Today marks the first day of the tenth annual MidPoint Music Festival in venues throughout Over-the-Rhine (and a few Downtown). AND the President of the United States is in town. I don't think the two are related, but who knows — maybe Barack Obama is a huge Mansions on the Moon fan? Mr. President, I'm sure you're reading this on your Blackberry — stick around this evening after your speech about how fixing our crumbling, dangerous interstate bridge is probably more important than saving Carl Linder a few bucks on his tax returns and come on down to MidPoint to catch some of the hottest musical acts on the planet right now. Your Secret Service guys can watch your back, we'll be your tour-guides and, heck, I'll even buy you a beer or two (you still like Bud Light, right?). Email me ASAP and we'll set you and your crew up with wristbands (sorry, the VIP passes are all sold out). In the meantime, here are a few suggestions (must-sees, big-timers and sleeper picks) for MPMF showcases you can check out tonight. —-
Most MPMFers likely have their itinerary fairly well plotted out, but every year on the street during MidPoint I seem to get asked for recommendations about who to see. So, if you've a few holes in your schedule or any downtime, the following are a few shows to take a chance on. But, honestly, this year more than ever, the quality of talent is at an all time high, so your chances of walking into a show anywhere and finding a new favorite is pretty good. (Grab a copy of the official CityBeat MidPoint guide for write-ups on all of this year's performers.) Still, here are several suggestions and video clips so you can get a sense of what each artist has to offer.
There is a "casting call" for a special film shoot at the CAC Stage on the MidPoint Midway at 5:15 p.m. If you're at the fest early, swing by the Midway (along Twelfth St., between Walnut and Vine streets) to check out the groovy box truck art and other booths and vendors and be sure to hit up the CAC Stage (which will feature MPMF performers playing stripped-backed throughout the festival) to participate in the "celebrity performance" and shoot. (The Midway is also where you can purchase one- and three-day wristbands.)
In the 7 p.m. hour …
• Dazzling young fingerstyle guitarist Ben Lapps has the honor of launching MPMF.11 this year at MidPoint's biggest new venue, the School for Creative and Performing Arts on Central Pkwy. Lapps (whose talent is genuinely jaw-dropping) performs at 7 p.m. at SCPA's Mayerson Theater (the theater closest to Twelfth Street), while one of CIncinnati's best (and most endearing) bands, The Seedy Seeds, get things started in SCPA's Corbett Theater (near the front entrance on Central) at 7:30 p.m. All SCPA shows are all ages, so, as David Letterman liked to say, phone the neighbors, wake the kids.
In the 8 p.m. hour …
• At Mr. Pitiful's on Main Street, Pokey LaFarge and the South City Three bring their lively, creative, Sepia-toned Roots sound to MPMF.11.
• L.A. Pop singer/songwriter Henry Wolfe plays at 8:30 p.m. at the Vitamin Water Room in The Hanke Building (former home to Have a Nice Day Cafe and other clubs).
• One of the more alluring new bands on the local music, Belle Histoire, performs at the all-ages Media Bridges stage at 8 p.m. Dig:
In the 9 p.m. hour …
• Brian Baker says you'll like Chicago's A Lull if you like the thought of "Brian Eno, Stewart Copeland and Animal Collective (going) on a gin-and-tonic picnic and (creating) soundtracks to Dr. Seuss stories translated into Sanskrit." How can you miss that? Here's the band's latest video, for the track "Some Love," which debuted this week.
• Athens, Ohio's The Ridges make warm, gorgeous Orchestral Indie Pop blossoming with soulful joy. See them at the Cincinnati Club at 9 p.m.
• Dig the modern Indie Folk sounds of Brooklyn's Jones Street Station at 9 p.m. on the Media Bridges Stage.
• The Joy Formidable may be the biggest band on the MidPoint schedule (certainly the only one squeezing MPMF in between tour dates with the Foo Fighters). Catch them under the big top at Grammer's tonight at 9:30 p.m.
