MidPoint Music Fest 2013 Preview

Can Good Music and Laziness Meet?

Amy Sand
So you know the basics: Cincinnati’s Midpoint Music Fest is an indie-driven festival in a downtown setting. So downtown-ish, many of the shows will take place in bars. Having never been, it sounds more like a gigantic pub-crawl, not that I’m complaining. With 181 bands (yes I counted them all), it’s a festival that crams a large amount of music into a small time frame. The festival is a typical three-day with a catch: shows generally start after 5 pm. This is great for responsible people with jobs, and out-of-towners who want to explore the city while in Cincinnati. But what about the people who want to chill out with a beer and listen to some tunes? Who is fighting for us in all this? I’m sure if I asked the festival coordinators they would encourage me to day drink at a local bar. Unfortunately, jukeboxes don’t really have the talent of a live band…or the sex appeal.

BREAKING NEWS: While writing this I received an email from, stating that they will be filling this musical hole in my heart with daytime performances at Findlay Market.

So it’s time to face the dilemma of every festival, ever: What to see and when to see it. This urban festival setting adds the unique problem of venue distance. The MPMF site claims it’s entirely walkable and it looks like it is: the furthest possible distance from Grammer’s Stage to Mainstay Rock Bar is only 1.4 miles. And thank the gods. In the past, bands have been exiled to charming but impossible to walk places like Eli’s BBQ. As a person who dreads driving almost as much as grocery shopping, I’m eternally grateful.

The other big question mark about Midpoint is the venue capacities. If you buy a “Full Festival Pass” you’re given a wristband that allows you into all shows, but this doesn’t necessarily guarantee you a spot. Just how early will you have to arrive to see your favorite band? Will this be a game of hopscotch, jumping from one location to another until you find one with a short wait? At a mere $69 for three days of live music, it may be worth finding out.


I’ve mapped out my three-day plan of attack in order to maximize the tune-age and to soothe my type-A soul. The shows that interest me are ones that either burn my heart or melt my face. Basically, acoustic folk-y sets or shows with limbs flailing to kick drum beats. One of the shinier sides of Midpoint is its celebration of local (Cincinnati/ Ohio) and regional (Nashville, Detroit, Athens) bands. With all this Ohio and Midwestern pride in one place, it would be a shame to miss out.


Post-work, I’ll begin the festival by conserving energy. I plan to camp out in Washington Park to catch The Cincy Brass and the sexy Grandfather Child. Side note, it’s very uncomfortable to say “sexy” “grandfather” and “child” all in one sentence. Another benefit of park shows -- watching for squirrels with rabies. Hint: they’re usually the ones chasing their own tails.

Later on, I’ll try using my legs again and hit up a few local bands: Halvsies at Know Theatre, DAAP Girls at Taft Theatre and Plastic Inevitables at Main Event. The excitement of the night rests in the choice between catching Bleached (think low-fi Best Coast) and the progressive Dent May (a hipster Beatle in a bathtub). Thanks to the spot from Midpoint and the magic of Spotify, Dent May is my new favorite funky slow jam weirdo (check out “Do Things” and “Born Too Late”). Praying that his falsetto is as smooth in person.
The DAAP Girls: who may have taken "eat your heart out" a little too seriously.


Future-me is super tired. Even just writing this, I’m regretting not taking any time off. And look at that -- I’m planning to be at Washington Park again. Washington Park and the Midpoint Midway stage are the two venues that feature music before 7 pm. My gut is telling me I’ll frequent Washington Park because of the possibility of sitting or even lying down in grass. How I love to lay. Luckily, the park should be full of fine tunes on Friday with American Royalty and The Head and the Heart. Youth Lagoon is also making an appearance, but I have yet to become a fan. Exploring other venues, local boy and former tennis pro Allen Pray brings his whispered beauty and family band to the Contemporary Arts Center.

Also at CAC is Kishi Bashi, an electronic violinist from Athens, Georgia, who is sure to be one of Friday’s most sought-after acts. While the name might be unfamiliar, you’ve likely heard “Bright Whites” from a Microsoft 8 commercial. “Bright Whites” is only the beginning of his brilliance: this musical risk-taker has yet to make dull music. If Kishi is full, I’ll be kicking it over to Know Theatre to check out On and On and their haunting pop tunes.
The reverent stylings of Kishi Bashi: catch him Friday at the Contemporary Arts Center.


I must see the lady punk duo Deap Vally. If I ever started a band (not counting a high-school-garage-band-upside-down-pickle-bucket effort), it would resemble Deap Vally. I used to say it would be a harder, femme-focused version of The Ting Tings, but Deap Vally beat me to it. These LA chicks are about to blow up the world. 7p.m., Grammer’s Stage, BE THERE.

Other highlights include Cincy bands Tweens, Public, and ADM along with Ohio band Bethesda and an appearance by the popular Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. I’m still debating whether to close the night with Daughter (UK) or Birds of Chicago (IL). Currently leaning toward Birds but it will likely be whichever wait is shorter. What can I say; I’m a sucker for short lines.
Bethesda: For promo pics like this, you just gotta love this band.
Check them out Saturday 8:00pm at Mr. Pitiful's.
Follow @AltOhio on twitter to catch Amy living tweeting all of Midpoint 2013 and don't forget to check out Amy's ongoing coverage right here and on our Facebook page.
*photos courtesy of Google Images.