Maha responds to local stage selection criticism (and how they’ll never be able to please everyone)…
by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com
Comments from a blog post on Lazy-i last week raised the eyebrows of one Mike App, the gentleman responsible for booking the local stage at this year’s Maha Music Festival.
The blog post outlined Maha’s announcement of the remaining main stage acts, along with the local stage line-up: Icky Blossoms, The Mynabirds, UUVVWWZ, Universe Contest and Eli Mardock. A sixth band will be selected by popular vote from performers at an Omaha Entertainment and Arts (OEA) showcase to be held in the near future.
Among those commenting was a Lazy-i reader named “Jake” who had issue with the local band selection, saying that many bands who have played OEA showcases “for free” in the past have never made the Maha cut. “To see so many Saddle Creek acts is just a poor choice,” Jake said, adding, “Once again Maha has picked their friends to play along with Garbage (yuck) and left out all the bands who have played their fundraiser and supported them…” You can read his comments and others’ at the bottom of this post.
Before we get to Mike App’s response I should point out that Maha is never going to please everyone, and shouldn’t try. There always will be bands in the line-up that someone doesn’t like, whether on the local or national stage. Jake’s larger complaint is that some bands he likes (and he lists them) have yet to play Maha (and Jake has pretty good taste).
But such is the way of the world. I’ve asked Maha to book Digital Leather on the local stage for a few years. It’ll likely never happen, and it’s (probably) partially my fault because I’m the one who pointed out DL’s content (especially on earlier albums) isn’t exactly “family friendly,” with songs like “Slut” and “Studs in Love” and the irresistible “Please Be Quiet” (with its lovely chorus, “Shut the fuck up.”). But who ever said rock ’n’ roll should be safe? In the end, I have no idea why DL isn’t playing Maha, but I never thought it had anything to do with App or any of the Maha people “picking their friends,” and App inasmuch reiterates that in his response:
“The local stage (selection) started out as a battle of the bands format, but based on input from the music community — including two of the most vocal opponents, Tim McMahan and Kevin Coffey — we responded and shifted course to the format we employ today,” App wrote. “This year we allowed six different organizations the opportunity to make those selections.
– “OEAA ‘popularity contest’ format during the Benson showcases each summer selects the Maha opener.
– “Maha board selects the local stage closer/headliner, which is based on lots of input from the likes of (Tim McMahan), Chris Aponick, Kevin Coffey, Andy Norman, Kent Wolgamott and anyone else who wants to weigh in. We listen. In our four years that’s been It’s True, Satchel Grande, Somasphere and Icky Blossoms.
– “The managers at Waiting Room, Slowdown, Duffy’s and Bourbon each suggest 3-4 bands, from which Maha and Hear Nebraska representatives sit down to discuss and select. The input received when making the Maha board selection also goes into this decision. BUT, if the tavern manager does not suggest a band, we don’t have the ability to discuss it.
– “Maha is underwritten and driven by the community. We have tried our damnedest to engage broad swaths of that community when forming and shaping Maha. This present format provides Maha with more stakeholders than if we selected all the bands ourselves. We think this works.”
App pointed out that bands chosen by Maha local stage acts to play curated showcases get free tickets to Maha, but no assurance that they’ll be considered for the local stage in coming years. He agreed that he digs the bands that Jake lists. “All are crazy good bands that represent Omaha and Lincoln at such a high level,” he said. “We might be able to tweak our process to figure out how to get these bands and others like them engaged in Maha.”
He’s open to suggestions, but the fact is, as I said, he and the rest of the Maha board will never please everyone. No “process” will ever do that. As a whole, I think it’s a strong local stage line-up, albeit slightly heavy on Lincoln bands, but so what? Yes, three out of the five bands are Saddle Creek acts, but it would be hard to argue against any of them and the size of their fanbase compared to some of the bands Jake lists. Maha is trying to sell tickets, after all, and while none of the local acts by themselves will generate ticket sales, they may be enough to tip the scale for those on the fence trying to decide whether to drop $35 per ticket.
* * *
Tomorrow, some off-topic comments about Yelp, restaurant criticism (and criticism in general) and Lot 2.
* * *
Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2012 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.