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: Lucy Dacus

Some music stands out because it sounds so unique, but can also stand out because it sounds like something else, something that makes you feel warm and expansive. And that is how I feel listening to this. I am at a Heartless Bastards show more than twelve years ago.

It’s part the vocals and part the general aesthetic of the music.

Has everything been done, and are we just repeating what has come before? Maybe. If there’s a finite number of pleasing sounds that our ears are capable of hearing revisiting the good stuff is ok.

Lucy Dacus plays Saturday Sept 24th at the WNKU stage at 415pm at MPMF.

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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.

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Bigger and Better = More Expensive and More Crowded

I know I am a weirdo. This always means that when something I love wants to chase after a wider audience they will stop doing the things I enjoy and start doing things I don’t. And it’s happened with my two favorite music festivals.

I hate most TV. I don’t watch many movies. I don’t follow many popular bands. I am aggravated by almost all media and find the weirdest person in the room to talk to. When TV programmers salivate over all the partially brain dead people they can suck into Kim Kardashian’s latest shenanigans, they are not thinking of me.

And for the most part, I am ok with this. There’s just one thing. I love music. I love indie music specifically. I love walking into a a craft beer soaked 60’s nautical themed venue and seeing a group of people finding themselves onstage. I love seeing them watch the crowd and formulate who they will be as performers. Once a band reaches the arena they are done being a person on stage and are a persona. I am seeing a crafted performance. While this has its place, I don’t have passion for it.

And music at the most micro sense is miles away from the Kardashians. But all of its roads lead there to some degree. The process of a band making it big is to transform their music and themselves into a product. And because I like to see them before they are a product this has me constantly chasing the new.

I have been lucky in the last few years in that I have had not one but two festivals in Cincinnati that have aided my search. Bunbury and MPMF were started and run by people who love music. They loved money less.

And it showed. Prices were low and the music was abundant. Their booking was stacked with new bands or established artists who deserved a better following. Without any huge national acts these fests weren’t plagued by long lines or enormous impersonal stages.

These fests made excellent experinces for people like me. MBAs know that catering to us weirdos won’t bring the army of salmon-shorted bros. I knew when it would come to making money the things I loved would change.

Bunbury was sold to Promowest last year. MPMF was sold to MEMI this spring. They have cut the number and acts and stages. They put up big names. The net result is that I will be a football field away from any of the bands, wait in long lines to pee or eat, and have no place to chill out for a bit between sets because it’s so packed. (Side note: this is part of the reason I skipped Bunbury this year.)

MPMF is changing even more dramatically in that rather than have local music venues host bands all four stages are parking lots. So, rather than give fest goers a little taste of Cincinnati by sending them into our unique bars that serve our own craft beer we are sending people into parking lots to drink bud light.

Had an outside company done this is wouldn’t feel surprised. But the company is a subsidiary of the Cincinnati Symphony. They have a stranglehold on Cincinnati’s large venues, Riverbend, PNC Pavillion, and The Taft. And given that they just killed Promowest’s attempt to get a small venue in The Banks, it follows that MEMI would want to take on Promowest (new owners of Bunbury) head to head in the music festival business.

For an organization the is based in OTR, I cannot fathom how tone deaf moving out of the local venues was. They state that they want to support OTR, but in what way exactly? By showing off our parking lots and a wealth of InBev products? All cities can provide those things.

I used to think The Symphony had some difficulty engaging the community because they weren’t quite getting their potential audience. But now I am thinking they struggle because they simply don’t know us. The board members are disconnected from the most vibrant aspects of the city and fail to program accordingly.

I can accept the festival changing. Everything changes. What I cannot accept is to create a completely standard music festival out of something unique. Something that started in 2001 when no one would go to OTR and supported CBD and OTR businesses when they most needed it. This festival brought people back downtown after the riots. I cannot accept substituting this cookie cutter format and still calling it Midpoint Music Festival. Call it anything you want. Just not MPMF.

What a wonderful time it’s been, these fourteen years of priceless experiences and incredible music. I am so grateful to have been a part of it. I have more memories than I can share, but I will put links up to my past reviews below as well as a couple pics.

I will go to this new festival to check it out. But that is exactly how I think of it, as something new. MPMF is over. The words continue but the spirit is gone. Thank you, thank you, thank you for fourteen amazing years.

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MPMF15 – I Spy

Ok. My schedule… Here we go.


  • 6pm Jr. Jr.  – Indie Craft Village
  • 715pm Big Scary – The Drinkery
  • 815pm The Donkeys – Christian Moerlein
  • 845pm The Eagle Rock Gospel Singers – Lightborne Lot
  • 915pm Purity Ring – Washington Park
  • 10pm The Ridges – Lightborne Lot
  • 1030pm Roadkill Ghost Choir – Mr. Pitiful’s
  • 1045pm toss-up between HEAT/Heartless Bastards – MOTR/Moerlein
  • 1145pm Sarah Jaffe – Mr. Pitiful’s
  • 12am Bully – MOTR
  • 1215am All Them Witches – The Woodward


