Kate's Queen City Notes

Blundering through Cincinnati, laughing all the way

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MPMF16: Sunday in Pictures

This took me a minute. But! This time the pics tell you who the performers are. Small victories.

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MPMF16: Sunday Schedule

There is one more day. One more day running on coffee and no sleep. One more day filled with music.

115-145 Us, Today – Eli’s BBQ Stage
230-300 Kepi Ghoulie – Central Parkway YMCA Stage
315-345 Coconut Milk – Eli’s BBQ Stage
415-445 The Easthills – Eli’s BBQ Stage
430-500 AJJ – Central Parkway YMCA Stage
515-600 Vandaveer – WNKU Stage
615-700 Nada Surf – Skyline Stage
700-745 Frank Turner – Central Parkway YMCA Stage
730-815 Joan of Arc – Eli’s BBQ Stage
815-915 The Wood Brothers – WNKU Stage
930-1100 Band of Horses

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MPMF16: Saturday Schedule

Friday was a day full of music. And the best thing about today is that there are two more days left. Here’s what I am seeing today… Assuming I consume enough coffee to keep me on my feet.

115-145 Ryan Fine & The Media – WNKU Stage
130-200 Orachards – Central Parkway Stage
300-330 Lucky Chops – Skyline Stage
315-343 By Light We Loom – WNKU Stage
415-445 Lucy Dacus – WNKU Stage
430-500 MULTIMAGIC – Central Parkway YMCA Stage
515-600 Oh Pep! – WNKU Stage
530-615 – Bob Mould – Central Parkway YMCA Stage
645-730 Carseat Headrest – WNKU Stage
700-745 Frightened Rabbit – Central Parkway Stage
745-830 Reggie Watts – Skyline Stage
815-915 The Mountain Goats – WNKU Stage
830-930 Wolf Parade – Central Parkway YMCA
930-1100 JJ Grey & Mofro – Skyline Stage


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MPMF16: Friday Schedule

It’s that time. That time where I determine what awesomeness I will see. Two things to note here. Leggy and Royal Holland are local acts. And they are great. If you aren’t from around here make time to see them. I’m already preparing my cold brew to survive this.

315-345 HOOPS – WNKU Stage
400-430 Injecting Strangers – Skyline Stage
445-515 Royal Holland – Eli’s BBQ Stage
515-600 Ona – WNKU Stage
530-615 PUBLIC – Central Parkway YMCA Stage
615-700 The James Hunter Six – Skyline Stage
645-715 Leggy – Eli’s BBQ Stage
700-745 Cereus Bright – Central Parkway Stage
730-830 Antibalas – Skyline Stage
830-930 Tokyo Police Club – Central Parkway YMCA Stage
930-1100 Future Islands – Slyline Stage

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MPMF16: Andrew Jackson Jihad

If I let the crazy person in my head run my mouth it would sound similar to this.

I am insecure and judgmental. I wish I didn’t feel as dark about other people. I wish I didn’t see a salmon short guy with an awesome tattoo and feel that he isn’t entitled to it. And I wish I didn’t see the girl in high-waisted acid-washed jeans sporting her plastic-framed glasses with lenses the size of dinner plates feel annoyed. But I do. I would hate that guy with the Kokopelli face tattoo.

We know this to be true
Everything is difficult except what’s in front of you
But it’s complicated even under your nose
Bullshit math equations
Your highs and your lows

And your manic depression
It comes and it goes
Your parasympathetic nervous system reacts
And you’re in fight or flight mode

How’s the world so small when the world is so large?
And what made the world
Could I please speak to who’s in charge?
Everything is real
But it’s also just as fake
From your daughter’s birthday party
To your grandmother’s wake

And your bipolar illness
It comes and it goes
Your parasympathetic nervous system reacts
And you’re in fight or flight mode

I’ve tried to know which words to sing so many times
I tried to know which chord to play
And I tried to make it rhyme
I tried to find the key that all good songs are in
And I tried to find that notes to make that great, resounding din
But there’s a bad man in everyone
No matter who we are
There’s a rapist and a Nazi living in our tiny hearts
Child pornographers and cannibals, and politicians too
There’s someone in your head waiting to fucking strangle you

So here’s to you Mrs. Robinson
People love you more
Oh nevermind
In fucking fact Mrs. Robinson
The world won’t care whether you live or die
In fucking fact Mrs. Robinson
They probably hate to see your stupid face
So here’s to you Mrs. Robinson
You live in an unforgiving place

But we live in a tough place. And we are surrounded by people living on autopilot who are untroubled with how judgmental they are. Does my awareness make me lucky or miserable. Both?

