CityBeat Blogs - Live Music http://www.citybeat.com/cincinnati/blogs-1-1-1-35-10.html <![CDATA[Music Tonight: We Were Promised Jetpacks and More]]>

It’s a double bill of Scottish Indie Rock at Bogart’s tonight as We Were Promised Jetpacks and The Twilight Sad pull into town for a free, all-ages 8 p.m. show. The concert was originally scheduled for Over-the-Rhine’s Woodward Theater, but was moved due to the new venue not quite being ready yet to host events yet (the legendary Ian McLagan’s Oct. 29 show slated for the Woodward has been moved to Southgate House Revival in Newport for the same reasons). The Woodward’s selling tickets to shows beginning Nov. 10, so hopefully it will be all set by then.

CityBeat’s Brian Baker spoke with WWPJP’s guitarist/singer Adam Thompson for a feature in this week’s paper. Thompson spoke of mixing things up on the band’s most recent album release, Unravelling

“It’s still got the same emotional pull as the last two albums, it’s just that the whole sound is a lot more varied,” Thompson notes. “It’s got a bit more groove or something and I think that’s what we were trying to achieve, but it’s still very much a We Were Promised Jetpacks album. If you don’t like the first two, you’re not going to like this one, but I do think it offers something different.”


Click here to read Jason Gargano’s preview of openers The Twilight Sad.


• While it’s true that “Ska Punk” had its mainstream flash-in-the-pan moment in the’90s, it’s a shame that Ska often gets dismissed today as a sort of punchline. (“Ha, remember when Ska and Swing music were popular?”) From its origins in late-’50s Jamaica through today, Ska has endured thanks to new, young bands rediscovering the music and a loyal cult following. 


America’s Ska kings are unquestionably The Toasters, who were formed in 1981 (just as the U.K.’s 2 Tone Ska craze was beginning to lose steam) by British ex-pat Robert “Bucket” Hingley. When The Toasters (who eschewed the distorted “Ska Punk” concept for a style more reminiscent of the pioneers and 2 Tone bands) were looking for a label to release their debut EP, Hingley formed Moon Ska Records, which became the top independent Ska label on the planet and was home to practically every America Ska band worth a listen.


The Toasters play a free show tonight at 10 p.m. at Over-the-Rhine’s MOTR Pub.



Irish music trio Socks in the Frying Pan, from County Clare in Ireland, is in the midst of its first tour of the U.S. and tonight the group plays Molly Malone’s in Covington. The young band is becoming known for its creative spin on traditional Irish music, which has earned it numerous accolades in its homeland (the Live Ireland Awards and Tradition in Review Awards both have named them New Group of the Year and Irish American News calls them “simply stupendous”).  


Tonight’s Covington show starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $12. 


• A pair of great, rootsy singer/songwriters perform at Newport’s Southgate Revival tonight — in separate rooms and as part of separate shows.


Tommy Womack, once dubbed “Nashville’s best loved musical eccentric,” headlines the Revival Room at 8:30 p.m. with special guests Wild Ponies. Tickets are $12. 


• Meanwhile, the stellar Robbie Fulks plays the club’s Sanctuary room with guests Woody Pines. Showtime is 9 p.m. and tickets are $15. 


Fulks has long recorded for the esteemed label Bloodshot Records and his song “I’ll Trade You Money for Wine” is featured on the label’s awesome, recently-released 20th anniversary compilation, While No One Was Looking, which features a variety of artists performing songs from Bloodshot’s back catalog. Fulks’ tune is covered by Andrew Bird and Nora O’Connor.


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<![CDATA[Deke Dickerson Sings "Instrumentals" with Los Straitjackets]]>

The world’s greatest wrestling-masked instrumental musical ensemble Los Straitjackets return to the Cincinnati area tonight for a show at Southgate House Revival. The band is joined by Roots music fave Deke Dickerson, who collaborated with Los Straitjackets on the recently released LP, Los Straitjackets: Deke Dickerson Sings The Instrumental Hits

As the cheeky title suggests, the album features some famous instrumental tunes which Dickerson fleshes out with “lost or rewritten” lyrics. The track “You Can Count on Me,” for example, is The Ventures’ Hawaii Five-O theme with lyrics from Sammy Davis Jr.’s version.


Other instrumental-turned-vocalized songs on the album include classics like “Pipeline,” “Walk Don’t Run,” “Misirlou” and “Popcorn.” 



“If you're a record collector and music geek who’s been around long enough," Dickerson said in an interview with Billboard, "you start to realize that most famous instrumental hits either started out as vocal songs, or — even better — were written as instrumentals." 


Sadly, the Star Wars theme didn’t make the cut.



Showtime tonight is 8 p.m. Admission is $20 at the door. The B-Sides open.

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<![CDATA[Valley of the Sun Tour Diary: A Day in the Life of a Merch Guy]]>

Before I left, I had a lot of people ask me just what I’d be doing while on tour. The best answer I could give them was, “I don’t know, sell shirts I guess.” 

So, in an effort to give you a better picture of what a day in the life of Valley of the Sun’s illustrious merch guy/tour bitch, I give you a minute-by-minute breakdown of what will most likely be our busiest day on the tour. What transpires is a day with two shows and 10 combined hours on the road and yes, it’s as tiring as it sounds.

6:30 a.m.: Wake up before dawn in Frankfurt and get ready for a five hour drive to Munich. Take a shower in a hotel shower that has no door or curtain while using a shower head has no holder on the wall. Listen to Black Dahlia Murder to wake up.

7:30 a.m.: Make a to-go sandwich at the hotel’s breakfast bar.

7:35 a.m.: Help navigate the van out of a hotel parking garage that it shouldn’t have logically fit in.

7:47 a.m.: Begin a five-hour drive to Munich. Naps are taken by most. Breaking the speed limit is performed by others. Who knew a van could go triple digits?

8:50 a.m.: Pit stop number one: water, coffee and baked good acquired. Knifes and soccer hooligans are ogled.

10:43 a.m.: Pit stop number two: water and coffee are released, drivers are switched.

12:00 p.m.: Arrive at venue, take tour of stage and see backstage area. Find WiFi password and begin to use and abuse venue’s internet connection.

12:45 p.m.: Dig merch out of van for festival’s merchandise display. Freak out when an entire box of shirts cannot be found.

12:47 p.m.: Rejoice when the box of shirts are unearthed.

1:20 p.m.: Begin gear load in.

1:30 p.m.: Realize you’ve learned more gear terminology on this tour than in a decade of attending concerts and hanging out with bands.

1:40 p.m.: Rip an expensive tour banner.

1:52 p.m.: Sit around and surf through Facebook and Instagram while band sound checks.

2:45 p.m.: Check to see if ears are bleeding from sound check volume.

3:00 p.m.: Walk around the venue and people-watch to waste time before show starts.

3:25 p.m.: Set up Nick’s Go Pro cameras around the venue to capture the forthcoming insanity.

3:30 p.m.: Showtime. Festival attendees begin to filter into Valley’s show (Valley is the first band of the day).

4:00 p.m.: A circle pit breaks out for the first time in the band’s history. Horns are thrown liberally.

4:10 p.m.: Remember why Valley of the Sun is my favorite Cincinnati band.

4:15 p.m.: Raid the catering table for a sandwich, pretzel, banana and water. Plan to eat pretzel on the road as a snack.

4:30 p.m.: Settle merch sales with organizers, collect money, pile up CDs, LPs and shirts to load into the van.

4:35 p.m.: Eat pretzel before ever reaching the van.

4:40 p.m.: Call dibs on a festival attendee.

4:50 p.m.: Wait for Ryan to settle up event pay with festival organizers.

5:00 p.m.: On the road again for another five-hour ride to Seigen.

5:05 p.m.: Begin typing hourly breakdown in van to save some time on off day tomorrow and to give my phone a chance to regain some charge.

5:50 p.m.: Pit stop one. Beer from festival is released.

8:25 p.m.: Pit stop two. Water is released and drivers are switched.

10:30 p.m.: Arrive at second venue where bands have already started playing.

10:37 p.m.: Order a pizza at stand outside of venue while we wait for support bands to finish.

11:15 p.m.: Continue eating; this time it is chicken curry in the band apartment.

11:30 p.m.: Final support act has finished. Start mad dash to load gear in from the van to the venue.

11:40 p.m.: Set up last minute merch area in a now desolate bar.

11:43 p.m.: Wait for the band to take the stage.

11:55 p.m.: Sell first bits of merch to those still at the venue. Try to explain that pins are one Euro a piece, not one Euro per handful.

12:30 a.m.: Show starts.

12:50 a.m.: Play Tetris while band is performing and, therefore, no one is looking at merch.

12:55 a.m.: Earn new high score in Tetris.

1:10 a.m.: Band finishes after three encores. A fourth is requested but the band has literally no other songs left to play.

1:15 a.m.: Sell 132 Euro worth of merch in 10 minutes.

1:45 a.m.: Pack up merch once sales dry up.

1:55 a.m.: Pack up van and grab overnight bags.

2:20 a.m.: Prepare for bed after a 20-hour day.

2:25 a.m.: Sleep for 10 hours straight.

If there’s anything that I’ve learned about touring it’s that it’s defined by tons of dead time, punctuated by moments of massive amounts of activity. “Hurry up and wait” is the perfect way to describe it. We rush in the morning to squeeze everyone’s morning routine into a short period of time. Then we spend hours in the van to reach a venue, only to rush to get the van unloaded, merch set out and sound check completed, along with other pre-show rituals. Then we wait for the show to start, followed by the post-show rush to sell merch, load up the van and get to our lodging for the night.

It makes for long days and long nights, with little to no rest. It’s tiring, hectic and stressful and I’m having the time of my life. I could really use an actual shower though, that’s for sure.


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<![CDATA[Music Tonight: Method Man and Redman, Unearth and More]]>

Between Wu-Tang Clan reunion shows and the seminal Hip Hop group’s forthcoming new album, two Wu members have hit the road to headline the World Wide Rollers Tour, presented by The Smokers Club, a group of weed/Hip Hop aficionados that have booked five national tours and launched a clothing line and record label (smoking products will reportedly soon be added to the Club’s inventory). Joining the dynamic Wu duo of Method Man and Redman on the tour are B-Real, frontman for cannabis-in-Hip Hop pioneers Cypress Hill, and up-and-coming MCs Mick Jenkins and Berner. 

The tour DJ is Cincinnati’s own DJ Clockwork, who’s now going by the name Clockworkdj. Clockwork, DJ for rapper Mac Miller and regular on MTV’s Mac Miller and the Most Dope Family reality show, recently released the solo single, “Clocktwerk,” on which he’s shows off his rhyming skills. Click here for more info on Clockworkdj. https://www.facebook.com/ClockworkDJ


Tonight’s Worldwide Rollers tour stop at Bogart’s kicks off around 7 p.m. Tickets are $37.80.

