#TBT: Jan. 18, 2004 — The first time I stepped inside O’Leaver’s…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 8:36 am January 18, 2024

The Kingdom Flying Club, circa 2004…

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Looking for something to post today (there is nothing going on… I mean nothing), I ran across my first review of fabulous O’Leaver’s, published 20 years ago today in Lazy-i. O’Leaver’s had already been hosting live shows for awhile before I first stumbled into The Club, and my comment that I “can’t imagine a Saddle Creek Band playing an announced show there” would prove to not only be wrong but in some ways prescient as members of Cursive would eventually buy the bar years later. 

Over 20 years, O’Leaver’s surprisingly hasn’t changed much – at least not the main room where bands perform. When Kasher, Maginn and Stevens took over, they upped the sound system and made a shit-ton of improvements, including adding that bucolic beer garden. But the overall ambience in the main room is the same, including those record-album sleeves stapled to the walls like college-dorm wallpaper.

After a time of post-COVID live music dormancy, it sounds like changes are afoot at O’Leaver’s. The club recently closed its grill and seems to be returning to hosting live music, judging by a somewhat robust upcoming events calendar that includes Sunday’s Neva Dinova show and that Rosali gig in February. Check out their full upcoming events calendar. Asked online if O’Leaver’s has turned the rock machine back on, someone who handles their social accounts replied, “Well YES WE HAVE!!!

As for Columbia, Missouri’s Kingdom Flying Club, after that 2004 O’Leaver’s gig, I interviewed the band in support of their return engagement two months later (With Civella, and A Cult of Riley, read that interview here). The band released a maxi-single a year after their 2003 debut on Emergency Umbrella Records, and then just… disappeared, which is a rock ’n’ roll trope that has been repeated a million times and will be repeated a million more.  That said, you can still listen to their debut on YouTube (linked below). 

Live Review: Kingdom Flying Club at O’Leavers – Jan. 18, 2004

Part of what I heard about O’Leavers is true. It is a small place — some would say downright tiny. But I wouldn’t say it’s cramped. It’s actually cozy in sort of a Homy Inn sort of way. Also like The Homy, O’Leavers is decorated with tons of shit on its walls — in this case, hundreds of album covers that span a few decades, as well as rock posters, including a prominent image of David Bowie in full Ziggy mode. With a bar on one end, the band plays directly across the room in a step-up seating area, standing right in front of a nonfunctioning fireplace. It’s like someone’s funky, 1970s “music room” or a college guy’s basement apartment, and I suppose that’s where it gets its charm.

I have heard people complain that it’s too small for live music. It wasn’t last night, but that’s because the bill consisted of under-the-radar acts. I can’t imagine a Saddle Creek band or one of the large West Omaha bands playing an announced show there. The room looks like it could comfortably hold maybe 75 people. Last night’s crowd looked to be around 50, and there was plenty of room to walk around, get a drink, even sit down. The sound system this night was provided by Matt Whipkey of Anonymous American fame, two small overhead amps and whatever gear the band brought with it. As a result, it wasn’t deafening — I didn’t need to wear earplugs and could talk to people without screaming during the sets.

I walked in hearing the strains of a band fronted by the guy who used to be known as Stop At Line. His new band consists of him on electric guitar and a drummer playing sorta screamo punk a la Desaparecidos. It’s not bad, but it needs a bass and some variety in the songwriting — every song sounded the same.

The headliner was Columbia, Missouri’s Kingdom Flying Club. You already know how much I like this band if you read my Year in Review (their album, Non-Fiction, made my year-end top-10 faves list and a selection from it is included on my 2003 Best of Comp (which you can still enter to win a copy of… see details). Now after seeing them live, I’m convinced that they could be the next Weezer — a bold statement, I know, but they’ve got that whole pop-rock thing down to a science. Live, they sound like a cross between Weezer and Ned’s Atomic Dustbin or any other band you can think of that played that sort-of alt style circa 1993. Their stage presence is pure slacker — the thin, pasty keyboardist/vocalist looks like he’s about pass out at any moment, while the other vocalists/guitarist looks like he just walked out of the quad at Everyplace University. They were sloppy at times, not exactly tight, but their approach almost seemed intentional. I think these guys know that it’s their songs that are going to get them noticed, and despite their liaise faire attitude; they won over the crowd playing mostly songs off Non-fiction, though there were a couple I didn’t recognize. They closed with a cover of AC/DC’s “T-N-T” which was respectfully messy and fun.

My take on O’Leavers is that it’s a delightfully and purposely unpolished gem of a club that will continue to have an impact on Omaha’s music scene. Now if they’d only get a website so that we could find out who’s playing there next.

— Lazy-i, Jan. 18, 2004

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2024 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.