Dear Diary: Friday Midpoint. Wearing my green Noctaluca T-shirt, my super cool non-leather jacket that looks like leather and my faded black jeans that are too big and too long — with my distracting, cool clothes choice, I was trying super hard to steer people away from the fact that I hadn’t had time to shower. Seemed to work. Yes.
My first stop was to see Iowa City’s Uniphonics. Fountain Square. Groovy, jazzy, pretty nice crowd. One dude in shorts was dancing around like it was his last day on Earth. I think if more people would’ve been dancing this would have changed my experience. And probably changed the experience of the Shorts Man as well.
Uniphonic’s Hip Hop influence had my interest, but I think they needed a different venue. The sit-down, early crowd on the square didn’t seem to be the right spot for these cats, who had a highly danceable groove going on. They needed a smaller club where people weren’t afraid to do backflips and shit. Or a later time slot. So I went for a groovy walk.
Thunderhawk was playing at the Inner Peace Center. Now I was confused b/c I thought this one was a solo act, but no — full band from Indiana here. When I first walked in, they were rocking hard and the sound was true to the “thunder” name. I dug the harder stuff. But then it went somewhere else, and no more thunder, and I missed the thunder.
OK, so since I’m sure you’re all following my writings from last year’s Midpoint, you will know that each year there is always one person I weirdly run into repeatedly throughout the festival in absolutely random places. Last year it was 16 Piece Bucket’s Chris Lee. This year, I'm seeing a lot of Yusef Quotah from You, You’re Awesome.
So I headed on over to Arnold’s, where Kings of Leon was playing in the background (no, they weren’t part of the festival), and I saw Quotah, and he said, “See ya later,” which I think meant that he wanted me to come to band practice next week and be a member of You, You’re Awesome. I’m sure of it!
At Arnold’s, you gotta love the bicycle hanging upside down on stage, along with the weird stained glass window and other random decorations.
While listening to Tanchon, I couldn’t help but hear the echoes of Katie Reider in her voice. The open feel, the soul were all there. And I had the same feeling I used to have when watching Reider on stage — I was completely focused on the music. The room seemed to disappear, and the beauty of it struck me. Deeply.
So I took a Scion to Grammer’s. Hey, all, my real name is Christine. I swear I do not have trouble speaking, but people always seem to get my name wrong. My driver was Nathan, and he called me “Christy,” which is funny, because the night before I got called “Christina” and “Sarah.” I got called “Sarah” repeatedly, actually, two nights in a row, from Eli, another Scion driver. I finally told him my real name, but I think I'll start introducing myself as “Sarahtina” from now on just for kicks.
Heartless Bastards were playing here, and I weaved my way right up to the stage to see the action up close. The band was having a great night, as they usually are, in my book. Full of energy, and Erika Wennerstrom was wailing her heart out. Grammer’s was super-awesome-packed, with a line going all the way down the street. All around flash bulbs were going off on cameras, which kinda scared me for a minute, but not as much as that huge bouncer with tats all over his head — he was intimidating as hell. I wasn’t causing any trouble with that guy around. I mean, earlier I’d planned on causing a ruckus, but then I saw him and I was like, "No way."
Grammer’s was the place to run into people. I saw the amazingly tall yet hard to recognize (shaved his beard and cut his hair) Cameron Cochran aka Paul Bunyan from The Sheds. He said he’s been “makin’ music,” and he smiled secretively. I was excited. I dig his work. Then he said, “You haven’t gotten any taller,” to which I responded, “You haven’t gotten any shorter.” And he said, “Fair enough,” and we both had a good laugh. He is the warmest fellow.
I also ran into Sparrow Bellows’ Ric Hickey and Brian Kitzmiller, who handed me a CD, and Kitz (yes, we're on a shortened last name basis) and I took our picture together, but it was all fuzzy. Oh well. It was one of those close-up, night out, funny shots too. We reminisced about his old band, The Trojan Rabbit, one that I miss, and we talked about my jacket, and I informed Hickey that I got in on clearance last summer. I don’t know why I always tell people that, but I always say it like I’m bragging at my skills.
The Courtyard Café was wall-to-wall packed. I went outside for a breather, where I met Roy, Kevin and Chance, three guys who knew their music. I was allowed to join their conversation, but only if I guessed which two of them were brothers. I guessed right. So we spent some time talking about The Krononauts and how I could wear a fake beard and glasses and maybe join the band if I knew how to play bass. Then, of course, Chance waved goodbye and called me “Christina.”
Chick Pimp Coke Dealer at a Bar
Sardines, I tell you, by the time Chick Pimp Coke Dealer at a Bar came on stage. Before they played, Nick Mitchell (keys, vocals) yelled, “Is that you, Christina? How you doin?” which cracked me up (the name thing and his yellow glasses). Wonky Tonk was sitting front and center watching her friends, wearing a feather in her hair. Absolutely packed in there, and the energy was ultra-high. Wearing sunglasses and plaid, this band played their asses off. If you haven’t seen them, go see them.
On mandolin, Moriah Lawson had my “musician crush” vote for the night. Amazing to watch. Barefoot, with brown straight, short hair hanging in her face, her fingers move in a mad blur, and she’s the real thing. All of them are superb musicians, and they have that “all band” energy that leaks out into the room, a rare find — you can tell they’re a good match all around, and that they love what they’re doing. It all fits here. What talent.
So, Diary, I’m having trouble deciding on my favorite for the night. Let’s just say it rhymes with this: “Lick Gimp Toke Mealer at a Car.”