Ape Wind

The Columbus Music Scene and Beyond

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Mar 8, 2013 – I went to the Newport Music Hall in Columbus, Ohio to watch one of my favorite new bands, Tame Impala from Perth, Australia. I had two big fat beers in me, and was sitting up in the balcony with my girlfriend by the time they started the packed sold out show. I was expecting a lot and was not disappointed in the least.

Tame Impala at Newport Music Hall

Tame Impala at Newport Music Hall

The band started back in 2007 and is mainly the brainchild of singer songwriter Kevin Parker. The first thing I noticed about this band, when a friend turned me onto the song “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards” a few months back, was just how eerily his vocal style resembled that of John Lennon, my hands down favorite musician and person of all time. Since noticing this, I realize everyone agrees… in many articles, if not all of them, they equate his reedy nasally high pitch to that of the Walrus. It’s as if Lennon decided to come back to us through the vehicle of Parker and start a psychedelic, prog-rock band. At least that’s what I like to believe anyway.

The crowd exploded into a frenzy as the band started into a cutting and perfect version of the loner’s anthem for its generation “Solitude is Bliss” to kick off the show. One of my favorite songs with the lyrics, ‘There’s a party inside my head and no one is invited.’ The chorus is a killer too, ‘You will never compare with how I feel!’ delivered in that cool and chilling doppelganger tone of a bygone time, that is maybe not that far away after all. This song hits you right where you want to be hit… NEED to be hit by a tune. By the time they ended the song I swore the air had left the room, causing the young yet mixed aged crowd to heave a collective gasp.

Kevin Parker wrote and recorded all of the material for both albums, the debut Innerspeaker from 2010, and this year Lonerism. I don’t know much about the people he has playing these songs live but I can tell you the drummer was a wizard. His sticks were flying so fast and precisely that it was hard to believe at times.

Probably my favorite song “Apocalypse Dreams” came next and then they performed “Be Above it.” In between the well-executed and brilliant tunes they would sometimes go into spacey little jams that served to build up your anticipation before another powerhouse tripped out masterpiece was served up to the hungry crowd once more.

Tame Impala at Newport Music Hall

Tame Impala at Newport Music Hall

There was “Elephant” The radio hit… Then probably my second favorite song “Why won’t you make up your mind?” which dishes out this amazing keyboard synth part that massaged the lobes of my drunken brain and lifted me to a higher level then I could explain with words. My girlfriend and I were blown away. This band was somehow perfect. They dolled out a great version of another favorite, “Mind Mischief.”

Honestly I could rave on and on about this band, what this night felt like, the energy and the pleasures. I could pontificate about the magic that brings such young talented people together… How does one cosmic organism become a Nickleback, while another a Tame Impala? The acid soaked mind of an aging hipster reels. But alas, I have things to do… and to hear how GOOD a relationship is… our how much someone loves their favorite TV show… is just kind of… boring.

So do yourself a favor and look up these songs! This band! This was one of the best shows I had ever seen in my 30 odd years. My only sadness is that they didn’t play “Lucidity.” I got to see them cheap this time around, but I feel like next time they are here it won’t be quite as easy to get tickets. These guys are the real deal and need to be seen to believe!

– Oddfellow

The Big Pink at Outland

The Big Pink at Outland

March 21, 2010 – If someone were to come up to you tomorrow and say,”Hey guys, The Big Pink is coming.” I would expect most people to tightly grasp their can of mace and cautiously ask what the hell they’re talking about. But if you’re one of those people who haven’t had their head buried in the sand for the past year then you’re well aware of the “electro rock” duo “The Big Pink” which formed in 2007 in London, England. The band gets their name from the debut album by The Band. Since releasing their first album “A Brief History of Love” back in September of 2009, The Big Pink have found themselves touring across the globe. The band currently consist of two members, Robertson “Robbie” Furze on lead vocals/guitar and Milo Cordell on keyboards/synths/vocals. Furze used to play guitar for electro punk singer Alec Empire and also ran the record label “Hate Channel” with Cordell. Cordell is the son of 1960s pop producer Denny Cordell and runs the Merok label, which has released acts like Klaxons, Titus Andronicus and Crystal Castles to name a few. After combining their talents to form The Big Pink in the middle of 2007, Furze and Cordell eventually released their first single “Too Young to Love” on 7″ vinyl in October of 2008 on the House Anxiety label. The London duo would soon after release two more singles, Velvet and Stop The World on there current label, 4AD. Backing them on their tour across the U.S. this time are Akiko Matsuura on drums/vocals and Leopold Ross on bass. Matsuura, also known as “exceedingly good Keex”, is a member of the bands Pre and Comanechi and also has a side project entitled Sperm Javelin. Ross was a founding member of eclectic rock band Nojahoda, who released one album with Sony back in 1999. Other bands of Ross include Error and Echo (Los Angeles).  The Big Pink is probably most well known for their fourth single “Dominos” off their debut album A Brief History of Love which was released in September of 2009 with 4AD. The band produced the album themselves at the infamous Electric Lady Studios in New York City. So there’s a pretty good history of most of the facts. Now onto some opinions.

