MUSIC: MIDPOINT MUSIC FESTIVAL
Since its inception 15 years ago, Cincinnati’s MidPoint Music Festival has undergone changes almost continuously. Originally conceived as a showcase for unsigned acts, the first several years featured a “conference” aspect designed to help up-and-coming musicians. CityBeat took over the event and added higher-profile headliners beginning in 2008. Throughout it all, the venues have changed, utilizing outdoor spaces and whatever clubs were available and interested in becoming an MPMF showcase spot. The first MidPoint was actually spread throughout downtown and Northern Kentucky, while more recent years have seen it become concentrated in the Over-the-Rhine area. Through it all, it has remained a three-day celebration of today’s most unique and innovative music-makers. This year marks a new phase in MidPoint’s evolution. Music & Events Management, Inc. (or MEMI) has taken over the booking and production of the event, and this first year under new management should show signs of the company’s many years of experience in running events in Greater Cincinnati. The biggest change is that fans of all ages will be able to enjoy MidPoint in its entirety, as the format shifts from mostly using several bars and clubs to utilizing four outdoor stages located along Sycamore Street in Over-the-Rhine. The lineup features some of the biggest acts MidPoint has ever showcased (including Band of Horses, Kamasi Washington, Car Seat Headrest and Frightened Rabbit), as well as a healthy dose of local artists and up-and-coming acts. Music begins earlier than in past years, so be sure to arrive in the afternoon to catch some of the exciting Cincinnati performers and lesser-known acts. And if you’re low on dough, fear not: One of the four full-time stages (the Eli’s BBQ Stage at Sycamore and 14th streets) is free and open to the public. Visit mpmf.com for a full schedule.
COMEDY: ISAAC WITTY
Isaac Witty is a Minneapolis-based comic from Tulsa, Okla., but he is also a favorite of Cincinnati audiences. Most of his comedy is based on his life experience and is filled with self-deprecating observations. For example, when he talks about being bald: “I like to say bald-ing. It sounds like I’m up to something,” he tells an audience. “I don’t like to say I’m losing my hair. That makes it sound like if I had been more responsible this wouldn’t have happened.” In addition to appearances on Conan and The Late Show with David Letterman, Witty is also a member of the sketch comedy group The Turkeys. Showtimes Thursday-Sunday. $8-$14. Go Bananas, 8410 Market Place Lane, Montgomery, gobananascomedy.com.
ONSTAGE: THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK
You’ve probably heard of Anne Frank, the young Jewish girl who wrote a diary about her family’s time hiding in silence in a tiny attic in Amsterdam, doing their best to escape the terrors of the Nazi Regime in the Netherlands during World War II. Her tragic but uplifting story is retold in this moving play, with Anne being convincingly portrayed by Cincinnati Shakespeare actor Courtney Lucien. Anne’s insightful observations about life and her experience are ultimately a celebration of the resilience of the human spirit and the power of words to leave a lasting legacy. Through Oct. 1. $22-$42. Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, 719 Race St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-381-2273, cincyshakes.com.
EVENT: CINCINNATI COMIC EXPO
Big names, big prizes and big opportunities are landing at the Convention Center this weekend. The Cincinnati Comic Expo — one of the largest gatherings of comic creators, film and TV stars and vendors in the area — returns to the city with one of the most well-known stars of the comic book world: writer, editor, publisher and former president and CEO of Marvel Comics Stan Lee. Catch a Q&A session with Lee at 8:30 p.m. Friday after browsing geeky wares from dozens of vendors like Comic*Pop Collectibles, GameStop and Warrior Martial Arts Supplies. Other highlights of the event include an 8-Bit Geek Prom, a costume contest with a $1,000 prize and an out-of-this-world Star Wars zone. Excelsior! 3-8 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. $30 Friday and Sunday; $40 Saturday; $60 weekend. Duke Energy Convention Center, 525 Elm St., Downtown, cincinnaticomicexpo.com.
EVENT: CINCINNATI FOOD + WINE CLASSIC
Tantalize your taste buds with three days of exotic food and wine from around the world as well as local delicacies. Join the Cincinnati Food + Wine Classic at Yeatman’s Cove for food as far as the eye can see and a bigger party than ever before. With an estimated 9,000 guests over the weekend, patrons will enjoy different themes each day and an opportunity to step outside their comfort zones. There will be food demonstrations, competitions, panel discussions and tasting seminars all weekend — including a Feast in the Park grand tasting Saturday with dishes from more than 40 regional and national chefs. 6:30-9:30 p.m. Friday; noon-9:30 p.m. Saturday; 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday 25. Prices vary. 705 E. Pete Rose Way, Downtown, cincinnatifoodandwineclassic.com.
EVENT: USS NIGHTMARE
Around the end of September and into October, tons of people voluntarily pay money to enter haunted houses to have the living shit scared out of them. If you’re brave enough to handle it, the USS Nightmare is one of the best local spots for those who thrill at the thought of being frightened. Unlike most haunted attractions, the USS Nightmare has a real-life story attached to it: the story of Captain William S. Mitchell, his beloved daughter Anna, the “clowns” he hired to amuse her and the dreadful Ohio River dredge ship that endured a strange happening known as “The Mitchell Massacre.” (Yeah, they all died — the whole freaking crew.) Get ready to pee yourself. Through Nov. 5. $17-$30. 101 Riverboat Row, Newport, Ky., ussnightmare.com.
ONSTAGE: THE LEGEND OF GEORGIA MCBRIDE
When his Elvis impersonation gets dumped at a small-town Florida bar and his wife tells him she’s expecting a baby, Casey has to evolve to stay employed. The bar’s new entertainment is a drag show: Can he reinvent himself? That’s what Ensemble Theatre’s season opener, a feel-good comedy, is all about. Staged by ETC’s D. Lynn Meyers, the show features several of the region’s best actors, including Michael G. Bath, Darnell Pierre Benjamin and Bruce Cromer as an aging drag queen, a role local theatergoers who know him as the Playhouse’s Ebenezer Scrooge might never have imagined seeing him play. Through Sept. 25. $25-$44. Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati, 1127 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-421-3555, ensemblecincinnati.org.
MUSIC: YOUNG THE GIANT
Transitions have always been a stock in trade for Young the Giant — within songs, between albums and even in shifting identities a half-dozen years ago from the band’s previous incarnation as The Jakes. While that was potentially their biggest and most contentious transition, it was probably the easiest of all for the Irvine, Calif. Indie Rock quintet. The band’s need for exploration and invention was well served by the name change. The sinewy, Police-tinged Indie Rock of its eponymous 2010 debut — cited by Amazon as the best Rock album of that year — gave way to the Math Rock precision and powerful polyrhythms of 2014’s Mind Over Matter, which led to Young the Giant’s latest triumph of sonic diversity, the danceable solution of the just-released Home of the Strange. As it often happens, the ultimate direction that Young the Giant took with Home of the Strange was determined by the arrival of one decidedly different song in the writing process. Once the band conceived “Amerika,” which became the album’s opener and the first track leaked to announce its release, its course going forward was clear. Young the Giant performs Saturday at Madison Theater with Ra Ra Riot. Tickets/more info at madisontheateronline.com.
ONSTAGE: A PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANY
Owen is the smallest person John Wheelwright ever knew, a tiny boyhood friend with a “wrecked voice.” As a self-proclaimed “instrument of God,” Owen inspired John, the story’s narrator, to a life of faith and belief. A visually arresting stage adaptation of John Irving’s popular 1989 novel, set in the upheaval of America during the Vietnam War, has opened the Playhouse’s 2016-17 mainstage season. It has a big versatile cast — 16 actors playing a multitude of colorful roles — and it uses flying technology for some remarkable scenes. It’s both philosophical and funny, a show that will challenge and intrigue audiences. Through Oct. 1. $40-$85. Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, 962 Mount Adams Circle, Mount Adams, 513-421-3888, cincyplay.com.
EVENT: COUNTRY APPLEFEST
An apple a day keeps the doctor away, and one Applefest a year is probably just as helpful. Believe it or not, they offer up more than just apples: The Country Applefest is the longest-running craft festival in the city of Lebanon and draws a crowd of around 30,000 people every year. With a variety of apple-themed treats like fritters, pies and candy apples, you’ll get your fill for the doctor in no time. There’s plenty of barbecue and cookout food to go around, too. 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday. Free admission. Warren County Fairgrounds, 665 N. Broadway St., Lebanon, countryapplefest.com.
Motorcycle and scooter enthusiasts ride and rejoice at Motoberfest, one of the last rallies of the riding season. Join an urban group ride, listen to live music, play games, browse a bike show, bid on helmets designed by local artists and/or hit up Motoberfest-themed events at area bars, including the Northside Yacht Club, 16-Bit Bar+Arcade and Christian Moerlein Matlthouse Tap Room. 6 p.m. Sept. 23; 8 a.m. Sept. 24. $20 all-access pass. motoberfest.com.
ART: AURAL LATRINALIA: THE BATHROOM SHOW
The most recent event staged by NEAR*BY art collective, July’s High Art 2 on the Carew Tower observation deck, was such a resounding success that the artist collective has had to be especially creative in finding a site for its next event. So its members have chosen — what else? — public restrooms. For Aural Latrinalia, Richard Bitting, Intermedio, Jennifer Jolley, Numediacy, Sayak Shome and Matt Wetmore have created sound art installations in the bathrooms of the 21c Museum Hotel, Art Academy of Cincinnati, The Carnegie, Contemporary Arts Center, Wave Pool and the Weston Art Gallery. Opening reception 6-8 p.m. Saturday. Free. Weston Art Gallery, 650 Walnut St., Downtown, nearbycollective.org.
EVENT: GREAT OUTDOOR WEEKEND
As tempting as it can be to watch Netflix and nap all weekend, this two-day experience might just change your mind. The 13th-annual Great Outdoor Weekend gives residents in Greater Cincinnati the chance to experience outdoor activities while also learning about nature awareness programs in the area. Both Saturday and Sunday are jam-packed with a plethora of events — more than 100 free activities across 40 different locations — including yoga, ziplining, hiking, fishing and kayaking. Saturday and Sunday. Free. greatoutdoorweekend.org.
EVENT: FIRE UP THE NIGHT
Although Riverfest was just a couple weeks ago, Cincinnati never gets tired of lighting the sky on fire. On Saturday, Coney Island hosts the fifth-annual Fire Up the Night event. The competition consists of multiple teams from different countries facing off for international pyromaniac bragging rights. This year, Greece, the Philippines and South Africa are all competing for the best display; the winner will be determined by a five-judge panel and audience text vote. After the winner has been determined, Cincinnati’s own Rozzi’s Famous Fireworks will blow up the sky one more time for a finale. If you do finally get burned out, there will also be an empty-pool party, live music and even hot air balloons. Fireworks 8:30 p.m. Saturday. $5 walk-in; $25 car load. Coney Island, 6201 Kellogg Ave., California, coneyislandpark.com.
EVENT: ART HOUSE THEATER DAY
As technological changes alter the way we watch movies, art houses — the often-locally owned theaters that show the “quality” indie and foreign films that usually dominate end-of-year awards lists — are taking a page from the indie record stores. Many of them nationally, including the Esquire and Mariemont locally, are participating in first Art House Theater Day on Saturday. Participating theaters are offering special, one-day-only screenings of four movies — Phantasm, Time Bandits, A Town Called Panic: Double Fun and Danny Says — plus offering merchandise. There is an admission charge for films. (Cincinnati’s two art houses are also screening The Rocky Horror Picture Show.) For info about Art House Theater Day screenings in Cincinnati, visit esquiretheatre.com. For general information, arthousetheaterday.org.
EVENT: GREAT OHIO RIVER SWIM
The ninth-annual Great Ohio River Swim invites relatively accomplished swimmers — those with experience negotiating river currents and sighting in open water — to traverse the Ohio River. The course is about 900 meters and requires participants to verify that they are prepared to compete and have within two weeks of the event date completed swimming 1,000 meters/yards without stopping. 6:30 a.m. check-in Sunday. $20-$25. Check in at Public Landing, 705 E. Pete Rose Way, Downtown, greatohioriverswim.com.
EVENT: ART OFF PIKE
Visit Covington this Sunday for art of every medium, a mural unveiling, costume parades, impromptu bean bag Plop!-ing and, of course, festival music and food. The 12th-annual Art Off Pike urban arts festival features artwork available for purchase by more than 50 makers and artisans, plus live performance art and interactive art installations. There will be costume parades at noon, 2 and 4 p.m., and inside Braxton Brewing Company, find specialty brews and a poster show from local design companies. Outside in the Madlot you can discover live music, food trucks and spoken word performances. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. Free admission. Seventh Street between Washington and Madison streets, Covington, Ky., artoffpike.org.
ART: GLENN BROWN
The Contemporary Arts Center opened a solo show by British painter Glenn Brown the same day that the Cincinnati Bell Connector debuted just outside its doors. That’s fitting, because both attractions play with the notion of time travel. What happens when we bring something from the past — whether it’s a streetcar or an Old Master — into the present world? After years of political fighting, it’s too early to conclude whether the Connector is a success. But Brown, who has weathered his own controversy over his use of appropriated images, makes a case for looking back as a way to move ahead. “I’m not trying to be old fashioned,” Brown says in an interview. “I don’t think that painting is old fashioned, yet.” Ironically, Brown gives fresh life to the Old Masters by making decay a hallmark of his art. With the help of Photoshop, he turns the skin in centuries-old portraits a ghostly green, melts faces and clouds eyeballs. We might breeze by the originals in a museum, but as consumers of pop culture, we can’t turn away from these beautifully grotesque characters that could inhabit a Rococo version of The Walking Dead. And Brown does want us to linger before these paintings in order to better appreciate a supposedly dead art. Glenn Brown continues at the Contemporary Arts Center through Jan. 15, 2017. Free admission. Contemporary Arts Center, 44 E. Sixth St., Downtown, contemporaryartscenter.org.
ATTRACTION: FALL BACK IN TIME AT KROHN CONSERVATORY
The Krohn Conservatory has been plucked from the present for its annual fall floral show, which depicts the formal gardens and inspired designs of Victorian England. Fall Back in Time is a tranquil ode to a simpler time — one in which flowers were often used to convey secret messages (think pre-smartphone-era emojis). Follow crisp chrysanthemums, trailing fuchsias and soothing lavender into the past and immerse yourself in the pacifying sound of trickling waterfalls. Keep an eye out for steampunk-inspired gears and amenities throughout the show. Through Oct. 23. $4 adults; $2 kids; free children 4 and under. Krohn Conservatory, 1501 Eden Park Drive, Eden Park, cincinnatiparks.com.
EVENT: GREATER CINCINNATI RESTAURANT WEEK
CityBeat is an alternative weekly newspaper that provides Cincinnati residents with coverage of local news, arts and culture — but CityBeat also wants to make sure you don’t go hungry. The next event in our plethora of food-and-drink-themed parties is Greater Cincinnati Restaurant Week, a seven-day celebration of culinary tourism in the Tristate. Through Oct. 2, area eateries will be providing guests with $35 multi-course prix-fixe menus. Participating restaurants include BrewRiver GastroPub, Jeff Ruby’s Precinct, La Petite France, Kaze, The Mercer, Primavista, Jag’s Steak & Seafood & Piano Bar and more. Visit the Greater Cincinnati Restaurant Week website to see a full list of participating restaurants and what they’re offering. Through Oct. 2. $35. greatercincinnatirestaurantweek.com.