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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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."
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."
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."
Published in The Omaha Reader March 8, 2007.
Copyright © 2007 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.