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Music: Cincinnati Gets the 'Point

Cincinnatians (and outsiders) made the 2003 MidPoint Music Festival a fully-realized success

By CityBeat Staff · October 1st, 2003 · Music
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  Ruby Vileos singer/guitarist Ali Edwards delivers another stellar performance at Plush, one of 15 venues taking part in the year's MidPoint Music Festival.
Jeanine Boutiere

Ruby Vileos singer/guitarist Ali Edwards delivers another stellar performance at Plush, one of 15 venues taking part in the year's MidPoint Music Festival.



When the MidPoint Music Festival debuted in September of 2002, even some of the local "scenesters" who should have gotten it right away seemed to harbor apprehension and distrust.

It's a predictable Cincinnati trait when it comes to new things: "Show me what you got first." Though clearly not everyone overcame their trepidation, the packed showcases that filled the clubs of the Main Street Entertainment District (and the packed industry panel discussions/schooling) showed that the non-believers' presence wasn't missed.

You can't please everyone, of course (trust us, we know). But judging by the infectious grins of club-hoppers at the MPMF venues from Sept. 25 until the wee hours of Sept. 27, you can bring a lot of joy to those interested in hearing good, original music, local or otherwise. No, not every artist who played was lights-out phenomenal -- a few acts made you wonder what the selection committee members were smoking when they were choosing the performers. But the good easily outweighed the "suck" factor.

Particularly on the weekend nights, most clubs stayed at capacity (estimates put attendance at over 25,000). Jefferson Hall, which expanded its host duties to the full three nights this year, had a line out the door Saturday night and stopped letting people in by the time local trio Promenade played (word is even a certain local Rock celebrity from a certain local radio juggernaut was denied entrance). The "ease of use" issue was a huge factor in the astonishing attendance figures: While last year's festival extended to clubs in Northern Kentucky, this year's event stuck to about a five-block stretch of downtown Cincinnati.

"Most industry folks commented that many of the larger festivals are becoming frustrating," says fest co-founder Sean Rhiney, who agreed that the Main Street focus was vital to this year's success. "Nightly cab bills are $50 (to) $75 just to get around, and you miss so much great music in transit."

The organizers did a noble job of addressing other "problems" from last year, but, again in typical "Cincy style," the moaners pissed on the extended olive branch in many cases. An off-the-beaten-path, all-ages tent, set up after cries over a shortage of non-bar venues last year, was woefully underattended, despite hosting a few of the best acts of the weekend, including Columbus Post Punk wonders, Denovo (who brilliantly rewired Peter Gabriel's "Digging In the Dirt" to great effect), and locally-based rising stars, Denial.

"You live and learn," Rhiney says of the all-ages tent, which was also marred by sound difficulties. "It's part of the growing process. We'll continue to take risks each year for the good of the festival and the attendees and fans who make the trip. I did get some great feedback from one of my panelists, (national band manager) Michael Creamer, who suggested keeping the (all-ages) concept, but putting it out on Main Street right in the thick of things. We'll see."

A few Blues acts meshed very well with the Roots Rock bills, but most local Metal fans failed to show up to see any of the solid Hard Rock bands playing the Cavern on Thursday night. Always a work in progress, it can be hoped the outreach to scenes beyond the worlds of Rock, Pop Rock, Alternative and Roots Rock (or "Bar-Rock," as some of the kids call it) won't be stymied by the lack of goodwill reciprocity.

On a positive note, in terms of diversity, MPMF newcomers Shaker's In Town (at the southernmost tip of the showcase strip) hosted a well-attended Soul/Rock/Blues/Funk showcase on Saturday. New York's swampbytche! played a rousing, booty-movin' set of deft and dynamic Neo-Soul-meets-Rock songs, while funky local newcomers Derrick Sanderson's Soul Expression provided a velvet-smooth slice of transcendent old-school R&B. Both acts were musical highlights of the weekend and played to an impressively diverse audience.

While Main Street still reeked of the problems that keep people from going Downtown these days (glad to see those new panhandling laws have been so effective -- why have them if you don't enforce them?), it was awe-inspiring to see the flux of people roaming the streets, dance-club revelers and original music seekers alike. Even surrounding businesses felt the love -- Arnold's restaurant was reportedly filled to the brim ... and that hot dog cart guy on Main seemed to pulling in a small mint. Downtown hasn't been so alive in ages. Maybe the post-riot burden is finally (and rightfully) a thing of the past.

