MPMF 2016: Day Two - The Day After Yesterday

Oct 4, 2016 at 3:53 pm
click to enlarge The MPMF 2016 crowd on Saturday night - Photo: Jesse Fox
Photo: Jesse Fox
The MPMF 2016 crowd on Saturday night

Although Friday’s (Sept. 23) opening night had gotten off to a somewhat rocky start, the S.S. MidPoint Music Festival righted itself relatively quickly and sailed into history as the inaugural outdoor event it seems destined to be from this point on. Although I was initially hesitant about this concept, I think I'm getting used to the idea.

As I walked up 12th Street toward the festival entrance, I could hear a cacophonous wail emanating from the midway strip, so I headed in that direction in time to witness the visceral splendor of Honduras. The Brooklyn, N.Y. quartet specializes in classic ’70s Garage Punk that bristles with Clash-like energy but veers straight into the gale force sonic assault of The Vibrators. At the same time, Honduras is hardly in the business of retro revivalism; the band's vintage viewpoint is sharpened with a contemporary blast of energy that results in a sound that is blazingly familiar and ragingly new and vibrant.

Then it was a quick jog down to the YMCA Stage for Orchards, which has rapidly become one of the local scene's hot commodities. The trio is like the grandchildren of Blue Cheer who have heard all the road stories, but are ready to make their own new generational history. Orchards' sonic signature is Classic Rock riffage from guitarist/vocalist Austin Tracey, drenched in the adrenaline of youth, peppered with Indie Rock verve and powered by the rhythm section of drummer Evan Wagner and new bassist Casey Cavanaugh, pounding with furious intent and yet understanding the value of nuance, never mistaking volume for power. Orchards recently signed with Old Flame Records and Tracey noted that the band’s debut full-length is slated for release early next year. We're counting the days.

Then it was back down to the midway and the free Eli's BBQ Stage to catch Baby Money & the Down Payments, a trio of Chicago women who deftly combine ’50s girl group Pop with a greasy streak of Garage-stained Blues and Indie Rock attitude. It was a bouncy set, like a Blues-tinted mash-up of The Shirelles and The Velvet Underground, and the band drew a good crowd, so hopefully that could be the impetus for Baby Money to make its way down from Lake Michigan more often and we'll be able to see what they can do in full-show mode.

Next up was a trip to the WNKU Stage to witness the squalling splendor of NIGHTS, a great Shoegaze band with a nearly Google-proof name. Hailing from the Cleveland suburb of Ohio City, NIGHTS spent close to four years working on their first album, Whisper, recording it twice before signing with Tragic Hero Records, which secured the services of veteran boardsman Jim Wirt. The producer gave the album the spark it seemed to lack and the album was finally released last fall.

In the live context, NIGHTS roars with the visceral impact of Shoegaze icons like Slowdive and Curve, with the subtle touch of Silversun Pickups. Guitarist/vocalist Jenna Fournier plays like a woman possessed and sings with the ethereal earthiness of Nina Gordon, while the rest of the band — guitarist/vocalist Frankie Maraldo, bassist/vocalist Vinnie Mauer and drummer Chris Dalman — offer up a blustery mix of Ride and Jesus and Mary Chain, with an Ambient nuance reminiscent of Cocteau Twins. The quartet maintains that thrilling dynamic from song to song, often within a single song; its set closer, which I think might have been the 13-minute epic "With Bated Breath," was a heart-stopping amalgam of Dead Meadow power, Smashing Pumpkins bombast and Cocteau Twins delicacy, played with NIGHTS' focused abandon and absolute mastery over the song's many shifts and crescendos. Yet another great MidPoint performance that hopefully leads to regular visits.

Then it was time to shuffle over to the Skyline Stage to catch New York's wildly unexpected Lucky Chops. I had written up their preview for CityBeat and was floored by the YouTube videos I'd watched for research, so I had them down as a must-see. They did not disappoint in any way, shape or form.

