• Review

Show Review: Brainiac, Exit Angles, & Mary Henry Thrash For Real at Woodward Theater

Photo Cred: Jared Bowers

Where the last time we found Brainiac gracing the stage at Woodward Theater felt like it might have been a somber but celebratory period at the end of this chapter of their story, last night’s performance felt like an exclamation mark, a way of shouting their arrival back to The Queen City.

Each band on the bill - Cincinnati’s Mary Henry, a bass-less, synth-heavy dark indie rock juggernaut, Wheeling, West Virginia’s dynamic and intense Exit Angles, and, of course, Dayton’s own Brainiac, progenitors of synth-punk and so much more - all put on actual live performance clinics, each bringing something unique to the stage yet somehow never making the night feel anything less than powerfully cohesive.


Mary Henry was a new-to-me band, somewhat reminiscent of Warpaint, but somehow moodier, more airy, and singularly intense. Their set was 30-35 minutes of driving percussion, heavy dual synth players that worked just as much against each other as they did in concert, and an emotive, enigmatic front-person that played the guitar sparingly but impactfully. Their set felt dire, maybe sinister, but in really interesting, often arresting ways. The crowd that arrived early enough to catch their performance were somewhat entranced - it was a moving, inspiring, unique set that I hope others in Cincinnati get to witness for themselves sooner rather than later.


Exit Angles had been recommended to me by their PR team, Dayton-based Sweet Cheetah PR. I wasn’t sure what to expect - which is a deliberate choice I very often make before seeing new-to-me bands - but from the first note, I had a real “You sunuvabitch, I’m in.” moment and was basically in the bag from that point on. Exit Angles is oddly melodic, even as their songs blend together somewhat with a specific, angular cadence. Not exactly downtempo, but the way many of the songs they played last night went from unicycle to steamroller in terms of vibe and intensity was hypnotic, and very, very much my jam. Turns out this was their first time in town, and I genuinely hope to see them again soon - it was a truly great live performance.


Without getting back into it - for real, just check out my write-up from last year’s cathartic performance at Woodward Theater - I think it would be easy to feel a little unsure how or why Brainiac decided to get back on the road and do this all again after such a powerful reception to their reunion and assumed ending, one of which they did very much on their terms. I, myself, have wondered just that. After last night's performance, though, it’s genuinely difficult to think of a good reason why they wouldn’t want to.

Even without the promise of new music, their back catalog and incredibly devout fanbase - of all ages, and rightfully so - relished the opportunity to hear some of the favorite songs from each of the bands records. For a career spanning 30 years, the band’s history and lengthy hiatus have kept their output in stasis, a sort of understandably self-imposed time capsule, but that has done absolutely nothing to make it feel and sound any less vital than it did when it was first released. And this time around, their performance felt even more energetic, more chaotic, and just a little bit tighter. Maybe it was just my perception, maybe it was the overall vibe last night, but there was a more tangible, palpable sense of freedom and enjoyment coming from the stage and it had me smiling the whole time.

Who knows what the future holds for Brainiac. In all honesty, they might not even know for sure. For me, though, I know I’m thankful to have gotten to see the band twice in so short a time, to catch up with some friends I hadn’t seen in over a decade, and to enjoy a night out in OTR seeing some great bands, at a great venue (in a city filled with great bands and great venues, no less). If you were there, I hope you had as much fun as I did. If you weren’t, here’s hoping they come back around so you can share in the fun yourself.


Open Album


  • Review

For the music, fans, and the band - A Night with Brainiac 

Last night was proof that in this reality, they still matter to, at the very least, the 600+ souls packed into The Woodward Theater, to the folks who couldn’t get a ticket to join the crowd of another sold out show on Brainiac’s brief return run. They’re still a vibrant, important, chaotically critical piece of thousands of lives.