LIVE REVIEW: 2022 Maha Music Festival [Day One]


An indie rock band Car Seat Headrest on the stage at Omaha's Stinson Park on Friday, July 29, 2022. (Photo credit: Dean Birkheimer)

BY DEAN BIRKHEIMER | Go Venue Magazine

“The greatness of a culture can be found in its festivals.” ~Siddharth Katragadda

If on Friday, July 29th you were in the mood for music, food, comedy, art and general entertainment, then Aksarban Village was where you needed to be as the 14th annual Maha Festival kicked off in high gear.

Maha Festival is the flagship event of Maha, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Since 2009, the event has attracted fans from all 50 states with its mix of community-focused programming, along with 150+ music acts and dozens of speakers, all fueled by a dedicated group of amazing volunteers.

This year’s music began with a post-sunflower, psychedelic punk band called Las Cruxes. How is it, I’ve been in Omaha since 1987 and never caught this band before. Especially since I am a global top 10 Pixie fan.  I say that because Las Cruxes could easily be the Spanish-speaking version of Black Francis. Listening to this band, it felt like somebody had viciously removed my ear-drums, tore them to pieces, put them back together with tape and returned them from whence they came….and I loved every second of it. This is my kind of music. Raw and dirty sounding. You can be sure I will be seeking this band out and attending as many shows as possible.

The evening’s 2nd band was Bad Self Portraits. A local Omaha quartet featuring Conner Paintin, Jessie White, Ingrid Howell and Cole Kemp. For their set list, they decided to play their new just released EP, Fear Of Missinga Out. If you enjoy guitar driven music with a DIY attitude along with modern folk music style lyrics, then definitely give these guys your full attention.

Lira Mondal and Caufield Schnug are Sweeping Promises. Lira is the bass player and lead vocalist. Although a very unique sound in her own right, her squeaks and chirping brings to mind Dale Bozzio of Missing Persons fame. These guys are very engaging in that they are not the kind of band you simply just listen to. Without realizing it, you find yourself movin’ and groovin’ to what feels like a punk-pop dance party. There is a B-52s feel about Sweeping Promises, but only in the sense that there really isn’t another band out there like them.  Please check out their newest single here and see if you agree: Pain Without a Touch.

Indigo De Souza is described as “colorful hi-fi pop” The Asheville, N.C. musician’s gives you a straight forward, no nonsense, look you dead in the eye and tell you exactly how she is feeling style. Although her musical approach and lyrics can be merciless, there is a beauty in that honesty. Her 2021 album Any Shape You Take could be classified as just another Emo record, but when you account for the authenticity she put into the words, you wouldn’t be far off if you compared it to Alanis Morrisette’s “Jagged Little Pill.” Indigo De Souza is an intelligent and emotional artist that you should be listening to.

Car Seat Headrest is one of those bands that speaks for a large amount of music fans. They represent their experiences in a way that is shared by others who feel the same. These fans are a loyal bunch, who can easily relate to not only each other, but to the band’s music as well. The set was filled with songs that nearly everyone sang to. The one thing on which everyone could agree upon was the set was not long enough.  They could have sung all night with founder and lead vocalist Will ToledoToledo came out in an orange jumpsuit, wearing a gas mask whose eyepieces would light up in different colors. He’s not much of a mover on stage, but his voice makes up for it. Think Echo and the Bunnymen meets Lou Reed and you have Toledo‘s sound. On stage, Toledo is a loner, the type of fella who goes to a party, but hangs out with the dog.  That’s not to say the show wasn’t dynamic, as the other band members were energetic, and production values were strong. A Car Seat Headrest show can make 6,000 individuals act as one as they all get consumed by the music. I’m sure after the show there were plenty of people with sore bodies, and I’m even more sure, none of them complained.

Just a quick thank you to everybody associated with Maha Festival, and I do mean literally everyone. It’s amazing how well organized this huge event is. A true testament to everyone involved.

Car Seat Headrest

Indigo De Souza

Sweeping Promises

Bad Self Portraits

Las Cruxes

Festival Atmosphere

All images © Dean Birkheimer

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