Robertson "Robbie" Furze of The Big Pink on stage at Outland

Robertson "Robbie" Furze of The Big Pink on stage at Outland

This being an unscheduled stop on their tour, I was unsure of the chances of scoring an interview with band. Thanks to their U.S. touring contact Dan Mullaly, I was able to set up some time with the band before the show. Unfortunately, we were made to wait outside the Outland doors until the opening act, Besieus, was finished with their sound check. I understand though how only a select group of people feel special if there weren’t sets of ridiculous rules to help them feel that way. After some confusion on who’s on the list and who’s not, we entered the club to find sort of a Saturday Night Fever atmosphere. Recognizing other people from the media, I felt like if I didn’t get my interview soon that someone else would swoop in and suck the interview life out of the band before I would have a chance to. Just then my phone rang. It was Mullaly asking if I could meet him and the band in the private dressing room in the back of the club. Since this was a last minute interview with the band I didn’t bother talking to the security at the front of the dressing room and went straight to the back entrance and made my way in through the unlocked door. As I entered, the always beautiful Keex and Murray, the band’s sound technician, were chatting on one of the couches and treated me as though I was just another implemented part of the touring game. Warm smiles and friendly handshakes filled the backstage area. I was finally met by Mullaly and Furze and asked to come have a seat. Although everyone else was around fiddling about, my interview would take place with lead singer and founding member, Robbie Furze. Now this next part went a little long with me asking question after question so why don’t we see if we can’t sum it up a bit. According to Furze, their U.S. tour is going great. Everyone is tired but they know their isn’t anything else they could be doing with their time here on earth. Furze loves the beauty of the open rode but misses his dog. In fact, that dog would be one of the only reasons Furze would want to take any sort of break from touring. One of Furze’ favorite elements of touring is all the different food they get to experience along the way. Especially the sushi in Toronto. I went on to ask if there were any songs he could do without ever playing again. It was sort of a baited question as I thought he may choose there current single “Dominoes” and he did. He went on to explain that he had no intention of turning his back on it because it was one of those pivotal songs that helped get them were they are today. Never the less, we are all aware of the phrase, “too much of a good thing.” We quickly changed subjects and Furze expressed how he was excited about the rest of the U.S. tour and couldn’t wait until their final stop in California at the Coachella Festival in mid April. He was mostly excited about the 6pm main stage slot that they had secured for the festival. A few more questions taught me that the entire band was responsible for the set list each night of the tour and was based upon a mutual feeling that everyone would have the day of the show.  Although Furze was not looking forward to any sort of break from touring, he was excited to play the many different festivals they were scheduled to do this summer that were not a part of any touring schedule. As the opening band played on, I could tell it was time to give the band some “alone” time to prepare for the show. I shook hands with each member and asked if I could get a photo with the group for the article. They happily gathered around and I felt , if only for a moment, as if we were good friends who hadn’t seen each other in a while. A few crazy poses were done before we finally settled on a pose for the picture. The flash illuminated and sealed in light what felt like one of the great moments in history.