Madison Theater is Metal central tonight as several genre heavyweights pull into the Covington venue for a 6 p.m., all-ages concert. Tickets are $25. 


The show features Unearth, Darkest Hour, Carnifex, I the Breather, Origin, Black Crown Initiate, Requiem and Laid Bare


Boston’s Metalcore heroes Unearth are gearing up for the Oct. 28 release of their latest album, Watchers of Rule. Here’s the new album track “The Swarm”:


And here’s Carnifex’s video for “Die Without Hope,” the title track off of the Californian Deathcore band’s most recent album. 

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<![CDATA[Valley of the Sun Tour Diary: A Guide to Packing/Overpacking]]>

Remember in my first blog when I said I was worried that I had over packed? 

Guess what? I over packed. 

I’ve been on tour for a week now and these are a few things I’ve learned so far, in no particular order. Hopefully they help you the next time a Rock band drags you across Europe. Or on your next trip to Disneyland.

  1. Backpack space is very important. In my backpack, I originally had a jacket, a neck pillow, my laptop, two books, two magazines and a front pocket full of random paperwork. Now, the jacket is always out and the neck pillow has disappeared because I needed the space for dirty clothes. There simply was no other space for them. Nick, who’s an experienced road warrior (he drum techs for Breaking Benjamin), basically lives out of his backpack, only digging into his carry-on when he needs to swap things in and out.
  2. Everything should have a home. When I packed up for the trip, I was very meticulous and I made sure to check off items when they made it into my bags (traveling puts me on edge). Now that I’m over here, I’ve found it easier to keep track of things when I put them back in the same place every time. Lazily throwing my sunglasses into a pocket only causes me to flip my shit when I can’t find them down the line. And scouring a van while it’s moving at 130 kph is not a fun experience, my friends.
  3. Creature comforts are nice, but not totally important. I brought a lot of reading material thinking this trip would have plenty of van time to catch up on my books. So far, I’ve reached for precisely none of them. I read my two magazines, sure. But one was on the plane and the other was only a day ago. While we still have over two weeks, so that might change, I wish I had used that space for something more important, like more clean socks.
  4. Jeans are amazing and should be respected. I only brought one pair of denim for three weeks on the road. The boys brought two: a live-in pair and a show pair (Rock & Roll is a sweaty affair). Jeans take up a lot of space and, as long as you don’t spill goulash on them or something equally as traumatic, they can last you for a long time in between cleanings. So if you’re ever on a long road trip, do yourself a favor and save some space. One pair is all you need, just Febreze them once or twice and you’re good to go.
  5. Cleanliness on the road can be hard, but don’t skimp. Road butt, swamp ass — call it what you will but sitting for hours on end will do harm to anyone’s rear end. And when showers are not always guaranteed — along with the supply of hot water, wash cloths or towels — then it’s important to keep some stop gaps handy. Baby wipes are like touring gold. They let you wipe down your pits and keep that fresh feeling in between shows and showers. Small bottles of hand cleanser are great too. Touring is dirty business, soap isn’t always on hand and when you’ve got five guys crammed into one van, germs could be disastrous. So toss a bottle in your bag and don’t forget to scrub up from time to time.
  6. Leave things at home that you don’t need. This was something I sort of already knew, but I didn’t understand the true extent till we got over here. For example, when I arrived I had my house key, my mail, two keys to my parent’s house, my car key, our tour laminate (geek out moment here: we have tour laminates!) and a few key chains. On Day 1, Arnaud added a van key to that pile. Later I learned that I would usually be keeping track of any apartment or hotel keys we got too. This added up to a key ring that was obnoxiously filled. I sounded like a janitor when I walked around. So I ditched all but the few that I actually need here. My states keys are safely stowed in my backpack and my pants aren’t weighed down with useless crap.
  7. Don’t leave home without a towel. South Park’s Towelie and Douglas Adams were right. I didn’t listen and I’m sorry that I didn’t.
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<![CDATA[Music Tonight: JEFF the Brotherhood and More]]>

Two of the leading lights from Nashville’s exploding underground Rock scene, JEFF the Brotherhood and Diarrhea Planet, perform tonight at Northside Tavern. Admission is $10 and the show starts at 9 p.m. Locals Gazer and See You in the Funnies open.


JEFF the Brotherhood recently released a covers EP, Dig the Classics, on Warner Brothers Records. Brothers Jake and Jamin Orrall picked six of their favorite tunes to record for the EP: Pixies’ “Gouge Away”; The Wipers’ “Mystery”; My Bloody Valentine’s “Come in Alone”; Colleen Green’s “Cujo”; Teenage Fanclub’s “Mad Dog 20/20”; and Beck’s “Totally Confused.” A new original full-length, the followup to the duo’s fantastic Hypnotic Nights LP, is currently being completed and is slated for release early next year. 


• Austin, Texas, Indie Pop trio The Please Please Me returns to town tonight, this time for a free show at Over-the-Rhine’s MOTR Pub. With a mix of cello, guitar and some spectacular melodies and harmonies, The Please Please Me has been working on its first full-length release, the followup to last year’s debut EP, Shake a Little Harder.

The Please Please Me - " Dreamin' " from Archimedes Media Lab LLC. on Vimeo.

Know of other good live music options for tonight in Greater Cincinnati? Share details in the comments.


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<![CDATA[Music This Weekend: Wussy, Cory Branan, Ben Frost and More]]>

Cincinnati greats Wussy continue to surge into the national spotlight, playing sold-out shows across the country and continuing to garner glowing press for their spectacular Attica! album. The band also recently posted several photos of the members filming something for CBS in New York City recently (more info TBA), which should escalate its status even more (a film crew was on hand she the band played the MidPoint Music Festival recently, as well). Can’t think of a more deserved local band. 


This evening you can catch the band live FOR FREE on Fountain Square as Wussy headlines this week’s happy-hour “Rocktober on the Square” series. Music starts at 5 p.m. with the fantastic Roots Rock ensemble Arlo McKinley and the Lonesome Sound. 


Here’s Wussy’s full appearance on KEXP recorded earlier this year.


• Nashville rockers Those Darlins are also a band on the rise and their fan base in Cincinnati continues to grow thanks to their repeated visits to the Queen City (and their great sound and live show). The group plays a free show at Northside Tavern tonight with guests Jeremy Pinnell and the 55’s and Even Tiles. Doors open at 8 p.m. 


• The two-night, “whole house” showcase at the Southgate House Revival in Newport celebrating local indie label Phratry Records kicks off tonight. Showtime is 8 p.m. and admission is $5 each night. Click here and here for details. A documentary film about Phratry is currently in the works. Here’s the trailer: 


• London Pop band Bastille was supposed to play at Covington’s Madison Theater back in May but cancelled and then got HUGE (or HUGER — its music had already been selling big and the band appeared on Saturday Night Live in January). So tonight the group is playing its make-up date at our riverfront arena. A review of Bastille’s recent show in Toronto said the young crowd screamed a lot.


Fellow Synth Pop band Grizfolk opens tonight’s 8 p.m. show at U.S. Bank Arena. Tickets are $29.50-$35.


• It’s looking more and more like you’ll never get a chance to see Led Zeppelin perform live and in person ever again. But tonight you can see the “American Led Zeppelin,” Get the Led Out, at the Aronoff Center. Showtime is 8 p.m .Next best thing? If you go, let us know. It’s certainly going to cost you less than what it would to see the real deal — tickets are $33-$46. 


• Eclectic Americana singer/songwriter Cory Branan plays Saturday night at 10 p.m. at Over-the-Rhine’s The Drinkery, one of the best newer live music clubs in the area. Local duo Rucca opens.


Branan has been drawing attention for his dynamic, boundless sound over the past 15 years, but his most recent album, The No-Hit Wonder, is earning him some of the best reviews of his career.


Writer Brian Baker spoke with Branan for a feature story in this week’s CityBeat. Branan said the diversity of styles that crop up in his songs just kind of happen naturally and is something never predetermined while a song is being written. 

“I try not to impose on the song,” Branan says. “I end up in much more interesting places if I follow and see where it’s going. I overwrite a lot and go back with a machete instead of clippers, so I can end up three songs down from the one I started with, and that’s the interesting place for me. Then I sort of let them tell me what clothes they want to go out in, even down to the studio. Like ‘Sour Mash,’ I always pictured it as a flat-picked barnburner with fiddle and banjo, and then we were doing the record and I found out that Joe Fick, who’s a Memphis boy, was up in Nashville and he’s just the best doghouse (upright bass) player I’ve ever heard, so I was like, ‘OK, we’ll go a little more Sun Records on this one.’ I pivoted at the last minute.”


• Chicago Blues singer/songwriter/guitarist E.G. Kight performs Saturday at the DownTowne Listening Room, the intimate, “listener-friendly” new venue downtown in the historic Shillito’s building. Born in Georgie and based in Chicago, Kight is a cult favorite and has worked with everyone from B.B. King and Koko Taylor to Merle Haggard and George Jones. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. Admission is $15 (all proceeds from shows at the Listening Room go to the performing artists).


• Legendary British Folk artist Richard Thompson plays the Dave Finkelman Auditorium on the campus of Miami University-Middletown Saturday night. Amanda Shires opens the 7:30 p.m. concert. The show is a part of Thompson's current acoustic tour in support of Acoustic Classics, an album featuring acoustic takes on some of the songwriter's favorite songs from his storied catalog. Tickets are $35 and available in advance here


Check out Jason Gargano’s show preview for CityBeat here.


• Australian Electronic music composer/performer Ben Frost brings his tour behind his latest album A U R O R A to the Contemporary Arts Center on Sunday. Showtime is 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 ($10 for CAC members). 


From Steven Rosen’s show preview in this week’s CityBeat:

This is Electronica, but it’s neither conventional Electronic Dance music, pure-noise Industrial nor (solely) peacefully Ambient droning. Noirish and foreboding, thrilling and involving, it aurally paints a landscape that has been compared to Blade Runner. It unfolds for 40 minutes, like an urgent story. The music can be lulling, even comforting, in its brooding introspection, but it keeps building — it’s complicated like a symphony. Overall, it’s tough and emotional, with moments of grandeur along with reverence to minimalism.


• Some other Australian musicians will also be in town Sunday night. Psych Folk/Rock band Immigrant Union — fronted by Dandy Warhols member Brian DeBoer — plays Sunday a 10 p.m. show at Over-the-Rhine’s MOTR Pub with guests White Violet. Like all MOTR shows, it’s a freebie. DeBoer describes the 10-year-old band’s sound as “Spiritualized being (baptized) in a river of Creedence Clearwater.” 


