Column 281: MAHA, the final word (for now); Concert for Equality sched released…

by Tim McMahan,

And now, the final word on the 2010 MAHA Music Festival. Even though it was only a few days ago, it already seems like it was last year, especially with the next big music event looming on the horizon.

Column 281: Review: MAHA Music Festival

Better the second time ’round.

It's True

It's True at the MAHA Music Festival, July 24, 2010.

Year two of the MAHA Music Festival already was a success by the time the first band took the main stage, even though things had gotten off to a rocky start.

A giant bitch of a storm named Bonnie had taken its toll on the airlines. Main stage artist Ben Kweller had tweeted at 2 a.m. Saturday that his flight had been canceled, causing a loud, low groan from the collective mouths of everyone involved with the festival. Cell phones lit up like hand grenades, and Kweller found himself driving by car from one airport to another, desperately trying to find a connection to Omaha. He made it, as did fellow main-stager Superchunk, who also got caught in the same shitstorm of flight cancellations.

As a result, the entire MAHA program was pushed back by more than an hour. City officials gave an OK to let the party run ’til midnight. Kweller and Old 97’s swapped stage times and everybody won.

When I arrived at around 2:30, It’s True already was on stage, playing to a smallish crowd that was downright monstrous compared to last year’s tiny gathering for Appleseed Cast’s afternoon set. It was the second to last stage appearance by It’s True, the band on the verge of a nervous breakdown only a few months after releasing its debut full-length and just as a nation was beginning to take notice. No one knows for sure why frontman Adam Hawkins, who now lives in central Iowa, wanted out, and no one had the courage to ask.

MAHA limbo contest winner Betsy Wells was up next on the festival’s pseudo “second stage,” which was nothing more than a stack of amps set up on a wall adjacent to the main stage. After last year’s debacle, there was talk of moving the second stage to somewhere more “fan friendly,” so that people could watch bands without having to stare into a burning hot sun. But that never happened. A bigger problem: The second stage sounded louder than the main stage, with the overdriven stack at the perfect height to shear the eardrums off anyone stupid enough to stand in front of it without earplugs. A couple girls in hot pants leaned over and held their ears as they shuffled away in their flip-flops.

I didn’t pay much attention to Old 97’s, who sounds like a thousand other bands that play that style of easy-to-ignore alt-country-pop. But isn’t that the way with festivals? You can’t love them all. The hippies dancing jigs to Old 97’s were going to be making phone calls during Superchunk.

Landing on the Moon, another MAHA battle-of-the-bands winner, played a solid set on the ear-splitter stage. Then things began to really heat up. MAHA organizers trotted out a grinning Mayor Jim Suttle to declare, “This is what we mean by quality of life in Omaha. Music tonight, tomorrow, forever!” The crowd reacted with a smattering of disinterested applause, only to lock in when Ben Kweller was introduced.

Ben Kweller at the MAHA Music Festival, July 24, 2010.

Ben Kweller at the MAHA Music Festival, July 24, 2010.

Wearing crazy-clown red pants and a Panama hat, a sleep-deprived Kweller looked like Flying Tomato Shaun White as he launched into a set of singer/songwriter Americana backed by drums and bass. The stage crowd — probably the same people there to see Old 97’s — dug his grinning, folky hick-rock.

By now the crowd had ballooned to a few thousand, and the Lewis and Clark Landing was beginning to look like a music festival. Cheap fold-out lawn chairs formed wall fortresses around dirty tasseled stadium blankets. A walk from the entrance to the stage meant finding your way through the maze of encampments without being scowled at for stepping on someone’s shit. By the end of the day, the little tent city near the stage would be pushed aside as the crowd took over.

The Mynabirds, who along with Satchel Grande managed to avoid humiliating themselves at a “contest” to get their second stage slot, played a confident set while the sun blazed over cute frontwoman Laura Burhenn’s shoulder.

Superchunk at The MAHA Music Festival, July 24, 2010.