CityBeat once again dispatched an army of photographers and writers to cover the MidPoint festivities. With music hangovers and this momentous local event's triumphant glow still swimming in their heads, here's what they reported back.

Thursday, Sept. 25
· The night's intended opening act at Plush, Portland group The Prids, must have read that all young Cincinnatians want to move to Portland, so they stayed there, waiting for us to come to them. But we didn't. We went to Plush to see three other bands. And we were far from disappointed.

Cincinnati's own The Green Room opened things up. Their lead singer and bassist, Christopher Glandorf, had a sprained wrist, but played a great set anyway. The Green Room recently retooled their sound, and it showed Thursday night. They played one of their strongest sets ever, aided by Fredrix Michaux's skillful guitar playing. If you haven't caught them in a while (they've been around in various incarnations since 1993), you should certainly give them another listen. Their stylish, moody BritPop is a great refuge whenever you're a bit bored with noisy American Garage Rock.

The 11 p.m. slot was filled, expanded and then exploded by Detroit indie rockers Jettison Red. Man, oh man! Every time they come through this city they leave a trail of ringing ears and new fans behind them. If Plush had a front door, it would've been blown off. This band is always a must-see for their phenomenal drummer Nicky Styxx, but on this night the boys of JR demonstrated that they do in fact have the goods to keep up with her. The guitar work (or should I say "feedback art"?) of Chris Wujek is what Rock & Roll is all about -- raw, loud, powerful and with energy to spare. And the new material they brought (in addition to favorites like "5:20") was a clear indication that they'll just keep getting better and better. Now, if we could just get them to move to Cincinnati ...

A local favorite, Ruby Vileos, closed out the night. Ali Edwards' vocals were as hauntingly beautiful as ever. And you just don't get a stronger backing band than Bill Alletzhauser, Victor Strunk and Todd Drake. A venue like Plush was made for them -- the dreamy ambiance of their music is well suited to the velvet and crystal decor. Seeing them there was like taking a walk through an enchanted forest -- only this was MPMF, so the unicorns were all drunk and wearing Woos buttons. Either way, it was a great set.

By the end of the night, the buzz phrase was "Prids who?" (Ericka McIntyre)

· I arrive fresh in the Crowne Point lobby about 10 a.m. In what would tomorrow turn into the panelists' Green Room, goodie bag stuffing has begun. Jen Johns and I devise a system for stuffing bags that is elegant in its simplicity. Doug Perry of The Doug Perry Ensemble is the first to register at noon. Throughout the day, Eric Diedrichs, Jody Stapleton, the bands Pinki Mojo (from Akron), MINK (from Tennessee) and Hoodwink all stop by. Kenny Camancho registers and the ladies go wild. I say to MPMF volunteer Stacy, "Why don't you moan a little louder, I don't think Kenny heard you," because she'd been sitting there staring lustily at Mr. Camancho going, "Mmmm!" as he registered. People make last minute plans for who to see tonight. Spiff, wussy, MINK and the X-Rated Cowboys (from Columbus) are high on many lists.

First I swing into Kaldi's to catch a couple of minutes of (Ass Ponys' singer/guitarist) Chuck Cleaver. My next stop is Jefferson Hall to see what turned out to be a fortuitous discovery: MINK. Their energetic, powerful music combined with the singer's melt-your-belt-buckle presence and strong vocals make for an incredible set. I fall in love, yet have to move on, as I'm introducing Spiff at RBC at 10. I arrive at RBC to find out that FOX 19 will broadcast part of Spiff's set live. "So, when you introduce them, you can't cuss," I'm informed. RBC is packed and Spiff, with their new drummer, Brad, solidify their rep as "The Best Looking Band in the City" and gain a new rep as "The Most Surprisingly Good Band in the City." Still, I must keep moving.

At Moose On Main, Dayton's Rhonda Everitt showed off a voice sweet enough to rival wussy's Lisa Miller's -- she can also hit you with one of her crutches if you think she doesn't. Next, it was down to the Courtyard Cafe for wussy. The Courtyard was packed with many local musicians, such as Dave Purcell, Abiyah and MPMF co-founders Sean Rhiney and Bill Donabedian, plus Cincinnati City Council members John Cranley and Jim Tarbell. Wussy rocked out in fine style with their electric Folk/Rock/Velvet Underground (by way of Emmylou Harris) style.

