MPMF SATURDAY SCHEDULE
Quick link: Mike Breen's MidPoint overview
Quick link: Thursday 9/25 band previews & critics' picks
Quick link: Friday 9/26 band previews & critics' picks
Quick link: Wristband/ticket details
Quick link: Scion Streetcar Shuttle details
Arnold’s Bar & Grill
9 p.m. Sohio (Seven Mile, Ohio)
Sohio hails from a small village in Butler County that, as of the 2000 census, boasted a population of around 700. Members of the quintet bring big talent to their small-town vibe, seemingly inspired both by their isolation and their easy access to Dayton and Cincinnati. The band manages to sound very of-the-now (you can hear some similarities to everything from the White Stripes to the Stokes), but their songs have a natural energy. The band's Money and Love album is loaded with deft, diverse Indie Rock, but these aren't some hipsters or hipster wannabes. Their music's organic energy gives it a more timeless feel.
You'll Dig It If You Dig: Bob Pollard and Jeff Tweedy talking shop with The Raconteurs. (Mike Breen)
10 p.m. Seth (Chicago)
Seth Thompson's hook-filled, Americana-leaning Rock music is enjoyable enough as it is. He's got an energetic rhythm section and a gift for grimy hooks that are more Grungy than twangy. But there's an irreverent humor in his songs that elevates them above similar material. It's in his disarming delivery and also his twisted lyrical worlds. With 10 years worth of solid material, his ability to win over an audience is unquestionable.
Dig It: The Apparitions, Drive-By Truckers, Arlo Guthrie backed by Grandaddy. (Ezra Waller)
11 p.m. Mack West (Cincinnati)
Country & Western
Like a musical Marco Polo, Zach Mechlem's style has influences from all over Eurasia. But for this project, he is focused tightly on the American West. With his unmistakable baritone voice and World Music-influenced Country & Western guitar picking, he rides with his bandmates into the dusty world of Louis L'Amour novels and Clint Eastwood flicks. It's a journey you'll want to follow them on, just for the soundtrack.
Dig It: Johnny Cash Sings Ballads of the True West, updated by Steve Earle. (EW)
12 a.m. The Jarts (Athens, Ohio)
When you put a cello in a band, you'd better come with you're A-material, because that big-ass fiddle is going to make the weak songs squeal like a pig. The Jarts don't have that particular problem. Their songs are top notch and Ashley Ford's cello makes a lovely counterpoint to Troy Gregorino's plaintive guitar and vocals, making the Jarts distinctive and wonderful.
Dig It: Arlo Guthrie and Paul Westerberg fingerpainting with Wilco. (Brian Baker)
Aronoff Fifth Third Bank Theater
9 p.m. Critic's Pick: The Mocks (Monterrey, Mexico)
Ely Mock and her laptop-toting partner, the B, were content to be little more than an Internet presence after forming their electronic duo, The Mocks, two years ago. Eventually, their fan base persuaded them to take their Disco/Techno/Pop hybrid to Monterrey stages last year, leading to packed dance floors, sensational notices and their downloadable new EP, M Is Correct.
Dig It: The Pet Shop Boys collaborating with Bjork on the soundtrack to a darkly happy robot movie. (BB)
10 p.m. Critic's Pick: Wussy (Cincinnati)
Sheets of rootsy shoegaze guitar, drums of tribal insistence, percussion that lands like crystal hail, voices that laugh and tremble and soar and crash (sometimes all at once), songs that survey the rugged terrain of modern relationships and drill straight into the heart of the matter, drawing blood without flinching. When we see God, we really must thank Him for Wussy.
Dig It: The Jesus and Mary Chain and Yo La Tengo re-enact the gunfight at the You're-OK-I'm-OK Corral. (BB)
11 p.m. Critic's Pick: Headlights (Champaign, Ill.)
One undermentioned perk of the wider availably of affordable recording technology is that artists no longer have to curtail their sessions to the whims (and rates) of a studio owner. Suddenly, when it doesn't cost you $2,000, spending a day recording a cowbell run through a distortion pedal doesn't sound so daunting. For their second album, the Illinois trio recorded in a farmhouse at their own pace, resulting in the graceful, natural and shimmeringly gorgeous Pop gem, Some Racing, Some Stopping. They somehow mix an enchanting, ethereal vocal glaze (the streaking harmonies are especially delicious) perfectly with a more direct, almost folksy Indie Rock undercurrent.
