The roof of the Bluemont Hotel became an eclectic musical event Saturday night as the venue for the annual Mid by Midwest music festival.
This year’s festival was the second year in a row where Mid by Midwest, often shortened to MXMW, took place in Manhattan. The event originated in Manhattan during the summer of 2016 with only half of the resources and musical acts that were seen this year.
Nick Domoney, event producer, said he was pleased with the growth the event has seen since last year.
“We had 12 acts last year in a backyard. Now we have 24,” Domoney said. “The first time around we did it all out of our own pockets, with some donations.”
The event was inspired by the similarly named South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, which began in 1987.
“The name is in the same spirit as Manhattan being called the Little Apple, or bringing the energy of these larger places to Manhattan,” Domoney said.
Tickets gave participants full-day access to the two stages set up in the Bluemont Hotel’s top-level event area. The musicians were accompanied by local catering and art vendors.
Taylor McFall, event producer, said using the Bluemont Hotel as the festival’s venue was successful.
“We could not be happier with the Bluemont,” McFall said. “For a newer festival taking place at a venue of this level, [the Bluemont] really helped out and took a lot of the burden off of us. Really, all of our sponsors have been incredible.”
Although the festival took place at the same time as Kicker Country Stampede, an annual country music festival in Manhattan, Katie Smith, event producer, said the local music is what attracted audiences to MXMW.
“We created all of it to support the local musicians, kind of in opposition to Stampede, which brings in huge acts from all over,” Smith said. “At Mid by Midwest, you’re going to find all sorts of local music, from country to R&B to metal to singer-songwriter to jazz, really everything.”
Cody Brummet, Manhattan resident, played in the festival as guitarist for two of the bands, Starving in Style and Jade Archetype. Brummett pointed out the eclectic nature of the festival.
“I played as part of two bands of two different styles,” Brummet said. “Starving in Style is alternative grunge. Jade Archetype is soulful rock. These are pretty distinct sounds that probably aren’t heard too much in the area unless brought together at a festival like this.”
In addition to the collective styles the festival allowed, Brummett also commended the platform that the festival created.
“It’s been a lot of exposure to new crowds and audiences and interacting with locals,” Brummett said. “It’s more than just music. There are local art vendors and dances that get a place to be seen. We’ve seen all walks of life coming in and out of the festival.”
Smith said she considered this year’s festival a success and is already looking forward to next year.
“The hope for the future is for [Mid by Midwest] to get bigger every year,” Smith said. “We had a backyard and a porta-potty last time around. Next time around we hope to see even more sponsors, more acts, maybe even a taller building. But most of all, a bigger local crowd.”
McFall hopes that the success of this year’s festival will further boost the morale of other local acts.
“The biggest impact of the festival is the moral boost to the scene,” McFall said. “It’s a proof of concept to have a successful event based solely around Manhattan bands. That’s evidenced by the number of people that came and bought tickets, merchandise and even donations to the bands. To me, that’s proof that there is a hunger for live music in Manhattan.”