Midpoint Music Festival Rocks Cincinnati
The Midpoint Music Festival is really the heart of the indie rock scene in the greater Cincinnati area. This year’s festival did not disappoint with its aspiring mixture of local talent along with larger names.
Thursday’s line-up featured a nice balance of local bands like Wussy at Grammer’s with larger acts like Holy F*ck on the Cincinnati Club stage.
Grammer’s, the largest stage in the festival, was home to local talent Wussy, ingenious punk rockers Male Bonding and West Coast lo-fi wonders Best Coast.
Luckily for me, we were able to get there early enough to take a seat on a rock and relax with drinks in hand. The large outdoor tent area was destined to be a good night with a cool breeze. Spotlights lit the area up with a strong sense of passion. You couldn’t miss Grammer’s if you were both blind and deaf.
Wussy took to stage and rocked the crowd of about 200 people. The local band Â certainly had a lot of fans and rocked through their 40 minute set. I’m not familiar with the band but if you are in the same boat, get familiar ASAP. Straight up rock filled the tent and I was glad to be able to pick up a CD.
Up next was Male Bonding. Powering through their set, the band definitely brought some starter mosh-pits with them from the UK. I spent their set entranced, wondering where this band has been all my life. If you’re still wishing Jawbreaker was together, pick up their CD ASAP.
The closer of the stage on Thursday was Best Coast. Armed with camera in hand, I couldn’t help bouncing along as the band shot through popular tracks like “Goodbye” and rocked their best known track, “Boyfriend” (although some feedback during the track almost threatened their lo-fi danceathon).
From Grammer’s, I headed to Below Zero for the Standard Records showcase where Dead Beats was armed and dressed in ceremonial robes. Performing a song about cats in the idealist jazz space, the band used superb playing techniques to make the audience bow to them and proclaim them their new favorite band. Talk about headphones music. I wanted to hear every single element in their set but alas, it ended.
For MPMF, Main Street was the heart of a lot of the action. Walking down the road, music bloomed out of venues from bands playing in store front taverns like Jack Potts Tavern.
Oso Bear was still finishing up their raucous punk antics when we got to Courtyard Cafe to check out Dayton’s own Astro Fang. Take one part head-thrashing metal and another part 1970′s and you’d own the band’s set that rung through the raptors of the now-defunct venue.
For a lot of people, the highlight of MPMF Thursday would have to be the electronic set from Canda’s own Holy F*ck. Here at Owl Mag, we dug their album but not nearly as much as we dug their closing set featuring just the right amount of dancing.
Friday’s lineup was one of the more exciting nights with indie rock sensations Surfer Blood, Caribou, and Fang Island playing alongside more local performances like the Seedy Seeds and Seabird.
The only free, all-ages venue in MPMF this year is Fountain Square. Friday, two of the bands featured were Lunic and Filligar. Positioned in a town-square environment right next to a large fountain, Filligar got started with their blue-tinged set. The band is a nice cross between your basic bar rock band and a larger country feeling. At one point, lead singer and guitarist Johnny jumped on to the square to dance with a group of young girls who were grooving to his set (the girls were all under the age of 5). The band was sweet and comfortable – a great start to MPMF.
Contrasting completely, Lunic next took the stage. Electric pink violins, tight stripped pants, and a sound similar to Evanescence, Lunic felt darker and heavier. Of course, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The band played through single “Ono Yoko” and ended the set with their forthcoming single. The Fountain Square location was a great starting point for the night as it was right next to the first shuttle bus to get to some of the other venues.
The Seedy Seeds finished out their set at MPMF, playing a few new tracks that the audience was excited for. They were great and a joy to see with sweet melodies.
Okay, let’s put it out there: Caribou’s glorious set started 50-something minutes late. In a festival environment where everything is timed to a T, this didn’t bode too well for anyone looking to catch jangle Drink Up Buttercup. Technical difficulties were blamed as the cause and Caribou himself was gracious and thankful for the semi-patient crowd. Paired with bright, flashing lights, the set was nothing short of amazing and well worth the wait.
Heading over to the Cincinnati Club, we were able to catch the end of the set by Secret Band Spacehog. Of course, we were then kicked out of the ballroom area so that the band could prepare for the set. While everyone was abuzz as to why this was the case, it was later rumored that it was at the band’s request that everyone leave the space so that they could prepare. The band ran through the majority of their set before allowing people back into the ballroom. Surfer Blood started late, due to numerous factors – including a line that wrapped around a few blocks! 3-day wristband holders were the only ones allowed in after awhile for the highly anticipated and filled-to-capacity set.
Mainstay Rock Bar
The Cincinnati area’s own Seabird has been featured on numerous television shows at this point. However, that didn’t keep the ensemble from rocking the humble corner bar. The midnight set was the last act of the night for many (including this writer).
The final night of the festival wrapped up with a few hot button acts like Phantogram mixed with bands with more local appeal like Josiah Wolf. Both were featured at the Know Theater, whose downstairs held a lithograph expo for the duration of the festival. One of my favorite parts of the festival, the expo featured prints from local designers like Powerhouse Designs (My favorite – spent well over $100 on them!) and prints for the show. I picked up lithographs with bands like Caribou, Nada Surf, Manchester Orchestra, Brand New, The Melvins, The Ataris, and more. What did you pick up?
One of the great things about Midpoint Music Festival is that a lot of space where you wouldn’t expect to see a live band (like a tax office) are featuring bands. Artworks is one of those spaces. The first band of my night was +/-, hailing from the New York City area. Combining rock with quality indie sound effects, the band even brought the ocean into one of their songs. Of course, the show didn’t go off without a hitch as one of the band’s guitarists popped a string at the start of the song. However, the band used the opportunity to talk to the band about MPMF. Good move, +/-! The band rounded out the set with “Blueprints,” a fan favorite.
Jack Potts Tavern
Full disclosure here: I am a huge, raging Colour Revolt fan. My first time seeing them was in 2006 with Brand New when I couldn’t have cared less who was opening for Brand New. Of course, that all changed and I fell in love with Colour Revolt. In the dozen or so plus times I’ve seen them, their lineup might have changed but their passion and quality has not. If you were not there, you easily missed the best show in all of Midpoint.
The band played fan favorites like “A New Family” while heavily focusing on newer material like “8 Years.” Even with one of the two original members of the band Shaun having the flu, the band rocked harder than you could imagine.
Another surprise of the night was Overnight, the New York region band with a Maroon 5 feeling. While the lead singer of the band may look like Neil Patrick Harris, he is not. The band felt at home on the stage and was one of the best bands of the night you probably missed. With them leading in for Elf Power and The Fairmount Girls, you would have thought the crowd would have been larger in this off-the-beaten-path venue.
The Know Theater
The Know Theater like so many other MPMF venues was running late. Josiah Wolf’s set went on almost at the time Phantogram should have been starting. However, Wolf was all star power – playing both the drums and a guitar at the same time. The local area duo was a highlight of the fest.
What were your Midpoint Music Festival favorites? Special thanks to Midpoint for letting the Owl Mag be a part of such a great festival!