Dig It: Tahiti 80, Silversun Pickups acoustic, Lush going unplugged but losing none of the atmospherics. (MB)
Below Zero Lounge (Upstairs)
8:30 p.m. Critic's Pick: The Host (Cincinnati)
Anything that rises from the ashes of former local progressive bands Levelnine and Dropshadow is cause for major anticipation. For fans of heavy Progressive Rock, The Host's debut two years ago shattered expectations and replaced them with fanatical devotion. The twin EPs they've released are packed with more Bohemian Alt-Metal than one band should be allowed to write. All this plus they don't get sucked into self-absorbed artistic exponents or vocal calisthenics. Just pure Rock goodness.
Dig It: The most beautiful moments from Tool and The Mars Volta's catalogs. (EW)
9:30 p.m. The Matt Truman Ego Trip (Bowling Green, Ohio)
From their name to their outrageous stage antics to their frenetic songcraft, there;s nothing remotely serious about the Matt Truman Ego Trip, even when they combine Marc Bolan and Another Green World-era Brian Eno on "Cowboy and the Dinosaur" or out-Stones the Garage-era Stones on "Industry Standard," featuring the irresistible line, "The record company buys my cocaine." If the Matt Truman Ego Trip gets any better than this, they'll require their own planet ... and deserve it.
Dig It: The Stooges doing a tribute to The Rolling Stones doing a tribute to the New York Dolls doing a tribute to The Stooges. (BB)
10:30 p.m. Critic's Pick: Love In October (Minneapolis)
Imagine if Hellacopters had arrived 10 years later and started worshipping Superchunk instead of Grand Funk. Swedish immigrants Erik and Kent Widman formed Love in October in mid 2006 and immediately started attracting attention. CMJ, Spin and Paste were tripping over themselves to praise the band's ability to craft instantly memorable tracks while not sounding like a copycat of anyone. Their expansive Power Pop goes further into Emo Punk and Post Rock territory than most dare and the three-minute, Moog-drenched treasures they come back with all sparkle like diamonds. The Widmans are also amateur filmmakers, and they've made three music videos full of cut-out animations, period costumes and circular plots so fun you'll swear they've kidnapped Terry Gilliam.
Dig It: Motion City Soundtrack, Hot Water Music, Alkaline Trio. (EW)
11:30 p.m. entheos (Cincinnati)
Carl and Alison Shepard grew up with each other, both literally and in terms of their musical and artistic development. Sang together as kids; joined a cover band together; started doing the acoustic coffeeshop thing; decided to add electronic sounds to the songs; built the band into a powerful live force (with assistance from a tight drummer, Justin Webb) and released a strong first EP (with another release on its way). That's pretty much how the story goes for this dreamy, airy Pop brother/sister duo so far. Hopefully, the evolution of entheos is far from ending anytime soon.
Dig It: If the Eurythmics came out in 2001 instead of 1981. (MB)
Blue Wisp Jazz Club
8 p.m. Bill Kurzenberger (Columbus, Ohio)
All props to James Brown, but Bill Kurzenberger may be the hardest working living man in show business. The Columbus keyboardist/guitarist/singer/songwriter plays with five bands (Stone Groove, the Bug Hounds, John Mullins Band, the Resonators, Marshmallow Overcoat), records with a couple others and maintains a burgeoning solo career. No cape, no entourage, but Kurzenberger will work you into a cold sweat nonetheless.
Dig It: Bob Dylan and the Dead grooving to a Blues/Funk soundtrack on Casey Jones' train pulling into Maggie's Farm. (BB)
9 p.m. iolite (Cincinnati)
This superb local group's MySpace page simply calls them "Neo-Soul." Bad MySpace page! While that description is fitting, you could alternately call iolite a Jazz band or a Reggae crew. Lead singer Annie Benick has the kind of voice you build a band around and that appears to be just what happened. Veteran local music folks like Lucky Spaulding, Mark Santangelo and Ashley Martin have lent a hand, but its clearly Bernick and co-writer Julia Johanan's own sweet Soul revue. Come to think of it, Neo-Soul works. Sorry, MySpace.
Dig It: Jill Scott doing a Jazz album, Billie Holiday sneaking some Bob Marley into her set. How? Time travel or some shit. (MB)
10 p.m. SOUSE (Cincinnati)
The release of last year's Push was a culmination for SOUSE in many ways. Most of these artists have been playing together in some form for a decade. After several years of developing their groove-centric Fusion style in this outfit, they are clearly at an artistic peak. Further, it's understood that improvised songs have arc that depends on how long you've been playing them, and all of these tunes sound like they were harvested at their apex.
Dig It: Herbie Hancock's Head Hunters, Jazz Crusaders, Chick Corea's exuberance crossed with Al DiMeola's restraint. (EW)
11 p.m. Dan Karlsberg Group (Cincinnati)
From his photos, Dan Karlsberg looks like he's one gnarly beard away from being an Indie Rock hipster. Don't be fooled. Dan's one of the more accomplished Jazz pianists in the city, playing gigs with a wide array of local Jazz vets. When he found some time to record his own group, The Adventures of the Dan Karlsberg Group CD proved to be a calling card even the most seasoned player would envy. Besides showcasing his hypnotic style of playing -- which leans like Monk and swings and sways like Bill Evans, often exploding with jaw-drop energy -- the album showed that the pianist's abilities as a bandleader, arranger and composer were on par with his fingerwork.
Dig It: Thelonious Monk's slanted, impulsive playing style, traditional Jazz that doesn't sound constrained. (MB)
Buddakhan's Classic Rock Cafe
9 p.m. Critic's Pick: CHETT (Rockford, Ill.)
The fact that most people will associate their name with Wyatt's older brother from Weird Science actually works for this band. Like Bill Paxton's classic character, they're imposing, provocative and when they show up you know some shit is about to go down. Squealing guitar leads and searing riffs are layered over pounding and stuttering drums while singer Luke Lefevre drills emotive lyrics into your psyche with unassuming power and impressive range. It's no surprise that a handful of tracks from their two full-length studio albums, 2004's Weary Path and 2006's The Swell, have found their way into a movie soundtrack and the background of an MTV reality show. A new album is in the works, so expect to hear more from them, unless Kelly LeBrock turns them into a pile a crap.
Dig It: Circa Survive, At the Drive-In, ...Trail of Dead. (EW)
10 p.m. Kadro (Detroit)
Though buried by the shadow of "Garage Rock," Detroit has also been home to a pretty vibrant Power Pop scene over the past decade (witness Brandon Benson and do yourself a favor and search out the Atomic Numbers). The trio Kadro makes a Garage Pop racket that is the best of both worlds and has a nice dosage of jittery, nervous Punk Rock just to keep you on your toes. The band's most recent release is 2007's Life of Luxury.
Dig It: Burning Brides, Nrivana, STP in the garage and minus the egos
11 p.m. Critic's Pick: Bamboo Needle (Evansville, Ind.)
For you bargain hunters out there, Bamboo Needle is like two great bands in one. They're not just a hauntingly beautiful AltPop outfit with a gift for painting minimalist ambient soundscapes (and even some Electronica thrown in to spice things up). They also a Heavy Rock juggernaut with Progressive tendencies that sound like they were born to shake arenas. The trio formed at the beginning of 2007 with a goal to make more expressive music but also remain accessible. Previews from their yet-to-be-released debut indicate they are hitting the mark. It remains to be seen whether they will retain their musical split personalities or evolve in one direction or the other.
Dig It: Starsailor, A Perfect Circle, Muse. (EW)
12 a.m. The Banana Convention (Saginaw, Mich.)
At any high school battle of the band contest (I've been to too many), you'll find your expected sound-of-the-moment bands, but inevitably a group of kids takes the stage (kids you know are all class clowns) and plays some weird carnival music with surrealistic lyrics about Star Wars. The smiles don't leave their faces (to be fair, they're probably all stoned) and, almost every time, they end up being the highlight of the night. The Banana Convention is that band all grown up. And I love them for it.
Dig It: No Doubt: The Early Years, mixed with liberal amounts of Steve Martin albums and ... a banana, of course. (MB)
9 p.m. Critic's Pick: Pale Hollow (Cleveland)
Close your eyes when you listen to Pale Hollow and you'll swear you're knee deep in warm beer in the English countryside. Frontman Michael Allens vocals rasp like vintage Robert Pollard and Richard Ashcroft, and his musical output is equal parts Pop classicism and Indie Rock energy, which comes out sounding like something you remember hearing yesterday or 30 years ago, wherever your point of reference falls. Pale Hollow's 2007 self-titled debut CD is a marvel of atmosphere and substance, with wisps of Nick Drake and Gram Parsons drifting through the brilliant Brit-Pop sheen that Allen and Detroit producer Al Sutton crafted and executed. See Pale Hollow at MidPoint and understand what Dayton audiences must have experienced the first time they witnessed the minor grandeur of GBV in a basement club in the mid-'80s.
Dig It: Guided by Voices guided by The Byrds, The Verve swerved by The Kinks. (BB)
10:30 p.m. The Framework (Toronto)
If you were asked from where this dazzling Glam/Indie/Electro band hailed and you didn't say, "England?," I'd seriously question your musical knowledge. But this ain't BritPop, it's, uh, NadaPop from the Great White North. And it's smashing. With prominent electronic elements, The Framework sways like Suede lost in the Disco. Hooks abound and soar, while the band shifts from dancey beats to driving Indie grooves with a swaggering, sublime elegance.
Dig It: Ladytron meets The Bravery at a Smiths convention in Madchester. (MB)
12 a.m. Critic's Pick: Flow (Israel)
Dramatic, passionate and expansive like U2's early albums, the majesty of Flow is somehow both epic and humble, delivered with an almost religious fervor. The band cites Porcupine Tree as a major influence and that's evident in the non-traditional song structures. Flow is aptly named, though; their version of Prog feels like an open fire hydrant of emotions and musical ideas. Unlike some Prog, Flow's integration of it is less like a math project and more like a rush of blood to the head.
Dig It: U2, Incubus, Coldplay. (MB)
8:45 p.m. Greg Mahan (Cincinnati)
Greg Mahan did so well with his self-titled debut in 2000, including great reviews, local airplay and three CEA nominations, that he didn't feel any pressure to follow it up. Eight years later, Thirty-Five-Cent Daydream is proof that anything worth having is worth waiting for. With production by the hypertalented Brian Lovely, Mahan's sophomore album is a Folk-tinted singer/songwriter tribute to Rubber Soul and a thing of simple beauty.
Dig It: James Taylor's baroque Pop basement jam with Randy Newman and Van Dyke Parks. (BB)
9:30 p.m. Andy Brasher (Owensboro, Ky.)
Famous people from Owensboro include Johnny Depp, Nine Pound Hammer and Forence Henderson. And, if there's a market for soul-burning, heart-pouring Folk Rock songs (and I think there is), Andy Brasher, at least at some point, could be in the on-deck circle. Bred on a steady diet of everything from Merle Haggard to Alice in Chains, Brasher's music most resembles his influence in his honest, kinetic style. His voice drips with sadness and determination and he writes some incredibly grabbing hooks to seal the deal.
Dig It: non-filtered emotions, Damien Jurado goes Country, The Light Wires. (MB)
10:15 p.m. Ali Edwards (Cincinnati)
There's no fancy studio tricks on the latest recordings by Ali Edwards. There's not much of anything really. Nothing but her mesmerizing voice, some light acoustic guitar planks and the occasional infusion of drums and other airy sounds. The sparseness and Edwards' voice -- a versatile instrument she has experimented with to the fullest -- combine to create a chilling effect, almost ghostly but also intriguing and engaging. She's apparently going under the name Mid May West now, but the name doesn't really matter. Edwards has consistently made uniquely compelling music in this city for over a decade.
Dig It: Antony and the Johnsons, Lisa Germano, a sedated Bjork. (MB)
11 p.m. Mike Reeb (Chicago)
This Chicagoland singer/songwriter paid his dues in a popular local band, Seventy Two Others. After the split, Reeb carried on solo with his 2006 debut and a more recent live release. Citing influences like John Steinbeck and Wilco, Reeb's rootsy sound has already earned him comparisons to Springsteen and Dylan. Not yet, but there's a lot of talent in this emerging songwriter.
Dig It: Pedro the Lion, Steve Earle, Damien Jurado. (MB)
9 p.m. The Electric Souls (Cincinnati)
The influences that the Electric Souls claim read like the vinyl collection of a brilliant stoner with impeccable taste in the acid-etched Classic Rock of the '70s and the subsequently influenced next-generation purveyors of the '90s and '00s. (Why, yes, that is my collection ... thank you for noticing.) The Electric Souls channel the purest intentions from their earliest influences and infuse them with the Garage-fueled power of now.
Dig It: Ten Years After playing mumblypeg with Eric Burdon at the Woodstock Museum while the ghosts of Robert Johnson and Jimi Hendrix take side bets. (BB)
10 p.m. The Harlequins (Cincinnati)
With a solid, swoony rhythm section -- which helps create the crest and fall of this band's simple yet effective soundscapes -- and a vocal crooner who crafts swaying, mesmerizing melodies, The Harlequins have become one of the more intriguing new bands in Cincinnati's Indie scene. There is an unforced shimmer to the band's unique glide.
Dig It: The Dears, The Smiths, Doves. (MB)
11 p.m. Cinema, Cinema (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
You can hear the yearning and hunger even in this band's recorded works. Instruments are punished, not played. Vocals are howled, not sung. Even in their more mellow moments, the rising tension is palpable. When they erupt, it's not the straight-to-the-gut riffs and crashing rhythms that you notice so much as the raw catharsis. Reviews of their live shows tell of blood-stained guitars and pummeled drums.
Dig It: Yield-era Pearl Jam, Pablo Honey-era Radiohead, MC5. (EW)
12 a.m. Critic's Pick: The Lions Rampant (Burlington, Ky.)
The Lions Rampant play loud enough to sand the rust off the gardening tools in their Rock & Roll garage, but they also play with the heartfelt Soul that embodied the earliest Rock of the '60s. The Northern Kentucky quartet's wild Rock abandon is perfectly offset by their tight-as-a-flea's-nuts arrangements, and their songs are as timeless as their influences.
Dig It: The Kinks, the Pretty Things and the Standells earning extra money to expand their garages, even though they don't have cars. (BB)
Inner Peace Center Stage
8 p.m. Al Hidalgo (Dayton)
This troubadour's well-crafted tunes are uplifting whether they're soothing or rocking you. It's a touch too edgy for the Adult Contemporary label, but mom wouldn't mind 2004's Cusp on her iPod. Hidalgo keeps busy as a visual and commercial artist also, but there are some new demos at his Web site. They're a bit more melancholy than the EP but still inspiring.
Dig It: Matthew Wilder (the "Break My Stride" guy), John Lennon, Matthew Sweet. (EW)
9 p.m. Critic's Pick: Kim Taylor (Cincinnati)
Kim Taylor is grace and elegance and intuition and heartache and love and beauty and hope and strength and hesitance and wonder. It's all there within her music, because it's all there within her and it can't help but come out. And that's just her studio work. When she puts it together on stage, it's almost too strong a drug to be taken in such a massive dose. Kim Taylor's music goes in your ears, settles in your brain, is distributed to the rest of your body and your cells just seem to divide differently after that. You can't really ask much more of music than that, can you?
Dig It: Emmylou Harris does her Master's thesis on Over the Rhine. (BB)
10 p.m. mallory (Cincinnati)
Mallory is a sleeping giant. They were the toast of the town five years ago with their adventurous, psychedelic Post-Rock and painfully great live performances. Since then they've slumbered for years at a time. The occasional show has revealed smatterings of hopeful new material, enough to let you know the behemoth isn't dead. But all the villagers know that when mallory wakes up for real they'll be hungry and will eat your children.
Dig It: Saucerful of Secrets-era Pink Floyd meets the Boredoms (or Explosions in the Sky, depending on their mood). (EW)
11 p.m. Critic's Pick: Paper Airplane (Columbus)
With an incredibly sound grasp on classic Pop mastery, Paper Airplane is making some of the best Power Pop/Indie Pop in Ohio right now. While obviously schooled in the Beatles' school of resplendent melodies and song structures, their sound is anything but obvious. Hooks cascade throughout the incredibly crafty, wildly colorful songs that pervade Middlemarch, their ace 2007 release.
Dig It: ELO, Beulah, Flaming Lips. (MB)
8:30 p.m. Wonky Tonk (Fort Thomas, Ky.)
Wonky Tonk makes sweetly naive Folk music that has the off kilter lilt of Bjork raised in the Midwest and brought up on Woody Guthrie songs. She says she sounds like "Janis Joplin buying Dylan at Walgreens." That could be every bit as right. See Wonky Tonk warbling with her acoustic guitar and make up your own mind.
Dig It: Scout Niblett translating Melanie's catalog as Dust Bowl Folk songs. (BB)
9:30 p.m. Chad Mills (Indianapolis)
Also a studio engineer, Chad Mills found himself being more drawn to the writing and performing side of music, culminating in a first show (coincidentally here in Cincinnati). That first show hooked him and he's been writing, performing and recording (so far, five self-released discs) ever since. VH-1 programmers would eat this shit up.
Dig It: David Gray, Damien Rice, Ray LaMontagne. (MB)
10:30 p.m. Toads and Mice (Dayton)
Post Punk/Art Rock
True to form, Toads and Mice conform to the Dayton music model by being completely impossible to classify. From a trunk of Post Punk, Toads and Mice branches off in a dozen different directions, from Jazz to Afro-Beat to Math Rock to Prog to Art Rock and an equal number of hybrids of any two or more along the way.
Dig It: Jesus Lizard plays Trout Mask Replica backward and King Crimson sideways. (BB)
11:30 p.m. 40 East (Cincinnati)
Smoky like a bar (uh, when you could smoke in bars), swaggering like The Replacements and blustery as the best modern Roots Rock, 40 East makes sophisticated, epxansive heartland Rock that is humble and pure, but also creative and poetic. The band's Fall in Love ... or Fall Apart CD gave a brief taste of 40 East's enticing sound; hopefully more is on its way soon.
Dig It: Ryan Adams, Limbeck, early Wilco. (MB)
Know Theater Downstairs
8:30 p.m. The Payola Reserve (Baltimore)
If the Byrds wouldn't have totally shed their earlier Brit Pop fixation when they dove headlong into Country and Folk Rock, they might've sounded like this critically-acclaimed Roots Pop band. The Payola Reserve make Country Rock infused with a strong Pop sense and an almost R&B-ish swagger, like The Stones excursions into rootsy American forms of music.
Dig It: The Thrills, The Byrds, Gram Parsons. (MB)
9:30 p.m. The Koala Fires (Cincinnati)
Inspired by the glory days of American Indie Rock as it first blossomed, the Koala Fires' great melodies, slanted and enchanted arrangements and instrumental quirks make them appealing even if you weren't born until 10 years after You're Living All Over Me was. The band's first CD, Sleep Tight, Lucky Grills, was released earlier this year.
Dig It: The Pixies, Weezer, early Squeeze. (MB)
10:30 p.m. Critic's Pick: William Sides Atari Party (Chicago)
Williams Sides is one-man-band that uses only the same 8 Bit sounds that soundtracked your youth ... if you spent your youth tied to a videogame console. That's the "Atari" part of his performing moniker. There is actually a fairly big video game music scene, full of composers who bend those blippy tones to create their own versions of Techno, Electro and other electronic music forms. It's surprisingly entertaining, kinda like Pac Man.
Dig It: Speak and Spell gone mad, Mario Brothers running a mescaline racket. (MB)
Know Theater Main Stage
9 p.m. Yoshi (Ypsilanti, Mich.)
Usher and Kanye West have clearly dominated the market on finding the common intersection of Hip Hop and R&B, but they'd better make room on that corner for Yoshi. The rising Michigan star is a stone's throw from Detroit and not much further from the elusive big time, based on last year's smooth Headknod Oddyssey.
Dig It: L.L. Cool J.'s Rap grooves, Usher's R&B moves. (BB)
10 p.m. Critic's Pick: God Made Me Funky (Toronto)
Bands with this much Soul shouldn't exist north of the Mason-Dixon line, but somehow out of the Great White North comes one of the best multifaceted Funk crews working today. Kicking out everything from classic R&B, Disco beats and rapid-fire rhymes to slow jams, they are the Hip-Hop equivalent of a Swiss Army knife. Beginning in 1996 as a straight up party band, they evolved into a brilliant homage to the last 40 years of Soul music. This culminated in a self-titled 2005 album that put them on the music map. They followed up with We Can All Be Free a year later, spawning some radio hits and garnering a Juno nomination. This year's Enter the Beat is completely off the hook. The title cut should make them mega-stars.
Dig It: Outkast, Gorillaz, Black-Eyed Peas. (EW)
12 a.m. Critic's Pick: Scion Secret Show
The secret performer is ... aw, heck, we'd have our collective nuts cut off if we told you. We will tell you this: You really, really should be there. The show is open to three-day wristband holders only. This set alone would be worth the wristband price.
9 p.m. Critic's Pick: 500 Miles to Memphis (Cincinnati)
Ryan Mallot has always had a razor sharp vision of what he wanted from 500 Miles to Memphis. Blending the cry-in-your-beer heart of Country with the broken-glass-in-your-beer fist of Punk, Mallot and 500 Miles to Memphis have succeeded in crafting the rare musical hybrid that stays true to two genres simultaneously. If there's any justice in the world, 500MtMs thoughtfully swaggering debut, Sunshine in a Shot Glass, is just the beginning of a long, raucous career.
