Ten years ago, local musicians and occasional bandmates Bill Donabedian and Sean Rhiney witnessed their dream come true as the inaugural MidPoint Music Festival launched in Greater Cincinnati, showcasing exclusively unsigned artists, with an emphasis on local acts. After months of hard work and preparations, what started as a "Wouldn't it be cool if ..." conversation had become a reality.
MidPoint has grown, evolved and adapted in many ways since that first festival in 2002. Three years ago, CityBeat took over the event with the idea to add signed, internationally-known artists alongside the up-and-comers and unsigned multitudes, starting a new chapter in the life of MPMF and opening up limitless potential for the future.
• For MPMF.11, attendees are encouraged to bring their own "shuttle," their bikes, to zip from venue to venue. With help from the City of Cincinnati, the MPMF venue route will have multiple bike racks, offering a safe place to park your ride. With the venues less spread out this year, you can also manage to get around MPMF more easily than ever on foot.
• The 12th Street drag that offers the quickest path between the action on Main Street and the venues just a few parallel streets over is becoming part of the action, bustling with music, art and other activities. The street will be blocked off between Walnut and Vine and transformed into the MidPoint Midway, anchored by a literal "street art" exhibition, vendors, ticket booths and the Contemporary Arts Center-sponsored singer/songwriter stage featuring stripped-down sets from some of MPMF's performers.
• Festival-goers are encouraged to "think inside the box" at ArtWorks' first-ever Box Truck Carnival on the Midway. Ten trucks will house fun, surprising interactive experiences inside — so stop by and explore. Check out Eli Johnson's interview with some Box Truck Carnival participants here.
• MidPoint's many female artists will be celebrated along the Biore© Strip.
The venues on Jackson Street (two stages at Know Theater and the ArtWorks stage) will spotlight female solo performers and bands with a female presence, including Jessica Lea Mayfield, Deerhoof, Bachelorette, Xiu Xiu and Tristen. Cincinnati-based Kao Brands partners with MidPoint for the first time this year, promoting its Biore® Skincare products.
• A block over from the Midway will be all-ages showcases at Media Bridges as well as a first-time MPMF venue, the new state-of-the-art School for Creative and Performing Arts. SCPA is presenting some of the fest's biggest acts with its extensive slate of all-ages shows on its two stages. MidPoint and SCPA are working together to involve and engage students, offering educational opportunities relating to production and presentation as well as "master class" workshops with some of the MPMF artists. (Read more about MidPoint's youth-friendly additions here.)
• Popular at South By Southwest (and other fests/conferences), "day parties" come to MidPoint this year courtesy of local music blog Each Note Secure, which will present a shindig at the vitaminwater room at The Hanke Building on Main Street. The party kicks off just after noon on Saturday, Sept. 24, and will have music by MPMFers Nerves Junior, Cheyenne Marie Mize, Total Babes and The Capstan Shafts. (Get details here).
• If you've enjoyed MidPoint in the past but always felt it needed more donuts, you might be Homer Simpson. But, Homer, your eccentric expectations of a music festival will be met at MPMF.11. Local Busken Bakery's "10,000 Donut Deployment" initiative will celebrate the festival's 10-year anniversary by keeping MPMFers fortified with free donuts throughout the three-day affair. Busken's donut "candy stripers" will also be handing out "I Got Glazed Backstage Passes" with free music downloads of MPMF.11 bands.
• Not everything is different this year. Grammer's is back on board to host the big, open-air-tent Dewey's Pizza Main Stage.The MidPoint Poster Expo, presented by Newport's Powerhouse Factories design firm (makers of plenty of spectacular concert posters themselves), is back with another collection of imaginative concert posters from various top-notch designers. And Topic Design's Tweet/Text Visualizer System returns with even more presence, broadcasting texted/tweeted dispatches from MidPoint to more screens and people than ever this year.
• Advance sales of VIP Passes and 3-day wristbands continue, though VIP Passes are available only through midnight Sept. 18. Once MPMF.11 kicks off, you'll also be able to buy 1-day wristbands at the MidPoint Midway. Get all the ticketing options here.
Get out there and explore during MPMF.11 — remember, much of the fun comes from the joy of discovering a great new band. CityBeat writers previewed each and every MidPoint artist here, so start doing some early scouting and get your itinerary straight for the weekend.
Check out the digital version of the Official MidPoint Guide here. [Special thanks to Jason Kidwell, Jason Gargano, John Fox, Nick Grever and Brian Baker for their help putting it together.]