What’s next for Maha? Festival tix on sale tomorrow; Bad Bad Men, In the Whale, Masked Intruder tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:30 pm April 4, 2019


Bad Bad Men at The Brothers Lounge, Feb. 17, 2018. They play tonight at O’Leaver’s.

y Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

For your typical indie music fan here in Omaha, last year’s Maha Music Festival was about as good as it gets. We’re talking some of the best indie acts available anywhere — among them, Father John Misty, Tune-Yards, TV on the Radio and Hop Along — topped off with a non-indie ’90s-era alternative band in Weezer.

The sheer fact that Maha has survived for a decade is a tribute to organizers who poured their blood, sweat and dollars into a dream many thought wouldn’t survive its debut year.

Last year’s 10-year anniversary show pushed the festival to two days, or at least one-and-a-half, with the addition of an evening program the day before the Saturday event. Plans call for repeating that format again for Year 11, slated for Aug. 16-17, as discount pre-sale tickets go on sale Friday for those willing to gamble that the acts announced Thursday, April 18, are worth it.

I should be clear here — according to their Facebook page, early-bird 4-day passes go on sale Friday — i.e., these include admittance to the Big Omaha conference Aug. 14 and 15, which has been awkwardly welded onto Maha after the organization took ownership of Big Omaha last year. Maha has even rebranded itself this year as Maha Festival, which could confuse people outside of the area who stumble upon it for the first time (Hey, look, a 4-day music festival in Omaha. Waitaminit, the first two days are entrepreneur-focused TED-type talks not related to music? Uh, forget it.).

Taking on Big Omaha must have seemed like a natural progression for Maha in their quest to expand the festival beyond music. But to some (i.e., me) it’s an odd fit that doesn’t really have anything to do with their original music-focused mission. But, oh well, right?

It’s anyone’s guess who the festival has lined up for a headliner this year. Weezer may may have seemed outside of Maha’s original indie focus, but is in line with a change that began three years ago with Passion Pit followed by Run the Jewels, acts that aren’t exactly indie. Let’s face it, most music-goers don’t know what “indie” is, anyway.

Maha clearly was trying to broaden its audience, and who can blame them? Indie is a microscopically small genre that appeals to a very narrow audience. That said, indie acts like Wilco, Arcade Fire, LCD Soundsystem, Tame Impala and Courtney Barnett — all of which would draw huge crowds — always seem out of their reach.

My guesses for possible headliners and/or bill fillers?
– Vampire Weekend, who have come through here before and have a new album.
– Jenny Lewis, a local favorite, though she already has a gig booked in St. Louis Aug. 17.
– Wilco, which would be their dream “get”
– Deerhunter, hot new record, not sure they’re a headliner, tho…

Possible line-up fodder:
– Metric, also through here a lot.
– Idles, red hot these days
– Mitski, a great get
– Sharon Van Etten, another hot act.
– Strand of Oaks, one of my personal faves, has a new album.
– Karen O of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, not sure she’s touring.

And no doubt we’ll see at least a couple vintage indie bands in the line-up this year. Maybe Stephen Malkmus of Pavement, perhaps return appearances by Bob Mould or Guided By Voices or Dinosaur Jr.?

We’ll have to wait until April 18 to find out…

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Acts I do know are playing in Omaha… tonight:

Bad Bad Men — a band consisting of uber-talented punk legends John Wolf, Jerry Hug and Chris Siebken — plays tonight at fabulous O’Leaver’s, opening for In the Whale and Natural States. 9 p.m. sharp, probably $5.

Also tonight, mysterious pop-punkers Masked Intruder plays at Lookout Lounge with Four Arm Shiver and The Shidiots. $15, 8 p.m.

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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 © 2019 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.