Freelance Music Leader

Cincinnati's Sonic Muse Fest Recapped

The first ever Sonic Muse festival took place this weekend down at the Madison in Covington, and I took in about as much of it as anyone. I caught both the first act of the day to play and the last, and just about everything in between so I feel like I got a pretty good feel for the event as a whole. I think the best way for me to review it this time around, outside of the photos that I have already posted, is in the form of a bullet point review, check it.

Venue / Location - Probably the perfect place for something like this (outside of the Southgate House). The Madison is spacious enough downstairs for every band on the bill and the converted upstairs was a great idea. That being said, the upstairs was awkward at best and felt like a college classroom with a hint of a strip club through the lighting. But overall, good choice on the Madison.

Staff / Organization / People - This one did not go as well. The lack of a schedule that all could see or hold was more than discouraging. It was also not marked anywhere where the "second stage" or upstairs was located if you were not familiar with the venue already. While the staff was just doing their jobs, whoever decided it was a good idea to pat people down, does not know what indie rock crowds are like. No RE-ENTRY signs were posted everywhere, not sure if they enforced this, and also no camera signs everywhere, I am positive this was not enforced. Band did not get any free drinks, and I am not talking about beers even, no soda either, gotta watch that bottom line! Overall, the organization was poor, the staff was sorta cold, and the people seemed confused as a result. If I did not jot down the bands and showtimes on some scrap paper I would have been lost as well. I bet if I walked over to the printers and made some copies I could have sold them off to the lot of folks for a quarter each, oh well.

The Bands - I really got what I was expecting from the lineup for the most part. I knew there would be a few bands that I had little to no interest in, and others that I was really interested in catching like Ted Leo. I was pleasantly surprised by local bands like The Read and All The Day Holiday though, two locals with a promising future for sure. I also really enjoyed the sharpness of the sets from Pearlene, Bad Veins and The Seedy Seeds, so the Cincy bands did an excellent job. I have mentioned before I am not really a Hold Steady or Matt & Kim guy, but I see the appeal and they did what they do best, have fun. Ted Leo & The Pharmacists were great, but for whatever reason, the venue was half empty by the time they took the stage, further proof that I have a long way to go to figure out the Cincinnati concert crowds.

Overall - Loads of room for improvement here, but I would say that the crew should give this another shot with a new emphasis on organization, attention to detail, and really going out of their way to make sure all the bands (locals included) are treated really well. I think it is a shame that local bands at times get the short end of the stick on things like these, as if the mere mention of being on a bill with Ted Leo is enough to sway them alone. In the end though, these types of events are good for Cincinnati, I just wish and hope they are run a bit better in the future...

To view all of our posts about the event, look below at the similar posts.