For the fifth year in a row, Ink Magazine’s Middle of the Map Fest will bring film, keynote speakers and music to the heart of the Midwest. Spanning three weeks this month, the fest kicks off with the Art, Culture and Technology Forum from April 8-12. Next, the Film Fest takes place from April 15-17, and then the music festival concludes the event from April 22-25. Throughout these three weeks, Westport transforms into a cultural hub to host speakers, independent films and over 100 live music acts, all celebrating art and creativity in KC.
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 22
You’ll probably remember this energetic quartet for their viral music video for “Here it Goes Again,” featuring a choreographed dance, taking place on moving treadmills. The video became an internet sensation on YouTube in 2006. Now, nine years later, Midwest natives OK Go are back in Kansas City following the release of their fourth studio album “Hungry Ghosts.” Bring a water bottle and comfortable shoes because this high-energy band will keep you dancing through their entire set.
The Sound: heavy electronic influence with pop-synth keyboard and bass
If you like: Vampire Weekend, Spoon, Broken Bells
Iron and Wine
Following Friday’s headliner OK Go, Iron & Wine is a mellower act. Sam “Jim” Beam, the solo singer-songwriter behind Iron & Wine, combines American folk influences with an acoustic, bluegrass sound cultivated from his home state of South Carolina. From poetic ballads to harmonious guitar tunes, Iron & Wine lyrics create rich imagery combined with intimate, whispery falsettos and rhythmic finger-picking that make you feel like Beam is sitting right beside you. No need to worry about a mosh pit or crowd surfing during this show, just quiet head bobbing, and plenty of acoustic guitar.
The Sound: acoustic, singer-songwriter, with folk and bluegrass influence
If you like: The Avett Brothers, Bon Iver, The Lumineers
A shift from both of the weekend’s other headliners, Atmosphere is an “indie-rap” duo from the Midwest themselves. Hailing from Minneapolis, Minnesota, Atmosphere consists of rapper Sean Dealy, who goes by the stage name Slug, and DJ/Producer Anthony Davis, Ant. The duo began in 1998, when rap had an aggressive, unapologetic sound — think Biggie and Tupac. Atmosphere focused on lyrics and soul-searching. No longer the anomaly they were in the ‘90s, Atmosphere continues to use electronic tones coupled with acoustic sounds. Their underlying lyrics contain apt social commentary about injustices and problems faced in Slug’s life and observations about the world around him.
The Sound: indie rap, underground, hip-hop
If you like: Chance the Rapper, Childish Gambino, Kendrick Lamar
“Slow West” makes its Missouri debut on April 8 after a successful showing at this year’s Sundance Film Festival — winning the World Cinema Jury prize for Drama. The film chronicles the life of a bounty hunter, Silas, played by Oscar-winner Michael Fassbender. He befriends a teenage Scottish Aristocrat coming to America to search for his former love. As the two journey across the rough terrain of 1800’s Colorado, their search leads to a bloody confrontation where Silas’ true motives are revealed.
If you liked: The Road, True Grit, or Django Unchained
If you’re familiar with Gladwell’s book “Outliers” from AP English junior year, then you might be interested hearing him speak in Kansas City. Now, the author of “Outliers,” “David and Goliath,” “Blink” and “The Tipping Point” will spend an evening focusing on his newest book, the paperback edition of “David and Goliath.” Gladwell will speak about what happens when ordinary people confront opponents of all kinds — from armies to disability and oppression. Drawing upon psychology, history, science, business, politics and sports, Gladwell encourages an understanding that much of what is important in our world comes from a struggle. Gladwell attempts to leave you with a new perspective on our world.
If you like: psychology, history, science, business and literature