Omaha Performing Arts responds to Duran Duran questions; new Vempire single…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 8:43 am February 28, 2024

Vempire’s Shake dual single.

by Tim McMahan,

I mentioned yesterday I’d let you know if Omaha Performing Arts (O-pa) responded to questions regarding the May 17 Duran Duran show at Steelhouse Omaha. 

Here’s what I sent O-pa:

A couple quick questions regarding the Duran Duran concert at Steelhouse. First, congrats on the instant sell-out! Someone with industry knowledge posted on social media that the concert was an “underplay” and that after such a quick sellout that Duran Duran will be coming back to Omaha soon. Any truth to that? 

The other speculation about the concert is that Duran Duran was brought in as a thank you to important donors and corporate sponsors on the one-year anniversary of the grand opening, which is why the club seating wasn’t available. Is that the case?

O-pa’s response:

Hi Tim,

Thanks for the congrats! We’re so excited to have pursued and booked Duran Duran to play our one-year anniversary concert. We only have this performance booked with Duran Duran and do not know their future tour plans or schedule. Club seating is not available for this concert because of a private party. 

Thanks for reaching out. 

Lee Turkovich,
Vice President of Marketing & Communication
Omaha Performing Arts

The “private party” comment is consistent with what they’ve posted on social media. Who is the “private party”? We may never officially know.

By the way, after-market (scalped) tickets to Duran Duran are going for $222 at Ticketmaster and as low as $187 at StubHub (not including fees). Yes, that’s more than twice the face value but still a bargain for seeing your bucket-list band at a (relatively) intimate venue. It’s certainly cheaper than driving to see them at the 6,500-capacity WinStar Casino in Thackerville, Oklahoma.

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Over the past couple summers I went ga-ga over Lincoln band Thirst Things First when they played at the annual Petfest Festival in Benson. Well, the TTF frontman Mike Elfers has another project called Vempire with Lindsey Yoneda (of the project Ghostlike). The duo released a new “Dual-Single” this past Valentine’s Day for the tracks “Shake” b/w “Blattodea,” mixed by Jeremy Wurst at B-24 Studios in Kansas City. The release also includes remixes by the likes of Christopher Steffen of StudioPH, Pawl Tisdale of Domestica (and Sideshow) and Minneapolis’ Toilet Rats. Check it out; it’s dance-y, it reminds me of The Faint and Icky Blossoms. Maybe these two could open for Duran Duran?

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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 © 2024 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


On the indie event horizon; Steelhouse continues to disappoint…

Category: Blog — Tags: , — @ 7:51 am October 26, 2023
Yo La Tengo at The Waiting Room, Sept. 21, 2013. The band returns Feb. 19, 2024.

by Tim McMahan,

We’ve entered the lull season for shows. I see only 12 touring indie shows coming through town between now and next summer. All are listed below. 

Strangely (or maybe not so strangely), two of the city’s biggest, newest music venues in their inaugural years have no touring indie shows booked at all.  The Astro has an excuse. Despite a scheduled opening date of Sept. 7, the venue has yet to host any shows due to “construction delays.” Their next scheduled show was Ruben and Clay — which, because of all the other cancellations, postponements or moves to other venues, would have been the first show for the The Astro. But that’s been postponed, too. The next opportunity to see the inside of this multi-million-dollar facility will be Emo Orchestra Nov. 5 (that is, if you’re into Emo Orchestra). The Astro only has five shows booked through May 15.

Meanwhile, the multi-million-dollar Steelhouse Omaha has a total of 18 shows on its calendar. The breakdown by genre: 4 comedians; 4 country; 3 alt rock, and a hodgepodge of gospel, rave, EDM, “family,” smooth jazz, R&B and tribute/cover bands. No indie, but is anyone surprised?

Sure, it’s the down season, but it’s also the inaugural year for this $100 million-plus venue. Or is there another reason their bookings have been so geriatric and disappointing?