Consisting of trombone, tenor sax, baritone sax, trumpet, tuba (or sousaphone, as they like to say) and the funkiest drummer this side of a King Records session, Lucky Chops is a kinetic brass Rube Goldberg orchestra that absorbs every conceivable style of music and an endless playlist of songs from those styles and reflects them back to the world as epic Jazz, Funk, Soul and R&B mash-ups, alongside some some pretty hair-raising originals. It takes twisted creative minds to conceive horny re-imaginings of everything from Ariana Grande's "Problem" to Adele's "Hello" to the Temptations' "My Girl," and Lucky Chops deconstruct modern and classic Pop down to a swinging soundtrack that every marching band in America should study with the kind of frame-by-frame examination that the Warren Commission gave the Zapruder film. After an absolutely raucous set that included most of the above and more, Lucky Chops wrapped up with their most popular medley, a swirling mix of Lipps, Inc.'s "Funkytown" and James Brown's "I Feel Good," which also includes chunks of Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" and anything else they thought might work at a moment's notice, for an inspired and inspiring combination.

At the conclusion of Lucky Chops’ sweat-drenched set, it became abundantly clear that this was the one-step-beyond that Madness was caterwauling about all those years ago.

With the last frantic notes of Lucky Chops' set hanging in the hot, humid air, The Harlequins took the YMCA Stage and immediately began tearing into their Psych/Garage/Pop catalog with the glee of a 5-year-old stripping the paper from his presents on Christmas morning. Their Washington Park set at last year's MidPoint was a visceral thing of beauty and truly displayed the maturation the band had gone through since the release of their off-the-chain 2013 EP, Sex Change. The Harlequins' latest album One With You (and by proxy, this year's MidPoint show to promote it) is more of the same, where both "more" and "same" equal "better." The trio doesn't take long to go from zero to 60, and once they’re at optimum volume, there isn't a window or dirty rafter that's safe from defenestration or dusting.

The Harlequins have been at this for nearly a decade now and so their many influences (Pixies, The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Syd Barrett) have been fully integrated into their writing and performing process, which reflects their total sound and not just the sum of their individual inspirations and reference points. It has also made them a formidable live entity; once The Harlequins take flight on stage, Sully Sullenberger couldn't land these fuckers. The whole set was a highlight reel but a clear favorite was the mid-tempo Stooges-as-Garage/Psych-stoners hallelujah of "Step Inside." Any number of outlets cited The Harlequins as "don't miss" act at MidPoint, but why limit the citation to a single festival? The Harlequins are a don't-miss act. Period. Down at Eli's BBQ Stage, Knife the Symphony was gearing up for a needle-pegging afternoon set of pure decibelia. If you're looking for a band louder than God's Old Testament wrath and more death-defying than a whole boatload of Wallendas, Knife the Symphony is your jam. Although guitarist/vocalist Jeff Albers, bassist/vocalist Seth Longland and drummer/vocalist/Phratry Records owner Jerry Dirr haven’t released a full-length album since 2009's Dead Tongues, they've maintained a semi-regular presence around town and recorded nearly an album's worth of tracks that have made their way onto various split releases and singles. Their latest is the just-released "Boulevard Inn" demo, recorded for the “Sofaburn Presents” live series, and their chaotic and terrific cover of Husker Du's "Divide and Conquer," with Longland on lead vocals and doing a pretty passable Bob Mould impression.

KtS's MidPoint set was par for its straightforward course; enough volume to bring down a rickety building, enough sweat to fill a saltwater aquarium, enough weight to punch a hole in the earth's crust. To lighten the mood, as Dirr was adjusting his drums, he had the crowd wave to his sister, Judy, who attended with her husband and three daughters — he mentioned before the show, she had not seen him play live since the early ’90s. Then, after a particularly brutal and earsplitting performance, he noted, "Judy just yawned. That's bullshit." At the other end of the KtS banter spectrum, Albers introduced their last song by saying, "The Justice Center is just up the street. Enjoy your liberties, this is what we're partying underneath." Knife the Symphony rarely pulls any punches, sonic or otherwise.

click to enlarge Multimagic - Photo: Caleb Hughes
Photo: Caleb Hughes

After grabbing a couple of coneys from Skyline, and making my way to a picnic table, I enjoyed a little lunch with a propulsive Indie Pop serenade accompaniment from Cincinnati’s own Multimagic over on the YMCA Stage. The quintet exudes the same energy level as Walk the Moon, but there's a darker undercurrent in Multimagic's presentation, with glints of Pavement and Death Cab for Cutie catching the eclipsed sunlight in its sound. It's an amazingly deep and thoughtful sonic perspective for a band that's only been together since 2014, and its in-process debut album cannot come soon enough.

