The Many Moods of MidPoint 2010
FROM MIKE BREEN’S WRAPUP IN CITYBEAT: We had joy, we had fun. We had some frustration, too.
Such has been the way of the MidPoint Music Festival since its origins in 2002. But, in the end, MPMF’s 2010 edition proved to be the most successful yet, drawing thousands of music lovers to downtown, Over-the-Rhine and Newport over the course of three days (Sept. 23-25).
This year’s MidPoint featured the fest’s biggest “name” acts yet (Shonen Knife, Tom Tom Club, Van Dyke Parks and Ted Leo), and each of those shows were filled to the brim, as were the performances by the bigger on-the-rise acts like Caribou, Phantogram and Surfer Blood. Bands from the Greater Cincinnati area also did a great job of getting the word out about their MidPoint appearances, packing their showcases with friends, fans and other music lovers.
The weather worries of MidPoint usually center on the prospect of rain, but going into Thursday Cincinnati experienced record high temperatures in the mid-’90s. As if that wasn’t odd enough for the first weekend in fall, an ominous full moon lit the streets.
While the bigger shows were fun, I also saw several “smaller” shows by some of the lesser-known out-of-town acts. One of the problems with booking larger bands into the festival is the fear that everyone will only go to those shows, while the locals and up-and-comers are left with tiny audiences. But, largely, that wasn’t the case.
By no means were all the shows in some of the smaller venues packed, but there were always a handful of people who genuinely seemed to enjoy the music and who got into the exploratory spirit that I hope will always be a part of MidPoint.
At ArtWorks Friday, Australia’s Country singer/songwriter Henry Wagons had the 20 or so people watching his show in stitches as he told hilarious stories about Cleveland and Willie Nelson between songs. And Saturday night, Minneapolis’ Folk Pop duo Bella Ruse (rounded about by a full band) pleased a mesmerized handful of listeners at The Original Tax Place.
Unfortunately, not every performer had a warm and fuzzy experience. At the Media Bridges stage one night, a singer/songwriter and keyboardist played a set to only the MPMF volunteers stationed there. The duo couldn’t have been thrilled — Media Bridges was one of the more off-the-beaten-path venues — but I hope that, like the people who didn’t get into Surfer Blood, they made the most of the MidPoint experience and didn’t let one moment ruin what was overall a fantastic three days of music.
While it’s easy to feel frustration at not being able to see every show you want or get a good viewing spot at the ones you do get into, I’m much more thrilled to see MidPoint become a champion in the music festival world and something that’s becoming more and more appreciated by the entire city. I can only imagine next year will be even bigger, and I’m fully prepared to give up my spot at the headlining show by, say, MGMT or The National and go check out the next “next big thing.”