Reviews

Cassadaga

Author: Dane Stickney
10/18/2007 | Omaha World Herald | www.omahaworldherald.com | Live Show Preview
The first time 1% Productions booked Bright Eyes, the up-and-coming Omaha band opened for Built to Spill at the Sokol Underground in 1999.

Omaha's Conor Oberst and the rest of Bright Eyes are on a tour of concert-sized venues around the U.S. On Wednesday, they will take time out for a show at the small Waiting Room bar on Maple Street.
Now Bright Eyes is on a national tour, selling out venues from Los Angeles to New York. But Conor Oberst and the rest of the band haven't forgotten 1% Productions, the little booking business that started a decade ago.

Bright Eyes is performing a sold-out show at 1%'s bar, the Waiting Room Lounge, Wednesday night to celebrate the 10th anniversary of 1% Productions.

"We're honored Conor is playing our little bar," said Marc Leibowitz, who started 1% with Jim Johnson.

When Leibowitz and Johnson started the business, they hoped they'd find enough success to keep going. Leibowitz hoped they'd still be working 10 years later. But he wasn't certain.

Their first show was an Ani DiFranco concert at Sokol Auditorium. The week after they booked her, she appeared on the cover of Spin magazine.

"That was a good stroke of luck," Leibowitz said. "If we had lost a ton of money on the show, we probably wouldn't be celebrating anything now."

The duo booked on average one show a month at the beginning. Now the two 33-year-olds average one show a day. They've had concerts at venues including Sokol Auditorium, Sokol Underground, the Orpheum Theater, the Witherspoon Concert Hall at the Joslyn Art Museum and O'Leaver's Pub.

Leibowitz and Johnson have plenty of fond memories. The band they're most proud to have booked is Ween. The best deal they ever made was with Arcade Fire just as that band was getting huge. They've basically worked with every band they've ever wanted to.

They're increasingly busy scheduling events at their bar. They always intended to have their own spot, but it took longer than they anticipated. They opened the Waiting Room on Maple Street in March.

Leibowitz is pleased his business has helped Omaha emerge as an indie rock hub.

"A lot of that has to do with the Saddle Creek bands' success," he said. "But I feel like we've helped it along, and I think we'd still be here in some way if they weren't."

Of course, having someone with Oberst's pedigree in your corner is never a bad thing.

"The show sold out in, like, two minutes," Leibowitz said. "You've got to love working with Conor."
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