Superchunk at The MAHA Music Festival, July 24, 2010.

The last of the afternoon light was spent on Superchunk. I looked at my iPhone afterward for notes but didn’t find any — I had been too enraptured by the band. For me and the rest of the crowd in their 30s and 40s standing in front of the stage, Superchunk were conquering heroes playing for their first time in Nebraska. This was our Perfect Moment, and we were soaking it in.

Then, The Faint. Despite becoming their own tribute band these days, since they no longer write new music, their set was what festival goers will remember about MAHA II. The crowd was at its peak, and dancing — it was the kind of spectacle that MAHA organizers had dreamed of.

Headliner Spoon came on at 11 p.m. and never caught hold, but by then, it didn’t matter. MAHA already had gone into the books as a success. MAHA organizer Tre Breshear said scanned ticket attendance was just over 4,000, slightly below their target but a big improvement over year one.

Spoon at The MAHA Music Festival, July 24, 2010.

Spoon at The MAHA Music Festival, July 24, 2010.

In retrospect, this year’s main stage roster was a tip o’ the hat to ’90s-’00s indie — the kind of music that the organizers grew up listening to (presumably). Old ’97s, Superchunk, Spoon, The Faint, even Ben Kweller had his best music in the earlier half of the ’00s. The festival will garner a younger audience if it tries to book more up-and-coming acts next year, such as Sleigh Bells, MIA, Wavves, The National, Foals, Band of Horses, New Pornographers, along with the usual legacy acts. If they want to extend this event to two days, they’ll need to book a couple huge bands — one to anchor each day. And I mean Pixies/REM/Wilco huge. That’s pricey. And risky. There also are those who think the line-up should be more diverse stylewise. Bottom line: They’re never going to please everyone, and they’ll only fail if they try.

* * *

The schedule for Saturday’s Concert for Equality has been announced, but first, the news…

The Associated Press reported last night (right here) that the Fremont City Council voted unanimously to suspend a voter-approved ban on hiring and renting property to illegal immigrants. “The council also unanimously decided to hire Kansas-based attorney and law professor Kris Kobach, who drafted the ordinance and offered to represent Fremont for free to fight the lawsuits. Kobach also helped write Arizona’s new controversial immigration law,” the AP story said.

The story went on to say Fremont faces lawsuits from the American Civil Liberties Union and the Mexican American Legal Defense & Educational Fund, which both expected to ask a federal judge today to temporarily block the ban from taking effect.  ACLU of Nebraska said it and the city will ask the judge to block the ordinance pending a final court resolution.

So despite the fact that the law has been suspended, the lawsuits will go on, which makes the Concert for Equality just as relevant from a fund-raising standpoint as ever. The court battle could drag on for years.

With that, here’s the schedule for Saturday’s concert, by way of One Percent Productions:

Flowers Forever – 5:00-5:30
Vago – 5:45-6:15
The Envy Corps – 6:30-7:00
Bright Eyes – 7:15-8:00
Gillian Welch – 8:15-9:00
Cursive 9:15-10:00
Desaparecidos – 10:15-11:00

Fathr^ – 5:00-5:40
Simon Joyner – 6:00-6:40
The So-So Sailors – 7:00-7:40
Conchance – 8:00-8:40
David Dondero – 9:00-9:40
Closed from 10:00 – 11:00
Lullaby for the Working Class – 11:30-12:15
Hootenanny – 12:30-2:00

If there are any “special guests,” they’ll likely be showing up during the “Hootenanny” portion of the program. Rumors are rampant as to who those special guests would be. So… where do we park? I’ll pass on more info about the show as I get it.

* * *

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 © 2010 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


In the aftermath of MAHA: What went right, what went wrong and where to go next…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:51 pm July 26, 2010
Superchunk at The MAHA Music Festival, Omaha, 7/24/10

Superchunk at The MAHA Music Festival, Omaha, 7/24/10.

by Tim McMahan,

A more comprehensive review of MAHA’s music will appear as Wednesday’s column/blog entry, (though I found that 1,000 words wasn’t enough). The lead for that column: Have the MAHA Music Festival organizers gotten the monkey that was last year’s failure off their backs? The answer, probably, is yes.

