Kate's Queen City Notes

Blundering through Cincinnati, laughing all the way


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Bunbury 2015 Sunday Pictures

Airports aren’t ideal for writing under any circumstances, but particularly so for describing the sun-baked joy of a music festival. The recycled air drives all sensory memories down the memory hole. Even the coffee is rendered ineffective in stimulating the creative process. As friendly reminders about TSA regulation filter in yesterday might be an echo from a past life.

With a fifty percent chance of rain yesterday, day three of Bunbury Music Festival, all scheduling felt tentative. Sawyer Point looked as exhausted as many of the fest attendees. Grass laid down under the weight of so many stomping feet. Evaporated beer, among other unmentionables, warmed on the concrete. No amount of trash management can erase the days past.

500 Hundred Miles to Memphis started the day, as the crowd was chasing the sleep from their eyes and booze from their livers. This would be the only moment for regrouping with The Front Bottoms taking Yeatman’s Cove stage in thirty minutes. Shakey Graves, Jessica Hernandez & the Deltas, Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band, Atmosphere, and Manchester Orchestra all packed in the following three hours. This left the last couple hours of the fest with just Twenty-one Pilots and Snoop Dogg.

Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band overflowed with charisma and bombast. If Reverend Peyton’s was the Labrador of performances, Shakey Graves was the Greyhound, delicate, graceful, and beautiful. Twenty-one Pilots are incredible performers, and yesterday was no exception.

All the great music culminated with Snoop Dogg’s closing performance. He was late. He was late by forty-five minutes. He was backed by a couple of DJ’s, a vocalist, and a dancing human in a dog costume. He covered many songs. It was a disappointment, especially considering all the musicianship that was on display earlier in the weekend. Check this one off the bucket list.

Snoop Dogg

Snoop Dogg

Snoop Dogg

Snoop Dogg

Twenty-one Pilots

Twenty-one Pilots

Twenty-one Pilots

Twenty-one Pilots

Twenty-one Pilots

Twenty-one Pilots

Twenty-one Pilots

Twenty-one Pilots

Twenty-one Pilots

Twenty-one Pilots

Twenty-one Pilots

Twenty-one Pilots

Twenty-one Pilots

Twenty-one Pilots

Atmosphere

Atmosphere

Atmosphere

Atmosphere

Shakey Graves

Shakey Graves

Shakey Graves

Shakey Graves

Shakey Graves

Shakey Graves

Shakey Graves

Shakey Graves

Jessica Hernandez and The Deltas

Jessica Hernandez and The Deltas

Jessica Hernandez and The Deltas

Jessica Hernandez and The Deltas

Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band

Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band

Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band

Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band

Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band

Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band

Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band

Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band

The Front Bottoms

The Front Bottoms

The Front Bottoms

The Front Bottoms

The Front Bottoms

The Front Bottoms

500 Miles to Memphis

500 Miles to Memphis

500 Miles to Memphis

500 Miles to Memphis

500 Miles to Memphis

500 Miles to Memphis

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Bunbury 2015 Must See: The Black Keys

I love The Black Keys. I love that they are died in the wool Akron boys. I love their raw blues sound.

I saw them at the Madison some years back. The venue is small and sweaty and remains nicotine stained despite years of being smoke free. It was my ideal setting to see them. I was doubtful I would enjoy seeing them two years following at US Bank Arena. I couldn’t conceive of their sound translating well to that cavernous venue. I was surprised.

I also saw The Black Keys at Lollapalooza years and years ago. They were unknown at the time, and played bright and early. The crowd was patiently staking out their spots for Nine Inch Nails, and barely engaged. The sound was awful.

I am ready to have that unfortunate fest experience erased from my mind. This context will be different simply because The Keys are successful enough to headline a fest. Here’s to my second experience with the Black Keys.

Black Keys “Lonely Boy”


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Bunbury 2015 Must See: Temples

There’s no plausible explanation for why at twenty years old in 1996 we were listening to The Mama’s and The Papa’s constantly. Mama Cass’s sweet harmonies would emanate from the boom box in the living room of our house in Clifton. AM Radio blared in our kitchen for all of my first 18 years of life. All of this primed me to fall in love with Temples.

