Ape Wind

The Columbus Music Scene and Beyond
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

Bitch posing outside of the Thirsty Ear

Bitch posing outside of the Thirsty Ear

April 2, 2010 – She is impressive, she is amazing, she is really mostly for lesbians, she is Bitch (New York). Bitch comes from a band that formed in 1995 Bitch and Animal, and has been doing solo-ish work since 2004.  With an appearance in John Cameron Mitchell’s film Shortbus (2006), she has been making waves in many areas.

I entered the Ear at about 10:30 p.m. looking for an act to cover and seeing what I took to be a misprint in the local paper found myself in a room full of lesbians ranging from all ages and prepping for a show. Let me say this, these girls really knew how to have a good time, especially when they don’t think their rights are on the line.

The lights went down and two girls on stage, from the State Of (Miami, Florida), started creating some elegantly woven noise.  Then from the back of the room Bitch, wearing a cowl, holding a megaphone with the words, “Break Up,” painted on it, vocalized statements of, “we are all witches, we are all bitches.” When she got to the stage she picked up an electric violin that was plugged in to a heavily effected amp, and picked out tones that eerily mixed well with the cacophony.

Bitch’s stage presence was thoroughly maddening. She commanded the entire audiences attention. Songs of note that I enjoyed were, “Drag King Bar” and “Pussy Manifesto.” These two songs, while I’m sure they would never make it on commercial radio, had verve and uniqueness slathered all over them. Even I found my foot stomping to these tunes.

The night closed with a boisterous encore chant from the crowd. To which Bitch accommodated by sitting on top of the corner of the bar with a ukulele singing unamplified. The bar sat in total silence while she played the song and cheers carried on when she finished.

Bitch playing violin on stage at the Thirsty Ear

Bitch playing violin on stage at the Thirsty Ear

In Columbus, I can’t say that a lesbian rights band is anything new, especially with our per capita homosexual population percentage. When Bitch started a song commenting on the fact that in all 50 states as a woman one cannot show their nipples, the entire audience retorted with, “Yes we can in Columbus.” It might be worthy to do some research on the cities you are going to as a political artist, only to be sure that you aren’t bellowing fallacies at the audience. I guess I just grow tired of people complaining about issues, which are not even issues in the places they are currently located.

Otherwise I would say that the whole experience was refreshing and fun. Gay or straight, it might be worthwhile to check out Bitch the next time she graces our town with her presence.  Bitch can be found online at: http://www.bitchmusic.com/ and her new album “Blasted” can be purchased online at: http://www.shortstoryrecords.com/.

-V-

Mike Perkins

Mike Perkins

March 31, 2010 – I walked into the infamous Scarlet and Grey Cafe at about 10 p.m. on a warm Wednesday night to witness and review local granola rock staple of the Columbus music scene, Mike Perkins. This was his weekly free show and I saw whom I presumed to be him setting up his merchandise table near the front of the bar near the entrance. From my minds eye, I had pictured him to be a much older man with long white hair and mustache, but he ended up looking more like Luke Wilson. He was very warm and attentive and as a plus was sporting a shirt that read, “STOP WARS,” in the Star Wars logo font, clever.

So I got some elixir of dreams for $2.75 at the bar and went to my seat. A few more people came into the dark bar and Mike started fiddling with his acoustic guitar, doing a sound check. I could already tell he was a proficient player. I noticed he had no drum set on stage with him, which was mildly disappointing. I wondered how he would fill the sound, but on a good note he had a Saxophone player and a bass player up there with him. They were also apparently amazing on their instruments.

The young hippie college crowd was starting to fill the bar quickly, which wasn’t too bad considering it was only ten thirty. It took Perkins and the gang a few minutes to get their sound worked out technically on stage, but once they started playing I knew from my experience with the noodler hippy sect what I was in store for.  I was never a rabid Grateful Dead fan, but I had been to a few shows and had a good time. I have gone to my share of Phish shows in the past as well. If you are wondering what Perkins sounds like, think Keller Williams meets Jack Johnson with the vocals in a lower register.

I was impressed by his amazing guitar skills and his vocals weren’t bad either; they were very smooth and simple. The bass was phenomenal; the bass player was slapping that thing around like it was his last day on earth. The Sax player kept it mellow the whole time and the crowd didn’t seem to mind.

Mike Perkins and band on stage at Scarlet and Grey Cafe

Mike Perkins and band on stage at Scarlet and Grey Cafe

I was also impressed by how many young folks had filled the place by his third song, which by the way could have still been the first song as far as I was concerned. There were very plucky upbeat notes and hippity lyrics sung in an uplifting manner. The crunchy kids seemed to be in bliss singing along and twirling to his stylings. For my buck, even though it was free, I would have liked to see him change up his style a bit more. I don’t think he was interested in challenging these kids artistically, he wanted to give them what they wanted, which was more of the same all night long.

I felt the inner flower child in me telling the music critic to shut up, smoke a joint and have a good time. Oh well, the scenery was refreshing and it put me in a good mood. All in all I liked what Perkins was doing. If you want to find out for yourself or are already an avid fan and just want to follow him around and sell veggie melts go to his site on the web: http://mikeperkins.net/.

-Oddfellow