Click here for more live music events in Greater Cincinnati this weekend and feel free to promote other cool shows that were unmentioned in the comments.

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<![CDATA[Valley of the Sun Tour Diary: Venue Variety]]>

Let’s take a moment to talk about Rock venues in the States, shall we? In my mind, there are two distinct types: you either have the nice, well-kept venues that often lack a certain spark that make them truly special or the dives that feel like a Punk Rock haven but smell like a dirty sock filled with cheese. You have to choose between fantastic atmosphere or a bathroom that’s actually been cleaned since The Sex Pistols were the next big thing.

Well, my friends, it seems that you can get the best out of both worlds; you just have to hop the pond and check out European venues. On this trip, I’ve been in an underground hall converted into a bar, a warehouse covered in graffiti and stickers, a youth center filled with murals slapped in the middle of a small town (and next to a church) and a venue in Berlin filled with so many weird and wonderful knick-knacks, I can’t wait to get home and start redecorating a little bit. I wanted to share some pictures and highlights of what we’ve seen so far.

The venue in Freiburg was called The White Rabbit and it was located underground, down several flights of stairs. The entrance was narrow but opened up to a large, cylindrical structure. We guessed that it was used as a bomb shelter or wine storage but the real origin was even more intriguing. It was originally the town’s coal chamber; the building above it had been leveled during the war and had been rebuilt.

Hamburg’s venue was the most surprising so far. As a Metal kid through and through, the graffiti and sticker-laden walls of Hafenklang instantly appealed to me. It had an industrial air about it and it felt just dirty enough. The wall adornments actually gave the place an artistic element. Somehow, hundreds — if not thousands — of taggers managed to create a cohesive composition worthy of any modern art museum.

Berlin has the honor of housing my favorite club yet. The Bassy Club was full of odd and awesome artifacts. I’m a big fan of weird decorations and this place was absolutely chock full of them. When we walked in, we all went into full tourist mode and started snapping pictures left and right. I now fully intend on finding a cow skull and making him a new light fixture when I make it back to the states.

Special kudos goes to Berlin for being an awesome city. We got a few hours to roam around and we ran into some sort of festival and found an awesome “Horror Rock Bar” called Last Cathedral. Sadly, it wasn’t open when we were walking around, so Nick and I had to resort to pulling an Immortal pose in front.

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.

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<![CDATA[Ten for 10: Phratry Records Celebrates 10th Anniversary ]]>

Though the traditional 10th anniversary gift is tin or aluminum (WTF?), a more fitting present for the Cincinnati label Phratry Records to congratulate it on its 10th year of service is your attendance at this weekend’s two-night Phratry showcase at Newport’s Southgate House Revival

Local musician Jerry Dirr (Knife the Symphony) launched the label in 2004 with the release of the debut album by Cincinnati’s Caterpillar Tracks. Since then, the label has put out around 50 releases, which are distributed nationally by Stickfigure Distribution & Mailorder.


Friday and Saturday’s anniversary showcase will feature a mix of Phratry signees (both local and out-of-towners), reunions and special guests. Here’s the lineup info from my Spill It column in this week’s CityBeat:

Friday night, the Phratry showcase will present non-Cincinnati signings Ultrasphinx (Akron, Ohio), Tyranny is Tyranny (Madison, Wisc.) and The Shanks (Toronto), plus currently active local Phratry bands Mad Anthony and Gazer. Friday will also see the return of Covington and thistle, whose own Tiberius Records teamed up with Dirr just as Phratry was getting started to release the compilation album Organelle. It will be thistle’s first show in three years. Friday’s lineup is rounded out by Indie Folk artist A.M. Nice, Reggae/Rock crew New Third Worlds, a reunion of former local Punk favorites Saturday Supercade and Jonathan Lohr & the Angel Shale, an AltCountry project that features former members of Caterpillar Tracks (whose debut album was Phratry’s first release).


Dirr’s own band Knife the Symphony plays the Phratry showcase Saturday, joined by one of the label’s most recent local signees Smoke Signals …, the hard-touring Ampline, progressive Post Punk/Metal band Mala in Se, State Song (which released the spectacular full-length Sleepcrawling earlier this year on the label) and blistering Punk group Swear Jar. Also performing Saturday are Pittsburgh-based Ed fROMOHIO, the former singer/guitarist of Mike Watt’s post-Minutemen band fIREHOSE whose more recent band Food records for Phratry, experimental unit Aperiodic and Heevahava, a former Greater Cincinnati band now based in Roanoke, Va. Saturday also features a pair of reunion shows local Punk fans should be pretty psyched about; both East Arcadia (which included/includes members of Phratry band Arms Exploding) and The Scrubs will reactivate their wonder-twin powers for the event.

In honor of Phratry’s 10th birthday, I’ve selected 10 of my favorite tracks from the label’s output so far. I hesitate to call these Phratry’s “greatest hits,” because everything the label puts out is excellent, but these tracks should give you a good idea of what the imprint is all about. You can peruse the entire catalog of available Phratry releases here.


Caterpillar Tracks - “Slippery Slope” from Scrape the Summer (2007)


thistle - “Ribbons” from The Small Hours (2008)


Humans Bow Down - “The White Sun” from A Mirror (2004)


Mad Anthony - “Sank for Days” from Sank for Days (2014)


Tyranny is Tyranny - “Manufacturing Truth” from Let It Come From Whom It May (2013)


State Song - “Skeleton Key” from Dear Hearts & Gentle People (2010)


Ampline - “Our Carbon Dreams” from You Will Be Buried Here (2010)


Knife the Symphony - “Rusted Satellites” from Dead Tongues (2009)


Arms Exploding - “Race Card Driver” from Ruminari (2008)


Gazer - “A Nurse for a Human” from Fake Bulbs (2014)

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<![CDATA[Music Tonight: Ruthie Foster, Dreamers, Misfits and More]]>

Texas Blues artist Ruthie Foster plays Oakley’s 20th Century tonight with local great Kim Taylor opening. Foster’s first album came out in 1997, but her last two (2009’s The Truth According to Ruthie Foster and 2012’s Let It Burn) really helped her make a name for herself; both earned Grammy nominations. Her latest is Promise of a Brand New Day, which mixes her Blues base with a variety of other influences.

From Steven Rosen's CityBeat show preview

The singer/bassist Meshell Ndegeocello produced Promise of a Brand New Day and her and Foster’s intentions are announced in the very first song, the Foster-penned “Singing the Blues,” on which Foster intones “A little bit of Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland never gets old.” Bland, the great and dramatic singer whose voice could smoothly move from a whisper to a scream, proves a great inspiration for Foster. So, too, does Bonnie Raitt — Foster’s voice has the same level of warmth and generosity on some of the new songs.

Tickets for tonight’s show (a “seats only” affair) are $22-$25.



• Buzzin’ indie rockers Dreamers play a free show tonight at 10 p.m. at MOTR Pub. Great Columbus, Ohio Indie Rock crew Indigo Wild opens. In promo materials, Dreamers’ sound is described as a “unique brand of grunge that is nostalgic for a space somewhere between art-school eccentric and the late 1970s punk scene” and Stereogum says, “They’ve taken little bits and pieces from the past six decades of rock and molded it into something fresh and interesting.” 


Dreamers’ self-titled debut EP is set for release Nov. 18. The music video for the EP’s “Waste My Night” recently premiered on Vice/Noisey. 



• For the past several years longtime local Pop radio station Q102 has been bringing in hitmakers to perform at its Bosom Ball concert, raising money for various breast cancer research and awareness organizations. The Bosom Ball returns tonight to Covington’s Madison Theater for its 10th annual event. 


This year’s concert features popular Pop Rock band O.A.R., British Pop singer Katy Tiz, the duo Alex & Sierra (winners of season three of The X Factor) and Mary Lambert, the Seattle singer/songwriter whose appearance on Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ hit “Same Love” thrust her into the national spotlight (her debut full-length for Capitol Records, Heart on My Sleeve, was released Oct. 14). Bosom Ball proceeds are being donated to Susan G. Komen and The American Cancer Society’s breast cancer programs.


The show (open to those 21-and-up only) officially sold out earlier this week, but tickets are still available for the all-ages “Q102 Bosom Ball Underage Sound Check Party,” which takes place at 4 p.m. and features a performance from Alex & Sierra. Tickets are $10. http://www.cincyticket.com/eventperformances.asp?evt=2286



• Punk legends Misfits play Newport’s Thompson House tonight. The influential band was formed in 1977 by Glenn Danzig, who dissolved the band in the early ’80s when he formed Samhain (and then Danzig). Band members Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein and Jerry Only reactivated Misfits in the mid ’90s and, with various lineup changes, Misfits have continued to release albums and tour ever since. The current lineup of the band includes Only, singer/guitarist Dez Cadena (who spent some time fronting Black Flag in the early ’80s) and Eric "Chupacabra" Arce, former drummer for Murphy’s Law.


Here’s a track off of Misfits’ recent live album, Dead Alive!



Tonight’s show starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25.


• Dynamic Roots Rock crew Sons of Bill plays Newport’s Southgate House Revival tonight at 9 p.m. with guests Brave Baby. Tickets are $10.


Sons of Bill recently released its new album, Love and Logic, produced by former Wilco member Ken Coomer. The music video for Sons of Bill’s “Lost in the Cosmos” single (a tribute to Big Star singer/songwriter/guitarist Chris Bell) was recently premiered by Rolling Stone, which calls the new album “a classic roots-rock record for the modern age, filled with B3 organ, acoustic guitar, envelope-pushing arrangements and the sound of three siblings whose voices were born to mesh.”



Know of other good live music options for tonight in Greater Cincinnati? Share details in the comments.


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<![CDATA[Music Tonight: Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Surfer Blood and More]]>

• Ohio Hip Hop crew Bone Thugs-N-Harmony are still kicking. The ensemble, called by MTV the “most melodic Hip Hop group of all time” (thanks largely to their deft ability to work melodies not only into chorus hooks, but also their rhymes), performs at Bogart’s tonight at 7 p.m. 


The group, which came into the national spotlight in 1993 when Eazy-E signed it to Ruthless Records, won a Grammy in 1997 for “The Crossroads” (a tribute to their late mentor). Bone Thugs’ current tour is their first in a while to feature all of the original members. The group recently made news when it started its own “TV channel,” which is actually an internet channel that will simulcast the crew’s homecoming concert in Cleveland tomorrow night (for a fee). The big homecoming show will feature backing from a full orchestra; proceeds from the pay-per-view broadcast benefit their hometown non-profit, Roots of American Music.


This should be one of the last times to catch the original Bone Thugs — the group has announced its next album and upcoming dates will be its last with the full lineup.



• Indie Rock heroes Surfer Blood perform tonight at The Southgate House Revival in Newport. The Florida-based band broke through in 2010, the same year Surfer Blood appeared at Cincinnati’s MidPoint Music Festival (where so many people showed up for the show, many had to be turned away at the door). The band is currently touring behind its sophomore album, last year’s Pythons. Surfer Blood recently came off a tour with We Are Scientists. The two bands also released a tour-only split single; you can hear Surfer Blood’s contribution here.


Read Jason Gargano's preview of the show from this week's CityBeat here.



Virginia based trio Eternal Summers opens tonight’s 8 p.m. show. Tickets are $17.



• Folk/Roots duo The Hobo Nephews of Uncle Frank play a free show tonight at MOTR Pub. The Minnesota-based twosome’s 2013 album Number One Contender was called one of the best Minnesota-made albums of last year by the Minneapolis Star Tribune. You can listen to it in its entirety below.


 


Know of other good live music options for tonight in Greater Cincinnati? Share details in the comments.




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<![CDATA[Music Tonight: Tim Shelton ]]>

Singer/songwriter Tim Shelton, co-founder of the popular Bluegrass group NewFound Road, plays Newport’s Southgate House Revival tonight in the venue’s Revival Room. 

Shelton’s solo career began when NewFound Road’s mandolinist decided he needed a break from the group. (Shelton was the only original member of the band at that point.)


“He’d been with me for seven years, so it caught me off guard,” Shelton says in his promo bio. “But I thought about it, and literally the next day, I decided, I’m done. I didn’t want to deal with reinventing NewFound Road, I’d been wanting to do other things musically, to go other places, and so I thought, now is the time.” (NewFound Road still does occasional tour dates.)


A southwestern Ohio resident, Shelton hit Ric Hordinski’s Monastery Studio in Walnut Hills this past summer to begin recording a solo effort full of material Shelton says will showcase a wider range of influence than just Bluegrass.


“I just want to make music that isn’t necessarily traditional Bluegrass. I love it, but I also love James Taylor, Jackson Browne, Rock, hard Rock, traditional Country — all of those. Just music. I think that people listen to the way I sing, and they assume I must be ‘going Country,’ but that’s not the direction I’m going. The vocals sound Country because it’s me, but I’m not setting out to try to make some huge-sounding, very produced record. I want it to sound good, I want the music to be played right, but I don’t want a wall of sound — I’m not trying to make a Rascal Flatts or Jason Aldean record.”


Shelton is offering a free download of his single “I Wish You Were Here” through his Facebook page here.


Here’s an earlier single Shelton released this summer called “Learning How to Live Alone”:



Tonight’s Southgate House Revival show begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10. 


Know of other good live music options for tonight in Greater Cincinnati? Share details in the comments.




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<![CDATA[Valley of the Sun Tour Diary: European Bathrooms Rule!]]>

Saturday night contained a lot of firsts. It was the first time I ran merch, the first time we played in Germany, it marked the first appearance of the hot dog suit and the first time I said “fuck you, asshole” in German.

We got a late start on our trip from Antwerp, Belgium to Oelsnitz, Germany. Alarms weren’t properly set, showers were needed all around and the beds were comfier than they first appeared. Once we got our shit in gear (and loaded up on croissants) we were on our way. Ahead of us was one of our longest drives on the tour, a seven-hour voyage across country lines. The trip was punctuated by two pit stops; during one we saw a new bride run into the bathroom while still in her wedding dress.

A quick note on European bathrooms — they’re fantastic. You often have to pay for entry, but in many ways it’s worth it. We stopped in one gas station that had completed the checklist for being a dive. Porn mags on the racks? Check. Dirt and grime everywhere? Check. Attendants who seem to be hopped up on some sort of … something? You know it! So I wasn’t too hopeful when I dropped my 70 pence into the bathroom machine.

But man, oh man, was I wrong. The toilets are automated and include a self-cleaning system. It’s majestic. You can buy a vast assortment of sexual tools in the vending machine (part of the aforementioned checklist), but the rest of the bathroom was absolutely spotless. And when you’ve been on the road for four hours and nature comes a-callin’, this is a gift from on high.

Our GPS had us snaking through small German towns and we didn’t see anything resembling a venue. As we reached the end of the directions we still didn’t see anything. So we pulled up a little bit further and there it was: a graffitied beacon of Rock & Roll in the midst of beautiful German countryside. We had arrived.

We parked, met the promoter, met the support and got to unloading. I start grabbing the merch boxes and dove right in. And by dive right in, I mean that I stared at them blankly until Aaron came over and explained how everything worked and gave some suggestions on how to set up. From there, my retails skills came back and I became a folding, sorting and styling machine. I gave each style of shirt their own home in a box, put out a size run of each, spread out the small stuff and waited. And waited. And waited. And ate some homemade goulash. And waited some more.

Finally, the crowd began to build — and our game of “dibs” began anew — while we waited for our slot. Finally, the boys hit the stage and the crowd started to wake up. But, still, they needed a little push, a little something to get the mood just right. It was time for the hot dog costume. I slipped it on, ran to the front, got a laugh from the boys and the crowd and made my exit.

It seemed to have worked.

As the set wrapped up, the merch sales started to roll in. Thankfully, it wasn’t super busy, so I was able to get a feel for pricing, exchanging Euro change (who buys an EP with a 50€ note!?) and trying to translate thick German accents.

After the show finished, the party started up and it was a fun one. Nick was throwing down peppermint shots, courtesy of a fan. Ryan had to dodge the advances of two older women who had a bit too much to drink (and then drank some more on top of that). I, on the other hand, spent my time with a lovely young lady named Jenny and her friends as she gushed over her love of Barney Stinson and Nirvana. She also taught me all of the major German curse words and phrases when her friends got jealous of the attention I was getting. I wish I could’ve remembered some of the words; they will surely come in handy sometime on this trip.

Finally, the free beer was safely stowed in our bellies and it was time for bed. We found our hotel, made plans for the next day, stripped down and passed out.

This morning we’re on our way to Berlin for show number three. We actually left on time today so we should have some time to see the city (and replace Aaron’s broken double bass pedal) before we get down to rocking.

Spinal Tap moments: 4.

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.

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<![CDATA[Mayesfest Music Event Moves Indoors]]>

With cool, rainy weather in the forecast, this weekend’s planned Mayesfest Bluegrass & Americana Festival in Bellevue has been cancelled. But with artists traveling into Northern Kentucky for the outdoor, riverside event, and many fans excited for it, organizers have decided to present what they’ve called on their Facebook page a “mini Mayes,” moving the music indoors to Over-the-Rhine’s Christian Moerlein Taproom (1621 Moore St., near the Shell gas station on Liberty), which hosted two stages during the recent MidPoint Music Festival.  

The event will now begin at 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and feature a stripped-down but still excellent lineup of local and touring Bluegrass and Americana artists. 


Here is the new lineup:


FRIDAY                                            

5 p.m. Price Hill Hustle                       

6:30 p.m. Al Scorch                                

8 p.m. Morgan O'Kane                 

9:30 p.m. Henhouse Prowlers           


SATURDAY                                                        

5 p.m. Honey & Houston        

6:30 p.m. Jack Grelle           

8 p.m. Woody Pines                           

9:30 p.m. Morgan O'Kane


Visit mayesfest.com or the event’s Facebook page for more info and further updates. 


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<![CDATA[Journey with the Valley of the Sun: An Introduction]]>

(Editor’s Note: CityBeat contributor Nick Grever leaves today for Europe, where he’ll be on tour with Cincinnati Rock group Valley of the Sun as the band’s “merch guy.” Nick has graciously agreed to blog about his journey for citybeat.com over the next three weeks. Below is his first installment, an introduction written last night when he was [possibly over] packing for the trip.)


Hello, my name is Nick and since I’ve been a teenager, I’ve dreamt about living the Rock & Roll lifestyle. There’s just one problem – I can’t play music worth a damn. 


As a freelancer for this fine publication, I have been able to get a taste of my dream but one element has always eluded me: touring. So imagine my excitement when local rockers Valley of the Sun invited me to work merch for them on their second European tour. I just never expected to be touring the world in a hotdog costume.


Maybe a little background is in order. I’ve known the Valley guys (guitarist/vocalist Ryan Ferrier, drummer Aaron Boyer and bassist Ryan McAllister) for several years, culminating in a profile piece in the pages of CityBeat for their first full-length release, Electric Talons of the Thunderhawk. With that release (and my expertly devised words of praise, no doubt), the band has risen to new heights. 


Valley of the Sun signed with Fuzzorama Records and has already toured Europe once, in support of Desert Rock titans Truckfighters. Now it’s time for them to return for another three week tour for shows ranging from massive fests to small dives. We’ll be traveling throughout Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, Switzerland and other countries, joined by Valley’s sound guy across the pond, Arnaud Merckling. In their infinite wisdom, the band invited me along to run their merch; Mangrenade’s Nick Thieme is also on the trip, playing bass in McAllister’s absence.


I’m writing this the night before we leave and I’m still not entirely sure what to expect. But here’s what I do know: I’ll be writing constantly, I probably over packed and Ryan, Nick and Aaron are really excited to see me run around in a venue in my new skeleton onesie (far warmer and more comfortable than it has any right to be) and hotdog ensemble.


These blog entries will ultimately be a record of our trip but it’s going to be more than just a recap of the shenanigans we’re sure to get into and the excellent food we’re sure to eat — although expect a few Instragram worthy images of foreign cuisine, too. (I love me some sausage.) It’s going to examine all the parts of tour life that arise over the course of our trip. What is it like to sit in a small van with four other guys for eight hours when none of us have showered for three days? Is German beer really as good as people say? What happens at 4 a.m. when Ryan starts spouting off about the multiverse as we sit around a bar in Switzerland? Seriously, did I pack enough underwear? 


These hard hitting questions, along with my observations and insights, will fill these digital pages. Hopefully they’ll be interesting enough for you to come back and read some more. Expect updates at least every few days — it all depends on how reliable the wifi is in Europe. Hey, that’s another blog entry topic!


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<![CDATA[The Afghan Whigs’ ‘Gentlemen’ Turns 21]]>

Yesterday (Oct. 5) marked the 21st anniversary of the release of Gentlemen, the major label debut from Cincinnati-spawned rockers The Afghan Whigs, which helped catapult the band into the international spotlight. To celebrate the album reaching drinking age, Rhino Records is releasing a deluxe edition later this month under the name Gentlemen at 21. For the album’s birthday last night, the band (which recently performed a hometown show at the MidPoint Music Festival and is in the midst of a tour behind its new album, Do to the Beast) played an expansive set at Brooklyn's Music Hall of Williamsburg. With tickets priced at $21, last night's show reunited the Whigs with special guest Usher, doing a version of the superstar’s “Climax” (the entities first teamed up at last year’s South by Southwest fest in Texas).

Due Oct. 28, the Gentlemen at 21 set will be available digitally and as a two-CD collection. A vinyl version of the original remastered album will also be released Oct. 28, followed by a three-platter deluxe vinyl edition with all of the bonus material, which is being issued for Record Store Day's Black Friday event on Nov. 28.


Gentlemen at 21’s bonus material will include all of the original demos for the album, which were recorded in Cincinnati at bassist John Curley’s Ultrasuede studio. The set will also feature rarities, including radio sessions and B-sides. The Whigs’ version of fellow Cincy greats The Ass Ponys’ track “Mr. Superlove” (originally issued on a vinyl single from local label Mono Cat 7, with the Ponys covering the Whigs’ “You My Flower” on the flip side) is also slated for the Rhino release. 


Here is Gentlemen at 21’s full track listing:

Disc One

1.     “If I Were Going”

2.     “Gentlemen”

3.     “Be Sweet”

4.     “Debonair”

5.     “When We Two Parted”

6.     “Fountain And Fairfax”

7.     “What Jail Is Like”

8.     “My Curse”

9.     “Now You Know”

10.   “I Keep Coming Back”

11.   “Brother Woodrow/Closing Prayer”

 

Disc Two

The Demos

1.     “If I Were Going”

2.     “Gentlemen”

3.     “Be Sweet”

4.     “Debonair”

5.     “When We Two Parted”

6.     “Fountain And Fairfax”

7.     “What Jail Is Like”

8.     “My Curse”

9.     “Now You Know”

10.    “Brother Woodrow”

The B-Sides

11.   “Little Girl Blue”

12.   “Ready”

13.   “Mr. Superlove”

14.   “Dark End Of The Street”

15.   “What Jail Is Like” (Live)

16.   “Now You Know” (Live)

17.   “My World Is Empty Without You/I Hear A Symphony” (Live)

 

Tracks 1-8 Demos Recorded At Ultrasuede

Tracks 9-10 Instrumental Rough Mixes, Ardent Studios

Tracks 15-17 Recorded Live For KTCL At The Mercury Café, Denver, CO, May 10th, 1994

Also this past weekend, the Whigs’ YouTube channel debuted Ladies & Gentlemen, The Afghan Whigs, an hour and a half-long road documentary chronicling the band’s touring of Europe in the early ’90s. The film, produced by the Whigs’ longtime sound engineer Steve Girton, was screened at Newport’s Southgate House in 2005 during the Lite Brite Indie Pop and Film Test, but has otherwise only been circulated as a much-coveted bootleg. Check it out below:



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<![CDATA[Another Music Fest-Filled Weekend Awaits]]>

Those jonesing for more music fest goodness after last weekend’s spectacular MidPoint Music Festival have some great options this weekend. Bluegrass fans should be especially excited for a couple of them.

The Bend in the River Art & Music Festival debuts this Saturday and Sunday in Lower Price Hill (2104 St. Michael St., next to The Sanctuary: Center for Education and the Arts). The festival/fundraiser runs 5-11 p.m. Saturday and noon-6 p.m. Sunday with the goal of bringing the community together (and showcasing it to others) and raising money for the Community Matters (cmcincy.org) and Education Matters (emcincy.org) organizations. 


Along with food trucks and booths, beer from MadTree Brewing and Rhinegeist and a variety of vendors and artists showing their wares, local musical acts from a variety of genres will provide live music. Tim Caudill, Pike 27, Blue Caboose, Under New Order, The Part-Time Gentlemen and Ohio Knife perform Saturday, while Wild Carrot, Sibling Rivalry, Matthew Schneider and Phoenix (the local Rock cover band, not the internationally famous French Indie Pop group) play Sunday.


Admission to the Bend in the River Art & Music Festival is $7 or $10 for a two-day pass (Lower Price Hill residents receive a coupon to attend for free).


For more information on “Bend Fest” and the cause, visit facebook.com/bendfest and cmcincy.org.


• The DevouGrass Festival presents its first-ever event Saturday at the Devou Park Bandshell (1700 Montague Road, Covington). The family friendly event runs noon-dusk, and while there is no admission charge (even free parking is available throughout the park), organizers are asking for donations to the Children’s Home of Northern Kentucky


Along with food trucks, other vendors, various children’s activities and performances by Circus Mojo and kids’ fave Joel the Singing Librarian, DevouGrass will also feature sets by area Roots/Bluegrass outfits Blue Caboose (noon), Ma Crow and the Lady Slippers (3 p.m.), Hickory Robot (3 p.m.) and the Downtown County Band (6 p.m.). 


For complete festival info, visit devougrass.com


• The Versailles State Park Bluegrass Festival returns with a new location and name: the Friendship Music Festival at the Old Mill Campground in Friendship, Ind. (facebook.com/oldmillcampground), which hosts the very popular Whispering Beard Folk Festival annually and is only about an hour drive southwest of Cincinnati. Despite moving from the state park and changing the moniker, the fest will continue to spotlight some of the region’s finest Bluegrass and Roots music practitioners. 


On Saturday, the music starts at noon with a lineup featuring Mamadrones, Common Ground, Rural Route 2, Lee Sexton with John Haywood and Brett Ratliff, Whiskey Bent Valley Boys, The Tillers and Bradford Lee Folk & the Bluegrass Playboys. The music picks back up Sunday at 11 a.m. with Mt. Pleasant String Band, followed by James White & Deer Tick, Blue Mafia, Whipstitch Sallies, Rattlesnakin’ Daddies and Tony Holt and the Wildwood Valley Boys. 


Weekend passes for the Friendship Music Festival are $10; one-day passes are $5. Camping is available. Visit friendshipmusicfestival.com for full details. 

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<![CDATA[REVIEW: CHVRCHES at Madison Theater]]>

It was an eventful night at the Madison Theater in Covington when CHVRCHES came to town Sept. 29. A pretty good sized crowd turned up at Covington’s Madison Theater, which was a little surprising, since they shamefully receive almost no local radio airplay. Oddly, our local “alternative” station The Project sponsored a meet and greet contest with the band, even though the station has never played a CHVRCHES song. Across the river, WKNU has played them. Once. Five months ago, according to a search of the station’s online playlist.


The make-up of the crowd was another surprise. It was an almost teen-free show, with most folks falling between late college and near retirement. That could be due to the fact that CHVRCHES make modern Electronic music but with a very retro feel. And they’ve got tunes.


The Range (who opened for Chromeo at the MidPoint Music Festival) came on stage promptly at 8 p.m., and began his first song. After 45 minutes, that song finally ended. CHVRCHES were set to take the stage at 9:15 p.m., but just after 9 p.m., the fire alarms in the theater went off. Here’s a handy tip: when you’re in large venue, look not only for the nearest exit, but all exits. Security decided it would be cool to deny access to the fire exits at the back of the theater. What the fuck!? Do you not know what happened not three miles from here in 1979? Or in Rhode Island a few years back? Fortunately, everyone was able to file out safely, and pass the time in a well-behaved manner out on the blocked-off street while fire officials investigated.


According to theater management, who were very upset with the way the evacuation was handled, security was provided by the promoter. After the show, the two sides discussed in detail the proper procedures in order to avoid any such occurrences in the future. 


Once the all-clear was given, security did do a nice job of getting everyone back in quickly and efficiently. CHVRCHES thanked the crowd for their patience and apologized, saying the fog machine they were using is what likely tripped the alarm.


Coming out of the gate strong, the band launched its set with two singles, the very fine “We Sink,” followed by the popular “Lies.” Like many Electronic bands, they don’t move around a lot, with Iain Cook and Martin Doherty stationed at their synth racks, flanking singer Lauren Mayberry. This isn’t as visually limiting as it sounds. Ms. Mayberry is an outspoken critic of sexism and misogyny in music, so it feels a little awkward to point out that she’s quite lovely and very engaging in her stage presence. Flying around the stage a la Dave Gahan of Depeche Mode, or Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails simply isn’t her style, yet she still holds the crowd.


Her mates weren’t chained to the instruments all night, at least not Doherty, who traded places with Mayberry while he sang “Under the Tide.” Mayberry returned to center stage for what is arguably the band’s most popular track, “The Mother We Share,” which is also one of the best songs of the past few years. 


The enthusiastic crowd of course wanted more, bringing the band back out for the obligatory, but much-desired, encore, wrapping up with “You Caught the Light” and “By the Throat.”


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<![CDATA[MPMF 2014 Day 3: Last Dance, Last Chance for Love]]>

The last day of MidPoint is like a lot of endings in life; the end of the day, the end of the week, the end of the year, the end of a piece of cherry pie, the end of the line. This is the end, my only friend, the end. 


And it had the chance to be the perfect end of perhaps the most perfect MidPoint in the festival's history, from the lineup to the weather to the experiences. And you know what, Aunt Em? I think it was. You were there, and you were there, and so were you. And so was I. I'm fairly sure of it.


I had a lot of possibilities circled on my MidPoint program for Saturday night, allowing for the chance to leave something I wasn't crazy about or merely the opportunity to see a couple of great things in the space of an hour. All of that happened and so much more. Saturday night was more sampler platter than focused attempt to see a set number of bands and it turned out pretty well. And for the first time since I began doing this daily wrap-up thing God knows how many years ago, I didn't take a single note all night as an inadvertent experiment in appreciation recall. Success or not? You be the judge.


As I was finding a parking space, I was listening to Little Steven's Underground Garage. The former Silvio Dante had been playing snippets of Groucho Marx bits from the Marx Brothers' movies, and finished with a hilarious Groucho interview about how the moustache came into existence. Moments later, as I was walking across Central Parkway on my way to the first show of the evening, I heard a horn honk and saw a massive arm wave from a Kia Sol. Of course, it was the semi-ubiquitous Jacob Heintz, the pope of MidPoint, giving me his blessing from his diminutive popemobile. Saturdays at MidPoint don't begin much better than that.


First up on my last day's dance card was Cincy’s The Ready Stance, who were slotted as the first show of the evening on the Midway stage. When the band began, I was still near the food court, and as the music cranked up, I would have sworn that the production staff was pumping some Marshall Crenshaw through the sound system for a level check. Within seconds, I realized this was no lost Crenshaw track but the Stance in full Pop jacket mode. The Stance churns out classic Pop/Rock informed by the '90s college Rock histories of guitarist/vocalist Wes Pence, bassist Randy Cheek and drummer Eric Moreton and the contemporary classicism of guitarist/vocalist Chase Johnston. As the foursome ran through a set that was evenly divided between tracks from their 2012 debut Damndest and new songs that may wind up on the band's in-the-works sophomore album, the Stance's numerous gifts were evident.


Pence and Johnston play with a two guitar/one mind synergy that crackles with intensity, Cheek lays down a massive groove that could be tracked from space and Moreton has the malleable sensitivity to control tempo and volume with a flick, a roll or an outburst. These guys are working stiffs on the old day job/night Rock treadmill, and the gears turn slowly in that world, so the new album may be on the far horizon. But as good as they were Saturday evening — Goose's Jason Arbenz pronounced them "Cincinnati's Jayhawks" and I wouldn't dispute it, although I'd toss in occasional nods to Mitch Easter and Ray Davies — the anticipation can only grow.


I bailed on the tail end of The Ready Stance's set to see OK Go down at beautiful Washington Park, and that may have been a mistake. I could have easily seen the entire Stance set and still made it in time for OK Go, as the band started close to 20 minutes late (It's a festival, boys … check the clock on your Jetson phones). When they finally hit the stage, the confetti cannons went off, they did two songs and then launched into … a question and answer session with the audience. 


I did get to see "Writing on the Wall," a pretty good tune which is accompanied by one of the band's most inventive videos, and a track called "Obsession," also from their impending new album. But it was already time to hit the next thing on my slate, and as I walked out of Washington Park and heard frontman Damian Kulash taking an inordinate amount of time to teach the audience how to sing along with whatever was coming up next, I knew I'd bailed in the nick of time. I like OK Go, a lot, but this was a massive disappointment.


If I was feeling somewhat burned by OK No (cheap shot? Perhaps …), that feeling was almost immediately dissipated by Chicago trio Bailiff, who were just taking the Midway stage as I approached up 12th Street. The band had been recommended by my friend Paul Roberts, who had seen them at their last local appearance at MOTR, and he was lathered up by the prospect of seeing them again, so I added them to my list of possibles. Boy, was that the right thing to do. 


Bailiff is not easy to pin down to a specific genre, but they play the living hell out of everything they do and they do just about everything. At one point, they were grinding out a Prog/Pop vibe that suggested the sound of King Crimson with Adrian Belew at the helm and Robert Fripp in a support capacity, a pretty neat trick considering Josh Siegel is the only guitarist in the band. Or they'll take a left turn into a tribal Jamaican/African reverie, or Art Rock bluster with the classicism of Talking Heads and the future shock of Radiohead. I kept wondering if there was a keyboardist behind the amp and out of my line of sight, but no such accompaniment was present, just the Siegel's sinewy guitar acrobatics, bassist Ren Matthew's Entwistle-meets-Pastorius lead runs and drummer Owen O'Malley's baby Bonham antics. The trio was drifting between their 2011 debut, Red Balloon, and their just released Remise, and it was all over much too soon for anyone's taste.


For reasons that will be revealed in the notes, I hung around the Midway for Alexander Giannascoli, aka Alex G, an impossibly young guitarist from Philadelphia with a pretty happening band around him. G's got a pretty good backstory, writing and recording at 12, posting songs online at 16, then lathering/rinsing/repeating into his current early 20s. He's got a wispy vocal delivery that rivals the late Elliott Smith for ephemeral atmospherics, and a Beck-meets-Robert-Pollard sense of Avant Pop, qualities that stand in clear and extremely appealing relief on his studio work, particularly his just released DSU. Unfortunately, a lot of those recorded subtleties and quirks are lost in the clatter and bash of their live presentation, and with the dynamic and emotional range smoothed and leavened, Alex G's largely mid-tempo odes don't offer much else to latch onto in the course of a set. This is most certainly not a case of good songs performed poorly, more like edgy songs with just a little too much of the edge sanded off. Alex G is obviously a considerable talent, and if I were to offer a bit of unsolicited advice to young G, it would be to either find a band that can recreate your basement lab concoctions or write for the live band you have, because they're talented players.


There was a considerable spike in the Midway energy level when Low Cut Connie took the stage. Typically just a duo featuring piano basher Adam Weiner and drummer/erstwhile guitarist Dan Finnemore, LCC tours with a full band complement and makes a mighty racket in the process. Weiner plays with the ferocity and brash confidence of early Jerry Lee Lewis at his most petulant — he even has a vestige of The Killer's untamed forelock of hair — and he sings with the raw animal magnetism of Iggy Pop. Weiner hops up on his bench, plays with his elbows and occasionally his ass and stands atop his piano threatening to do a strip tease as the band vamps on.  And when Finnemore steps to the front of the stage with his guitar, the U.K. native truly embodies his Punk/Garage Rock roots and influences. Low Cut Connie's songs are dripping with snarky humor but they stop well short of being mere novelties by virtue of being great bloody songs. The band's Facebook posting on Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m. stated, "On our way to mess up Cincinnati real good … tonight at #mpmf … gonna rip it." Damned if they didn't.


Once again, I had to tear myself away from Low Cut Connie's compelling Midway spectacle in order to take in a little of Mr. Elevator and the Brain Hotel down at MOTR. When working on their blurb for the CityBeat preview issue, I was absolutely captivated by the Brain Hotel's hypnotic Psych/Pop soundtrack and dark Carnival of Souls demeanor, and it translates well into the band's live performance. There are hints of the '80s Paisley Underground in the Brain Hotel's sonic profile, particularly the helium-tinged vocals of the Three O'Clock's Michael Quercio, but it's the band's visceral impact that is most satisfying. It reminds me of the first time I saw The Doors on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1967 and was completely mesmerized, not by royal lizard/frontshaman Jim Morrison but by hunched-over keyboard alchemist Ray Manzarek. Any band that can consistently access that hallowed memory from the dusty archive of my brain's pre-hard drive file cabinet has my undying devotion.


I had initially earmarked the 11 p.m. spot for the Bonesetters at Arnold's, but my bum leg was starting to throb a bit and the prospect of walking to Arnold's and then back to MOTR for Kid Congo at midnight suddenly seemed painful and ill-advised. For the sake of saving my leg for possible use on Sunday (and sort of forever), I opted to keep my spot on the MOTR dance floor and hang around to check out Corners. Deirdre Kaye's preview noted that the L.A. trio had been working a Surf/Psych angle but that they'd recently shifted to a Post Punk direction. That became evident with their first song, a blazing two-guitar/bass/synth percussion screamer that brought my last two years of college back to life like an acid flashback with a Synth Punk soundtrack. 


Corners bears all the marks of late '70s Electro Punk, somewhere in the vicinity of Joy Division and their post-Ian Curtis iteration New Order, with flecks of the Units, San Francisco's dour Synth Pop avatars, a splash of Gang of Four, a dash of Bauhaus and Red Lorry Yellow Lorry and maybe a trace of the Sisters of Mercy and Killing Joke. All of this will most assuredly be reflected on Corners imminent new album, Maxed Out on Distractions, which provided the bulk of the songs for the band's MidPoint set, which was dark, vibrant and enjoyable. (Ironic fun fact: the entire lineup at MOTR on Saturday night will appear at Corners' L.A. record release party in early October.)


At last, it was time for Kid Congo and the Pink Monkey Birds, the last band of the last night of MidPoint, and brothers and sisters, the Kid and his compatriots were more than up to the task. The former Gun Club/Cramps/Bad Seeds guitarist has been staging some form of the Pink Monkey Birds for over a decade and this iteration (guitarist/keyboardist Jesse Roberts, bassist Kiki Solis and drummer Ron Miller) might be the best batch yet. Peeling any loose paint from MOTR's walls was absolutely no trouble for the Kid as he scorched away on selections from his latest album with the PMB, Haunted Head, as well as a couple of songs from their upcoming single and a bunch of old favorites, including The Cramps' "Goo Goo Muck," The Gun Club's "She's Like Heroin to Me" and his own brilliant "Black Santa" and "Killer Diller." 


The MOTR's dance floor was a boiling mass of rhythmically moving bodies, propelled by the Kid's blazing guitar runs and the Pink Monkey Birds' perpetual motion soundtrack. And since it was the band's last night of their current tour, they were not about to leave anything on the table, so after their standard club-clearing encore of "LSDC," the Kid and his Birds returned for one last brilliantly incendiary romp through The Gun Club's "For the Love of Ivy;" I fully expected lightning to shoot out of the Kid's fingers and eyes as he overloaded every internal and external circuit in the joint. I don't think he could have given us any more and I'm not entirely sure we could have taken it even if he had any more in him. As the Kid and the Birds bid us adieu, I had to believe that this might have been one of the most spectacular last nights of my personal MidPoint attendance history. It will be hard to top going forward, you can bet your sweet ass on that.


SATURDAY NOTES


• Before the Ready Stance set, I ran into Ready Stance. The Midway seemed like a good place for that to happen. Wes Pence was first, busy with logistics on the phone, then in short order Randy Cheek and Chase Johnston. The Good Rockkeeping Seal of Approval King Slice was on hand for the madness, as were Paulie, Big Jim and Stufest (that's Stu to you and me). Also down in front for the Stance was Randy Campbell, formerly with Screaming Mimes and now with Faint Signal, who promised a new FS album coming shortly. I will keep you appraised of the situation. And once again, Eddy Mullet, my Class X comrade in Rock, sought to gain my attention by standing impossibly close to me as the Stance pulsed and pounded. Note to Eddy: For the record, 20 years ago, on a trip to Michigan, my best friend's wife, completely circuit fried on Xanax and Grey Goose, was dancing around their living room, grabbed my foot, shoved it between her legs and started hopping around in front of me like my shin was a stick pony from the '50s. With my foot in her cooch. Believe me, I'm not suggesting that you need to escalate to that DefCon level of weird, but it's safe to say that my threshold of the unusual is well above a bar you'd be willing to attempt to clear. And we're back. Accompanying Eddy was his most excellent daughter Jess, the smartest, most music savvy high school senior I know. Big things coming for that girl, I just know it.


• Down at Washington Park just before OK Go played, I crossed paths with Latha Mannava, former CityBeat worker bee and now more gainfully employed by F&W. Latha graciously introduced me to her friends by saying, "Whatever Brian recommends, that's what I go see." Ironically, I had written up the OK Go preview as a glowing endorsement, and Latha noted about two songs in, "These guys are doing nothing for me." Just to keep things in perspective, folks, the best hitters in baseball are only successful a third of the time, and that's a better percentage than some highly salaried and over-radared weathermen. I'm pretty sure my reputation is still pretty good with Latha.


• I spent a good deal of the evening on the Midway with Ready Stance drummer Eric Moreton and his wife Kristiana. Eric couldn't really go anywhere because someone in the band had lost his wristband (I don't want to assess blame but his initials are Wes Pence), so I just kind of hung around and had a lovely conversation with the two of them. I'm fairly certain I scared the living shit out of them with tales of my dysfunctional life and times and the epic tale of why I was on a self-imposed one beer limit throughout MidPoint (which I'm surprised wasn't tweeted about at some point during the weekend, with the suggestion, "Please shut up already, please"). In any event, it was nice, thanks for the company, and if either of you requires therapy after our compressed time together, I think my insurance will cover part of the cost before tying a cinder block to my waist and throwing me off the Big Mac Bridge.


• As I was headed into MOTR for the Brain Hotel experience, the wisdom of checking out this show was magnified a hundredfold with the appearance of the much-too-absent Matthew Fenton and his friends Kyle and Nicki (I'm guessing at her spelling, as I did with last year's Bunbury report). Matthew had also decided to stake out an early spot for Kid Congo, and a look at Corners' crazy Gary Panteresque T-shirt designs at the merch booth salted his decision. I love seeing shows with Matthew; they typically involve exchanges like this:


Matthew: Who is this again?

Brian: Mr. Elevator and the Brain Hotel.

M: Very Paisley Underground.

B: Remember the Three O'Clock?

M: (nods)

B: They need a go-go cage.

M: With you in it?

B: I don't dance.

M: You've gotta do something.

B: (Frankestein-then-master voice) "Arrrrhh!" "No, Caezar!" "Fire, bad!"

M: Well, not that. You can't just sit there sucking your fingers.

B: May I go to the bathroom?

M: No!

B: Thank you.


Pretty much endlessly. I love our time together. It's so pointless and perfect. And it usually has a pretty cool soundtrack.


• As Corners left the stage, Matthew's friend Ashley showed up with her friend Tone (again, guessing … it could be some Scandanavian derivation with no vowels and the symbol for magnesium as an accent, or it could be short for Tony), who was a super nice guy and a good hang for the Kid Congo show. Ashley mentioned that they were only there because of a bug in the MidPoint app that kept defaulting to Thursday; they thought they were coming to see Nikki Lane. But they both thoroughly enjoyed Kid Congo, so no harm no foul … but have I.T. check that app for next year, kids.


• Also taking in the raucous Garage/Punkabilly jailbreak that was Kid Congo and the Pink Monkey Birds: Paulie, Big Jim and Sir Dan of MidPointville, who I'm beginning to believe was assigned my case and has been keeping pretty close tabs on me. For the record, I'm fine, and you can count the silverware. It's all there. I spotted Wes Pence at the very end of the show but when I did a quick walk through MOTR, he was gone. Cest la vie — see you again soon, my friend.


• On my way back to the car, I ran into the always fabulous Mike Sarason, dressed to kill after a friend's wedding, along with his stunning date Margaret. Mike mentioned that he had moved to New York, and that the hiatused Pinstripes were likely done, news that I had gotten from Pinstripes drummer John Bertke Thursday night at MOTR. It was great to see Mike, he's a world class guy and I certainly hope he continues to pursue a musical path because he's amazing, but the reality of the end of one of my absolute favorite bands and a perpetual highlight at this very festival made for a rather bittersweet end to the last day of MidPoint.


• And so one of the most nearly perfect MidPoints in the event's history is in the book. As usual, there is much credit to be spread around for the success of an undertaking with this much complexity and requiring this much planning. First and foremost to Dan McCabe, who somehow manages, year after year, to play the most intricate game of chess with artists, agents, publicists, labels and venues and then come up with a strategy where it seems everyone wins. 


• Obviously, MidPoint couldn't happen without the sturdy volunteer army that clockworks this potential mess every fall with very few glitches. This absolutely could not be done without your skill, patience and stamina. 


• Of course, there's everyone at CityBeat who helps facilitate and promote MidPoint and who are its main boosters well before and well after the event, from Dan Bockrath. Danny Cross and (now it can be told, cyborg) Mike Breen, right on down through the entire staff. Sting told me, every little thing you do is magic. 


• And obviously to all the bands who came from down the block, across the country and, in some cases, around the world to be here for the express purpose of entertaining us with their creative gifts. But most especially, thanks to everyone who attends MidPoint year in and year out, for showing up to experience the region's absolute best music crawl. This year’s may well have been the best populated Thursday night in the festival's history, and that couldn't happen without patrons who believe in the event and the promise of great music to be heard and that couldn't be done without all of the above. Funny how symbiosis works, isn't it? Thanks again to you all for a brilliant MidPoint 2014. Set your watches for late September 2015 … you'll know me, I'll be the thirsty one with a limp


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<![CDATA[MPMF 2014 Day 2: Stuck in the Middle with View]]>

The middle of the MidPoint weekend is like the middle of a lot of things; the middle of a movie, the middle of a book, the middle of life with an equal measure of glorious accomplishments and missed opportunities behind and the potential for great things still ahead, the middle of an exquisite jelly donut where the filling drips down your chin as you lick the pastry where you just bit with a sensual need for completion. 


What was I saying? Right, middle of MidPoint. So here we are in Day 2, quite possibly one of the most anticipated second days of the festival in its long and storied history.


I arrived at Washington Park just as Joseph Arthur was beginning his set. A lot of folks had been hoping that Van Hunt might be accompanying the evening's headliner, our own Afghan Whigs, since he had been touring with The Whigs recently, but Arthur is opening this next leg of the Whigs' triumphant return and so the honor fell to him. And yet the pleasure was all ours, as Arthur put on a brilliant one-man presentation with the help of loops and stomp pedals and a catalog filled with amazing songs, like the powerful "In the Sun" ("because all the best Rock & Roll happens in the middle of the day"). Clearly the most incredible moment of Arthur's set came at its conclusion, when he set up his loops and launched into "I Miss the Zoo," and began drawing an outline with a black paint marker, which almost immediately began to run, on a piece of what looked to be foamcore on an easel set up on stage. While Arthur sang verse after verse, he squirted different colors of paint on various spots around the board, and then picked up a brush and pushed the colors around and into the bleeding black. When he finished the song, he had finished the painting. It was quite astonishing, to say the least. I've been a fan of Arthur's for some time — I interviewed him many years ago — and although I knew he was renowned for his paintings, I had no idea he mixed his media in quite this fashion. It was thrilling to witness.


Next up on the bill was Wussy, quite honestly one of the most redemptive and satisfying second acts in Cincinnati music history. After the nonchalant major label dismissal of Chuck Cleaver's Ass Ponys in the '90s, he returned with a shambling vengeance with Wussy in the new millennium, partnering with Lisa Walker then adding Mark Messerly and Dawn Burman to the fold and making their studio debut with the patently amazing Funeral Dress in 2005. Wussy quickly became a critic's band, famously scoring a huge fan in renowned writer Robert Christgau, who cited both Funeral Dress and 2007's Left For Dead in his Top 10 best albums of the new millennial decade. The arrival of drummer Joe Klug in 2008 gave Wussy the powerful engine they required to hit the subsequent heights they have attained, first with 2011's magnificent Strawberry and now with this year's brilliant Attica! 


This latest string of Wussy shows is proving just how powerful and confident the newly minted quintet (with the arrival of former Ass Pony/pedal steeler John Ehrhardt) has become. Klug's presence as a muscular and reliable hammer is certainly one element, Messerly's evolution as an absolutely vital, melodic bassist is another, but in many ways this also boils down to the strengthening chemistry between Cleaver and Walker. The duo's already incredible synergy has morphed into a ferocious and purposeful partnership that yields more dividends with each set and session, and Friday's performance at Washington Park was evidence of Wussy's upward/onward trajectory.


After blazing through a killer romp on "Pulverized," Walker poked the crowd with a gentle threat: "I hope you like 'The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,' because we're doing all 13 verses … Gord's Gold 2, that's what we've been listening to, exclusively." 


Thankfully, no such root canal took place. Instead, Wussy ran through a selection of Attica! and catalog tracks that cemented the band's position as a formidable live entity. "Rainbows and Butterflies" was massive, dense and beautiful while "To the Lightning" howled with an anthemic power surge that accentuated its R.E.M. jangle and Yo La Tengo dissonance, and "Teenage Wasteland" was a showcase of Walker's incalculable gifts and her indispensible role in Wussy. And "Beautiful," like its studio predecessor, started out as a gentle meditation with a menacing undercurrent, but quickly built to a Crazy Horse squall that set off Cleaver and Walker's mantra-like intonation of "I'm not the monster that I once was." If all that wasn't enough, and it surely was, the fivesome finished their round with an unexpected and thoroughly engaging version of Joy Division/New Order's "Ceremony." This set was the best evidence yet that Cleaver may finally be ready to forget about the wounds inflicted by his first go-round with the industry and take his rightful place in the Rock pantheon along with his equally deserving Wussy mates.


At last it was time for the main event, the much-anticipated return of The Afghan Whigs. Each iteration of the Whigs' reclamation has been documented with a local show, but this tour in support of the Whigs' first studio album in a decade and a half, the jaw-dropping Do to the Beast, has been billed — even by some of the band's harshest critics — as the best live performances of their career. Local fans were justifiably amped up about the prospect of experiencing that rush for themselves. To say they weren't disappointed might well be an understatement on a par with "The Beatles kind of changed things."


Naturally, the majority of the set was devoted to Do to the Beast, as the band vaulted into the night air with "Parked Outside" and "Matamoros," guaranteeing that the album and live set opened with the same visceral one-two punch. But where frontman Greg Dulli sounded intense and focused in the studio, he was a coiled truck spring on stage, a spiral of wound up energy that unspooled with a nearly unhinged control. 


Surprise was the watchword of the evening. Dulli had hinted to CityBeat that an unexpected guest would be making an appearance and that apparently turned out to be Greenhornes/Raconteurs drummer Patrick Keeler, who proved to be more than up to the task of beating the Whigs' tribal drums and being the percussive foil for John Curley's perpetual bass clinic. And while much of the set list was anchored by Do to the Beast and Gentlemen, about to be reissued in a 21st anniversary two-disc package, there were a number of interesting twists and fan-centric fist pumpers.


The Whigs have always loved mashing up two or more songs, and last night there were a few corkers; Gentlemen's "When We Two Parted" drifting into Drake's "Over My Dead Body,” Do to the Beast's "I Am Fire," paired with a tubthumping take on Fleetwood Mac's "Tusk" and the new album's "Lost in the Woods" bleeding into a melancholic shuffle through The Beatles' "It's

Getting Better." Elsewhere, the band partly covered Jeff Buckley's "Morning Theft" to great effect, and opener Joseph Arthur provided backing vocals on the stage front mic for "Can Rova" from Beast while Dulli took his place at the piano. 


