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The Mad Frog Cincinnati


Don’t let the lime green and purple paint of Mad Frog’s bright, cartoonish outside influence what you think goes on inside. This Clifton club, with dim lights, sticky floors and 18-and-over-only crowds, is integral in cultivating Cincinnati’s blooming original music culture. It sets the scene for the scene. A microcosm: One week in August, the Mad Frog (some people still know it as Cory’s) will host Latin music favorite Tropicoso, reggae band Astemari, jazz/funk Dophesus, mix-n-matchers 1000 Watt Revival, an open mic night and four rockers from Northern Kentucky called the Chitarra Rhythm Section. It also opens its doors to several standing gigs over a few months–a concept that is rare (not non-existent, but rare) in a high cover-interest town like our ‘Nati. For example, rock stars Buckra played the Thursday night slot all spring, and Tropicoso seems to have a hold on Monday nights year-round. Big, fun CD release parties are scheduled monthly. June was readymaid w/Heevahava and Promenade, and The Simpletons are August’s big bash. The Mad Frog’s digs aren’t Hyde Park or Mt. Adams. But people patronizing the Mad Frog aren’t interested in charming aura and white Christmas lights, anyway. They want to hear local music, to listen and decide for themselves if a band is worth coming back for. They want to hang out with other artists, with new bands, with charming and annoying people involved in Cincinnati’s original music growth, as well as students from UC and newcomers. Everyone seems to be welcome. Walk in, and you’d never guess that the Mad Frog’s bread-and-butter is live concerts. A bar and space to sit encompass the front room instead of stages and sound equipment. Traipse through a few narrow corridors and you will find the lights, the guitars, the action. A new hang-out room is established in the basement, too, with two pool tables, bar, Foosball and extra lounging space. It’s not an early place to go. Gigs start on time, of course, but don’t show up at 8 p.m. expecting to crowd surf. All of these words are nothing new or insightful to Mad Frog regulars. But for those who haven’t tried it at least once, it’s a piece of Cincinnati music and culture that you can’t ignore or miss.