Post-script Maha comments, and the live review (in the column); Dereck Higgins Indiegogo campaign, Travelling Mercies, Feel Tight tonight…

Category: Blog,Column,Reviews — Tags: , — @ 1:01 pm August 20, 2014

by Tim McMahan,

More comments and review of this year’s Maha Music Festival are in this week’s column. You can read it in the new issue of The Reader, out tomorrow, or online right here.

Some final thoughts/post scripts to Maha 2014:

Domestica's Jon Taylor at the microphone.

Domestica’s Jon Taylor at the microphone.

— Jon Taylor sung leads on at least two Domestica songs during their Maha set — a departure as Heidi Ore has handled lead vocals with Domestica and Mercy Rule for about 20 years. Jon did a stellar job. It’ll be interesting to hear how it translates on future Domestica recordings.

— As mentioned in the review, Icky Blossoms’ new material is harder and more acidic than stuff off their debut album, but that doesn’t make it any less danceable. Expect their new album on Saddle Creek probably early next year.

The intense crowd in front of the stage during Icky Blossoms' set.

The intense crowd in front of the stage during Icky Blossoms’ set.

— Speaking of Icky Blossoms, the band got a nice shout-out from The Head and the Heart during their set, gushing that Icky was their favorite band so far at the festival. Maybe the Ickys should try to get an opening slot on THATH’s next tour?

— I was skeptical about the Maha Ferris wheel until I saw it. It actually was pretty cool and when I went past it early in the evening there was quite a line of people waiting to get on.

—  Maha outdid themselves with this year’s Global Village. Lots of cool shit for kids to do while mom or pop is rocking. This is one of the central things that make Maha a festival rather than just a day-long concert.

— Ain’t none of my business but it was disturbing to see — while leaning through the crowd near the stage during Local Natives’ set — some guy carrying a baby with no hearing protection standing right next to me. Even with ear plugs I thought their set was loud from that vantage-point. Can that level of decibels be healthy for a baby?

— The Boulevard seasonal ale being served in the beer tents (something sweet blended with ginger) was indeed tasty. I’m developing a taste for sissy beers.

— It wasn’t all roses for Maha. The food selection was…lacking. I’m not sure what they can do about this. I swear I saw people walking around with cheeseburgers but I couldn’t find where they were coming from. That said, would it kill them to find a vendor that offered a pleasant, refreshing salad? Or ribs?

— For every person I talked to who loved the line-up there was someone who whined about the line-up. Maha will never be all things to all people, nor should it be. I like their basic two-stage recipe, though I think they’re going to begin struggling to find new, decent locals to fill that local stage who haven’t already played in the past two years.

— BTW, I’ve gotten plenty of shit about missing Radkey’s and Doomtree’s sets. Sorry fans. I’m quite familiar with their catalogs, and it just ain’t for me. Knowing that I was going to miss about two hours of the festival, I had to choose judiciously. I’m sure they were fan-fucking-tastic…

— The biggest disappointment was The Both’s set. The idea was good on paper, but I don’t think it translated to a festival. Aimee Mann’s music is probably better suited for a sit-down concert in, say, the Holland or the Orpheum rather than an outdoor stage. Conversely, someone needs to book Ted Leo at The Waiting Room.

— Oddest moments at Maha: The times between sets when there was no music. I mean nothing. You’d think they’d at least have some house music going over the PA. Even the annoying generic reggae beats that I’ve heard at so many other large concerts between sets would have helped fill the void. The simple answer is for Maha to hire one (or a few) of the area’s many DJs to fill in the gaps between sets. It would be a nice tip o’ the hat to the local DJ culture.

After six festivals, Maha is finally reaching its capacity. No, it hasn’t outgrown Stinson Park. Even at (what I think was) its maximum attendance level (toward the end of The Head and the Heart or at the very beginning of Death Cab’s set) it was still possible to comfortably walk through the crowd (By contrast, try navigating through the crowd during the last band at the annual Memorial Park freedom rock July 4 hog-calling concert).  The attendance number being reported is 7,000. Maha could squeeze a couple more thousand into Stinson, and maybe even reach that golden 10,000 number if they find the right headliner. Does Maha need to get bigger than that? It will have to if it’s going to attract the Beck / Wilco-level headliners.  How else can Maha grow? How about a second day-long festival — one held in the spring, the other in the late summer? Or add an amazing Friday night warm-up set in the park…

BTW, if you went to Maha, fill out the Maha survey so they can capture your thoughts and make it even better next year.

More Maha review here.

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You know that Dereck Higgins release I mentioned the other day that I wondered would ever make it onto vinyl? Well it is, probably. Dereck launched an indiegogo campaign to help fund the pressing. You can contribute (and pre-order the LP) here.

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Hear Nebraska’ second-to-last Live at Turner Park concert for the season is tonight. The line-up is Lincoln bluegrass outfit The Bottle Tops and roots rockers The Travelling Mercies.The show starts at 6 p.m. Bring a blanket and some booze and enjoy. More info here.

Also tonight at Slowdown Jr. it’s the debut of Feel Tight, a new project featuring members of Talking Mountain, The Seen and Weird Howl. Opening up is Huge Fucking Waves and Stephen Nichols. $5, 9 p.m.

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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 © 2014 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

1 Comment

  • The Both was the disappointment of Maha? I know it’s just an opinion but that is crazy. They were by far one of the best bands and The Head and the Heart was the total snoozer. Great band, terrible festival band.

    Comment by What?! — August 20, 2014 @ 2:34 pm

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