Maha Festival 2023Aug 04, 2023 02:59PM ● By Chad Lemke
Photo by Chad Lemke.
Maha 2023 epitomized the heat of summer. Scorching weather and fiery tunes cooked a huge audience that spanned across the Aksarben Village. I, as many others, came unprepared, and was wearing long cotton pants; natural fibers baked my burritos with every passing hour. But the music went on despite the heat, with the gracious supply of several water stations. The volunteers of the festival bore the brunt of the merciless heat, giving us the chance to enjoy the music.
Crowds flocked inside to shelter inside the only air conditioned tent. It came at a hefty price: a local Omaha comedy group. Tent-goers even laughed at the jokes, those poor souls in their heat deluded state. The comedy was actually a great highlight for me and provided an ideal place to cool off. Thanks to Broken Magic comedy for putting it on. For sets like BIB, a local Omaha hardcore punk band, the weather made no difference to the moshing crowd. But for Icky Blossoms, also from Omaha, the crowd enjoyed the music from the shade. The sun was replaced by heavy rain. Severe weather warnings caused the festival to shut down for an hour while the crowd sought shelter. I abandoned those with me to sprint for the inside of the Marriott Hotel; if my cameras broke, so too would my spirit. An hour later, the festival continued with much cooler temperatures and a clear skies.
The next day, a larger and livelier crowd filled Stinson Park. It was ten degrees cooler and the comedy tent was barren. The headliners of the festival were Big Thief, a fiery, eclectic, and frequently folksy group whose sound rippled through the crowd, inspiring a variety of emotions. They stole the hearts of the audience when they stopped their set twice to check on those in need of medical attention.
I'm sure many can agree Maha was the highlight event of the summer. It was a great exhibition of our local Omaha talent, along with incredible traveling bands. Festivals like Maha are important to our music community, and it was a delight to see this year a success despite the intense weather.