Lucky score — found a wicked parking spot on Court, and I wandered over to Below Zero for Brooklyn’s Bear Hands. Standing in front of the bar’s enormous red “Z” on the wall, singer Dylan Rau also played bass and keys. Backed by two guitars and drums, Rau’s voice had a strong Post-Punk, New Wave edge that shone with the band’s catchy, circular rhythm. He was charismatic, big-eyed, and easy on the eyes. There was a good reason that neon-heavy Below Zero became packed very quickly. This band was not one to miss, in my book. I wonder how Bear Hands felt about the disco balls inside? I bet there was some lovin’ going on there.
After I scored a big fat pretzel at the MidPoint Midway (it tasted something like chalk), I ran into Dylan Speeg of local band Buckra. Speeg is always full of complements, and after I see him, I always leave with a bigger head. Thanks, man.
At The Drinkery, I caught Nashville’s Milktooth. With a throaty, powerful voice, singer David Condos was killing it, and the audience was eating it up. Wild and fiery. With a beard and big curls, this guy’s adrenaline leaked out past the stage all over, pouring out on anyone around. I wasn’t disappointed. Far from it. Call me a Band-Aid, but I’d follow both Bear Hands and Milktooth.
At The Courtyard Café, I heard the tail end of Andy Cook and the Wanderloons, a young, mellow trio who benefitted from The Courtyard’s high ceiling. I think this bar has been around since the dinosaurs walked Main Street. That’s right, back in the day, there was just a lonely T-Rex and the Courtyard on Main, and that was it. Maybe a caveman or two. Considering how the bands are smashed next to the window, packed in the corner of that place as if they’re playing inside an aquarium, the sound is still surprisingly clear. Still, it feels cramped … I mean, cozy. Just hard for a short person like me to see. OK, I’ll stop being a baby.
The Wanderloons didn’t play long before local Radiohead-ish trio State Song hit the stage. With waning vocals, this Post Punk Rock band comes across powerful yet highly emotional. Definitely my pick of the night. I’d write more here, but really, all I want to say is this I was absolutely taken with them, and I was only distracted for a moment to shout a “Hello” and give a bear hug to Luke Darling of The Dukes are Dead.
Outside, I also spied Lucas Frazier, the Dukes’ singer, who shot me a mischievous grin. Not sure what The Dukes are Dead brothers were up to after they played, but it seemed like trouble. A good Midpoint kind of trouble. They both had that look, just sayin'. Come to think of it, they always have that look.
This year, I felt like the caliber of music was high, and it was one of the best fest’s yet. Each night, I left the multiple shows feeling like there were parts of each band that really stuck with me. Some really slapped me in the chest. Some made me groove out. Others touched me softly, heart-center. But if I had to choose one band that did it all for me, I’d say State Song would be my pick of the fest. Their sound is smart, absolutely intense, diverse, artistic and in the end, you’ll still want to sing along. I truly felt as if I was catapulted to another world hearing this band rise, wail and rock out.
When I was watching State Song, I planned on taking notes, but I only wrote down one sentence. It read, “I fucking love these damn vocals.” Maybe not professional, but absolutely applicable.
Sure, this weekend, I missed out on sleep, but we’ll sleep when we’re dead, right? It was all worth it, and I’m feeling that lost feeling, a little sad that the madness is over. I saw many old and new friends, heard bands play their hearts out, gave hugs, received hugs, took notes and I was proud to be a part of Midpoint’s tenth year. The parking wasn’t hard. The streets felt safe. It was easy to get around, to navigate the times and bands and venues, even for a person like me (I have no sense of direction and am always lost). Yeah, even I found my way back to my car without too much trouble.
This year’s Midpoint brought in everything that a festival should – warmth, talent, art, junk food, easy access, drunken hilarity, and then some. It brought people downtown. It brought people together; the streets were crawling with fans, and it was so alive. All in all, savage.
And none of the bands I saw were slackers.
See you there next year, Midpoint. Count on it. The fest might be over, but I’m still feeling the love. Now, time for a music-induced nap. And then I’ll be on to my next activity — perfecting my role as a State Song follower. Some things never change.
See you at the shows.
Check out oodles of photos from MPMF.11's Saturday fun here.