I think no matter how you look at it, the festival worked. I certainly had a good time and so did the folks I spoke with. My personal highlight was Superchunk, whereas I think The Faint was probably the big winner — they’ll be the ones that people remember most. Spoon was merely OK, but I’ve never thought Spoon was a very good live band (I think they’re a very good recording project, though their new album is limp).

MAHA organizer Tre Brashear said that scanned ticket attendance was just over 4,000 (They won’t give actual ticket sale info). I thought the crowd seemed larger than that, especially during The Faint (When Spoon started its set, people began to head home). For a crowd that size, everything ran smoothly, which is a credit to Brashear, his team and their crack staff of volunteers.

Still, as is the case with any festival, there were problems. A couple people were arrested: “One idiot punched his girlfriend.  Another idiot punched the son of the Omaha City Prosecutor,” Brashear said. And apparently MAHA was unable to provide free waterbottle refills throughout the entire day — which is a concern at any outdoor festival. Brashear said it’s “the thing we’re most disappointed in ourselves about.” I didn’t notice it and didn’t hear about it until I read a complaint on Twitter after the show.

From a profitability standpoint: “Even though our attendance was below the 4.5K we were planning on, we came out ahead because of our beverage sales,” Brashear said. “We sold out of everything.  At the end, all we had left was Bud Light.” This underscores one obvious tragic misstep by organizers: I was unable to find a Rolling Rock anywhere on the festival grounds. Along with the water problem, this is something the MAHA committee must solve in 2011.

Brashear said he and the rest of the MAHA brain trust are going to “decompress” over the next couple of weeks and then begin planning for next year’s event. The two questions that burn brightest in my mind: Where will it be held and who will they invite?

I assume that they consider this year’s event a smashing success. Still, one has to consider that concerts like River Riot (or whatever it’s called) sell three to four times as many tickets as MAHA, thanks to the shitty pop bands that they book. If MAHA is going to keep its refined indie focus, it could take a long time until they hit those kinds of numbers — such is the nature of indie music. I’d hate to see them buckle under and book an 89.7 FM-style roster of bands to boost ticket sales.

In retrospect, this year’s main stage roster was a tip o’ the hat to ’90s-’00s indie — the kind of music that the organizers grew up listening to (presumably). Old ’97s, Superchunk, Spoon, The Faint, even Ben Kweller had his best music in the earlier half of the ’00s. The festival would garner a younger audience if it tried to book more up-and-coming acts, such as Sleigh Bells, MIA, Wavves, The National, Foals, Band of Horses, New Pornographers, along with the usual legacy acts. If they want to extend this event to two days, they’re going to need to book a couple huge bands — one to anchor each day. And I mean Pixies/REM/Wilco huge. That’s pricey. And risky. There are also those who think the line-up should be more diverse stylewise. Bottom line: You’re never going to please everyone.

Interestingly, the most modern bands were on the second stage, which is another thing MAHA needs to fix in 2011. The second stage was an abomination both soundwise and viewing-wise (unless you like your retinas burned off by the setting sun). If MAHA decides to stay at Lewis & Clark Landing, they’ve got to figure out the second stage “problem.” Maybe they can merely move it to the east side of the main stage, with the Mighty Mo as a backdrop.

More likely, MAHA will move to a new location that allows camping — that’s certainly part of the organizers’ vision. So is getting more involved in “the local scene.” The No. 1 criticism with the festival is their process for selecting the small stage bands — no one likes battle-of-the-bands contests where entrants perform for free. It’s cheap and humliating. It’s time that MAHA grow a pair and start selecting the bands themselves, or work with someone involved in the local scene to help select local bands. Considering the amount they pay bands for the event, they have their pick of the best Lincoln and Omaha have to offer.