The band has been running through stellar versions of "Debonair," Black Love's "My Enemy," and 1965's "John the Baptist" and did again, but the end of the Whigs' hometown set provided the greatest fireworks, starting with the almost never performed "Son of the South" from their Sub Pop debut and sophomore album Up In It, and eventually finished with an abbreviated encore, a blazing march through 1965's "Somethin' Hot" and Black Love's "Going to Town." With the 10 p.m. curfew bearing down, Dulli introduced the band and departed with a resounding, "We are the motherfucking Afghan Whigs! We'll see you next time." 


The Afghan Whigs have clearly grown to accommodate some of the massive stages they've inhabited as of late. Longtime Whigs fans may lament the loss of the band's less seasoned version, where every club show seemed to be played with the ferocity of rats fighting their way out of a corner. The Afghan Whigs of now feature the cumulative growth that Dulli and Curley have experienced over the past 15 years since the band's demise and that experience is considerable and fairly amazing. Songs that were once acid-etched screeds are now heart-pounding anthems, and that evolution seems neither contrived nor insincere in any way. Dulli still sings them with visceral conviction, but now he possesses a new understanding of himself and his long established mythology and Curley still underpins every song with eye of the storm calm and outer band intensity but now he invests every note with the unrestrained glee of the best second chance ever. It all makes sense to me.


One last observation; the red gels on the stage lights gave the curtain behind the band the blood red appearance of the velvet backdrop on the cover of Congregation. If you carry that metaphor to its logical conclusion, the Whigs were a beautiful naked ebony mother and we were her beautiful naked pale baby and we were all together on a beautiful night under a beautiful sky having a beautiful time. The Whigs' official return to us could not have been more appropriate or better appointed. And then there was Dulli's hopeful parting, “We'll see you next time.” God, I do hope so.


With the adrenalized rush of the Whigs still ringing in my ears, I headed over to The Drinkery to catch the last two songs from Across Tundras. The Denver-to-Nashville trio works a Doom/Stoner/Psych/Metal angle with a Southern twist that has appeal and volume in equal measures. I realized that I had some wiggle room built into my schedule so I decided to stick around and check out some of All Them Witches, also from Nashville and also working a similar corner as Across Tundras. Although at face value, the two bands seem identical, I'd give the slight advantage to ATW, simply by virtue of their incredible sense of melodicism through the crystal clear volume. There were moments of black hole heaviness that referenced contemporary purveyors like Dead Meadow and Mastodon, but in a Stoner Metal heartbeat they'd crank out a run steeped in the pot/incense smokehouse of early Black Sabbath and Uriah Heep. Amazingly, as loud as it was in The Drinkery's long, narrow space — and I'm quite certain ATW was burying the needles on sound equipment down the street, registering the volume like a Richter monitor — it was never distorted or sludgy or painful, just sheets of pure, beautiful volume and emotion.


I ducked out of the end of All Them Witches to hit the Know Theatre for Rubblebucket. I had picked them to preview based on a couple of spins through their recently released fourth album Survival Sounds and its live presentation did not disappoint. This was clearly a much-anticipated show in the area; the Know staff was counting wristbands by the time I arrived to ensure they didn't go over room capacity on the second floor, and it filled up quickly. Rubblebucket's dancetronic Art Pop/Ska/Soul comes across well in recordings with plenty of nuance and subtlety, but on stage the band is unadulterated fun, downplaying some of the studio filigree while amplifying their core sound. Former boss/friend-for-life John Fox noted the band's resemblance to our own Walk the Moon, and they certainly offer that same brand of infectious Dance Pop, but there is a complexity in Rubblebucket's sonic recipe that pushes them into a singular and perfectly erratic orbit, a place where Bjork and The B-52s and Fishbone and Talking Heads form an orchestra and fashion Play Doh instruments, Bjork whips out some Icelandic volcano magic and transforms them into playable utensils and they translate signals from Voyager into universal Dance Pop. 


Rubblebucket's complexity and oddballitry may never find favor in the mainstream, but it hardly matters. They have found the answer to any number of unasked questions and created a sound that everyone should hear at least once and that too many never will. The packed house at the Know on Friday night can revel in the secret knowledge that we have heard Rubblebucket, we get it and, like so many things in life, that will have to do.


I once again beat a reluctant retreat, leaving Rubblebucket before set's end to make my way down to Arnold's for the Jam/Roots splendor of Holy Ghost Tent Revival. When I turned the corner on 8th Street, I spied a small crowd bunched up at Arnold's front door and heard the most feared word in the MidPoint vocabulary: Capacity. In a rare moment of "fuck it," I strolled into Arnold's anyway (OK, it's not all that rare; I am my father's son, after all, and I suspect that I learned those two words first), and found that "capacity" was a malleable term. As I was chatting with the ubiquitous and ever welcome Wes Pence of The Ready Stance in Arnold's middle room, The Sundresses' Jeremy Springer, doing a typically bang up job in his role as server in the bar, inquired if my presence in the middle room and absence from the patio was a result of the capacity announcement. "Follow me," he said without hesitation, and planted me at the rear of the room as the band kicked off the last slot of the evening.


It was obvious that a good many people remembered the Revival's rambunctious appearance at MidPoint two years ago, or heard about it and wanted to experience it for themselves (I was in the latter camp). I get The Band/Flying Burrito Brothers references to HGTR's tangy, twangy sound, but there's so much more to it than simple Country revivalism. The horn driven sextet swings with the bristling energy of Squirrel Nut Zippers without the desire for that level of authenticity, while ratcheting up the Rock quotient to Phish-like levels of volume and instrumental proficiency. With those twin engines in place, Holy Ghost Tent Revival is aptly named; the band is passionately inspired and their songs are energetically executed with the soaring joy of the event in their name without any problematic or messy religious connotations. Allow the Revival into your consciousness for just a couple of songs and you'll be converted to their immaculate perception of Roots Rock, Stax Soul, horn-peppered Pop and adrenalized Indie Rock. The band, squeezed onto the narrow confines of Arnold's porch-like stage, blew through selections from their estimable catalog, concentrating on 2012's Sweat Like the Old Days and the just released and consistently excellent Right State of Mind, with both a sense of and a disregard for precision, making sure the feeling came across more than the chart. Come back to us soon, Holy Ghost Tent Revival, MidPoint or not; we are in need of slightly more regular baptisms.


FRIDAY NOTES


• Washington Park was absolutely jammed with humanity for Wussy and the Afghan Whigs. Pike 27's Sean Rhiney and Dave Purcell, along with Dave's wife Amy, were there early for the Joseph Arthur experience, the Black Owls' Kip Roe was wandering the grounds with son Kip Jr. at about the same time and scene vet Jay Metz was working the Whigs' merch booth with typical entrepreneurial flair. Wes Pence was in attendance with his son Wyatt, who got an invitation from one of John Curley's daughters to sit on the stage and witness the Whigs' splendor up close. To be 11 and cute again. Well, to be 11 again … I just looked at my sixth grade picture.


• Local singer/songwriter Josh Eagle strolled in to witness the Wussy set; Josh is just one more reason why Cincinnati's music scene is unmatched for its talent and its sense of community. Also ran into my old CityBeat boss and mentor John Fox, to whom I literally owe, at least in part, my career and current life. It is an unpayable debt and I try to acknowledge it every time I see him so he understands his importance in my history. He was hanging for the night with his buddy Don; we had a nice chat on the lawn and he was kind enough to buy me the one early beer that I had allotted for myself each night of the festival. That story may unfold in this forum at some point; I've related it 50 times already this weekend to friends, acquaintances and complete strangers. Keep an ear out, you'll probably hear it secondhand before I tell it again.


CityBeat’s Mike Breen beamed in from the upper atmosphere for the Whigs extravaganza, so I'm two for two in the Breen spotting sweepstakes. I'm going for the hat trick on Saturday. The Owls' Brian Kitzmiller and Sohio's Mark Houk were also among the Whigsian throng, as were Paul, Big Jim and Stu: I learned from the shirt he was wearing that his given name is Stufest. Must be a passed-down-in-the-family thing. Great to see CityBeat theater critic Rick Pender, as well as CityBeat alum and local actor Rodger Pille and especially former Enquirer contributor and current MTV News hound Gil Kaufman. And I was introduced to a veritable platoon of additional people by some of the above, all of whom seemed like people I would like to have a picnic with anytime at all. I'm free next weekend, Brad and Amy.


• On the verge of heading back to the Main Street core, I turned just in time to see the unmistakable frame of stage manager guru Jacob Heintz strolling across the Washington Park grounds in the post-Whigs glow. Of course, Jacob's working every second of the festival, but he mentioned that things had gone so smoothly for the first two days that he was afraid to say it out loud for fear of screwing up whatever good MidPoint mojo was lingering in the atmosphere. It just ain't MidPoint until I've gotten some face time with Jacob.


• Once installed at The Drinkery, I was joined by CityBeat master blaster Dan Bockrath, who had arrived in order to soak up the sonic boom-and-doom of All Them Witches. Like everyone in the audience as near as I could tell, Dan was captivated by the concussive volume yet melodic heart of ATW, and when he returned from a trip to the bar, he handed me an unbidden yet desperately desired tonic water and lime. Although the Hall of Foam is sadly off line this MidPoint, Dan continues to be a much appreciated buyer of liquid refreshment, and that, at the end of the day, is all that truly matters. Thanks again and always, Sir Dan of MidPointdom.


• At Rubblebucket, I crossed paths once again with John Fox, his pal Don and the ever inscrutable Mike Breen. I have searched my aging brain device and not come up with a single memory of seeing Mike twice in one night, so that could stand as the record. If I don't see him Saturday night, I may consider the hat trick achieved (with an asterisk). My buddy Brad Gibson, frontman for the Saturn Batteries, was on his way down as I was coming up, so not sure if he decided to stay. Not long after the band fired up, Sir Dan strode in with purpose and took his place alongside us. And there it was, the entire history of the CityBeat braintrust. And me, of course.


• Other than Wes Pence, the unofficial mayor of MidPoint, I didn't spot anyone in the Holy Ghost Tent Revival crowd that I knew until Sir Dan came in not long after the band got cooking. If it was anyone else, I'd consider a restraining order, but I know Dan is just looking out for me, and we share similar taste in music. And when HGTR frontman Stephen Murray asked the assembled multitude how they knew about the show, Dan responded with a lusty and pride-filled "CityBeat, motherfucker!" When I suggested that might make a nice tagline for the masthead, he seemed to consider the idea, leading me to believe that maybe Dan was done for the night. As I was headed out the door, Wes was talking to a friend at that very nexus, so I hung for a second until they'd said good night, then prepared to do the same. We started to chat when a face appeared at Arnold's front door and gestured toward Wes. Apparently it was his ride home, so he handed me his double bourbon and said, "Do what you want with it, I just want it to go to a good home." And so, valiant soldier that I am, I sipped for five minutes, then drained it. It mellowed my shit out like right now. Thanks, Dr. Pence.


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