Ape Wind

The Columbus Music Scene and Beyond

Browsing Posts tagged Circus

Feb 22, 2013 – Getting back out there is always fun after quite a long hiatus. It feels right to be back out and writing regularly. Apewind has been a long running dream of mine and I’m glad to get the chance to get it back up and running.

Intervene playing Circus

Intervene playing Circus

Let me start off by saying Circus is not normally the venue one wants to be “heard” in. The sound is usually mixed overpoweringly awkward and recently the vocals in many mixes have been nearly nonexistent. That being said, if one can sound good here, they would pretty much be set anywhere. Generally speaking the sound here is reminiscent of Bernie’s on a good night.

Our band tonight is Intervene, opening the show for Crème de la Femme, a rock and roll, burlesque, and comedy showcase. This show is something worth watching at some point in your life. The band consists of D Johnson on bass, Dan Calvin on drums, and Zel Marquis filling out the guitar and vocals. Johnson from the band described themselves as, “the slacker generation rip offs.”

D Johnson and Dan Calvin of Intervene

D Johnson and Dan Calvin of Intervene

Looking at the guys on stage I wasn’t sure what to expect. Johnson was adorned in a Soundgarden T, and testing his amp with some distorted bass effects, always a pleasant sound to my ears. Then the first song, “Scarlet” kicked off. It started with a very tinny sounding guitar riff that was quickly met with simplistic, yet effective drums. Then filled in nicely with bass. I was blown away at the fullness of their sound. It wasn’t too overbearing. The sound guy got just the right amount of everything in the mix.  Marquis began mumbling some non-descript lyrics; I couldn’t make out a single word of them. Wasn’t sure if it was poor judgment on the sound guys part or intended. These quickly gave way to screamed vocals, which I was not particular on. The entirety of the song seemed to consist of just three chords. These guys were nailing the simple yet effective musical style of the 90s.

Zel Marquis of Intervene playing Circus

Zel Marquis of Intervene playing Circus

The next song felt very much like the first, almost wouldn’t have noticed it was different save for a bass solo in the middle and it was well played. The screaming vocals continued, and I still wasn’t really into them. The next song was a bit of a gem. I was not enjoying the screaming so much and I was very surprised when Marquis began actual singing. I hate to say it, but wow, he should stick to the screaming.

The next few songs went by and I found myself losing interest. Well I was until “Whirlpool” started. This song was their strongest of the whole set. Marquis redeemed his singing, perhaps in the earlier attempt he was just not warmed up enough. The bass was rocking a great distorted tone. The drummer was filling everything else in, and surprisingly with a rather broken down four piece set with only two cymbals. In true 90s grunge rock style the song ended with a total cluster of falling apart sound. I was very pleased with this.

To end the night they finished with cover of Nirvana’s “Aneurysm.” Simply put, it’s not hard to cover Nirvana, but it is hard to cover Nirvana and sound really good. They pulled this off very well. It was very cool to hear this. Overall I’d say they are a worthwhile band to check out when you get a chance. The energy they put forth on stage could be easily felt, and their sound was very full for a three piece.

You can find Intervene on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/midwestgrunge

-V-

Glow Merchants on stage at Circus

Glow Merchants on stage at Circus

April 7, 2010 – Well it was a normal Wednesday night in the bar that’s known as Circus. I am a fan of the bar, with its dark lighting and carnival vibe, even if they did recently jack up the beer prices, I love the bartender Michael with all my heart.

Mission tonight? The Columbus bred trio of bipolar rock, The Glow Merchants.  I’ve seen and played with these guys before, but arguably they sounded better tonight, even if I did have a better time with them previously, I went home with a wild drunken harlot that kept getting up on stage with them to sing last time, no shame in my game.

The Glow Merchants consist of two guitarists, neither one playing bass, and drums. We got Tony, Josh and Dave. They look like your typical Indie rock fun time boys, darning Buddy Holly Glasses and bandanas, and for at least one of their members a healthy PBR gut.  Now I sat through their whole set, which consisted of about eight songs, I was not sure if one of them was one or two songs, and an encore. I decided to coin the phrase bipolar rock, which in this day and age of a gazillion genre names, I’m sure is already taken but who gives a fig. Anywho, I would like to say that at times some of their songs seemed to drone on a bit, but usually each started with a memorable hook and some very satisfying guitar explosions. All three members were crashing away making you wonder if we even need bass guitars anymore. Their music was very fulfilling and went to many different dimensions. They seemed to have a loyal twenty person fan base, I’m not sure how long these dudes have been around, but if they just started last year, then that’s not a bad start.