I need constant maintenance to bring my best, which is patience and generosity with others and myself. If I have said unkind words to others they pale at what I have inflicted on myself. Knowing there are others trying to do their best gives me a little more energy to keep trying too. But I’m not trying to not hate. I’m trying to see that everyone has their own burdens. They are just different from mine, but that doesn’t make them any more or less trying.

Nobody knows everything. I certainly don’t. I know I will see AJJ Sunday the 25th at 430pm at the Elliot stage at MPMF.

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MPMF16: Frightened Rabbit

The air carried a whisper of fall, and the dry chill made the beer warming and the tight crowd a barrier of warmth holding winter at bay. Death Cab for Cutie was on their Codes and Keys tour. With no research on the opener I was thrilled with the performance I saw. I saw Frightened Rabbit.

The unexpected buoyant melodies warmed the crowd. The intimate outdoor arena was the perfect setting to hear expansive and personal confessions. Let’s see how the years have passed for Frightened Rabbit Saturday the 24th at 7pm at the Elliot Stage.

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MPMF16: Frank Turner

My last sixteen months resemble these songs.

I love some music because of how it sounds. I love some music because of what it says. Frank Turner belongs to the latter group. In fact, this rousing anthems aren’t typically my bag.

But words that say something to me can redeem much, and these words describe some tough steps I took with the support of some amazing people. It’s not to say that things are perfect now. But, wow, are they better. I am gonna see this show just to see the guy that wrote my reality for the last several months.

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MPMF16: Future Islands

It’s a day at the beach. An industrial waste land of a beach in Baltimore. And all I want to know is Omar coming with them?

“Come at the king, you best not miss.” – Omar Little, The Wire

Just disregard all of that except the beach part. Baltimore is lovely dynamic city, and there’s no way we will get to see Omar Little at MPMF. But the synth-pop sounds of Future Islands will.

But more than the sounds there’s this performance. I am curious to see how Harrington delivers in person. If this is any indicator this might be my first cannot miss band.

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MPMF16 Get on with it

I have been debating on blogging about my MPMF band research this year. Despite my disappointment with the new format, I am willing to give the new festival a try. I’ve been debating these weeks on whether or not I would attend. There are other good music options that weekend, with Wussy at The Woodward Friday and Saturday and Young The Giant and Ra Ra Riot at The Madison on Saturday.

But the line-up for MPMF is quite good even if I am anticipating the long hours in parking lots to be less than pleasant. I also live a block away from the fest. So let’s get on with it, shall we?

You know the attractive line-up? Yeah, Band of Horses, you guys. I found them on their 2010 Infinite Arms release. Their dreamy rock seeped into me until it it because a part of me. Now on gray winter days I find this a comforting sound track with my warm tea and thick blankets; it’s a comfort. It has the same warm, soft edges of as Belle and Sebastian.

I’ve never seen them live. They just haven’t come near this area in recent memory. I would go to the fest just to see them. They just dropped a new album Why Are You Ok? in June this year. I haven’t listened yet, but based on my love of Infinite Arms, Cease To Begin, and Mirage Rock I am confident I will not be disappointed.

Side note, had I known Bank of Horses was on Sub Pop I would have looked for their swag at the Sub Pop store when I was in Seattle. There will be more trip out there, I am sure.


Seattle Thoughts: Round Two

I wrote that book in November, and like the guy that clears out the all-you can-eat buffet, the book drained me of my words. More to the point, I have been rearranging a lot of things in my life, and I don’t have much to say about it right now. Or perhaps a better choice of words is that I lack coherent things to write about it. This will change on some sunny morning when I have the rear-view mirror vantage point.

In the meantime, I do have words and pictures of Seattle. Absence makes the heart grow fonder is ringing true for my relationship to Cincinnati.

  • I miss the random warm, sunny days that can appear like manna from heaven in the winter.
  • I miss Cincinnati’s food scene–turns out, it’s burning the house down with calorie-filled goodness.
  • I miss Findlay Market, OH GOD SO MUCH.
  • I miss Midwest craft beer.
  • I miss my friends.
  • I miss the bounty of old, gorgeous buildings.
  • I miss seeing the sun–it is dark by 4:15 pm here, and the cloud cover isn’t just overcast it’s mortifying in its bleak darkness. Every goddam day.
  • I miss not having to consider traffic as a serious barrier to almost everything. Want to go ten miles during rush hour? I hope you have MREs in your glove box; you will need them. Geography has the all the traffic in and out of the city narrowing down to two bridges. Poor city planning has all the traffic around downtown at a near standstill during rush hour. The result is traveling 3 miles in rush hour can take up to an hour.
  • I miss seeing brown people–Seattle is ~75% white were as Cincinnati is ~52% albeit segregated like Plessy vs Ferguson.

