Between adolescence and adulthood, is chaos. No single Omaha building embodies one’s formative years of 18 to 22 more than a dilapidated mansion on 38th and Farnam streets. Although you may not remember the party, you probably partied there. Farnam House, Jerkstore, Gunboat, Lifeboat, and Power Pad: all names affectionately affixed to this broke- down palace of music, art, and madness. All names precursors to the legend of a hotel known as Frank.
From 2006 to 2008, Hotel Frank was ground zero for myriad musical artists and performances. Capgun Coup, Bear Country, Conchance, Dim Light, FTL Drive all called Hotel Frank home. While they were far from the first bands the house on Farnam had seen (previous residents include Conor Oberst and The Faint), figuratively they made the most noise. With Capgun Coup concerts packing in upwards of 200 people, literally the house rocked.
“When everyone was pogoing in unison the floor would give a couple feet,” said Capgun Coup front man Sam Martin. “If you went to the basement you could see cracks in the beams opening and closing.”
While most individuals would not willingly place their residence in such jeopardy, Hotel Frank’s recklessness was equal parts youth and the product of constant home disrepair.
“It was a wretched place to live,” said Martin. “It was February of 2007 and the heat quit working. It was not fixed until March. It would have been a much better house if it was kept up by the owners.”
Capgun Coup, with all of its members one time residing in the west wing of the Farnam triplex, have come to define the Hotel Frank era. With their danceable yet artistic approach to brash spastic rock, the building and the band fed off each other.
While Capgun’s time at Hotel Frank was a relatively small window, Dim Light front man Cooper Lakota Moon resided in the triplex on four separate occasions from 2000 to 2008.
“No one has ever lived there as many times as I have,” Moon said. “In 2008, at 28, I think I was the oldest person to ever live there.”
Moon, with his perspective of seeing the house throughout the last decade and prior, felt the national spotlight that romanticized the Hotel Frank experience around 2009, left some cracks unnoticed.
“You live in that place for a reason, it’s cheap. You don’t live there because it’s cool, it’s not cool,” Moon said. “People tend to romanticize it. People are there because we are broke.”
For every frozen winter afternoon and sweltering summer day, cracked wall, and bucking floorboard, the camaraderie throughout Hotel Frank seemingly trumped all opposing forces. A spirit that exists to this day: with all three wings occupied, vibrant and hosting live, uninhibited rock and roll.
“It was no parents,” said Martin. “The essence of it was hope of not jumping into the same thing you see everyone do. Not jumping into the work force but trying to do something real with your music.”
“I love that triplex,” Moon said. “It was a special time, an amazing creative energy and flow. We certainly had our fun, but we were getting things done.”