by Brian Baker
Cincinnati's The Sundresses expand to a quartet with impressive results
There is an old homily which quite wisely states that if something is operating properly, it might be considered imprudent to attempt a repair. Or, in a slightly less circuitous manner of speaking, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.For well over a decade, the Sundresses have been anything but broken. Brad Schnittger, Jeremy Springer and Makenzie Place have been churning out a visceral pretzel logic version of the Blues with elements of manic Swing, hot foot Jazz, brutal Punk and blistering Indie Rock, heated to the temperature of molten rock and detonated over unsuspecting audiences with an animalistic ferocity. A formula like that is both tremulously volatile and erratically perfect. Why would anyone feel the need to take a wrench to it?Needed or not, a-wrenching they have gone; for the first time in The Sundresses' long history, the tight-knit trio has added a new full fledged member with the hiring of former Dukes Are Dead drummer Dave Reid. The new lineup was unveiled on July 19 for the band's appearance at the MidPoint Indie Summer Series on Fountain Square, and then again a week later when The Sundresses tore through a set at the Mad Love for Mad Anthony benefit at the Southgate House Revival.Rabid fans and casual observers may have differing opinions on how Reid's addition will impact the Sundresses going forward, but one thing is certain; this was anything but a routine lineup decision. Bringing in a permanent drummer changes the group dynamic, eliminates one of the band's most popular and unique live features and may actually set the stage for broader success.After 13 hard fought calendars, the Sundresses have recorded sporadically — a few EPs, a split with Dylan Ewing's 4192, a pair of brilliant studio documents (2003's The Only Tourist in Town, 2008's Barkinghaus) and Off, their scalding and ingeniously marketed 2010 live album — and toured relentlessly, without a great deal of forward progress being notched. The trio has always generated a good deal of extremely positive press, and their string of five trips to Austin for South by Southwest has to stand as some kind of local record.My personal obsession with the Sundresses began at their first SXSW appearance in 2004, which coincided with my first trip to Austin for the festival. As it turned out, the band's gig at the Blender Balcony was only the ninth out-of-town show in their two-year history, and I felt as though I had just witnessed the cosmic birth of a great musical entity. I still feel that way. I drank more than a dipperful of The Sundresses' Kool-Aid that night, and I've been feverishly blathering on about them ever since to anyone who will listen.For whatever reasons, the brass ring of label offers and more tangible measures of success have eluded The Sundresses. At the same time, the trio has remained committed to the cause and continued to pursue their singular vision with an almost psychotic tenacity and zealous passion. And their focused determination may have made it difficult for those of us who love them unconditionally to admit that there was indeed a fundamental issue that may have been blocking their path.From the very start, Brad and Jeremy envisioned and executed one of their most cherished gimmicks, namely their patented guitar/drum switch; at their 2005 SXSW show, Jeremy informed the audience, "You were supposed to close your eyes..." It has long been an admittedly fabulous element of their live presentation, but it may have been so entertainingly original that it became a detriment.The basic issue may be that Brad plays drums with the subtlety and invention of a studied and seasoned beatkeeper and Jeremy plays with the brute force of a blacksmith hammering on an anvil. Both approaches to playing the drums have legitimate advantages and both clearly have a role in shaping the diverse sonic identity that the trio has been trying to define since forming The Sundresses in 2002.Although it may never have been perceived as a problem, the difficulty with rotating drummers is that Makenzie — who learned how to play bass in order to be a part of the band — has had to adjust her groove based on those two very distinct drum styles. In essence, the Sundresses' rhythm section has never really had an opportunity to build a discernible foundation. With Dave behind the kit, that opportunity becomes a reality. Based on the Sundresses' roaring set at the Mad Anthony benefit on July 26, the band's newly established rhythm section has already started paying dividends. Makenzie is now locked into a single percussionist and she and Dave collectively control the band's tempo. Dave has the latitude to incorporate Jeremy's power and Brad's nuance into his singular drum repertoire and Makenzie is learning the joy of shifting gears without changing cars.Relying on primarily new and largely unrecorded material, The Sundresses blazed through an all-too-brief ten song set with a rejuvenated energy that smacked of their early days. Opening with the swinging funky Blues of the brand new "Banker's Blues" and the loping howl of the equally fresh "Whisper Touch," the quartet bounced megawatt riffs through every body and against every conceivable surface in the Revival's sanctuary. They slowed down a shade for a spin through Hank Williams' "Ramblin' Man," and Jeremy's quick documentary on the size of MA guitarist Ringo Jones' manhood before tearing into another relatively new track, "Zap a Deux," but it was all good in the hood regardless of speed or sonic profile. Finishing up with longtime faves "Hey! Hey! Bang! Bang!" and the propulsively jumping "Larry Nixon," the Sundresses gave both a glimpse at the sound of their much-anticipated third studio outing, hopefully coming out before the end of the year, and the direction they'll be taking as a quartet.Perhaps one of the more interesting side effects from The Sundresses' expansion is the fact that Jeremy and Brad are now playing guitar together, which means their distinct stylistic differences are blending and cross-pollinating rather than occupying discernibly different spaces within the set. As they become more acclimated to this arrangement, and as Makenzie and Dave fully tune up the engine they've just rebuilt, it's bound to have an incredible impact on the songs they start writing. As it stands, the songs The Sundresses have already written sound magnificent coming from the newly minted quartet, proving once again that even the best can get better
Greater Cincy's music community unites to help injured rockers and The Sundresses become a foursome
0 Comments · Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Following a serious van accident, local music supporters team up to help rockers Mad Anthony via two benefit concerts. Plus, The Sundresses debut as a quartet Friday on Fountain Square for the free MidPoint Indie Summer concert with Wussy and Queen City Radio.
by Mike Breen
Posted In: Music News
at 02:13 PM | Permalink
Longtime local faves add permanent drummer to lineup, play Fountain Square July 19
One of the finest original bands to call Cincinnati home over the past decade or so has expanded from a trio to a quartet. The Sundresses' dark, dirty, rootsy Rock sound has been delivered by the three core members over the past 11 years, with Jeremy Springer and Brad Schnittger switching off between drums and guitar during sets (both sing). Beginning next Friday, July 19, Springer and Schnittger will provide a double frontmen/guitarist assault with bassist Makenzie Place now teamed in rhythm with new drummer Dave Reid (The Dukes are Dead, Filthy Beast). Springer sent along a video clip of the "new" ’Dresses' second practice with Reid behind the kit. Secrets From The Smithery from The Sundresses on Vimeo.On July 19, Reid will be officially introduced as the band's new drummer at the MidPoint Indie Summer show on Fountain Square. The Sundresses join Wussy and Queen City Radio (featuring members of Turnbull ACs, 500 Miles to Memphis and Denial) on the impressive bill. The show is free and begins at 8 p.m.
by Mike Breen
Thanksgiving Eve brings tons of live music to area venues tonight
Tonight's allegedly the "busiest bar night of the year," so if you like to hang out at places that are really packed, this is your jam. If you like to hear live music when you go out, you're also in luck, as a lot of the top acts seek out lucrative Wednesday-before-Turkey-Day gigs because of the aforementioned packed-ness. If you want that live music to be (primarily) original, here are a few recommendations.• Troy, Ohio-spawned Miss May I (whose singer, Levi Benton, recently moved to Cincinnati) is headlining the Alternative Press tour, which conveniently brings the increasingly popular "Metalcore" band back to their homeland just in time for Thanksgiving. The band's most recent release, At Heart (on Rise Records), came out this summer and was greeted with the best reviews of MMI's career and a No. 32 debut on the Billboard Top 200 chart. The thrashy, melodic MMI headlines tonight at Bogart's in Corryville on a bill that also features The Ghost Inside, Like Moths to Flames, The Amity Affliction and Glass Cloud. Doors open at 6 p.m. and tickets to the all-ages show are $20.Read CityBeat's interview with Benton here then check out Miss May I's most recent music video, for At Heart track "Day By Day." • Vintage Rock & Roll stylist Chris Isaak makes his way to downtown Cincinnati tonight for an 8 p.m. show at the Taft Theatre. Tickets range from $29.50-$59.50. Isaak's going to have to play the show then hop on a plane quickly — he's slated to perform in the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Parade in New York City. (Click here to read CityBeat's full preview of the show.)Isaak recently issued a live DVD based on his 2011 double-disc release Beyond the Sun (his first for the Vanguard label). The album was a collection of cover songs originally recorded by artists on Memphis' seminal Sun Records (from Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis to Carl Perkins and, of course, Elvis), a fitting tribute given Isaak's similar approach and sound. The new Chris Isaak Live! Beyond the Sun DVD is a concert flick featuring several songs from the Sun album, as well as some of his big hits. Expect to hear a similar set list tonight. Here's an Isaak original from the DVD, "Live It Up."• The songcraft experts and flawless musicians of veteran Cincy Pop/Rock band The Newbees host an album release party tonight at Newport's Southgate House Revival. The release show was originally intended to be the second show at the new club (brought to you by the owners/operators of the old, beloved Southgate House across from Newport on the Levee) but a late code inspection held the grand opening up for a week. The Newbs are celebrating their LP Modern Vintage, a patchwork of musical styles and mercilessly catchy songs. Click here for a full review of the album.The Newbees are joined tonight by The Turkeys, Chaselounge, Honey & Houston, Les Whorenettes, Shiny Old Soul, See You in the Funnies, Sundae Drives and Dave Hawkins. Tickets are $12 at the door (or $14 for those ages 18-20). Showtime is 9 p.m. Here's the Beatles-esque new album track "Up All Night":• There are also plenty of other local original groups performing tonight. Among the highlights: Reggae/Rock crew The Ohms and soulful, rocking power trio Tattered Roots (which is celebrating its one-year anniversary) join together at Stanley's Pub in Columbia Tusculum. … Rootsy rockers Alone at 3 a.m. are playing a freebie at The Comet in Northside with Jacob Tippey and Matt Wood. … Electronic improvisers Skeetones hold down the party at The Mad Frog in Corryville, joined by guests The B.E.A.T. and Bassface. … Two former members of The Greenhornes — Brian Olive and Eric Stein — perform a free show at Northside Tavern with their current bands, The Brian Olive Band and Stein's Grotesque Brooms. … Rocket-fueled Indie/Blues/Roots/Rock trio The Sundresses headline tonight's free offering at MOTR Pub in Over-the-Rhine, joined by Detroit foursome Jeecy and the Jungle. … And two of the city's best modern rockers — Ohio Knife and State Song — perform a free show at Mayday in Northside (see poster above). Click here for even more live music events in Greater Cincinnati tonight.
Cincy Reggae/Rock crew The Ohms prep for fest, plus The Sleeping Sea and Bear (The Ghost) host two-fer release show and The Sundresses hit Mt. Adams
0 Comments · Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Cincy Reggae/Rock crew The Ohms prep for their 11th annual Ohmstead music festival, plus The Sleeping Sea and Bear (The Ghost) host a two-fer release show and The Sundresses hit Mt. Adams with The All Night Party.
0 Comments · Wednesday, July 11, 2012
This weekend’s huge Bunbury Music
Festival at Sawyer Point features some of the top-names in Alternative
music. And it also includes several local favorites. Since Bunbury is
drawing music lovers from all over the region, here is a primer on some
of the Greater Cincinnati-based acts performing at the festival.
by Izzi Krombholz
Posted In: Local Music
at 11:46 AM | Permalink
Cincy bassist talks bass approach and how she deals with sexism
Makenzie Place strolled into the Northside Tavern wearing a sundress (how appropriate), telling me she had been at a birthday pool party all day. If I was nervous before she came in, I quickly felt at ease because Makenzie, bassist (and occasional trombonist) of Cincinnati's The Sundresses and co-founder of the new band, Buenos Crotches, is outgoing and easy to talk to. We sat outside on the patio and began a lengthy and enjoyable discussion about her bands and what it's like to be a female musician. Click here to check out The Sundresses' music, news and upcoming shows.Izzi Krombholz: Did you grow up in Cincinnati?Makenzie Place: I’m proud to say Hamilton.IK: How’d you end up in Cincinnati?MP: I ended up in Cincinnati because of a boyfriend.IK: So which came first, bass or trombone?MP: Trombone, I played it in marching band since it was taller than I was. In 2002 I got a bass. Jeremy and Brad (fellow members of The Sundresses) were looking for a bassist and I thought I could do it. I taught myself how to play “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and showed Jeremy when he got home. He taught me how to play one of their songs and then I auditioned for Brad.IK: That’s awesome. So what do you think about the Bunbury Music Festival this summer?MP: I’m excited to play. We got to hang out with (festival mascot Burt) the Bee on tour. They sent the Bee with us to promote it.IK: The Sundresses have a very distinct Rock & Roll sound. How has it developed over the years?MP: Really it’s a competition between Jeremy and Brad writing good songs. They have to outdo each other so the songs get better and better.IK: Your bass really drives the music; how have you developed that sound?MP: It’s the heartbeat, the ass-shake. I tie the guitar and drums together.IK: And how did you start dancing while playing?MP: The dancing came from marching band; I become so excited I start moving.IK: There’s definitely a retro vibe with your style. Where do you shop and what defines your look?MP: I get so hot on stage; I wear as little as possible. I cut band t-shirts into halter-tops. I also shop at second hand stores.IK: So it’s a lot of DIY stuff. What does being a female musician mean to you?MP: It means being a musician.IK: How do you deal with sexist sound guys?MP: I walk away from them and tell the boys to deal with them. A lot of time you have to play for them to get them to respect you.IK: Who is your favorite woman in rock?MP: My new bandmate, Roxy Conquistador, in Buenos Crotches. She plays guitar and sings.IK: Awesome! So you have a new band? What does it sound like?MP: Its Garage Rock, a little southwest.IK: I can’t wait to hear it! Do the Sundresses have a new album coming out?MP: Yeah in early fall. It’s our first actual studio record. It was recorded at UltraSuede.Make sure you keep an eye out for the new album from The Sundresses. Their next show in town will be performing at the huge Bunbury Music Festival on July 14 alongside Weezer, The Gaslight Anthem and RJD2, as well as local bands Messerly & Ewing, 500 Miles To Memphis, The Lions Rampant and Jeremy Pinnell & the 55s.**Mackenzie plays a Fender Jazz Bass and uses a Fender Bassman 100 amplifier.(CityBeat's newest contributor, Izzi Krombholz, also runs the Women in Rock blog, on which this story originally ran. Check it out here.)
