Kate's Queen City Notes

Blundering through Cincinnati, laughing all the way


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Kishi Bashi and The Ridges

After enjoying Kishi Bashi at Bunbury, it wasn’t a difficult decision to get tickets to see him play at The 20th Century Theater. That venue is a nice intimate space. As an added bonus The Ridges opened for him. I haven’t seen them in about a year. Shame on me for that, as they have played numerous times around here. They’ve really amped up the energy in their live show since the last time I saw them. If their purpose was to get the crowed excited for Kishi Bashi, I say job well done.

Just before Kishi Bashi came out, the merch guy came out to quote what I think was Shakespeare. I don’t know why this felt completely appropriate, but it did. One of the band members handed over a remote control to girls to my left. It controlled the lighting in the body of the banjo. I enjoyed this little bit of audience participation.

The band looked great, and put in an energetic performance. It was standing at a place in the theater that made it difficult to judge what the sound was like. I was hearing quite a bit from the monitors on stage and even the acoustic sound from the instruments themselves. I do know that it was hot. There was dancing, and I had fun.

Violas. It's a thing.

Violas. It’s a thing.

The Ridges

The Ridges

Everyone sing along. Or should I say, everyone in the back shut yer pie holes.

Everyone sing along. Or should I say, everyone in the back shut yer pie holes.

That some stuff, stuff that I don't understand.

That some stuff, stuff that I don’t understand.

Tattooed banjo?

Tattooed banjo?

Kishi Bashi. It was hot as satan's taint in there. That jacket came off quickly.

Kishi Bashi. It was hot as satan’s taint in there. That jacket came off quickly.

Because you never know when you need to banjo while straddling someone doing push-ups.

Because you never know when you need to banjo while straddling someone doing push-ups.

Big finish with The Ridges on stage for "Bright Whites"

Big finish with The Ridges on stage for “Bright Whites”

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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


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Bunbury 2014: IT’S ALMOST HERE!!

This has been one hell of a week at work, which makes me extra excited about all the live music that I’m seeing this weekend. I’ve been blogging about my not-to-miss bands for the past few months. Check out those blogs if you like.

Fitz and the Trantrums and Young the Giant
Kishi Bashi and Wild Cub
Bronze Radio Return and Bad Suns
Cults and Holy Ghost!

Plus, I’m super excited that I got a press pass this year. I have a pretty spiffy camera, and I was hoping I could get clearance to bring it in. Success!! I’m thrilled about all the amazing pictures that I’m going to share in the coming days.

Here’s my agenda for the weekend. Agenda. It’s so corporate. Regardless, here it is.

Friday:

2-245 Divided between Royal Teeth and Snowmine – Both these bands sound great, so it looks like I start the fest by sprinting across Sawyer Point.
245-330 X Ambassadors – These guys are regularly selling out their venues on this tour. Their horizon is looking pretty bright.
330-415 Let It Happen
415-5 Wild Cub Seen them twice, love them. 500 Miles to Memphis gets an honorable mention. This Cincinnati-based band puts on a great show, but I’ve seen them quite a few times. Oh, the burden of being a local at this fest.
5-545 Divided between J Roddy Walston and the Business and Family and Friends – I enjoy the sound of both of these bands. More sprinting.
545-645 Cage the Elephant
645-730 Bad Suns – If I have it in me, I might try and catch a song or two by Meg Myers and Lydia Loveless between Cage and Bad Suns.
745-9 Fitz and the Tantrums
915-1015 Heartless Bastards – Erika Wennerstrom’s voice is just spectacular.
1015-1115 Empire of the Sun

Saturday:

2-245 Miner
245-330 Big Fresh
330-415 Bronze Radio Return
415-5 Bonesetters
5-545 Kishi Bashi – I would have gotten tix to this fest just for this show.
545-645 Cults – Their songs sound straight out of the sixties and have lyrics about, well, cults. What’s not to like?
630-730 Little Daylight – This band drew me away from my original agenda at Governor’s Ball with their sweet, sweet sounds.
730-815 Molly Sullivan – Formerly the lead singer of the Know Know Nots, she’s got stellar vocals. I’m excited to see what she’s working on now.
815-915 Divided between  The Pass and Andrew W. K. – Oh god, why are so many good things happening in this time slot.
9-10 Foxy Shazam – Their music isn’t really in my wheelhouse, but they are super performers.
10-1115 Fall Out Boy – They aren’t really my thing, but they have no competition. So, thks fr th mrms in advance.