Milo Cordell of The Big Pink on stage at Outland

Milo Cordell of The Big Pink on stage at Outland

The stage was set as the band strapped on their instruments and settled in for the show. I knew what was to be next because I had finagled a copy of the set list from Furze during the interview and is as follows; “Too Young to Love,” “At War with the Sun,” “Frisk,” “Velvet,” “Crystal Visions,”  “Count Backwards from Ten,” “New Song,” “Tonight,” “These Arms of Mine,”  and “Domino’s.”  The band likes to start the show with “Too Young to Love” and they did just that. As with most opening numbers in smaller venues, the sound was a little off but the band played on as though all was well. To be perfectly honest, which is what my readers expect from me, a lot of the songs sounded very similar. You couldn’t always tell if the live drummer, although very appealing, was even necessary do to the louder and more intricate electronic parts. The look was there though and everyone was feeling the energy. The over all vibe of the bands’ music gave me a feeling like they had created a “love siren.” A sort of warning to all listeners who dare to venture into the world of love. It was not until mid set that they played “Crystal Visions.” The song started in slow with a reverse lead solo by Furze. You could tell the song was building slowly but into what I were unsure. Just as I began to zone out on the one chord build up I felt this peculiar feeling. It was as if all the oxygen had been sucked out of the room suddenly. I looked up just in time to see the entire band strike at their instruments at the same time. With that one fluid motion the speakers in front of the stage erupted sound like a volcano that had been dormant for thousands of years. The audio waves themselves shook the very clothing on my body and made me feel as though my entire body was vibrating. This was so amazing because I was in the very back of the club and could only imagine what the people up front must be experiencing. I let the vibrations take me over like I was being launched into the stratosphere.  When I came back to reality, the song was over and the audience was applauding wildly. They never did top the experience I had during that song but the rest of the night was a great success. They played five more songs in all which included a brand new song and a cover of Ottis Redding’s “These Arms of Mine.” Furze had told me the title of the new song during the interview but expressed that he wasn’t sold on the name yet so we agreed to keep the name between us and just refer to it as the “New Song.”  I made my way towards the bar to freshen my drink near the end of the Ottis Redding cover. The song ended as I was making may way back towards the floor. Just then the familiar opening of “Domino’s” erupted into the audience. I watched as everyone excitedly got out of their seats and rushed to the stage area. It was kind of sad really that a lot of the people at the show seemed lifeless until the one song they actually knew was played. It felt like those people weren’t really giving the band a chance to show their art because they were to busy waiting for the band to do “Latka Mr. Kaufman.” Never the less, the band did not disappoint and provided the audience with a great rendition of “Domino’s”. The band then left the stage as an ambient outro filled the club. The droning mess of noise as the band made their way through the audience and towards the back stage was very poetic. You could tell at that very moment that The Big Pink would be living this life as long as the people would let them.

Touring information for The Big Pink can be found at http://www.myspace.com/musicfromthebigpink or http://www.musicfromthebigpink.com/. I’m sorry If you’re expecting an album release anytime soon because you’ll probably have to wait until late April or May of 2011. You can find copies of their 2009 release “A Brief History of Love” at http://www.amazon.com/ and other participating retailers. They are releasing a compilation album with other 4AD artists called “Fragments from Work in Progress”  that will be released on Record Store Day on Saturday, April 17 of this year. The EP is exactly what it says it is. It is a compilation of works in progress from 4AD artists’ next album. The Big Pink will be donating their track “With You” to the compilation and I’m sure its release is being anticipated across the globe. If you asked me, “Mondo, do you love this band?” My answer would be yes, but maybe I got a little star struck.  If you were to ask me if I was “In Love” with this band I would have to say that only time will tell.

Scion Rock Fest 2010 occurred at The Newport Music Hall, Skully’s Music Diner, Bernie’s Distillery, and Circus in Columbus, Ohio on the same night at the same time. There were a great many bands, 24 to be exact that played that night. Each venue presented it’s own special sub genre within the overall rock/metal continuity of the event. For my part I went to Skully’s. I did this mainly because that’s where the bands I wanted to see were playing. I want you as the reader to know this because I want to be honest about what I am presenting here. This is not a fully comprehensive article that covers the entire event. This is my take from where I stood on what I saw and heard. Please feel free to post your own thoughts on the venues I missed, pictures from the event, or links to other articles in the comments below. Unfortunately, this article won’t be accompanied by photos because my camera was out of commission, but I will post links where you can see some. Thank you.

March 13, 2010 – The night started at 5pm with Black Tusk (Savannah, GA) then Struck By Lightning (Columbus, OH), Acrassicauda (Iraq), Pelican (Chicago, IL), YOB (Eugene,OR), and Shrinebuilder finishing out the night.

I missed Black Tusk due to running late and the usual politics of getting people out the door and to the show which included properly preparing by drinking several nourishing beverages of the “beer” persuasion and smoking a couple of bowls straight to the face. This is because when you are getting ready to go out to a stoner/doom/sludge/prog/metal night of epic proportions it’s important to get your head in the right space to comprehend what will be coming at your brain. It’s intense stuff and it’s not called “stoner rock” because they liked the sound of the moniker. It’s often due to the fact that these musicians burned up as much green from Mendicino county as they could get their hands on while writing. It becomes more apparent when you listen to it. There are long drawn out periods in songs where the guitar grinds out the same riff for periods of 3-7 minutes, and sometimes longer. This was characterized best by the moment that Yob took the stage and guitarist/vocalist Mike Scheidt declared to the audience that “We have 3 and a half songs for you. That’ll be 50 minutes.” No joke. It was good though.

