Ink’s 5th Annual Middle of the Map Fest

Last night, Ink Magazine’s 5th annual Middle of the Map Fest came to an end.  The event consists of three weeks of film, forum, and music.  The week of music took place at several venues throughout Westport with well over 100 performing acts.  The Noise FM, The Republic Tigers, and OK Go kicked off the festival Wednesday night at the Uptown Theater, with Sean Rowe, Madisen Ward & the Mama Bear, Strand of Oaks, and Iron & Wine performing on night two.  I sold merch at the fest for the first two nights, so I was unable to watch the performances. Judging by the large number of people in attendance, as well as the cheering and applause I heard from the venue lobby, the bands did not disappoint. 

While meandering around Westport Friday and Saturday, I felt nostalgic for SXSW.  The atmosphere was welcoming and exciting, and the live music in various venues, shops, and even outdoors seemed endless.  The festival showcased acts from all over the world, including right here in Kansas City.  There was something for everyone! 

Hembree (http://www.facebook.com/hembreemusic)


My first introduction to Hembree was at the Folk Alliance Conference kick off event back in February, though I was only able to watch their set for one song.  With a sound similar to Band of Horses, Hembree graced the Uptown Theater with smooth indie rock tunes.  Head to (facebook) to find out when and where you can catch this great Kansas City band around town.

The Relationship (http://www.facebook.com/TheRelationship)

When I found out that members of Weezer and The Bravery were in this band, there was no way I was going to miss their set.  The Relationship played at Ernie Biggs, giving the audience a taste of pure Rock ‘N Roll.  A few of the songs had clear similarities to Weezer, of which I had no complaints.  Overall, though, The Relationship had a more modern rock sound. 

Connor Leimer http://www.facebook.com/ConnorLeimerMusic)

It’s no secret that Kansas City has some incredible musical talent, and singer/songwriter Connor Leimer is no exception. It’s hard to believe he is only 18, as his sound is far more mature.  Not only that, but he demonstrated an ability to write songs that encompass multiple genres.  From upbeat, funk indie pop sounding tunes, to reggae  and soft pop, Leimer has a rare and unique songwriting ability.  He closed his set with a song called “Keep Knockin’,” which he performed as a sweet and charming duet with Gracie Schram. 

Gracie Schram (http://www.facebook.com/gracieschram)

Shortly after Leimer, Gracie took the stage, previewing songs off of her upcoming debut studio album, I Am Me. Clearly all of us at Mix 93.3 can’t get enough of her, and you’ll see why when you watch her perform and hear her story. The album comes out on May 5th, and you can celebrate with her that night at her concert celebration at Kanza Hall.  Head to gracieschram.com for more info.  

Genevieve (http://www.facebook.com/HelloGenevieve)

Last month while I was at SXSW, I was introduced to the raw talent of Genevieve.  Since then, I impatiently awaited her performance at Middle of the Map Fest.  I was hooked.  Chicago native Genevieve captivated the audience with her powerhouse vocals and thoughtful lyrics.  She was in her own zone, truly feeling each word she sung, while simultaneously pulling the crowd in to feel and understand the message she delivered with each song.  Check out this video of Genevieve performing her hit single “Colors” at the festival. 

The Noise FM (http://www.facebook.com/thenoisefm)

The Noise FM gave one of the most fun and energetic performances I saw all weekend.   The alt-rock trio, now residing in Chicago, returned to their familiar stomping grounds of Kansas City for a performance at Ernie Biggs.  They kicked off the festival Wednesday night opening for OK Go, but I was unable to watch their set.  Their high energy performance at Ernie Biggs on Saturday had me dancing non-stop. 

Tony Lucca (http://www.facebook.com/TonyLucca)

If you’re a fan of The Voice, you may recognize this name.  Tony Lucca was on Team Adam on season 2 of The Voice.  He originally received a lot of attention on the show from being acquainted with Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, and Justin Timberlake in the days of the Mickey Mouse Club.  While that was enough to intrigue fans, Lucca’s talent ultimately set him apart and is the factor for his long lasting success.  He performed an intimate set at Mills Record Company on Saturday, filling the tiny room with his soulful rock voice. 

Other acts I enjoyed throughout the week include the Jorge Arana Trio, Not A Planet, Lord Huron, Ebony Tusks, Pink Royal, Seoul, Ben Kweller, Me Like Bees, and Peelander-Z.  

**ALL PHOTOS/VIDEO PROPERTY OF EMILY KATZ