Maha: Desaparecidos and Garbage close out a great day

Conor Oberst performs with Desaparecidos while he wears a bandana over his mouth. (Photo by Chris Machian/The World-Herald)

After a long build-up to Maha Music Festival’s end, the finale was, well, kinda short.

It makes sense if you know the band. Desaparecidos isn’t known for long, meandering songs, but short outbursts of punk guitar and political lyrics. The reunited Omaha band kept it short and sweet for the largest ever crowd in the short history of Maha Music Festival.

A long-haired Conor Oberst walked onstage with a bandana covering his mouth like an indie rock Old West bandit. Without a word, the band launched into “Greater Omaha.” Over the following hour, the band played its entire debut album as well as three of its new songs and one cover. (Full setlist below)

As Oberst shouted the lyrics to “Man and Wife, The Former,” the audience yelled them right back. What was a pretty energetic, but relatively tame, audience during Garbage’s set (more on that in a bit), turned into a wild, jumping, moshing group.

Guitarist Denver Dalley ripped into the songs’ guitar riffs while drummer Matt Baum smashed the skins so hard that I thought he was going to break his kit. And, as usual, Baum shouted in between songs at anyone who was listening.

The band played new songs once again. The first was “Backsell,” an angry look at major record labels, and they later played “MariKKKopa,” a take on immigration, racism and Sherriff Joe Arpaio.

They also played the as-yet-unreleased “Left is Right,” which the band debuted at its Omaha surprise show back in April.

“This one’s for any Occupiers out there,” Oberst said, referring to Occupy Wall Street protests.

“Left is Right” is one of the band’s most directly political songs in that it deals with actual politics. The tune espouses that “the left is right” and mentions that “it begins when we’re chained to the ATMs… Goddamned Robin Hoods.” One of its most telling lines is “If one must die to save the 95, I guess it’s justified.”

That the song remains in the band’s set tells me that we’ll see more releases from the group sometime.

Probably the coolest song they played was a cover of The Clash’s “Spanish Bombs,” which was naturally a bit more aggressive and sped up from the original. Despite that, it was a pretty straightforward cover and a very cool one.

“We’ve just go a few mroe songs and then Garbage is up next, so stay tuned,” Oberst said, despite the fact that they were closing the show and Garbage had already played.

Something seemed off when the band started its set. Desaparecidos  went on a bit late and the stage’s lights weren’t fully functioning. Also, the sound wasn’t quite right and techs seemed to be running things between the stage and the front of house. Was Oberst mad about it? Wouldn’t surprise me especially if something was broken.

Shirley Manson performs with Garbage at Maha Music Festival. (Photo by Chris Machian/The World-Herald)

Garbage played an excellent set before Desa came on stage.

All in black, the band played with tons of energy. You wouldn’t have any idea that the band has taken seven years off.

Shirley Manson was all energy and ran around the stage. She was also one of the kindest, most grateful bandleaders I’ve ever seen.

“Good evening!” she said. “It is an absolute pleasure to be here.”

She thanked Maha, the other performers, greeted guitarist  Duke Erikson’s Nebraska-based family in attendance and even gave a shout out to a fan who apparently lost his shit (in a good way, it seems) with the band backstage earlier.

Garbage played incredibly well and new songs such as “Blood for Poppies” fit in well with “I Think I’m Paranoid” and “Stupid Girl.” I was most impressed with drummer Butch Vig, whose precision strikes sound like a drum machine. Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised considering the guy’s resume, but he’s studio-perfect onstage.

A large contingent of older fans were there for Garbage. They were the people sitting in lawn chairs in Stinson Park throughout the day, and they flooded the stage for the alt rock band. Of course, as soon as Garbage was done playing, most of them left.

The way they played, the energy they had, their gracious attitude: That’s a band for young artists to look up to.

Rain toyed with the Maha audience all day, but (as many of us joked about earlier) it had perfect timing for Garbage. Late in the band’s set, the rain picked up and came to a head as soon as the group played its set-closing song, “Only Happy When It Rains.”

“This is truly a first. Thank you so much for a precious moment,” Manson said. “It’s so great to see you come out and support us and this amazing festival.”

Garbage setlist
Automatic Systematic Habit
I Think I’m Paranoid
Shut Your Mouth
Metal Heart
Queer
Stupid Girl
Why Do You Love Me
Control
Cherry Lips (Go Baby Go!)
Blood for Poppies
Special
#1 Crush
Battle In Me
Push It
Vow
Only Happy When It Rains

Desaparecidos setlist
Greater Omaha
Man and Wife, The Former (Financial Planning)
Happiest Place on Earth
Mall of America
Backsell
Left is Right
Survival of the Fittest/It’s a Jungle Out There
$$$$
Mañana
Man and Wife, The Latter (Damaged Goods)
MariKKKopa
Spanish Bombs (The Clash cover)
Hole in One

Check out tons of photos from the entire day at Maha Music Festival by World-Herald photographers Chris Machian and Andrew Dickinson.

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