Searching for the soundtrack to your summer? Luckily for you, plenty of local acts, from beloved Cincinnati outfit Tweens to newcomers Louse, are happy to provide you with sweet summertime tunes, performed in a variety of cheerful joints around the Greater Cincinnati area. Here are just a handful of must-see shows featuring local acts in July.
Willie & The Cigs, John Hays and Rodeo Boys (MI) at Northside Tavern
Cincinnati band Willie & the Cigs are a little bit country rock, a little bit proto-punk and all rock ‘n’ roll. John Hays is a mainstay in the Cincinnati performing arts community, as a stand-up comedian, singer in the hardcore band Flesh Mother, and, on this night, a solo performer, performing a heartfelt, honest and stripped down performance. Grunge-influenced Rodeo Boys on tour from Lansing, Michigan are also on the bill. 9 p.m. July 1. $5 suggested donation.Northside Tavern, 4163 Hamilton Ave., Northside. facebook.com/events.
Northside Rock & Roll Carnival in Hoffner Park
The Rock & Roll Carnival is a Northside tradition making its return for the first time since 2019, and features some of the city’s finest local musicians. The first day of the festival, Saturday, July 2, features Cincinnati rock and ‘n’ roll greats Vacation (7 p.m.), along with the perfectly poppy “space ballads” of Quotah (5:30 p.m.) and psychedelic garage rock favorites The Harlequins (midnight) ending the night. Sunday, July 3 brings the next generation of local music legends from the School of Rock (4 p.m.), longtime favorites Culture Queer (5:30 p.m.), dark wave dance punks The Serfs (11:10 p.m.) and the experimental art punk of Fruit LoOops (midnight) closes out the night. On Monday, July 4, following the overtly outlandish and fun Northside 4th of July Parade, walk on down to Hoffner Park and catch the day’s Carnival lineup, starting with the aptly-named Freedom Nicole Moore (2 p.m.), then following with the innovative queen of Cincinnati folk-pop, Mol Sullivan (3:35 p.m.), and Cincinnati punk outfit Leggy (5:10 p.m.). The lineup also includes a handful of other local and national acts each day, including headliners Sen Morimoto performing electronic pop and hip-hop soul (10 p.m., Saturday, July 2) and dream pop singer Kaina (10 p.m. Sunday, July 3), both out of Chicago. 3p.m.-1a.m. July 2 and 3. 11a.m.-6p.m. July 4. Jacob Hoffner Park, 4101 Hamilton Ave., Northside. northsiderocks.com.
Blue Wisp Big Band at Caffe Vivace
After you recover from your July 4 weekend, enjoy the vintage-inspired sounds of the Blue Wisp Big Band at Caffe Vivace. The hard bop big band was founded in 1980 and has toured nationally and released a handful of records over the years. Blue Wisp Big Band has played regularly on Wednesday nights in Cincinnati since the band’s early beginnings — first in Downtown’s The Blue Wisp Jazz Club before its closure in 2014, then a handful of venues before settling in at Caffe Vivace in Walnut Hills, where their Wednesday night residency continues. 7:30 p.m. July 6. $15. $10 drink minimum. Caffe Vivace, 975 E. McMillan St., Walnut Hills. caffevivace.com.
Louse, Chuck 2, and Supercrush (Seattle) at The Hub
Cincinnati band Louse will be making their debut at this July 10 show at The Hub. The goth rock band will be joined by Chuck 2, a lo-fi act from Cincinnati. They appear with alt-rock band Supercrush, on tour from Seattle. 9 p.m. July 7. The Hub, 1209 Main St., Over-the-Rhine. totallythehubotr.com.
Mary Henry, Monsoon (Athens, GA), and Plug at The Comet
Find yourself in the neon lights of The Comet on July 13 to see a performance from Mary Henry, one of Cincinnati’s newest bands. The five-piece, all-girl outfit make dynamic and accessible layered bedroom pop/post-punk. Athens, Georgia’s alt-pop Monsoon and locals Plug will also play at this show at The Comet. 9 p.m. July 13. Free. The Comet, 4579 Hamilton Ave., Northside. happeningnext.com.
Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra at Corinthian Baptist Church
The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra will be at the Bond Hill Corinthian Baptist Church for the next stop in the Andrew J Brady Neighborhood Concert Series, performing a mix of jazz compositions from Ragtime to Quincy Jones. The program is said to be “highlighting women in jazz,” with guest violinist Diane Monroe and Emmy-nominated jazz vocalist Kathy Wade both making an appearance at the performance. The night will be conducted, as always, by John Morris Russell. 6:30 p.m. July 14. Free. Corinthian Baptist Church, 1920 Tennessee Ave., Bond Hill. cincinnatisymphony.org
The Serfs, Pop. 1280 (NYC), and Gentle Leader XIV at MOTR Pub
Head to MOTR Pub for a night of music of a dance party scene from some lost 80s horror film, complete with synth heavy and drum machine-driven electro punk. Cincinnati’s The Serfs and Gentle Leader XIV will join New York punk band Pop. 1280 for this electrifying show at MOTR Pub. 10 p.m. July 16. Free. MOTR Pub, 1345 Main St., Over-the-Rhine. motrpub.com
Tweens with Spirit of the Beehive (Philadelphia) at Northside Tavern
Cincinnati Entertainment Award winners Tweens, led by Bridget Battle, will be supporting critically-praised electronic pop band Spirit of the Beehive at a Northside Tavern performance on July 17. Philadelphia band Spirit of the Beehive is currently on tour to promote their album “ENTERTAINMENT, DEATH,” which has been praised by music publications such as Spin, Paste Magazine and Pitchfork. 8 p.m. July 17. $15 presale/$17 door. Northside Tavern, 4163 Hamilton Ave., Northside. northsidetav.com
Ben Levin Three at Ghost Baby
Head four stories underground to the posh and lavish Ghost Baby, recently included on Esquire Magazine’s list of “25 Best Bars in America,” to hear some tunes from local musician Ben Levin, and his band, called Ben Levin Three. The Cincinnatian is an award-winning traditional blues piano player and vocalist who has been something of a preservationist, in recent years, for pre-rock ‘n’ roll blues and R&B. His most recent album, “Still Here,” debuted in the top 10 on Billboard‘s Blues Charts. 2 sets at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. July 20. Free. Best to make reservations ahead of time. Ghost Baby, 1314 Republic Street, Over-the-Rhine. ghost-baby.com/events
Bailey Miller, Brianna Kelley, and Pete Fosco at Listing Loon
Visit Northside’s Listing Loon for a night of ambitious folk, electronic pop and ambient compositions. July Artist in Residence Bailey Miller creates dreamlike soundscapes with vocals breaking through like waves. This particular performance will also bring the bedroom pop folk of Brianna Kelley and ambient, improvised guitar pieces of Pete Fosco to Miller’s weekly Thursday shows. 8 p.m. July 28. Proof of vaccination required. Listing Loon, 4124 Hamilton Ave., Northside. theloonwinebar.com.
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