Hours spent in the van, hours spent waiting for sound check in the venue, hours spent wandering European cities waiting for the venue to open, hours waiting for show time and hours spent waiting for the show to wrap up. All of this adds up to lots of free on our hands and not much to do with it. So what is a Rock & Roll band — and its merch and sound guy — to do with opportunity?
Why, play Dibs of course.
Dibs is one of those rare games that has no end point. No one wins at Dibs; it is played simply to pass time and help spice up the long stretches of mind numbing nothingness that touring sometimes produces. As a public service to other bands in this situation, I would like to provide you with the objectives and rules of Dibs, as I have observed them, so that you may also join in on this wondrous game.
First, a few opening remarks on Dibs. One: this game may sound a little inappropriate at times. This fact is not lost on us. But after four hours of staring out of the window of a van and seeing not much more than trees, plains and gas stations, your brain starts to atrophy. Dibs helps bring it back to back to life. Two: if, while playing Dibs, you question your values or moral code at any time, don’t be alarmed — this only means that you are human.
Now, on to the good stuff!
Objective: The objective of Dibs is to see an attractive person and call dibs on said person. Being that this tour is comprised of five straight men that are either single or separated from their significant others for three weeks, this means that attractive women of all kinds are being dibsed with a speed and fury unrelenting. But if your preferences differ, feel free to switch it up. Dibs is a game for all.
Now, the objective is easy enough to grasp, but like all great games of skill and wit, it is easy to learn and hard to master. Which is why we have set up several unofficial rules that I will now place into record.
And with that, you have the basics of Dibs. It is a game with a rich strategy behind it, a strategy that I will leave to you to discover. Due to its never-ending nature, it can keep you and your bandmates entertained for hours. Or at least until you’ve seen everyone who has walked through the door at the venue. Then it’s back to Tetris. Happy hunting!
CityBeat contributor Nick Grever recently traveled Europe with Cincinnati Rock band Valley of the Sun and blogged about it for citybeat.com. His other dispatches can be found throughout the music blog.
Toronto punk rockers PUP play MOTR Pub in Over-the-Rhine tonight. The free show also includes performances by NYC's Chumped and Washington, D.C., Garage Pop group Typefighter.
PUP put out its debut album last year on the Canadian label Royal Mountain Records and then the subsequent buzz landed them a deal with L.A.'s SideOne Dummy Records before the end of the year (the label reissued the self-titled debut album this past spring). The quartet has received a lot of positive notice for their adrenalized and melodic sound; Stereogum called them one of the best new bands of last year and Noisey proclaimed the LP a "perfect 10," saying, "If Weezer made a punk record somewhere between the blue album and Pinkerton, this would be it. Or if The Bronx covered Modest Mouse songs."
• Experimental/Industrial/Noise duo Ora Iso play Rake's End in Brighton tonight at 9 p.m. Inbreeder, Evolve, No Heat and DJ Inhuman also perform.
Brooklyn-based Ora Iso, featuring classically trained pianist/vocalist Kathleen Malay (born in Indonesia and former Australian resident) and guitarist Jason Kudo, released its debut album, Bathcat, on the Ba Da Bing! label just a few weeks ago. The twosome's Industrial/Post Punk sound has been likened to acts like Throbbing Gristle and The Dirty Three.
• Hip Hop acts Hoodie Allen and Chiddy Bang perform tonight at Bogart's in Corryville. Max Schneider also performs. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
From Reyan Ali's Hoodie Allen preview for CityBeat:
People Keep Talking, which landed in mid-October, marks his inaugural full-length after a string of mixtapes and tours. Armed with a massive trove of pop cultural references, a handful of guests (Ed Sheeran, most notably) and a really solid repertoire of beats, Hoodie spends People speaking about ambition, money, life as an underdog and relationships. That last category is truly his specialty; although he occasionally shoots for the badass rapper vibe, he really has a sensitive Justin Timberlake thing going on that he’s never afraid to embrace. Markowitz recently tweeted his interest in touring with One Direction — a move definitely up his alley.
