Welcome, Wheel House Festival 

click to enlarge Paul Oakenfold - SUBMITTED PHOTO
  • Paul Oakenfold
  • Submitted Photo
Sometimes, an idea is almost too good.

"I originally was looking to bring in a DJ to do one of our Party in the Parks [which are held yearly in Opti Park]," says Matt Schwegman, Vogue talent buyer/promoter and Wheel House Festival co-owner. "As I started reaching out to different international DJ acts, I realized that due to the amount of extra lights, video walls and production that these acts need, we could build this into something much bigger."

Schwegman got in touch with long-time promoter and DJ Slater Hogan of Keepin' It Deep with the idea for a full-fledged multi-day EDM festival in Opti Park. It's a fest that makes sense: the Indy EDM community is flourishing and diverse.

(Heading to Wheel House? Browse the lineup, with recommendations from Schwegman, here.)

"There are quite a few different scenes going on here," Schwegman says. "Mainly, because there are a some promoters in town that care a lot about what is happening. The guys at IndyMojo have built an amazing fan base and their fans are crazy loyal. The guys at Keepin' It Deep [Hogan and John Larner] have been throwing parties in town for years and people trust that they will have a good time at their events. Then, throw in A-Squared, Crush Entertainment and a few others, and you've got yourself a pretty vibrant, diverse scene."

Wheel House will have only one stage, with a variety of interactive activities and vendor sites for attendees. Opti Park is a small space, mostly used for sporting events - in fact, that use gave Wheel House its name.

"Myself, Slater Hogan and Steve Ross, owner of the Vogue, had been brainstorming for a few days," Schwegman said of the fest's name. "After a few of the cliche EDM-type names ("Electric Enchanted EDM Garden?"), we thought about the actual park that we are hosting the event in. Opti Park's main attraction is a small Little League baseball diamond. Wheel house is a term that refers to the hitter's sweet spot."

Schwegman and team knocked it out of the park with the Wheel House lineup. It's one of the most impressive festival lineups in recent memory, albeit one geared to a certain scene. Locals will take the same stage as legends, which will conclude with an after party each night at The Vogue featuring more stunning acts. Although Schwegman jokingly refers to Wheel House as "his baby," A-Squared Industries, IndyMojo, Keepin' It Deep, Crush Entertainment, Rad Summer, Oranje, Switch District and Bleeding Edge have all been involved in one way or another in putting this fest together. "It has been a total team effort amongst a lot of different people here in Indy," Schwegman says."

Before Wheel House, we dialed up legendary producer Paul Oakenfold. As the founder of Perfecto Records and resident DJ at many of London's most famous dance clubs, Oakenfold could easily rest on his musical laurels. But he's consistently cranked out interesting new albums and mixes; scored plenty of films and games; stayed intimately involved with his imprint; and introduced successful new residencies.

In the last year and a half, Oakenfold has ramped up his touring schedule, perhaps in anticipation of the release of Popkiller, his third studio artist album, which will boast collabs with Azealia Banks, Eve, Miguel, Cee Lo Green and more. Important to mention those are big names in mainstream hip-hop and R&B - a trend in Oakenfold's contemporary work, and consistent with the mainstream EDM explosion of the last five years.

Oakenfold will close Friday night of the festival.

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Katherine Coplen

Katherine Coplen

Always looking for my new favorite band. Always listening to my old ones, too. Always baking cakes. Always collecting rock and roll dad quotes.

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