Clean out your ears: Dayton Music Fest is throwing down with two days of local music
By Benjamin Dale
It all boils down to religion. The Catholic Church invented the chords. The pagans invented the festivals. The exuberance is uniquely human.
Some people go to church; others go to the synagogue. Still others trek to Mecca’s mosques. There’s Alcoholics Anonymous for those who don’t fit in with the True Believers. And for those lonely few who can’t seem to relate, for the misfits and miscreants who can’t sit still in a pew or profess their love for a deity that perhaps existed once, two thousand years ago – there is rock ‘n’ roll.
As the autumnal equinox approaches, so does the yearly festival of noise – the 8th Annual Dayton Music Fest. The devout and the faithful should say their prayers now, because it is high time to close out the summer with a raucous, rowdy explosion of fervor in exaltation to the gods of rock. There will be many altars, but they will all be united in the spirit of oneness, a togetherness of feeling that will emanate into the universe and the infinite in order that human beings, in our lowly debauched state, might feel closer to each other and comfortable in their own skins once again.
When the new religion began, it was met with the persecution and zealous condemnation by the powers that be, those of the former religions – science and Christianity. As it gained steam in the 1960s, the unstoppable force of rock could no longer be contained. Barriers were shattered, first by Elvis and then by the Beatles, until the religion came to a head in the summer of 1969 at Woodstock, the era-defining gathering of the believers. Some say the 1960s were the last cry of the human spirit, crushed as it was (and still is) by the overwhelming alienation of modern society and technology. The human spirit is still crying out, and the shouts and screams will reverberate from our town shortly, so do not despair.
The reason? While no one can say for sure, I suspect it has something to do with escape. Escape from the daily brain-hammering from the television. Escape from all the faces in the box telling us all what to think, what to like, who is good, who is bad. Escape from the loud, abrasive voices shouting ideologies and the furious marketers trying to sell us some product that will either break or go out of style the minute we purchase it.
Yet the music remains. It is a soothing voice reminding us of our humanity, long buried beneath the requirements of survival in the 21st century. It reminds us that we still have something in common with each other, that despite those who wish to divide us and conquer, the power of humans coming together for mutual experience is beyond their control and it scares them. And we should want them to be scared; scared of the power that is music. It revolutionized thought in the ‘60s, and it is still subtly reaching people today, undermining those who wish to corrupt and purifying the souls of so many of “the lost.”
After losing some steam in the 1980s, the rock festival was reborn once again in the 1990s, with Lollapalooza and we find ourselves in the modern age with rock festivals popping up all across the nation and the world, even here in Dayton. Dayton Music Fest has been around for eight years now, the brainchild of local musicians Dan Clayton, Sean Johnson and Andy Ingram. It was inherited a few years back by DCP Music Editor Kyle Melton and Dayton Daily News Contributing Writer Don Thrasher. I got the chance to chat a little with Don, formerly of Guided By Voices and now of the band Smug Brothers, about the evolution of Dayton music fest over the years.
“It’s finally grown to the point to where it’s impossible to see everybody play, since so many bands are playing,” he said.
But that’s the idea – musical overload. The faithful must plan their night in order to pick and choose which artists to see at which venues. It’s similar to the outdoor summer festivals where one must delicately maneuver between stages. It’s become a dance in the night.
Step right up
The music scene has evolved over the years, and is picking up steam as of late. Though the scene changes, “what doesn’t change is there’s always a lot of good talent here,” said Thrasher. “… Way more talent than people pay attention to.”
If you’ve made it this far, and read through my diatribe espousing the virtues of rock, then now, dear reader, I will enlighten you on the brass tacks of the situation — the actual practical things that you need to know in order that you might prepare for your pilgrimage on the nights of September 9 and 10 for Dayton Music Fest.
Friday, September 9
It all begins, ironically, at Omega Music in the Oregon District -ironic in the sense that Omega is the last letter of the Greek alphabet, yet it is the beginning of our journey.
At 7 p.m. Kelley Deal will take the Omega stage with her new venture entitled R. Ring, a musical partnership between Deal and Mike Montgomery. For those new to Dayton music, Kelley has been around for a while. After the Pixies disbanded in 1993, Kim Deal, Kelley’s twin sister, returned and they formed a band called the Breeders. The Breeders were perhaps one of the biggest acts to ever come out of Dayton, and along with Guided By Voices and Brainiac, might be said to have defined the Dayton music scene of the 1990s. Now Kelley’s back at it again, and her angelic voice will reach to the heavens to announce the commencement of the weekend’s festivities.
At 8 p.m., another glorious voice takes the Omega stage. Jasper the Colossal, the all-female punk rockers fronted by Paige Beller, is the perfect fit to follow R. Ring. The two groups meld well together, as evidenced by their recent collaboration in April at South Park Tavern, when the group unplugged as Kelley’s openers for the last show of her month-long residency for the Buddha Den NTRO/XPO. Paige’s distinctive, emotive rasp will pull you in for sure. It will be interesting to hear the ladies play at Omega, as amidst the rattle of the records, there is something special in the air when bands play there.
