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Middle Waves: A Strange Dream or Alternate Reality?
By J Hubner
Fort Wayne Reader
What a strange dream.
Last night I dreamt I saw the Flaming Lips at Headwaters Park in Fort Wayne, IN. What a bizarre thing to dream, right? But man, I'm telling you it was so realistic. The sights, the sounds, the smells...I even clearly remember the name, "Middle Waves". That was the name of the music festival where the Lips were headlining.
The dream started with my wife and I leaving the kids at home armed with phone numbers and a couple frozen pizzas with directions not to burn the house down. We made it to Fort Wayne a little after 5pm and found an incredibly close spot to park, right next to Headwaters Park. We only had to pay $5 to park, too(so yeah, this was obviously a dream.)
Our first stop was the St. Josephs Stage to see local Fort Wayne band The Orange Opera. Kevin Hambrick and company killed it, blowing the sweaty crown away with his mix of solo John Lennon and mid-70s power pop. The Orange Opera are a Fort Wayne music institution and they plowed the sweaty Middle Waves crowd down with their musical prowess(at least, in my dream they did.)
After the Orange Opera we quickly made our way to the Maumee Stage(in the dream there were three stages, The St. Mary's Stage, The Maumee Stage, and The St. Josephs Stage, all of which had bands playing throughout the day.) Fort Wayne's Heaven's Gateway Drugs had just begun their set. They mine some pretty heady psych sounds, complete with a tambourine-playing shaman and reverb-drenched guitar. Live, HGD are a much heavier and headier band with the rhythm section of Brandon Lee Zolman and James Francis Wadsworth laying some serious grooves down for guitarist Derek Mauger to lose himself in. They plowed through some of their new album Rubber Nun, as well as some classic HGD tunes. There was a nice crowd for the set, with everyone ranging from teens to old people like me.
After HGD, the wife and I were ready to eat so we headed to a place called The Village. Cool area where there were local food vendors and Lagunita's Brewing was serving up IPAs (the details in this dream were amazing, right?) While in The Village I ran into R. Mike Horan, a legendary figure in the local music scene. In real life we've communicated through social media, and he was even there for my band's first and last live gig at Wooden Nickel Music back in 2010, but never an actual conversation with the man. It was nice to shake his hand see him face to face, even if it was just a dream.
After a pulled pork sandwich and being swarmed by bees the wife and I caught local band Void Reunion. A great band that's made up of some truly amazing local band alumni. Their sound is a mix of dreamy pop and jangly guitar. Imagine This Will Destroy You being heavily influenced by REMs Murmur and you might have a little idea of the sounds these guys are cooking up. The local Fort Wayne bands were all class acts. They all sounded like they should've been playing the big stage(regardless if this was a dream or not.)
After Void Reunion ended their set the wife and I headed to the main stage and saw the band Tanlines. A Brooklyn electronic synth dance/pop band that I quite enjoyed. I'm a sucker for the electronic synth thing, and these guys did it very well. The band was just two guys, one handled the synth/percussion end while the other guy played guitar and sang. Pretty catchy tunes that didn't require much of the audience other than to just lose yourself in the music. I must add, that apparently in the dream it must've rained pretty hard earlier in the day as the field was still pretty wet with lots of hay spread out throughout the grounds to help soak up some puddles.
I'm telling you, this was one detailed dream.
One of the highlights of this lucid dream was to see DC rapper/producer Oddisee. I've only recently in the last few years found a love for hip hop, and Oddisee is one of the artists that's made an impact on me(his newest instrumental album Odd Man Out is pretty great.) Oddisee, and his DJ Unknown started their set a little early and jumped right in after finishing their soundcheck. His lyrics are of the socially conscious variety, which I dig. He interacted with the slowly growing crowd and even kept it cool after a beach ball had been knocked up on the stage twice( he kept it the second time and gave it to Unknown as a gift.) It was a great set and made me all the more a fan of the man.
So finally the moment came. The Lips were on stage doing soundcheck. When we saw them back in 2011 in Chicago (not a dream, btw) they came out on stage and were part of the crew, setting up their own instruments and in this bizarrely realistic dream it was no different. Wayne Coyne walked around the stage checking props and cables with his crotch covered with colored balls, while a caped Steve Drozd tinkered and toyed with his keyboard corner and played his guitar along to Pavement's "Summer Babe" as it played through the loudspeakers (the music playing through the loudspeakers while they set up was an early 90s indie fan's wet dream, btw...Built To Spill, Sebadoh, Pavement, as well as T. Rex and Gang of Four hit our ears as we patiently waited.)
The crowd slowly grew as my wife and I stood amongst young and old, drunk and stoned, dazed and confused, waiting for the Oklahoma psych freak heroes to take the stage. Then, the moment arrived. To my great surprise, Drozd started the show on the drums as the band opened with a glorious rendition of "Race For The Prize." Coyne conducted the band as they brought the song in with a slow burn before the song exploded with confetti cannons and hand held confetti guns. There were two guys behind the wife and I completely tripping. I mean, one of them was laughing maniacally as the giant blow up creatures came out onto the stage. I heard one of them yell loudly to the other "I need some more m*********** mushrooms, man!" No sir, I don't think you do. "Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots Part. 1" came up and at the "karate chop" part Wayne stopped the band and told the crowd that part was our moment to shine. It was our moment to be a part of the experience. "Once more, with feeling" was the vibe I was getting from Wayne, and the crowd ate it up. They also ate up the massive balloon sign Wayne presented to us that stood nearly 15 feet high that said "F*** Yeah Middle Waves". Coyne flung the balloon out into the crowd and it made the rounds as the crowd pushed it and flung it across the field.
Other songs that made an appearance were "What Is The Light", "Feeling Yourself Disintegrate", and "Waitin' For A Superman" off of The Soft Bulletin and a killer version of "The W.A.N.D." off of At War With The Mystics. There were others, but the dream gets a little hazy. Last thing I remember is the Lips covering "Space Oddity," with Wayne taking the bubble for a ride out into the crowd. His mic stopped working, but Drozd kept the vocals going. The wife and I made our way to the car as exhaustion set in, as well as a mild contact high.
It was a surreal feeling seeing one of my musical heroes The Flaming Lips on a stage in a park a mere 45 minutes from my house. It's too bad the Middle Waves Festival was only a dream. It was indeed a glorious, sweaty, ear-numbing dream. Too bad none of it was real.
Or was it?