smartphone or tablet as it does on your desktop. Now you can easily check the club’s schedule on the run with your iPhone or Android without having to squint.

* * *

Brad Hoshaw and the Seven Deadlies have a new video on YouTube for an old song. This new take on “Carpenter” off the band’s debut CD was produced by Union Pacific (where I just happen to work for a living). Look for more “Listen UP” sessions in the future produced throughout the Union Pacific system with bands from the regions where they’re filmed.

* * *

Speaking of Hoshaw, he’s the featured artist tonight for Whipkey Wednesday at Tracks Lounge, 1506 So. 60th St., home of the former Trackside Lounge. Matt Whipkey will host and perform at this new weekly series. Music starts at 8 and admission is free.

* * *

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 Waiting Room to undergo upgrades; Orgone tonight, So-So Sailors Saturday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 1:43 pm January 4, 2013

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Tonight’s Orgone show at The Waiting Room will be the last at the club for a week as it undergoes a number of improvements. Sharp-eyed and sharp-eared patrons already noticed the recently installed new soundboard.

“We’re completely replacing all aspects of sound and lights,” said Marc Leibowitz, who owns and operates The Waiting Room with partner Jim Johnson. “We are also adding a second dressing room. Other than that, we are installing a true draft system and will go from eight to 26 beers on tap.”

To allow for all this good stuff, the club is closing temporarily. “We aren’t formally closing, but we are closed this Saturday (tomorrow) though next Friday (11th),” Leibowitz said. “Then we are open the 11th and 12th, but close again from the 13th through the 16th. We reopen officially on January 17.”

I didn’t think there was anything wrong with how The Waiting Room looked and sounded before this upcoming renovation; imagine what it’ll be like after it’s done. As for the additional draft beer offerings, I’m afraid it’s only a matter of time before they pry my bony fingers from around my bottle of Rolling Rock…

* * *

Like I said, tonight’s hot show is LA funk band Orgone at The Waiting Room with Satchel Grande opening. These guys have built quite a local following starting years ago playing Loom events. $9, 9 p.m. Bring your dancing shoes. Check out some Orgone below…


O'Leaver's new soundboard.

O’Leaver’s new soundboard.

Tomorrow night So-So Sailors play at O’Leaver’s with Django (the D is silent) G-S. And speaking of improvements, O’Leaver’s yesterday tweeted this photo of that club’s new soundboard. Considering the size of the club (and it’s PA) it’s more than they’ll ever need. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Also Saturday night, In Love plays at Slowdown Jr. with Tie These Hands, Flight Metaphor and Joe Champion. $7, 9 p.m.

* * *

More news…

Thunder Power announced a 7-date tour this month (including a Jan. 18 date at The Side Door) in support of their new EP, Volumes, which recently was released on Slumber Party Records.

And even though the holiday is over, you can still download CoCo Art’s Roam For the Holidaze Vol. 4 compilation, featuring new songs from Todd Fink (The Faint), InDreama and Dereck Higgins among its 21 tracks. The best part: It’s absolutely free. Check it out.

* * *

Lazy-i Best of 2012

Lazy-i Best of 2012

And speaking of free compilations, win yourself a copy of the Lazy-i Best of 2012 sampler CD! Tracks include songs by Gordon, Ember Schrag, The Faint, Simon Joyner, Mere Mortals, McCarthy Trenching, Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, Nicky Da B, Violens, Cat Power, PUJOL, Millions of Boys and lots more. The full track listing is here (scroll to the bottom). To enter the drawing to win a free copy send an email with your name and mailing address to tim.mcmahan@gmail.comHurry! Deadline is Jan. 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 © 2013 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i