I then made my way over to Neon's Wings Pavilion (the all-ages tent) and caught a bit of the last song by Pinki Mojo. They told me afterward that it was their first gig, but you couldn't tell that by listening, even in a tent. Back at Moose On Main, locals Venus Mission made some new fans with Andrea Rosenthal's lovely voice and her tight-as-a-sailor's-knot band. I then ended the night talking to members of local band Patient Zero (who didn't play the event, but helped by volunteering) over by the Barrelhouse, where we were accosted by a few people who were part of some free-form street theatre troupe. At least that's what I keep telling myself. (Dale Johnson)

Friday, Sept. 26
· Got to the Crowne Plaza conference area about Noon to hear Jody Stephens (Big Star, Golden Smog) deliver the keynote address. The main point of his address was that it's good to meet people. Sounds like a simple message, and it was. Jody spoke in his laid-back style about big ambitions and how to accomplish them. The energy is high, even though everyone is unbelievably tired. The "Demo Derby" (also jokingly referred to as the "Demo Demolition") is thought to be harsh, but very useful. Still I want to punch the panel because they made local Whitney Barricklow feel bad.

The night gets off to an incredible start at The Barrelhouse with Cincinnati's Cari Clara. Eric Deidrichs looks like a Rock star and has the most achingly beautiful songs around. I see Shawna Snyder in the crowd and grab her for an impromptu photo shoot outside.

Next, I run on down to Lava to catch some of Tommy D's set and to introduce Abiyah, who was joined by Michael Bond of datawaslost, Amy Constantine of Spiff, DQ from Animal Crackers and Chestah T. They brought the floetry vibes in full force to a packed house. I had taken off my jacket and was using what I should have realized was a faulty recorder to record the set. I had to be back at Mr. Pitiful's at midnight to introduce Pike 27, so I flew out of Lava at 11:45 p.m. and quickly realized I forgot my recorder. I ran back to Lava, grabbed it, ran out ... and realized I forgot my jacket. So, I ran back, grabbed that, charged up to Pitiful's and made it there exactly at midnight as a foul, sweaty mess to discover WNKU people had been introducing the acts there all night. Ah, well. It was OK though, as Pike 27 just killed the packed house. I couldn't stop sweating or smiling.

Then it was over to The Cavern for a second helping of MINK, who were filling in at the last minute for a band that cancelled. I then walked Jen "Jem" Schmidt (one of the organizers of the annual Chicks Rock festival) back to Wings Pavilion in the pouring rain, in which, coupled with a lack of sleep and proper diet, I believe I caught the Mongolian Death Flu. I walked to my car in even more rain, happy in the fact that one can only get so wet. (Dale Johnson)

Saturday, Sept. 27
· I arrived late in the afternoon for the conferences but picked up an interesting story from panelist Chuck Cleaver. He was saying that when the Ass Ponys were on A&M, they told the band how they picked singles -- "We all sit down and pick the one that's the least offensive to everyone," says the A&M Records exec. Fitting in perfectly with that logic, "Little Bastard" was the first major label Ass Ponys single.

Popped in here and there Saturday night and saw Andréanna Cortés, Tycoon Dog and Bastards of Melody. Then I went to Jefferson Hall for Morals Galore's 10 p.m. set. Morals brought the house down. Then, it was over to The Cavern for the last Clabbergirl (as we know it) show. They went out strong and made me wish that that show wasn't "it." I was leaping around with Aaron DeNu and about 200 other people. Then, I staggered over to Neon's for Kim Taylor, who warmed the chilly evening, and then somehow made it to The Barrelhouse for greatmodern's super set. There were so many people that I wanted to see, but, alas, I have no clone. Everybody I saw was fantastic. I was going to go to the after-party at Len's Lounge leader Jeff Roberson's garage in Northside, but, after getting in a car I thought was mine but turned out not to be, I thought it best to go home.

Sunday, I got sick, but it was a good kind of sick. Thanks, everybody! (Dale Johnson)

· People who were at The Cavern on Saturday night will tell you that Moth "brought it" or "rocked" or "killed it" with their smashing finale to this year's MPMF. And, this would be absolutely correct. But several other acts at the Cavern "brought, rocked and killed it" as well, most notably local trio The Giant Judys. Those of us who chose not to go downstairs for NYC's Chris Ryan and the Noise (sorry, guys) were treated to one of the best sets at MidPoint this year (possibly even the best) in the club's upstairs "lounge." Local talent like this proves that there truly is no place like home.

I know that Judys frontman Ben Davis is a mere 23-ish years old, and his bandmates (Justin Brumley and Rob Gee) are far from sages themselves, but they show a musical maturity beyond their years. Partner this with the fresh energy of their youth and the boundless talent that all three possess, and they can go as far as they want to for a long, long time. Davis' songs prove that Rock & Roll isn't just about tight pants and guitars. It's about good songwriting, too, songwriting that is as intricate as it is catchy, as lyrical as it is gutsy and as poignant as it is hook-laden. And the Judys' showcase of these songs Saturday was one of the finest performances they've given. Brumley and Gee were tight as ever, and Davis lit up the stage. If you missed it, you missed out.

The Judys (and Moth) weren't the only homegrown acts knockin' the crowds out, either. Local indie vets the Fairmount Girls gave a great send-off to MPMF 2003 upstairs. If you're one of those poor, misguided souls who thinks the Girls have nothing new to offer, think again. Dana Hamblen and Melissa Fairmount are still bringing it and then some, and the addition of guitarist Mark Zero and bassist Erin Proctor has brought new life and energy to the band. In her first foray into Rock, Proctor has truly come into her own in recent months. I'd put good money on her in a cage match bass-off with Moth's Billy Buzek any day. The Woos played a tight set, winning more admirers. They get better all the time.

Back downstairs, The Autumn Blackouts gave the crowd a healthy dose of Rock. With new bassist Dan Bayer taking care of the low end and harmonies, the Blackouts sound better than ever. And I get the feeling that they're just getting started.

In the 11 p.m. slot, one of the most interesting out-of-town acts of this year, Adam Evil & the Outside Royalty, moved the crowds upstairs. Evil has a girl in red patent leather go-go boots playing violin. Evil has a light show. Evil has killer hooks and hard-driving Rock tunes. Evil has new fans in the Queen City.

MPMF has become to me as an adult what Christmas was to me as a kid. I already can't wait for next September. (Ericka McIntyre)



For more coverage and photos from the MidPoint Music Festival, go to
  Ruby Vileos singer/guitarist Ali Edwards delivers another stellar performance at Plush, one of 15 venues taking part in the year's MidPoint Music Festival.
Jeanine Boutiere

Ruby Vileos singer/guitarist Ali Edwards delivers another stellar performance at Plush, one of 15 venues taking part in the year's MidPoint Music Festival.



When the MidPoint Music Festival debuted in September of 2002, even some of the local "scenesters" who should have gotten it right away seemed to harbor apprehension and distrust.

It's a predictable Cincinnati trait when it comes to new things: "Show me what you got first." Though clearly not everyone overcame their trepidation, the packed showcases that filled the clubs of the Main Street Entertainment District (and the packed industry panel discussions/schooling) showed that the non-believers' presence wasn't missed.

You can't please everyone, of course (trust us, we know). But judging by the infectious grins of club-hoppers at the MPMF venues from Sept. 25 until the wee hours of Sept. 27, you can bring a lot of joy to those interested in hearing good, original music, local or otherwise. No, not every artist who played was lights-out phenomenal -- a few acts made you wonder what the selection committee members were smoking when they were choosing the performers. But the good easily outweighed the "suck" factor.

Particularly on the weekend nights, most clubs stayed at capacity (estimates put attendance at over 25,000). Jefferson Hall, which expanded its host duties to the full three nights this year, had a line out the door Saturday night and stopped letting people in by the time local trio Promenade played (word is even a certain local Rock celebrity from a certain local radio juggernaut was denied entrance). The "ease of use" issue was a huge factor in the astonishing attendance figures: While last year's festival extended to clubs in Northern Kentucky, this year's event stuck to about a five-block stretch of downtown Cincinnati.

"Most industry folks commented that many of the larger festivals are becoming frustrating," says fest co-founder Sean Rhiney, who agreed that the Main Street focus was vital to this year's success. "Nightly cab bills are $50 (to) $75 just to get around, and you miss so much great music in transit."

The organizers did a noble job of addressing other "problems" from last year, but, again in typical "Cincy style," the moaners pissed on the extended olive branch in many cases. An off-the-beaten-path, all-ages tent, set up after cries over a shortage of non-bar venues last year, was woefully underattended, despite hosting a few of the best acts of the weekend, including Columbus Post Punk wonders, Denovo (who brilliantly rewired Peter Gabriel's "Digging In the Dirt" to great effect), and locally-based rising stars, Denial.

"You live and learn," Rhiney says of the all-ages tent, which was also marred by sound difficulties. "It's part of the growing process. We'll continue to take risks each year for the good of the festival and the attendees and fans who make the trip. I did get some great feedback from one of my panelists, (national band manager) Michael Creamer, who suggested keeping the (all-ages) concept, but putting it out on Main Street right in the thick of things. We'll see."

A few Blues acts meshed very well with the Roots Rock bills, but most local Metal fans failed to show up to see any of the solid Hard Rock bands playing the Cavern on Thursday night. Always a work in progress, it can be hoped the outreach to scenes beyond the worlds of Rock, Pop Rock, Alternative and Roots Rock (or "Bar-Rock," as some of the kids call it) won't be stymied by the lack of goodwill reciprocity.

On a positive note, in terms of diversity, MPMF newcomers Shaker's In Town (at the southernmost tip of the showcase strip) hosted a well-attended Soul/Rock/Blues/Funk showcase on Saturday. New York's swampbytche! played a rousing, booty-movin' set of deft and dynamic Neo-Soul-meets-Rock songs, while funky local newcomers Derrick Sanderson's Soul Expression provided a velvet-smooth slice of transcendent old-school R&B. Both acts were musical highlights of the weekend and played to an impressively diverse audience.

While Main Street still reeked of the problems that keep people from going Downtown these days (glad to see those new panhandling laws have been so effective -- why have them if you don't enforce them?), it was awe-inspiring to see the flux of people roaming the streets, dance-club revelers and original music seekers alike. Even surrounding businesses felt the love -- Arnold's restaurant was reportedly filled to the brim ... and that hot dog cart guy on Main seemed to pulling in a small mint. Downtown hasn't been so alive in ages. Maybe the post-riot burden is finally (and rightfully) a thing of the past.

CityBeat once again dispatched an army of photographers and writers to cover the MidPoint festivities. With music hangovers and this momentous local event's triumphant glow still swimming in their heads, here's what they reported back.

Thursday, Sept. 25
· The night's intended opening act at Plush, Portland group The Prids, must have read that all young Cincinnatians want to move to Portland, so they stayed there, waiting for us to come to them. But we didn't. We went to Plush to see three other bands. And we were far from disappointed.

Cincinnati's own The Green Room opened things up. Their lead singer and bassist, Christopher Glandorf, had a sprained wrist, but played a great set anyway. The Green Room recently retooled their sound, and it showed Thursday night. They played one of their strongest sets ever, aided by Fredrix Michaux's skillful guitar playing. If you haven't caught them in a while (they've been around in various incarnations since 1993), you should certainly give them another listen. Their stylish, moody BritPop is a great refuge whenever you're a bit bored with noisy American Garage Rock.

The 11 p.m. slot was filled, expanded and then exploded by Detroit indie rockers Jettison Red. Man, oh man! Every time they come through this city they leave a trail of ringing ears and new fans behind them. If Plush had a front door, it would've been blown off. This band is always a must-see for their phenomenal drummer Nicky Styxx, but on this night the boys of JR demonstrated that they do in fact have the goods to keep up with her. The guitar work (or should I say "feedback art"?) of Chris Wujek is what Rock & Roll is all about -- raw, loud, powerful and with energy to spare. And the new material they brought (in addition to favorites like "5:20") was a clear indication that they'll just keep getting better and better. Now, if we could just get them to move to Cincinnati ...

A local favorite, Ruby Vileos, closed out the night. Ali Edwards' vocals were as hauntingly beautiful as ever. And you just don't get a stronger backing band than Bill Alletzhauser, Victor Strunk and Todd Drake. A venue like Plush was made for them -- the dreamy ambiance of their music is well suited to the velvet and crystal decor. Seeing them there was like taking a walk through an enchanted forest -- only this was MPMF, so the unicorns were all drunk and wearing Woos buttons. Either way, it was a great set.

By the end of the night, the buzz phrase was "Prids who?" (Ericka McIntyre)

· I arrive fresh in the Crowne Point lobby about 10 a.m. In what would tomorrow turn into the panelists' Green Room, goodie bag stuffing has begun. Jen Johns and I devise a system for stuffing bags that is elegant in its simplicity. Doug Perry of The Doug Perry Ensemble is the first to register at noon. Throughout the day, Eric Diedrichs, Jody Stapleton, the bands Pinki Mojo (from Akron), MINK (from Tennessee) and Hoodwink all stop by. Kenny Camancho registers and the ladies go wild. I say to MPMF volunteer Stacy, "Why don't you moan a little louder, I don't think Kenny heard you," because she'd been sitting there staring lustily at Mr. Camancho going, "Mmmm!" as he registered. People make last minute plans for who to see tonight. Spiff, wussy, MINK and the X-Rated Cowboys (from Columbus) are high on many lists.

First I swing into Kaldi's to catch a couple of minutes of (Ass Ponys' singer/guitarist) Chuck Cleaver. My next stop is Jefferson Hall to see what turned out to be a fortuitous discovery: MINK. Their energetic, powerful music combined with the singer's melt-your-belt-buckle presence and strong vocals make for an incredible set. I fall in love, yet have to move on, as I'm introducing Spiff at RBC at 10. I arrive at RBC to find out that FOX 19 will broadcast part of Spiff's set live. "So, when you introduce them, you can't cuss," I'm informed. RBC is packed and Spiff, with their new drummer, Brad, solidify their rep as "The Best Looking Band in the City" and gain a new rep as "The Most Surprisingly Good Band in the City." Still, I must keep moving.

At Moose On Main, Dayton's Rhonda Everitt showed off a voice sweet enough to rival wussy's Lisa Miller's -- she can also hit you with one of her crutches if you think she doesn't. Next, it was down to the Courtyard Cafe for wussy. The Courtyard was packed with many local musicians, such as Dave Purcell, Abiyah and MPMF co-founders Sean Rhiney and Bill Donabedian, plus Cincinnati City Council members John Cranley and Jim Tarbell. Wussy rocked out in fine style with their electric Folk/Rock/Velvet Underground (by way of Emmylou Harris) style.

I then made my way over to Neon's Wings Pavilion (the all-ages tent) and caught a bit of the last song by Pinki Mojo. They told me afterward that it was their first gig, but you couldn't tell that by listening, even in a tent. Back at Moose On Main, locals Venus Mission made some new fans with Andrea Rosenthal's lovely voice and her tight-as-a-sailor's-knot band. I then ended the night talking to members of local band Patient Zero (who didn't play the event, but helped by volunteering) over by the Barrelhouse, where we were accosted by a few people who were part of some free-form street theatre troupe. At least that's what I keep telling myself. (Dale Johnson)

Friday, Sept. 26
· Got to the Crowne Plaza conference area about Noon to hear Jody Stephens (Big Star, Golden Smog) deliver the keynote address. The main point of his address was that it's good to meet people. Sounds like a simple message, and it was. Jody spoke in his laid-back style about big ambitions and how to accomplish them. The energy is high, even though everyone is unbelievably tired. The "Demo Derby" (also jokingly referred to as the "Demo Demolition") is thought to be harsh, but very useful. Still I want to punch the panel because they made local Whitney Barricklow feel bad.

The night gets off to an incredible start at The Barrelhouse with Cincinnati's Cari Clara. Eric Deidrichs looks like a Rock star and has the most achingly beautiful songs around. I see Shawna Snyder in the crowd and grab her for an impromptu photo shoot outside. Next, I run on down to Lava to catch some of Tommy D's set and to introduce Abiyah, who was joined by Michael Bond of datawaslost, Amy Constantine of Spiff, DQ from Animal Crackers and Chestah T. They brought the floetry vibes in full force to a packed house. I had taken off my jacket and was using what I should have realized was a faulty recorder to record the set. I had to be back at Mr. Pitiful's at midnight to introduce Pike 27, so I flew out of Lava at 11:45 p.m. and quickly realized I forgot my recorder. I ran back to Lava, grabbed it, ran out ... and realized I forgot my jacket. So, I ran back, grabbed that, charged up to Pitiful's and made it there exactly at midnight as a foul, sweaty mess to discover WNKU people had been introducing the acts there all night. Ah, well. It was OK though, as Pike 27 just killed the packed house. I couldn't stop sweating or smiling.

Then it was over to The Cavern for a second helping of MINK, who were filling in at the last minute for a band that cancelled. I then walked Jen "Jem" Schmidt (one of the organizers of the annual Chicks Rock festival) back to Wings Pavilion in the pouring rain, in which, coupled with a lack of sleep and proper diet, I believe I caught the Mongolian Death Flu. I walked to my car in even more rain, happy in the fact that one can only get so wet. (Dale Johnson)

Saturday, Sept. 27
· I arrived late in the afternoon for the conferences but picked up an interesting story from panelist Chuck Cleaver. He was saying that when the Ass Ponys were on A&M, they told the band how they picked singles -- "We all sit down and pick the one that's the least offensive to everyone," says the A&M Records exec. Fitting in perfectly with that logic, "Little Bastard" was the first major label Ass Ponys single.

Popped in here and there Saturday night and saw Andréanna Cortés, Tycoon Dog and Bastards of Melody. Then I went to Jefferson Hall for Morals Galore's 10 p.m. set. Morals brought the house down. Then, it was over to The Cavern for the last Clabbergirl (as we know it) show. They went out strong and made me wish that that show wasn't "it." I was leaping around with Aaron DeNu and about 200 other people. Then, I staggered over to Neon's for Kim Taylor, who warmed the chilly evening, and then somehow made it to The Barrelhouse for greatmodern's super set. There were so many people that I wanted to see, but, alas, I have no clone. Everybody I saw was fantastic. I was going to go to the after-party at Len's Lounge leader Jeff Roberson's garage in Northside, but, after getting in a car I thought was mine but turned out not to be, I thought it best to go home.

Sunday, I got sick, but it was a good kind of sick. Thanks, everybody! (Dale Johnson)

· People who were at The Cavern on Saturday night will tell you that Moth "brought it" or "rocked" or "killed it" with their smashing finale to this year's MPMF. And, this would be absolutely correct. But several other acts at the Cavern "brought, rocked and killed it" as well, most notably local trio The Giant Judys. Those of us who chose not to go downstairs for NYC's Chris Ryan and the Noise (sorry, guys) were treated to one of the best sets at MidPoint this year (possibly even the best) in the club's upstairs "lounge." Local talent like this proves that there truly is no place like home.

I know that Judys frontman Ben Davis is a mere 23-ish years old, and his bandmates (Justin Brumley and Rob Gee) are far from sages themselves, but they show a musical maturity beyond their years. Partner this with the fresh energy of their youth and the boundless talent that all three possess, and they can go as far as they want to for a long, long time. Davis' songs prove that Rock & Roll isn't just about tight pants and guitars. It's about good songwriting, too, songwriting that is as intricate as it is catchy, as lyrical as it is gutsy and as poignant as it is hook-laden. And the Judys' showcase of these songs Saturday was one of the finest performances they've given. Brumley and Gee were tight as ever, and Davis lit up the stage. If you missed it, you missed out.

The Judys (and Moth) weren't the only homegrown acts knockin' the crowds out, either. Local indie vets the Fairmount Girls gave a great send-off to MPMF 2003 upstairs. If you're one of those poor, misguided souls who thinks the Girls have nothing new to offer, think again. Dana Hamblen and Melissa Fairmount are still bringing it and then some, and the addition of guitarist Mark Zero and bassist Erin Proctor has brought new life and energy to the band. In her first foray into Rock, Proctor has truly come into her own in recent months. I'd put good money on her in a cage match bass-off with Moth's Billy Buzek any day. The Woos played a tight set, winning more admirers. They get better all the time.

Back downstairs, The Autumn Blackouts gave the crowd a healthy dose of Rock. With new bassist Dan Bayer taking care of the low end and harmonies, the Blackouts sound better than ever. And I get the feeling that they're just getting started.

In the 11 p.m. slot, one of the most interesting out-of-town acts of this year, Adam Evil & the Outside Royalty, moved the crowds upstairs. Evil has a girl in red patent leather go-go boots playing violin. Evil has a light show. Evil has killer hooks and hard-driving Rock tunes. Evil has new fans in the Queen City.

MPMF has become to me as an adult what Christmas was to me as a kid. I already can't wait for next September. (Ericka McIntyre)



For more coverage and photos from the MidPoint Music Festival, go to citybeat.com.
 
 
 
 

 

 
 
 
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