After whetting your musical appetite at Omega, head over to Dayton’s music cathedral, the legendary Canal Street Tavern, for the rest of the night.
Beginning at 9:30 p.m., Wake Up Mordecai will take the stage at Canal Street with their quirky yet atmospheric, poppy yet profound sound. Catchy and fun, Wake Up Mordecai has a sound that inspires and uplifts.
At 10:30 p.m., prog-rockers New Vega will take the stage with their complex and subtly jazz-infused beauty that will serve as a nice counterpoint to Mordecai and let you breathe for a minute, after being rocked so hard for going on four hours at this point.
We will then lash back into the heavier stuff with C. Wright’s Parlour Tricks at 11:30 p.m., and boogie-woogie with their Texan-fried sound akin to ZZ Top and Van Halen, except all instrumental — a nice break from all the voices for a while.
Closing out Friday night at 12:30 a.m. will be Buffalo Killers, Cincinnati’s premier purveyors of the harmonic glory and emotional complexity that defined rock in the late-‘70s, but still seems fresher than ever today.
That doesn’t have to be the end of your night however, as I’m sure at a certain house in South Park there will be a raging party until the sun comes up, if you know the right people and are so inclined.
Saturday, September 10
If you survived Friday night, and didn’t sleep away your Saturday, you can head back to Omega for the Teen Rap Showcase at 7 p.m. or to South Park Tavern at 5 p.m. for Dan Raridan and the Calientes, for a taste of some upbeat, melodic, pure, unadulterated rock.
In a similar, yet bluesier vein, the White Soots will take the stage at South Park at 6 p.m., with their raunchy, Detroit-inflected hard rock.
The last band to play at South Park will be the Fair Shakes, the noisy garage-pop-punk rockers that will finish this set perfectly at 7 p.m.
After this you get a break from music for a while, so it is your duty to get a little tuned up in preparation for the rest of the night, when you will have to make some hard choices about where you will go next, as the fantastic music will continue all night in the Oregon and beyond.
At 9 p.m. you must choose between Paige Beller’s solo show at Trolley Stop, Oxymoronatron at Tumbleweed Connection, Footbinder at Blind Bob’s, Sad Cadillac at Oregon Express or Sleep Fleet at Canal Street. Decisions, decisions.
At 10 p.m. you get Father’s Day at Trolley, the Fervor at Tumbleweed, Grenades!? at Blind Bob’s, Moon High at Oregon Express or Me & Mountains at Canal Street.
Then 11 p.m. rolls around and you must choose who to rock with – BJSR at Trolley, Roley Yuma at Tumbleweed, Oh Condor at Bob’s, Nathan Kalish and the Wildfire at Oregon Express and Flotation Walls at Canal Street.
Finally, the culmination of the festival, at midnight you must make your final decision – you can either hear Al Holbrook Band at Trolley, the Northwest Ordinance at Tumbleweed, Astro Fang at Blind Bob’s, Magic Jackson at Oregon Express or Legbone at Canal Street.
Choose wisely, young grasshopper, for your salvation depends upon it. Go forth, and allow your soul to be saved by rock ‘n’ roll.
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 9
07:00 – R. RING
08:00 – JASPER THE COLOSSAL
CANAL STREET TAVERN
09:30 – WAKE UP MORDECAI
10:30 – NEW VEGA
11:30 – C. WRIGHT’S PARLOUR TRICKS
12:30 – BUFFALO KILLERS
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 10
SOUTH PARK TAVERN
05:00 – DAN RARIDAN & THE CALIENTES
06:00 – THE WHITE SOOTS
07:00 – THE FAIR SHAKES
09:00 – PAIGE BELLER
10:00 – FATHER’S DAY
11:00 – BJSR
12:00 – AL HOLBROOK BAND
09:30 – OXYMORONATRON
10:30 – THE FERVOR
11:30 – ROLEY YUMA
12:30 – THE NORTHWEST ORDINANCE
09:30 – FOOTBINDER
10:30 – GRENADES!?
11:30 – OH CONDOR
12:30 – ASTRO FANG
09:00 – SAD CADILLAC
10:00 – MOON HIGH
11:00 – NATHAN KALISH & THE WILDFIRE
12:00 – MAGIC JACKSON
CANAL STREET TAVERN
09:00 – SLEEP FLEET
10:00 – ME & MOUNTAINS
11:00 – FLOTATION WALLS
12:00 – LEGBONE
Dayton Music Fest is Friday, September 9 and Saturday, September 10. For more information and full lineup, visit 2010.daytonmusicfest.com (the URL says 2010, but the info is for 2011). A weekend pass is $10.
Reach DCP freelance writer Benjamin Dale at