This year in Fort Wayne, Middle Waves is looking a little different. 

With this festival being built in a smaller city than let’s say Chicago, keeping up with the larger festivals can prove to be complicated. With an awesome turnout in 2022 at the Foellinger Theatre campus and lot of excitement for this year’s announcement, Middle Waves turned to Embassy Theatre to take the festival to new levels. 

While the transition of the Embassy taking over leadership of the festival continues, Middle Waves announced a “hype event” called Ripple, set for Saturday, June 24, at Parkview Field. The lineup includes local acts Mic Strong and The Namby Pamby and national acts DuPont Brass, Vundabar, and headliner Soccer Mommy.

Maintaining festival atmosphere at home

So, what does all this mean for the future of Middle Waves? Well, it means the Embassy will be taking on the festival moving forward. 

“The Embassy recognized how important Middle Waves was for its growing audience,” Embassy President and CEO Kelly Updike said in a statement. “Providing something of this magnitude in Fort Wayne, rather than asking our residents to drive a minimum of two to four hours away to seek a ‘festival experience,’ helps us have an even more direct hand in helping Fort Wayne become a music city.” 

When I moved to Fort Wayne, I got the chance to attend Middle Waves in 2022 and I have to say, I was super-impressed with how many different genres, people, and activities this event brought out. With a completely free section to see local acts, along with games, activities, and a children’s section, there also was a VVIP option that offered a private lounge and bar, as well as a ton of photo opportunities to post on your Instagram. The concert itself was very fun and featured a ton of incredible bands such as Young the Giant. 

Headliner is staying busy

The legal transfer of the festival will be this summer. This means that the next Middle Waves event will be in the summer of 2024. 

In the meantime, Ripple has a lot to offer, including two stages, a VIP option, and a VVIP option. VVIP offers an air-conditioned building with a rooftop patio, private bar, and prime seating for the event. The VIP option offers the same perks minus the rooftop. 

This year’s headliner is indie rock artist Soccer Mommy. Amassing 1.2 million monthly listeners on Spotify, she will bring out an ecstatic crowd of her own. 

Releasing Sometimes, Forever in 2022, Soccer Mommy has been hard at work. Besides doing a multitude of festivals, she will be joining Maggie Rogers on her Summer of ’23 tour. 

Soccer Mommy just finished traveling internationally. I am very stoked to see such a talented woman take Fort Wayne under her own wings for Ripple.

Local act adds another accolade

Alongside Soccer Mommy, I spoke with one of the bands featured this year, The Namby Pamby. 

Consisting of sisters, McKenna and Emily Parks, as well as one of their best friends Payton Knerr, The Namby Pamby are an artistic folk band with vibrant storytelling abilities. 

They describe themselves as “a feminine folk phenomenon that is emotionally driven, and often defined by nuanced vocals, experimental chords, and jazz-like drumming that orbit arresting lyrics. 

“A shared small-town Indiana charm channels into each nearly tangible story, unionizing their individual musicianship and permitting a continuous expansion on their inimitable style.” 

Beginning in late 2021, the band has wasted no time leaving their mark on the local music scene, including with their debut album, Marketplace, in November. 

“After just over a year’s worth of local performances, our debut record, and very first tour, we were honored to be contacted by The Embassy’s talent buyer for Middle Waves’ Ripple event,” the band said in an email response. 

With this being the first year for this event, the excitement for this year and what is to come in future ones is quite high. 

“We are most looking forward to sharing this first experience, for both the event and ourselves, with our hometown,” the trio said. “Fort Wayne has played a major role in The Namby Pamby’s growth, especially in the short amount of time we have been creating together. We are very thankful for the opportunity to share a stage with such admirable musicians Soccer Mommy and members of Vundabar for an audience full of our community. 

“We cannot wait to see this festival’s development as The Embassy pours into Middle Waves! Fort Wayne is full of hard-working performers; we are eager to see music become a greater part of the city. 

“Along with tracks from our debut record, Marketplace, we will be sharing songs from the album we are currently working on,” they added. “We are welcoming the audience with a very warm, intimate performance at this year’s Ripple.”

Eclectic group from nation’s capital

I also got to speak with DuPont Brass, a horn-driven supergroup based in the D.C. Metropolitan area. 

“We are a 10-piece band consisting of vocalists, producers, horns, and a rhythm section. Our sound is a mix of hip-hop, jazz, R&B, gospel, and blues that we call ‘eclectic soul,’ ” said Jared Bailey, marketing director for DuPont Brass. 

They are excited to be a part of this event. 

“We’re most looking forward to experiencing the music and entertainment scene in Indiana,” Bailey said. “This is our first time performing in the state, which is really exciting for us. This initial event is already a huge deal. We’re happy to be able to contribute this first go ’round and excited to see Ripple grow moving forward.”