by Emily Maxwell
Posted In: Local Music
at 02:27 PM | Permalink
Cincy SXSW veterans talk food, traffic and what playing the fest means
We're now settled in our Super 8 hotel room, alongside the humidity and mosquitoes, and finally have a few shows under our belt. Last night marked the debut for Cincinnati bands at this year's South By Southwest, featured at the Midwest by Southwest showcase. The event was put together by The All Night Party folks at the Soho Lounge downtown.Among the bands that played, The Sundresses is one of the most experienced when it comes to SXSW. This year marks their fifth time playing the festival and from what these veterans say, it seems doubtful it will be their last.Check out what the band (Brad Schnittger: drums, guitar, vocals; Mackenzie Place: trombone, bass; Jeremy Springer: drums, guitar, vocals) had to say about the experience below.CityBeat: What do you think of the festival overall?Mackenzie: It's just awesome. It's on a regional, national and international level. It's a bunch of awesome musicians that come to an awesome town and enjoy it. It's great and I'm happy to be here.CB: Has SXSW made an impact on your band's success?Jeremy: It's hard to tell, you know, it's hard to say because you don't know what would happen if you didn't play. It's a nice feather in your cap, but still.Mackenzie: As far as making friends, though, and connections, it's done that — it's definitely worked. You meet people you wouldn't meet in Cincinnati. You're in the middle of all these great musicians and if they love you, they'll say "Hey, come to my town." Brad: One time we gave a CD to the guy from Everclear, in 2006, but, nothing every happened. We saw him on the corner down here and were like, 'Hey, we should give totally give him one of our CDs,' so we did.Jeremy: Yeah, that's when we were young and dumbBrad: Yeah, like the guy from Everclear was going to help us out. It didn't do anything.Jeremy: If we saw him now, we'd probably throw an empty coffee cup or beer bottle at him.CB: What kind of bands benefit from playing at SXSW?Mackenzie: It's the big and little.Jeremy: The flavor of the month definitely … It's funny because everyone here is famous in their own town so they get here and everyone thinks (they're the best), and rightfully so because to get here, period, is a difficult thing. You have to be of a certain amount of quality to play this festival. So all the musicians are walking around with their best clothes on and it's a big fashion show and party. But, you're not going to get signed at SXSW. It's just random and lucky, really. CB: What's the worst/best part of the festival?Mackenzie: The best part is the food, the worst is traffic — the food is so good here.Brad: The best part is the food — I agree with Mackenzie, the traffic is the worst.Jeremy: Traffic is the worst. Girls are the best.
by Emily Maxwell
After two days of driving in the Vanarama — a 1996 GMC Rally 3500 in school-bus yellow — we're only about 3.5 hours outside of Austin.This is the second time I've made the trek to SXSW, but every time I make the four-state drive, a few things remain constant: Arkansas highways suck and everything truly is bigger in Texas.On the last stretch of 11 South, as you approach Crockett, Texas, road signs alternate between "Cemetery" and "Forest." This wouldn't have been so intimidating if we hadn't exchanged ghost stories about dead relatives and scary camping trips (Google "Appalachian Trail" and "scary photos"). We then stayed in a hotel that we seriously scoured for bed bugs before bringing in our gear. But cheap is worth it, right?We are by no means alone in this endeavor. Thousands of bands travel across the country and the world, whether or not they're "officially" a part of the festival. This is the biggest weekend of the year for bands — whether they're on the rise or struggling to get a fresh start — and they'll do whatever it takes to be heard.Tuesday (today) marks the beginning of the SXSW (as far as the music portion). The All Night Party's Midwest by Southwest showcase kicks off tonight and will feature some of our hometown favorites, including The Sundresses, The Lions Rampant, Wussy and The Seedy Seeds. This official showcase is an anticipated event, not only for us Cincinnatians, but also the locals. The Austin Chronicle has named Wussy as one of the top 10 shows to see Tuesday. (Scroll to the bottom of the link for the Wussy write-up,.)We're not even in Austin yet and Cincinnati's already making headlines at SXSW.
by Mike Breen
Oodles of Greater Cincinnati musicians and businesses prepare to mess with Texas
I attended my first South By Southwest festival in Austin, Tex., over 15 years ago to cover local Funk group SHAG's appearance at the festival for a much younger CityBeat. It seemed exciting back then that one of Cincinnati's biggest bands was invited to showcase at SXSW. This year, the amount of acts from the area performing is unprecedented — never has Cincinnati had such a presence at America’s premier music fan/industry showcase and conference (which starts a week from today). And it’s not just performers. Representatives from local promo company The Counter Rhythm Group will be on hand in force, venture development group CincyTech is hosting regular chats as well as a Cincinnati hospitality headquarters and party in Austin and the progressive promotional/licensing machine The All Night Party is sponsoring both a tour centered around the Texas festival and its own showcase night at the event, a first for a local organization. And, as we have most SXSWs over the past 17 years, CityBeat will have a reporter on the scene providing regular updates for this here blog. Be sure to check back often starting next week and see how are hometown heroes are doing. Here’s an overview of just some of the Cincy-centric happenings related to SXSW 2012:• The All Night Party presents the Midwest by Southwest tour (also sponsored by this summer’s Bunbury Music Festival and assisted by Counter Rhythm and Reveal Concepts) featuring, as the tagline reads, “Four Midwestern Bands — On A Mission to Rock.” The tour has Cincinnati bands The Sundresses (repeat visitors to SXSW) and Wussy, as well as Cleveland rockers The Whiskey Daredevils and Lexington’s Oh My Me. The jaunt begins Thursday at Mount Lookout’s The Redmoor. (Doors open at 6 p.m., showtime is 8 p.m. and tickets are $10.) MWXSW will hit several other cities before and after the ANP SXSW showcase Tuesday at the Soho Lounge. The Lions Rampant will appear on the bill in Austin, as well. If you'd like to help the caravan out, there is a Kickstarter campaign with some cool perks you can check out here. (Quick, only three days left!) Here's the promo vid:• R. Ring, the acoustic duo featuring local musician/engineer Mike Montgomery (thistle, Ampline) and Dayton, Ohio’s Kelley Deal (Breeders), will perform at a showcase hosted by the Misra label on March 15. Misra is releasing the twosome’s first single in a few months, with a full-length to follow. • Ohio Knife, a new duo project from The Chocolate Horse’s Jason Snell, Andrew Higley and Joe Suer, is also headed to Austin and the local branch of branding agency Landor is tagging along. The company is hosting a travelogue website here so you can follow along at home. Ohio Knife plays a tour kickoff show Friday at The Comet in Northside. The band will hit other clubs in Tennessee and Texas along its way to SXSW. • Local Indie Pop faves Pomegranates are now labelmates (on the Modern Outsider imprint) with fellow Cincy band Bad Veins. While the Veins won’t be performing in Texas (they’re preparing their own tour launch March 19 in Colorado), the Poms will play the official Modern Outsider SXSW showcase on March 14 at Trinity Hall. • Indie/Folk/Electro/Pop powerhouse The Seedy Seeds took part in a SXSW launch party a couple of weeks ago. The band performs at the All Night Party showcase Tuesday.• Eccentric breakout rockers Foxy Shazam are one of the headliners of a showcase presented by the huge booking company The Agency Group on March 15 at Latitude 30; the day before they’ll play an afternoon party. • Cincy RCA Records recording artists Walk the Moon aren’t technically “showcasing” for SXSW, but they will be in Austin for the MTVu Woodie Awards ceremony and festival held in during SXSW, where they’ll be performing and hoping to score the Breaking Woodie award they’re competing for against acts like tUnE-YarDs and Lana Del Rey. Vote for the hometown boys here, where you can also watch a live stream from the March 15 festival.