I hit up the Maha Music Festival on Saturday (I did not make it to the Nebraska Pop Festival or Rat Fest, and still haven't heard how either went).
When I arrived at Maha, only a few hundred people were wandering around. To be honest, many I saw were industry people who were either involved in putting on the concert, were performing at it, worked for one of the sponsors or had covered it for one local publication or another. I'm assuming that many of these had free tickets.
Sadly, anyone who didn't show up until later missed the best stuff of the day. Sets from locals like Little Brazil, Noah's Ark Was a Spaceship and It's True were phenomenal.
One of them remarked (think it was Noah's John Svatos but I don't remember) that he hadn't ever played a show before 10 a.m. This was probably true.
Army Navy was my favorite of the day. It was their first show ever in Omaha and I hope they come back (though their next tour probably won't be for awhile).
At maximum, it appeared that between 2000 and 3000 people showed up. One of the concert's organizers said they guessed that total attendance was around 2500. They'll be sending me official numbers later this week, which I'll post when I get them.
I think the draw for the day was Big Head Todd & the Monsters, who easily had the biggest crowd in front of the stage for their set. Didn't realize how bluesy the band was, but I haven't ever seen them live before. Favorite part of their set wasn't even one of their songs, but a cover of "Tangerine" by Led Zeppelin.
After Big Head Todd, the crowd slowly evaporated through G. Love and Special Sauce's uninspired set and continued through the beginning of Dashboard Confessional's.
By the time Dashboard finished its set, I think about 300 people (at most) were left on the riverfront. A crowd that would have easily fit in Slowdown and maybe the Waiting Room.
Dashboard's set was actually really good (including an excellent cover of "El Scorcho" by Weezer). The rocker songs were rocking and the heartfelt acoustic ballads were sappy, just the way you like 'em. Hopefully the band does something good with it's supposedly upcoming album and a few more people come out when they come back to town.
I was actually kind of embarrassed by the lack of a crowd. There are plenty of reasons why turnout was light, but I have to imagine that the bands were pretty unimpressed. Especially if you're in Dashboard and you haven't done a tour date since the spring.
Here's looking forward to next year. Hopefully planners get on the ball a lot earlier and get some top-notch talent (and maybe a different, bigger, more dynamic venue... I don't like the riverfront much) for a kickass show next summer.