Regular readers of this space know that Columbus Discount Records has gotten its share of praise here. As the label has captured the rapt attention of underground rock fans and record nerds worldwide, one of its more impressive successes has been its ability to maintain a truly “local” presence in its hometown, nurturing a great number of bands, both young and old, regardless of whether they might happen to be members of the CDR roster. Evidence of this presence was in full force this past weekend, as the label organized two genuinely epic shows celebrating its sixth birthday.
Friday night at the Summit kicked off with Ron House’s Sandwitch. Technical problems that continued to pop up sporadically throughout the night put the four-piece’s synth on the sidelines. It was a tough loss, given the integral role the instrument plays in what could be described as the band’s prog-punk sound, but the band did a good job of improvising and rallied around House’s histrionics. You might not see Ron in the record store anymore, but his “Little White Cords” still hits hard and should be required listening for the iPod generation. Equally effective for this guitar, bass and drums outfit was “Sketched Nia,” another biting anthem that calls to mind some of the best work of latter-era Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments.
Fortunately the synths were working fine for Deathly Fighter, who on this night added a bass guitar to the mix. The basslines focused the sound, resulting in a set that only increased anticipation for the group’s upcoming LP. Things took a decidedly less electronic swing when the Bassholes took the stage. The band played a number of scorchers off its own upcoming CDR LP, and Don Howland’s guitar playing and Bim Thomas’ drumming were dead-on to the point that you’d think these guys had been touring for months rather than making an all too rare appearance. Howland seemed to really appreciate the opportunity to take part in the occasion, and even pulled out the hauntingly epic “Rubber Boots” from an old Anyway Records comp. Fellow veterans the Cheater Slicks followed up with a typically vicious set, ripping through its garage classics and ultimately culminating in a raucous version of the band’s classic “Murder.” Lafayette’s TV Ghost fit in perfectly with the Columbus bands with its controlled chaos and dark, pulsating jams.
As great as Friday night was, Saturday night at Carabar brought things to another level, maintaining the high quality of sounds while even further highlighting the true community feeling CDR has fostered. Pink Reason made a triumphant return to Columbus, featuring a backing band of Matt Horseshit on guitar and Bassholes’ Bim Thomas on drums. As always, the songs benefitted from Kevin Failure’s willingness to work with new players and try new arrangements with the material. Thomas’ explosive drumming drove the slowed-down version of opener “Borrowed Time,” and throughout the set the two guitars seemed to perfectly weave together. Pittsburgh’s Rot Shit reunited and slayed with their brand of hardcore punk, dishing out aggressive record collector rants like “Pre-Order Sellout” and “What the Fuck Is Weird Punk?!”
The first “fully” Columbus band of Saturday night, Guinea Worms, proved once again why they are one of the city’s most consistent attractions. Any night Will Foster and company plays “Box of Records” is a good night, and this was no exception. Worm Rock expands beyond that hit, however, and the band equaled itself by bringing the heavy riffs on older favorites (“Drunk in Yer Uggs” and “B.I.S.I.”) and newer songs (“Maggot Therapy” and “Breadcrumbs”). Self-professed CDR superfan Dan Melchior toned the night back a bit with more relaxed selections from his seemingly exponentially growing catalog. The stripped-down version of backing band das Menace allowed Melchior to showcase his underrated guitar playing.
Puffy Areolas may have provided the highlight of the night with their three-song wall of sound psychedelic groove hitting the crowd like a wrecking ball. The triumph was made even more impressive given the fact that they had practiced only briefly that afternoon with the evening’s stand-in drummer, the excellent Mat Bisaro of Necropolis. The Puffys’ brand of freakout garage rock is constantly improving, and the band remains one to keep a close eye on for the near future. Not to be outdone, the Unholy Two closed out the weekend with another memorable noise assault.
Not content with anniversary show mastery, CDR has plans underway for the second yearly installment of its renowned singles club and a handful of what promise to be excellent albums. Consider yourself on notice.