These observations require further discussion below.

  • I miss our boss as all hell music scene. Seattle’s scene is missing small venues that incubate new acts.
  • I miss Midwest nice.
  • I really cannot believe I am saying this, but I miss the aggressive drivers.
  • Wait… I’m choking on this a little, let me just get it out… I miss republicans.

Construction is booming in Seattle. Real estate prices have risen dramatically in the last several years. This has made it more lucrative for small venue owners to sell their buildings to developers than continue running their venues. It’s no longer financially viable for a free indie venue to exist. This has eradicated small venues that incubate new bands, and left the city with venues that ticket for each and every show they host. If a band cannot promise ticket sales they, can’t book. The net effect is that local acts have no place to grow and mature. It’s as though the bottom rung of the music food chain has disappeared leaving those at the higher rungs to die out.

The barriers to indie art in expensive cities is referenced in an article about Walk the Moon, Cincinnati band that made it big. Michael McDonald talks about the financial barriers that bands face in this article in Cincinnati Magazine about Walk the Moon’s ascent. McDonald says:

It’s places like Cincinnati where you have time to develop and mature. In larger cities and more expensive cities, you can’t afford to put a band together and pay for the rehearsal space and pay to rent a van and park the van. There are a lot of obstacles, and some of those are just financial.

I thought I understood Midwest nice prior to my West Coast experience, and like a Maury Povich lie detector test result this has been determined as a lie. I thought Midwest nice was essentially an synonym for polite with geographical reference. Seattle natives are extremely polite–see discussion about traffic. Midwesterners are polite and talkative. We ask questions of each other. We ask stuff like where are you from? Did you grow up here? Is that your tractor? The people of Seattle simply don’t do this. It’s a mystery how people make friends when no questions are asked.

The drivers here are very passive. Did a pedestrian just make a slight modification in their gait to indicate they want to cross the street with nary a crosswalk in sight? Seattle drivers: STOP IMMEDIATELY AND WAIT TO SEE IF THE PEDESTRIAN CROSSES THE STREET. For those of us who aren’t attuned to every minute change in gait of each and every pedestrian still on the sidewalk, this results in a litany of cursing and near collisions.

Cincinnati drivers are careless, and as a cyclist and pedestrian I have nearly been run over a number of times. I am all for avoiding situations in which a person could bounce across the hood of a car. BUT THIS IS WHAT CROSSWALKS ARE FOR.

But the proliferation of bike lanes, bike trails that lead to useful places, and protected bike lanes is spectacular. I am hoping to advocate for more of this in Cincinnati when I return. Aside from reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and the physical fitness benefits cycling delivers, it also enables people to put more of their paychecks in the hands of local Cincinnati businesses as opposed to funneling dollars away into a Honda exec’s bonus.

How can one miss republicans? Seattle as two dominant political groups, liberals and more liberal liberals. I thought I would enjoy being with like-minded people. There’s two unexpected negative side effects to having a city full of liberals. First, it seems because infrastructure projects, including those in service of additional public transit, face little to no resistance, they are beset by budget overruns and missed deadlines. The caption to one of my pics below describes the tale of Big Bertha. Long story short, there’s a billion dollar drilling machine burrowed under Puget Sound. It broke, and this event seemed to have no risk mitigation plan against it, because the only way to restore the billion dollar carcass to working order was to dig all the way down to it. Through The Sound. Because Cincinnati has to fight for every infrastructure dollar we get, our projects hew closer to their budgets and timelines, because project cancellation is a very real possibility if more money or time is required.

Secondly, the political knife fights that we engage in in The Queen City drive a sense of community and connection. The lack of resistance has made the liberals of Seattle lazy and disorganized. These two unexpected negative side-effects have me missing some good old COAST shenanigans or that flaming pile of poo, article twelve. Where are you Simon Leis, you bigoted ass-hat? Liberals need you so they can coalesce around a common enemy.

All of this seems to imply that I am not having a good time. But I am. The exploration necessary to develop these observations has been loads of fun. The city encourages me approach every day and every new errand with curiosity. On the surface, Seattle is revealing what I don’t want in a city, but deeper in, the city is cultivating a persistent attitude of humility, creativity, and flexibility in me that bears no price.