Who Needs the Comfest....When You Got the Beach

Let’s get one thing straight. The headline of this post is not supposed to be snarky, cause though I’ve butted heads with certain bands in the local scene lately (I’m not touching the Josh Fitzwater and the Shambles disc – we don’t want to go there, ‘nuff said) I am still in love with Comfest – I just don’t think the magic is still in the air, at least if you’re facing the Bozo Stage, and the breeze that comes with it. To contradict – we do need Comfest, if only so all the (insert demeaning expletive) bands that usually draw a crowd of their closest friends (10-20) can play in the sunshine to a handful of strangers. If only so I can have a fishboat. If only so I can sneak into the port-o-johns and load the flask. If only so I can see a million different people I’ve worked with over the years to chit-chat about working together five years ago. I will be there, spread on a blanket, zoned.

But the great thing about Columbus, when it comes to shows of quality, as said here before, when it rains it pours. Last weekend I could’ve lived without Comfest, as it seemed like the city was treated to a rare, stacked, night of locals and touring acts – all within a mile radius. Let’s start with what I saw, and end with what I wished I saw. If you’ve been reading here, you’ll know that Ipps are fast becoming the best of the next generation Beach bands. It may look like an incestuous CDR pile (or Necropolis without the grizzled one and the technician), or a side-project, but forming great groups out of boredom or stasis and finding fruit in that new realization deserves it’s own corner of the scene. Flanked by Necro’s Bisaro and El Jeezy’s O’Shaw on dual-headed drums, Bo and Emily Davis have crafted some serious pop songs. I balked and balled with the syrupy drip of their slower tunes (on that tape) but the first half of this set displayed volume and muscle, velocity and melody. Again “Bluebirds Over the Mountains” was doom, the centrifuge from where these cretins operate when in Ipps mode. Record Record Now Please. No pics as I was frozen – even this early in the evening.

After that I made my way over to the Summit, where there was another show going on. I missed Deathly Fighter’s short set I suppose. Can’t be in two places at once. They were followed by the first out-of-towners of the night, the Guitars, from Cincinnati. From what I was told, they sound like the Monkees. The drummer was sporting a vintage Pete Rose “4192” shirt (Sept. 11, 1985 – Never Forget) so I was already somewhat in love. I didn’t hear the Monkees, but the certainly know their way around a sugary pop song. I was reminded more of the High Strung, or the Cusacks, or a little Cardinal/High Llamas/Starlight Mints thinking-cap oddity from where I stood. There wasn’t much of a crowd, as if those in the back or to the side weren’t sure what to do with a band not utilizing distortion. Maybe Columbus is afraid of semi-orchestral pop?

As for the next band – now nearly legendary upon the “scene” – the Unholy Two seemed to be having an off night. Don’t hear me wrong, I still adore the “Kutter,” but I just wasn’t feeling it. I’m supposing/assuming that all the elements need to be aligned for Lutzko to take the piss properly – 1. Summit is not the stage/soapbox for him. 2. The crowd was sparse (and soberish), the lights weren’t low, and the sound was meh. 3. The Unholy Two can only go on post-midnight for the werewolf to come out. I thought recent clashes in Iran would be enough fodder to fuel the vitriolic banter that usually pours from mouth of our hero. Guess not. No worries. There’s a meth lab a half a block down likely cooking up some late summer death jams. Still, their performance was a slaughter compared to Austin’s Strange Boys. Keep in mind, the SBs are a young, more than adept, twang-n’-slop garage rock band, coiling in the psychedelic derangements of their central Texas forefathers. The only misgiving is they readily admitted – at least on this night – to never hearing the original acid king, Roky Erickson (a guy who is still kicking and kicking quite well). That’s a crime. Especially since this band apes the United Artists catalog like they could whip out a Sir Douglas cover if the times were tough. They aren’t, the Strange Boys profile keeps growing (signing to Domino?) and exactly what they do, revisionist or not, they do quite well. John Michael couldn’t wipe the smile off his face.

I was there for Mika Miko -- a band, along with the Strange Boys, who will be more comprehensively represented on the pages of the Agit-Reader in the coming weeks. These girls talked my fucking ears off (but in the best possible way). I even cut the interview short for brevity’s sake. I would’ve never expected how they operate on stage. Michelle, the hardcore-loving overlord of the group, keeps things afloat – cribbing riffs from Black Flag to Jan und Dean and stashing them into a half-broken po-mo blender of sorts. I couldn’t believe how die-hard they were to execute authenticity. This wasn’t cute. This wasn’t a hardcore approximation. This wasn’t for fuck-god the Donnas or even the Runaways for that matter. This was the real fire-breathing, snot-wielding, blood-letting, deal, and they kept it up for a good 30 minutes straight, never once going up for air, all the while squeaking, wheezing and grunting out pop hooks atop the melee. Go see this band. Much more entertaining in this setting than trying to smash your head to the record. We Be Xuxa is still a stunna’ though.

Signs of my old age bubble up when I’m too whipped to go see the tail end of Saturday’s other monumental show – Psychedelic Horseshit, Circuit des Yeux, Puffy Areolas, and the Yuppies at Carabar – but a risky drive South (the opposite direction of home) and the possibility of not seeing a damn note sent me packing.

Sunday. Father’s Day (refer to Father MC for soundtracking purposes) was spent with Jeff and a Spanish Dog, before shuffling home for the Dirty Projectors show. I had my reservations, seeing them numerous times over the years I was well-aware of the air of pretention that followed the group. Even in March at SXSW I was suspect, as it never seemed as if the group was on the same page. Though it was intriguing and beguiling music, I’ve kept my distance. I was hoping that post-falling-in-love-with-Bitte-Orca would impact the live performance. Weeks on the road, late-night long-hour rehearsals, and the Wex’s glorious sound-system proved me right. Just the vocal acrobatics alone of David Longstreth’s “choir of angels” made the night successful in my eyes. It was a beautiful mess totally rambling and rushing out of control at each turn – bulking up those moments when Longstreth would make his guitar go Yes-crazy and the rest of the group had to struggle to get back in line with his whims. That looked like a feat in of itself. But it held together, loose joints and all. Remaining suspect is his voice. I would really cool it bro, leave it to your ladies. Africa would be proud for once.

To end my weekend, I sauntered over to Summit to catch the Tyvek, who were playing with Pizza Slayer and the Guinea Worms. I rarely miss a Tyvek show, but with the daily grind that was approaching Monday morning, I was exhausted and couldn’t do yet another night of after twelve. Sorry guys (and girl on bass). The cap was my rendition of Bruce Hornsby’s depression-era epic (we’re in one kids) “The Way It Is.” You missed it.

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