Maha celebrates 10-year anniversary with two day festival

Rivers Cuomo, frontman of Weezer, performs at Maha Music Festival. Photo by Mallory Bart/the Gateway

Hailey Stressman

Through woven words and melodies, the power of music has connected people together in
acceptance and unity. The end of summer marks a time where people across the country meet to do just that in Aksarben Village for the annual Maha Music Festival that took
place Aug. 17-18.

Since its birth in 2009, the Maha Music Festival has followed a schedule consisting of a single twelve-hour day. However, this year, they introduced something new. They announced in April they would be celebrating their ten year anniversary with a special treat for all music lovers: a two day festival.

The nineteen-hour event was packed full of outreach program booths, vendors from local shops, delicious food, and of course, great music to jam to. Artists included Hurray for the Riff Raff, Tune-Yards, and The Kills along with headliners such as TV On the Radio, Father John Misty, and Weezer.

The sun shone down on the shoulders of fans grooving to local band Mesonjixx and browsing the services provided by organizations such as Planned Parenthood and Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Midlands. As the night went on, the crowd volleyed beach balls and pushed the barricade limits as their favorite bands took the stage.

Three-year Maha attendee Kelsie Stessman only attended one out of the
two festival days but still noticed the overall expansion of the festival itself from previous years, not only from the additional day but along with the growth of the Community Village.

“Obviously, it’s a music festival, but there’s the component of the non-profits that come
to the festival,” Stressman said. “It’s a great way for people to connect to the community indifferent ways like through service work and opening people’s perspectives to maybe issues they did not realize before. They’ve reached such a milestone, so having two days kind of just shows you the growth of Omaha in general and the excitement people here have for events such as these.”

Organizations such as The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and Habitat for
Humanity of Omaha had an abundance of information available for attendees along with some free merchandise. People could make their own scrunchies at the Smart Girl Society, Inc. booth or answer a question about sexual heath to receive a free Love Rocket t-shirt from Get Checked Omaha. However, local businesses such as Scout and Hello Holiday were outnumbered by the service and outreach organizations.

Being one of the only main music gatherings for Omaha, a large amount of time is dedicated to planning along with rounding up a group of an estimated 700 committed volunteers mentioned on the official Maha Music Festival website. Those bearing signature Maha volunteer t-shirts were there to clean up bathrooms, change overflowing trash cans, and work at food and drink vendors.

“It was very volunteer based,” said two-year Maha attendee Jennifer Logan. “You could tell the people who worked there really wanted you to be there, enjoy yourself, and to come back because it means so much for our community to have this festival.”

The spotlight for this year’s festival was, of course, the music. This year’s lineup brought a
variety of styles from the hip hop beats of The Dilla Kids to the blues rock of Benjamin Booker.

As the last artists performed, more and more people congregated to the stage. The energy was heightened as the time finally came for the long awaited band, Weezer. Not only did Weezer perform their popular 80’s cover, Toto, they also surprised the crowd with
an acoustic version of A-Ha’s Take On Me. The mass of people let themselves go to the music and occasionally had to be settled down by security. One individual even crowd surfed during Weezer’s set.

“We definitely got pushed a lot which is expected when you’re up so close at a concert because you’re getting the backlash from the giant sea of people behind you,” Logan said. “Occasionally you got a beach ball to the face.”

The ten-year anniversary brought once in a lifetime experiences along with awareness and
attention to issues over many areas. Looking past the hectic crowds and beer can covered grass, one can find a community coming together, despite differences and conflicts, to celebrate and enjoy one thing they can all agree on: the power of music.