Temples bring all of the things that I love about 60’s pop without the acid-soaked lyrics. I love them. Check out the visuals in this video; they say it all. The Mamas & Papas would dig it. Temples play on Friday at Bunbury.


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Bunbury 2015 Must See: Royal Blood

I find it difficult to write about anything when I am going through personal upheaval. It squelches my creativity. And although my random musings might appear off-hand and thoughtless, they require quite a bit of work on my part. Trust me when I say no one would want to read what comes off the top of my head.

This is the context for my delay in producing my posts describing my favorite Bunbury 2015 acts. I have been listening plenty. I just haven’t been able to formulate words about it. Yet, I am running out of time. I must accept that creativity probably won’t come back to me in a timely fashion and power through some posts. Power through it: my mantra for 2015.

Royal Blood. Holy two-piece-band-that-rips-my-face-off-with-gutwrenching-rock-and-roll Batman!! That was awkward, but let’s power through it. If the sexy, crunchy guitars of The Black Keys were layered under Muse’s bombast you would have Royal Blood. These guys have enormous buzz behind them, and I can’t wait to check them out.


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Bright Light Social Hour and San Fermin

I checked out Bright Light Social Hour at Motr a few weeks ago. They put up a good show at Bunbury 2013. The close atmosphere of Motr suits this band. They tore through their set. When they returned for an encore, they dropped their made for radio, pop influenced rock and rolled into a blues inspired jam session. The energy shifted in the room, while the band morphed into their most true selves.

Bright Light Social Hour at MOTR. There was a good crowd for the show. 20141101-20141101-DSC_7888

A couple of weeks later I saw San Fermin at The Woodward Theater. The venue just opened in early November. I was excited to see my first show there. The venue is significantly larger than Motr, with more stage and floor space as well as a wrap-around balcony. The space reminds me of the old Southgate House ballroom, but deeper and more narrow.

The venue is spacious and painfully clean. The stage is raised enough that at the back of the crowd, people on stage are visible. The balcony provides excellent vantage points, while still feeling intimate. I will gladly return.

I wasn’t sure what to expect with San Fermin. I caught 5 minutes of their packed MPMF 2013 show. There was barely room to move in The Know Theater. At the time, there were about 8 people in the band, complete with a bari saxophone player and a trumpet player.

But technically, San Fermin is a composer, and it isn’t clear if he tours with the same musicians. He could turn up with a drummer and a vocalist or with a full band. I didn’t see any horns on the stage at The Woodward; my anxiety grew.

When they hit the stage, I was delighted to see the full band. The stage was set with mic stands topped with retro light bulbs. The bulbs fluctuated in intensity with the music. When they would hit creshendos the stage was awash in light that contrasted beautifully with the band’s dark attire. The lighting was a simple but delightful addition to the show.

Ah, and the sound. They sounded excellent. The acoustic sound of the drums was a little promenant from my balcony position. I hope The Woodward suspends the speaker stacks in the near future. I think that would solve the problem, as the sound from the floor was balanced.

The Woodward Theater is a stellar addition to Cincinnati music venues. San Fermin performed with excellence. Bright Light Social Hour is a jam band dressed up like pop. Cincinnati has a great music scene. The end.


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Bunbury 2014: The Day I Learn Why Music Fests Are Three Days

Sunday at Bunbury started sideways. The skies opened up in the middle of Brick + Mortar’s set, which was also the first act of the day. They said that they would pick-up after the rain let up. After some time spent in the VIP tent throwing back a couple of beers, music resumed. The delay was probably about and hour and fifteen minutes. I was expecting them to just start where they were in the original schedule, but instead they issued a new schedule ensuring that all the bands that were booked that day would in fact play.

The main victim of this new schedule was Young the Giant. I had originally planned on seeing them, but after the reschedule, I couldn’t get across the park to hear more than one and a half songs from them. I feel happy that one of the songs happened to be “My Body”.

The first band up after the reschedule was The Lighthouse and the Whaler. They sounded good, but I was distracted by the threatening sky and my need to keep my very expensive camera gear from getting soaked. I wanted to stay for more than three songs, but the rain chased me away.

I trotted back to the VIP tent to see a short performance by The Kopecky Family Band. It was covered, so that was the only location to retreat to. They sounded great. They were really engaged with the people in the audience. They wanted to do an acoustic song in the center of the tent with everyone crowded around them, but they got shot down by the sound guys. I’m a little bummed that didn’t happen, but I think they were concerned that the music was starting on the main stage.

I checked out ZZ Ward at The Main Stage. Her backing band is pretty spectacular. Her vocals were great. But her music felt wrong for a festival. I want to see her in a dark club. If she comes back to The Madison Theater, or The Southgate House revival, I would gladly see her again.

I checked out The Kopecky Family Band at The River Stage. Man, they are just really great. There was a trombone war. There was some dancing. If they come around Cincinnati again, I will be going to see them. This was my favorite performance of the day.

I saw a bit of Robert DeLong. I like his music. I’m not so fond of watching one or two dudes with a bunch of technology. Robert DeLong does a great job of trying to make that entertaining, but it’s just not my thing. I saw Baths at Midpoint Music Festival last fall, and had a similar experience. It was two dudes with technology. I loved the record, but I didn’t enjoy the concert experience.

I headed off to The Warsteiner Stage for Bear Hands. Their stage presence wasn’t anything special. But they sounded fantastic. I had an excellent conversation with Alex, someone who works on Midpoint Music Festival. I’ve talked about that fest, here, here, and here. It’s the best music festival in the city. It’s an adventure in exploring downtown, and an adventure in seeing new music. I love the way downtown hums with bicycles and music fanatics. We talked about the fest for a bit, and it was super cool to hear about how it’s managed.

After hearing just a bit of Young the Giant, I headed to Holy Ghost! at The River Stage. I was pretty excited about an 80’s throwback dance party. Can that’s what happened. There was a conga line. Then the audience made of their own line dance, and coordinated everyone up front to dance together. The band sounded just like the recording. Their stage presence was ok, but the audience participation made it a really fun show.

Last up was The Flaming Lips on The Main Stage. Spectacle is a good word for their show. It was very visually stimulating. They sounded good, and provided plenty of entertainment. The thing that really struck me about them was how much fun Wayne Coyne seemed to be having. Playing on that stage seemed to be the only thing he wanted to be doing at that moment in this world. It made for such a great concert experience. Oh, and yeah, he got in his hamster ball and rolled/walked around the crowd.

Sometime in the next week, I will post another blog where I talk about my VIP experience and me experience with a media pass. I will also reflect on the experience as a whole. What I can say now is that in spite of my exhaustion, I was so bummed it was over.

The Flaming Lips on stage.

The Flaming Lips on stage.

The Lighthouse and the Whaler

The Lighthouse and the Whaler

The Lighthouse and the Whaler

The Lighthouse and the Whaler

The Kopecky Family Band

The Kopecky Family Band

The VIP stage. This is where all the VIP performances took place.

The VIP stage. This is where all the VIP performances took place.

ZZ Ward

ZZ Ward

ZZ Ward

ZZ Ward

Robert DeLong

Robert DeLong

Airborne Robert Delong

Airborne Robert Delong

Bear Hands

Bear Hands

Holy Ghost!

Holy Ghost!

Holy Ghost!

Holy Ghost!

That's a woman dressed as a mountain. There were a couple of mushrooms and a rainbow on the stage too.

That’s a woman dressed as a mountain. There were a couple of mushrooms and a rainbow on the stage too.

Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips. You may ask yourself if he's wearing a body suit. Why yes, he is.

Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips. You may ask yourself if he’s wearing a body suit. Why yes, he is.


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Bunbury 2014: Sweat and Joy

The day started a little rough because I forgot my most important successory. Ear Plugs. I stopped in to just a bit of Miner, but then I had to run back to my place to get the cilia-saving foam devices.

After an additional trip to and from my apartment, I turned up to Big Fresh complete with a sweat-soaked shirt. Big Fresh was fun. They had a couple of brass players on stage. In the venn diagram of bands with horns and bands that I like, the circles are nearly on top of each other. If you aren’t a nerd, that just means that I almost always like live bands with horns. Of the lyrics that I could understand I got, “you’re such a hotty totty, I want to touch your body”. So, lyrics might not be their strong suit.

