DCP music writers highlight Nelsonville Music Festival

Photo: Cloud Nothings take the Main Stage June 2 at Nelsonville Music Festival


Saturday, June 3, 9:30 p.m., Main Stage

They Might Be Giants

Friday, June 2, 9:30 p.m., Main Stage

By Gary Spencer

In the past, most bands featured at the annual Nelsonville Music Festival have held very little appeal to my musical tastes, and this year isn’t much different. However, I’m a ’90s alternative guy at heart, so I instantly perked up upon hearing that two bands I enjoyed listening to as a teenager are among the headliners at the 2017 edition of the fest: Ween and They Might Be Giants.

I discovered the bands via MTV’s 120 Minutes program on Sunday nights (back when they actually played, you know, music videos), and both bands had wacky videos and silly songs that instantly appealed to the kid in me. Ween started life as a home-recorded project that predated the lo-fi sound that later exploded in the indie underground.

The two middle school friends, under the aliases of Dean and Gene Ween, broke through to mainstream consciousness with the release of the double-disc album The Pod in 1991 before being signed to Elektra Records during the major label alternative band-signing spree in the early ’90s.

The duo then expanded into a full-fledged band that, while never having a true hit record, managed to explore a variety of styles and genres with tongue firmly in cheek, developing a large cult following. Ween called it quits in 2011, but reunited in 2016, to the delight of their legion of fans.

Likewise, They Might Be Giants (TMBG) is also based around “two Johns,” John Linnell and John Flansburgh, a duo that boasts an equally enviable cult following after becoming mainstays of college radio in the ’80s and ’90s with songs that strangely appeal to children as much as adults in their silly and singable attributes.

TMBG might be most famous for their “Dial-A-Song” set-up that began in the ’80s as a phone number you could call to hear one of their songs played back by an answering machine, as well as for hits such as “Birdhouse in Your Soul” and “Istanbul (Not Constantinople)” from their platinum selling 1989 album, Flood.

Both bands live in concert are sure to bring a smile to your face, regardless of age. And who knows how much longer these two duos are going to keep going, so don’t miss this opportunity to see them both at the same time, close to home.

Gary Spencer is a graduate of Miami University and works in the performing arts, and believes that music is the best. Contact him at GarySpencer@DaytonCityPaper.com.

Cloud Nothings 

Friday, June 2, 6:30 p.m., Main Stage 

By Amanda Dee

Cloud Nothings started where most of us wouldn’t necessarily choose to be: in a Cleveland basement. But with quick, steady  chords and contagious hooks, they can take us to a place of catharsis, touching on something raw—sometimes nostalgic and remorseful, sometimes mindful, hopeful.

While touring 2014’s Here and Nowhere Else, Cloud Nothings hit an un-skinned nerve in me, pushing me down on my back to the hot summer mud, only for an unknown hand to reach out and bring me back to the seemingly invincible swells of electrically charged bodies.

The band passes through Nelsonville with its 2017 release, Life Without Sound. Don’t risk losing a chance to be saved by a stranger.

Reach DCP Editor Amanda Dee at Editor@DaytonCityPaper.com.

Emmy Lou Harris 

Sunday, June 4, 5:30 p.m., Main Stage

By Joey Ferber

The sound of guitar strings strumming to the voice that has become iconic of the conscious folk-country sound rang throughout my childhood. While I may not have known the depth of the impact or the range of her effect, my household was part of a worldwide audience impressed by the message of Emmy Lou Harris.

A decorated collaborator, Emmy Lou has partnered with some of folk and country’s strongest voices to raise awareness and promote action on animal rights, veterans’ aid, and gender equality.

Her storytelling has a place in the American canon and Ohioans will have the chance to experience her songs live when she comes through town for the Nelsonville Music Festival.

Joey Ferber works out of St. Louis and Dayton as a musician and writer. Reach him at JoeyFerber@DaytonCityPaper.com.

Nelsonville Music Festival runs Thursday–Sunday, June 1–4 at 52 Public Square in Nelsonville, Ohio. Weekend passes are $150, $130 for Stuart’s members, and $75 for Nelsonville residents and teens when accompanied with an adult ticket purchase. Thursday and Sunday passes are $55, Friday passes are $80, and Sunday passes are $90. VIP weekend passes are $350. Camping fees are not included. For more information, please call 740.753.1924 or visit

Tags: , , ,

Reach DCP Editor Amanda Dee at editor@DaytonCityPaper.com.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Got an Opinion?


We are interested to hear what you think.  Please send us a message. [contact-form 4 “Opinion”]  

Springfield’s hidden gem


Referred to as an American Folk Art site, I didn’t know what I expected on my journey to Springfield’s Hartman […]

Debate 7/17: Flag on the Play


Q: Should persons with certain known behavioral tendencies such as suicide or violence be prohibited from owning guns? Legislatures across […]

Conspiracy Theorist 7/17: Hooray for Domino’s

Year after year, the same roads are torn up and road crews patch them. But they never really repair them. […]

On Your Marc 7/17: Good any day

First, a funny story. Larry Lee, the big tackle from Roth High School, for a number of reasons decided he […]

The Cult, Stone Temple Pilots, and Bush at Rose

CULT 2016 Tim Cadiente-2

“Rock and roll never forgets,” the classic rock song goes, and Billy Duffy, guitarist and founding member of the British […]