Running late, I was considering skipping the first band, but thank god I came to my senses. The Rosehips kicked all kinds of ass. The four gals from Columbus have no need for lipstick and tight clothes. Well, not to compensate for a lack of talent anyway. Their appeal comes from a wall of early ’90s Indie Rock punctuated by soulful guitar leads and shifting rhythms. They represent all the chicks that gave Lilith Fair the finger and went to Lollapalooza instead.
It's always embarrassing to "discover" bands at Midpoint that were in your own back yard. Cincinnati's own Artists & Authors have a shimmering sound that I'll definitely be checking out post-fest. They are the perfect example of how to take a solo artist (Andrea Summer) with a gorgeous voice and captivating piano and amp it up without making the sound too heavy or too folksy. Everybody in the room needed a comfy couch to melt into while their music rolled over us.
Around the corner at Coffee Emporium, Miami's Xela Zaid (a.k.a. Alex Diaz) was delivering a decent solo set with his cascading guitar style and easy voice, but it did't satisfy the hunger for his "full band" creations. If you're going to have multiple stage names, at least use them descriptively!
The Scion streetcars were still saving my life, although at this point in the evening, I was abducted by a driver who is also in a local act (no names mentioned, but he rocked the theremin Thursday night) and forced to listen to his band's new disc while we circled the festival. OK, OK, it was my idea, and my only regret is that I had only one lap to give.
(Find photos and more MidPoint fun stuff here.)
I caught a few tunes from The Winter Sounds at Inner Peace, and they were sounding great. Patrick Keenan has a huge voice and is amazing on the bass guitar, playing chords, powerful runs and in general treating it like a lead instrument (one of my musical fetishes). The Athens, Ga., band is at the top of their game and poised to become hit makers.
Last-minute venue Javier's (a Mexican restaurant) was a super find for the organizers. It had a nice stage area and great natural reverb. Locals Boss Monkey were putting both to good use. It's been about a year since the former rhythm section and frontman from Black Magic Rhythm All-Stars (and BuBu Klan before that) teamed up with the former sax player from Bagg. Funky grooves ensued, with bari sax and the occasional synth riff leading the charge and gritty rhymes sprinkled on top. It's an eclectic combination, but they've tightened it up quickly and they had a superb mix last night.
Next it was off to the festival;s most remote venue, The Blue Wisp, for a quick listen to Look Mexico. They were busy spinning their Post-Rock fury into golden, sugary Pop I bumped into several folks there with diverging musical tastes who were all singing the band's praises. I was thinking about how the place was really crammed with people, but then it occurred to me that the thing that was creating the human traffic jams was all of the chairs and tables. This setup is fine for Jazz acts, but that shit all needs to be stacked in a corner if the bar is hosting a Rock showcase. I'll even help.
When I walked in on The Sailing's performance at Below Zero, I noticed several girls holding their ears, which is a good sign. I couldn't tell whether it was the volume or the unrepentant musical geekery that these Daytonians exude making the gals cringe. The band members were all headbanging as they delivered an especially pummeling version of "Miss Medina." Hearing them live, it dawned on me that Muse fans would sop this stuff up with a biscuit. Later on, they delivered a stream of guitarmonies (with keys taking the place of one of the guitars) the likes of which you rarely hear outside of leather-clad Brit Metal.
Then it was back to the Aronoff's 5th/3rd theatre, where, I forgot to mention earlier, there are five layers of security and three sets of heavy doors preventing anyone without proper credentials from getting to the music. Three different people inspected my pass on the way in, and one helpful lady prevented me from making the grave error of exiting through the "In" door on the way out. Next year they should consider implementing biometric scans and letting the volunteers carry Uzis.
Inside the compound, Jukebox the Ghost was enthralling a large crowd with their zany yet powerful mix of Ben Folds Five and Flaming Lips. If you're as obsessive about Dayton's Captain of Industry as I am (10 more hours ’til I see them! 10 more hours!), this should be your second favorite band.
While most folks were okay with just bopping their heads to JtG's beat, there were a couple of kids that were jumping around like they had ants in their pants, flailing about, playing air-keyboard and taking up enough space to park a Volkswagen. I'm surprised that Aronoff security forces didn't "disappear" them.
Speaking of Volkswagens, the array of transportation that I witnessed at Walnut and Seventh St. was unbelievable. There were folks on motor scooters, razor scooters, motorcycles and bicycles, darting through traffic, and even one guy on a skateboard. What do you people think this is, Europe? Go buy an SUV, hippies.
Then, ironically, the proverbial wheels fell off my evening. For starters, Lonely Day China was
awful. In fact, I don?t even think it was them. I can't imagine this was the same outfit that played on their album and videos online, unless it was all "digitally enhanced" by the same production crew that did the Olympics. In the 20 minutes of their set that I stuck around for, there was no lush singing, no soaring melodies, no live drums. Just droning and echoed guitar noise over laptop farts in front of the most boring backing video ever (black & white sunrise, snow, negative of sunrise, snow). I mean, seriously, I'm normally a fan of experimental noise, but this was just crap. I'm pretty sure that the band died from drinking tainted milk and their label sent some schlubs to fill in.
Next, I should have gone to see Scratch Track (whom I heard put on a completely kick ass show), but instead I went to check out Pearlene at Lodge Bar. The place was oppressively packed, and by the time I made my way to a decent vantage point, they were finishing up. But here's a nugget that almost made it worth the trip. When Reuben took his guitar off, he set in front of his amp and filled the place with glorious sustain. The DJ to the side of the stage hollered at him to turn the amp off so that he could get back to the business of spinning loud dance muzik. Reuben gave him the thumbs up, but then left it on and went about doing something else. Again, Mr. DJ got the band's attention and frantically pointed to the offending instrument that continued to wail. Taking his sweet time, Reuben finally sauntered over and shut off his rig. Well played, sir.
None of the midnight acts really appealed to me, so I picked the closest, which was Lexington's Chico Fellini at The Subway Bar. They didn't do much for me, and the lead singer's falsetto eventually pushed me to the back of the room, and ultimately out the door. He embodies everything I don?t like about Isaac Brock, only more shrill. I was really shocked I couldn't get more out of their show, since guitarist Duane Lundy produced The Apparitions fantastic CD, and bassist Emily Hagihara does some incredibly beautiful solo work.
— Ezra Waller