• Review

Review: If Not For Me at Southgate House Revival

Photo Cred: James Quigley

Cincinnati and NKY continue to surprise me, and I just absolutely love it. Last night, The Southgate House Revival played host to a set of bands that might be considered somewhat atypical compared to their usual offerings, but the venue proved to be a great setting for a show with unsurprisingly strong local support.

Also, shouts to James Quigly for capturing the night on camera - be sure to check out his photos of all the bands. It was super fun tag-teaming this one with a fellow CincyMusic contributor.

Taking the stage first, “Emo Dads” and all around good dudes Abandoned Malls of America brought their unique amalgamation of emo/punk/rock to the masses, with members of the crowd stopping by their table to offer praise and thanks for their set. It’s fun, both for me as a fan and as someone who tries to keep an eye on things happening within the scene (to then later write about, of course), to see how bands are both received and perceived. While their sound may not have aligned perfectly with the other bands on the bill, they did make a lot of sense with that particular crowd and, unsurprisingly, left the show last night with a good amount of new fans.


Friday Giants took the second slot, and being a name I’d seen but not a band I heard, I was impressed by what they were offering. There were definitely fans of the band in the crowd, which is always great to see, and their set was well balanced with heavy and light, often within the span of a single song, and it was well paced with punk rock rippers and ballad-esque tracks. I got big Underoath vibes, maybe some of the older stuff from The Used, though I’m sure there are more appropriate analogous acts to compare them to. Regardless, they do what they do well - and it was honestly surprising to hear a band working within those particular genre confines in NKY. I didn’t know anyone was kicking around that played with those sounds anymore, so it ended up being a bit of a refreshing set, if not a little nostalgic at the same time.


Softspoken played as direct support and were incredibly tight. I knew they had a fairly significant fanbase, but was unfamiliar with their sound, which sounded to me like melodic post-hardcore mixed with old nu-metal. The vocals were dynamic and genuinely great, recalling bands like Glassjaw and letlive., and the guitar work from their single guitarist was a joy to watch and listen to. Lots of interesting, intricate stuff was happening on stage, with melodies and guitar lines and vocals, so their set was never boring. One’s mileage certainly varies with screamo or screamo adjacent bands, but for me, personally, I was definitely into what Softspoken are up to and look forward to seeing them again soon. 


West Virginia’s If Not For Me headlined - a band I was unfamiliar with but live in the same general sonic space as acts like Bad Omens, Varials, and D.R.U.G.S. - and again, living in my little bubble let me experience something I wasn’t aware was still happening. The bands blending clean vocals, well placed screaming, aggressive but not quite heavy guitars and a super synced rhythm section certainly occupy a very specific space in the current music landscape, with young bands like If Not For Me carrying the torch from the birth of that scene in the early and mid 2000’s. I was caught off guard, but pleasantly so. They seem like a band that could catch on and catch up with bands who’ve made a name for themselves in the same space, so I’ll be curious to see where they end up - and what size stages they're playing a year from now.


All in all, it really was an exceptional night of music for the Cincy/NKY scene. Not my usual thing, sure, but it was a terrific reminder that the Cincy/NKY scene is awesomely diverse and has a much deeper, varied, and ultimately interesting bench of bands making really great music. And I think the scene itself is better, stronger, and bound to live longer because of that.

If Not For Me / Softspoken / Friday Giants / Abandoned Malls of America

Open Album