It felt more like a ComFest for metal heads than just a concert or show night. I saw all kinds of people that night, friends and enemies alike. Some particulars go out to Eric Jones from Central City Recording, Chuck Kubat of Magnolia Thunderpussy Record Store (Yeah, I know that they were right next door and were the main Columbus distributor of Scion Rock Fest tickets, but still…) Artie DeLeon, Zach Germaniuk (who hipped me to the festival), the guys from Churches Burn, and so many music people and other assorted heads. Ahaha!! I have to say though, if your brand of metal is Metallica, Megadeath, Hatebreed, Mudvayne, Pantera, HELLYEAH, Dio, and all of that kind of stuff, this probably wasn’t where you wanted to be that night; trust me. It was a different brand of music than what is traditionally know as “METAL”. Sticking out your tongue and throwing up the horns was an action that was pretty scarce at Skully’s. Although throwing your head back and forth within the ocean of music that is bands like Pelican and Yob with your fists pumping when the moment really stole your heart was apparent in spades. That was one of my favorite things about the night. Yeah there were spikes, patches (“punk points” as my friend Joe calls them), loads of tattoos, piercings, and more black fabric than a Soho art community, but there wasn’t a whole lot of machismo posturing or “metaller than thou” attitudes being thrown around. It might have been a bit overwhelming for a first timer, but they would quickly adapt because it soon becomes obvious that everybody is there for the music and not to be a part of the “scene”. Not to mention the music is good! Damn this is fun!

I really came to hear 3 bands. Those were Pelican, Acrassicauda, and Shrinebuilder. The night took a pleasant turn when I fulfilled a promise to a friend of mine and instead of going to see Deadsea at Circus right down the street I came right to Skully’s to hear Struck by Lightning. Being a hometown band, it was surprising they took the stage as the second act of the night. Well…not so surprising when you sit back and look at it from a promoter’s point of view. These guys have a massive following in Columbus so I saw the logic in not wasting their potential drawing power for the night, but harnessing it to bring people in and getting them hooked. Adam Shore, who organized the event, knows what he is doing. Precision, sophistication, intensity, volume, anger are all words I would use to characterize their set. These are qualities that I don’t have words for without extensive study in a thesaurus, and I’m a wordy guy!! That how impressed/concussed I was by Struck By Lightning.

Speaking of promoters, lets talk about some of the more organizational aspects of Scion Rock Fest. First of all, it’s free!! NO BULLSHIT!! You have to RSVP online through the website http://www.scion.com/rock, where you give them your email and tell them where you want to pick up your ticket (I chose Magnolia Thunder Pussy Records) and they email you back to confirm it and you wait for the date to arrive. I honestly felt guilty. There was nothing to it. I think, to make this all possible, none of the bands get a guarantee. Maybe Cannibal Corpse got one, who headlined at The Newport Music Hall. Scion probably helped with travel expenses, but I’m pretty sure bands got paid by selling merchandise, which I happen to agree with. Bands don’t get paid by selling CD’s at stores. They make their money at the merch table. Since the whole thing was free people had money to drink and buy stuff! Sweet deal! It reminds me of the old rave days where you got the flier for the party and it gave you directions to a payphone that would get a call and give you further directions to the party. It was all a big secret and really underground. I wouldn’t call Scion Rock Fest underground because it got a lot of publicity closer to the date of the show, but when tickets became available it felt like such a big fucking secret that it took a minute for everybody to catch on. The type of bands that played for the most part you could get away with calling underground. You won’t hear them on the radio unless you have satellite and even then it would be rare. Columbus needs more events like this.

