There is so much good to say about the MAHA festival, that I only hope I can do it justice. This was without a doubt one of the BEST music festivals I have ever attended, and the fact that it was in my backyard makes it all the better. Everything about this festival was done well and done right.
When I wandered into the venue just before the start of this 12 hour event, I wasn’t quite sure at first if this was going to be a music festival or a carnival. All the requisite food trucks were lined up and there was a host of noshing varieties from the standard funnel cakes to premier pasta. Throughout the venue one could find pub tables, benches, and corner seats. The VIP area was equipped with private bars and comfy couches and chairs. There were water stations and restrooms aplenty. So, why did I think it was could be carnival like? Oh yes - that one thing that always catches your eye - the Ferris wheel that ran non-stop late into the night. It was obviously a popular treat, but a bit odd if you ask me. There were multiple beer offerings and beverage tickets were reasonably priced. (Must be why the lines were always stacked).
Attendees were there on time – or early – to stake out their ground, lay out their chairs and sip a cool beverage while waiting for the magic. And the magic never ended. This was a sold-out event long ago, and the crowds were dense, but very respectful, upbeat and personable. I think it’s a Midwest thing. Security was present and available, but not forceful and I saw no combativeness or insolent behavior by anyone.
The line-up for this year’s event was as varied as a Technicolor dream coat, and that is just part of why this event is such a lure for the masses. There was indie rock, EDM, folk, hip-hop and good old rock. With two stages, the breaks between acts were minimal and it was so awesome not to have to pack up your gear and move from one stage to another. There was much enthusiasm throughout the day, no matter what the genre. Yeah, that’s what is enticing about these festivals. You may witness an act or a sound that you’ve never experienced before and come away a huge fan.
One act that stands out in the evening – not necessarily for the EDM music itself – but for the creativeness and simplicity – and that was the Canadian duo Purity Ring. I can’t really explain what I saw, but it certainly caught the attention of the multitudes, and kept them jumping throughout their performance. It was something about the hanging light beads and the flashing lights. I can’t say I totally understood it, but as a music festival favorite, EDM is becoming huge, and that was reflected by the shoulder to shoulder spectators whistling and shouting at the end of every tune.
I loved The Good Life. There was such a wide variety of offerings and after a lot of Atmosphere; it was great to hear the rhythms of Tim Kasher once again.
The evening closer, and headliner was Modest Mouse, an indie band who made their fans wait 8 years for a new album, which was released in March of this year. They came out strong, and Isaac Brock and his tantalizingly talented bandmates put on a 2 hour set of high energy entertainment. Of course, I’m a huge fan of “Lampshades on Fire”, but hearing it on XM and hearing it live – well, there is no comparison. It was brilliant! Despite a few brief moments of sound feedback, the act went on without a hitch and the majority of the crowd stayed til the last drumbeat. This band was a big coup for the MAHA organizers, and it was apparent that it was a good one.
So here’s the big dilemma – this event was so well done – can it be done better? Do you want a bigger crowd, or a bigger venue? If this works so well, do you need to change it? But do we want more? Would two days be better than one? This urban extravaganza seemed to have just the right blend and the right numbers. I don’t know what the answer is – it’s truly a conundrum – but one that these organizers surely will resolve before MAHA 2016. And I promise you, I’ll be there to let you know if the right decision was made.