The month of May brings plenty of shows to ease you into the heat and excitement of summer, including nights of underground punk to dance to, touring legends with local greats assisting, exploratory hip hop, big bands and much more. Here's just a handful of shows worth your attention throughout the month of May.
Keep scrolling for a curated list of Greater Cincinnati concerts featuring local heavyweights throughout May.
Local punk supergroup Motorbike, featuring members of Vacation, Tweens, The Serfs and Dog Heaven, opens for a Detroit original from the legendary garage scene, Timmy Vulgar’s band Timmy’s Organism. Local garage rock heavyweights Stallone N’ Roses are fittingly on the bill in support. 8:30 p.m. May 4. $10. MOTR Pub, 1354 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, motrpub.com.
This should be a night for the more glam side of punk. Gentle Leader XIV, featuring band members from both Cincinnati and Cleveland, deliver opposing forces in feel and tone with elements of danceable drum machine driven synth pop and stark, dark-wave moodiness. They appear with two-piece band System Exclusive’s synth-heavy dance groove with a punk heart on tour from Pasadena, California. Columbus band Dana mixes genres and structure like some chopped up and blended brand of noise punk that calls back to Dayton’s legendary Brainiac — all while still keeping with the night's glammed out danceable theme. Locals Corker are the most direct of the bands on the bill but bring their own subtle groove. 9:30 p.m. May 6. Free. MOTR Pub, 1345 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, motrpub.com.
This show at Northside Tavern is a loaded and varied bill of some of the best local acts in Cincinnati. Static Falls’ dreamy, melodic sound incorporates elements of indie rock and pop with conviction and a touch of post-punk. They appear with Cold Stereo, the revved up and driving power-pop band who deliver soaring hooks and energy to spare. The moody and atmospheric Toon Town should add a nice touch with their energetic take on garagey jazz-blues Americana. Toon Town also has a free album release show on May 20 at the Southgate House Revival. Even further exploring the Cincinnati soundscape for the night, the spacey, expansive and eclectic pop of Quotah are also on the bill. 9 p.m. May 6. $10. 21+. Northside Tavern, 4163 Hamilton Ave., Northside, facebook.com/events.
Vacation’s shows are pure rock and roll spark and energy. They appear with San Diego, California’s Crocodiles of Fat Possum Records. Crocodiles’ sunny and vibrant but still biting punk should make for another high energy performance. This is likely to be a sweaty night rock and roll and crowd surfing. 9 p.m. May 7. $10. 18+. MOTR Pub, 1345 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, motrpub.com.
This four-day, venue-wide festival named after the famous giant Comet burritos, covers a lot of ground, featuring acts from a range of genres performing in every part of the venue. In addition to the regular live room, performances will take place in the basement, as well as in the newer addition, the outdoor grotto. It’s slated to start off Thursday, May 11 at 8 p.m. and features newcomers like TV Art and Dravin and The Ravens. Friday’s lineup features singer and live instrumental looping artist Maria Keck, songstress Grace Eddy and others performing in different corners of the building throughout different parts of the night. Saturday brings experimental musician Fritz Pape kicking things off at 5 p.m. with acts like Eugenius, Sweet Action and plenty more, including stand-up performances from a handful of comedians. Sunday’s earlier daytime performances starts at 2 p.m. and features inventive singer-songwriter Caroline Beller, contemporary Americana and bluegrass outfit My Brother's Keeper and more. The day ends with the legendary Comet Bluegrass All-Stars performing a little earlier than their normal Sunday timeslot, closing the festival Sunday, May 14 with a performance beginning at 6:30 p.m. Multiple times May 11-14. Pay-what-you-can admission. The Comet, 4579 Hamilton Ave., Northside, facebook.com/events.
Longtime contributor to the area’s music scene through his label Lo Fi City, Jonathan Stout’s solo-project-turned-band Sleepy Drums will be celebrating the release of a new album of grunge-inspired, lo-fi punk titled The Future of Rad Times at the Southgate House Revival. The band will be joined by indie rock, post-punk locals A.M. Nice and the garagey, surf rock-inspired, National Barks in the Revival Room. 8 p.m. May 13. $8 in advance and $10 at the door. 18+. Southgate House Revival, 111 E. 6th St., Newport, facebook.com/events.
One of the most talked about local bands of late, Spoils, open for King Kong, the idiosyncratic project of Ethan Buckler who was a member of the cult classic band Slint. He formed King Kong in 1989 and the band have put out records over the last 30-plus years on the much-respected independent label Drag City Records. 8:30 p.m. May 14. $10. 18+. MOTR Pub, 1345 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, motrpub.com.
Long-running local psych garage rockers The Harlequins welcome back old friends and tour mates Gringo Star from Atlanta to The Northside Tavern with special guests Willie and the Cigs for what's sure to be a party. 8 p.m. May 18. 21+. Northside Tavern, 4163 Hamilton Ave., Northside, northsidetav.com.
Local genre-bending artist KAE Savage is a guitar player and vocalist blending psychedelic bedroom pop productions with elements of soul and the swagger of hip hop to great effect, as exemplified in the single released in early April, “Window Pain.” and in his new single, a reworking of The Stooges classic, “Eye Wanna Be Ur Dog”. KAE Savage leads a lineup of local and touring acts, including Soultru on tour from Davenport, Iowa, who bring along neo-soul with a touch of humor, as well as Nashville’s Spoken Nerd who is a fast-paced rapper with lyrics ranging widely and a local connection, as he worked with local producer and hip hop artist Juan Cosby on a recent release. Cincinnati’s East End Music Revival’s soulful vocals with a band that would likely appeal to jazz and jam band fans alike rounds out the lineup. 9 p.m. May 19. Free. The Comet, 4579 Hamilton Ave., Northside.
The Original Farm League Big Band is a 17-piece big band consisting of players and arrangers from the Cincinnati and Dayton area performing all original work and aiming to push modern big band music along and build on its repertoire. 7:30 p.m. May 24. $12 admission and $10 drink minimum. Caffe Vivace, 975 East McMillan, Walnut Hills, eventbrite.com.