Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More

Thursday, September 22, 2011

­Music Week Columbus

Written by Josh Weiker & Raad Shubaily
Music Week Columbus – Where do I begin? Honestly, that is the question I found most prevalent each night – where should I begin?
            Well, for starters, this event takes place over three nights, across three venues, and showcases some 42 bands. Ya, I know, right? Aside from the majority of local Columbus and surrounding Ohio bands, it also brings in new acts from Chicago, Pittsburgh, Ann Arbor, Minneapolis, and Brooklyn. 

Most of the acts this year would fall in, or around the Indie Rock category, with a few heavier Metal bands sprinkled throughout the lineup.
Music Week Columbus (Mid-by-Midwest as some have cheekily referred to it) truly is an all out onslaught of live music. Taking place on the stages of the Ravari Room, Rumba Café, and Kobo, this is not your average, ‘I’m going to see (that band) kind of festival’ – this festival should be approached with a more ‘let’s go see what’s out there’ attitude.
            Since each venue hosts four or five bands each night it can be hard to know who’s where, when; and which place you’ll enjoy most. 

The way I see it, there are two options: 1) Do some research – try to find some of the featured bands on the internet, and then fairly judge them based on what little web content you can find (not a very successful route); or, 2) Just go, get the three day pass, and you have unlimited access to all three venues, all three nights. So if one venue isn’t striking your fancy, or you’re just really A.D.D. and like to change up your scene every 30 minutes, you can. 

            So who’s playing? Well, anyone that has been around the Indie music scene in Columbus over the past year should be familiar with at least seeing the names like: Town Monster, Way Yes,  the Dew Droppers, Wet Darlings, Karate Coyote, Maza Blaska, and of course, the Phantods.
            Having just gone to the event, I can tell you its much more fun discovering the new bands that are just beginning to rise, rather than just pensively waiting around for the ones you know. 

This year, I found a few new (or at least ‘new’ to me) amazing bands such as the Dirty Girls and Petit Mal; both rocked my socks, and I look forward to seeing each of them again, as soon as possible. It is always great to get a fresh reminder of just how well the local music scene is developing in Columbus. 

Of the 15 non-native Columbus bands, I heard a lot of excitement among the crowds about seeing: 1, 2, 3 (from Pittsburgh), Milano (from Chicago), Megachurch (from Cleveland), Beast Make Bomb, and Deluka (both from Brooklyn [Deluka originally from the UK]) – I’ll just say the Music Week Columbus Scouting Department (with a little help from CD101) hit this one out of the park, Barry Bonds style.

Luckily, for this event, we had a few sets of eyes and ears to help take in everything this three-day-show had to offer. BusTown Writer, Raad Shubaily was kind enough to take a closer look at some of the bands featured from 2011’s Music Week Columbus, as well as offer his perspective on the festivities … enjoy …

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~  by Raad Shubaily ~~

My goal with the first Music Week Columbus was to make my own evaluation.  Weeks before, I heard someone say it would be like the famed South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas.  This immediately struck me, as I’ve had multiple friends tell me Austin is the “live music capital of the world.” Columbus isn’t insignificant by any means in that respect, especially after witnessing the amount of people that came out for Music Week.   

The following is a summary of one man’s journey through the bars, mingling with the locals and noting the out-of-towners:
It only seemed right to check out the usual suspects in town, while sprinkling in as many bands from out of town as possible.  So I spent Wednesday at Kobo, where the lineup was mostly local, with a dash of Chicagoans.


            The DewDroppers are fantastic; they have an unassuming aura about them, with a very unique flair.  In terms of stage appearance, the first thing you notice is that they wear suspenders.  It’s as if they jumped out of the movie “O Brother, Where Art Thou” and onto the stage in an epic time-traveling journey.  Their sound is playful and quirky, snagging bits of all the old timey American music they can think of.  The first classification that comes to mind is swing music and ragtime.  It sounds like a saloon and a big band met to combine in three pieces, a drummer, guitarist and keyboardist.   Add some jazzy vocals with beautiful harmonies to the mix and there you have it.
The band from out of town that night was called Milano, hailing from Chicago and wearing epaulets.
This is not your run of the mill synth-pop.  They have an erratic feel with a large ensemble of instruments ranging from violin to accordion.   It’s easy to notice that the singer sounds like Colin Meloy of the Decemberists. If you’re really into guitar riff-rock, this is not your band.  The guitar is very subtle, tightly mixed with the rest of the band.  In fact, it almost sounded like a synth at times.  They also have a stunning visual display running through a projector to back up their music.
Ghost Shirt, possibly the most musically matured local band of the week, was up next.
Ghost Shirt
  Dripping with rock and roll spunk, this band is fronted by Branden Barnett, a songwriter if I’ve ever seen one.  They have so many songs bursting at the seams to come out, wonderfully filling the room. They naturally fall into a rock and roll category, but multi-instrumentalist Sam Kim adds an extremely valuable aspect to Ghost Shirt’s sound.  Kim helps set this band aside from others, switching from keyboard and tambourine to violin during the set. 

