Story and Photos: Spencer Fleming
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Now back to the story....
Maha Festival day one is in the books! What an awesome way to kick off the weekend. Friday night (7/29) several thousand music fans gathered at Stinson Park in Aksarben Village for Omaha's premier indie rock festival.
The weather was warm in direct sunlight but there were plenty of places for shade and lots of places to grab a cool beverage. The night kicked off with Las Cruxes, a Spanish alt-rock band. They got the crowd moving quickly with their upbeat Latin sounding grooves. The sun was beating down but it didn't stop the Maha faithful from rocking out. I saw several folks dancing and having the best time, myself included.
After Las Cruxes I met up with a good friend Johnny Jazz (It was a self-proclaimed high school nickname based on Jimmy Jazz from The Clash). He goes by John now, but he'll always be Jonny Jazz to me. We hit up Voodoo Taco and I of course ordered something way too spicy based on the recommendations of the staff. You know how it goes, "oh yea I can handle the medium fire sauce", haha. Oh well, outside of the too spicy the burrito was pretty flavorful. I'd definitely do it again but just humble myself and ask for "mild" sauce.
We returned to catch Bad Self Portraits rocking the Tito's side stage. I was supposed to catch these guys at a show a while back but I ended up running late and I missed them. I was pleasantly surprised with their set and how polished they sounded. Bad Self Portraits are a four piece out of Omaha. The lead singer and drummer traded lead vocal duties and harmonized throughout. Their pop-rock tunes reminded me of one of my newest loves Beach Bunny. They had a decent crowd gathered and they were working the stage like pros. I look forward to catching them around town soon.
Up next on the Union Pacific main stage was Sweeping Promises. Their Maha bio says they're from Lawrence, Kansas but that they got their start in Arkansas then moved to the basements of Boston starting several projects along the way. All I know is these guys rocked the Maha stage. They kicked up the dust with their post-punk antics and drew the crowd in with their siren call. Things started to pack in towards the front as their set progressed. Sweeping Promise's sound reminded me of 80s mainstays like Souxsie and the Banshees and Television. I was really glad to see so much guitar entering the Maha atmosphere this year. Maha always does a great job bringing a diverse lineup of artists but it's cool to see how much alternative rock they have this year.
After Sweeping Promises it was time for the side stage closer Indigo De Souza. By now the crowd was absolutely packing it in and was ready to party. Indigo took the stage to raucous applause. I tried my best to get some shots from the back before moving over to the side of the stage. I should've been more cavalier and pushed my way to the front like my buddy Dean from Go Venue, but I played it cool and just tried to fit in where I could. Indigo's set of chill love songs had the crowd swaying as the sun was setting. From the side of the stage I saw several eager fans who got a spot up front singing along with every word. Indigo seems to have quite the buzz going. I'm sure if she comes back she could have a great turnout at the Waiting Room or possibly even the Slowdown.
During Indigo's set I ran into Stephen from PUP!!! To say I was stoked would be a giant understatement. PUP was the last show I shot before things started shutting down during the pandemic. I tried my best not to fanboy out and overstay my welcome. I think I did pretty well. I didn't even ask for a pic, but I saw him run into another fan and I offered to take a pic for him and then he got one for me. I'm super pumped to see them tonight (7/30). They close out the small stage at 7:45 CT.
As the sun went down the glow sticks came out for the day one closer Car Seat Headrest. I was familiar with Car Seat Headrest in name only, but it's a name I had heard come up several times over the past five years or so. My buddy John said they had a sound similar to Muse. This got me pretty pumped because for a time I was a big fan of Muse and had traveled to sold out shows in Chicago and Minneapolis to catch them.
A stream of fog filled the stage and a man in a gas mask stepped forth. His eyes lit up with giant L.E.Ds A wave of synth-fuzz washed over the crowd as the music kicked in. Fans from front to back held their phones high hoping to capture a memory. By now the air was starting to cool and the crowd was ready to light it up with the new wave synth-bops. Car Seat Headrest went hard and provided an engaging party soundtrack to close out Maha day one.
Knowing I had a full day the next day I made my way towards the back and did the slow exit catching a couple more songs on my way out. Day one of Maha was a lot of fun and I can't wait to do it all again.
Tonight's lineup includes locals The Real Zebos, Marcy Yates, Geese, Sudan Archives, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, PUP, Princess Nokia, and closing things out is the dream pop duo Beach House.
If you make your way to midtown come check out our booth in the Aksarben Village. We'll be outside the gates so no ticket is needed, but I highly recommend getting one if you're looking for an awesome show. It's going to be one heck of a party. We hope to see you there!
Huge thanks to Maha for photo access. Day Two coverage and fully gallery coming soon!