Over on the Skyline Stage, The Budos Band roiled and churned through a furious set packed to overflowing with its patented Afro-Soul sound, a rumbling, thunderous instrumental storm of Funk, R&B and fiery Psychedelic Rock that's as deep as the Mariana Trench and as heavy as 10 black holes. If you witnessed the members in their backing band role for Charles Bradley at last summer's Bunbury Festival, then you probably made a point of seeing Budos on their own. Instrumental music can get repetitive and uninteresting in fairly short order, but Budos knows the art of pacing and set dynamics and doesn't necessarily require the services of a charismatic frontman to attract and hold an audience's attention. Saxophonist Jared Tankel announced, "It is fucking hot out here," and the band roared into the title track from its latest album, Burnt Offerings, an appropriate choice considering the aforementioned fucking heat. Unfortunately, Budos' jamming closer went seven or eight minutes beyond the end of their allotted time, thereby eating into Bob Mould's set on the adjacent stage. Flipped bird salutes were exchanged between Mould fans and Budos members as they left their stage, but things settled down relatively quickly.

When Bob Mould finally got started on the YMCA Stage, he opened with a pair of Husker Du songs and a Sugar track — "Flip Your Wig," "I Apologize" and "A Good Idea" — which launched a virtual victory lap around Mould's storied 37-year career. We were potently reminded of Mould's two wildly influential bands and his estimable solo career, which has produced 13 albums to date, including his most recent, the brilliant Patch the Sky, the completion of his album trilogy. It's a huge catalog to encapsulate in a 50-minute set, but Mould and his gifted bandmates — ex-Verbow/GBV/Superchunk bassist Jason Narducy and Superchunk/Mountain Goats drummer Jon Wurster — touched on the band high points (including Sugar's incendiary "If I Can't Change Your Mind"), offered up a quartet of songs from Patch the Sky and finished with the only single released from Husker Du's 1985 masterpiece, Flip Your Wig, the non-LP B-side cover of "Love is All Around," the theme song from The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and its triumphant A-side, "Makes No Sense at All."

click to enlarge Bob Mould - Photo: Edward Derrico
Photo: Edward Derrico
Bob Mould

Mould played exactly as he always has, like a man possessed, and Narducy and Wurster matched him note for note, stride for stride. On the cusp of his 56th birthday, Mould regaled his MidPoint audience with the verve and joy of the 18-year-old who played furiously loud and fast to compensate for his relative lack of skills, and wound up changing music for a forever that continues yet today.

If there is a more viscerally direct and wildly entertaining local band than Honeyspiders, its keeping itself well hidden. Frontman Jeremy Harrison sings with the compact extravagance of Mick Jagger, enunciating his lyrics to emphasize the melody, licking his fingertips lasciviously and smacking himself on the chest and ass for effect. Occasionally, Jeremy will strap on his guitar to accompany his brother Chris, who attacks his instrument as if they were opponents in the UFC Octagon, beating and strangling an endless variety of screeches and howls from his tortured six-string. And drummer Kamal Hiresh pummels his kit with the ferocity of an enforcer trying to beat information from a snitch. This is the constant and brutally reliable core of Honeyspiders.

For the band's latest MidPoint appearance, bassist Cole Walsh-Davis was on paternity leave and his place was ably taken by longtime cohort Todd McHenry, who has played keys and drums with Honeyspiders live and in the studio. The band opened with "Underneath the Claws," the swaggering first track on the band's eponymous full-length debut, Album of the Year winner at this year's CEA ceremony (they won Best New Artist last year), which perfectly frames Honeyspiders' woozy Psychedelic/Hard Rock ethic. The band never took its feet off the audience's neck for the remainder of the set. By the time the ’Spiders pounded out their closer, the seductively swaying "New Blooms," they had conclusively proven why they are and will remain one of the city's most potent musical threats.

click to enlarge The Honeyspiders - Photo: Caleb Hughes
Photo: Caleb Hughes
The Honeyspiders

I toweled off after a good drenching from Honeyspiders and strolled back over to the YMCA Stage to catch the last few songs from Frightened Rabbit, a Glasgow quintet that enjoys a fair amount of profile on WNKU as well. I've loved these guys since hearing its first album, Sing the Greys, when a publicist sent a copy to pitch for coverage. In the studio, Frightened Rabbit, now on its fifth album in 10 years — the spectacular Painting of a Panic Attack, produced by The National's Aaron Dessner — tends toward a Beatles-meets-Snow Patrol vibe, but as one might expect, there's a direct line from a band's collective adrenal gland to the volume knob on stage. Frightened Rabbit is certainly no exception; the band's live sound and presence is bigger in every possible way, and even their ballads become expansive and all-encompassing. But the songs that already command attention — particularly the anthemic "Get Out" from its latest album — swell to orchestral proportions and wash over the audience like a sonic tidal surge.

