Cover Story: Best (and Worst) in Show

Sifting through MidPoint's highs and lows

Sep 28, 2005 at 2:06 pm
Dude, that thong is so you!

Worst Reason to be an MPMF Volunteer
Trying to score with GitoGito Hustler. Sure, they're cute and Japanese and they rock, which is all the more reason that those hoping to fulfill some anime fantasy will still try anyway. Quote from an anonymous volunteer: "I figure, there's four of them, right? So the chances are that much better." I can hear the shrill giggles right now. (EW)

Best 'Show Must Go On' Moment
Halfway through their manic set, lead singer/fashion pioneer Vinnie Williams of Le TechnoPUSSI3S was shot in the eyes with a blast of silly string from bandmate Jamie Thorman. Despite being blinded, Williams still managed to gyrate like a malfunctioning robot on mushrooms. Thankfully her sight was fully restored, and oddly the irritation made her stare even more crazed (if that's possible). (JR)

Best Replacement for an MPMF Wristband
Cleavage. "Can I just go inside to see if my friend's there?" cooed one badge-less beauty after another outside The Exchange.

After closely studying their "credentials," the doorman granted passage to the worthiest specimens. Apparently, that boob job pays for itself $5 at a time. (EW)

Worst Case of Misdirected Hype
Fluttr Effect. As I made my way down Jail Alley to catch part of their set, a steady stream of festival attendees was heading the opposite direction, many warning, "Don't bother." My curiosity piqued, I pledged to endure at least a couple minutes of their show. It was truly unbearable. They sounded like an Eastern European band trying to simulate Western Rock music after having only been able to smuggle CDs by Nena and Hammerfall across the border. Then somehow this imaginary band's songs are performed by Mannheim Steamroller. The electric xylophone is still ringing in my head. (EW)

Best 'Hair' Band
OK, Modern Rock band Orange Willard isn't really a "hair" band. But you couldn't help but notice that at least two members constantly whipped their manes as if they had issues. A last minute MidPoint inclusion, they rocked like headliners and lead singer Rusty Paquay's searing vocals (which strangely reminded me of Angus Young and Little Richard) ignited so much energy that his bushy tresses were probably singed. (MF)

Best Slow Clap Moment
The Whitney Barricklow Band's next-to-last song was so amazing that it inspired someone to start the infamous "slow clap" followed by a barroom full of people chanting, "One more song! One more song!" Graciously, they delivered. And if you missed any of their set, it gave you good reason to look for their CD on the merch table. (MF)

Worst Stage Lighting & Dance Troupe
While nothing was wrong with the British Invasion-inspired swagger of Chicago's The Dirty Blue (in fact, they were excellent), forces beyond their control were distracting attention from their impressive set. For starters, the 10,000-watt lights above the stage upstairs at alchemize would have been more appropriate for surgery or interrogating enemy combatants. Then there was "Robby XXX," whose inebriated gyrations delighted many. Or was that dismayed? (EW)

Best Violation of Cincinnati's 'No Dancing to Rock Music' Ordinance
Civil disobedience at its finest. The Rockwells' aerobic performance at The Exchange inspired an unusually large group to cut loose, with the resulting twisting and pogoing shaking the dance floor. Picking the most energetic tunes from their extensive catalog, the Knoxville-based brothers cranked out one lively sing-along after another. They were clearly having a blast, joking with each other and the audience between songs (bassist Fred Kelly quipped that the flavored condoms he had promised at the merch table were only "condom-flavored"). It certainly didn't hurt that they were sandwiched between And Andy and Chaselounge, two bands that generally draw boisterous crowds. (EW)

Worst Way to Avoid Police Attention
While at a major intersection on Main Street, a girl stood slurring at the top of her lungs, "Where the fuck are we going?! Where the fuck are we?!" to no one in particular. (JR)

Best Rock & Roll Cameo
Jason Ludwig added sweet harmonies to Kohai's "What We Are Waiting For," providing a preview of the stirring performance his band, Noctaluca, would deliver later. Those who stayed put at Jefferson Hall between the two acts were treated to a kick-ass performance by Central Ohio's Bel Auburn. In fact, all of the acts at J-Hall Friday felt like a fresh-from-the-dryer pair of jeans on a crisp fall day, only without that little rivet that always burns your hip. (EW)

Best Reason to Start a Fight
The big-screen TV at RBC had "Ultimate Fighting" championships running while Missouri's Bockman kicked out brainy jams with Jazz nuances and adventurous sonics, creating a surreal counterbalance. Kind of like serving Pabst at a black-tie dinner. (MB)

Best Reason to Worry That Greg Dulli Wouldn't Show for His Keynote Appearance
Organizer/founder Sean Rhiney announced prior to Alan Light's excellent if low-key "industry keynote" speech that there was no smoking in the CAC, which immediately caused concern for chain-smokin' Dulli's appearance. Greg toughed it out though — a few extra squares of gum, and he was good to go. (MB)

Best Costume
Dan Folino, lead singer of Cleveland's Vanity Crash, went all-out glam for his band's androgynous set of sexual lunacy. Cloaked in a neon-blue, faux-fur, leopard-print coat with flame mascara and matching hair, he looked like a wild cat writhing in the glittery safari of a David Bowie dream. (JR)

Best Dressed Rock Band
ZZ Top assumed that every girl's crazy 'bout a sharp dressed man, and, judging from the "woos" thrown at Clabbergirl by their adoring female fans, they're right. These guys clean up well and play even better (never a dull moment). And Sean Rhiney isn't afraid to sweat onstage; after all, it's about the music, not the look. Appearances by Tamara (aka Embrya deShango) and Chestah T added even more dimension. (MF)

Best Beatles Reference
Columbus Hip Hop twosome The Lab Rats kicked off their set with a trippy, funkily scratched-up "Strawberry Fields Forever," which had many of the audience members singing along (horribly). (MB)

Best Plug For a Local Band Not Playing
During his keynote address, journalist Alan Light explained that his new favorite band is Cincy sensations Heartless Bastards. He said the band was indirectly responsible for him coming to MidPoint — he met MPMF organizer/founder Sean Rhiney at the band's showcase at the last South By Southwest. (MB)

Best Improvement for a Hip Hop Group
Da Muttss finally got their shit together, so cross your fingers. These guys really deliver onstage, and out of the handful of Cincinnati Hip Hop acts presented at MidPoint their show drew the most new fans. (MF)

Best Les Claypool Impression
As billed in CityBeat's preview issue, Otis was a groovy, two-man Prog machine. For a minute there, I fully expected a skull-capped Larry Lalonde to show up and start squonking along. Most of the songs were reminiscent of Claypool's work with Sausage, with a few Tales from the Punchbowl thrown in. As a duo, Otis benefited from the vaulted ceiling in Japp's, adding a big, concert-hall fullness to their sound. (EW)

Best Wormhole
The passageway between Japp's and RBC provided a convenient method to keep tabs on two performances at once. I happily toggled between Medic's heavy-handed Space Rock and 4 Track All-Stars' groovalicious sounds several times. The latter actually also gets the "Best Hip Hop Cameo Award," featuring rousing performances from Da Muttss and Nick Barrows over the band's horn and guitar-driven Funk Fusion. (EW)

Best Audience Shout Back
During Knoxville band The Rockwells' set at The Exchange, an upcoming song was announced as being "cerebral." Without missing a beat, some dude near the front yelled, "I love cerebral!" (MB)

Best Afghan Whigs Revelation
Greg Dulli told the crowd watching him being interviewed by Alan Light that the Whigs' major label debut, Gentlemen, cost $50,000 to make. Elektra gave them $300,000, so the band took the rest "and we all bought stuff." "That gave us a quarter of a million dollars to party with," he laughed. The message: Be smart, young musicians, and don't blow all of your dough. (MB)

Worst Overheard Snoop-Talk
Near the grill outside Neon's: "The fuckin' schnitzels," a drunken MPMFer yelled excitedly, "they're the fuckin' shiznits!" (MB)

Best Use of a Small Space
Courtyard Café. "How much is that power trio in the window?" It was cramped, but both of the bands I caught Friday (On a Sun and 1/2 Mad Poet) were dealing out enough Rock to fill an arena. The close confines seemed to encourage the groups to focus their energy inward and feed on the interplay. (EW)

Worst Rapper
During the finale of sultry Illinois-based groove machine Digable Cat — a Joss Stone-ish cover of "Stayin' Alive" — drummer Dr. Brad slipped in a brief (but not brief enough) rap that was ill-advised. William Hung could've rocked the mic better. (MB)

Best Climax
The Spectacular Fantastic's song "Popular Sound." GitoGito Hustler and MOTH obviously closed the festival Saturday for throngs of fans, but TSF had put the cherry on top for me the night before. Their new lineup's sense of urgency was felt all the way to the back wall of alchemize Friday night as they dug into their set closer (they were goaded into one encore after that, if you want to get technical). Mike Detmer's classic snapshot of pop culture preoccupation resonated like never before. Just like the song itself, MPMF is the antidote to the mindless drivel in which media pimps continue to traffic. (EW)