Bronze Radio Return wins for having my favorite song of Bunbury with “Shake, Shake, Shake”. These guys sounded great. They took a little time in their third to last song to jam and feature solos from the harmonica, guitar, and piano players. They are all great musicians. When they played “Shake, Shake, Shake”, it was clear from the crowd’s participation that they were already familiar with their music. Anytime you come around here, Bronze Radio Return, I will be coming to see you.

I peeked in on the Bonesetters before I headed to The River Stage for Kishi Bashi. I’ve been waiting to see Kishi Bashi since I missed him at Midpoint Music Festival last fall. Of all the Bunbury acts, I know his music best. It was worth the wait. He was spectacular. He did a solo version of “Manchester” with live sampling and looping. It was gorgeous. He covered “Live and Let Die” during which he dove into the crowd. After being passed around for a bit he was returned to the stage to close out the song. He’s travelling with a bassist, a drummer, and a banjo player. They all brought creativity to how they used their instruments. The banjo player was playing with a bow at one moment and then using mallets on his banjo for percussion. We got an excellent surprise at the end of the show. Kishi Bashi is coming back in late August to The 20th Century Theater. There’s no way I will miss that.

I stopped in for a moment to see Modoc. They sounded excellent, but I needed to cross the park to see part of Cults. Modoc is booked for Midpoint Music Festival, and assuming no critical conflicts I will see them there. I was expecting to like Cults more than I did. They sounded good. Their performance felt impersonal. That might be partially due to the fact that I was pretty far away, given that I arrived late. I would give them another go because I really like their music.

I headed back across the park to The Warsteiner Stage to see a few songs by Little Daylight. Then I continued on to Paramore. I actually didn’t intend on covering them. But I figured it would be the only time I would see that band, so why not see a song or two. I feel the same way about Paramore as I did about all my ex-boyfriends. I’m just not that into them. A couple of live songs didn’t change my mind.

The Pass and Andrew W. K. were next on my list, so I hiked across the park for the 4th time. The Pass got a tough billing. They were up against Andrew W. K. and Paramore. They deserved better than the sparse attendance they got. They sounded excellent.

Andrew W. K. was big dumb fun. His fans were engaged and very energetic. There was crowd surfing. Even the stoic photographers in the pit couldn’t help but smile. Is his music my thing? No. But it’s impossible to watch him and not smile. Andrew W. K. you win. I would totally see you again.

Foxy Shazam was excellent. Does that even need to be said out loud? Those guys have such a unique and big energy on stage. They packed The River Stage. No surprises there. It’s interesting to note that the other musicians came to see Foxy. Kishi Bashi and Patrick from Fall Out Boy were spotted in the back stage area watching their show. Seriously, if you live in Cincinnati and you love live shows, you must see Foxy Shazam.

Then Fall Out Boy happened. Their music isn’t my thing. I saw almost all of their show, and their music still isn’t my thing. I got some good pictures though.

*Note: I will have to edit this a little later. Sorry for the spelling and grammar problems. Cranking these out on a daily basis is challenging.

 

Miner.

Miner.

Big Fresh. I know I said they had a horn section. I promise they are there. The shots that I have of them didn't make my favorites. I will post them at some point in the future.

Big Fresh. I know I said they had a horn section. I promise they are there. The shots that I have of them didn’t make my favorites. I will post them at some point in the future.

Big Fresh

Big Fresh

Bronze Radio Return

Bronze Radio Return

Bronze Radio Return

Bronze Radio Return

The Bonesetters.

The Bonesetters.

Kishi Bashi

Kishi Bashi

I want those sunglasses. Banjo player from Kishi Bashi.

I want those sunglasses. Banjo player from Kishi Bashi.

Kishi Bashi

Kishi Bashi

Cults.

Cults.

Cults.

Cults.

Little Daylight.

Little Daylight.

Paramore rocking out.

Paramore rocking out.

Yep. Boxing shorts.

Yep. Boxing shorts.

The Pass

The Pass

Andrew W. K. is getting ready to party.

Andrew W. K. is getting ready to party.

Andrew W. K.

Andrew W. K.

Foxy Shazam

Foxy Shazam

Foxy Shazam needs water.

Foxy Shazam needs water.

This is how Fall Out Boy entered the stage.

This is how Fall Out Boy entered the stage.

Fall Out Boy's Pete Wentz.

Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz.

Fall Out Boy.

Fall Out Boy.

Fall Out Boy

Fall Out Boy