Anyway… more recap Wednesday.


Lazy-i Interview: Superchunk (and some exclusive Wilbur Wisdom); Ted Stevens, Capgun Coup tonight…

Category: Interviews — Tags: , , — @ 12:44 pm July 23, 2010


Forever Shredding

Superchunk’s legend is more than their longevity.

by Tim McMahan,

To put the importance of Superchunk into some sort of context, let’s turn to Ira Robbins, who in his Trouser Press Guide to ’90s Rock, said:

“Although Superchunk has never been revolutionary, the North Carolina quartet has done more to foment the indie-pop revolution than nearly any other band extant, feeding its flames with a steady stream of releases, an incessant appetite for touring and a voracious fandom that’s seen it underwrite numerous kindred spirits on its own Merge label. Like missionaries bringing the word to the outback, Superchunk ushered in an era in which ethics and avowed self-determination were just as important as artistic productivity — a stance that’s probably influenced far more culturalists than the band’s sound.”

They also made some pretty damn fine records.

Anyone who grew up loving college rock in the ’90s has a Superchunk album in his/her collection. My first was 1993’s On the Mouth, whose opening track, “Precision Auto,” with its chugging guitar, crash-bash rhythms and barked out lines: “Do not pass me just to slow down / I can move right through you,” fueled way too many reckless two-lane passes in my ’78 Ford Fiesta.

Superchunk arguably put the Chapel Hill music scene on the map, producing eight full-lengths and countless singles since its debut 45, “Slack Motherfucker,” came out in 1990. The term “legendary” comes to mind.

Superchunk guitarist Jim Wilbur, however, will have none of it.

“We’re not the beginning of anything,” said the self-proclaimed Larry David of the band from the deck of his home in Durham, North Carolina. “There were always tons of bands around Chapel Hill at the same time, like Polvo and Archers of Loaf. No one was doing anything to be part of a scene. It just kind of worked out that way. It’s hard to figure out what was going on, but after the fact, people want to write and talk about it. But in the middle of it, it was organic. It was people in their early 20s doing what comes naturally.”

Wilbur said he moved from Connecticut to North Carolina 20 years ago to join Superchunk for three months, and never left. “There might be something to being in a place where you’re not New York, Los Angeles or Chicago. Clearly you’re not there to exploit an opportunity,” he said. “You’re doing it for your own reasons. For fun or laziness. I don’t think many people who are really good at music do it as a career. It just becomes one. You have better chances at making a living buying a lottery ticket.”

Despite that, Wilbur and the rest of Superchunk — frontman/guitarist Mac McCaughan, bass player Laura Ballance, and drummer Jon Wurster — were anything but lazy when it came to the band. “It’s work; it’s tough work to be in a band and tour,” Wilbur said. “You can’t stop and think about who’s paying attention to you. As long as they’re paying you to go on the road and put out records, people must be paying attention.”

The band’s work ethic defined Superchunk as much as their music. Although their records have been released on a few labels including indie powerhouse Matador Records, its McCaughan and Ballance’s own Merge Records that is their home. Along with bands like Fugazi, Superchunk was a standard bearer of the Do It Yourself approach to music, turning its back on major labels in a move that was a decade ahead of its time.

Asked if DIY is more important now, in an era when record labels are slowly decaying into obsolescence, Wilbur replied, “What do think?”

“It’s proven itself as a business method, maybe not for people who want to be Michael Jackson or Madonna, but if you want a career in rock and want to tour, you better get your shit together and know what you’re doing by yourself, because no one is helping you without taking a big cut,” he said. “We just wanted to be sustainable, and we were smart enough to know that we were going to have to do a lot of it ourselves. We all eat if we do our jobs. But in the ’90s, after Nirvana, there were so many bands getting into horrible deals where they were never going to be able to recoup the assloads of money that they would owe. This isn’t ideological. I don’t want to owe a multinational corporation lots of money. It never made sense, any offer we got. We knew we could always do better on our own.”

