The excuses for not attending the Maha Music Festival have officially dwindled to zero for music fan in the city of Omaha.
If we’re being honest with each other, there weren’t many excuses in the past either. The festival has always done remarkably well at attracting great bands, showcasing such acts as the Flaming Lips, Guided by Voices and the Dum Dum Girls, as well as local heroes Cursive and the Desaparecidos. But the latest iteration looks to be even stronger than ever. While it may not attract much national attention, for a music-loving citizen of Omaha—or even the surrounding metro, state and Midwest area—the Maha Music Festival is a no-brainer.
The fest, which will be reincarnated for the sixth time this August, has been around for a while now, and is reaping the fruits of a good foundation. Started in 2009 by five young professionals under a non-profit, the festival is completely independent, and its only goal is to bang out the best possible festival experience for the city. The group has outdone itself this time around.
The lineup is headlined by Modest Mouse, which is as much of a household name in indie-rock as you can get. The band is 22 years old, has spawned six albums and ubiquitous singles and used to
have Johnny Marr in it. It’s about as legendary as you can get for an alternative, indie rock group.
The band’s best known work was the watershed album “Good News for People Who Love Bad News”, which was acclaimed by critics and gobbled up by the populace, certified as platinum and yielding the omnipresent, immediately iconic single “Float On.”
The band is currently making a bit of a comeback: after eight years without an album, “Strangers to Ourselves” was released mid-March of this year.
The lineup doesn’t end with the indie-rock luminaries, however, and that’s what makes this one truly exceptional. The list goes on to include another highly regarded group, this one from the underground hip-hop scene of Minneapolis. Atmosphere has been around longer than Modest Mouse, getting its start in 1989, and while they might not boast a breakout hit like “Good News,” that shouldn’t count against them to discerning Omaha music fans.
And the kaleidoscope of genres represented in the lineup doesn’t stop at alt-rock or hip-hop. Purity Ring, the Canadian electro-pop outfit, will bring their eclectic, eminently danceable live show to the city in August, Wavves will represent the garage-rockers, and The Jayhawks will be on hand to satisfy your alt-country desires.
Of course, the indie-rock set is the most well-represented, with festival workaholics Speedy Ortiz and Ex Hex showing up in the shadow of Modest Mouse. This reporter had the opportunity of seeing both live last summer, and looks forward to doing so again.
Even if indie rock isn’t your favorite genre—even if you can’t stand it at all—Maha Music Festival VII is so much more than indie rock. It’s a real, grown-up festival now, with something for every Omahan’s taste.