Midwest Fest brings music lovers to Mount Pleasant
The stage lights flashed as the floor vibrated with music.
Suddenly, the room was dark. Only the back tables and bar illuminated as the music softened from all corners of the Ale House.
There was an exaggerated pause before a guitar cut through the silence, brightening the stage with red, green and yellow lights, and the band, the Cardboard Swords, staring directly at the cheering crowd.
The eighth annual Midwest Fest took place at Hunter’s Ale House from Thursday night to Saturday night. More than 325 people attended throughout the three-day weekend.
“It was about what I expected and hoped for. It was even more than the goal I had set forth for the evening,” said Midwest Fest founder Corey Densmore. “In that sense, the first night was very much of a success.”
MWFest is a celebration of the music the Midwest has to offer and featured 15 bands over a three-day weekend.
The event cost $5 a night or $10 for the weekend. When someone entered the Ale House, a bouncer would check their ID to make sure they were at least 18. If they were under 21, their hands were marked with two black X’s to keep them from the bar.
“I love getting to see some of my favorite musicians in such an intimate setting while also bringing new music to me and hopefully the attendees as well,” Densmore said. “Thursday night was my first time seeing Gosh Pith and Lady Ace Boogie, though I was quite familiar with their music already.”
He created the MWFest in the summer of 2008, after promoting shows in Mount Pleasant and mid-Michigan earlier that year. After deciding he wanted to try something new, he thought of the idea of a weekend-long music festival. From there, Midwest Fest was born.
It took around eight weeks to organize while he was touring with the band Ports of Aidia. After the tour, he only had a few short weeks to finish up the event's final touches. He ended up having 35 bands play over five nights.
“From there it blossomed and continued to grow to save for one bad year in 2009 that was very poorly attended," Densmore said. "It saw a home in Grand Rapids instead of Mount Pleasant in 2010, and may move again in the future to be able to continue for years to come."
It was Fraser sophomore Kenzie Eddy’s first time attending MWFest. She heard about the event through her friends and had decided to join at the last minute.
She described the atmosphere of the MWFest as “really comfortable and mostly pretty relaxed.”
“I like the community of the Midwest Fest," Eddy said. "Everyone is hanging out and talking to each other, even if you’ve never met before. It felt really friendly."
Thursday’s event featured the bands Big Sherb, Passalacqua, Lady Ace Boogie, Gosh Pith and Pleasant Drive.
Friday featured the bands Moses, Elliot Street Lunatic, The Cardboard Swords and Heavy Color. The all-girl punk band, Cheerleader, was originally going to close the night, but canceled due to an unexpected illness.
Saturday featured the bands The Go Rounds, Luxurious Vegetation, Strawberry Heritage and the Mudpuppys. The Walsher Clemons cancelled due to van trouble.
Elliot Street Lunatic played at the first MWFest eight years ago and continued for a few years after. However, after splitting up a few years ago, Friday’s show celebrated a reunion of the band members for another performance.
“This was my third year working for MWFest and every year. It has a different feel while still being familiar,” said Mount Pleasant resident Joey McClain. “Having a different genre each night means anyone could find something they like.”
Living with MWFest founder Densmore and watching him organize the event inspired McClain to begin volunteering. He was also familiar with the bands and wanted to see them.
“I stick around because of the sense of community the festival brings is mind blowing," he said. "I love nothing more than seeing people enjoying their passion together, even more so when that passion is music."