I crowd surfed for the first time ever in Strasbourg, France. And I did it in a hot dog costume.
Man, I can’t wait to tell my grandkids this story.
The hot dog spawned from a Facebook Messenger conversation before we even left. As we were preparing for the trip, the group bought me a glow in the dark skeleton onesie. It proved far too comfy and warm for it to be a nightly outfit in dirty, sweaty bars. I know this because I happily wore it around my house on several occasions.
Through the conversation it was eventually decided that I needed an Elvis outfit to wear during shows. I agreed and took a trip to a local Spirit Halloween in search of my tour uniform.
I was quickly disappointed.
Not only did they not have any Elvis costumes, the employee told me that the only place she knew that had one was a costume rental shop across town. The price put the costume way out of my price range. So I had to come up with something just as American (i.e. over the top and ridiculous). I browsed around, shot down the idea of a German beer girl costume — no one needs to see that much of my upper thigh — and stumbled across an area of cheap, lazy costumes. One of which was the hot dog suit. I snapped a picture, sent it to the boys and was met with joyous approval. I was still under my assigned budget so I picked up a Flavor Flav-sized dollar sign pendant and made my way to the register. Now, I was truly ready for Europe.
The hot dog costume has made an appearance a handful of times at shows, typically during the last song of the set or the encore. Sometimes I’ll put it on and rush to the front of the stage to get the guys to laugh and mess up. Being the consummate professionals that they are, they’ve never flubbed a song as far as I can tell.
But recently, they’ve been requesting the hot dog from stage, meaning I have to quickly dig it out, throw it on and run out to the crowd. They usually do so for their own amusement or to drive sales at the merch booth by proclaiming they have the würst merch guy in history. I never said that these guys were comedians …
Now, the majority of crowds just look confused by the sudden appearance of a hot dog at a Rock show but some get it and boy are their reactions spectacular. You haven’t lived until you’ve headbanged with two long hairs in a sweaty Halloween costume. But the crowd reaction in Strasbourg takes the cake.
The show was Punk Rock all the way — the sound was awful, the fans were packed in like sardines and the beer was flowing freely. The crowd had already spawned a crowd surfer, which is an admirable feat due to the fact that the venue is in a basement. Crowd surfing and grazing the ceiling of a club rarely go hand-in-hand. When the band called for the hot dog, I pushed through and found myself in an open pit in the center of the crowd. The final song started and I began my “dancing” and headbanging with the crowd. Pictures were taken, laughs were had, and I thought that was the end of it.
Then I saw the universal “You want to go up?” hand signal. Apparently crowd surfing crosses language barriers. Before I knew it, I was on top of the crowd trying to simultaneously avoid being dropped to the floor or bounced into the ceiling. It was awesome and scary and ridiculous and unbelievable all at the same time. If that’s not a great commercial for Spirit Halloween, I don’t know what is.
Now I really can’t wait for our Halloween show tonight. We plan on having a merch guy who’s all skin and bones, a blinged out bassist and the würst drummer you’ve ever seen.
Hey, I never said I was a comedian, either.
Halloween shows abound tonight. Elsewhere on our site you can read about several of them, including 500 Miles to Memphis' release party at Southgate House Revival and Gov't Mule's tribute to Neil Young at Taft Theatre. In the Spill It column, find out about tonight's Injecting Strangers' release party at MOTR, as well as two great, free local music double bills in Northside — The Hiders/The Perfect Children at The Littlefield and The Pariahs/The Cincinnati Suds at The Comet. Another great double-bill free show is on Fountain Square. The 5 p.m. Rocktober on the Square happy hour concert tonight features The KillTones and The Sundresses.
There's also a fun show at Over-the-Rhine's The Drinkery; RamonerHead (a tribute to the Ramones and Motorhead), ThoseWhoCannotBeNamed (a tribute to debauched punks Dwarves) and Standinavian Leather (a tribute to Norway's Turbonegro) team up for the club's Zombie Prom. (Another fun tribute band show goes down Saturday at Silverton's MVP Sports Bar & Grille — The Rocket Queens, an all-female Guns N' Roses tribute band, headline.)