Sunday:

2-245 Brick + Mortar
245-330 The Lighthouse and the Whaler – So much pop goodness. It’s marshmallow fluff for your ears.
330-415 The Easthills
415-5 Kopecky Family Band – Are they sure they aren’t a subset of Cults?
5-6 ZZ Ward
6-7 Robert Delong – This is dance-your-pants-off hour.
630-730 Bear Hands
7-8 Young the Giant
8-9 Holy Ghost! – They are so 80’s, and I love it so much.
9-1015 Flaming Lips – Thank Jeebus this thing ends at 1015. I will be beat-down by that point in the weekend.

Bring it Bunbury! I’m ready!


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Bunbury 2014: Must See Bands Kishi Bashi and Wild Cub

I got so engrossed in listening to new music that I forgot to mention the bands that I loved prior to knowing that they would be a part of the Bunbury 2014 line-up. It’s time to fix that. I was already familiar with Kishi Bashi, Fitz and the Trantrums, Wild Cub, Young the Giant, Flaming Lips, Varuca Salt, Red Wanting Blue, Andrew W. K., Ropert DeLong, Dead Sara, Foxy Shazam, Heartless Bastards, Young Heirlooms, Black Owls (I saw them at MOTR recently and blogged about it), The Yugos, and 500 Miles to Memphis.
I know some of these bands because they are or were local, and hence they play or did play around here often. Foxy Shazam, Heartless Bastards, Young Heirlooms, Black Owls, The Yugos, Heartless Bastards, and 500 Miles to Memphis are in that category. The other bands I have just run across in my indie music listening adventure. I saw Wild Cub at 2013 Midpoint Music Festival. I like them so well, that I saw them open for American Authors this winter. I saw Capital Cities and Fitz and the Tantrums this winter at The Madison. I saw Young the Giant when Walk the Moon opened for them a couple of years back. I know Kishi Bashi from his old band, Jupiter One. I saw them a couple of times, and I am excited to see K in his current project.
Speaking of Kishi Bashi, his music is great. He played 2013 Midpoint Music Festival. He packed the basement of the CAC. Even my VIP pass failed to get me in the door in a timely fashion, and I had to abandon seeing him to make Murder by Death. Given that I missed my last chance to see him, he is on my do-not-miss list for Bunbury. K plays a mean violin and has a bright pop sensibility, and I think his live shows feature some looping and live sampling. I love his cover of “This is the Place.”
2013 Midpoint Music Fest put out line-up that was a really diverse sampling of high quality indie lable artists. Wild Cub stood out to me for how 80’s retro their sound is. Turns out that most of the indie pop coming out of New York is decidedly 80’s washed, as evidenced by this year’s Bunbury line-up. Wild Cub was slated to play MOTR, which is a pretty small and poorly-laid out venue. They can’t help it. The built-in antique bar, that lends so to the aestetic also makes the performance space a bit awkward. I got to the bar early, anticipating a crowd. Once Wild Cub went on, the crowd was so packed in that I couldn’t stand more than three or four songs. But the bit I saw was excellent and kept me listening. I’m pretty excited about awkward hipster dancing to their set at Bunbury.


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Midpoint Music Festival 2013 in Review: Friday

Welcome to my Midpoint Music Festival 2013 Review, the Friday edition. If you missed my last blog regarding MPMF, and would like an overview of what MPMF is read this blog post and then come back to this one.

Here’s what my agenda was at the beginning of the night. I was particularly excited for Youth Lagoon, Murder By Death, and The Head And The Heart.

5:30 Izzy And The Catastrophics at MPMF Midway
6:00 American Royalty at Washington Park
7:00 Black Owls at Grammer’s
7:15 Youth Lagoon at Washington Park
8:45 The Head And The Heart at Washington Park
9:30 Warpaint at Grammer’s
10:00 Saturday Looks Good To Me at Know Theater
11:30 Kishi Bashi at CAC
12:00 Murder By Death at Taft
12:30 Sugar Baron at Main Event

I turned up to Izzy, but found that that show had been cancelled. They ended up playing at 6:15 at a different venue. They also filled in for The Whiskey Gentry at their 12:30am slot on Saturday at Japp’s Annex. I was bummed about The Whiskey Gentry cancelling. I didn’t end up seeing Izzy at either of those times. I’ve seen Izzy several times; they are good performers. But with so many options, I wanted to see something new, so I skipped them.

American Royalty sounded good, but their performance wasn’t anything worth discussing. I skipped the Black Owls in favor of Youth Lagoon. The Black Owls are excellent, but like Izzy I’ve seen them several times. Plus, they will be playing Northside Tavern in December, and I will see them there.

