MidPoint Music Festival Review 2016: Good Music, Good Food, & Lessons In Courtesy

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Nothing like a three day music festival and 81 artists over 4 stages to totally enthrall a music lover. The 2016 lineup for Cincinnati’s Midpoint Music Festival was one of the best they have had in years and with some cooperative weather (although really hot at times) the overall experience will go down as a positive memory. Thanks again to the MidPoint staff on securing The Fire Note some passes for the experience.

The Good:
The Setup – In the past, MidPoint has been spread out over the area that included several larger outdoor stages and multiple smaller club like venues. Because of this, it also ran very late and you better make sure you brought your best walking shoes because there was plenty of ground to cover. Also, if you were not familiar with the area, finding all the venues could be a struggle in itself. This year the all outdoor, 1pm-11pm time range, close walking distance between stages, and strategic set times really worked for me. Sure, there was some bleeding over from the two main stages to the WNKU stage at times but nothing that was completely disturbing or did it overpower any of the performances on either stage. I say – do it again this way next year.

The Artists – Every artist I saw was into it. Some of the early acts did not play to a very large crowd but that didn’t stop them from putting on a great show. The headlining acts all treated the fans like they were the best crowd they have ever seen, which always makes for a good experience. Every artist was simply grateful to be at the festival and that just put a good vibe into the air.

The Food/BeveragesRhinegeist beer is some of the best, not only in Cincinnati but their Truth IPA can stand up to anything across the country. Having the local beer presence that also included some tasty sours from Rivertown really fit the festival. The multitude of food trucks that lined the street was also a great touch. In fact, it was hard to make a decision and everything from tacos to gyros to cheese coneys. All enhanced our experience. I still don’t know what was going on in the Bourbon truck but people seemed to enjoy that as well!

The Bad:
Sewer Smell – No idea where it was coming from but no matter where you were at MidPoint the sewer smell was in your nose.

Lessons in Courtesy – It never surprises me how people act at concerts. It is especially bad at festivals sometimes when people are drinking and whatever else they have been doing all day. But just in my small group, we had people bulldozing through us to get closer to the stage and dudes acting like asses toward our female festival attendees. This included a weird no look kick to her butt from some jackass and his buddies and a dude asking if he could kiss her while sharing that he made sure to drink enough water so he could still get a boner. Ben (his name) also was not quite so bold when I showed back up and talked to him. The 33 year old (yes 33) of course snaked away to harass some other individuals for sure as the night went on. Lastly, we saw several individuals with media passes that were taking pictures of women blowing glitter out of their hands while they took pics and salivated over the results. It actually was quite embarrassing to even be included in the same group as these dorks. Hopefully, MidPoint does not use any of these pics because it just looked and seemed squirrelly.

Alright, so after those blips in the event I would really like to see more of the “in your face” material of how to act at a festival. You would think people know but they don’t. I mean giant, cool looking of course, boards that talk about some simple courtesy rules. Also, a better way to grab staff when you see something inappropriate. Once confronted on their behavior, most of the individuals we dealt with apologized, although that didn’t stop Ben later on in the evening still acting like a frat boy, but I do think there could be more done to help curb this behavior. Remember, that was only our small sample of experience as I am sure there are more stories out there that would make TFN cringe. I know that MidPoint was also somewhat under staffed at times which also makes things harder to police some of these issues but not an excuse either. I will end this section with a reminder to all simply to be kind and courteous at a show. It goes a long way and guess what – I guarantee you will still get to see the artist you want up close!

Mid-Day Crowd – Come on people. You spend money on tickets and then don’t show up until the end of the day? Sure, it was warm but it was sunny and that is why they make hats and sunscreen. There were so many fun and exciting acts that were missed because apparently even 3 pm was too early.

The Indifferent:
The Weather – It was HOT. Sure, I will take sunny and hot over cold and rainy any day of the week but since the festival was set up in parking lots there was not much shade to be found during the early sets. MidPoint did have a refill station but another one insdie the gates would have been nice. I also think that is why the crowd was somewhat sparse during the day.

The Asphalt – I am all about the city setting but 3 days standing on the asphalt took a toll on my now somewhat older body. In fact, I think I am still trying to recover a bit and the walk to the car after Band of Horses was a long one! I do miss the nice grass at Washington Park.

The 4th Stage – This was the free stage which in theory was a good idea but I found it to be a very tight setting and not the most conducive area to watch an artist. I am also not sure how many people came down just for the free show to make it worth it. It also was the farthest walk from everything and some of the bigger names like Russian Circles and Joan of Arc could have easily found some space inside the gates.