Here are a few more options for tonight and the rest of the weekend.
• Endlessly creative veteran L.A. rapper Murs first teamed up with Miami Rap group ¡Mayday! (featuring a pair of MCs and a full live band) on the latter’s first album, 2012’s Take Me to Your Leader. The two entities (both signed to Tech N9ne’s Strange Music imprint) connected so well they decided to reteam for this summer’s ¡MursDay!, an electrifying, high-energy album with an eclectic musical palette and dynamic live-instrument additives.
The album received positive reviews, with many noting that the music should translate incredibly well in a raucous live setting, meaning the collaborative’s show at Thompson House in Newport could be one of the more entertaining concerts to hit the area this fall. Showtime is 7 p.m. and tickets are $20.
• Successful Canton, Ohio Pop Rock band Relient K plays Bogart's in Corryville tonight with guests Blondfire. The band is celebrating the 10th anniversary of the release of Mmhmm, its breakthrough LP. The album spawned a pair of hits, including "Be My Escape," their most widely recognized track.
Doors for tonight's show open at 6:30 p.m.
• Austin, Texas' The Bright Light Social Hour have built up a nice following here in Cincinnati thanks to regular visits, though it's been a while since the group has graced a local stage. That all changes Saturday when the band comes back to MOTR Pub for a free, 10 p.m. show with Cincy Indie Pop masters Darlene.
The Texas indie psych rockers are gearing up for the release of their second album. In a recent interview with Fayetteville Free Weekly, BLSH's Jack O'Brien said the full-length is due early next year and will be titled Space is Still the Place.
• The Funkified Hoedown Tour featuring Zach Deputy and Hot Buttered Rum comes to the Ballroom at the Taft Theatre on Sunday. Showtime is 8 p.m. and tickets are $20 in advance/$25 day of show.
Deputy, a South Carolina native, describes his sound as "Island-infused Drum n’ Bass Gospel-Ninja-Soul." CityBeat's Charlie Harmon explains more in his preview of the show from this week's paper:
"When (Deputy) gets up on stage to start one of his infamous dance parties, it’s just him. He is the definition of a one-man band, usually donning just an acoustic guitar, four microphones and the pedals to handle all the looping and layering he does with them. Using the microphones, he creates drum and bass sounds, beatboxing almost all the percussion, as well as synthesized choir noises and soulful vocals."
For more live music options this weekend, click here. And feel free to plug other events in the comments.
In this week’s CityBeat we review Patience, Child, the debut full-length from Cincinnati’s theatrical Progressive Pop madmen Injecting Strangers. Given some of the album’s playfully spooky tracks (including the two-part horror story “Nightmare Nancy”), it’s fitting that the band is celebrating the album’s release tonight at a free Halloween spectacular at Over-the-Rhine’s MOTR Pub. Nashville’s New Wave Rebellion opens the show at 10 p.m.
Here is a track from Patience, Child that would make a great addition to your Halloween mixtape. From the review: “‘Haunted Heavens’ also fits the (Halloween) vibe perfectly, with its sinister spoken-word passages and eerie choral background vocals. It’s like Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ filtered through Queen, Public Image Limited and The Nightmare Before Christmas and then re-filtered through a modern Indie Rock mindset.”
For the past two and a half weeks, Arnaud’s van has been home for five full-grown men. While we’ve been lucky enough to not have to spend the night in it at any time, we’ve done pretty much everything else. We’ve eaten in here, we’ve slept in here, we’ve emptied bladders (well, only one … Nick was desperate), it houses all of our possessions on this continent and we’ve had far too many inappropriate conversations in here. It has all the comforts of home … except for TV, Internet, showers, a kitchen or any sort of privacy. But then again, some of our non-moving accommodations don’t have any of those things either, so it’s fine.