And they did, for years. But each year, Wilbur said, the band sold fewer and fewer CDs. After Here’s to Shutting Up was released on Merge in 2001, Superchunk began to slow down.

“We haven’t toured since 2001 really,” Wilbur said. “The last time was when that record came out. We did do one other thing after that with the Get-Up Kids that was demoralizing.”

Wilbur said the band agreed to do a tour opening for the then-popular Kansas City emo band. “None of us had any expectations, we never do,” he said. “They were nice guys and looked at us like, ‘You’re the reason we’re in a band,’ but it didn’t translate in a live setting. We were old farts playing loud, fast music. Their fans didn’t care about us. There were always girls in the front row on cell phones. That was not what we were about.”

But it wasn’t that tour that slowed them down, it was changes in their lives. “Over the years nothing’s really changed personality-wise with the band; everyone just has different priorities,” Wilbur said. “Mac had kids, Jon (Wurster) moved away. It was difficult to get together and make time.”

Superchunk, Majesty Shredding

Superchunk, Majesty Shredding

Despite the distance, the band has never been dormant. They’ve continued to perform live at least once year, always writing new songs when they got together, Wilbur said. The product is Majesty Shredding, the band’s first album in nine years, slated for release Sept. 14 on Merge.

“It took us a year and a half to record,” Wilbur said. “We used to (make albums) in two weeks. It was easier when we were a full-time band and practiced three times a week. Now Mac sends out demos of songs, and we all have to figure out our parts and try to make it coalesce. In some ways, it sounds better. People seem to enjoy (the new record), and I like it, but I have no concept of it. I have no memory of playing or recording it.”

Wilbur said that moments before our interview July 7, he had picked up a guitar for the first time in three weeks, and — as always — had to figure out what he’d played during the recording sessions. “I can’t remember where my fingers were. What was I doing?” he said. “That’s always been the case. Even when we were in a band that worked all the time, we always forgot things. We don’t write anything down, except for Laura, but she plays bass and all she writes is ‘D minor.’ I don’t know what my fingering was, and Mac is even worse at it, but he’s a better player.”

Needless to say, Wilbur and the rest of Superchunk will have it all figured out before Saturday’s show. As the release date for Majesty Shredding creeps closer, the band is spending more time together, at least on the phone. “We now have business to attend to on a day-to-day basis, and it’s an incredible pain in the ass,” he said. “For the past 10 years we’ve been friends that didn’t have to talk to each other every day. Now we have to agree on everything. I try to stay out of it when I can. Mac and Laura run Merge, so I assume they know what they’re doing.

“I guess the reason we’re getting any kind of attention is that there’s a story about us, about the label and that we have a new record for the first time in years,” he said, adding that there’s nothing noteworthy about longevity.

“I’ve loved music my whole life. I loved The Byrds and Springsteen and New Order and they never went away. Even The Byrds stuck around past their prime. (Roger) McGuinn is still playing folk festivals somewhere. Springsteen is doing it, and it’s not newsworthy; it’s natural. I’ve always felt that way with this band — we’re just people playing this music, and as long as we enjoy doing it, we’re going to keep doing it.”

* * *

Talking to Jim Wilbur really is like talking to a rock ‘n’ roll version of Larry David. Here are a few extra bits of Wilbur Wisdom that I simply didn’t have room for in the story. Enjoy…

On touring: “I always think of it this way: I work in a book store selling things on ebay, and in the back room I work with this guy who likes to wear cowboy hats and snakeskin boots, and he’s always saying things like, ‘Rock and roll!’ and ‘You gonna pick up any pussy?’ I always say, ‘Barry, you just don’t get it. That’s not what this is all about.’ He’s joking around; he pays my health insurance, so I love him. People think this thing is glamorous. I tell them it’s work. It’s personalities and being sane and not having an inflated ego or an inflated sense of selves.”

So there are no crazy road stories to share?

