Dayton Music Fest

Kyle Melton and Don Thrasher. Photo by Kidtee Hello Kyle Melton and Don Thrasher. Photo by Kidtee Hello

Passing The Torch

By J.T. Ryder

Kyle Melton and Don Thrasher. Photo by Kidtee Hello

Change, for the most part, is good. It forces us to reevaluate what we feel is important and saves us from repetitive actions that, eventually, become a form of stale self-parody. When discussing Dayton’s local music scene, change is a given, so it goes without saying (although I’m going to say it) that trying to fit this ever shifting musical landscape into a static, “one-size-fits-all” festival is a futile effort at best. Yet, malleability has been infused into the Dayton Music Festival since its inception in 2005 thanks to founders/friends Dan Clayton, Shawn Johnson and Andy Ingram. It was not, however, malleable by design. It inherently became so by the manner in which it was fashioned, which was a creative learning process all of its own.

This year’s event, slated for Saturday, October 2 at various venues in downtown Dayton,features a rather dramatic change. The founders have handed the reins to Kyle Melton of Dayton City Paper and Don Thrasher of the Dayton Daily News. Both are very familiar with local bands and have even played together in some of them. The selection of Melton and Thrasher seems to be a perfect fit since they have their fingers on the pulse of local music and its scene quite unlike any other.

“In May of this year, Don and I were contacted by the previous organizers (Dan Clayton, Shawn Johnson, and Wil Leasure) to see if we would be interested in taking over for them,” Melton said. “They felt that the two of us are knowledgeable about Dayton music and would continue in the tradition of the Fest. Of course, Don and I were extremely honored that they chose us and are excited to work together to put together a quality event.”Thrasher particularly addressed the changes in store for this year’s event. “The focus of Dayton Music Fest, which is original indie rock created in Dayton and the surrounding areas, hasn’t really changed,” he said. “The biggest difference this year is we’re kicking music off at 1 p.m. with a free, all ages showcase at Garden Station. We really tried to keep the festival more compact so people would have the opportunity to see as many bands as possible. At 5 p.m. everything moves to South Park Tavern for the first paid event of the night. Kyle and I really didn’t want the festival to be as spread out as it had become the last few years so we decided to start earlier. Part of this was design, but part of it was by necessity. We didn’t take over management of the event until June, and nothing was really done to prepare for this year. Rather than try to shoehorn in some clubs that didn’t fit, we decided to keep all of the evening activities in the Oregon District, and try something new and start earlier in the day. It’s a gamble, but we have good bands at both early shows, so I really hope people come out early and stay out late.”From its establishment, the Dayton Music Fest has been grounded in presenting the best and brightest bands that Dayton has to offer, including underground bands. Melton went on to specify whether he felt this year’s slate provided a good cross section of talent.

“I think each year the Dayton Music Fest serves as a snapshot of the current state of Dayton music,” he said. “We’ll be showcasing a diverse sampling of Dayton bands this year, from bands that spent much of the year touring to younger bands that are just emerging and making a name for themselves around town. Hopefully people are willing to dig around and check out something new that is growing right in their backyard.”Thrasher agreed.

“There will be familiar names this year, but there should be some nice, new surprises for people. I know from personal experience, as someone who has attended all of the previous DMFs, that there is no other event in Dayton that can expose people to more original rock bands in one day. When Kyle and I took over the festival we knew we wanted to showcase the local scene by including some up and coming young bands like Roley Yuma, Good Sir Con Artist and Kuan. We also made sure to include a few regional acts like Alone at 3am and Eat Sugar, along with local favorites like Astro Fang and Nick Kizirnis Band.”In addition to showcasing great music, Thrasher says the festival will incorporate non-musical events and demonstrations.

“Shelly ‘Glad Girl’ Hulce will once again host her Poster-Tastic gig poster exhibition at Derailed Hair Salon on Fifth Street,” he said. “That’s become an annual tradi-tion and we’re happy to have Shelly spearheading that once again. It’s free and it actually kicks off Friday night through Saturday. We may have a few other non-musical surprises but a lot of that is so tenuous right now that I don’t want to jinx it by blabbering on too much. ”Change makes us move forward into uncharted territories, which is what the art of music is all about. Change does not allow us to be complacent, and also adds an air of the unknown, the shadowed areas that beg to be explored. In this instance, it offers an adventure to be experienced together as a group. At the very least, change is what keeps the music within our spirit alive.


Alone at 3am
Hailing from the Cincinnati area, Alone at 3am delivers hard-driving modern rock with a touch of earnest Americana. At times moody, the band can also deliver muscular, driving pop anthems with soaring pedal steel and haunting male/female vocal harmonies.

Astro Fang
Over the past three years, Astro Fang has emerged as one of the most raucous and most loved acts in Dayton. Harnessing keen pop sensibilities into a relentless stream of heavy riffage, Astro Fang steer through whiplash arrangements with deft musicianship and a powerful live set.

Although barely in their 20s, childhood friends
Bonneville have been playing together for a decade. The quartet recently released their second album, Drawing Maps, an infectious pop disc with classic rock sensibilities.