We even have our own “rooms.” Arnaud usually drives with Ryan copiloting. If you move one bench back, Nick sits in the farthest seat from the door so he can lean against the window to nap. The next seat is empty and holds our various jackets, water bottles, candy and other items a touring band needs. Next to that is me; my seat offers no real advantage other than the ability to get out fast at rest stops when the call of the wild can be heard. Aaron has claimed dominion over the back bench, but two of the seats hold two overnight bags and random stuff (mostly scarves that Aaron has bought along the trip).
The ride is rough; it seems like the shocks were an afterthought and you can feel every bump in the road. Turns make the van shift and roll and the seats don’t adjust from their full upright and locked position. This all adds up for a ride that isn’t very comfortable or relaxing. If you’re wondering how we can sleep in here under such conditions, all I can say is that touring Europe is a very tiring experience, no matter how fun it is.
Of course, the real reason we needed the van is to not just transport ourselves, but all of the band’s gear from show to show without the need for a trailer. And that, my friends, is an experience all it’s own. Arnaud and Nick have set up a system to load and unload the back of the van efficiently at each stop. While I play Tetris at shows, those two play Tetris in real life. Just take a look at this setup and tell me that isn’t almost artistic to see how much crap can be fit into such a small space.
This van has been a constant in our lives for almost a month now; while I can only speak for myself, I have to say that I will almost miss it when I get back home. While the ride might be rough, there was an element of comfort and familiarity in crawling into this thing as we headed towards our next show. And it’s the place where we all really bonded as a group — being stuck in a tin can with four other dudes for six hours will do that to you. It’s been a special spot for all of us.
But, man, I really wish the seats reclined.
CityBeat contributor Nick Grever is currently traveling Europe on tour with Cincinnati Rock band Valley of the Sun. He will be blogging for citybeat.com regularly about the experience.
The show by Trigger Hippy (featuring Joan Osborne and members of The Black Crowes) scheduled for tonight at Newport’s Southgate House Revival has been postponed due to a death in Osborne’s family. The band is hoping to reschedule the show soon. But there are plenty of other solid live music options in Greater Cincinnati tonight.
Reflection Eternal, renowned Cincinnati-based producer/artist Hi-Tek’s collaboration with legendary MC Talib Kweli, headlines the 8 p.m. concert, marking a rare appearance by the duo. The lineup also features Cincinnati heroes Mood, who took Cincy Hip Hop nationwide in the ’90s, Buggs Tha Rocka (who’s prepping a new album release for early December), Trademark Aaron (whose new video for “The Best,” featuring Easy Lantana, recently premiered on Vevo’s home page), Clockworkdj (Mac Miller’s official DJ), Valley High, Eddie Vaughn, Aida Chakra and many others.
Tickets are $30 at the door while they last.
• Dynamic, groovy and fun rockers Automagik are putting out a limited edition, Halloween-themed EP, Monster Party, for the holiday. The five-track collection features appropriate tracks taken from the group’s two albums. as well as the new title track.
The band will have Monster Party available at its show Thursday night at Newport’s Thompson House (purchasers can “name their price”). The 8 p.m. event (with just a $5 cover) also features area acts Dark Colour, Motherfolk, Celestials and Young Colt, plus a live art performance by Kara Mitchell. Costumes are encouraged — those wearing the best ones will be rewarded with a piece of Mitchell’s artwork.
Here’s one of the previously released Automagik tracks included on the Monster Party EP:
• Also playing Thompson House tonight (in one of the other rooms) is Jamaican Reggae fave Cocoa Tea. Tea’s fellow countryman Louie Culture also appears, along with soulful Folk/Soul/Jazz/Reggae singer Etana, Cincinnati’s The Cliftones and others. Showtime is 9:30 p.m. and tickets are $25.
Cocoa Tea began making waves in the mid-’80s before busting out internationally in the ’90s. Tea scored some major U.S. press in 2008 when he released a song in support of the man who would become our country’s first African American President (in case you’re unclear to whom I’m referring, the song was called “Barack Obama”) and this year he released his 30th LP, Sunset in Negril, on his own Roaring Lion label.