“The stories all have to do with people we’ve hired to come with us to sell T-shirts. We’re the people bailing other people out of jail. The band was always trying to find time to sleep. You’re on tour to perform, not to do anything else. Everything else is peripheral. John the drummer started to say this recently about five hours before (showtime): ‘No one cares if I went out and had a good time before the show. They only care if we’re good. So I’m going to get my head together.’ He says it as if he’s a guru joker kind of guy. We’re not there to see who can do the most Jaeger shots.”

On technology: “What’s sad about progress is that recording studios are going under and engineers who have a specialized skill are being usurped by the fact that anyone can record at home with a computer and sound decent. But it’s not the same as going to the studio. I don’t think in 1982 anyone saw where the music industry would be in 2010.”

On side projects: “I don’t have any interests. I record stuff by myself sometimes and end up sometimes being part of Portastic (Mac’s side band) as a bass player. I’m the last person in the world that would want to pursue music. I do it purely for myself. I have no ambition whatsoever. I think it’s important to work. For a long time in Superchunk, I didn’t have a job and I sat around trying to figure out what to do all day when we weren’t on tour. It sucks to have two lives — two kind of realities — that you have to deal with, but you’ll be hard-pressed to get any sympathy.”

On returning to touring after nine years: “Now when I have to go on tour I kind of hate it. I miss not being home. I have a wife, two dogs, two cats, a beautiful house. I’m sitting on my deck now and am looking across my lawn. I have a huge yard with 30 pine trees. We have three bathrooms for the two of us. I live really nice, and now I have to go on tour? I like it because it’s good work. I see it as work.”

On being on the Jimmy Fallon show in the very near future: “I’ve never actually seen the show before. It’s always interesting, but it’s not like ‘I’ve never been kissed before.’ I have had sex, I’m not a virgin. I can do this. We’re all going to die. This isn’t going to go on forever. It takes a lot to get me excited. Being on the Jimmy Fallon show is not something that does that.”

On never playing in Omaha before: “We’ve never played in Nebraska or Omaha. It’s weird. We’ve talked about it many times. ‘What state haven’t we played? We’ve got a lot of friends in Omaha. How could this happen?’ Maybe our booking agent had an issue with someone or someone had an issue with him. It’s always about routing. Omaha is off the beaten path, the same way Iowa City is. We’re hugely excited about coming to Omaha. I’m looking forward to going. I want to see it, even though we’ll be there less than 24 hours.”

* * *

In case you missed it, the MAHA Music Festival is this Saturday. The schedule went online yesterday here at Lazy-i. Someone asked if you could come and go throughout the day. The answer, according to MAHA head honcho Tre Brashear, is yes, you can leave and return. I assume you’ll have to wear a wristband to get in and out (and to drink).

Tickets are $33 today, but the price jumps to $38 tomorrow. Either price is a bargain when you consider it costs $20-$30 just to see Spoon in other cities, and you’re also getting The Faint (usually $20-$25) and Superchunk (priceless), along with Kweller, Old 97’s and a plethora of local acts. If the forecast is accurate, it will be a gorgeous day for a concert. Look for tweet updates and photos throughout the day at

But that’s tomorrow. What’s going on tonight?

Over at the 1020 Lounge (formerly Trovato’s) Ted Stevens of Cursive (and Lullaby for the Working Class) will be doing two full solo sets (according to the promoter) tonight starting at 9. And there’s no cover (it’s free). This could get packed — this Stevens guy is pretty good.

Also tonight, Capgun Coup is headlining a show at the old Orifice Warehouse at 2406 Leavenworth (where Ratfest was held last year at around this time). Joining Capgun is New Jersey band Home Blitz, Omaha’s own Yuppies and the amazing Well-Aimed Arrows. This is a fun place to see a show. $5, 9 p.m.

And finally, indie rock band Dim Light plays at Stir Lounge tonight with headliner Scott Severin and the Milton Burlesque. $5, 9 p.m.

