The 2009 MidPoint Music Festival took place here in Cincinnati last weekend and now it’s time to provide our thoughts. First up is a review of the activities on Friday night in Cincinnati, written up by senior contributor Dave Tobias.
First of all, let me point out that the crowds at MidPoint this year were significantly larger than I expected, given the fact that advance press work was limited, to put it nicely. For an event the magnitude of MPMF, with 270 bands at a ton of downtown clubs, I expected the onslaught of press to reach mainstream news outlets, the way other such festivals do. Instead, the press was kept mainly to independent sources, which ended up boding well for the festival as it still has a vibe of being â€œall about the musicâ€, even though they have such large corporate sponsors as Scion, Budweiser, and Cincinnati Bell.
Now, on to the music. I walked up on Friday to Grammerâ€™s while The Wildbirds were playing. Between their two sets of the weekend (playing the following night on Fountain Square amidst the monsoon of Saturday night), they were rather impressive. They brought a garage rock onslaught of guitars, rhythm and in-your-face rock. It was quite impressive to witness.
After The Wildbirds, what I thought was going to be the main event of the evening, as Heartless Bastards took the stage. It was nice to see the band return to their hometown to headline the main festival here. However, if their music was still standing on its own two legs, it would have been a much better night for them and the crowd. Frankly, the best word to describe their set was boring. Erika now looks like an indie-fied version of her former self, and the new tunes from The Mountain just donâ€™t bring it in the live environment the way their old material did. As the band gets further away from Stairs and Elevators they expand their sound even more. However, both the music and their onstage presence seems to also have lost the fire that the original lineup possessed. The bassist and new guitaristâ€™s moves were completely forced on stage. The only source of energy was the drummer, and even he couldnâ€™t save what became a very lackluster, canned set from the band that we all want to be the torchbearer for Cincinnati.
After leaving Heartless Bastards full of disappointment, I was looking for some newer local bands to renew my spirit. Luckily I stumbled into the Courtyard CafÃ© where the Koala Fires were finishing up their spirited set. I couldnâ€™t really tell the influences or give you any sort of general feedback on what the Koala Fires sounded like. All I can tell you is that they were loud, sweaty, and brought it hard for the 20 minutes I saw them. They truly looked like and acted like a band that was genuinely happy to have the opportunity to play in front of their hometown, and at an event such as MPMF. They definitely gave the crowd their moneyâ€™s worth, and after their set were more than happy to mingle and thank everyone for attending.
After Koala Fires were the band that takes worst band name of the festival prize by a landslide, Chick Pimp, Coke Dealer At A Bar. At first, I had no idea what to expect when I saw a handful of guys taking their places and looking like drunk misfits stuck in a corner. They were all wearing hipster-friendly, Kanye-style glasses, but when they began playing, the easiest comparison that ran through my head was Man Man. They had a circus element to their jukebox funk, and just like Koala Fires, they brought it. It was a remarkable show, and one that certainly gave me hope in the future of Cincinnati music.