            Though this isn’t true for every band, if Ghost Shirt is on stage, I refuse to take a cigarette break.Rounding out the night’s bill was a local outfit, The Wet Darlings. They can lullaby a baby to sleep, and equally rock your face off. Bordering on the fringe of piano-based classic rock, they maintain modern musical framework. Singer Jenny Lute’s flurry of loud/soft is compelling, while the band plays major key pop songs as easily as darker, minor key tunes. Lute’s vocals soar over their melodic structures.  Her voice is almost frantic, but too graceful to be so.  It was a beautiful way to end a long night of rocking and rolling at Kobo.

            Thursday night I stopped by Rumba to check out Tin Armor.  They too fall neatly under the rock and roll category, though with a vibe that’s harder to pin down. They use energy to their advantage, at one point they will be slowing down the tempo, only to explode into a blissful high-energy tune.  Their vocals were powerful, singing lines like “I don’t want to grow up sad and lonely like you.” This seems to summarize their attitude, playful and vibrant.

Way Yes Live @ Kobo
I made a switch back to Kobo after Tin Armor to catch local band Way Yes.  This band has had quite a year, inspiring a lot of buzz around town.  Only two guitarists and a percussionist, their sound comes out very tropical.  Their rhythms are highly syncopated, and the vocal harmonies come close to surf rock.  An easy comparison would be Vampire Weekend with some Paul Simon style vocals.

            Following Way Yes was a Youngstown import, Sewing Machine War.  They have a progressive feel, showing off that they have their buildups and breakdowns quite under control. Each song seems to tell a story laced under soulful, almost heart-wrenching, singing.  They were the only band I saw all week that used a cowbell.
            Donora, a band from Pittsburgh, appeared on stage next.  Even though they are only three people, it sounded like a lot more.  They must be described in a way that stresses the importance of their energy.  It’s kind of like going to a high-voltage dance party in Chicago on the top floor of a friend’s apartment building, peering out at the city.  They’re very upbeat, with a singer reminiscent of the Yeah, yeah, yeahs’ Karen O.
            It makes sense Karate Coyote topped off this night, as they follow suit with the dance-pop vibe of the evening.  They’re currently recording their second album, which is to be released this fall. With two female singers and one male singer layered atop a new wave, pop-rock sound, it’s easy to say they have vocal harmonies out the wazoo.  They know how to neatly place their voices above or below each other, something like a three person choir.  It’s hard not to dance when watching them perform, if not impossible.

Friday’s decision was tough; there was a lot of talk about the show at Kobo, featuring heavy hitters like Deluka from Brooklyn and our city’s own Phantods.  Ravari room was also tempting, featuring Columbus music scene essentials like Audrey And Orwell and Maza Blaska.  I opted for the indie-pop extravaganza at Rumba, however. 

            The opener of the evening was a tweaky, piano pop outfit by the name of This Is My Suitcase.  They have spastic and intense, squealing vocals accompanied by fancy guitar work.  It almost seems like there ought to be a strobe light somewhere in the room during their set.  Their excited live show set the mood perfectly for the evening.
            Nightlife, an Ann Arbor two-piece, really stood out after the course of the week.  It’s heavy synth pop, with a DJ accompanying a lead singer. She brings to mind Metric’s singer Emily Haines.  As opposed to much of the other bands’ rock feel that week, they have much more of an electronica feel.  One audience member commented that it sounded like it could be played over the sound system at a fashion boutique like American Apparel or Urban Outfitters. 
            The next band, Fort Wilson Riot, came from Minneapolis.  It was a similar blend of electronica and indie-rock.  Another girl/boy two-piece, they effortlessly switched instruments from keys and guitar between forcefully pushing their emotions through the vocal microphones.  They were both proficient on which ever instrument they happened to be playing for a specific song, tying together synth and guitar lines like it’s second nature.
            The last band I caught of the week was another group from Pittsburgh. Confusing to search for online, they go by the name 1,2,3.  They have a bit of an indie/folk revival nature.  Their sound is very powerful and gathers your attention. With no shortage of beautiful melodic ideas and progressions, there is a distinct nod to the 50’s in the vocal harmonies.  It was quite an explosive ending to an amazing week of incredible music.

Looking back on the week, it was a huge success. Bands came from as far as New York to play here.  If this festival continues every year, gaining in mass, there’s no doubt it could help put Columbus on the map.  Any way to garner interest in our city’s enthusiastic local music scene is a step in the right direction.  Many local bands travel to South by Southwest already, so why not have out of town bands do some traveling too? Columbus Music Week’s first year worked out fantastically, and I look forward to seeing it grow through the years.


Special Thanks:
Andy Dodson and Jacob Wooten
The Ravari Room, Rumba Café, Kobo and their wonderful Staff


Post a Comment

Design by Free WordPress Themes | Bloggerized by Lasantha - Premium Blogger Themes | Blogger Templates