Not even the gloomy weather could keep the spirits of Fort Wayne down this weekend, which marked the inaugural Middle Waves Festival at Headwaters Park. Despite cloudy skies and morning rain, Middle Waves’ first year was met with attendees eagerly queuing in lines outside the front gates and plenty of dancing in the mud.
Headlined by garage rockers Best Coast and the quintessential psychedelic pop masters of The Flaming Lips, Middle Waves’ lineup featured artists for every musical taste. The festival featured artists across three stages along St. Marys River, two of which were free and open to the public. Access to the main stage however – featuring most of the lineup’s bigger artists and headliners - required a wristband.
In addition to a nationally curated “dream team” of artists, Middle Waves’ lineup also payed homage to the blossoming music scene of Northeast Indiana. Twenty artists from around Fort Wayne came out to perform for their hometown.
Friday night kicked off with performances from local Fort Wayne groups Lost Lakes, Oferle and Thunderhawk. Later in the evening, Sidewalk Chalk brought their Chicago soul hip-hop ensemble to the St. Marys Stage. Then Alicia Bognanno brought the kickass girl power with her gritty, grunge rock group Bully. Singer-songwriter Betheny Consentino closed the evening fronting her the lo-fi surf rock group Best Coast.
RELATED: Read our 2013 interview with the Flaming Lips
Saturday night was an equally diverse ensemble of acts. Fort Wayne’s Metavari opened the afternoon with their electronic dancepop. Missouri’s CaveofswordS and their synthed-out dream pop carried the Maumee Stage in to the late afternoon. Both Doomtree and Oddisee brought an energetic dose of hip-hop to the early evening, and it was all rounded out by a supersonic performance from the Grammy-winning Flaming Lips.
Beyond the stages, Middle Waves played host to multiple arts booth and fun activities. Inflatable obstacle courses, live paintings, sculptors and piñata parties decorated the lawns between the stages. Wandering festival-goers could hop in the river for a free pontoon ride or a silent “dive-in” movie. Animal lovers could cuddle up with some furry friends at either the Kitty Café or the Puppy Pub. Some much needed R&R was available at Lush’s complementary spa or at Saturday morning’s free yoga session.
Middle Waves is a testament to how the progression of destination music festivals is stretching across the country.