Glow Merchants on stage at Circus

Glow Merchants on stage at Circus

The vocals at times, shared by both guitarists, were at times beautiful and airy at best, at worst out of tune, and not in an ironic indie rock way, but just plain out of tune.  They were a tad whiney, but the vocals did have some interesting stuff going on and at times and took me to what I like best about Built to Spill or Pavement. My favorite song by these guys was a self-proclaimed untitled number that made me think of indie tropical rock, if there could be such a thing. It lifted me to some nice places. If I describe these fellows sound in its entirety by using just one song from another group, then I would say the song “Dramamine” by Modest Mouse kind of sums up the night for me. I do think the music of the Merchants was nice, their vocals could definitely use some work though, maybe a bit more focus as the two sing together.

I do wish these guys all the luck in the world, they do have their own sound brewing, but sometimes the things you start liking about a band early in the set can easily become the same thing that begins to annoy you. I felt a little bit like that with these guys. But when they weren’t being too dreary or sludgy just for sludge sake they were making some pretty great music, which is what it’s all about guys. Keep it going for awhile and you guys have some potential to be great. Just remember mediocrity is the killer of any music scene, so keep challenging yourself and your audience. Good Luck guys.

– Oddfellow

Gringo Star on stage at Circus

Gringo Star on stage at Circus

March 30, 2010 – Gringo Star is a four-piece band out of Atlanta, Georgia, featuring Peter Furgiuele, Nicholas Furgiuele, Pete DeLorenzo, and Chris Kaufmann.  They have had moderate success in America playing the 2009 Lollapalooza festival, and have recently been signed by Cargo records in Germany for European release of their debut Album, “All Y’all.” They are about to embark on a European tour.

I came into Circus totally expecting to write a review on a local band, but as the universe would have it, the last local band of the evening was playing their second to last song as I sauntered in. I had high hopes after finding out that this was a touring band from down south that had been asked to play Lollapalooza last year because of course, that’s a pretty big show. I also had read many statements from press they posted on their site that conjured images of mass hysteria on stage with gallivanting and crushing of gnashed teeth. Simply put, this was not the case. In fact the 50 or so people that started out in the place as they were playing dwindled to 15 by the end of their set, and they even finished by midnight on a Tuesday!  But, that might just be Columbus for you.

They started their set with, “Make You Mine,” having vocals, drums, a little guitar, and two guys heaving out some tambourines.  The whole time they were playing I couldn’t shake this feeling of listening to the Zombies (England) from my head, but not even good Zombies. They were just a bit less special, probably because I had already heard the Zombies pull off this style 50 years ago. Now I don’t want to sound like a person who dislikes re-branding of older styles of music, though I feel if you do add some value it is acceptable. I mean, do it better than the original artists did it, otherwise you might just as well play covers of their music and call it a day.

The second song, “Ask Me Why,” picked up the pace and had a fun little southern shuffle on the drums with an awesome guitar hook that made the song. I don’t know if it was just a bad night for whoever was taking lead vocals, but every time there was a single person singing it sounded off and a little out of pitch with the rest of the band. However whenever a second or third set of vocals joined the mix the harmonies were astounding. There were a few more rather unremarkable songs, then they announced that they were going to be playing “Come on Now.” This song seemed to have a false start as it seemed that one of the musicians forgot to start singing, but after they figured that out they started again. It had a 50’s ballad feel with the tempo going all over the place either on purpose or a mistake, who knows? I make particular mention of this song for the bridge, which consisted mostly of ragtime piano and a light shuffle on the drums. I could dig my teeth into this bit of the song but just as I was really getting into it they switched back to the verse and ended the song.

The title track of their recent release, “All Y’all,” left something to be desired as well. In fact for the 45 minutes and ten songs of music I was rather unimpressed. I might have gotten my hopes up based on other people’s statements or the fact that they were “good enough” to go on tour overseas.  I was actually happy that the set was finally over. Someone in the remaining crowd called for “a few more” songs to be played. I was dumbfounded, but seeing as they weren’t tearing down yet I waited to see what they were planning on doing.  To cut the suspense, they decided to play three more songs.

Gringo Star on stage at Circus

Gringo Star on stage at Circus

I was preparing to continue noting the lack of enthusiasm from the band or the song construction which was leaving me wanting more and not in a lets hear more music kind of way. Here’s where everything changed. The music went to a world of fun and peppiness I hadn’t yet heard from these guys. They started playing a song, “Jessica,” which reminded me of Katzenjammer (Oslo, Norway). The chorus, “It’s nice to see yah,” had me singing along on my bar stool. They followed it up with a cover of “Li’l Red Riding Hood” by Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs. It wasn’t anything unique or amazing, but it hit home.  It was an excellent song you don’t hear too often.  They finished with a song entitled, “Out of My Head.” It was simple and had a splendid energy behind it. I almost wished they could have channeled this energy throughout the whole show. I am glad that I did stick around for these last few songs as they really capped the night well.

Gringo Star can be found on the web: http://www.gringostar.net/. Their latest release, “All Y’all,” is available through iTunes and Amazon.

-V-