Visit our MidPoint Music Fest page for full access to the official MPMF guide.
It’s interesting to think back to the Cincinnati of 2001, the year the first MidPoint Music Festival took place. Cincinnati’s downtown and Over-the-Rhine areas were seriously struggling and trying to rebuild their image and soul after the upheaval that followed the police shooting of a young unarmed man. It was also the year our entire country tried to rebuild following the terrorist attacks of 9/11. The combination of those factors (and resultant general economic strife) meant the community had a lot of work to do.
The first MidPoint festival utilized venues beyond OTR and downtown, but those neighborhoods were still the heart of the fest. And it has remained that way for the past 14 years, despite several years when venue turnover seemed to be come montly and makeshift venues had to be created for showcases.
In 2015, as most locals are well aware, Cincinnati’s central core has an entirely different reputation, becoming a popular destination for all forms of arts- and entertainment-seekers. Its national reputation and profile have been greatly lifted and people actually come from out of town for fun, not obligation.
MidPoint — taking place Sept. 25-27 — has also grown greatly, evolving from a showcase for unsigned and local acts into an event that offers a diverse lineup of acclaimed and/or cutting-edge Indie music from all over the world. The festival’s unwavering dedication to the city’s core neighborhoods has paid off; there are now venues galore in OTR, not to mention innumerable other cool options in the area to occupy festgoers’ time between exploring MPMF’s excellent live-music options.
MidPoint has also remained true to its goal of being a festival that is for the musically adventurous. While MPMF does host some more well-known Indie acts each year (like 2015 headliner Iron & Wine, a pioneer of the modern Indie Folk movement), it also presents a slew of innovative and on-the-rise artists, many of whom you’ll be hearing more about as their careers progress. It’s always fun to look at the posters for Coachella, Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza every year and count how many former MidPoint performers are now upper-tier acts at the other “marquee” festivals. It’s like MidPoint is the music festival of the future, today. And even if a MidPoint artist doesn’t reach such levels of success, there is still a great variety and wealth of amazing performances to experience each year. Don’t sleep on the Cincinnati-area artists playing the festival — they’ve provided highlights at every MPMF so far. We reserved our “Critic’s Picks” in the guide for out-of-town acts, because every local MPMF performer is worthy of your attention. If you have a hole in your schedule, plug in a Cincinnati band and you won’t be disappointed.
While the fest’s vision hasn’t changed, there are some new elements to 2015’s MidPoint Music Festival. Perhaps most notably, the event is now held Friday, Saturday and Sunday, instead of the previous years’ Thursday, Friday and Saturday set-up. After feedback from fans (who argued passionately for both sides), the organizers decided the full “weekend” approach suited out-of-town visitors a little better and also enabled earlier programming opportunities on Saturday and Sunday (instead of just Saturday), particularly in Washington Park, which again hosts a main stage, as well as the new MidPoint Indie Craft Village (presented by P&G), which will feature music, craft vendors, craft beer and more. The Village opens at 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday and 5 p.m. on Friday, just before Indie Pop favorites JR JR (formerly Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.) plays the Village at 6 p.m. to kick-off MPMF 2015.
In this year’s official MPMF guide, you’ll find everything you need to know about the festival (from ticket and venue info to Craft Village details and a visitor’s guide), as well as our annual previews of every artist performing. We’ve again included our “You’ll Dig It If You Dig” feature (with sometimes crazy, sometimes straightforward comparisons to other acts in the same realm), which will hopefully point you in the right direction when you’re plotting your itinerary. It helps make the guide like a discovery feature on a music-streaming app.
Special thanks to everyone who helped put this guide together, including the MPMF 2015 Blurb Patrol — Charlie Harmon, Leyla Shokoohe and Brian Baker — for its critical capsule-writing assistance, and also production/layout Zen master Ron Roark, without whom this guide would probably resemble a stapled-together Punk Rock ’zine from the ’80s. Shout outs also go to contributor Maija Zummo and copy editor Emily Begley.
If you haven’t done so already, explore the guide and then visit mpmf.com to find links to music and to start putting together your own personal schedule for the weekend (thanks to cincymusic.com for powering the site this year). If you register an account, you can view your handbuilt schedule on all of your devices.
For more information about MPMF.15, visit these sections of our official guide: