An openness. An honest depth. A gaping soul. If it’s possible to be humble and provocative at the same time, Kim Taylor nailed it. Playing at the Inner Peace Center, Taylor smiled between songs and said, "We're gonna try and fly through as many songs as we can." This show was a treat, since Reuben Glaser (Pearlene) was sitting in on guitar. The addition of Glaser gave it an extra added kick, and Taylor was one of my top picks of the night. Her voice carried, even with the low ceilings of the Center. Part of the crowd was sitting on the floor, cross-legged. The other part, standing. It was a gentle, yet highly attentive crowd. Everywhere, eyes and ears were tuned in. Taylor was naturally pretty, dressed in a simple black tank and jeans, and yet there was a little badness to he — she moved around the stage on four-inch heels. Just as Taylor finished her set, I ran into local singer/songwriter Josh Eagle, who informed me that he’s now kickin’ it with a full band who will be playing out soon.
I hate to say it, but my time at The Lodge Bar was doomed to happen again. Despite the wild kingdom ambience, I got a chance to check out 500 Miles to Memphis in time to hear, “Sunshine in a Shot Glass.” Near the end of the song, I saw a random someone in a bear suit wandering around. Then I spied Dylan Speeg (Buckra), who was looking fine in a black and white checkered hat. Speeg wasn’t wearing a bear suit, but I bet he would. The crowd was lighter and more subdued at The Lodge at this hour, and the vocals were somewhat murky, but 500 Miles’ blend of Country and Punk was enough to get some asses shaking.
From bear suits to bull riding. Yes, The Cadillac Ranch had a mechanical bull, and I actually did see one brave lady ride the thing. She had pretty good form too. I had intended to see Toronto band The Framework, but I waited and waited and no one was playing. Huh. No frames. No work.
Instead, I bolted to The Aronoff to check out Wussy’s set. This was an electric night for Wussy. Lisa Walker was killing it on guitar and vocals. Mark Messerly was moving his ancient Dr. Martens all over the place. Dawn Burman was hitting the drums like it was her last performance. And Chuck Cleaver’s playing was making his hair stand straight up, even more than usual.
Fate sent me back to The Lodge Bar, where I happened upon a gem — Ha Ha Tonka. My top pick #2. The redhead singer, Brian Roberts, rocked out on his blue acoustic guitar, and the whole band had that kickass stage energy going on. From Springfield, Mo., their blend of “foot stompin’ Indie Rock” was just that — foot stompin’. And I must say, bassist Lucas Long was easy on the eyes.
(For photos and more from all three nights of MidPoint, go here.)
My next stop was back at the old Inner Peace Center, so that I could become one with myself again. Here, I caught Paper Airplane, and while I was listening, my buddy Chris Lee handed me one of his solo CDs. Score. Anyhow, Ryan Horns (lead vocals, guitar) had an inviting, touching voice, and the sound drifted from melodic Rock into more of a Garage sound, moving back and forth, often anchored by the subtle touch of Teresa Kent on keys. They tied Ha Ha Tonka in my book.
This night was the one to run around and jump from place to place, like a spider. At The Subway, a hole in the wall, dungeon-like, dark and dirty basement bar, I caught a few songs of Captain of Industry. The music sounded right on, but it was a tough spot for vocals. I mean, the bar was made for short people, with super low ceilings and little room for sound to carry. Little room for anything, really. So it was tough.
The night ended at The Cadillac Ranch, where Israel’s Flow was playing. Inside the bar, it seemed that it could’ve been a reality show called, “Cincinnati Unleashed.” People were pushing and shoving, and the place was busting at the seams with partiers. Wild and rambunctious, with little room to breathe. After numerous sound checks, Flow finally came on, and the sound was somewhere between a meal of U2 and Muse with some Chili Peppers and Soundgarden thrown in as a side dish. I listened mostly from outside the bar. I don’t think I would become a Flow groupie and follow them to Israel, but they kept that rowdy crowd pumped enough.
Whew. Overall, I ran into a lot of friends, met a lot of new ones, and I discovered some new music that soon will be added to my collection. But I will say this — I just ran a marathon recently, and I learned from that experience. See, I started off too fast, and I was really hurting at the finish. Same thing with MidPoint — you have to pace yourself and be prepared for the rush of the crowd in the end.
After all of the buildup, it was all well worth it. I truly believe
this festival just gets better and better each year. Very exciting for
this city. It’s an honor to be a part of something so rich and diverse
happening in our music community. All weekend, I felt a spark inside,
wondering what adventures the next night would bring. I might’ve been
tired at the end, but I still have this feeling … the feeling that I want
Seeya around at some shows.
— C.A. MacConnell
(Captain of Industry photo by Sean Hughes)