* Congratulations to the Maha Music Festival, whose fifth edition topped out with more than 5,100 people packed into Aksarben Village's Stinson Park last Saturday, August 17th. The day's musical highlights all came in the daylight, capped off by what might just be Digital Leather's local coming out party. Shawn Foree's synthy-punky garage band has fully embraced the power of its two keyboard line-up, without losing the shocking push of owning the city's best bassist-and-drummer duo in Jeff Lambelet and John Vredenburg. After their set, the crowd poured to the main stage, where a legion of fans seemed to eat up every pounded beat, keyboard line and hip-hop interlude that indie-pop duo Matt & Kim threw their way. The duo's stage show is pretty much the same as their show last year at the Slowdown, but there's very little reason to change up something that goes over so well. Headliner the Flaming Lips meanwhile seemed to be a little lost on just how to put their latest, noise-choked, darkly cast noise rock into a stage show spectacle. Frontman Wayne Coyne continually urged the crowd to "Come on", before launching into another somber deconstruction. The Oklahoma band seems beyond their early 2000s joyful freakout stage, but this darker theme only works if Coyne drops the stage banter and fully buys into making this show of black, shimmering confetti and tortured psychedelia into a true nightmare journey. Otherwise, people find a hard time staying until the colorful resolution when the band finally plays songs like "Do You Realize?" Check out the rest of the Reader's day coverage of Maha online at thereader.com.
* The Sweatshop Gallery, 2727 North 62nd St., closes out JJ Carroll's 101 Damnations exhibition with what should be a great show. Local garage-rock fringe culture figureheads Dumb Beach and Worried Mothers play the DIY gallery space alongside Salted from Austin, Tex. Dumb Beach is the latest evolution of Austin Ullmer, who previously played as Peace of Shit. Worried Mothers are in flux too, now having added a lead singer to their art-damaged noise rock.
* Ditmars Orchard in Council Bluffs will host the two-day AppleGrass Bluegrass Festival during Labor Day weekend. The four year old festival will host members of the Great Plains Bluegrass and Old Time Music Association for an open jam each day, prior to each night's live music entertainment. Sandy Creek Bluegrass and the Dirty River Ramblers headline Saturday, August 31st and Stinkbait and In Cahoots wrap up the festival Sunday, September 1st. Each show starts at 5 p.m. and is $10, though two day passes are only $15.