Maha Music Festival, August 11th, 2012

Maha Music Festival
August 11th, 2012
Stinson Park at Aksarben Village
Omaha, Nebraska

Band Line-up;
The Seen, Conduits, Eli Mardock, Frontier Ruckus, Universe Contest, Josh Rouse, UUVVWWZ, Daydreamers, Dum Dum Girls, The Mynabirds, Delta Spirit, Icky Blossoms, Garbage, Desaparecidos


It’s the time of year again. Having grown each year, The Maha Music Festival has become one of the most successful festivals in the midwest. Sadly though, a full time job caused me to miss a few of the bands to perform early in the day. After speaking with some of the fans who braved another of Omaha’s hot summer days, everyone spoke highly of The seen, Conduits, Eli Mardock, and Frontier Ruckus. Universe Contest was already well into their set as I made my way to the side stage. They had an interesting mix of psychedelic indie pop and a decent amount of fans on their feet during their set. Josh Rouse was up next on the main stage with a solo acoustic performance. Rouse succeeded in gaining an excellent crowd interaction. Raised around the Omaha metro area, Rouse hasnt been back for years and this is his first time playing in Omaha.
Having submitted myself to the likes of the Mayhem Festival, it’s calming to just enjoy the music and not have to worry about keeping up with a moshing crowd, thrashing to metal riffs. There’s a real sense of family and community today.


The crowd is very casual. Lawn chairs and blankets. Children of all ages enjoying the playground. The day’s events are working like a well oiled machine. It’s the 300+ volunteers helping make Maha so successful.
But there is a dark cloud hanging over Aksarben Village. The skies have started to cloud over and there are whispers of rain in the forecast.
Female fronted UUVVWWZ took the stage next and, on a tight schedule, got straight to business. UUVVWWZ are one of Maha’s Saddlecreek Records showcase bands. Very bluesy with an edgy hint to the jazz vocals. There’s also a great merch selection. Each band has their own unique Maha poster, printed locally.


A surprise of the day are Daydreamers. Three young kids, all under the age of 10, who more than impressed the crowd with their rap/pop fusion.


Saddlecreek recording artist Dum Dum Girls took the main stage next. A female quartet, they are the first band of the day to really get a reaction out of the crowd. Indie hard rock. Clear vocals. Their sound is reminiscent of the Go Go’s and the Bangels with a grunge edge like Belly.
Today’s festival offers a totally different crowd than what I’m use too. Laid back and relaxed. No moshing during anyone’s set. But Garbage hasn’t taken the stage yet. Jason Rouse can be seen walking through the crowd, taking photos with and greeting fans. Our local musicians mingling about also.
The hipsters have taken over though. I wonder how many of them are really here for the amazing music and how many are here just because it’s where all the cool kids are?
Local band The Mynabirds offer a refreshingly crisp female lead vocalist. World rock blend. Progressive jazz combo. Their set shifts the crowd back to a more mellow tone with their dual female vocals. The crowd has settled back into a more relaxed frame of mind. Today feels more like a family gathering than a concert. The bands providing the soundtrack to their restful weekend.
To celebrate the success of the festival, 44 diehard fans have gotten the new Maha logo tattooed on themselves. This means they’ll never again have to pay for a ticket to future Maha festivals.


Delta Spirit are up next with their blend adult contemporary rock. THese guys know how to rock and take advantage of the large stage, using it’s entire area. Very energetic. The main stage now seems reserved for the more heavy bands. Fans are finally starting to bounce around.


