Amped and Revamped

MidPoint Music Festival returns with a new layout and one of its best three-day lineups yet, including acts like Kamasi Washington, Frightened Rabbit and Band of Horses.

Sep 21, 2016 at 10:39 am

Kamasi Washington - Photo: Provided
Photo: Provided
Kamasi Washington
Since its inception 15 years ago, Cincinnati’s MidPoint Music Festival has undergone changes almost continuously. Originally conceived as a showcase for unsigned acts, the first several years featured a “conference” aspect designed to help up-and-coming musicians. CityBeat took over the event and added higher-profile headliners beginning in 2008. Throughout it all, the venues have changed, utilizing outdoor spaces and whatever clubs were available and interested in becoming an MPMF showcase spot. The first MidPoint was actually spread throughout downtown and Northern Kentucky, while more recent years have seen it become concentrated in the Over-the-Rhine area.

Through it all, it has remained a three-day celebration of today’s most unique and innovative music-makers.

This year marks a new phase in MidPoint’s evolution. Music & Events Management, Inc. (or MEMI) has taken over the booking and production of the event, and this first year under new management should show signs of the company’s many years of experience in running events in Greater Cincinnati. (MEMI is a subsidiary of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and has long presented big concerts at its venues like Riverbend and the Taft Theatre.)

The biggest change is that fans of all ages will be able to enjoy MidPoint in its entirety, as the format shifts from mostly using several bars and clubs to utilizing four outdoor stages located along Sycamore Street in Over-the-Rhine. The lineup features some of the biggest acts MidPoint has ever showcased (including Band of Horses, Kamasi Washington, Car Seat Headrest and Frightened Rabbit, all profiled on the following pages), as well as a healthy dose of local artists and up-and-coming acts. Music begins earlier than in past years, so be sure to arrive in the afternoon to catch some of the exciting Cincinnati performers and lesser-known acts (to entice you to be an early bird, we’ve spotlighted 12 must-see acts playing earlier time slots on page 23). And if you’re low on dough, fear not: One of the four full-time stages (the Eli’s BBQ Stage at Sycamore and 14th streets) is free and open to the public.  

Be sure to grab CityBeat’s official guide at the festival grounds during the 2016 festival this Friday-Sunday for info on performers, maps and much more. There is also a wealth of info at, and an MPMF app (available for Apple and Android users) that allows festgoers to create their own schedules.

MidPoint Profiles: