Kate's Queen City Notes

Blundering through Cincinnati, laughing all the way


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Elk Creek at MOTR, also Seattle

I saw Elk Creek play at MOTR on Friday night. Some late in the set sound issues aside, they sounded good. I think they were short a lead guitarist, so I am excited to check them out again with a full band.

Bobby Bare Jr. played afterward. Man. He was really spectacular. Three piece bands have it tough. There simply aren’t enough bodies on stage to create layers of sounds to keep the audience interested. Bobby Bare Jr. used all the tools as his disposal including some really dynamic pedals as well as his snapping fingers and rangy voice. He was really great to watch. Seriously, go seem him if you can. He makes me think Nashville still has a soul.

Elk Creek at MOTR Pub

Elk Creek at MOTR Pub

Seattle winged varmint.

Seattle winged varmint.

Seattle

Seattle

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Rubblebucket, The Bonesetters, and Clear Plastic Masks

Yikes. I am behind. My Rubblebucket pictures have been inprisoned on my camera’s memory card for nearly two weeks sans my attention. In the interests of keeping things moving, I’m just going to leave this pictures here. Also, if you have a chance to see Rubblebucket, do so just to watch the fun. It really doesn’t matter if their music is your bag, you will enjoy their energy and performance.

The band Vacationer at The Woodward Theater in Cincinnati OH

Vacationer at The Woodward. They opened for Rubblebucket.

The band Rubblebucket at The Woodward in Cincinnati OH

Rubblebucket at The Woodward

The band Rubblebucket at The Woodward in Cincinnati OH

Rubblebucket at The Woodward. This show was so fun.

The band Rubblebucket at The Woodward in Cincinnati OH

Rubblebucket. All the energy. ALL OF IT.

The band Rubblebucket at The Woodward in Cincinnati OH

Rubblebucket

The band Rubblebucket at The Woodward in Cincinnati OH

Rubblebucket. Yep. That’s a bari.

The Bonesetters playing at MOTR pub in Cincinnati OH

The Bonesetters

The Bonesetters playing at MOTR pub in Cincinnati OH

The Bonesetters

The Bonesetters playing at MOTR pub in Cincinnati OH

The Bonesetters

The Bonesetters playing at MOTR pub in Cincinnati OH

The Bonesetters

The Bonesetters playing at MOTR pub in Cincinnati OH

The Bonesetters

The band Clear Plastic Masks playing at MOTR in Cincinnati OH

Clear Plastic Masks at MOTR

Picture of the band Clear Plastic Masks at MOTR in Cincinnati OH

Clear Plastic Masks at MOTR


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Nobody Expects The Ridges or Final Friday

Last night was crazy at MOTR. I don’t  know if spring fever made everyone hungry for a bender. I don’t  know if Final Friday attendees finally succumbed to all their complementary wine tastings throughout the night. Maybe the agressive drunken crowd fell victim to a frothy mix of both of these things. I do know that last Saturday at MOTR wasn’t off the rails like last night was.

Now then, the music. I heard Automagic for the first time. Essentially, any band that brings melodic synth sounds is going to win my heart, and win my heart, they did. I got the sense that they are still figuring out their stage presence, but I am happy to watch their evolution.

Although The Ridges were struggling with sound issues for too many moments for the impatient crowd to endure, they opened their act with a fire in their bellies. This effervescent energy is what keeps me coming back to their shows. Of course  it helps that they are well rehearsed and have rumbling Americana songs that resonate with any Midwesterner. Here’s what I saw.

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Automagic at MOTR Pub

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Automagic laying down their pop goodness.

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The drummer from Automagic is killing it.


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The Ridges at MOTR


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Who doesn't love banjo?


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Sound check blues.


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MOTR is packed!


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Low Cut Connie Blew Up MOTR with Old Style and Jean Jackets

This was my third time seeing Low Cut Connie. They tore through MOTR pub on Friday the 21st in a style that Jerry Lee Lewis would appreciate. They’ve revived a retro rock and roll sound with all the stage energy to deliver it in a brain sizzling wallop. The best way for me to convey the energy of this show would be to describe one of the audience members behavior there. A middle aged man took a shot, mysteriously lost his coat, equally mysteriously gained a Domo toque, and then held the toque aloft as though enticing the audience to engage in battle on behalf of Domo. Here’s a few shots.

Low Cut Connie's piano

The piano was really well tuned. I don’t know how your roll a piano over the Midwest’s pothole riddled highways and keep a piano in tune.

Low Cut Connie performing at MOTR

Low Cut Connie’s drink of choice seemed to be Old Style tall boys.

Low Cut Connie performing at MOTR

His very shiny jacket said nads on the back.

Low Cut Connie's piano

This piano seems to be equipped for rough treatment.

Low Cut Connie performing at MOTR

That’s probably not ergonomically correct.

Low Cut Connie performing at MOTR

The only problem with Low Cut Connie’s show was that it was a little short. More! More indie rock!