Back to the music. Acrassicauda was next. Iraqi heavy metal band that were canonized in the Vice documentary “Heavy Metal Baghdad”. Their story is tragic and amazing and they were so damn happy to be here. The vibes were really good coming off the stage. They ended up being the band that I probably liked the least out of the line up, but they had some heavy talent to compete with. The thing that I disliked the most about what they had to offer was it’s kinship with Metallica and other late 80’s  dark metal bands. There were some great themes running through the music and moments of originality that were very striking, but there was too much throaty growled lyrics a la James Hetfield. And the guitars…they were so heavily influenced by Metallica it was hard not to hear it with every song. But they did try and they were good. I won’t let my tastes get in the way of respecting somebody’s chops. I got really disappointed with the Columbus crowd in between songs when the singer would talk to the crowd though. English is not the guys first language, but he has a good enough handle on it that he sings in English. The problem is that when he tried to connect with the crowd he mixed up some words or a sentence and it didn’t come out right. People couldn’t even give him the respect of cheering for the hell of it. I’ve gone to all kinds of shows where you can’t understand what the hell the guy with the mic is saying to the crowd, but everybody still loses their damn mind. Here we are and this dude from an almost alien culture is trying to connect with us and we can’t scream our damn heads off? Fucking sad. The fact that they were here, in COLUMBUS, OHIO, warranted out respect. What the hell were they doing in C-Bus anyways? How did this happen? It’s crazy!

Pelican…What can I say about Pelican? What words would do them justice? I’ll say this: I read a couple of other reviews that mentioned this band and I was confused and taken somewhat aback by what was said. This band brings more energy and verve to the table than almost any other 3 bands you can name. Especially within the circles they travel and the genre in which they play. Without a singer and a direct voice that dictates the message of the music to the audience, the experience of the music has to be that much more cerebral. It’s a sonic landscape that picks you up and takes you on a thousand journeys through space and time and decides when it will let you go. That is power. That is what Pelican is. They are a fucking force of nature. Go pick up their records. Go see them live. Just get to know Pelican. You will be better for it. They were amazing on the stage that night at Skully’s. They held everyone in the hollow of their hand and didn’t let go for almost an hour but unfortunately sometimes, the show must go on.

After Pelican I found my compadres and we headed out to the car to smoke ourselves silly once again. Yob was next.

Yob. A band that until I found out about Scion I had never heard of. This would be my first listening experience with the stoner rock legends. Yob has had a strange ride. Releasing music in the early to mid 2000’s they then broke up after almost 10 years only to reform in 2009 to play some shows and record a live album. I felt fairly privileged to be at one of these shows. As I stated earlier in this article, Yob’s music is expansive, droning, and hypnotic. They are not everyone’s cup of tea. I can’t say that their entire set was mine, but there is something to be said about a band that pulls off a 15 to 17 minute song and doesn’t bore everyone to tears. Especially with the repetitive nature of the music. In fact, they seemed to have everyone’s rapt attention. Good stuff.

Now we move on to Shrinebuilder. Awesome! There are super groups and then there is the doom/stoner/metal super-group Shrinebuilder. They are made up of Wino (St. Vitus, Obsessed, Spirit Caravan, Hidden Hand), Scott Kelly (Neurosis, Tribes of Neurot), Al Cisneros (Sleep, Om), and Dale Crover (The Melvins, Big Business). This band was massive! Not only in sound, but in talent and presence. My buddy Joe almost shit his pants when Wino came on stage and picked up his guitar to fiddle with it for a second. Once again I don’t really know what to say about Shrinebuilder. They came, they saw, they destroyed. What else can I say? The music was probably the best combination of all the different styles of music we had taken in that night. They had the intensity of Struck By Lightning without the anxiety. Their confidence and presence on stage was a huge part of their magnetism. Not to say that they didn’t thrash around on stage and bring a physical performance, it’s just that it was so wonderfully understated. It’s also impressive to see a band where all four members on stage share vocal duties. Not something I expected from this performance. Honestly I didn’t know what to expect. I thought I was going to see one thing, and not only did I see that but I got so much more. These are the guys that all of the other bands there that night and bands similar to Mastodon and Baroness owe a lot to. Well, maybe not owe. But you get the idea.

I had a great time! I was lifted up. My eyes were opened to new things and I learned something along the way. Late at night when I’m home alone and I get down on myself I feel a bit like a band-wagoner for my newish interest in the doom/stoner/sludge/ metal thing. Everybody finds anything at some point in their life and many of us don’t find a lot of what we should. This was my time to find this. No matter what anybody says, I feel more for this being a part of my life-scape and musical lexicon. It’s mine and nobody will ever take that from me. Nor can they take this night from me. Thanks to my baby girl for not being born that night so I could enjoy it to the fullest extent.

Please check out “Heavy Metal Baghdad”. It is available in parts on Youtube. Here is a list of links for the bands and other articles that contain photos: