Going to MidPoint Music Fest? Read this first

Posted at 1:14 PM, Sep 25, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-25 13:14:32-04

CINCINNATI -- Nearly 30,000 music fans descended on Over-the-Rhine and Downtown for the 2014 MidPoint Music Festival, and the same amount is expected at this year's edition.

“I always think it’s important to emphasize how fun this is for folks who don’t even know who the bands are,” said Alex Breyer, public relations and promotions manager for MidPoint. “Music discovery is something we’ve always pushed. Get a sense of adventure, get that spirit for going Downtown and being with other people, and just get your groove on, even though you don’t know the bands.”

The 14th annual MidPoint festival kicks off Friday with a few changes. The biggest: Organizers nixed the Thursday-Saturday format in exchange for a Friday-Sunday stretch. The decision appears to have paid off; organizers said they have seen an increase in sales of three-day passes.

“Some people really love that Thursday date — it made a lot of sense to them,” said Breyer. “But other people are more about committing to Friday, Saturday, Sunday as being a whole weekend thing they can enjoy. There’s going to be people that see pluses and minuses with it, but overall, it was something we wanted to try.”

Here’s what you need to know for MidPoint 2015.

New Venues

Every year the festival repeats a few venues (MOTR Pub, Washington Park, The Drinkery, Mr. Pitiful’s). But this year, Memorial Hall, the MidPoint Midway and Know Theatre are gone. Memorial Hall closed for a facelift, streetcar construction derailed plans for the Midway, and the Know needed to prepare for a production. Of the 10 stages, three are new. Maudie’s (1207 Main St., second floor), the 18-and-up venue above Cincy by the Slice, occasionally has been used for MidPoint but not in recent years. The Woodward Theater (1404 Main St.), owned by MOTR’s Dan McCabe, makes a good replacement for Memorial Hall and will draw more people to Main Street. Every year pop-up venues appear (think Hanke Building), and this year the Lightborne Lot (1401 Sycamore St.) will host outdoor shows, food trucks and beer stands, creating a similar vibe to MidPoint Midway.

Indie Craft Village

MidPoint organizers used Lumenocity Village and the City Flea as templates for the first edition of Washington Park’s MidPoint Indie Craft Village. At 6 p.m. Friday, Detroit duo JR JR (formerly known as Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.) will play a free show as part of their album release. Artisans such as Cannonball Handmade, My Momma’s Kitchen, Grandola Granola and Gorgeous Gore will be on hand selling their wares, starting at 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. Food (Vinnie’s Gourmet Pretzels, Eli’s BBQ, Island Noodles, Hungry Bros.) and local craft beer will be for sale, and more concerts (Josh Eagle, Robert Ford, Bones Jugs N Harmony) will occur through the weekend.

Village times:

  • 5-10 p.m. Friday
  • 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday (craft makers 11 a.m.­-6 p.m.)
  • 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday (craft makers 11 a.m.­-6 p.m.)

Earlier Set Times On Saturday 

The first band on Saturday’s Washington Park schedule, the Harlequins, goes on at 3 p.m. and headliner Ride plays 6:30-8 p.m., whereas Friday and Sunday nights’ headliners don’t start until 9:15 p.m. and 8:45 p.m., respectively. Breyer explained that the earlier Saturday slots are because the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra has a performance at Music Hall, necessitating that shows end earlier. One benefit: The abridged evening likely will lure more people to other venues. The great thing about the lead act schedules for Washington Park and Moerlein Brewery — the festival’s two biggest stages — is that the bands’ times don’t overlap, so it’s easy to maneuver from one location to the next and not miss anything. 

Say Cheese

MidPoint allows cameras; however, Washington Park is the only venue with a cordoned-off photo pit, which is available only to photographers with credentials. Otherwise, snap away. People are allowed to bring chairs to the park, and kids ages 10 and under can get into Washington Park shows for free.

There's No App, But ...

Unlike Bunbury, MidPoint doesn’t offer a downloadable phone app. However, you can build your schedule on, then set up a webpage on your phone with the custom schedule. Create a shortcut on your phone so you can access it quickly. With the help of CincyMusic, the festival has enhanced its website, including adding Google Maps of the venues and YouTube videos of some of the bands.

Eli’s BBQ Sessions

If the 120 official MidPoint bands aren’t enough, check out local record label SofaBurn’s showcase at Herzog Studios, presented by Eli’s BBQ. Last year, although it wasn't officially a part of the festival, Eli’s set up inside Herzog Studios (811 Race St.), hosted free shows all weekend and gave away free barbecue. This year, Alone at 3AM, Jeremy Pinnell, Daniel Martin Moore and Krystal Peterson and the Queen City Band are expected to play Saturday, starting at 7 p.m. On Sunday, Eli’s will host Eli’s BBQ Sessions from noon to 5 p.m. at the MidPoint Indie Craft Village at Washington Park, with MidPoint artists Bones Jugs N Harmony, Dawg Yawp, Noah Smith and Diedrich Jones of the Cliftones performing second shows for free.


MusicLi, a new local music licensing program founded by Sundresses member Brad Schnittger, is launching during MidPoint. MusicLi is sponsoring the MOTR Pub stage and will throw a few free pop-up concerts around OTR throughout the weekend. Musicians are encouraged to sign up so they can upload their music to MusicLi’s library and then license their songs and make money. 

MusicLi Band Schedule:

Friday at Rock Paper Scissors on Main Street 
8 p.m.: Mint Leopard
9 p.m.: Kid Condor

Saturday at the Garage OTR
8 p.m.: Wonky Tonk
9 p.m.: Counterfeit Money Machine

Sunday at corner of 13th and Race streets
8 p.m.: Offbeat Collective featuring Citoak
9 p.m.: Majestic Man


Weekend pass, $89; one-day pass, $40; Washington Park, $25 advance, $30 day of shows; VIP, $179; individual show tickets $10-$20.