Eat Sugar
Cincinnati’s Eat Sugar returns to DMF for the second consecutive year. With their new album Levantense! in tow (and produced by Daytonian John Schmersal), Eat Sugar’s eerily propulsive brand of synth pop is likely to get audiences moving.

Father’s Day
While both Joe Anderl and Kris Neises are veteran performers at Dayton Music Fest, this will be the first DMF appearance for this new project. The duo melds their distinct brands of heart-on-the-sleeve songwriting into a singular voice.

Good Sir Con Artist
Making their DMF debut this year, local quartet Good Sir Con Artist bring an earnest brand of indie rock to local audiences. Issuing their self-titled debut earlier this year, Good Sir Con Artist channel their Midwestern roots into an enticing vintage rock format.

Hospital Garden
While the band’s roots lie firmly in Dayton, Hospital Garden relocated to Chicago late in 2009. Since their move to the Windy City, the trio issued their self-titled debut, an exceptional document of their vintage alt/indie amalgam. From jangly to jarring, Hospital Garden deliver tunes that stick.

Human Reunion
Longtime local favorites Human Reunion issued their debut album, Arc De Square, this past summer. Channeling Dayton’s rich musical heritage, this unpredictable quartet presents one of the must-see live sets of the festival with their synth-driven sonics, propulsive rhythms, and engaging stage presence.

Jasper the Colossal
Following a recent opening spot for alt icons Stone Temple Pilots, Jasper the Colossal returns to DMF in 2010. This all-female punk quartet have toured extensively throughout the eastern U.S., and their no-frills approach coupled with hook-filled tunes has earned them a loyal following.

Jesse Remnant
& the Trainwrecks
While their members also serve time in Southeast Engine, Shrug, and The Rebel Set, an undeniable indie-pop force emerges when this quintet comes together. Drawing on vintage and modern pop sources, Jesse Remnant & the Trainwrecks stand as one of the premier acts in town.

Over the past year, instrumental quartet Kuan has emerged as one of the most inventive acts in Dayton. The band is coming off a two-month summer tour and the release of their new EP, Colors. Channeling muscular post-rock riffage through articulate jazz sensibilities, Kuan present a set that is both visceral and cerebral.

Luxury Pushers
As one of the few bands that has appeared at every DMF, Luxury Pushers prove themselves to be a Dayton icon. Led by local punk luminary Jamy Holliday, LXP draw a straight line from Dayton’s punk roots into the modern era with a touch of glam and a whole lot of energy.

Nick Kizirnis Band
It would be difficult to reference any period of Dayton music over the past 25 years without mentioning the varied work of guitarist Nick Kizirnis. With his latest outfit, Kizirnis delivers vintage indie rock backed by a band whose respective pedigrees in Dayton music lore loom large.

Okay Lindon
With their new album Ro-tating Dates released on Nashville imprint Arcade Sound Ltd., indie-pop quin-tet Okay Lindon greatly raised their profile over the past year. The band, led by Dustin Smith, make their DMF debut this year.

Roley Yuma
Distilling a number of indie and punk touchstones into a potent blend, Roley Yuma have been earning quite a reputation locally throughout 2010. The band’s debut album, Sun Tea, will be released the week before DMF and showcases the quartet’s impressive range from melodic to mayhem.

Sleep Fleet
Having released their debut EP Good Morning, Good Morning a few months ago, Springfield trio Sleep Fleet have been working as hard as any band in town this year. With one of the most energetic live sets currently going in Dayton, this may be one of the breakout sets of DMF.

Straddling the line between Dayton and Cincinnati, Middletown outfit Sohio regularly visits the Gem City. Delivering classic Midwestern songwriting, the band’s songs have made their way into the HBO comedy series, Tourgasm, and the independent film, The Speed of Life.

The Story Changes
As one of Dayton’s longest running outfits, TSC continued to see their profile rise on the national scene this year. Spending the majority of the summer on tour with fellow Daytonians Hawthorne Heights, Mark McMillon and Poppy are a road-tested duo that delivers an incredibly high-energy live set.

Toads and Mice
With their sophomore effort due out later this fall, Toads and Mice seem poised to build on their reputation as one of Dayton’s favorites. The trio takes its cues from Chicago’s angular punk traditions and combines them with jazz sensibilities and art-damaged arrangements.

The Turkish Delights
Building off their victory in the 2009
Canal Street Tavern Dayton Band Play-Offs, The Turkish Delights continued their roll in 2010. Releasing their debut album Ahem… over the summer, their quirky brand of indie pop channels garage, new wave, and vintage indie into a lovable sonic stew.

Wake Up Mordecai
With two albums to his credit for local imprint Poptek Records, John Callon crafts impeccably heartfelt indie pop. Upgrading the lineup from a duo to a quartet has infused Wake Up Mordecai with additional texture and further revealed Callon to be an excellent tunesmith.

Yakuza Heart Attack
As the flagship act for local imprint Squids Eye Records, YHA certainly stands alone among the current Dayton crop. With their progressive arrangements and dual synth attack, this quartet just recently returned to active status and have been delivering powerful, inventive sets.

The 2010 Dayton Music Fest will be held Saturday, October 2.
Tickets are $10. For more information, please visit online at http://

Reach DCP freelance writer J.T. Ryder at

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