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Middle Waves crashing back into Fort Wayne

Popular music festival with national, local acts setting up at Foellinger


Chris Hupe

Whatzup Features Writer

Published June 8, 2022

From 2016-2018, Middle Waves built a strong reputation and gained national recognition for finding a diverse musical offering of the “next big things” to go along with a plethora of local talent. 

A planned year off in 2019 turned into three years due to the pandemic, leaving organizers to hope they could once again build momentum at a new venue, moving the event from Headwaters Park to the Foellinger Theatre campus, where it will be June 17-18.

Back on track

For the uninitiated, the Middle Waves Music Festival is a two-day destination music festival where indie, hip-hop, and rock music coexist. 

The last Middle Waves Festival was in September 2018 at Headwaters, after which organizers decided to switch from a fall date to a summer get-together, taking a year off in 2019 to allow enough time to adequately plan.

The festival had confirmed a move to the new Electric Works campus for 2020. However, with the lineup set and tickets on already sale, the event was canceled in early April. 

“At that point, pretty much everything was done and ready to go,” said Beth McAvoy, co-chair of Middle Waves, in a recent interview with Whatzup.

 The full gravity of the pandemic had yet to be realized, so there was some pushback from fans who didn’t understand why the event had been canceled. 

“I’m sure we made the right call, and it was kind of the same scenario with last summer’s uncertainty,” McAvoy said. “So, when we started the planning process for this year’s festival, it was with a lot of trepidation about how things were going to be this summer. Fortunately, it seems like we’re are all in a lot better spot to have an outdoor event.”

Going national

With that three-year layoff in the rear-view mirror, McAvoy is optimistic the festival will return to form quickly because of the fantastic artists they were able to book this year. It is, however, cautious optimism. 

“I feel like the lineup we have for this year, particularly with being able to bring back Big Boi on Friday, and then having Young the Giant on Saturday, is probably the strongest pair of headliners we’ve had from a reach standpoint,” McAvoy said, referencing Big Boi also being booked for the 2020 show that was canceled. “But the world is in a different place than it was in 2020. I just hope people are able to come out and support it, and see this kind of thing in their backyard.” 

In addition to the aforementioned headliners, attendees will also get the chance to see Carroll High School graduate-turned-national pop/hip-hop star Lauren Sanderson, 20-year-old singer/songwriter Rosie, indie rockers *repeat repeat, and Toronto-based Kiwi Jr. on the pavilion stage.

Free events to check out

While those acts will require paid entry, the festival will have plenty of free offerings, including a community stage outside of the main venue featuring local and regional acts. There will also be a vendor village directly in front of the pavilion selling a variety of items. 

This makes two-thirds of the festival a free, all-ages event.

“We hope to have a long-term relationship with the parks department and Foellinger Theatre,” McAvoy said. “I think it’s a great opportunity to bring a new audience to this really unique asset in our community that some people haven’t been to before.”

Lineup decisions

Of course, everyone has an opinion about who made it onto this year’s lineup, and who “should have been” on the lineup, but McAvoy assures us that those decisions are not made haphazardly. In fact, a great deal of work is put into deciding who eventually gets booked. 

The all-volunteer booking committee spends a lot of time scouring social media, watching live performances on YouTube, and looking for artists that not only have great music but prove themselves to be great performers.

“That’s a huge thing,” McAvoy said, “because it’s not just about a big name. We want people to deliver one helluva live show for people as well.” 

The committee also looks at numbers artists accumulate on streaming services like Spotify and Pandora. 

“We really try to get a diverse lineup,” McAvoy said. “We’re not just a one- or two-genre festival, though. Of course, we are always trying to find incredible headliners, but we’re also trying to find the next big band. We’ve had Idles here, who are second line of Bonnaroo this year and, of course, Lizzo. We’re aways trying to discover things that you could potentially hear first.” 

McAvoy recommends that if you plan to attend Middle Waves, whether it’s to see a particular artist or just to experience what the festival has to offer, you should bring an open mind. 

“Come experience something new and unique and different in your city,” she said. “I guarantee there’s going to be something that you’ll enjoy. Whether it’s a great food truck, supporting your favorite local bands, or discovering a new band you didn’t know about. We really feel like we’ve put together a quality experience for people.”

Keep party going

Adding to that experience on Saturday night is the official Middle Waves after party, AfterWaves, at Flashback Live. Festival ticketholders will get in free to the Wells Street night club with music beginning around 10:30 p.m. Local sensations Namen Namen will take the stage at that time, followed by Lübs. 

There are still tickets available for both events, and McAvoy said Middle Waves is still in need of volunteers for just about every function. She said volunteers will be given the chance to purchase a discounted ticket. 

Volunteer and ticket information can be found at middlewaves.com.

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