Since then the label has released work from some of the alt folk/country scene's best-loved and well-respected names; such as Rilo Kiley, Cursive, Tokyo Police Club, The Thermals and The Good Life. Conor Oberst has remained close to the label and scene, releasing music with his Bright Eyes, Commander Venus and Desaparicidos projects on the label.
But enough about the history; what about how to get stuck into this indie-rock Mecca today? Surely by checking out the latest crop of talent at some of the city's many music venues, that's how! Here are some of the best.
There is no better place to start than at Saddle Creek's own Slowdown, a music venue opened in 2004 by the label's then owners. Slowdown was originally supposed to be located on Saddle Creek Road in downtown Omaha, however, local resident groups protested, and an alternative venue was found at 729 North 14th Street in the NoDo area of the city.
While the venue is named after the alt-rock band Slowdown Virginia, it runs a comprehensive calendar of events, spanning all genres of live music. Beer enthusiasts can also rejoice at the venue; Slowdown features 12 beers on tap, ranging from international brews such as Guiness and Pacifico, to locally-sourced favorites like Butcher Block Brown Ale and Zipline Copper Alt.
The Waiting Room
Over at 6212 Maple Street is The Waiting Room, a club/venue which is a favourite of local audiophiles. Despite its rather sedentary name, this is where the action happens, and the club continues to play host to the finest homegrown talent, as well as acts from further afield.
The Waiting Room had a lengthy gestation period. Founders Marc Leibowitz and Jim Johnson had been kicking around the idea of opening a club in the area since they started the ball rolling on their 1% Productions company in the early 1990s, but it wasn't until 2007 that the pair's dreams came to fruition and the club opened its doors.
The venue's bar is as well stocked as the one at Slowdown, featuring a range of drinks including the staggeringly strong European beers Delirium Tremens – from Belgium – and Hardcore IPA, from Brewdog Brewery in Scotland.
Sometimes, to find the best live music a city has to offer, you have to venture a little outside the centre. In this case, to Benson, around 14km to the northwest of downtown, and easily accessible from your hotel in Omaha.
The Sydney is more than worth the trip. This bar and live music venue wears its local-ness proudly on its sleeve, but also welcomes music lovers and visitors from all over. Proudly describing itself as "low key and high energy", the venue is one of the best places in the Omaha region to catch a life-changing band.
It's also a rather good bar, with a range of drinks offers including $1 PBR draughts on selected nights, and a free pool table. Visitors to The Sydney can expect great music, an incredible atmosphere, and a top evening.
The Pizza Shoppe Collective
Staying in Benson for the moment, our next venue is the town's famous Pizza Shoppe Collective. Not just for those in search of a quick bite to eat post or pre-show, this venue on Maple Street also plays host to a variety of live music and community events.
A little different from your run of the mill music venue, the Pizza Shoppe is the place to enjoy some slightly more esoteric events; live jazz, alternative comedy, belly dancing – the Pizza Shoppe is the spot to find all of this and more.
Oh, and of course, it serves a pretty mean pizza too! Look out for the Pizza Shoppe's weekly special.
Omaha might be famous for it's "sensitive" indie music as well as its hip hop, but there is a special place reserved in its music scene for the harder stuff. If your music taste veers more towards Social Distortion's Born to Lose than Bruce Springsteen's Born to Run, this venue at 320 South 72nd Street could be for you.
Showcasing the best and brightest in Omaha punk and hardcore, as well as punk and metal acts from across the country, The Hideout keeps its dance floor moving with numerous events taking place every week. Occasionally, The Hideout breaks away from the punk tradition and puts on dance nights, or hosts bands from other genres, displaying the feelings of inclusion and solidarity that permeate through the Omaha scene.
Last but certainly not least is The Sandbox at 2406 Leavenworth Street. Describing itself as a "modern day salon for exchange of ideas and thoughts", The Sandbox is less a standard music venue and more of a HQ for an idyllic DIY artistic collective.
Evoking the creative ethos that made the Omaha scene great, the owners of The Sandbox lay down only two rules on their visitors. The first rule is that all visitors must respect the performers, other visitors and themselves, and the second is that they must not harm anyone. Other than this, anything goes.
The Sandbox is the setting for some of Omaha's most interesting and thought-provoking performance events, and no trip to the city is complete without checking it out.
Which of these is your favorite venue in Omaha? Are there any other venues you'd like to see included? Let us know in the comments below!
(Photo by cjsmithphotography via Flickr)
John Burns is a writer for Hipmunk.com. He is also a teacher and travel enthusiast, and originally hails from Nottingham, UK.