Second annual Middlewest Fest delivers

Sarah Contreras

Middlewest Fest came to town this weekend and boy, did it deliver.

The two-year-old music festival brought over fifty bands of all shapes, sizes and genres to DeKalb for a spirited weekend of music and art. Crowds flocked from all over Illinois to see their favorite bands at venues including the Egyptian Theater, Otto’s Nightclub, The House Café and Van Buer Plaza.

Though it would be considered the “newbie” of the music festival world, Middlewest has steadily built a loyal following along with an impressive reputation. All of the buzz and hype came to a head Friday and Saturday, and this reporter took to the streets each night of the festival to experience the awesomeness first hand.

Vendors and charities dotted the scenery of Middlewest. From 20 for a dollar incense to homemade artwork or yummy hot dogs benefiting a local soup kitchen, there were plenty of sights, sounds and smells to keep curious Middlewesters busy in between sets.

Friday Night:

Van Buer Plaza, Second Street and Locust Street

The Tossers took Middlewest from day to night with a furious Irish-infused punk rock vibe. The group’s high-energy set included danceable songs such as “The Rocky Road to Dublin,” and the spirited crowd was happy to oblige.

Neither rain nor clouds could stop Murder by Death from entertaining their eager audience. Band loyalists and new ears crowded the VBP stage to form the biggest crowd of the night. Though the band was off to a marginally late start, the show was well worth the wait.

The House Café, 263 E. Lincoln Highway

Friday night saw The Reptilian’s post-hardcore intensity bring down the House Café. The raw power was sure to wake up those who were feeling the burn after a long day of Middlewest-ing. Their set and their fans were a true testament to Middlewest’s diversity.

Saturday Night:

Van Buer Plaza

The Giving Tree Band kicked off Saturday night’s festivities with a rousing set of “down home rock and roll.” Dancing crowds and face-melting banjo solos perfectly summed up the vibe and soul of Middlewest.

SMLTWN Skate Shop, 229 E. Lincoln Highway

Mark Hladish entertained his masses with sweet songs, jokes and brief musings on the fate of The Felix Culpa. Hladish capped off his set by inviting his wife up to sing. It was clear that the crowd was just as smitten as he.

Mike Kinsella, AKA Owen, entertains the rapt faces of his followers. The combination of pow-wow-like sitting, a packed house, and Kinsella asking his fans “so what do you guys want to talk about?” made for an intimate and memorable show.