Anyway, below is the current list of indie shows booked at The Slowdown and 1% properties through May 30 of next year. Hopefully, more will be booked. If not, it’s going to be a long winter:

  • – Great Lake Swimmers, Nov. 2 at Slowdown
  • – Slothrust, Nov. 17 at Reverb
  • – Speedy Ortiz, Nov. 17, The Slowdown
  • – Atmosphere, Nov. 21 at The Admiral
  • – Hotline TNT, Nov. 22 at Reverb Lounge
  • – Neva Dinova, Dec. 14 at Reverb
  • – Laura Jane Grace, Jan. 2 at The Slowdown
  • – Squirrel Flower Jan. 21 at Reverb
  • – Yo La Tengo, Feb. 19 at The Waiting Room
  • – Katy Kirby, Feb. 29 at Reverb
  • – Ty Segall, May 7 at The Waiting Room.
  • – Wednesday, May 30, The Slowdown

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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.


Cursive wows NYC; Live Nation gets Steelhouse bookings; another O’Leaver’s weekend…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 8:29 am January 28, 2022
A group of 18 to 45 year olds presumably milling around the new Steelhouse music venue in 2023.

by Tim McMahan,

Not a whole helluva lot going on this weekend, which (again) is OK considering Douglas County’s test-positive rate for COVID-19 is around 40% according to CovidActNow. I’m among the few who still hasn’t gotten it (as far as I know) and I really don’t want to. That said, I’ll be returning to the bars next week for Cursive…

Speaking of which, BrooklynVegan, the East Coast’s indie music website, did a nice review of the Cursive show at Irving Plaza in NYC earlier this week. From the review:

Up next were Cursive, the only band whose lineup was unaffected by COVID, and you could tell that Tim especially was so grateful to be there. He talked about believing in humanity and being thankful for everyone being as responsible as possible during these weird times, and he and the rest of the band just seemed ready to put on one of the best shows of their lives. Cursive always bring it, but Wednesday night’s show felt like one for the record books. Tim was as animated and expressive as ever, the band’s string and horn-fueled post-hardcore was as weird and manic and intense as ever, and they were locked in from start to finish, teasing fan faves like ‘A Gentleman Caller’ and ‘Big Bang’ throughout the set before finally playing them near the end, and touching on a great variety of highlights from all throughout their career. In a month where people can’t stop talking about “emo nostalgia,” Cursive reminded everyone that they’re lifers.”

They are indeed. Mr. Kasher reportedly joined a COVID-crippled Appleseed Cast on drums for their last song that night. So talented. You’ll get a chance to see for yourself how talented Cursive is next Friday when they play at The Waiting Room with Lawrence legends Vitreous Humor and our very own Eric in Outerspace. I’ll be the one wearing the N95 mask.

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In other news, Omaha Performing Arts announced the worst kept secret ever yesterday morning that Live Nation will be the exclusive promoter at their new Steelhouse Omaha, the $104 million, 3,000-capacity live music venue slated to open in mid-2023 downtown by the Holland Center. Live Nation books radio-friendly pop and alt-rock acts as well as C&W, just a whole variety of musical styles except indie, which is what I happen to cover (though they do count Lucy Dacus among their fold).

The Steelhouse folks don’t mince words — their target age demo is 18-45, which is outside my range. I’m not sure why they’d publish that, considering Live Nation books plenty of acts that appeal to the 45+ age group, like Sammy Hagar and Reba McEntire. I still hold out hope that they’ll book at least a couple indie bands per year that are too big for our usual haunts.

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So, this weekend…

Top of the list has to be Light Speed Highway at fabulous O’Leaver’s Saturday night. I don’t know anything about this band, but based on this track (below) they’re an alt-rock band that borders on anthem-flavored power punk, which is a sound that would be right at home at The Club. This free show starts at 8 p.m. and includes “guests” which I assume means an opening act.

Other than that, Kris Lager Band is playing at Reverb Lounge Saturday night 8 p.m., $12.

The Slowdown is doing a screening of The Smile – Live Broadcast (which I thought was last week). This is Thom Yorke’s new band with Jonny Greenwood and Tom Skinner. 7 p.m. $20.

