The murmurs and mumbles coming from around the bar slowly quiet down, just low enough to not cover up the announcement. You turn to see what is happening as you see the announcer talking about a local band coming on. You turn to face the stage; you’ll give them a listen. They’re here, you’re here — and you’re not moving so you’re going to hear them regardless. You see a handful people walk out onto stage, taking a seat at the drums, strapping up their guitars and preparing to perform.
Now, try and switch roles. The band meets behind stage to have a pep talk prior to the start of the show. The guitarist exercises his fingers, popping his or her knuckles in preparation for what is to come. The singer of the band has rested his or her voice for a week prior to the show to make sure it’s in top shape. They hear the announcer call their name, and after one more high-five and fist bump, they walk out onto the stage, overlooking the crowd. There is a lull, a sharp breath in and the band starts to perform.
Depending on your venue of choice, this could be a normal Friday night out. You look up every now and then to see an unknown band playing, but it’s typically ambient to you. Just background noise. Meanwhile, they see their crowd, their potential fans. They’re up there playing their hearts out for you. It may not seem like it, but that’s the glory of local musicians — yeah, of course they want to make it big and get signed, make millions and retire.
However, that’s not why they do it. They do it because they love it, they love the rush of that moment right after the sharp breath in and before they start. The nerves, the hope of touching someone out there with what they’re doing and saying. They want to show people that big plans and big dreams can come true, and they aren’t being paid to sing about certain topics or play a certain song. These musicians are the truest form, and they give the music scene a good name.
Cincinnati’s music scene has always been around, but right now it’s blasting forward with huge force. Alternative, hardcore, acoustic acts, electronic — there’s a band to fit every palate. Much like the different areas of the Queen City are developing, as is the music scene. Venues like The Underground, The Thompson House, The Tin Roof and others are hosting shows full of local talent going in and trying to perform like they’re in front of thousands, despite the fact that it’s fifteen people and they know ten. These are the musicians that are going to be on the radio twenty times a day in a few years. Break Up Lines, Settle Your Scores, Danger Monkey, Friday Giants, Forgery At Best — rock and hardcore bands that are picking up a lot of steam or have already made a name for themselves. They are the ones clawing up the ranks to try and get their name out there, giving their all at every single show no matter how small or large. Some travel already, and have a great fanbase.
Others like Kyle Hackett, an acoustic act, pull in a crowd present to see hardcore bands and sing along with the lone man on stage, drawn in by his fantastic singing ability and stage presence. Cheating Paisly, with an eclectic jazz influenced alternative rock.
There are so many bands trying to make it, and you shouldn’t wait until their big to back them up- do it now, while it counts. Walk The Moon, twenty on pilots, they both blew up and both from areas near here. Go out and support the talent that the city holds, explore what’s around. Some of the most fun I’ve had has been photographing a live show of high energy bands up there having a blast, screaming and jumping and getting the crowd involved. They don’t have to be rock stars to be talented, but they do need support to keep going. So next weekend, go check out a local band. Go jump around or chill out with friends and total strangers in a small venue. You’ll hear more passion and see more energy than a lot of people in stadiums and arenas, and you’ll give those bands the recognition they deserve. After all, you have to start somewhere, so let’s make Cincinnati one of the best places to do it.