In three years, Ink’s Middle of the Map Music Fest has nearly tripled in size.
In 2011, the festival’s inaugural year, 50 bands played over two nights. At this weekend’s three-day festival, 139 bands from 19 states and four countries (the United States, Canada, Denmark and the United Kingdom) will perform.
The festival’s growth has captured national attention. Festival organizers have been told that MTV has hired someone to deliver live posts via Instagram, and Twitter’s director of music will attend the festival. It has also drawn fans from more than 30 states, organizers say.
Last year’s festival made big waves for enlisting the band Fun just as it and its monster single “We Are Young” were breaking out nationally. The band would headline a sold-out Saturday night show at the Beaumont Club, drawing nearly 2,000 fans, then go on to win two Grammys in February for song of the year and best new artist.
This year’s lineup is stacked with big-name bands, starting with indie-rock stalwart Grizzly Bear, which will perform its first-ever show in Kansas City at the Uptown Theater on Friday night, and the Divine Fits, who headline the eight-hour lineup at Saturday’s outdoor stage.
There are scores of other bands worth seeing and hearing, many of them from Kansas City and Lawrence, some of whom are coming out of hiatus or retirement to perform this weekend. The Regrets, featuring members of the legendary Lawrence band Vitreous Humor, will play for the first time in 15 years, and the Belles will celebrate the 10th anniversary of their debut album, “Omerta.”
2013 is also the 10th birthday for the Record Machine— a Kansas City record label and a curator of the festival — and the fifth birthday for Ink.
Though the festival is growing in size and reputation, booking national bands and attracting notice and love from afar, it remains a Kansas City festival, one born in its music scene and one that reflects that scene’s talent, skills, work ethic, lofty ambitions and indefatigable dedication, from the bands that will play to everyone behind the scenes: the organizers, the bookers and promoters, the sound engineers, the stage crews, the venue owners and employees and the dozens of trouble-shooters who will make the weekend go as smoothly as possible.
Prices for this event are incomparably low. A three-day pass is $45. One-day passes are $20 for Thursday, $30 for Friday and $25 for Saturday. If you are a music fan, it will be worth your while to spend a day or two or three at this event and soak up a lot of good music and indulge in the spirit of our city’s vibrant music scene.
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