Is O’Leaver’s returning to (regularly) hosting live music?

Category: Blog — Tags: — @ 9:07 am October 24, 2023
Tim Kasher and band at O’Leaver’s, March 21, 2013 – just one of the hundreds of bands that graced the legendary Omaha club’s “stage.”

by Tim McMahan,

We tend to make things better in our minds after they’re gone, forgetting the bad stuff, remembering only the good moments – it’s true both for people and music venues. O’Leaver’s is a good example. The energy of a night at O’Leaver’s is hard to describe — when there’s a great band playing on their stage, the crowd is drunk and happy (but not too much of either), and you can find your favorite spot to soak it all in. 

In reality, not every night was so golden, but there was always someone there who knew your name. Then along came the pandemic and O’Leaver’s changed its business model, opened a grill, put in booths and cut down on the live music. Suddenly, unless you had a serious drinking problem or played volleyball, there were fewer reasons to go to O’Leaver’s. 

I cannot blame the folks behind the bar (which include members of Saddle Creek Records band Cursive) for trying the bar-food experiment – after all, it works so well for O’Leaver’s sister establishment – The Winchester (owned by the same team of rock stars). That said, The Winchester ain’t O’Leaver’s. I can imagine taking my imaginary family to Winchester’s for dinner — I can’t imagine taking a family to O’Leaver’s for burgers and cokes (though plenty of people did).

Okay, so yesterday O’Leaver’s posted on social media that it’s pulling the plug on its kitchen. “We were never able to reach our goals of sustainability since opening 3 years ago,” they posted on Facebook. “O’Leavers pub will continue to rock and roll!! We open at 3:30 on the weekdays and noon on the weekends. Happy hour is always a blast and Jeopardy’s still on at 6 every day. AND, live music is on the calendar!!

Does that mean a return to the old days at O’Leaver’s with live music every weekend? Not likely. Omaha legendary musician and member of the O’Leaver’s brain trust, Craig Dee, said the club may slowly start ramping up music again “but not like the old days.”

Last weekend O’Leaver’s hosted two nights of music, including the return of heritage post-punk act Dance Me Pregnant. Alas, I was unable to attend, but heard it felt like… old times. The club has another free show slated this Friday — a punk-rock gig with The Scabby Ghouls, The Shidiots, DSM-5 and Blowing Chunks. Could more shows be on the way?

I remember a time when fabulous O’Leaver’s booked up to four shows a week, which even for me was exhausting. I’d be happy with rock shows every other weekend, but then again, I’m an old guy. Here’s hoping The Club will re-emerge as another tour-stop and/or viable stage for local post-punk bands, because lord knows we desperately need it…

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — 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 © 2023 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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