Here Comes Your Weekend Parking Lot Blowout
Columbus, July 10
by Stephen Slaybaugh

Having come of age as well as spent another chunk of adulthood in the record stores and dives that line Columbus, Ohio’s High Street, I won’t pretend to be impartial when it comes to assessing the city’s place in the lineage of left-of-center rock & roll. But even the most objective mind will tell you that my hometown has had more than its share per capita of noisy trailblazers. As such, a bill with the New Bomb Turks, Scrawl and the Gibson Bros. is more than just some local celebration, but the kind of event that makes it worth hitting I-80 for nearly half a day. Indeed, there was no way Pennsylvania—or anything else for that matter—would stand in my way of being anywhere but Columbus on July 10.

Columbus is lucky enough to not only be home to an impressive gaggle of musicmakers, but also a righteous bunch of boosters as well. The Columbus Music Co-op began several years ago as a non-profit to help support musicians with things like healthcare, and the Here Come Your Weekend Parking Lot Blowout is their big annual fundraiser. While previous years have featured sets from Agit favs like the Cheater Slicks and Great Plains, this year’s line-up combined for three times the gravitational pull.

Really, though, the weekend began (as most weekends do) on Friday night. Agit writer Eric Davidson was reading from his new book, We Never Learn: The Gunk Punk Underground 1988–2001, a tome documenting the kind of stuff that would be highlighted the next day. (An unofficial after-party to the Blowout at the Summit would include a reunited Oblivians, the Cheater Slicks, and though the Bassholes were originally slated, Burning Bus, another Don Howland outfit.) Post-reading most everyone convened to Cafe Bourbon Street, where the Ex-Whites opened with a set of white-hot post-hardcore, and spazztastic locals Necropolis ran through the Gaunt classic Sob Story with both the respect and noisy irreverence it deserves. Davidson’s New Bomb Turks took the stage for what had been (till a couple hours earlier) a surprise set, adding their own Gaunt tribute with “Jim Motherfucker” and “Weekend,” as well as a well-greased run through their own material.

Saturday’s festivities began with locals Old Hundred and the Randys, the former I know nothing about while the latter is perhaps the most technically proficient band in town and able to play just about anything that might pop into their heads. Another reunion of Fat Girls By the Snacktable, a dynamic duo who once crafted an exceedingly creative and instigative electronic mishmash, followed. Or at least I assume they did, as I didn’t make it down in time for any of the above. Philly’s Sweatheart were up as I arrived, but their kitschy pop didn’t hold any appeal over catching up with old friends. EYE, a new configuration of Columbus vets, subsequently crafted some golden thunder from my perch opposite the stage, but the day was quickly becoming a swirl of old faces, frivolity and beer.

When the New Bomb Turks took the stage, though, things quickly came into focus as the entire crowd seemed to snap to attention. Few bands, particularly those playing with high-octane, get better with age, but the Turks may be one of them. There’s no longer any time spent settling in, instead Davidson and the rest of his merry men go right for their audience’s collective throat from the get-go. With this having been my third Turks set in about three weeks, things are beginning to blur together and what they played and when they played it isn’t so clear in the old gulliver. But that’s entirely apropos for the band, whose shows tend to become a swath of sweat and bodies being flung to and fro. Still, I’m pretty sure somewhere in there was “Point to a Point Blank,” “Id Slips In,” “Girl Can Help It,” and “T.A.S.” Finishing the set proper was “Defiled,” on which Eric gets the crowd to crouch down only to spring forward on his count. That bit is always met with a little resistance from the wallflowers, who are than inevitably surprised by how thrilling this simple feat is. (Check the video at the bottom of the page for proof.)

Few bands would probably want to follow the New Bomb Turks, but given the anticipation the news of the Gibson Bros. reuniting had already garnered, the excitement the Turks generated was quickly replaced with expectancy. It had been nearly 20 years since there had been a Gibson Bros. and even longer since the original line-up that would be playing had performed together. That line-up—guitarists Jeff Evans, Don Howland and Dan Dow and drummer Ellen Hoover—took the stage with little pageantry and launched into the title track from Big Pine Boogie, their 1988 rusty gem. They took a little longer to find their bearings than the Turks, and some shitty sound work didn’t help matters. Still they had always been a little disjointed, and on the Howland-sung “Casey Jones,” the guitarists’ varied work intersected where necessary and diverged just as needfully. Evans, who these days resembles Wolfman Jack a bit with his slicked back hair and salt-and-pepper goatee, took the vocals back for “Moon Twist,” before Dow sung one he penned with Neil Young, “Ohio.” It was on “Rhythm and Booze” that the distilled magic began to kick in. For her part, Hoover looked like she barely aged a day, and it would have been nice to hear whether her vocals had or not on “Skull and Crossbones.” I could list the entire setlist here, but “Bo Diddley Pulled a Boner,” a song whose send-up of rock & roll standards while at the same time it celebrates them was always emblematic of the Gibsons’ MO, topped it all. The whole thing seemed to go by far too quickly, but the return was all that it should have been, even if we didn’t know what that was beforehand.

Scrawl’s closing set could have easily been anti-climatic by comparison, but instead it seemed like a perfect denouement, both slowburning and cathartic when it needed to be. Songs like “Do You Want Me For Your Sister” and “Good Under Pressure” showed those opposing ends, with singer Marcy Mays wringing ever nuance dry with her smoky voice. Of course, a Scrawl reunion these days is just Mays and bassist Sue Harshe getting together, with former Haynes Boys drummer (and Gaunt guitarist) Jovan Karcic filling in, but I heard Scrawl before the Gibson Bros. and before the Turks even existed, so this little reunion has as much significance in my own personal timeline with Columbus music as any other. But sun and beer had begun to take its toll (and the Cheater Slicks awaited as well), and I headed to higher ground before they eventually finished. Besides this one memory—one where the past and present seemed to be flush—needed to be savored before it began to fade.