I took a short break from the events to chat with a few of the vulunteers. Tori, from Omaha, is most excited to see ICKY BLOSSOMS whom she’s seen numerous times already. Scott, also from Omaha, is most excited to see Garbage, a band who he’s never seen before. Both volunteered to help out a great cause and for the comp concert ticket.
At eight o’clock it finally started raining. Lightning and thunder. The crowds scattered like ants looking for a dry place. But Stinson Park is an open man made earthen amphitheater offering no rain shelter. Sadly, more than a few people packed up their folding chairs and left. No small storm could delay Icky Blossoms though. They took the stage only slightly late, daring the storm to continue by calling themselves the rain gods and turned Maha into a rave. Twilight had come and the band used their stage lights to their advantage. The crowd reacted differently to each band and now the subtle head nods that were seen throughout the crowd were replaced with fist pumping and bounces. The bands unique blend of industrial dance rock was the perfection musical transition for Garbage.
Garbage waisted no time hammering the crowd with veteran force. “For those of you who don’t know who we are,” lead vocalist Shirley Manson purred at the crowd, “we’re Garbage. But aren’t we all in some way.”


Manson pranced around the stage like a caged tiger. SHe fell to her knees during Metal Heart and did a sultry dance during Queer. Having been around for going on 20 years, tracks off the band’s self-titled debut release were updated with a extended intro or elaborate guitar solos. Queer given a more edgy metal twist.
Eric Avery, of Jane’s Addiciton, joined the band for this tour, and it was great finally seeing him play with one of my favorite bands. Actually, it was great finally seeing Garbage again. I’d not seen the band since 1996 when they opened for The Smashing Pumpkins and I had doubts that I’d ever be able to see them again. Butch Vig, a name you should all know, was a primal creature behind his drum kit. Duke Erikson and Steve Marker rocked stage left and right as the crowd ate up the classic tracks.
Manson took the time to give a shout out to Erikson for being from Lyons, Nebraska and thsi being the first time the band has played Nebraska.


The skies opened again during Control, with Manson asking, “Are you a little wet out there? I love it like this and you look like healthy stock who can handle being wet.” THis would not be the last time Manson would flirt with the crowd.


It continued to rain during Why Do You Love Me and was perfect weather for Crowd surfers during Cherry Lips. Manson rocked out with Avery during Blood For Poppies and then collapsed to the stage during the track’s third chorus, writhing around on the stage floor.
Manson then took a short break to tell us about Corey. Corey was one of the lucky fans who met the band and “Lost his shit.” Manson wanted to assure Corey that everyone at least once looses their shit when they meet their favorite band and they don’t think any less of him for it. That’s how cool Garbage are to their fans.


We were blessed with a heavy version of #1 Crush, my favorite track, and more rain during Push It. No one seemed to mind the rain though. So many of us had waited so long for the chance to see this band that I doubt a tornado would have driven us away. The stage was flooded with blue lights during Vow, the visuals were enhanced by the continuing drizzle. The band even added an extended jam outtro to Vow.
Vig struck the opening chords of the track that had first introduced so many of us to Garbage and from that intanst the crowd screamed back every lyric. “This is truly a first. Thank you so much for precious moments,” Manson expressed to the crowd. It was raining during Only Happy When It Rains, which has apparently never happened during the band’s live show. No one seemed to mind though.
Garbage played the perfect mix of tracks from each of their 5 albums and left us wanting more.





Shut Your Mouth


Metal Heart




Stupid Girl


Why Do You Love Me




Cherry Lips (a go-go)


Blood For Poppies




#1 Crush


Battle In Me


Push It




Only Happy When It Rains

So many people left after Garbage’s set. I’d say at least half the crowd missed Desaparecidos.
Tonight was to be one of the band’s comeback tour shows but it felt to be more fot the hardcore fans of Oberst. The band sounds great live but it was a dick move for Connor Oberst to play the first three songs with his face covered and minimal stage lights. During their set, Oberst kept announcing that Garbage is up next. He finally closed their set with “Stay tuned and see you next time”. They played for less than an hour. No encore. And a lot of upset fans. Overall I was not impressed with Desaparecidos but living in Omaha, I can now say I’ve seen at least one of Oberst’s bands.
The 2012 Maha Music Festival was a huge success though and it gives me high hopes for next year’s event!