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Maha Festival 2022 is a wrap!

Story and Photos: Spencer F.

Summer is starting to wind down but we still have lots of shows left on the calendar. Can you believe Stories has been to more than 50 shows so far this year? One of the best shows we've done went down last weekend, and if you weren't at Maha Festival you missed one awesome party.

We had a booth right outside the gates with face paint for the kids and festival glitter for the ravers. I was hopping in and out helping to man the booth for most of the day but I still caught a lot of the music.

Kicking things off were Omaha natives The Real Zebos. I've seen these dudes at a packed Waiting Room show one time and it was one of the few local shows where people were chanting for the band to come on stage. Decked out in all white jumpsuits, the Zebos got the party started with their synth-pop beats and fun dance tunes. The Zebos played some songs from their soon to be released album and got the crowd moving including superfan Ben. They brought Ben on stage for their last song "Your Ex Said You Can't Dance". Ben was rocking up there! You can catch TRZ for their album release coming up on September 23 at the Slowdown.

After the Zebos I caught a special set from Omaha Girls Rock. This organization helps girls learn to play music for free or very little cost. These girls had a week to learn to play their instruments and write an original song. They named their band "The Spacecats" and wrote a song about a cat and a rat in space. Very cool!

Next, I made my way to the main stage for the indie band Geese. Unfortunately Geese was down a guitar player and a drummer but they did their best to keep the show moving. For missing two members they still played a pretty good set, but hopefully they can come back through with their full lineup so we can get the full experience.

After Geese I had to take a break from all the sun. Even with water and shade from our tent outside the gates I was getting really worn out. When I made my way back inside I was able to catch Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever. These guys were upbeat and rocking despite the harsh conditions of the sun beating down. They had a cool mix of indie and roots rock. A bit like The Lumineers meets Bruce Springsteen.

As the sun started going down we finally got a small reprieve from the heat as the boys from PUP made their way to the small stage. Out of all the Maha bands PUP was the one I was most excited for. PUP was the last band I got to shoot before the pandemic started. Had I known it would be the last show for almost two years I would've savored it even more. I had the awesome experience of meeting the band the night before during Maha day one and got to chat with lead singer Stephen for a bit. Such a great time. Their new album "The Unraveling Of PUP The Band" is one of the best of the year so far and to see it live was amazing!

As we started breaking down our booth outside I could hear a loud dance club beat coming from the main stage. I made my way back inside one more time to catch hip hop queen Princess Nokia. The park was starting to fill in now and there were glow sticks flowing everywhere as Princess Nokia and her DJ treated the Maha crowd to a feast of spitfire lyrics and bombastic beats. Nokia had some technical issues with her first song and said she had just stepped off a plane, but she did her best to get the crowd rocking with her. All around the fans danced and sang blissfully enjoying the summer evening.

As much as I like Beach House and dream pop tunes my feet were in bad shape and I was completely worn down from the sun. I had to make an early exit but I had an awesome time at Maha 2022 and I can't wait to do it again next year!

Shout out to Maha for always putting on a great show and being environmentally conscious for our city. There were more than 11,500 visitors to this two-day event, including approximately 4,100 on Friday and 7,400 on Saturday. While at the festival 4,754 pounds of waste generated on-site — 90% of the total figure of 5,279 — was diverted from a landfill. Attendees utilized 15 Zero Waste Stations throughout the park to separate their food scraps for composting, recycle their drink cans, and generally limit items going into the landfill bin. Nearly 27% was collected to be composted and will be transformed back into soil.

By Zero Waste International Alliance (ZWIA) standards, “zero waste” occurs when 90% or more of waste has been diverted from a landfill or incinerator via responsible composting or recycling.

A dedicated group of volunteers monitored the Zero Waste Stations all weekend to ensure sorting was accurate. Local waste management company Hillside Solutions oversaw on-site operations, including measuring every pound of waste on a designated scale and sorting bins into the wee hours of Sunday morning. The festival’s 15 food and drink vendors in the General Admission and VIP areas all pledged to use standardized compostable or recyclable serviceware in order to participate in Maha.

Throughout the weekend, 850 volunteers donated their time toward the creation and operation of the festival, fulfilling duties such as tent setup, ticket scanning, bartending, and cleanup. The recycling monitor volunteer team included 108 people.

Attendees also had access to free water stations at different locations in the park, thanks to the support of First National Bank of Omaha (FNBO). Many festival-goers made frequent stops to the water stations, filling up reusable water bottles to the tune of 635 gallons of water. This translates into more than 5,000 water bottles — a notable reduction of plastic usage.

If you didn't catch Maha this year, make sure to mark your calendars for the end of July next year so you don't miss it!

A huge thanks to Maha for photo access and their amazing hospitality.

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