If Frightened Rabbit is looking for a break in its write/record/tour cycle, the band might consider documenting this current tour with a live album.

From my spot down by WNKU's members tent, I listened to a little of Reggie Watts' DJ set on the Skyline Stage, which was an interesting mix of music and stand-up comedy; it was particularly funny when Watts began singing the theme to WKRP in Cincinnati. But like The Budos Band before him, Watts ignored the stage manager's direction that his time was up and he extended his set nearly 15 minutes into Wolf Parade's time, which, as much as I like Watts, was kind of a dick move that late in the schedule. Not cool, Reggie.

click to enlarge Reggie Watts - Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Reggie Watts

With less than 45 minutes left in its slot, Wolf Parade… wait, is that medical marijuana I smell? I may have glaucoma, if you'd like to help, but a contact buzz is OK, too. Where was I? Right. Wolf Parade managed to squeeze a dozen songs into its shortened set time, including three songs from its 2005 full-length debut, Apologies to the Queen Mary and three from its 2008 sophomore release, At Mount Zoomer. So what does Wolf Parade sound like? Well, what would happen if Franz Ferdinand and Sparks collaborated on a project? That would be FFS, you ninny. But in a world where Franz Ferdinand and Sparks didn't get together, it would have sounded like the high-octane Indie Rock of Wolf Parade.

The Canadian quartet blew through the first nine songs with an almost supernatural energy until the group neared the end of their truncated set time. That's when they shifted into a phantom sixth gear and crushed out furious versions of Queen Mary's "This Heart's on Fire" and "I'll Believe in Anything" (the former from the recent deluxe edition) and Mount Zoomer's ecstatic "Kissing the Beehive." It was a blitzkrieg of blistering Indie Rock, at a record pace and in under the wire. I think. Wait, is that medical marijuana?

Anyway, with that, it was time for Saturday night's last act, JJ Grey & Mofro, the pride of Jacksonville, Fla. and yet another band with a major presence on WNKU. The group's fans obviously knew JJG&M were worthy of headlining status and that this would be a great show, but those unfamiliar with them might have doubted their ability to close out the evening. If there were any skeptics in the audience when Grey and his merry band of Sunshine State shit-kickers took to the Skyline Stage, it wouldn't be long before they were screaming, sweating converts.

JJ Grey & Mofro is swampy soulful Blues laced with enough Funk to motivate a Baptist to dance, glazed with a thick layer of sweet Southern horns and topped with Grey's sultry rasp, a perfect vehicle for the songs he sings and the tales he spins. If you listen to WNKU with any regularity, you've certainly heard the live version of "Lochloosa," which Grey unleashed about midway through the set; originally the title track from the 2004 album, but made famous on 2011's live Brighter Days, "Lochloosa" is the story of the unspoiled area where Grey spent his childhood and it's a slow-burning Blues/Soul epic. Other than a minor adjustment in the narration to connect with the Cincinnati audience, the story pretty much matched the Brighter Days version. But the fact is, Grey's delivery is so charming and real, noone really cares that it's the same story. It's like listening to your buzzed uncle at the family reunion reeling off anecdotes you've heard a hundred times, but in an endlessly entertaining way that makes you want to listen every time.

The band's stage setup was pretty interesting as well; floor lamps were scattered around, giving the appearance that Grey and Mofro were doing an intimate living room concert and, in fact, the vibe isn't far from that very concept. And to foster the spirit of equanimity (when you smell medical marijuana, your vocabulary gets expansive along with your frontal lobe), the band was stretched out across the front of the stage, with Grey taking prominence simply because he was the one singing and talking. It was a dynamic set, to be sure; Grey's ballads soak in with the slow warmth of bourbon, while his rockier numbers hit like tequila shots with a Red Bull chaser. JJ Grey & Mofro play with Gospel tent revival passion while always keeping a thought in the back of their minds that all the best parties take place in hell.

click to enlarge JJ Grey & Mofro - Photo: Edward Derrico
Photo: Edward Derrico
JJ Grey & Mofro

Saturday Night Non-MidPoint B-Side

I bailed a little early on JJ Grey & Mofro in order to make my way to the nearby Woodward Theater to check out the second night of Wussy's two-night stand. The reports from the previous night's show had been very good, so I was looking forward to another fine performance from one of the city's best bands.

