Maha announces 2016 concert date, donates portion of 2015 revenue; The Minor Third reviews Omaha Zinefest Benefit, Sunday night at Duffy’s Tavern; Take Cover this weekend

Maha announces 2016 concert date, donates portion of 2015 earnings

Maha Music Festival has operated as a community-oriented since its 2009 inauguration. After its seventh year, it’s giving back in more ways than one.

The nonprofit indie music festival has announced its expected return for an eighth year Saturday, Aug. 20 at Stinson Park, its annual home. Coupled with that announcement comes the news that it has donated 10% of its revenue to 25 fellow 501(c)(3) organizations that participated in its 2015 Community Village.

Each year, the Community Village provides a space for area nonprofits to connect and share their missions with concertgoers and other organizations. In total, $9,600 was donated by Maha to each of its 2015 participants, listed below. Hear Nebraska is honored to have participated, grateful for Maha’s donation and looks forward to doing so again this year.

Nebraska Appleseed
Boys and Girls Club of the Midlands
CASA of Douglas County
Conservation Fusion
Global Partners in Hope
Goodwill Omaha
Hear Nebraska
Heartland Pride
Joslyn Art Museum
Legal Aid of Nebraska
Literacy Center of the Midlands
Montessori Co-Op
Nebraska Aids Project
Omaha Healthy Kids Alliance
Omaha Jitterbugs
Omaha Library Foundation
Planned Parenthood of the Heartland
Scare Away Cancer
Southern Sudan Community Association
St. Pius X / St. Leo School
Ted. E Bear Hollow
The Union for Contemporary Arts
Women’s Fund of Omaha

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The Minor Third, Part 1: Omaha Zine Fest Benefit with Bien Fang, Rogue Moon, Sean Pratt & the Sweats, Razors

words by Andrew Stellmon

HN multimedia intern Lindsey Yoneda and I braved the cold and blowing snow Saturday night to check out the Omaha Zine Fest benefit at Milk Run. After navigating near-zero interstate visibility (and calming our heart rates), we squeezed into the at-capacity private event space for an eclectic mix of garage rock, country and electronica.

There was a palpable buzz about the room, both because of its limited space and the excitement over the evening’s purpose. Zinefest organizer Andrea Kszystyniak described an outpouring of support, a sentiment bolstered by representation from both Lincoln and Omaha and the smattering bake sale goods from the neighboring gallery.

It was also my first time at Milk run. For such a tight, no-frills space, the sound control was optimal. The audience was almost right on top of the performance space, threatening to swallow each act, and yet no sound was overbearing or out of sorts. A belated kudos to Sam Parker and Chris Aponick for curating the atmosphere. Parker mentioned a few big upcoming touring act, and we’re eager to see where things go from here.

Here are some quick thoughts on each Saturday night set:

Bien Fang’s sharpened bite – If there’s a simple way to characterize the Lincoln garage pop trio, it’s the loud proclamation of female independence. Their songs scream and scoff in the face patriarchal standards of relationships, sex and beauty; women aren’t objects to be possessed, but humans with personalities, goals and lives. That the message is couched on beachy, fuzzy guitar riffs and bass lines that thud and explode enhance the delivery. “Real Bad Man,” the sole track from guitarist Rachel Tomlinson Dick’s solo project Miniature Horse, began as an echoey, isolated ballad before lurching forward on Nate Luginbill’s crashing drums and Cortney Morrow’s vibrant bass. It only ran away harder from there with acid rock solos and shouting harmonies.

Rogue Moon’s past and future abyss – Nick Holden’s electronic project followed, the dimming lights and a bleeding synth cueing his opus of a set. Island-like bleeps and boops and Holden’s filter-scorched vocals crested and receded into sparkling, popping bridges. At one point he seemed to spit into the mic, only to twist it into another electronic instrument. Each movement combined the vintage and classic with new age and world beat, his manipulation and creativity tying it all together.

Sean Pratt, the modest country frontman – The Sweats warmed up like all of the bands did, a jam of a soundcheck giving way to the start of the set. A slow waltz led off, a country-twanged carousel march of bumping bass and teary lap-steel guitar. As a frontman, Pratt is a model for the rest of the band, businesslike, anti-showy and mournful. His easygoing drone melds perfectly with a deceptively busy folksy backing band. Keys burned like electric guitars, drums kept cowboy time and the forlorn humanness in Pratt’s words seeping through the gentle hum. “walkin’ where these feet are wanderin’/toward ways of gettin’ stoned.”

The Razors ignite the wild party – After its buzzy, trebly opener, guitarist Carl Miller leaned over to guitarist/vocalist Alek Erickson, his brow furrowed. “We’re not in tune,” he observed, fighting the din. It was true, but none in the band seemed to mind all that much. And that’s the way The Razors operated throughout their roughly 30 minute set. The eight-piece band, a rotating cast over the years behind Erickson, blasted through an irreverent set of garage pop tunes about napping, being alone and other mundanities. For how light the subject matter and how much fun they were having, each song had a tangible weight, sometimes sludgy and sometimes atmospheric. It almost figured The Razors would close with an 8-minute epic outro. As the fuzzy and roto tom and crash cymbal exploded around him, Erickson yelling “all I wanna do is take a nap!” It was the Return of the King of set closers, threatening to end multiple times and pressing further and further onward. Massive chaos ruled, and if the dance party on stage didn’t let on, the front-and-center dance pit did.

photos by Lindsey Yoneda

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The Minor Third, Part Two: Walk By Sea, Mesonjixx and Andrea von Kampen at Duffy’s Tavern

words by Gabriella Parsons

The freezing temperatures didn’t keep people from warming up to some talented acts last night at Duffy’s Tavern. This venue is a favorite because it suits all types of music lovers and concert-goers. Want to enjoy the front row and dance like nobody’s watching, even though everyone probably is? There’s an intimate stage area perfect for that. Feel like enjoying the music from your chair and just watching? There’s plenty of seating near and far from the stage, too. One thing is for certain, however. It didn’t quite matter where your body landed, if you were at Duffy’s last night, you could not avoid the musical offerings of Walk By Sea, Mesonjixx and Andrea von Kampen. It was no wonder how as the night went on, more and more bodies made their way closer to the stage.

Walk By Sea: the dynamic duo’s acoustic set

Being in a band sometimes means making it work when not all band members can make it to a show. However, Walk By Sea frontmen Jacob Ignagni and Zach Visconti confidently conquered that challenge last night during their acoustic set. I don’t think anyone would have questioned the duo (or “pals” as they call themselves) had they forgotten to mention that half of the band was missing. The quiet voice of lead vocal/guitarist Ignagni was matched by Visconti’s supporting harmonies. Together, they played tracks off their latest EP, “As The Night,”  the song “Mourning,” especially standing out with its lyrical and harmonizing progression. It was also a nice surprise when Visconti took the mic solo and Ignagni accompanied him with a harmonica. With each song, this indie-folk group strummed and sang louder than the song previous. Bending their knees in a synchronized motion, Ignagni and Visconti’s stage presence was fluid and confident even without their drummer and bassist. When the duo’s performance came to a close, their voices faded out as they stepped away from their mics, leaving me curious and excited to see them again, only next time with a full band.

Mesonjixx: the balance of individuality and togetherness

With every performance, the intriguing four piece Mesonjixx takes the stage a bit differently, but each time with the perfect balance of poise and charisma. Frontwoman Mary Elizabeth Lawson’s body language is inviting– holding her hands close to her chest as if she is matching the rhythm of her heart to the beat of Kekeli Dawes’ drumkit. The onstage chemistry between bassist Josh Bargar and guitarist Myles Jasnowski is one of a kind, complementing each other with the support of Dawes’ jazzy flare. It’s clear the respect and admiration Lawson has for her bandmates, and deservingly so as she kneels down or steps aside to stage right to give them the spotlight. The way Jasnowski moves chord progressions from soft to hard-hitting is matched by Dawes’ ability to transition between tempo changes. Oh, and I seriously wonder how Bargar’s fingers are doing after that insane solo he gave last night. There was one moment during their performance where every band member’s eyes were closed, each getting lost in their own instruments while also remaining aware of the cumulative sound. That moment was the epitome of this group’s talent, each balancing the roles of their individual instruments, all while upholding a sense of oneness and togetherness on stage.

Andrea von Kampen: the ability to captivate a crowd

If heaven had a soundtrack, I think it would be Andrea von Kampen’s EP “Another Day.” There’s no question that when this folk, acoustic singer-songwriter got on stage last night she silenced the room. The angelic voice of von Kampen echoed throughout the intimate venue, catching eyes and ears from the second she starting to sing. Her opening song, “See It Through,” in which she moved from falsetto and back so smoothly, had the audience hooked. Von Kampen and her acoustic guitar were accompanied by cellist Addie Hotchkiss for several songs, which perfectly captured the folk and bluesy notes of von Kampen’s voice. The ability von Kampen possesses to move from soft, polished falsettos to loud, dynamic octave changes is simply incredible. There were several moments during her performance that I couldn’t help but let my jaw drop naturally in amazement. As the performance went on, the validation from the crowd only grew. In between song changes there was at least one utterance of how beautiful her voice is. Von Kampen’s fine-tuned falsettos and soulful melodies are what resonated most– her effortless performance moving the audience to sway and hum along.

photos by Lindsey Yoneda

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Photos of Pleiades & the Bear, Medlock, The Woodwork, Nemaha County at The Waiting Room

HN contributor James Dean stopped by The Waiting Room to catch photos of Pleiades & the Bear, Medlock, The Woodwork and Nemaha County. See them below:

Pleiades & the Bear


The Woodwork

Nemaha County

photos by James Dean

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Take Cover Lincoln Saturday at Zoo Bar

Lastly, save the date for HN’s Fifth Annual Take Cover concerts, the first of which takes place at Lincoln’s Zoo Bar this Saturday.

In two shows — at Zoo Bar and  Omaha’s O’Leaver’s (Jan. 30) — a total 37 Nebraska musicians will each reinterpret/cover a song by an influential Nebraska musician, plus one original.

New this year: awesome Nebraska comedians Annie Hildebrand (Lincoln) and Ryan de la Garza (Omaha) host. Nearly all performances are full bands. And proceeds help support HN’s paid internships! Rsvp to the Lincoln concert here and Omaha show here.

As always, head to our statewide calendar at for a full listing of this week’s shows. If you do not see your show or one you plan to attend, email us at, or add it yourself. And keep those song submissions, story ideas and news tips coming.