I’ve been going to Maha Festival since the beginning.

I was there on that first July day on a concrete lot watching Dashboard Confessional tear into its opening set. Then I was there 10 years later on a hot August night when Weezer played to a packed house.

And I’ve seen nearly everything in between, the 100-plus performers who have taken the Maha stages.

(Confession: I did miss the third iteration of Maha. I was at my best friend’s wedding.)

As we’re looking toward this weekend’s epic festival capped by Lizzo and Jenny Lewis, I decided to take a brief look back and remember my favorite-ever performances at Maha over the years.

Superchunk — 2010


Mac McCaughan of the band Superchunk plays plays guitar as the sun sets at the Maha Musical Festival in 2010.

In its second year, Maha had one of its best lineups ever. There was a good selection of local talent, including a high-on-the-lineup-poster slot from The Faint. Ben Kweller played a fantastic set. Spoon was headlining. But I’ll forever remember that show for seeing Superchunk, the North Carolina rock band. They had a great album, “Majesty Shredding,” out that year, and despite being indie rock royalty, I’d never seen them before. They delivered. And when they finished with “Slack Mother******,” the whole crowd sang along.

Icky Blossoms — 2012

Icky Blossoms

Derek Pressnall of Icky Blossoms sings during the Maha Music Festival at Stinson Park on Aug. 11, 2012.

“Who was that?” That’s what I heard over and over and over again after the Omaha electro-rockers turned Maha into a dance party. That was Icky Blossoms, and they are excellent. Just as the sun was going down, they took their places on the small stage and shot off into the sky, bringing a team of gyrating, grooving, dancing kids with them. The headliners that year were good, but I remember this way more.

Matt and Kim — 2013

Matt and Kim

Kim Schifino, left, and Matt Johnson of Matt & Kim entertain the crowd during the fifth-annual Maha Music Festival on Aug. 17, 2013. 

Most people were at Maha that year for the Flaming Lips, but their strange and fuzzy set wasn’t as fun as Matt and Kim’s. Beach balls, banging music and a party atmosphere descended upon Stinson Park during that penultimate set. It felt like a celebration. (And guess what? Matt and Kim are in the same slot for this year’s Maha, too.)

Death Cab For Cutie — 2014

Death Cab For Cutie

Ben Gibbard plays guitar and sings for Death Cab for Cutie at Maha Music Festival on Aug. 16, 2014. 

Death Cab was pure power in its headlining show that year as they cranked up the energy and the volume level. They raced ahead with “You Are a Tourist.” They pulled back for “I Will Follow You Into the Dark.” Fans screamed every word.

Purity Ring — 2015

Purity Ring

Megan James and Corin Roddick of Purity Ring perform at Maha Music Festival on Aug. 15, 2015.

This set was something of a surprise. All day, I noticed this odd bit of stage off to the side: a bunch of lights mounted in a circle. When pop duo Purity Ring took the stage, Corin Roddick stepped inside the circle and began beating on the lights. Turned out, they were set up as electronic drums and synths that lit up as they were played. Plus, Purity Ring’s songs were a whole lot of fun. It was a full-on experience to see them live.

Diarrhea Planet — 2016

Diarrhea Planet

Diarrhea Planet performs a late afternoon set at Maha Music Festival on Aug. 20, 2016.

Sadly, Diarrhea Planet is no more. The band broke up last year. But we were lucky the Nashville garage rock band and its four-guitar attack graced the stage at Maha. Despite its, well, odd name, the band was a rock ’n’ roll wonder as its four guitarists made a solid wall of melody played at a frenzied pace.

Run the Jewels — 2017

run the jewels

Run the Jewels perform at Maha Music Festival in 2017.

I’m still bummed this one was called early. The hip-hop duo of Killer Mike and El-P thundered onto the stage, and their fiery, inventive and sometimes hilarious lyrics, coupled with El-P’s fuzzed-out, killer beats, shook the festival so hard that it felt like Stinson Park itself was vibrating. I need them to come back so they can play “Talk To Me,” “Nobody Speak” and “Legend Has It” again, plus a few extra songs to make up for having to leave the stage when a thunderstorm swept in.

The Faint — 2017

The Faint

The Faint performs at Maha Music Festival in Stinson Park on Aug. 19, 2017. 

The Faint played Maha twice, and its set leading up to Run the Jewels’ in 2017 was one of the best I’ve seen the Omaha band play. In fact, I maintain The Faint is one of the best live bands you’ll ever see, so stick them in a festival with several thousand fans, and you’ll end up with people losing their minds as they dance to pulsing electronic rock.

TV on the Radio — 2018

TV on the Radio

Tunde Adebimpe of TV on the Radio performs during day one of Maha Music Festival on Aug. 17, 2018.

It was bright. It was beautiful. It was loud. It was everything I wanted from a band that I’ve been following since hearing their lauded album “Dear Science.” Well, it just so happened they celebrated the 10th anniversary of that album at the same time Maha celebrated its own. When they closed with “Staring at the Sun,” it was like a rocket taking off.

Weezer — 2018


Weezer, the headliner at last year’s Maha Festival, was easily Maha’s most famous booking at the time.

Last year’s headliner was fantastic. Easily Maha’s most famous booking, the “Buddy Holly,” “Beverly Hills” and “Hash Pipe” band was clearly a crowd favorite, and everything they did got a rise out of the gathered throng — even their cover of Toto’s “Africa.”

Interestingly, they played the quirky song “El Scorcho.” A decade earlier, original Maha headliner Dashboard Confessional did a cover of the same song during their Maha set. It was quite a different scene: Weezer playing a beloved fan favorite to thousands of screaming fans in a huge park versus Dashboard doing a cover to a few hundred standing on a slab of concrete.

Maha has come quite far.