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Who Needs Clothes? Automagik Doesn’t

I checked out Automagik on Saturday night at MOTR. I didn’t know much about the band, so I didn’t have expectations. They have a bombastic sound and stage presence. Their high energy reminded me a bit of Cincinnati’s own Foxy Shazam. The vocalist enjoyed the show so much that he stripped down to his boxers for the last half of the show. Everyone deserves some privacy, so I decided to keep the pictures of that to myself. One could argue that all the fans with cell phones have already posted pictures. I’m sure they have. But that’s on them.

Automagik working out out.

Automagik working out out.

Grand pronouncements!

Grand pronouncements!

 


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The Night OTR Exploded Local Music

The Woodward and MOTR were booked with great bands on Saturday. They staggered the set times such that listeners could take a couple strolls across the street and catch all the bands with ease. Local bands the Yugos and The Harlequins were booked at The Woodward, and with tickets at 5 bucks a great value. The Ready Stance and The Locals, ironically the only band that isn’t local to Cincinnati, played MOTR Pub. MOTR is always free. Net, for 5 bucks you could get 4 hours of indie rock goodness.

All the bands sounded great, but the primal energy of The Harlequins popped out for me. I stumbled upon Iggy Pop’s “Lust for Life” on Sunday; it struck me that The Harlequins energy reminds me of Iggy. I also enjoyed their approach to audience participation. In preparation for their last song, they inquired fast or slow, fast or slow. This simple decision was in harmony with the band’s raw sound and understated stage presence. I loved it.

The Yugos on stage at The Woodward Theater

The Yugos filling The Woodward with their atmospheric rock goodness.

The Yugos performing at The Woodward Theater

The Yugos and, apparently, specks of dust. It’s probably historic dust from The Woodward.

The Yugos on stage at The Woodward Theater.

The Yugos on stage at The Woodward Theater.

The Ready Stance performing at MOTR

The Ready Stance at MOTR

The Harlequins on stage at The Woodward Theater

The Harlequins on stage at The Woodward Theater

The Harlequins on stage at The Woodward Theater

The Harlequins delivering a rock and roll punch in the gut.

The Harlequins playing The Woodward Theater

The Harlequins on stage at The Woodward Theater

The Locals playing at MOTR Pub

The Locals are tearing up MOTR.


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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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The Black Owls and The Sundresses Rocked my Socks Off

This weekend was full of live music. After Sidewalk Chalk and The Almighty Get Down on Friday, I headed back to Motr for The Black Owls and The Sundresses. I’ve seen both these bands before. They play regularly around Cincinnati given that they are both Ohio bands with The Sundresses based in Cincinnati.

I digress. I’ve been listening to my 2014 Bunbury playlist for the last few weeks. Every time Fall Out Boy comes on (which seems to happen with disproportionate frequency), I am fumbling for the skip button. That very thing just happened. Perhaps it’s time I just purchased some of my favorites to get away from this abusive Spotify relationship with Fall Out Boy. That’s settled. I will make up for missing record store day with a trip to buy a bunch of my favorite bands’ records at Shake It.

Back to the topic at hand, The Black Owls came prepared mic swinging and all. They sounded really great on the new sound system at Motr. I am still marveling at how much better the sound is in there. I could understand most of the lyrics, which is a feat at most live shows let alone ones with so much crunchy guitar sounds. Mic swinging might have caused a bit of a microphone crisis, but all was handled gracefully.

Before their set.

Before their set.

The Black Owls killing it.

The Black Owls killing it.

While I was writing the caption to this song The Black Owls came on. Coincidence?

While I was writing the caption to this song The Black Owls came on. Coincidence?

Digging the green lights in this shot.

Digging the green lights in this shot.

The Sundresses added a drummer a couple of years ago. I feel like this really added some punch to their live shows. The past arrangement was that Jeremy and Brad would alternate on percussion duty. That inevitably meant a bit of a lull between songs. Granted they situated themselves damn fast, but still. The addition of a drummer lets them pound though one song leaving barely time to catch your breath before the next tears out. It’s gratifying.

And gratifying it was. They sounded really great. The only hiccup was with one of the mics delivering at random intervals a shock to Jeremy’s mouth. I don’t know what that would feel like, but by the looks of it, it was quite painful. This situation was tolerated until the end of the show, which is more than what I would have endured had I been getting zapped in the mouth.

I had to include a picture with the drummer in it, now that I blabbed about him in the post.

I had to include a picture with the drummer in it, now that I blabbed about him in the post.

The Sundresses doing their thing.

The Sundresses doing their thing.

Jeremy trying to not get zapped in the kisser.

Jeremy trying to not get zapped in the kisser.

Brad rocking out.

Brad rocking out.

Cincinnati, you are getting out of control with all the local music. This weekend is looking like more of the same… I can’t wait.


