Maha is a day-long music festival bringing together local talents, indie bands, and headliners familiar to teens and Millenials alike. Arriving just two weeks after the flop that was the Grassroots Music Festival, all eyes were on Maha to do things a bit differently and prove Omaha can run with the big dogs when it comes to organizing a worthy festival.
While Grassroots was riddled with complaints about obscenely long wait times, broken contracts, false promises, and cringeworthy PR and community management, Maha didn’t share the same fate. We spoke to a first-time attendee and someone who has attended Maha for years, and they shared a positive outlook on the lineup and experience.
Dana Oltman has been coming to Maha since 2012, even volunteering to help out once. This year she was most looking forward to The Good Life (a local band) and headliner Modest Mouse.
“I’ve seen The Good Life at the Waiting Room, so it should be fun to see them in a much larger festival crowd,” anticipated Oltman.
Comparing the lineup to past years, she’s a happy ticket-buyer.
“You have the good mix of local and national bands, you have the mixing of genres with hip hop and rock.”
Her one suggestion would be to add a few bigger names to the ticket.
“The lineup is pretty good, and as it grows I think it will get the capacity to pull in some bigger acts.” As far as who she’d like to see? Tame Impala is one band at the top of her list of suggestions.
First-time Maha attendee Justin Eiler echoed Dana’s positive remarks. As someone who lives less than a mile from Stinson Park, Eiler has enjoyed the tunes from his own backyard in years past. So what made him decide to bite the bullet and buy a ticket?
“It’s just a really happening place,” he explained. “I wanted to be a part of it and support the local scene and just have a good time. We knew a couple of the headliners and the others we looked up and listened to beforehand and it was something that we thought would be great to come check out.”
The bands his crew had heard prior to the festival announcement were Modest Mouse, Atmosphere, and The Good Life.
Speaking about the festival experience as a whole, including lines, food and drink options, and overall crowd vibe, there weren’t many — if any — complaints to be heard.
“Here at Maha it’s been pretty great,” said Oltman. “They’ve always been very quick about getting your drinks because they have them pre-mixed. It’s very smooth. I’ve never had any really long wait times. They are very well-staffed in that regard. If you don’t have drink tickets, they have several people walking around. I think they know how to handle that very well, and it looks like they have a lot of vendors here as well.”
Eiler echoed her sentiments.
“I think it’s spot on. It jives really well with the crowd and what people want. It seems very well organized. I’m really excited to be here. I’m glad they’re doing this in Omaha and in this part of town, it’s exactly what we need.”
And we can attest, the experience was really that good. It almost seemed too easy at times. What at first appeared like a long line for 21+ bracelets and drink tickets quickly dwindled thanks to volunteers who doubled up on moving down the line, checking IDs and taking cash. On a blistering 90 degree day without a cloud in the sky, I found myself in a moment of panic on how I was possibly going to stay hydrated with overpriced festival water, only to find a glorious cooler (seriously, it was almost glowing) full of free bottled water on ice and volunteers on bicycles carrying water coolers offering refreshing refills. As an alternative to the green lawn, there were tables and chairs sporadically placed and cement walls for people to cling to and find relief from standing. Scattered volunteers in light blue shirts were readily available with helpful hands. There were great food and drink options, accessible porta potties, swag people actually wanted (those Werner hats and neon sunglasses), and free ferris wheel rides to offer a bird’s eye view. The experience even translated online with quick, friendly social media attention to small issues tweeted their way.
As an attendee, the special little touches and excellent community management can only be attributed to organizers who are motivated to put on a great festival for Omaha and truly care about the people there. In all, Maha is on track to be one of those cult-favorite festivals that attracts as many people from outside our state as it does inside, and that’s something to look forward to.
In all, Maha is on track to be one of those cult-favorite festivals that attracts as many people from outside our state as it does inside, and that’s something to look forward to.
Don’t miss our review on the hip hop acts that performed at Maha this year.