The Waiting Room

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By Paul Heft, Contributor

Bobby Kreifels is a Waiting Room regular for a reason.

“I hear every type of music here and it’s a great experience,” Kreifels said.

The Waiting Room, which opened in March 2007, was created by the owners of a booking company called 1% Productions. The Waiting Room offers a chance for people of all ages to listen to live music in an urban setting.

The venue features a concert nearly every night. Some bands are touring artists, while others are local. The venue is fairly small and provides an intimate setting for the bands and their fans. Fans often have an opportunity to meet members of the bands after the show.

Owner Jim Johnson said it took almost 15 years to go from booking random shows to having a fixed venue. Johnson said 1% Productions began booking shows at Sokol Auditorium, but saw a need for another venue farther from downtown.

Johnson said his associates stepped up when nobody else did. Then in December 2006, opportunity struck when the current location, 6212 Maple St., was up for rent. The Waiting Room opened that March.

Johnson said the Waiting Room is not just an indie venue, as it is often called. Indie rock sounds something like experimental rock with elements of pop and acoustic. Johnson also said the Waiting Room welcomes local bands to play for free.

“We like to take care of our people,” Johnson said.

It is the variety of music that makes the Waiting Room so appealing. Sam Schrader runs the door and has worked there for two years. Schrader said she has since been exposed to a wide variety of local and national bands.

“We’re a close-knit group of people here,” Schrader said.

Bands like the Waiting Room for a reason. Blue Bird recently performed there. Blue Bird is something like folk music driven by keyboards and violins. Samantha Brock, the band’s violinist, said her band has played there twice.     

As an Omaha native, she said, it’s probably the best venue for developing bands.

“It’s really important for those bands looking to move beyond playing in random bars,” Brock said.

Brock said she enjoys seeing people of all ages at her shows. Brock also mentioned how the Waiting Room has a crystal-clear sound system.

Patrons come and go for individual concerts, but some stick around. Kreifels said he attends the Waiting Room frequently because it’s such a relaxed venue.

“I’ve also seen bands that play music I’ve never heard before,” Kreifels said.

Kreifels also noted the Waiting Room has game nights with no cover and no live music. There is almost always something going on there, even if it’s not live music.

“This is my favorite venue in Omaha for a reason,” Kreifels said.

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