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Whiskey Gentry and Flirty McDrunkerson

I saw a great band yesterday. I had random encounters with strangers. I discovered I can go back to MOTR without perforating my eardrums. It’s all here.

I’ve been confused for someone else at least six times in the last eighteen months. I know who my doppelganger is. She bartends at The Lackman. Strangers approach me, and after a short awkward exchange, ask if I work at The Lackman. At my negative response, the stranger suddenly understands why I was looking at them blankly while he/she was greeting me as a friend. I do bear a slight resemblance to this woman. We have big blue eyes and sandy brown hair. That’s where the similarities end. I have a few inches on her; she has a few years on me. Our hair styles are considerably different. There is one other commonality, that I think is at the root of most people’s confusion. We are both obvious lesbians.

I ran into her yesterday having drink, and decided to have a chat with my not-so-much double. When I relayed my experiences, she laughed and said she experiences similar things. Lesbian confusion. I’m pretty sure it’s a thing, and it’s happening to me. At least my doppelganger is pleasant. A really great conversation ensued, clearly, since I was talking to myself.

After a stellar chicken sandwich at The Eagle, I headed to MOTR to see Whiskey Gentry. I haven’t been to MOTR in a few months. While I love that they book great music seven days a week, the volume in there is at a 12,345 of 10. The noise level is high enough that my ears feel raped with ear plugs in. There is zero possibility of speaking to any human unless you want to shout centimeters away from their ear, and even then you will need to repeat yourself several times. Since it already feels like years of your hearing are vanishing by the minute, I usually resort to texting the person I am standing next to.

Last night, I had a most welcome surprise. MOTR got a new sound system. They got new lights. AND PRAISE BE TO THE GODS OF THE CILIA OF MY INNER EAR, the volume was at a reasonable level. It was loud, but not intolerably so. I was thrilled to discover this as Whiskey Gentry did their sound check.

I wanted to see these guys at Midpoint this fall, but they cancelled the day of their show. See blog post about that here. I would call them folk or alt country. There’s a little 50’s country, bluegrass, and folk in there. And unlike pop country, their lyrics are about more than trucks, tractors and women. Plus, there’s pedal steel, the fiddle, and banjo in their recordings. I’m a sucker for some pleasant banjo. The lead vocalist has a warm buttery voice; weirdness aside, I want her to sing me lullabies. Check ’em out.

They were worth the wait. The vocalist sounded spectacular. I was disappointed that the banjo player wasn’t out with them. It gave their performance a little more of a rock edge. Apart from this tiny bummer, they sounded tight. The guitarist and fiddler were full of energy, while the vocalist had a cool reserve. It created an interesting dynamic. The cool collected woman at the center of a couple of guys nearly off the rails.

Between the pleasant sound level, the great performance, and the excellent people watching, I had a super night. My partner wasn’t feeling well, so she took a pass on seeing the show. I like going out by myself. I enjoy keeping to my thoughts in a crowd. However, I’ve noticed that strangers, especially drunk strangers, like to talk to me. This rarely happens when I am out with friends, but when I’m alone I am often approached. Last night was no exception.

I sat outside after the show to enjoy a rare smoke. A pretty young woman teetered out of the bar and headed my way. She had hipster glasses and skinny jeans, coupled with a spectacularly ugly 80’s hand bag. She tilted her head, slow smiled and asked, “are you lonely?” It was cute. But I am taken, and I was thinking of how to respond politely to Flirty McDrunkerson while still communicating my lack of interest. I settled on, “actually, no, but you are welcome to join me.” That seemed to do the trick. We chatted a bit, before I headed inside.

I ordered one more beer and closed out my tab. After scanning the bar, I found a seat open in the corner where I could relax, and watch the drunken mess that was forming. Quiet time lasted exactly three minutes. A woman approached, and I was relieved when I realized her friends were sitting just ahead of me. After a few seconds of chatting with them, she abruptly turned to me and talked as though we had just left off a few minutes before. I got over my annoyance quickly, because this woman knows her local music. We had a great talk about the Bunbury line-up. Turns out she knows the person responsible for booking, and we debated the merits of this years line-up vs past line-ups. Our thirty minute talk was nice, but it earned me a stink-eye from her boyfriend. It probably didn’t help that she failed to noticed he called her 3 times while we were yammering on and on about Kishi Bashi and X Ambassadors. Hopefully, that didn’t result in too much discord.

So that was my day. I saw great music. I had random conversations with strangers. I took some pictures. It was a wonderful 18 hours.

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Fifty-eight degrees felt amazing.

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Everyone was out. We’ve had weeks of abnormally brutal winter weather. I think everyone was stir crazy. I know I was.

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The snifter contains Sixpoint Hi-Res. The color and the reflection in the glass was beautiful.

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Yes.

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The sky. I love winter in Cincinnati because it’s the only time of year we have clear blue skies.

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The blue sky reflecting off these blue tinted windows looks surreal.

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One of the things that caught my eye while I was walking around downtown.