The Waiting Room, 6212 Maple St., Omaha.
Though not the first music venue in Omaha’s Benson entertainment district, the massive concert stage and bar — and its owner/operators Marc Leibowitz and Jim Johnson —- are credited with sparking the revitalization of a business district that had been dominated by empty store fronts and thrift stores prior to its opening in 2007.
The estimated 400+ capacity Waiting Room shares bragging rights with The Slowdown as arguably the best rock concert venue in Omaha, thanks to a state-of-the-art digital sound and lighting systems and the city’s largest rock stage. Patrons enjoy a full-service bar with one of the largest selections of tap beers available at any Omaha music venue.
The Waiting Room’s open concept design allows for unencumbered sight lines from any of its many tables, high tops, booths, even the bar; though true rock fans are more likely to crowd the large dance floor in front of the raised stage.
Beyond The Waiting Room’s creature comforts, the venue’s biggest advantage is its programming. Years before the club opened, Leibowitz and Johnson established themselves as the primary bookers of indie rocks shows in the area with their company, 1% Productions. They carried their promotion prowess to The Waiting Room, booking every significant local indie act — including Omaha’s crown jewels of Bright Eyes, Cursive and The Faint — along the best touring indie bands such as St. Vincent, Yo La Tengo, Beach House, Serena-Maneesh, Best Coast, Of Montreal, Future Islands, A Place to Bury Strangers and Titus Andronicus, to name a few.
More recently, The Waiting Room has expanded its booking palette to include a broader music-genre selection, from hip-hop to pop to Americana and roots, as well as the finest indie acts.
Here’s a look at some of their upcoming shows. Most shows begin at 9 p.m.
Oct. 13 — The Underachievers, Pouya and the Buffet Boys, Kirk Knight & Bodega Bamz. $20
Oct. 16 — Floyd (Pink Floyd Tribute), Peace, Love, Etc. $8
Oct. 17 — The Sword, Kadavar, All Them Witches. $18/$20
Oct. 18 — Saint Motel. $15
Oct. 19 — Toro Y Moi, Astronauts, etc. $15/$17
Oct. 20 — Waxahatchee, Wayes Blood, Try the Pie. $13/$15
Oct. 21 — GrownKidz, TKO, Greco, Phillup Banks, Big Mista. $10
Oct. 22 — For Today, Fit for a King, Gideon, Phinehas, Silent Planet. $16/$18
Oct. 24 — Arson City, Emergent, More Than A Memory, Fore1gn Body. $10
Oct. 25 — The Psycho Sisters. $17/ $20
Oct. 26 — Of Montreal, Diane Coffee. $18/$20
Oct. 27 — In the Valley Below, the Moth and The Flame. $12/$14
Oct. 29 — Cannibal Corpse, Cattle Decapitation, Soreption. $18/$20
Oct. 30 — Bennie and the Gents, Carson City Heat. $8
Oct. 31 — Secret Weapon. $10
Nov. 1 — Prof, DJ fundo & Nacho Picasso. $15
Nov. 3 — Devin the Dude, Potluck, Ellmartiq P-tro, AJ the Dread. $20
Nov. 4 — Twiddle & the Werks, Linear Symmetry. $15
Nov. 5 — Vanessa Carlton, Joshua Hyslop. $25
Nov. 6 — Keller Willaims Trio. $22/$25
Nov. 7 — That 1 Guy. $15
Nov. 8 — Jazz Simone, DJones, Fro Frizzle, Karterboy, K3rtis. $10
Nov. 9 — Sage Francis. $15
Nov. 10 — Obie Trice. $17/$20
Nov. 11 — Martin Sexton. $25/$29
Nov. 12 — Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers. $15/$18
Nov. 13 & 14 — Saturn Ascends. $12
Nov. 15 — Murs, Red pill, King Fantastic, Noa James. $15/$17
The Slowdown, 729 North 14th St., Omaha
The creation of Saddle Creek Records executives Robb Nansel and Jason Kulbel, The Slowdown opened in 2007 as part of an effort to revitalize Omaha’s North Downtown district. The music venue, along with the headquarters of Saddle Creek Records, was part of a new construction complex that also included Film Streams’ Mary Riepma Ross Theater, Urban Outfitters and multi-unit living spaces.
A few years after it opened, the massive TD Ameritrade Park was built literally across the street. The stadium is the home of the annual NCAA College World Series. Despite that, The Slowdown has maintained its non-sporting cool, with nary a TV screen in the house.
The venue hosts two stages. Its large main stage stands above a bowl-like dance floor sunken below raised aisles overlooked by a balcony. The main room has an estimated capacity of more than 700. The building’s modular design allows for closing off the main concert hall and hosting shows in a more intimate small-stage club setting, where the facility’s bar resides. These small “frontroom” shows have an estimated capacity of around 200.
Both the main hall and frontroom stage areas enjoy state-of-the-art digital sound and lighting systems, which makes The Slowdown — along with The Waiting Room — among the best rock concert venues in Omaha, with plenty of table and booth seating throughout.
From the day it opened, the club has booked large-market indie rock bands, including all of Saddle Creek Records’ biggest acts, such as The Faint, Cursive, Jenny Lewis, Tokyo Police Club and Azure Ray. National touring bands that have graced The Slowdown stage include Of Montreal, Iron and Wine, Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks, M83, Mogwai, Daniel Johnston, Dvotchka and Iceage, among others.
Bookings are generally handled by club owner Jason Kulbel and 1% Productions.
Here’s a glance at some of The Slowdown’s upcoming shows. Most start at 9 p.m. Pricing is Advance/DOS.
Oct. 16 — The Giraffes w/ Bullet Proof Hearts, DCYC. $12/$14
Oct. 18 — David Cook w/ Andrew Ripp. $25
Oct. 19 — The Oh Hellos w/ Family And Friends, Cereus Bright. $15
Oct. 20 — Lettuce w/ Filibusta. $18/$20
Oct. 22 — An Acoustic Evening with Red Wanting Blue. $13/$15
Oct. 24 — Tenderness Wilderness. $5
Oct. 30 — Stevie Stone w/ Yak Boy Fresh, BingX, Yung Knowledge, Kontages, AJ The Dread, KayMore. $15
Oct. 31 — Starlito & Don Trip. $25/$30
Nov. 2 — Here We Go Magic w/ Big Thief. $10/$12
Nov. 3 — Wildhoney. $8
Nov. 6 — Naked Sunday, Luke Johnson, Virgin Mary Pistol Grip, Getchasum. $5/$7
Nov. 7 — AZP, MEsonjixx, CJ Mills. $5/$7
Nov. 8 — Laura Stevenson, The Ridgways, No Getter, Crypt Kid. $10/$12
Nov. 9 — Clear the Day, Nemaha County, Matthew Fowler, The Indoor Fireworks. $5/$8
Nov. 11 — Lucero. $20/$22