The Music:
We took in tons of music over the weekend. I wish I could have seen them all but below you can check out the 38 artists we made the stage for! Also, a big thanks to MidPoint and their staff for the work they did making this festival an overall great experience. TFN also appreciates the support of letting us in the door and every staff we dealt with was professional and friendly. Can’t wait for 2017!

Friday

Who: Cercus Bright
TFN Impression: Getting there Friday was not an easy task and I will admit we were running way late. Knoxville’s’ Cercus Bright was the first band we saw and their folk rock was tight with great harmonies and an excellent way to begin our MidPoint.



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Who: Antibalas

TFN Impression: Here was a band I couldn’t wait to see and Antibalas delivered 110%. They had energy, they brought the beats and they moved the crowd. Easily one of the best artists we saw Friday night.

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Who: Langhorne Slim & The Law

TFN Impression: Langhorne Slim was the only artist I heard request that the barricades be removed. When he found out that was not possible, he just “OK, I will come to you.” That is exactly what he did and it just showed the honest approach he makes in his music and with his fans. What you see is what you get and I think Langhorne won some more fans Friday night.

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Who: Tokyo Police Club

TFN Impression: We hung around Langhorne a bit too long to catch much of Tokyo Police Club but they had the crowd rocking. TPC was probably one of the bigger rock bands in the lineup and they never let up during their hour set.

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Who: Future Islands

TFN Impression: I fully admit that I am not a big Future Islands fan. Their singles are catchy and their live show was entertaining. I can’t say they won me over but as a general fan of music I appreciate the show they put on as they left it all on the stage. Especially when lead singer Samuel Herring would tear across the stage with kicks and fist pumps.


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Saturday

Who: Wild Prxfits

TFN Impression: Something I don’t remember seeing at MidPoint before was a NY rap group so it was great to see Wild Prxfits hit the stage. Great stage presence and they had the small gathering of people moving.


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Who: Lucky Chops

TFN Impression: Lucky Chops was my biggest surprise of the festival. The instrumental horn group from NYC was incredible. They had fun with the crowd and even rocked everyone out with some “Funky Town.” I stayed for their entire set and wish they had time for more.

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Who: By Light We Loom

TFN Impression: We caught this Cleveland indie pop duo mid set. Fairly simple from every aspect but you could tell that they loved to perform.

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Who: The Harlequins

TFN Impression: One of Cincinnati’s best bands right now and the garage indie rockers brought the fever. We didn’t pick them as TFN can’t miss artist for no reason and they showed why with every riff. The Harlequins also had the best drumbrella of the day which also gave them extra points!

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Who: Mike Floss

TFN Impression: Mike Floss has had some great success in his hometown of Nashville. Cincinnati was able to see why Saturday afternoon as he brought his infectious style of rap to the Queen City. He was friendly, got the crowd involved and turned some rockers into rap fans.

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Who: Lucy Dacus

TFN Impression: Lucy Dacus had one of those memorable voices. Her deeper vocals give a different dynamic to her songs and then the band kicks in for a superb depth.

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Who: MULTIMAGIC

TFN Impression: MULTIMAGIC is a solid dream pop group from Cincinnati. The quintet had a very confident stage presence and created a very ethereal listen for 4:45 PM in the afternoon that kept people at their stage.

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Who: Oh Pep!

TFN Impression: So driving down to MidPoint, I heard an Oh Pep! track on WNKU and was instantly drawn in. The group is from Australia so it’s not like you can just catch them anytime so it was a treat to have them at the festival. Live, they sounded just like they do on record which just shows their quality. The group was fun and laid back as they hit every perfect note.

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Who: The Budos Band

TFN Impression: The Budos Band plays really long songs but their MidPoint will go down as the band that made everyone following them late. For some reason they just keep playing. They are a good band but at an event like this you have to respect the set times. Plus they pissed off Bob Mould – that is never a good thing!

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Who: Bob Mould

TFN Impression: After starting with some venom Bob Mould took the stage like the veteran he is. Husker songs, Sugar songs, solo songs – they were all present and he rocked every single one of them. The crowd was into it, Bob was into it – his set was definitely one that we were glad we caught.


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Who: Kamasi Washington

TFN Impression: I didn’t know much about Kamasi Washington before coming to the festival but on the MidPoint grounds he was all the buzz. “The stage you needed to be at” is what people kept saying. Kamasi worked on Kendrick Lamar’s hailed 2015 album To Pimp A Butterfly so you know he has a great resume. They were right – Washington was great along with his band. He brought this bigger than life vibe and quality jazz to the stage.