Youth Lagoon. Words fail me here. I really like their records. I found the vocalist unpleasant live. Both his appearance and singing weren’t what I was expecting. I know full well his appearance shouldn’t matter. The music is the only thing that should matter. But in a live setting what the band looks like is part of the experience. I’m disgusted with myself for feeling this strongly about about his appearance. Even if I set his appearance aside, his warbling was unpleasant, and I suppose this is a good enough reason to pass on any future concerts. I listed to the album again, and I think there were two problems with this show. First, I am certain that Trevor Powers’s voice has so much reverb on it on the albums it takes the shrill edge off his vocals. As an aside, I think I noticed the same problem with Baths’s singer on Thursday. Second, like MGMT at Bunbury, I’m pretty sure the audience really could have been absent and the show wouldn’t have varied in the least. I hate it when artists do this. (I had to look up grammar rules around possessives just now. Writing is hard.)

I saw The Head And The Heart open for The Decemberists. They were stellar then; they were stellar at this festival. They sound great. They are fun performers. According to my less-than-scientific observation, they packed Washington Park more so than any other act in the fest. Since I had seen them before, I had planned on leaving their show for Warpaint after they played “Down in the Valley”. It’s my favorite song on that album. I’m pretty sure the chord progression that’s most attractive to me is used in at least one other song that I know well, and this might explain my immediate attraction to this tune. I’ve been puzzling over where it’s from for weeks. As They wound up their final song, I thought I was out of luck. I was so pleased when they played it as the final song of their encore.

The Head And The Heart at Washington Park. They were very sweet. They said they were excited that it's still summer in Cincinnati, because it's apparently already winter in Seattle.

The Head And The Heart at Washington Park. They were very sweet. They said they were excited that it’s still summer in Cincinnati, because it’s apparently already winter in Seattle.

I’ve been seeing live shows for more than 20 years, and this typically gives me a spidey sense of what a band will do live after hearing their record. Some recordings smell like studio creations that don’t fare well live. I suspected as much of Warpaint. I’m please to say I couldn’t have been more wrong. These women sounded excellent. I would absolutely see them again.

Warpaint at Grammer's Stage.

Warpaint at Grammer’s Stage.

I literally only saw half a song of Saturday Looks Good To Me, as they finished their set just as I arrived. I was a bit mesmerized by Warpaint and couldn’t pull myself away. Since I was already at the Know Theater I went up stairs to check out San Fermin. It was PACKED. Just getting in the door and out of the stairway was difficult, let alone get a glimpse of the stage. What I saw and heard was great. I’m not sure how much 30 seconds of listening is worth. I headed to Kishi Bashi.

The Contemporary Arts Center is an appropriate venue for this fest, but the room that they put the bands in is tiny. I think this venue is a train wreck of humans for at least one show of this fest consistently from year to year. This year’s train wreck of humans happened at Kishi Bashi. There were lines to get in. The venue was full and on a 1 in 1 out policy. Since I am a veteran of this fest, I’ve come to expect this. To say that the line of people waiting to get in were impatient is being kind. Although, in their defense the people working the venue weren’t communicating with the crowd. And if I were a first-timer I probably would have been frustrated too. Murder By Death was on my must see list, so I left the line at the CAC for the Taft; my friends who remained in line, got in about 5 minutes. Not bad. They also reported that Kishi Bashi said he’s returning to Cincinnati this year. Great! I will see him then.

Turns out I made a great decision in leaving the CAC. Murder By Death started early! These guys are from Bloomington IN, so I have no idea why I have missed them until now. They play Cincinnati regularly. First, the sound at the Taft was outstanding all weekend, so Murder By Death was no exception. Second, Murder By Death sounded great and put on a great performance. My friend Amanda summarized their sound in this way: it’s like Soundgarden and Morphine had a hillbilly baby. That sums them up nicely. I’m looking forward to the next time they turn up in Cincinnati. In the meantime, here’s my favorite song of theirs, which they played at the show.

Murder By Death at The Taft

Murder By Death at The Taft

Finally, I headed to Sugar Baron at the Main Event. This is the only venue that was consistently poor in terms of sound quality. I think Sugar Baron would be great in a different setting. I only caught a few songs, but what I did hear had over-amplified drums and indistinguishable vocals. I would give them another try in a different setting.

I was excited to find my way home. I was exhausted and very happy with my music experience. It was dawning on me that this years line-up might be the best to date in terms of the quality of the bands booked.