By the time I arrived, Dawg Yawp was at the tail-end of its middle-of-the-bill set, which at that point was knee deep in a heavy Electronic, sitar-centric Blues vibe. As the set came to a close, Tyler Randall and Rob Keenan made the long-anticipated announcement that their debut full length would be released on Oct. 14 and celebrated with a gig across the street at MOTR Pub. With that, Randall strapped on his homemade coathanger/lampshade capo and the duo launched into "East Virginia Blues," their take on the zippy Bluegrass barnburner, and lightened the mood considerably. The twosome finished strong with a new song, "Lost at Sea," a roiling rocker that featured as many breaks and swells as its titular body of water. Here's hoping that one made the tracklist on the new album.

After a brief intermission, Wussy walked out and launched into the feedback burst that opens the atmospheric dread of "Dropping Houses," the first single from its latest album, Forever Sounds, then followed it up with the brilliantly unhinged "Pulverized," a set favorite from Strawberry, and the R.E.M.-on-steroids squall of Attica's "To the Lightning." It was the perfect triad to offer a glimpse of the dynamics that would be utilized for a singularly amazing Wussy gig.

Thus the mood was established for the first appearance of special guest Kate Wakefield, whose sonorous cello proved to be exquisitely suited to Wussy's already potent musical arsenal. Reportedly, Wakefield didn't rehearse with the band prior to the weekend shows, but you wouldn't have guessed from her flawless accompaniment. Her presence on "Waiting Room" added a little extra shade to a melancholy track that could wring tears from a Powerball winner.

Later in the set, a similar mood was explored with the sedate yet moving "Better Days," featuring John Erhardt's haunting pedal steel, but leavened with Lisa Walker's post-song observation that someone on the internet had likened the song to Queensryche's "Silent Lucidity," to which Walker responded, "You're kind of right, whoever you are." For the unexpected mid-set inclusion of "I Give You All," Walker's rewrite of the classic "Wayfaring Stranger" from Wussy's Public Domain EP, the band welcomed another guest, Dawg Yawp's Tyler Randall, who added beautiful sitar filigrees to the Bluegrass heartbreaker. That was followed by Glam ballad "Donny's Death Scene," written by Walker in honor of her favorite character from The Big Lebowski and a song that weeps and charges in equal measure. Chuck Cleaver noted that his solo on the song was more difficult than the three kidney stones he passed the previous week. I've dealt with that particular issue for the past 40 years (kidney stones, not guitar solos) and I'm going on record in telling him, "The hell it was."

From there, Wussy cranked things back to a hair-raising level with the bruising "Rainbows and Butterflies," the emotionally and sonically powerful "Hello I'm a Ghost" and the crushing "Sidewalk Sale." The band's range in this set couldn't have been any better exemplified than with the sonic dynamic presented by "Teenage Wasteland" with its advance/retreat pacing and Walker's soul-searing vocal. And there was no better time to reintroduce Wakefield to the stage than to follow it up with the ever-popular "Yellow Cotton Dress." Wussy left the stage after the quiet desperation of Strawberry's "Little Miami," but the members would return in short order, with Wakefield in tow, for an absolute gut-kick four-song encore. They began with the wrenching "Beautiful," followed by Walker's solo turn on the compelling "Majestic-12," at which point the band returned for a blistering run through "Airborne," one of its earliest classics to display the brilliant interplay between Cleaver and Walker. Wussy closed the evening with a slashing version of New Order's "Ceremony," a song that the band has come to own since releasing it as a single earlier this year.

The second show of Wussy's two-night Woodward stand was evidence of just how far the band has advanced in recent years. Cleaver and Walker, great songwriters from the start, have grown immeasurably since the end of their personal relationship and the beginning of their roles as bandmates and friends. That transition would have ended most bands but, as they cribbed from Madison Avenue mad men in the ’60s, they are and continue to be stronger than dirt. Mark Messerly has always been a brilliant commentator on the band (and most everything else), both on stage and off, and he's become a formidable bass presence, particularly since Joe Klug's course-correcting arrival. Klug is a musical drummer, a multi-instrumentalist who understands everyone's parts as well as his own, and possesses the rare ability to play the song rather than simply the beat. And the addition of Ass Ponys guitarist John Erhardt was the icing on the cake and a gift from the musical gods; his atmospheric touches and muscular accompaniment have expanded Wussy in directions it might never have explored without him.

