MidPoint Music Festival featured everything from reborn bands to pizza to overcrowded venues.
The MidPoint Indie Craft Village: The area surrounding Washington Park’s gazebo buzzed with all types of people, dogs and babies. “The gazebo makes us feel like we’re in a zoo,” joked the newly minted Jr. Jr. (formerly known as Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.). The band regaled the crowd with good songs from its just-released eponymous new record. While the band played, dogs chased each other in the adjacent dog park, food trucks sold dinnertime vittles and everybody geared up for the long night ahead.
People came ready to party: Venues became windows-to-the-walls packed, especially Mr. Pitiful’s, MOTR Pub and The Drinkery, and when the midnight hour struck, music fans weren't ready to head home. MidPoint was a boon for Main Street watering holes, whether they were officially part of the festival or not.
Pizza galore and more: Main Street, the artery of the festival, had enough late-night pizza to feed throngs of people. Goodfellas sold pizza until 2:30 a.m. Cincy by the Slice stayed open until 3 a.m., letting people buy a slice and take it upstairs to Maudie’s, an attic-like space, to watch acts such as Mad Anthony. And Lucy Blue, a stone's throw from both places, served gooey pizza until 3 a.m. If you didn’t want pizza, Iris Café stayed open past 8 p.m. and caffeinated customers with homemade chai drinks and cold brew coffee. Fire On High, a food truck located at the Lightborne Lot, sold affordable veggie burgers and fish tacos, and neighborhood locals cooked fried chicken on Main Street’s sidewalk, with the smell of chicken luring concertgoers.
Freeosk: Right as the midnight munchies set in, a glowing box inside the Woodward Theater beckoned fans to sign up for the free Chicago-based app that dispensed free Pop Chips snacks. After downloading the app, you used your smart phone to scan the QR code, and a single-serving bag of chips would fall down, just like a vending machine. The Crazy Hot Pop Chips squelched my late-night hunger.
Free beer at Final Friday: During every MidPoint, Main Street’s Final Friday coincides with the festival. Galleries along the stretch stay open late, and some, such as 1305 Gallery, offer free snacks and PBR with their exhibitions. 1305’s Electricity art show displayed local photographer Brian Glass’ concert photos, ranging from Bruce Springsteen performing at U.S. Bank Arena last year to a bird's eye-view (or a drone view, perhaps?) of a Bunbury Music Festival crowd.
Alberta Cross: Heartless Bastards had a huge amount of people show up, but their opening act, Alberta Cross, had a thin showing. Which is a shame because Petter Ericson Stakee and his backing band put on a solid set, playing new songs such as the steel pedal-infused “Isolation,” “Western State” and “Ghost of Santa Fe." And the band’s trumpet player gets an A for playing the keys and trumpet simultaneously.
Purity Ring: The duo demonstrated EDM could be emotional; fans couldn’t stop cheering at the end of their epileptic light show set. Unlike opener Nick Diamonds' set, the sound boomed and carried loudly outside Washington Park. Purity Ring played hit “Fineshrine,” and before lead singer Megan James introduced the “encore” song “begin again,” she profusely thanked the crowd for coming out.
Nick Diamonds: The former Islands member performed songs from his solo album, "City of Quartz," to a scant audience. His ’80s-inspired songs “God Internet” and “Bohemian Groove” failed to awaken the sedate crowd, and his set probably would’ve been better in a small, indoor venue, but the guy’s got talent.
Smoking: Because you’re standing outdoors in a field doesn’t mean you’re allowed to smoke. Signs all over Washington Park read “no smoking,” but several people did it anyway. (I did see one park staffer redirect a smoker to a smoking area away from the gazebo, but it was difficult to crack down on an area filled with so many people.) A blu eCigs booth was even set up inside the Indie Craft Village, but not enough people took advantage of it. This year, it seemed like smokers were everywhere: in Washington Park, at Moerlein Brewing and standing outside venues.
Over-packed indoor venues: MOTR was too small of a venue to hold the scrum of people lining up to see Bully. A half-hour into the band’s hour-long set, a line still remained outside. What’s the point of getting inside if you can’t see much? It’s great so many folks came out, but during Sarah Jaffe’s excellent set, it was stifling hot (there were no fans turned on). When people get hot they sweat, and that led to a bit of B.O. -- yep, imagine close quarters and unpleasant odors. Across the street, the Woodward filled up for psych band All Them Witches, but people had adequate sightlines to view the band.
Too-few non-alcoholic drinks and food options in Washington Park: Not counting the food trucks in the Indie Craft Village, the only food available in the park on Friday night included Keystone’s mac and cheese, a few beer tents and no food trucks. If you wanted a Diet Coke or a coffee, your options were slim or nil. But, if you were a WNKU member (a members-only patio existed) or purchased a VIP pass, then you were set with food and booze.
Man buns: Apparently the trend has filtered into fall, which means man bun season isn’t a season: It’s here to stay.