Live Review: Maha Music Festival rocks in the rain (and some sh**y photos)…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 1:02 pm August 13, 2012

by Tim McMahan,

There will be more details on Maha and its future in this week’s column. That said, here are some of my initial thoughts:

— Set up in Stinson Park involved construction of a massive second stage next to the Stinson’s permanent stage structure. I was told this was needed because of Garbage’s staging requirements. Though I’m sure it cost a fortune to erect this second “main” stage, the effect was to give the local bands a terrific second stage to play on. The set-up was hands down an improvement over last year’s second stage sitch (and much better than the Lewis & Clark Landing rinky-dink second stage from years 1 & 2). It just elevated the local bands to another more-professional level for folks who have no idea who they are. The only downside: It sounded like one of the amps/speakers was blown in the second stage’s left stack, causing some annoying crackling.

— Food options were adequate, though they could have used a second pizza vendor judging by the snaking line outside the pizza table throughout the day. Bottom line: Given a choice, most people will pick pizza every time.

— I didn’t show up until Josh Rouse. I would have liked to have seen Conduits and Eli Mardock but they were too early in the day, and I didn’t care about Frontier Ruckus or the other early-day bands. I continue to have zero interest in rural-flavored Americana/roots music. That applies to Delta Spirit, though I see them more as a throwback to leather pants ’70s freedom rock. Not my cup of tea, but I have to hand it to them for playing a good set.

— Favorite performances: Dum Dum Girls and Icky Blossoms. Lining up DDG was a coup for Maha — a fantastic band that plays modern rock music; a band that any festival would be lucky to have. Icky Blossoms will be remembered as having one of the most talked about performances of the festival — a full-on frontal dance attack played to a crowd itching to groove. Let’s see if they can make it translate outside of Omaha.

— A solid band with a national rep, Garbage still seems like an odd choice for this festival, though they were probably responsible for selling most of the tickets. In a bill that consisted mostly of indie bands, Garbage has been on Warners or Geffen up ’til their latest (and weakest) release, which came out this year on V2 (owned by Universal). Garbage is more of an alternative rock act than an indie band, and in some ways, a departure for Maha. Did it pay off? We’ll have to wait and see what the numbers say. In some ways, it only confused matters regarding what Maha is supposed to be about. Is it an indie music festival? An alternative rock festival? That said, they played a solid set that laid heavily on their radio-friendly, formulaic back catalog.

— The rain sucked. It’s hard to complain about it since we haven’t had much rain over the past summer. Throughout the last half of the day it rained just enough to annoy, eventually driving people to nearby tents only to stop after a few minutes before starting up again. But whaddyagonna do?

— I would say about a quarter or more of the crowd left before Desaparecidos began playing. Conor and Co. never sounded better as they pushed the festival’s midnight deadline. I could hear the roar of their guitars as I took off early, hightailing it back home on my bike while there was a break in the rain on the radar.

Now here’re some shitty photos taken with my iPhone. Looks like I’ll be getting that iPhone 5 when it comes along because these days my camera makes everything look like it’s covered in a London fog.

UUVVWWZ moments before they started their set.

UUVVWWZ moments before they started their set. The Lincoln band was the quirkiest, arty-est band of the day. Either you were into it or you weren’t. I for one can’t wait to hear their new album.

Dum Dum Girls at the Maha Music Festival 2012.

One of the highlight performance at this year’s festival was the Dum Dum Girls. Red hot!

Maha Festival 2012 crowd mid festival.

Maha Festival 2012 crowd mid-festival, taken from on top of the northwest hill with cars zooming by on Center Street behind me.

Myanbirds at Maha Festival 2012

Mynabirds at Maha Festival 2012.

Icky Blossoms at Maha Music Festival 2012

Icky Blossoms bask in a dance glow emitted from the Maha crowd.

Garbage at Maha Music Festival 2012

Garbage at Maha Music Festival 2012. Smudge on the far right is Shirley Manson. Honest.

No shots of Desaparecidos as everything looked like a blur in the night stage lighting. For whatever reason, no direct spotlights were used on either stage.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — 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.

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