Omaha’s Maha Festival returns to Stinson Park


Molly Ashford

A full crowd gathered last weekend to enjoy live performances, local food and more. Photo by Molly Ashford/The Gateway

Under smoky skies and a red sun, Omaha’s Maha Festival returned to Stinson Park on July 31 after a hiatus caused by Covid-19.

Headlined by social media sensation Thundercat and funk-soul trio Khruangbin, the daylong festival featured local vendors and restaurants, the iconic Maha ferris wheel and a wide variety of musical talents.

The classic “Werner Wheel” returned to Stinson Park. Photo by Molly Ashford/The Gateway

“I can’t imagine it all coming together any better than it did,” said Lauren Martin, Maha’s executive director. “We had beautiful weather, I feel that our plans related to safety were well-executed, and we had an amazing group of volunteers.”

Omaha native Charlis Bristol—known as Crabrangucci—DJ’d throughout the night. Local acts, including rapper J. Crum and folk-country band Matt Cox & The Marauders, performed until 5:30 p.m.

Though I arrived most excited to see Thundercat, I was blown away by the husband-wife duo Shovels & Rope. Their folk-y sound is very fitting of their dynamic—their relationship is present in their music, and their voices blended together perfectly in each song. They performed on the smaller Broadmoor stage, creating an intimate concert environment for those at the front.

After indie rock artist Japanese Breakfast performed, Thundercat took the main stage. Beyond the songs that have gone viral on TikTok for their catchiness, Thundercat’s music is jazzy, soulful and complex. Though his vocals were somewhat lost in the large, open space, his remarkable bass playing was more than enough to impress the crowd.

“He’s just one guy on bass, but he had so much energy and presence,” Martin said.

Khruangbin finished the night with a showstopping performance on the main stage.

Martin says that if all goes according to plan, Maha will go back to being a multi-day event as it has been in previous years. She says they have been exploring ways to make the event more multi-faceted.