* * *

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 © 2010 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Column 269 — Battle of the Blahs; O’Leaver’s dumps Myspace…

Category: Blog,Column — Tags: , , , , — @ 3:15 pm May 5, 2010

It would just be a shame if the best bands in Omaha never get a chance to play at the MAHA Festival simply because the Committee wasn’t willing to make the choice themselves… By the way, has anyone seen any posters around town advertising the event? Daylights a-wastin’, folks…

Column 269 — Battle of the Blahs

MAHA lets you pick the winner…

The fine folks at the MAHA Music Festival just announced two band showcases to be held this summer at Slowdown and The Waiting Room. It is through these free events that bands will be selected to play the festival’s Kum & Go local stage at the July 24 concert at Lewis & Clark Landing. The showcases are battle of the bands competitions where you — the concert goer — will choose the winner. Slowdown’s showcase is May 24, while The Waiting Room event is June 24. A third band will be chosen (again, via public vote) from those performing at an Omaha Entertainment and Arts Association summer showcase July 16-17. The fourth local band, Satchel Grande, already has been selected by the MAHA Committee.

If there’s an obvious flaw in the MAHA Festival it is this democratic approach toward selecting the local bands. Waitaminit, how could something democratic be bad? It starts with the nomination process. Only bands that are willing to play for free at the three showcases can be considered in the “election.” That immediately eliminates some of the area’s best bands, who have reached a point in their careers where they expect to get paid for their performances, and who look upon battle of the bands competitions as publicity stunts for those who haven’t paid their dues by recording, touring, doing what it takes to get their music heard.

In an effort to change my mind about their process, MAHA Organizer Tre Brashear sent me an e-mail where he argued that the showcases build community awareness, give bands a chance to promote the event (and sell tickets), and give the audience a voice in the selection process.

“We do not want MAHA to be perceived as three guys holding their own concert,” Brashear said. “Us picking all the bands would run that risk.”

Well, I hate to tell you Tre, but that boat left the dock a long time ago. The “three guys” already picked the festival’s headliners. Why not go ahead and pick the locals as well? One could argue that by surrendering the selection process to “the public” (which in the case of the OEAA showcase, is the folks who frequent Benson bars on any given weekend) you have backhandedly voiced a certain level of disdain — or your isolation from — the local music scene that you’re supposed to be supporting.

Tre goes on to say, “If we just ‘picked’ all the bands for the local stage, who’s to say that we’d pick ‘correctly’ in the eyes of the community? Some would agree with the choices, some would disagree.” That same argument obviously could be made toward their main stage selections. And in the end, it’s the concertgoers who will say if MAHA chose correctly when they decide if they’re willing to shell out $33 for a ticket.

The real problem with battle-of-the-bands situations, though, is that the best bands — the ones that truly need the exposure, the ones that are leaning out the furthest on the delicate limb of creativity — never win. What if, say, The Mynabirds were up against Paria, who do you think would get the most votes? How about Emphatic vs. It’s True? Or Digital Leather vs. any one of the area’s most popular cover bands? Who would the pubic choose? In the end, we’ll never know the answer, because none of those bands will likely be taking part in these showcases.

See, it’s not about ticket sales. No one is buying a ticket to see the Kum & Go local stage. They’re going for Spoon, Superchunk, The Faint and Old ’97s. MAHA is designed to be a sort of celebration of indie/alternative culture, not a money-grab. If it were about the money, they’d be booking Ke$ha or Justin Bieber.

Come to think of it, I wonder who would win a battle of the bands between Spoon and Justin Bieber. See my point?

* * *

O’Leaver’s is gutting its Myspace page, which was the only semi-reliable place where you could find a schedule of their upcoming shows. Instead, they’re moving their schedule to the O’Leaver’s Facebook page. Go there and click on the Events tab. Remember when Myspace was thee hot music website just a few years ago? We’ll be talking about Twitter and Facebook the same way in a few years…

Tomorrow: An interview with Matt Pond PA.