That’s all I got. If I missed your show, put it in the comments section. If you go out, mask-up. Have a great weekend.

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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 © 2022 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Will the new venues (Astro, Admiral, Steelhouse) reduce NOmaha Syndrome? Criteria, Little Brazil, Big Nope tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — @ 10:52 am November 27, 2021
Criteria at The Waiting Room, Dec. 28, 2019. The band returns tonight with Little Brazil and Big Nope.

by Tim McMahan,

Here’s a Saturday-morning random discussion: Will all the new live music venues — Astro, Admiral, Steelhouse — reduce NOmaha Syndrome? 

A friend brought up the question. He asked if those three larger venues currently being constructed will change Omaha’s reputation as a fly-over city for touring indie bands. We’re talking about:

— the remodeled Sokol Auditorium, renamed The Admiral, with its 1,400 capacity, slated to open in February.
— the Steelhouse Omaha project by Omaha Performing Arts, with a stand-up capacity of 1,500 to 3,000, scheduled for 2023, rumored to be booked by Live Nation.
— the Astro in La Vista, a massive new amphitheater with a capacity of 5,000 outside and 2,500 inside, slated to open in 2023.

That’s a lot of new stages. But will they make a difference to the bands that have been passing Omaha by? Depends on which bands you’re talking about.

Check out the acts that have announced tours in the past couple weeks, all of which won’t be coming through Omaha: Big Thief, Courtney Barnett, Waxahatchee, Strand of Oaks, Nation of Language, Mitski, Pavement, The War on Drugs, Perfume Genius, Hand Habits, The Oh Sees…

None on that list would sell out the smallest of those three new venues, though Barnett and War on Drugs might sell out Slowdown.

Big Thief, who haven’t come through Omaha since they played at The Lookout Lounge in April 2016, is asking $34-$39 for its closest show at the 2,500-capacity Riviera Theatre in Chicago. I doubt Big Thief could sell out 700-capacity Slowdown with a $40 ticket, but that’s what it might take to get them here again. I’m not sure there’s enough people in Omaha who know or like Big Thief. 

Hand Habits played at Slowdown Jr. before the lockdown in April 2019. That show was a $10 ticket that also included Tomberlin, and it drew around 60 people. The band’s closest approach to Omaha is the 550-capacity Fine Line in Minneapolis, with tickets priced at $30-$45.  No doubt when they were booking their tour, their finger slid right past Omaha as a possible tour stop. 

For fans of quality indie music, the problem is there just ain’t enough of us, and what few there are aren’t willing to pay what other cities are paying to see the same bands. Hard to believe in a metro of 800k, but this is what happens when you don’t have local radio or any media covering these bands. 

So who will be playing at these new venues? Time will tell, but bet on a lot of mainstream acts, metal bands, country acts, anything that will get butts in seats, and why not? You can’t blame the promoters for wanting to make back their investment in what will be three amazing venues.

And why dwell on the negative? We Just had Spoon and Mannequin Pussy, right? And in the coming months at Slowdown you have Black Angels, Sleigh Bells, Faye Webster, Lala Lala and Fuzz, while 1% is bringing in Diet Cig, Bonnie Prince Billy, Parquet Courts, Mdou Moctar, Azure Ray, Gary Numan, We Were Promised Jetpacks, Sasami, Mogwai, Destroyer, Beach Bunny, ADULT, Built to Spill, The Antlers, and Dinosaur Jr…. We’re actually doing pretty well…

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Speaking of shows… tonight at The Waiting Room it’s kinda/sorta the annual holiday show featuring Criteria. In years’ past this happened around Christmas, so we’re getting a jump on things (1% has yet to announce a big Christmas show this year….). Opening is Big Nope — Nate Van Fleet’s band (and we all know Nate’s high-tailing it to LA in the new year), and Little Brazil. Great show for just $10. Starts at 8 p.m. and this is a No Vax No Entry gig, so bring your evidence…

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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 © 2021 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.