FESTIVAL REVIEW: Maha Festival 2023 Day One Live Review

Omaha's electropop band, Icky Blossoms, on the first night of 2023 Maha Festival, at the Stinson Park, in the Aksarben Village area. (Photo credit: Dean Birkheimer)

DEAN BIRKHEIMER | Go Venue Magazine

The Maha Festival at Aksarben Village takes place spanning Friday, July 28 (day one) and Saturday, July 29 (day two).

Next July, Maha Festival will be moving to Heartland of America Park, so this year the organizers wanted to be sure to leave Stinson Park with a bang. This year’s lineup guaranteed that going out with a bang would be an understatement.

A couple of quick shout-outs. To DJ YALLA. His music got everything and everybody started. To the entire Maha staff and volunteers. Once again, as smooth an operation as you would want. An especially great job when a thunderstorm was imminent in giving everybody enough time to find shelter.

If you want to go out with a bang, then why not start with one. No better way to do that than to have local hardcore punk favorite BIB kick things off. They are Nathan Ma – Vocals, Brock Stephens – Guitar, Jonathan Cobb – Guitar, Wyatt Haertel – Bass and Bill Liebermann – Drums. This band is an attention getter. They are loud, they are fast and most of all they are serious. I can’t imagine a better way to open a festival.

Representing the Corn Coast, rapper and hip-hop artist Hakim was next. He comes to us out of Lincoln, Nebraska, where he has been very busy. Since 2017 he has released a dozen EPs and albums. His latest EP, Planet Drift, dropped this past March and is full of compelling lyrics, rhythmic flows and fluid vocals.

It’s been a few years since Icky Blossoms were together.  It was a real special treat to learn that this fuzzy, electronic trio was getting back together, at least for this night. For me, they were the band of the night. The music they provided was a sonic pleasure. For at least a little while, we were able to explore the past musically. Their stage presence was fabulous.  They are a top-notch live band.  Here is hoping this re-formation is a permanent one.

Next on the side stage was Vancouver, Canada artist EKKSTACY.  He describes himself as a fuse of indie, post-punk, and synth wave. His music feels like he got up on the wrong side of the bed.  I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, it’s just what it is. He and his bandmates are terrific performers and fed off each other perfectly.

Sticking with the Canadian theme, Toronto’s Alvvays stepped onto the Union Pacific stage. It’s been five years since their sophomore album, but the wait has been worth it. “Blue Rev” is an amazing piece of music that redefines the pop rock genre. The band consisting of singer/guitarist Molly Rankin, Alec O’Hanley on guitar, Kerri MacLellan on keys, Sheridan Riley on drums, and newcomer Abbey Blackwell on bass. The entire band exudes charm and sentiment. Their set was full of energy and was crafted magnificently. When they finished, we knew exactly what this band was about.

Hailing from Baltimore and comprised of singer Brendan Yates, guitarists Brady Ebert and Pat McCrory, bassist Franz Lyons, and drummer Daniel FangTurnstile closed out day one. Even if the temperature wasn’t as high as it was, this band would have left us all sweaty and drained.  These guys don’t just pack a punch, they deliver a knockout blow. Full of aggression and determination, they are a non-stop rowdy bunch whose sole purpose on stage is to infect the crowd with their madness. I can’t speak for everyone, but I certainly came away a little water logged.

All in all it was a masterful line-up which will make day two hard to follow, but regardless, I will be there.



Icky Blossoms



DJ Yalla

All images © Dean Birkheimer

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