Grayscale Cincinnati reinvents the model for city entertainment spaces
0 Comments · Wednesday, August 14, 2013
When we think about current
resurgence of metropolitan Cincinnati — including the successful renovations of Fountain Square and Washington Park — it
seems that the best approach to building a better town might not be
constructing an altogether new wheel, but rather reinventing it.
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
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 German Lopez
Posted In: News
at 03:52 PM | Permalink
Created Equal cites First Amendment rights for protest
Fountain Square will bear witness on July 11 to an
explicit anti-abortion video as part of a Midwest tour by Created Equal,
a Columbus-based anti-abortion group that describes itself as “a social
action movement seeking to end the greatest human rights injustice of
The “graphic abortion video,” as the group calls it,
utilizes images familiar to anyone who regularly passes by protests outside of Planned
Parenthood clinics: bloodied fetuses, separated fetal limbs and other
images that are meant to link fetuses to defenseless, dismembered
Mark Harrington, executive director of Created Equal, says the display is necessary to grab people’s attention.
“Unfortunately, it’s required. This type of message has to
be strong because of the apathy in our culture to issues like abortion
and injustices like this,” he says.
Abortion-rights advocates have taken steps to stop Created Equal, with some signing a MoveOn.org petition to convince 3CDC, which manages events on Fountain Square, to pull its permit for the event.
“It is time to tell Created Equal that they are not
permitted to show graphic abortion footage on public space,” the
petition reads. “Fountain Square is a family friendly public space and
such footage is not appropriate in this venue. Their viewing date is
Thursday, July 11, 2013, stop this from going forward.”
Harrington says groups like MoveOn.org are attacking his
First Amendment rights to free speech and assembly. He argues political
speech, such as his display, is completely protected by the U.S.
“If they wanted to come out and show bloody images of
women who had used coat hangers for abortions … it’s protected under
the First Amendment,” Harrington says. “We would defend their right to
do so. I would never circulate a petition to stop them.”
In general, the U.S. Supreme Court has been supportive of
free speech as long as it’s politically motivated, with the notable
exceptions of sexual content and airwave broadcasts.
Still, the Supreme Court on June 10 refused to consider
overturning an injunction from the Colorado Court of Appeals that’s
preventing an anti-abortion group from displaying graphic images outside
of a Denver church. The Colorado court argued that the images were too
“gruesome” and barred their display in areas where they might disturb
children. Keeping with tradition, the Supreme Court gave no reasons for
declining to hear the case.
For those who are genuinely offended by the graphic nature
of the images and not just obstructing the organization’s anti-abortion
message, Harrington says the message is worth the downsides: “I would urge them to
be equally if not more concerned for the children that are dying and
not simply for their own children, who might be disturbed by this.”
Created Equal is against abortion in most contexts, with
the sole exception of a situation in which the mother’s life is
undoubtedly in danger.
“You do the best you can to save both. When you can’t save both, you got to save one,” Harrington says.
Even then, Harrington says letting miscarriages naturally occur is typically his preferred option.
Thursday’s event will take place less than two weeks after
Gov. John Kasich signed a two-year state budget that limits access to
legal abortions, among other changes to school funding and taxes. CityBeat analyzed the state budget in further detail here.
by Mike Breen
Great homegrown songwriting on display tonight for free on Fountain Square
Tonight's free MidPoint Indie Summer concert on Fountain Square has an element of contemporary local music heritage … and lots of ear-grabbing melody. The show is being headlined by psychodots, one of the most popular (and locally influential) original bands to ever call Cincinnati home. Check the Pop/Rock trio's website here and a clip of the ’dots performing at Redsfest in 2006 below:Cari Clara, the long-running project of Eric Diedrichs — who now lives in Lexington, Ky., but fronted Cincy Pop/Rock faves The Simpletons in the ’00s — plays the middle slot. Check out CityBeat's review of Cari Clara's most recent release, Midnight March, here and the album's "Battle Hymn" below.Midnight March by Cari ClaraThe Ready Stance, featuring former members of wildly popular ’90s act Middlemarch (and former Ass Ponys bassist, Randy Cheek) opens the show at 8 p.m. Check out CityBeat's interview with the band from last spring here. And here is a sample from the group's debut album, Damndest:Free embed music player from ReverbNation.comFor more info, go to myfountainsquare.com.
by Mike Breen
The cross-country “Kings of the Mic” tour is technically an old-school Hip Hop exhibition, but the packaging of these particular artists — most of whom have been and remain vital and relevant today — makes it much more than just a 21st century version of an “oldies” revue.And the fact that the three headlining artists’ classic music still sounds so vital today makes it more than just some nostalgia trip. Headliner LL Cool J was one of Rap’s first superstars and, thanks in part to his acting/hosting career (and also his album releases), he remains a superstar to this day. Public Enemy’s smart, socially and sonically progressive sound remains as fresh today as it did when the group released 1988’s It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back — one of the greatest albums ever made. Like P.E., De La Soul has remained artistically inventive and the trio’s influence is often underestimated. Rounded out by a pair of even earlier influential performers — Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick — the Kings of the Mic tour’s stop at Riverbend tonight is not just a history lesson, but the best party to start off your summer right. Tonight's concert starts at 6:30 p.m. and tickets range from $18.50-$84.50. • Bluesy, soulful British rockers Leogun return to Cincinnati tonight. The trio — which was scheduled to appear at Cincinnati's MidPoint Music Festival last year but had to cancel due to work visa issues — was influenced by the pure Rock sounds of artists like Jack White and Queens of the Stone Age. But it was an Eagles of Death Metal concert that kickstarted Leogun's career into overdrive. Singer/guitarist Tommy Smith talked his way backstage at the band's London show in 2009, where he met a guy who introduced him to Elton John's Rocket Music Management. The threesome quickly inked a deal with Rocket and then with Yamaha's record label. The band is digging in hard in the States and touring on a consistent basis behind its just-released debut album. Catch Leogun tonight for free at MOTR Pub in Over-the-Rhine at 10 p.m. Here is the band's first single, "Let's Be Friends." • Tonight on Fountain Square is your chance to be a part of a Guinness World Record, as the weekly "Salsa on the Square" event invites dancers far and wide to come out and help set the bar for "Most Salsa Dancers" higher. The event starts at 7 p.m. (instructors are always on hand so don't worry about your lack of Salsa skills) and live music is provided by Grupo Tumbao. Click here for more details. Here are even more live music options in Greater Cincinnati for tonight.
June 29 • Fountain Square
0 Comments · Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Injecting the energy of a real drummer into live EDM
performances is nothing new. But if you catch the duo Drummer Versus
Emulator headlining this week’s “Beats” concert, you will witness a genuinely unique show.
by Kenneth McNulty
Posted In: Fun
at 11:57 AM | Permalink
2,000 dancers needed Thursday to break Guinness World Record
Thursday may just be a historic night for the city
of Cincinnati as Salsa on the Square attendees attempt to break the
Guinness World Record for Most Salsa Dancers. In order for the record to be
broken, at least 2,000 people are needed on Fountain Square to dance the night away. People of all ages and skill levels are welcome to join in.
The weekly Salsa
on the Square event (7-10 p.m. Thursdays, Fountain Square) is free and registration for world record certification begins at 6 p.m. Upon signing in, folks will be eligible for
a chance to win prizes and free Gain samples and will receive a fresh T-shirt to wear during the dance-off.
Dancers and spectators will enjoy live music from Grupo Tumbao starting a 7 p.m. If
participants leave a bit to desire when it comes to salsa dancing, experts in
the field will be at the event to teach them how it’s done. The official world
record dance will occur at 8:30 p.m. In addition to the night’s festivities,
Gain and the St. Vincent De Paul will hold a clothing drive to generate clean
clothes for those in need in the Greater Cincinnati area. All donors will
be put into a drawing for a $500 prize pack full of Gain products and gift
certificates to select restaurants. There will be a full service bar with drink
specials during the event as well.
contributing to a good cause and breaking a world record sounds like a good
night, then dust off those old dancing shoes and grab some clothes to donate. Go here for more information.
Plus, Freekbass to teach London
0 Comments · Wednesday, June 19, 2013
The free, every-Friday MidPoint Indie
Summer (MPIS) series concerts at Downtown’s Fountain Square goes all-Punk this week. Plus, musician Joe Hedges teams up with artist Jiemei Lin for a performance at the Contemporary Arts Center and local bassist Freekbass is the first "master class" teacher announced for next year's
London Bass Guitar Show in the U.K.
by Mike Breen
Free MidPoint Indie Summer series presents all-Punk lineup
The free, every-Friday MidPoint Indie Summer (MPIS) series concerts at Downtown’s Fountain Square have featured some eclectic music over the past few years, everything from Bounce and Electro to Roots Rock, World music and Pop. But this Friday, the series goes where it has yet to go, presenting the very first all-Punk MPIS concert. Though Punk is known for its quick bursts of songs, it’s a mere coincidence that this Friday’s free show features four acts (as opposed to the usual three per show). The quartet of bands playing offers a nice cross-section of Greater Cincinnati’s Punk scene. The Pop/Punk crew BoyMeetsWorld opens the concert at 8 p.m. After coming out of the gates fast (in just its first year as a band, the group won first place at the popular “battle of the bands” competition presented by Forest Park’s The Underground), the hooks-heavy BMW released its debut EP, Do What’s Best for You, this past April. (The band is performing acoustically at the Microsoft store at Kenwood Mall this Saturday at 4 p.m.)At 8:45 p.m. The Lockland Brakes take over the MPIS stage. The punchy, melodic band just played its first show and released a three-song EP last month. But they’re far from “green,” with a lineup that includes past/present members of Situation Red, Newport Secret Six and DAAP Girls.Unwelcome in my Head by The Lockland BrakesThe excellent, raucous trio The Dopamines, which spent a chunk of its spring touring Europe, perform at 9:15 p.m. The hard-touring band has put out several excellent releases, including last year’s stellar Vices, which caused JadedPunk.com to declare, “For a bunch of goddamned drunks, The Dopamines sure can write some catchy hooks.” Headlining the night at 10 p.m. is Loudmouth, a high-energy local five-piece that mixes power and melody in the vein of Screeching Weasel, NOFX and No Use for a Name. Loudmouth digitally released its latest effort, the eight-track Future Boredom EP, in late March. For more on the MidPoint Indie Summer concerts — and all of the PNC Summer Music Series concerts — visit myfountainsquare.com.