Fencing Out the Freeloaders: MAHA talks about its move to Stinson Park / Aksarben Village…

Category: Blog,Interviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:53 pm July 6, 2011

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Yesterday’s blog post that talked about Playing With Fire’s move to Aksarben Village now also applies to the MAHA Music Festival. MAHA organizers announced yesterday afternoon that they’re following PWF’s lead and moving to Stinson Park / Aksarben Village for their Aug. 13 event.

There is a major difference between these two events, however. Playing With Fire is a free concert. The MAHA Music Festival is a $30 ticket. How does MAHA keep freeloaders from just watching and listening from the sidelines? That was one of the questions posed to MAHA Festival organizer Tre Brashear.  And here are his answers:

The view from the fixed stage at Stinson Park / Aksarben Village.

The view from the fixed stage at Stinson Park / Aksarben Village.

Lazy-i: I assume there will be a fence that surrounds the Stinson Park compound? Will it circle just the park area?

Brashear: Yes, we will have an 8- foot-high privacy fence (i.e., can’t see through) that will encircle the entirety of the park (including Center St. and Papio Creek sides).  However, we will expand fence to include Mercy St. between Aksarben Dr. and 67th St. so that that portion of the street will be part of the MAHA grounds.

How will you be able to keep freeloaders from simply watching/listening to the concert from outside the fence?

First and foremost, we’ve tried to keep our ticket price low enough that people can afford to attend.  After all, part of the festival experience comes from being in the crowd, feeling the energy, dancing with your friends, etc., so standing around listening will never be as good as being there.  Also, given our nonprofit status, we are hopeful that people will “want” to actually buy a ticket in order to be supportive and help us grow the event in future years.

That said, we are realists and know that people will always look for a chance to take advantage, but we’ve spent enough time at the site and evaluating the sight lines that we feel comfortable that the 8-foot fence will prevent anyone from being able to watch the show without paying.  As for listening, we can’t prevent that.  However, people who are content merely to listen probably weren’t going to buy a ticket anyway.

Will you be able to block off Mercy St. for the event? Where do you intend to set up vendors?

Yes, Mercy St. will be fenced in and included as part of the festival grounds between Aksarben Dr. and 67th St.  Part of the street will be used for our production activities and the other part will house some of our vendor and sponsor tents.

Have you brokered deals for parking either at UNO or in the parking garages?

We have access to the entire parking garage immediately to the east of the park as well as an open area to the northeast, so we will have enough parking for everyone within two blocks of the festival.  Also, the fact that Aksarben Village is both on a bike trail and within walking distance for many of our fans will cut down on some of our parking needs.

Is there a forced noise ordinance to deal with? A concert cut-off time?

There is no noise ordinance specifically.  Only specific requirement is that we be done by 11 p.m., which would be the same anywhere we went within city limits, so that is when the show will end.

Lighting/PA-wise, what will you need to bring in to make it work?

From a music/lighting/performance standpoint, we are going to have bring in all the same equipment that we had to bring in at the Landing, so that’s not a big change.  However, we are upgrading our local stage from last year with better sound and lighting and inclusion of a roof and backdrop.

What’s the biggest challenge about making Stinson work for MAHA?

Besides the general need to encourage people to buy a ticket and not plan to freeload, we suspect our biggest challenge will come after the show is over because we have to have everything cleaned up and moved out before the Aksarben Village Farmer’s Market on Sunday morning.  We can do it (or we wouldn’t be there), but it’s certainly going to be a hassle and make for a long night.

With an expected crowd about half the size of PWF’s, MAHA probably won’t have to worry about getting everyone comfortably inside that 8-foot-high fence. In fact, MAHA will have the advantage of learning from whatever mistakes PWF makes at its show, which is just a week from Saturday.

Moving to Aksarben Village appears to be a home run for everyone involved, and some might consider it a sizable upgrade. Parking will be easier and cheaper, Aksarben Village businesses will be introduced to some new clientele, it just seems like the whole thing will have more of a festival, community atmosphere. The only apparent downside is freeloaders, but there won’t be a lot of room for them to roam around outside the compound. And like Brashear said (though more tactfully) those cheap bastards weren’t going to buy a ticket to the show anyway.

Speaking of which, have you bought your ticket yet? For just $30 you get Guided By Voices, Matisyahu, Cursive, J. Mascis (Dinosaur Jr.), The Reverend Horton Heat and newcomers The Envy Corp along with So-So Sailors, The Machete Archive, Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship, Somasphere and one more band TBD this weekend at the OEA Summer Showcase in Benson. Plus booze and food vendors galore. Find out more, get tickets or volunteer at the MAHA website.

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Tomorrow: An interview with Saddle Creek Record’s newest band, Big Harp.

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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 © 2011 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


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