Dig It: John Doe disguising the Replacements in Nudie suits to sneak them into the Grand Ol' Opry. (BB)
10 p.m. Ha Ha Tonka (Springfield, Mo.)
Although the band's been around for nearly five years, it's been Ha Ha Tonka for just a little over a year (they were Amsterband before that), having changed their name just prior to releasing their debut for Bloodshot Records, the well-received Buckle in the Bible Belt. Blending the Bluegrass tradition of their Ozark heritage with the Indie Rock energy of their youth, Ha Ha Tonka kicks up a mighty electrical storm with a dusty Americana edge.
Dig It: The Replacements and Bottle Rockets tribute Uncle Tupelo, plugged and unplugged simultaneously. (BB)
11 p.m. Critic's Pick: Backyard Tire Fire (Bloomington, Ill.)
On their last album, the universally praised Vagabonds and Hooligans, Ed Anderson and Backyard Tire Fire shambled and howled like Jeff Tweedy fronting Crazy Horse at their visceral best. On their debut for Hyena Records, The Places We Lived, BTF offers a kinder, gentler spin on that idea, like Randy Newman and Van Dyke Parks had been charged with assembling the asylum's orchestra.
Dig It: Wilco, Crazy Horse and Randy Newman riding the Tilt-a-Whirl being run by Tonio K (bonus points if you even know who he is). (BB)
New Stage Collective
8 pm. Patrick Ewing and the Crick Gypsies (Cincinnati)
Veteran local singer/songwriter Patrick Ewing recently released the six-track EP titled After This Cigarette, a great representation of his full potential, fleshing out his soulful Americana with many guest artists. Ewing's tales of everyday madness are sung in his casual yet emotive vocals and theres a sadness in Ewing's voice, which befits these songs of searching and worry. Perhaps it's just the bluesman in him creeping out. For his MidPoint showcase, Ewing will be joined by his backing band, the Crick Gypsies.
Dig It: Tom Rush, Guy Clark, Robert Earl Keen. (MB)
9 p.m. Critic's Pick: Jeff Scott Roberson (Cincinnati)
Roberson has been making solid, meaningful Country/Folk music around these parts for well over two decades. A respectable legacy on its own, but with the release of Summer's Here earlier this year he's truly transcended. Every song on the lushly produced album haunts you without asking permission or forgiveness, and challenges you to decide whether you will draw the shades and curse the light or embrace the season's warmth.
Dig It: Townes Van Zandt's High Low & In Between, John Prine's Bruised Orange, Dylan's Blood on the Tracks. (EW)
10 p.m. Death of Jason Brody (New York City)
When singer/songwriter Jason Brody decided to shelve his solo career three years ago, he sealed the deal by naming his newly minted quartet The Death of Jason Brody. Retaining his signature lyrical introspection and melancholy, Brody and his Death (since pared to a trio) amped up the proceedings with an ear for like-minded Pop melodicism and Indie Rock grit on their well-received eponymous 2006 debut EP.
Dig It: Jason Falkner jackslaps Chris Martin for the right to enter Coldplay in the Doves' talent contest. (BB)
11 p.m. Critic's Pick: The Faux Frenchmen (Cincinnati)
Pop genius Brian Lovely, Roots maven George Cunningham, preeminent Jazz bassist Don Aren and peerless CSO violinist Paul Patterson all pretty much abandon everything they do regularly to make a gorgeous Gypsy Jazz noise here with the Faux Frenchmen. The quartet swings like crazy, mixing Django Reinhardt Jazz classicism with Raymond Scott whimsy to create a sound that can only be described as serious fun. The band just released its second CD, Oblivion, another mix of Pop and Jazz standards plus some excellent originals.
Dig It: The Squirrel Nut Zippers with a bigger Jazz obsession, Gogol Bordello unplugged with Django Reinhardt up front. (BB)
12 a.m. Critic's Pick: Girls Guns and Glory (Boston)
Girls Guns and Glory have mimed the timeless intersection between the Country-derived Rock of the '50s and the Americana/Roots hybrids of the past two decades and struck gold. GG&G's not so secret weapon is frontman Ward Hayden, whose mellow croon provides the band's smooth, soulful identity.