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Who: Car Seat Headrest

TFN Impression: Will Toledo’s Car Seat Headrest was my number one artist to see at the festival. Car Seat is an up and coming act and missing them now would have been a mistake. The funny thing was that their youth showed and lack of stage experience also was noticeable. It was not bad but I wanted a bit more energy from them. Also, never start with the song the crowd knows like “Fill in the Blank” first. The upside was that his songs are so good that all the other stuff you know will work itself out with more shows under their belt. Still glad Car Seat Headrest was in the lineup and I liked seeing them at this moment.


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Who: Frightened Rabbit

TFN Impression: I figured Frightened Rabbit would put on a great set. Because I stayed at Car Seat so long, I only caught some of their set but people were singing along and everything I heard from the band was note perfect.

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Who: Reggie Watts

TFN Impression: Anyone that can get on the stage and sing the theme song to WKRP in Cincinnati, and it is cool, deserves to be up there. Reggie is a showman and his mixed style of beatboxer, musician, and comedian was unmatched in the lineup here which made his set special. He entertained the group for his entire set.

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Who: The Mountain Goats

TFN Impression: Because Reggie was killing it and some issues with my help, I missed most of The Mountain Goats but what I did run and catch was exactly how I thought it would be – perfect.

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Who: Russian Circles

TFN Impression: Here was the ear shattering instrumental rock band in the lineup. I am pretty sure that the Russian Circles scared some people that checked them out for the first time with their pounding instruments. They were fantastically assaultive with their instruments and through all the smoke the Russian Circles ruled the night.

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Who: Wolf Parade

TFN Impression: It was nice to see Wolf Parade back on the stage again and they took full advantage of the situation. Dan Boeckner was spastic as ever and his energy transcended into the crowd. My guess is that many of the fans were not very familiar with this group considering their last record, Expo 86, came out in 2010 and overall the Canadian supergroup still is an under the radar hit. That didn’t seem to matter as the crowd reacted positively to the upbeat and quality performance.


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Who: JJ Grey & Mofro

TFN Impression: Not a big JJ fan. For me, it was a little disappointing with this great lineup that they were a headliner but he is a showman. His set kept the crowd entertained but their style just didn’t seem right to cap off Saturday night. Probably just me.


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Sunday

Who: Kepi Ghoulie
TFN Impression: Sunday for the TFN started off with the former frontman of the Groovie Ghoulies, Jeff Alexander or known now as Kepi Ghoulie. He was great. He played to a very very small crowd but he didn’t care. In fact, he made a joke that there were more porta potties than people at his set! He bounced around the stage and threw streamers into the open fan area. His lightheartedness and approach was cool and the people that were there enjoyed every minute of it.


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Who: The Mobros

TFN Impression: The Mobros cranked out the blues rock and put on a no nonsense set that just kept grooving. There were not many bands like them on the bill so if this was your style, The Mobros probably were one of your favorites.

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Who: Young Heirlooms

TFN Impression: Here is one of Cincinnati’s best up and coming groups. This six piece band has the indie Americana sound nailed down that was both smooth and infectious. They have been getting plenty of airplay on the local radio station and that showed because they had one of the biggest crowds in the hot afternoon. I only see this band getting more popular, which would be well deserved. You also may have seen Walk The Moon frontman Nicholas Petricca taking in their set. Young Heirlooms were one of our surprises of the festival. I have heard they were good and live they totally showed it!


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Who: Diners

TFN Impression: Diners is right in my college indie sound camp and they played their set like they were playing for millions. They have a Captured Tracks label sound that has components of Beach Fossils, DIIV and EZTV with the retro keyboard harmonies that work. They didn’t ever try too hard or overthink it as their mid-tempo indie rock filled a void at the festival.

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Who: Parsonsfield

TFN Impression: Didn’t know much about Parsonsfield but one of my fellow Fire Noters said they could listen to their Avett Brothers style all day long. They showed an impressive musicianship in their set which contained solid songs and a great chemistry between the band members.


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Who: Amber Arcades

TFN Impression: Amber Arcades are currently opening for Nada Surf so they had my attention from the beginning. Female fronted indie rock was not in great supply at the festival so they were a nice addition with the hypnotic vocals from Annelotte De Graaf. A good mix of shoegaze and bursts of rock go a long way, which made it easy to remember Amber Arcades performance.

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Who: AJJ

TFN Impression: AJJ, formally Andrew Jackson Jihad, brought the punk rock to the stage which really got the afternoon rolling. After the photographers left the pit, lead man Sean Bonnette started doing somersaults across the stage and kept the entertainment high. Supporting their new album, The Bible 2, the SideOneDummy band showcased their veteran status with plenty of old and new songs in their set. I saw multiple kids singing along, which for me validated what I already knew which is that AJJ have a supportive fan base.


