Cincinnati is no stranger to the music festival. With a genre-spanning line-up announced, Midpoint Music Fest definitely gives others a run for their money. Wristband sales are up, the expansion into Washington Park has been a wild success, and everything seems to be coming up Milhouse for MPMF.
Split into three days (September 26-28) and fifteen venues, it’s easy to look at a festival like MPMF and get a little overwhelmed. Or, it’s easy to look at all the information and want to organize it all. Everything. Every last bit. Well, here’s where we fit in: we’re here to highlight some regional artists from each day to make the decision between Venue A and Venue B a little easier.
SIDEWALK CHALK | 5:30pm, Midpoint Midway | Official
Hailing from Chicago is Sidewalk Chalk, a hip hop outfit with jazz influences. And soul influences. And also R&B influences, but that’s where they end (we think). Comprised of 8 members, Sidewalk Chalk reminds me a bit of the DOOMTREE collective, both in quantity of members and diversity of music born from collaboration. Male and female vocals weave in and out of each other as brass swells build anticipation, occasionally accompanied by keys and always accompanied by steady percussion.
HICKORY ROBOT | 8:15pm, Arnold’s Bar and Grill | Official
This quartet is a progressive blend of bluegrass and jazz; their obvious musicianship is noticeable from the first violin melodies. Hickory Robot’s tunes are lively and adventurous, guided by singer Lauren Schloemer’s classic bluegrass vocals. Their October 2012 release, Sawyer, resulted in Cincinnati Entertainment Award nominations for Best Bluegrass Band and Album of the Year, and lead to a productive 2013 touring the Midwest.
According to their website, “Hickory Robot hail from the fertile acoustic soil of Cincinnati, Ohio,” and I don’t think they could have worded it any better.
MAD ANTHONY | 9:30pm, The Drinkery | Official
Cincinnati locals, Mad Anthony, will feel right at home on the MPMF stage, and not just because we’re in Cincy. They seem to be at home on a stage, having scored headlining spots at North by Northeast and Canadian Music Week. The trio’s homecoming show at Midpoint comes on the tail of its first coast-to-coast U.S. tour. Don’t miss Mad Anthony’s ferocious guitar and raw, demanding vocals. This music needs to be played loud, and I have no doubts these rockers will bring the volume to their Thursday performance.
OHIO KNIFE | 10:45pm, Mainstay Rock Bar | Official
You can only play indie folk for so long until the rock gods call you back. This is exactly what happened with Jason Snell before forming the trio, Ohio Knife. The outfit is driving with rich vocals, fuzzy guitar, and pronounced melodies. They’re pure energetic rock ‘n’ roll, and also have a few online reviews praising their live show. It sounds like a recipe for a good time. Fans of Filligar or Mutts are going to enjoy Ohio Knife.
PSYCHIC TWIN | 12:00am, MOTR PUB | Official
One of my personal favorites, Psychic Twin, is closing out the MOTR PUB on Thursday evening. This electro-pop project layers sets of warm vocals on top of atmospheric backgrounds. After Midpoint Music Festival, Psychic Twin is heading to Champaign, IL for a Saturday performance at Pygmalion, so if you enjoy the set and feel like a road trip, there’s an option for round two!
Let’s not forget the equally awesome bands playing this evening that traveled to MPMF from outside of our neck of the woods. The prolific Kurt Vile and the Violators are taking Grammer’s Stage at 9:30pm, and LA’s chillwave project, Baths, is playing at the Contemporary Arts Center at 11:30pm. Midpoint Music Fest hits the ground running with an impressive opening evening.
For full schedule details, go here. Stay tuned as we preview Friday and Saturday; Thursday will be a great night of music, but the best thing about Midpoint is that it gets better and better.