• After adding to their already huge press kit at the recent CMJ festival in New York City, Cincy Trash Pop trio Tweens has been added to the bill at Over-the-Rhine’s The Drinkery tonight, making an already great show even better. The band is joining Brooklyn trio Nude Beach and excellent Cincinnati-based newcomers Leggy. Making infectious, classics-influenced Pop Rock, Nude Beach is touring behind its just released album 77. Here’s the album’s single “For You”:
The free show kicks off at 9 p.m.
• British rockers You Me at Six play Corryville’s Bogart’s tonight. Doors open at (of course) 6 p.m. The U.K.’s Young Guns and L.A.’s Stars in Stereo open.
You Me at Six is beginning to make waves in the States after building a large and loyal fan base in the U.K. The band is currently touring behind its critically acclaimed latest, Cavalier Youth, a big hit in their homeland (it became the group’s first No. 1 album when released early this year).
Here’s the video for You Me at Six’s “Room to Breathe”:
Click here for even more live music events tonight in the Cincinnati area and feel free to plug any other shows going on tonight in the comments.
On Monday, Cincinnati's Foxy Shazam, one of the Queen City's more successful musical exports in recent years (and one of the city's best ever live bands), announced on its Facebook page that it would be disbanding, effective immediately. The extremely hard-touring band has canceled all forthcoming shows, including a hometown New Year's Eve appearance at Oakley's 20th Century Theater.
The band says the split will be for "an unknown amount of time" as the members spend some time with their families and other artistic endeavors. "We truly believe there is a future for Foxy Shazam, that our best art is yet to come," the message continues. "We don't know how long this will take but we plan on someday returning more powerful than ever."
CityBeat has written many articles about Foxy over the years, including a 2010 cover story (read here). The band first caught our attention in 2005 after the self-released The Flamingo Trigger, which we reviewed and talked about with the group.
Hopefully they'll be back sooner than later. I don't like that one of my favorite Foxy tunes is now "ironic." (This still deserves to be co-opted by a local sports team … or better yet, the city's tourism board.)
(Foxy in 2005 and in 2014:)
Over the Rhine is releasing its third Christmas album, Blood Oranges in the Snow, on Nov. 4, but The New York Times’ website is offering an early listen through its “Press Play” website. Click here to listen.
The album, which follows previous “reality Christmas” efforts Snow Angels and The Darkest Night of the Year, is available now for pre-order here. Pre-orders of the CD will instantly receive a digital version of the album.
OTR’s Linford Detweiler and Karin Bergquist will do some acoustic dates after Blood Oranges’ release, beginning next week in Washington state. The duo’s “Acoustic Christmas” tour officially begins Dec. 5 in Virginia and culminates with OTR’s annual hometown holiday show at the Taft Theatre on Dec. 20.
This summer, on-the-rise Northern Kentucky-based Hip Hop artist Trademark Aaron released his excellent EP Act Accordingly, which included a bonus track titled "The Best," a collaboration with Cincinnati MC Easy Lantana, the RCA/Polo Grounds Music recording artist who made waves nationally last year with his single, "All Hustle, No Luck."
The track about hard work and perseverance now has an accompanying music video. The clip, directed by Franco Mudey and Mark Merkhofer, had its premiere yesterday on the front page of popular video site Vevo.
Trademark Aaron's next performance is part of what could very well be the best local Hip Hop show of the year, this Thursday at Over-the-Rhine’s Rhinegeist. Reflection Eternal, renowned Cincinnati-based producer/artist Hi-Tek’s collaboration with legendary MC Talib Kweli, headlines the 8 p.m. concert, marking a rare appearance by the duo. Thursday’s lineup also features Cincinnati heroes Mood, who took Cincy Hip Hop nationwide in the ’90s, Buggs Tha Rocka (who’s prepping a new album release for early December), ClockworkDJ (Mac Miller’s official DJ), Valley High, Aida Chakra and many others.
Tickets for the 8 p.m. concert are $20 in advance (through cincyticket.com) or $30 at the door (if there are any tickets remaining). There are also $60 advance VIP tickets available, which include a meet-and-greet with the artists.