  • 3pm The Harlequins – Washington Park
  • 515pm Caspian – Washington Park
  • 615pm PRIM – Lightborne Lot
  • 630pm Ride – Washington Park
  • 730pm Culture Queer – LIghtborne Lot
  • 830pm No/No – MOTR
  • 930pm Ggoolldd/Alanna Royale – Maudie’s/Mr. Pitiful’s
  • 10pm Cathedrals – Lightborne Lot
  • 1045pm Sylvan Esso – Moerlein
  • 11pm Strand of Oaks – The Woodward
  • 12am Diet Cig – Maudie’s
  • 1215am Zola Jesus – Taft (BAHHHH WHY??? Between this and Sylvan Esso/Strand of Oaks playing at the same time? Worst conflicts of the fest. This is where not having my bike is a big problem. If you don’t know why I am freaking out, let me elaborate. It’s a 20 minute walk at least between Maudie’s and The Taft. I am guessing that I will have to nix Zola Jesus here.)
  • 1230am Sphynx – The Drinkery


  • 3pm Bones Jugs and Harmony – Indie Craft Villiage
  • 5pm Gran Bel Fisher – Washington Park
  • 615pm Great Peacock – Washington Park
  • 730pm Pokey LaFarge – Washington Park
  • 845pm Iron and Wine – Washington Park
  • 9pm Kid Runner – The Drinkery
  • 945pm Public – The Taft
  • 1030pm The Tuneyards – Moerlein
  • 1145pm Pure Bathing Culture – Mr. Pitiful’s

Bahhhhh!!! this is happening!!!!

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MPMF15 – I Fell Off the Wagon

I failed miserably at posting my recommendations this week. It’s hard  moving to another city and trying to suck every amazing experience out of it as quickly as possible. See other blog posts for more on that topic.

Here’s what I would have recommended this week had I managed to do it.

  • American Wrestlers
  • Caspian
  • Public
  • Roadkill Ghost Choir
  • Ggoolldd
  • Diet Cig
  • Sweet and the Sweet Sweets

Here’s what I have already seen and loved. The only reason these bands didn’t make my must-see is because I have seen them, in some cases multiple times. They are excellent, don’t let the fact that I might skip them for acts I haven’t seen dissuade you from checking them out.

Now all that’s left to do is get my Schedule for the fest sorted. I say that as though this is an easy task. It’s not. Post coming soon.

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MPMF15 Must See – K. Flay

I like Hip Hop. The hostility toward women and glorification of our consumer culture that is often present in the lyrics turns my stomach sour, and I find I can’t continue to listen even when I like the groove and vibe. So, when I find a Hip Hop artist I can get behind, it makes me happy. I give you K. Flay.

I am a sucker for urban environments and their associated visuals, so I loved this video. There’s something barren and beautiful about the concrete landscape that I have learned to love. Maybe it’s just that it stands in contrast to the suburbs I grew-up in, and the rural areas I played and worked in?

Check out K. Flay at MPMF at The Taft Ballroom Sunday Sept. 27 at 11:00.

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MPMF15 Must See – Miracles of Modern Science

“I’ve been so drunk on safety.” Yeah, which is how I am just now living across the country. So, I get those feels Miracles of Modern Science.

I’m excited to see what this performance is liken given the unusual instrumentation of this act. Violin, cello, mandolin, drums and sometimes bass? Why not? I wonder if that drummer ever feels outnumbered by all those string players. See them at Arnold’s at 9:45 Saturday the 26th.

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MPMF15 Must See – Sylvan Esso

And here it is. My favorite song discovered in my MPMF15 listening.

I love this song so hard I want to marry it. That might be an exaggeration. That song would be difficult to cuddle with.

I am not often a fan of seeing electronic music performed live. Watching people work at computers isn’t a compelling visual for me. As one of my photographer friends said at Bunbury this year, “What’s pleasing to the ears is not necessarily pleasing to the eye.” And no better phrase can sum up my thoughts on seeing DJs or any other performer doing things with technology.

But I am curious to see what Amelia Meath makes of her vocal performance along side producer, Nick Sanborn. The duo come together in the most acoustically pleasing way with Meath’s vocals floating across time by laying the past on top of Sanborn’s modern beats. The contrast is alluring. If you love Portishead, this performance is a must.

Join me at Sylvan Esso on Saturday Sept. 26th at the Christian Moerlein stage at 1045.

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MPMF15 Must See – Strand of Oaks

I climbed a mountain today. On the way down the mountain I saw a woman carrying what appeared to be a swaddled baby in her arms. The climb was strenuous. My first thought was – what the hell is happening here?

That was also my thought when I listened to TImothy Showalter’s, the dude behind Strand of Oaks, top four songs on Spotify. “Goshen 97” gives “Summer of ’69” a run in terms of a nostalgic anthem for all things about making music and being young. “Shut In” is dripping with big Bruce Springsteen feels. “JM” is all Iron and Wine goes electric that morphs into dark, pulsing rock. “HEAL” is a synthed-out Orgy/Bauhaus baby. See for yourself.

You will have to go to Spotify for the others. But that should be enough for you to pick up what I’m throwing down. So, back to my thought, what the hell is going on here? I don’t have an answer to that question. But I do know that I want to see this guy. I’m curious to see how the show holds together with music that is running across the board. Plus, Showalter’s lyrics are punching me right in the feels.

I do know what the hell was going on with the woman headed up the mountain with a baby. She wasn’t holding a baby. She had her jacket wrapped up in her arms and was cradling it, which killed my curiosity immediately. Maybe I never what to know what the hell is going on with Strand of Oaks and just enjoy it.