Dig It: Chris Isaak and Buck Owens shoot out the lights at the corner honky tonk. (BB)
Southgate House Ballroom
9 p.m. The Fairmount Girls (Cincinnati)
Our beloved Girls have been around in one form or another for the past dozen years, but clearly their new lineup (founding members Melissa Fairmount and Dana Hamblen with guitarists Pat Hennessey and Randy Cheek and bassist Beth Cheek) is the best batch yet. Evidence is all over the quintet's new album Forever, the Fairmounts' first in seven years, where they rattle windows with an undeniably catchy New Wave/Classic Pop vibe that builds on their early Pixies/Breeders bluster.
Dig It: Chrissie Hynde reviving Beatlemania with a visceral vengeance. (BB)
10 p.m. Critic's Pick: Mates of State (Stanford, Conn.)
Rare is the couple that can work and live together, but for nearly a dozen years keyboardist Kori Gardner and drummer Jason Hammel have combined their personal and musical relationships in their unconventional duo, Mates of State. Gardner and Hammel have bravely examined the dark recesses of love, framing their often unsettling lyrics in sweetly unassuming melodies, and in the process managed to keep their output fresh and unrepeated. On their latest, Re-Arrange Us, MOS seem to be channeling the edgy Pop brilliance of Carl Newman and Neko Case, crafting a quasi-baroque Pop masterpiece that somehow outporns the New Pornographers. Mates of State could very well turn into one of Midpoint's most surprising appearances.
Dig It: Brian Eno and Cindy Wilson make a tribute to Perry Farrell and the Beach Boys (and now the New Pornographers). (BB)
The Subway Bar and Lounge
8 p.m. The Excitement (Cincinnati)
One guy, a drum machine, a keyboard and a minidisc recorder. Could it be the next LCD Soundsystem? Not on your fucking life. With songs about hating cheerleaders, loving cats, creepy forest sprites and bad sportsmanship, Nick Morriston's game is performance art and he gets to make all the rules. It's the musical equivalent of coloring outside the lines while running with scissors. Check out this freak of nature before visiting hours are over.
Dig It: Wesley Willis, They Might Be Giants atoning for the kids' music with an EP of vulgarity. (EW)
9 p.m. Diet Audio (Cincinnati)
Diet Audio conveys a sense of mystery and romance in their moody blend of electronic sounds and standard Rock band bass/drums/guitar. The band's debut CD, Ecrasez L' Infame, recalls the 4AD-era of ethereal ElectroPop, but DA aren't untethered, floating in space. Amongst the atmospherics, there's a grounding there, particularly in singer Amy Whitaker's compelling voice and the band's power and precision. A second album is said to be in the works.
Dig It: Ladytron in chill mode, M83, Ivy. (MB)
10 p.m. Umbrella Tree (Nashville)
Experimental Indie Rock
If you see Nashville and think big hat Country music, Umbrella Tree is here to screw with your head. They call it Bohemian Bookworm Prog-Pop ... imagine the Danny Elfman/Tom Waits/Boz Scaggs soundtrack to the Tim Burton bio of Edgar Allen Poe, and then imagine it a lot weirder than that.
Dig It: All of the above with Ambient, Blues and Disco breaks. (BB)
11 p.m. Critic's Pick: The Sundresses (Cincinnati)
Alternative Blues/Swing Punk
Shit, has it really been six years since The Sundresses erupted all over the Cincinnati scene? In that time, the trio has amassed some impressive stats, including four consecutive SXSW appearances (their first in 2004 was only their ninth out-of-town show) and a ton quarter of wildly successful opening gigs and tours. Finally, finally, their latest CD Barkinghaus is out, and it's a howling mad thing of dark beauty.
Dig It: Hank Williams haunting Nick Cave until his walls bleed whiskey and blood. (BB)
12 a.m. Critic's Pick: Captain of Industry (Dayton)
Charting a slightly new course on their latest disc, The Bronze, this venerable Post Rock outfits experiments have taken on a darker, more brooding vibe. The addition of an extra guitar player has made their sound more full and rhythmic as well as less whimsical. Nathan Peters is still in the role of ringmaster with his keys and wry lyrics, and all the quirkiness and exuberance you love COI for remains intact, but with less Modest Mouse influence and more King Crimson. For my money, this is the band's best effort yet, and as long as they're still carrying the Brainiac torch anything they do is solid gold.
Dig It: Skeleton Key, Spacehog, a Pixies tribute to Soft Machine. (EW)