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Who: Aubrie Sellers

TFN Impression: Not much country at MidPoint so Aubrie Sellers stood out when she took the stage. I was somewhat distracted because everyone on stage was dressed in head to toe black and it just made me feel sorry for them because it was so hot. Regardless, the singer/songwriter owned the stage and even though I was not running to review her record, I respected the good show she put on.

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Who: Josh Ritter

TFN Impression: Josh Ritter has talent. He had one of the best sounding sets of the weekend and just looked like he really enjoyed being in Cincinnati singing his songs. His band was note perfect and even though I am not super familiar with his extensive catalog, I never lost interest because he put on such a good set.


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Who: Nada Surf

TFN Impression: It’s Nada Surf! You should not even be reading this if you were at MidPoint and missed this set. Matthew Caws performed flawlessly and actively tried to crunch as many songs as possible into their set. I did miss the familiar dreadlocks bassist Daniel Lorca but was pleased to see the newest Nada Surf member Doug Gillard playing guitar. Gillard has been doing double duty with Guided By Voices but luckily there was no conflict as the GBV tour kicks back up next month. It is crazy to think that their hit “Popular” was still from the MTV days and Caws joked about being 28 at the time. The crowd still loved the song and I even saw it click for people as they just realized who Nada Surf was. The new songs were great and staples like “See These Bones” and “Always Love” completed the experience. If you get a chance to catch Nada Surf on tour – do it. They are a great band live and some of nicest guys you will meet. Caws even stuck around for Band of Horses entire set and just hung out in the crowd.



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Who: Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls

TFN Impression: Frank Turner has to be one of the most upbeat performers on tour right now with his foot stomping sing along set. He created a friendly mosh pit for people to dance around in and made strangers hug to encourage kindness. Yes, I did hug it out with a nice young lad. Anyway, Frank Turner gets credit for having the most interactive show and the fans just ate it up. I saw him on tour several months ago but I will say that this 45 minute set blew that performance out of the water. It was just simply that good.



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Who: The Wood Brothers

TFN Impression: If you were looking for a no lose set to catch then Nashville’s Wood Brothers should have been on your list. They closed down the WNKU stage with perfection. They are a band you can have their album playing in the background and just about everyone that walks in will ask “who is this?” Their quality studio performance translated to the stage with perfection and honestly I don’t even know if you could tell a difference because their sound was spot on.

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Who: Houndmouth

TFN Impression: I don’t know where I have been on this band but did not have much clue on why they were so high up on the schedule. They put on a nice show and their single “Sedona” played well with the crowd. I did wonder though if it was because of the side by side stage set up that made their audience so big just getting a good spot for Band of Horses or if they were truly there for them. Not sure, but Houndmouth did nothing to turn me away but also did not convert me into an instant fan.


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Who: Lucero

TFN Impression: One of the hardest working bands on the tour circuit is Memphis Tennessee’s Lucero. The seasoned band brings a good time and a loyal fan base to all their shows and Sunday night was no different. Basically, we could raise a glass to every Lucero track and it would be acceptable. It doesn’t matter if they are playing a newer song like “Went Looking for Warren Zevon’s Los Angeles” or the rocking “Tears Don’t Matter Much,” Lucero are at home on the stage and gave the large crowd what they came to see. You also could catch singer Ben Nichols out and about before the show watching Frank Turner. He did not turn one fan away as they kept coming up to say hello and that sums up the greatness of Lucero.



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Who: Band Of Horses

TFN Impression: Band of Horses was the perfect band to close the MidPoint Music Festival. The night finally cooled down and BOH took it home with favorites like “The Funeral” and “Is There A Ghost.” The band of course played some catchy new tracks off the recent Why Are You OK that included “Causal Party” and “In A Drawer.” Band leader Ben Bridwell was in a good mood and always was ready to interact with large crowd. I think when you look back at MidPoint closers – Band of Horses will go down as one of the best.



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That is a wrap – Thanks MidPoint!



Christopher Anthony

Christopher Anthony

After spending the early 90's managing a record store, the mid to late 90's producing alternative video shows and 00's blogging about the music scene Christopher Anthony is always ready to hear new music.
Christopher Anthony
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Author: Christopher Anthony

After spending the early 90's managing a record store, the mid to late 90's producing alternative video shows and 00's blogging about the music scene Christopher Anthony is always ready to hear new music.

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