Mid Point Madness
Like the first pale spring crocuses breaking through the late winter snow; like a groggy grizzly bear stumbling from its winter den in search of grub and love; like a vampire rising from its crypt; like congress coming back from its twelfth recess this year, Y (oh wait, we’ve already covered the bloodsuckers), Midpoint Music Festival is back and, arguably, better than ever.
This year marks the 9th anniversary of the annual musical event which occurs each September in Cincinnati’s Downtown and Over the Rhine neighborhoods. This year also marks my ninth year following, and/or contributing, to the festival and I’m especially happy to be covering the festival for Randomville this year; and to be able to use this space to tell you about what’s special about this year’s festival.
MPMF A Natural History
There’s been a lot of change with the festival over the last several years. The festival was originally envisioned as being a showplace for the best of the world’s unsigned and independent bands.
That mission, as well as ownership of the festival, has changed over the years. This year marks the third year that the festival has been run by alternative Cincinnati weekly magazine CityBeat. Prior to that time the festival was run by a board which was led by local musicians, and festival inventors, Bill Donabedian and Sean Rhiney.
What hasn’t changed is that for one weekend Cincinnati will become the center of the independent musical universe. MPMF features, this year, over 250 bands playing in over twenty-five venues throughout the downtown area. This year, in addition to the best of the unsigned bands, CityBeat will also feature established acts from across the country and round the world. Confirmed acts include the Tom Tom Club, the dance band formed by Chris Franz and Tina Weymouth of Talking Heads, as well as Ted Leo and The Pharmacist and Best Coast from Florida as well as a special mystery show to be announced at the time the time the festival opens.
Ultimately, this year’s festival should only serve to cement the festival’s reputation as Cincinnati’s best weekend. In short, MidPoint is as good as Cincinnati gets. MPMF means fall and catching up with old friends while reminiscing about past great shows (my personal favorite – the torrid packed show turned in during MPMF 2005 by the beautiful all female punk band from Kyoto Gito Gito Hustler. To this date, I don’t know what was better, tapping into the band’s collective energy as I shot the show from the stage (for lack of anywhere else to stand) or watching the collective three hundred Caucasian men fall instantly or simultaneously in love with the women in the band).
MPMF also means getting to hear local favorites trot out their A-game as they defend their musical turf against invading bands from across the country. Among the many local bands featured this year will be long time local rockers, Messerly and Ewing- in their new hard rocking configuration and which just happens to features both original festival promoters Rhiney and Donabedian. CityBeat promises in their festival materials that, this new configuration of Messerly and Ewing could be poised to knock the city onto its collective ass.
Even better though, is the chance to see old friends in new projects: founders Rhiney and Donabedian will also be joining local guitar slinger Mark Brasington in their new joint venture She’s in Orbit (Areminiscent of early Nuggets-laced Rock boiled down to its essence, stirred with the broken neck of a Les Paul and served piping hot!). Also playing will be local favorites, The Sun Dresses (Like an atom smasher of American music!); The Seedy Seeds (A medium-sized peyote button away from a religious experience in a sweat lodge); and Wussy (their first two albums made an appearance on Robert Christgau’s Albums of the Decade list).
The Song Remains the Same
As always, this year’s festival will run between Thursday night and Sunday morning and, will feature hundreds of bands playing in an impressive number of venues throughout Cincinnati’s downtown and historic Over the Rhine neighborhoods. These venues, between 9p.m. and 1 am, will feature a stunning array of music: not only rock, but countless other genres of music… So whether you love jazz, ska, indie, pop, metal or folk, it’s all out there for you.
New and Improved
During the festival, MidPoint pass holders will gain FREE unlimited ride access to the MidPoint Transit Authority which consists of a small fleet of Cincinnati Metro’s new hybrid buses. These new diesel-electric hybrid buses will not only provide the festival with a clean, fuel-efficient transportation option, they’ll also move a lot more people. The buses will be picking up festival goers at a number of venues throughout the festival and ferrying concert goers between shows during the hours of 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Depending on traffic, festival promoters promise that riders can expect to see a bus every five minutes. Best of all, the ride is free with a MidPoint wristband. Those lacking this year’s most fashionable bling can expect to shell out $1.75 each time you board the bus. . And if that isn’t good enough, Traveling MidPoint acts, sponsored by the Fine Arts Fund, will be assigned slots to play acoustically right on the bus.
Representatives from the Fine Arts Fund will also be on hand to tell people about its Paint the Street initiative happening on Sunday, September 26, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. This event is where people can come out to (you guessed it) paint the street. It is 12th Street, to be exact, and they hope to draw attention to the artistic neighborhood developing around this stretch in Over the Rhine. Be sure to check out this fun event!
You can click here to find out all about ticket information. The festival has also just announced that it will be selling a single day all venue pass (Southgate House excluded) for $20.00.
SOUTHGATE HOUSE BALLROOM
Speaking of The Southgate House, MPMF returns to the historic venue this year. The good news about this addition is that the festival now has a first class forum in which to highlight bands of a more national stature. The down side is that everyone won’t get to see those shows; in fact, the only way to ensure you see the acts at the Southgate House Ballroom is to purchase advance tickets to the individual concerts at SouthgateHouse.com. A minimum of 100 slots will be held for three-day wristband holders for each show, but wristband admission is on a first-come first-served basis and subject to venue capacity. Shows in the Southgate House smaller rooms, The Parlour and Junie’s Lounge are free. Note: This is an 18 and up venue. Also, note that unlike the Cincinnati venues (which are subject to a city smoking ban), the Southgate House permits smoking.