Follow Up : The Harlequins/Vice Magazine Party

The Harlequins play MOTR Pub

Back in July, Indie Face covered the Vitamin Water/Vice Magazine shindig at MOTR Pub featuring Cincinnati band The Harlequins.  The event was filmed and is now the latest episode of Uncapped, a fabulous new web series sponsored the Vitamin Water brand.  The video features footage from the show as well as interviews from the band.  Watch the episode here.

 

Duke of Uke + His Novelty Orchestra : MOTR Pub : August 10

With the Duke of Uke & his Novelty Orchestra bringing their act to Cincinnati, it was hard to know what to expect.  After all, frontman David King has become a sort of comedic internet celebrity sharing his offbeat sense of humor in the form of political cartooning, strange Photoshop collections, and meme wrangling.  The band’s name alone conjures images of some sort of rollicking circus sideshow parading into town in funny wigs and hats.  And the Novelty Orchestra has done that, but don’t misunderstand; they are seven wonderfully creative people who make seriously fun music.

Fiddles, tubas, and wild percussion- oh my!  And don’t forget the Duke himself on the ukulele, reminding listeners that this is the most under utilized instrument in modern music. The sound they create within their varied orchestra is uniquely their own.  With hints of ragtime, vaudeville, and cabaret, their music transports you to another time and makes you want to move your feet in a way that is unfamiliar to them.  They swing from one song to the next, offering surprises at every turn, switching up tones and instruments and vocalists.  Even though this midweek show did not pull a huge crowd, their energy never wavered and they moved every cat in the house.

The fact that not many people came out to see this great band from Champaign-Urbana, Illinois is really a shame.  Because this band is in no way a novelty.  They bring musicality with a side of whimsy and mirth.  Their set is meant to dazzle and delight, but I get the impression that they would be exactly the same even if they played just for themselves.  They seem to truly enjoy everything they do, and every fan they meet.  Great people, great music, and a great show.  The perfect trifecta.

by Adrienne Panveno

photo by Michael Merline

The Guitars : High Action

Though High Action is the first official release by Cincinnati band The Guitars, local buzz has been brewing over this band for a while.  In 2009, they erupted onto the scene and started playing out with local favorites like The Harlequins, The Lions Rampant, and 20th Century Tokyo Princess right out of the gate.  Gigging constantly and contributing to several local compilations continued to build the band’s reputation for well crafted arrangements and pop-soul prowess.

Fast forward to July 29th, and the boys finally ready themselves to unleash the High Action EP upon the world.  Though I could not make the record release show at MOTR Pub that night the reports have all come back with high praise, and finally having the album in my hot little hands, I understand what the fuss is all.  The entire EP from start to finish is a masterful testament to early bubblegum pop-soul.  In fact, they seem to understand the genre so well that it is easy to wonder if you are listening to mp3s or an old 45.

Classic heartbreak song “Too Hot to Hold” is the perfect opener; a dancey number that is both fresh and nostalgic and easily one of the best tracks on the album, but the other big stand-out is “She’s Got Your Heart” with its hooks that will sink in and stay with you for days.  Though I have been fully aware of the hype over The Guitars for a while, having an album out like this is just proof of how good they really are, both technically and creatively.  As a whole, High Action is all sorts of win.

 

by Adrienne Panveno

The Harlequins – Vitamin Water/Vice Magazine Party – July 14

Nothing like the promise of free booze to bring the kids out on a hot Thursday night, and boy howdy, were they out!  When my compatriot and I walked in the door of MOTR shortly before 10pm, we found ourselves 10 minutes shy of the end of open bar and it was complete pandemonium.  Four deep at the bar.  We elbowed our way to the front only to be told, “no more free drinks”.  I ordered anyway, paid for two beers and we immediately took off for the back patio.  Nearly missing being punched/kissed/thrown up on by a myriad of drunken hipsters within 10 feet, I was already stressed out and in need of a cigarette.

The patio was as packed as the bar, and it was at least twenty degrees hotter.  As I scanned the crowd, I can safely and respectfully say that this event brought out just about every scenester in Cincinnati.  It was kind of amazing.  On a Thursday no less.  We mingled and drank and became antsy as we were promised music.  Aside from the Harlequins, two other bands were set to perform, Sacred Spirits and The Weakness, but I saw them neither playing nor setting up.  But our anticipation was soon answered when the Harlequins finally went on shortly after eleven.  It felt like the crowd had thinned once the free alcohol ran out, but upon reentering the building, it was a pleasant surprise to find quite the packed house still, and The Harlequins giving the crazed rock and roll fans exactly what they came out for.

The thing about the Harlequins is that they are consistent – as in they consistently put on a good show.  Cincinnati has a lot of great bands, but some perhaps spend too much time on the extracurriculars of rock and roll preventing them from giving a satisfactory performance on a regular basis. The Harlequins never disappoint.  I have seen them play in some strange locations and over some rough sound systems, and they still manage to take it to town every single time.  They figure out a way to use these variables to their advantage, and make it part of the show.  The enthusiasm they have for their own music is contagious, and it is difficult to resist the groove.

Corporate sponsorship of shows in becoming unavoidable [the Vitamin Water branding was everywhere last night], but this time it was merely more than a small annoyance against the backdrop of a really great Summer party.  Sure, it was packed and hot, and sure, there were quite a few people who had obviously been over served during the open bar portion of the night,  but the music was loud and rocking, and people were in high spirits.  The city of Cincinnati was well represented, and Vice Magazine chose the right band to do it.

by Adrienne Panveno