To be honest, I was hesitant about going to this show at all. I’d heard a lot about Midwest Hype through discussions with various people, but never took the time to check them out on my own. For some reason a “reggae-influenced funk band” that also has a hip-hop element just didn’t sound all that interesting to me. But how could I really know if I didn’t like it without checking a show out for myself? After mulling it over for a while, I decided to go ahead and go. Worst comes to worst, it’s only two blocks from home and I can leave.
There were other reasons for me to go. The band is from the same small Indiana town I grew up in, and my brother’s best friend was in the band for a long time. Living in a small town can be a harsh existence, as many of you probably know, so I did want to go and show my support for these guys doing their best to make it and move out into the world.
I knew Midwest Hype had a pretty good following. I’ve talked at length with people who have been to numerous shows and they’ve all told me that it was a lot of fun. So I knew going in that there would be a good crowd at Schubas. I did not expect, however, for it to be so packed that I took three steps inside the door and that was as far as I could get. The place was stuffed like a sardine can. I was amazed by the turnout, and I thought “maybe this is gonna be a lot better than I thought.” And I was pleasantly surprised by some aspects of the band. Others didn’t interest me as much, but when it was good the band was really kicking on all cylinders.
The first thing that struck me was that they are very good instrumentally. George Prellwitz on the guitar can straight up play. He had quite a few nice solos throughout the night, and I was impressed with his control of the band as frontman. His vocals were good, not great. He more than made up for it with his ax, though. He does a lot of jazzy, funky stuff and his hands are always moving. He also did a great job of keeping the crowd going (not that they needed it).
My absolute favorite part of Midwest Hype is Ben Morrissey on sax. This guy should be featured on every song. They did this great instrumental that started with Ben playing a clarinet solo that lasted a good five minutes. Then the band broke into a version of MGMT’s “Kids.” You could hear just a hint of the song at the beginning of the solo, and everyone in the band did a really good job with it.
Now, the one thing I really didn’t enjoy about the band. The hip-hop element, courtesy of Justin “Ideal” Diehl. Every time he came up to the mic I was immediately taken out of the show. It was like when you’re watching a movie and a really obvious cameo pops up, and you’re like “Why is Mike Meyers in this movie?” It wasn’t that he was a terrible MC, either. I just felt like they were doing too much.
The band was performing to promote their new EP, Dayglow. The songs that they played off of that were pretty good. I’m probably not going to buy it, but if you’re into their style, you could certainly do much worse. In the end I’m glad that I went and experienced Midwest Hype for myself, both the good and the bad. I can definitely see what it is people like about them, their desire to spread love and good feelings is certainly admirable. Ultimately the performance didn’t turn me into a hater like I feared, but it didn’t make me a fan either.