• Long-running Indie Pop duo Mates of States will put you in an even better mood than you're already in if you check them out tonight at 9:30 p.m. at SCPA's Corbett Theater.
• Genius guitarist and dazzling singer/songwriter Kaki King performs at SCPA's Mayerson Theater stage at 9 p.m.
• Sometime Jenny Lewis bandmates and successful in their own right) The Watson Twins play at Know Theater's main stage at 9:30 p.m.
In the 10 p.m. hour …
• In Tall Buildings, one of Chicago's promising new act, is the brainchild of Erik Hall, whose main influences include everyone from Steve Reich and Maurice Ravel to Neil Young and Gillian Welch. Hall and his band play at MOTR Pub at 10 p.m.
• According to Brian Baker, New Hampshire's Aunt Martha is like "Steve Earle and Ray Lamontagne whittle rustic guitars for Bon Iver’s national park tour." Catch 'em at Mr. Pitiful's at 10:30 p.m.
• "Beck plans to record Sea Change II as his Pet Sounds, hires Nashville session cats, Beulah and Wilco to play it, goes nuts, makes masterpiece." That's how I described Adam Arcuragi & The Lupine Chorale recently. See if I was right tonight at 10 p.m. at Arnold's.
• Electro rockers Yawn — at Below Zero Lounge tonight at 10 p.m. — are anything but sleepy.
• Nashville singer/songwriter Tristen has been building a following locally with frequent gigs in Greater Cincy over the past year. Catch her tonight at Know Theatre at 10:30 p.m.
• Toronto's Hunter Valentine bring its high-power Punk-ish Rock & Roll to the Main Event's ICB Stage at 10:30 p.m. Here's the uncut version of the group's video for "Revenge" (WARNING: Nudity! And … violent murder!)
In the 11 p.m. hour …
• Nashville Glam/Rock/Pop/New Wave crew The Worsties play the Biore Strip (ArtWorks stage) at 11 p.m.
• Trippy Chicago-based Indie Rock band Santah play the all-ages Media Bridges stage at 11 p.m.
• Fun, unique Country Garage Pop foursome Those Darlins (recently featured in promos for the NBC sitcom Whitney) take over the Cincinnati Club stage at 11:30 p.m.
• Seatlle Synth/Dance Pop duo Beat Connection play MOTR Pub at 11 p.m.
• San Fran singer Tara Priya brings a much needed dose of Retro Neo Soul to MPMF.11, performing at the Blue Wisp at 11 p.m.
• Roots/Country rockin' up-and-comer Lydia Loveless (featured on the cover and inside this week's CityBeat) performs at the Know Theatre smaller second stage at 11 p.m.
• Soulful Roots singer/songwriter Jessica Lea Mayfield plays at Know's larger Main Stage at 11:45 p.m.
• Montreal's The Luyas (featuring former/current members of Arcade Fire and Bell Orchestre) plays at 11 p.m. at The Hanke Building's Vitamin Water Room.
In the Midnight hour …
• Cap off your MPMF fun at Arnold's with the zippy, old-timey Americana of Two Man Gentleman band, who hit the stage at Midnight.
• Crafty Indie Rock duo The Moaners (from Chapel Hill, NC) play the Courtyard Cafe at 12:15 a.m.
• Eccentric San Francisco Indie/Art Folk duo The Dodos are far from extinct. In fact, you can see 'em tonight at the Vitamin Water Room (Hanke Building) at 12 a.m.
• Indie Pysch Pop group Brass Bed perform at 12:30 a.m. at The Drinkery.
• Sassy, Dayton-spawned Pop Rock foursome Vanity Theft (pictured above) plays Main Event at 12:30 a.m.
• Chilled-out L.A. Electro/Indie/Pop troupe Mansions on the Moon (I've heard somewhere they're Barack Obama faves) plant their flag at MOTR Pub tonight for a Midnight performance.