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Astro Theater hoping to bring new artists to Omaha-metro

Posted at 6:37 PM, Sep 29, 2021

LA VISTA, Neb. (KMTV) — A new metro-area music venue is aiming to bring national music artists that haven’t quite fit in Omaha music venues in the past.

“The Omaha music scene is wonderful, it’s great, it’s thriving. That’s why we ask ourselves all these times, time and time again, all over the 25-plus years, why aren’t there better venues?” said Josh Hunt, a music promoter with Lawrence, Kansas-based Mammoth Productions.

It may have been 30 years in the making, and then delayed a bit by COVID, but the Astro Theatre, which broke ground in La Vista’s new City Centre development Wednesday, is hoping to fill a gap in Omaha’s music scene that has gone unfilled for decades.

“There are a lot of artists that we just don’t have the perfect place for,” said Marc Leibowitz with One Percent Productions, which owns the Waiting Room in Benson.

The music scene is thriving in Omaha, with places like the Waiting Room and the Slowdown downtown, typically getting around 500-1,000 people for sold-out shows.

And of course, the Omaha metro has big venues like the CHI Health Center, Baxter Arena, and Ralston Arena, that work well for larger shows.

But these places don’t fit some artists in the middle, some of which are national acts that garner big followings.

“Now when those artists want to come through here, they’re either going to play smaller and have to sacrifice on production or go bigger and it doesn’t feel good and it’s not intimate,” said Hunt.

When the theater opens, ideally in early 2023, it will allow for a 2,500 person capacity inside and 5,000 person capacity outside.

Unlike other outdoor concerts in Omaha, they wouldn’t simply put up a temporary stage. Instead, it would be equipped to fit 8-10 trucks of equipment, have a large number of dressing rooms and showers, and have easy to get to concessions for the fans.

“It’s a large stage, it’s probably larger than we need it to be. It’s a lot of lights and sound, maybe more than we needed to be, everything is over the top,” said Leibowitz.

And while those in the music industry are raving that this will boost the area’s music scene, it also helps La Vista bring more young people into their town.

Just one piece of the puzzle for their under-construction City Centre, which will eventually include bars, restaurants, a park, condos, and now music.

Mayor Doug Kindig hopes City Centre can help push back on the state’s brain drain issue, making young people want to come to his growing community.

“By providing them things that they enjoy, we hope that we can add to the solution and keep those individuals here,” said Kindig.

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