FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) Of all the positive feedback the Middle Waves Music Festival team received in the hours and days after last bits of glitter and confetti landed on the Headwaters Park lawn Saturday night, perhaps the strongest praise came from a member of the biggest act.
“I know one of our committee members had a conversation with The Flaming Lips guitar player, who said that, ‘We loved playing this festival because everyone actually gave a f— and it made us play so much better,” said festival organizer Olivia Fabian.
That they did.
Middle Waves drew nearly 4,000 music lovers – 2,500 whom ponied up for the paid tickets – to sprawling Headwaters Park Friday and Saturday for the first-ever event, Fabian said. At a festival heavily focused on the vibe, fans were as funky and sophisticated and hip as any far larger music festival, and the acts just as skilled.
Wet weather for three-quarters of the festival did little to dull that vibe, either, though Fabian said it probably impacted the overall attendance figures. But so what?
“I’m sure that it impacted some people who were on the fence about coming because the rain was on and off, but it was kind of fun that it rained. We had the whole festival experience all in our first year,” said Fabian. “It was just a really cool moment for all of the people on the team to really come together and let’s figure this out and make it happen.”
And with straw laid out to cover a muddy front stage area, it happened – hard and loud. Fabian said she was taken aback by the positivity and cheerfulness that was palpable at Middle Waves.
“It seemed like everyone felt like it was their festival. Everyone was a part of it, everyone made it happen,” said Fabian. “It was really cool. It was also really cool to hear the comments from people saying, ‘I can’t believe that I’m in Fort Wayne right now. It feels totally different.’”
That sentiment was also heard from the bands that took the three stages at Middle Waves, both at Headwaters Park East and West, she said. The local bands said they were “honored” to pay on the same stages in the same festival as their heroes. The national acts, too, were impressed, Fabian said.
“I think that even The Flaming Lips could just feel that this was really changing a lot of our lives. They felt that we all really, really cared.”
Moving forward to 2017 – yes, the team is already planning – Fabian said the goal is to build off that passion and grow the event by using Year 1 as a “base layer.” Initial impression? There’s room to get weirder.
“The Flaming Lips set really inspired me,” said Fabian. “We made a lot of stuff in my backyard that I thought, ‘Is this too weird? Are we going too far here?’ But when I saw The Flaming Lips I thought, well, we can go way further. Way further next year. And Fort Wayne is open to that.”
All told, Fabian said the first Middle Waves was a resounding success, and just the start of the wave of momentum.
“I think we just appreciate that everyone just came out to support it, and we’re just thankful that they understand and appreciate what we are trying to do.”