A few months ago I noticed an ad for a music festival in my hometown of Fort Wayne, Indiana. I haven’t lived in Fort Wayne for quite some time now, but I will always have pride for the city. Growing up the Fort was a great place to live, but until recently, it wasn’t really somewhere that you moved back to after college. That is all changing and the first annual Middle Waves Festival is a sign of this positive movement. Each time I return home more and more businesses, restaurants and housing options keep popping up in the revitalized downtown. This growth has started to draw young professionals to Fort Wayne and the scene is definitely developing.
The festival was set in Headwaters Park in the downtown area. Organizers were ambitious in curating three stages, each named after the three rivers that merge in the area. Two of these performance spaces were free to the public. The St. Joseph’s stage hosted many young, local bands and was free to all passerby’s. Nearby Maumee stage was also ticketless and actually included some LML favorites, as well as some other acts that caught our eye. The largest stage, St. Mary’s, was enclosed and though it required a ticket, both single day and weekend passes were very reasonable.
The weather wasn’t ideal, as it rained all Saturday morning, but neither festival organizers nor attendees seemed phased. Both nights ended beautifully, with fresh fall air and an unbelievable moon.
Our favorite sets of the weekend included…
- Best Coast- We drove up after school and missed some of the earlier Friday sets including our loves Bully and Sidewalk Chalk. That being said, I was glad to make it down to check out the set up that first night and catch Best Coast’s set. Of the two times we’d previously seen the LA band, they were done up and ready to show out. This set was much more laid back but still filled with excitement. Like several of the other bands on this lineup, Best Coast had never been to FW and Bethany Cosentino continually commented on how much fun she was having playing for the crowd under that harvest moon.
- Tanlines- Immediately, Tanlines sounded like a band that needs to come to Zbar in Louisville, STAT. The Brooklyn pair combine the electronic and indie rock that we can always vibe to.
- Oddisee- We only saw a song or two of this DC rapper, but it was an impactful couple of minutes. His lyrics and rhymes were meaningful and elegant, even refreshing. Definitely would check this guy out again.
- The Flaming Lips- Upon reflection it was HUGE that these guys came to headline this festival Saturday night, after having closed out Riot Fest in Chicago the night before. Even with some technical difficulties (a bunch of rain and electrical equipment generally don’t do well together) they still did everything in their power to give the crowd the best experience they possibly could. I convinced my parents to come down for the last couple hours of the festival, and although I don’t know if they were ready for the full Wayne Coyne experience, I’m glad they got to be there with me. The first and only time we’d seen TFL was at Forecastle a few years back, and this time presented a whole new encounter, standing from the pit taking pictures of giant balloons, confetti and glitter everywhere, blow up dolls, etc… It was a significant event for just about everyone that got to witness it.
I brought Brittany, obvi, as well as our friend Beaver to show them that Fort Wayne isn’t just some small Indiana town, but actually a blossoming city with it’s own vibrant culture and scene. It was quite fun to show them local establishments that speak to my time and identity as a Fort Wayne resident- Coney Island, Mad Anthony Brewing, Dash-In were all on the bill.
Cheers to the Middle Waves crew and the city of Fort Wayne for a tight weekend. I hope that this happens again next year, and I’ll work to bring even more Louisville friends up for some good music and even better times.