So was this the best Wussy show ever? I've come to realize there's no such thing. There's just the latest best Wussy show, and this was definitely that.

Saturday Notes

Once again, I began my day by running into my Class X co-conspirator Eddy Mullet and his amazing daughter Jess, who has become a local music maven on a par with the old man. They were checking out Honduras on Eli's Stage, and Eddy and I played "Guess the Punk Band's Punk Roots." We are easily amused.

Also ran into Paul and Big Jim on the midway. I'd seen Paul there on Friday, along with Brandon Losacker and Josh Pilot from Bucko. Did I not mention that? Wow, and that was before I smelled medical marijuana. Anyway, I asked Paul if he'd called off his boycott and he said, "No, I'm here for the free stuff. I'm pissed, but I'm not stupid." Eddy, Jess and I headed over to Orchards together, where a whopping 20 or so people had collected. More showed up so it wasn't too bad, but it was early yet, so not surprising. As I was checking CityBeat's MidPoint Guide for my next festival move, Stu sidled up and said, "Don't read that. I know the guy that writes that stuff and it's all horseshit." I beg to differ, sir. There's also bull, dog and chicken scattered in there as well.

While Baby Money was tearing it up, I spotted Knife the Symphony's Jerry Dirr and Jeff Albers hanging out on the sidewalk next to the stage. Jerry told me his sister Judy would be in attendance with her husband and kids, and I made a mental note to find her after KtS's gig. Judy and my wife Melissa had worked together years ago so I thought it would be nice to catch up.

At Lucky Chops, Stu bought the beers, a transaction that was facilitated by one Jacob Heintz, working the beer booth next the WNKU tent. There's the nexus of a whole bunch of my favorite people. And Stu could be well on his way to a spot in the Beer Buying Hall of Foam.

As Knife the Symphony roared, I caught sight of the indescribably amiable Kip Roe and his equally amazing son Kip Jr. I hadn't crossed paths with Kip since last year's MidPoint, and it was good to see him for a heartbeat or two and talk music. He and KJ are always off on some crazy musical adventure, and I'm fairly certain that father and son both know just how lucky they are to have one another. My day was made.

Shortly after that, I made my way over to talk to Jerry Dirr's sister Judy and met her husband Jim and their daughters. As expected, it was good to catch up. I wasn't sure how long it had been since we'd spoken until she asked, "You guys had a little girl, right?" As it turned out, Melissa was still pregnant when Judy quit, so that makes it over 22 years ago. I've begun thinking of our daughter as the woman who rooms with us to protect myself against the advance of time. So far, it's not working.

Over at Multimagic, I ran into two more of my favorite people, Pike 27's Dave Purcell and his wife Amy. They were catching a little of the action before heading out to a wedding and reception, so we had a nice chat before they waded into the growing throng to see and hear what's what.

During Reggie Watts' DJ set, I hung around the WNKU tent just doing a bit of people watching, when the ever noble Aaron Sharpe gifted me a free beer from their supply. Which would have been more than enough, but a few minutes later, he came up to me and said, "JJ Grey just showed up to take pictures with the members. You want to get your picture with JJ Grey?" How could I refuse? I stayed at the end of the line, so members got first crack, then stepped up, handed my phone to one of the volunteers and took my place next to JJ. While we waited for the young lady to figure out my phone, I said to JJ, "By the way, I wrote your preview for CityBeat." He said, "Well, thank you very much," and I responded, "No, thank you. I didn't have to lie once." He seemed to like that.

At the Wussy show, the place was packed with familiar faces, including Paul, his sister and nephew, Big Jim, John Curley, Evening Redness frontman Brent Billock and his wife Karen, the estimable Brian Kitzmiller, and the architect of our joy at the Woodward for the evening, Dan McCabe.

At some point in the evening, I was accosted from behind, with my assailant shrieking, "Now it's MidPoint!" That turned out to be my good pal Nick Barrows and his wife Robin. Nick also came bearing the news that JetLab was in the midst of their new album, that said album would be more guitar-oriented and he'd have something to listen to shortly. Hit me baby, one more time.

Read Brian's wrap-up of MIDPOINT MUSIC FESTIVAL's fist day here.