Midpoint Music Festival 2013: Review + Photo Gallery
Since 2002, the MidPoint Music Festival has been one of the fastest growing showcase festivals in the United States. Based in Cincinnati, Ohio, the festival features three days of near non-stop music on a multitude of stages around the downtown area. TheBlueIndian.com crew made our debut at MPMF last year and were sold after just a few hours of walking around the progressively re-gentrified OTR district. Over the past few years, MPMF, along with a slew of other arts, music, and craft festivals + a dedicated group of businesses, residents, and city planners, has contributed to the revitalization of a large neighborhood that was in shambles as recently as the mid-2000’s. Now, the area is constantly bustling with pop-up markets, free music, and a newfound sense of place – making it the perfect location for MidPoint.
MidPoint 2013 took place from September 27th-29th and featured more than 150 artists on 15+ venues/stages around the downtown. “Headlining” appearances came from The Head & The Heart, The Breeders, Daughter, Shuggie Otis, Kurt Vile, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, The Thermals, and Warpaint, while much-loved acts such as Baths, Bear’s Den, Damien Jurado, Kishi Bashi, and many more took to stages earlier in the night.
With that many bands AND that many stages, it’s hard to catch all the sets you usually want to. You’ll quickly find that if you spend only a few minutes at each set in order to accomadate a full schedule, you’re probably going to end up having a band time. That’s why we suggest picking three-four “must see” acts and stick around for as much of their set as possible, while also picking a few names you’re unfamiliar with off the schedule. Will and I learned from last year’s MPMF experience that unforgettably good times can be had with strangers. Just because you haven’t heard of a band doesn’t mean you’re not going to like them..
After arriving in Cincinnati around 3:00am (one of these days we’ll just fly), we managed to catch a few hours of sleep before waking up with that “Christmas morning” feeling. It’s MidPoint! We spent the early hours of the afternoon catching up with our friend Brent from Broken Circles Records before heading to the Dewey’s Pizza stage at Grammer’s to catch Brooklyn-based act Snowmine. Think ethereal guitar work and well-thought out percussion mixed with vocals that offer a pleasant nod to Radiohead. Kurt Vile and The Violators made their way to the stage soon after Snowmine and our crew then split up – some staying at Kurt Vile while I made my way to see River Whyless.
Catching up with old friends in a town far away from home is always a treat and River Whyless welcomed a receptive audience at Japp’s with a set of their beautifully composed, Appalachian-folk tunes. From there, we regrouped and wandered the streets for a few minutes, stopping in to catch a set of stirringly impressive songs from Vandaveer. Jet lagged as they were, the group put up with a shabby soundcheck and one annoyed bro (“stop telling stories and play your songs, dude”…) and had the room captivated in no time. Next stop was the Below Zero Lounge to see Dent May (in my opinion, the best set of the festival) and company nearly tear the place down – think stretching cables as far as they’ll allow into the crowd, dancing on the bar, collapsing onto the bar etc…
Day two was upon us before I knew it, but we spent the afternoon lounging and eating our fill before heading down to the festival to catch The Head & The Heart. Dinner plans had delayed us from seeing Youth Lagoon, and word from the people I spoke to was only positive remarks about the set, but there are only so many hours in the day.
We seemed destined to be at Japp’s a good part of the weekend, as our friends from Florida, Good Graeff, were making their debut in Cincinnati. A small crowd assembled for the first few songs, though I eventually turned around to find a packed room with all eyes on the stage.
Following Good Graeff, our group split up to wander the festival and ultimately ended up at the Drinkery, drenched in sweat, swaying and downing tallboys with strangers as Larry & his Flask led the crowd through a set of insanely fast punk-grass tunes.
Skyline Chili is a Cincinnati (must/mustnot) each time we’re in town, and Friday was our night. Like Waffle House, it’s a great decision when it’s in front of you, but one you’ll probably regret the next morning. I abstained this time around..
The final day of MidPoint began with a visit to Findlay Market and to the newly opened Rhinegeist Brewery for an unofficial showcase Broken Circles Records was putting on. We were treated to a near mountain of free pizza as we sampled flights of the brewery’s house brews and seasonals. Nashville-based band NEST was a favorite of mine, though the entire afternoon was comprised of great bands.
A few tacos and pitchers of margaritas later and we were lounging in Washington Park as local favorites WUSSY played to an enthusiastic audience.
A pick-me-up was in order following the show, so we grabbed a cup of coffee before wandering the Midway and meeting up with old friends and heading to MOTR to wait around for Wild Cub, a melodic indie-pop group from Nashville.
After a good number of songs from Wild Cub, we made the short trek to the Taft Theatre to see a much-anticipated set from Daughter.
The audience at Daughter was ecstatic for their performance, buzzing with energy before falling silent as music started, only to join back again with each verse and chorus. Couples clutched each other and new love was found, and as I looked around the room, it was hard to find a dry eye in the place. Daughter’s set marked the end of MPMF 2013 for us, but it only sealed the deal for us to return in 2014.
All in all, MidPoint is worth it. It’s more than worth it. This is a festival that you can do without breaking the bank, without having to camp in the middle of a field for days and days, and without regretting a thing about your weekend. This one’s approved by TheBlueIndian.com two years in a row! Thanks for the great times – CityBeat, 4EG, and everyone involved.
Photos by Laura Cox + Will Hawthorne